Actions

Work Header

Be the Death of Me

Chapter Text

The One Where Death Departs


 

It all started out with a favor. Just a favor.

Fate had all but begged him to keep this child's soul alive despite the odds. One single soul. To provide something short of a miracle. Well, a miracle to the mortals anyway. Not so much to the personification of Death himself.

However, even if he could bypass this world's laws (which he most definitely could) with ease (and his eyes closed and his hands bound) such an act would incur enough paperwork on his desk for the godly being to be reluctant in participating in any such 'life-saving' activities.

But this was Fate. And getting a favor from Fate was not something one, even as all powerful as he, could ignore. So with great hesitance on his part, (he had seen who he was meant to save and the consequences of such an act of mercy, as well as the oncoming files he would have to sign, was staggering) a lot of wheedling on Fate's part, Death finally acquiesced. He would promise to spare the infant Harrison James Potter from his rather unfortunate encounter with a killing curse at about one year old. And he planned to keep to that promise.

Until one over eager, scythe-happy, reaper ruined it all.

And then somehow it snowballed from there.

"You. Did. What."

The reaper before him shuffled nervously. The cloak completely covering the dark figure, and looked like it had been sewn haphazardly with the shadows of the damned, writhed in agitation to the movement. Guilt and fear rolled off the creature in waves. Death idly mused whether it had been a good idea to implant those wisps of emotions in his servants in the first place considering the very subtle increase in mistakes that's been happening in recent years. Then again, he was sure he would have gone insane eons ago if he was surrounded by just dementors and emotionless reaper dolls for constant company.

"S-sorry." It rasped the word imbued with as much apologetic anxiety as it could muster. Death wondered whether he should've improved his subordinates vocabulary when he gave them their (admittedly lower than dirt) EQ. Of course, as he loathed too much noise that idea was swiftly squashed. Though maybe a few extra words wouldn't hurt...

"Can you bring the child back at least?" He sighed, long thin fingers the color of freshly preserved bones in the snow rubbed his forehead in an attempt to ease the growing frustration. "Please, please tell me you haven't put the soul in the reincarnation cycle already."

The silent response and the refusal for his cloaked minion to look him in the eyes with its own empty holes spoke mountains.

Death defeatedly slumped into his blackened burnt yew throne. After a millennium or a few, any pride and need for dignified appearances were easily outweighed by comfort. (Well, at least in front of his subordinates- honestly mortal souls held surprisingly high standards for him) and made an undignified groaning sound. Unlike adult souls that go to various places in the afterlife such as Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Valhalla to name just a few; children under the age of seven had to go straight back into the cycle of reincarnation. Harry James Potter could be a hatchling of a Hungarian Horntail by now for all he knew.   

"Fuck me." He swore.

"Master?" The reaper rather timidly asked. "You want me to-" it trailed off with an uncertain scratchy noise as its black skeletal hand gestured at his body. Death didn't really understand where his subordinate was going with this until it began hesitantly stripping off the shadowy materials covering it.

"What? No!"

Note to self: need to teach reapers basic modern slang to avoid any more future awkward propositions. Don't bother with Dementors. They're a lost cause.

"Just... Leave. And put back your cloak. Please. I need to think."

The reaper gladly complied with the order, apparently having enough self-preservation skills to not wait for its master to remember it's punishment. Death just watched his little subordinate scamper out, passing through the bleak grey walls thanks to its intangible structure toward more physical objects, with a mix of annoyance, displeasure, and fondness. It wasn't often that his reapers, his subordinates, his children, messed up and it was admittedly both adorable and amusing to see them guilt-ridden and anxious like mortal children caught with their hands in their jars of cookies. It was a pity that it had to be this one thing that they failed so spectacularly at.

"Now..." Death murmured to himself. "What to do, what to do.."

He could not possibly take back the promise now. It had been years since it had been made and Fate would bitch for at least another three hundred, maybe more depending on how important the boy was. Not to mention how humiliating it would be, to think Death- the end of all things, the bringer of souls, the one who will always be the last to walk on the earth, powerful, feared and revered- couldn't even fulfill a simple agreement between entities. He would literally never hear the end of it. It was totally not because he had already signed and written up all the paperwork for the kid's extended lifeline. Certainly not because letting this go meant that three sleepless whole weeks worth of mindless paperwork induced torture would essentially become three completely and utterly wasted weeks of his life that he would never get back. No. Definitely not.

Putting the soul back simply wouldn't do either, as stated before. Replacing the soul could be done, but that involves time and careful deliberation on its compatibility with its new physical form. For a moment Death seriously contemplated ripping apart the whole reincarnation process just to find this one little soul. Of course, he wasn't stupid- he may literally have all the time the world had to offer but that didn't mean he was going to use it up rebuilding something he brashly destroyed on a whim and a favor. He already had enough on his hands cleaning up everyone else's end results- both mortal, deity and entity much to his ire.

Suddenly Death had an idea. His furrowed brow straightened from his pale face and a slow, tentative smile graced his surprisingly delicate features. Maybe he could, no, he couldn't, could he? It was a terrible idea. Terrible. Horrible. There were so many things that could go wrong and it would be awfully irresponsible of him.

Actually why not?

Why was he, Death, the one to always clean up? How come the rules he had were iron clad? Why was he always the responsible one anyway? Chaos did what he liked. Fate, well she screwed with people on a daily basis. Even Time, one of the only entities older than him and was practically covered in laws and rules he had to follow, created something called Time Lords and magic phone boxes to amuse himself. And don't even get him started on Magic. What did he have? A few weapons of mass destruction, a veil that transports souls directly from the living to his world and three artifacts that when put together would give a human a very special title among other things. God, everyone was right. He was kind of boring.

Death wasn't even technically going to break any rules anyway. Just... bend them a little.

Besides what would Order even do if he did? Kill him? That'll be a laugh.

So with a decisive nod, the entity of Death snapped his fingers and set to work. First was to write a quick clear message to everyone important that he would be for all intensive purposes 'gone' for an unplanned period of time. Next was to summon all his subjects spanning from all worlds and planes that held considerable power; from the Dementor Lord to the goddess Hel to Lucifer; and personally inform them the same thing in a bit more detail. They weren't exactly happy at the news but all were surprisingly rather accepting of the declaration (the only complication was that everyone practically demanded he'd still keep in touch with them all and make a visible effort in maintaining his paperwork). Death nobly ignored the small golden skull among other treasures being exchanged behind backs, as well as the way too gleeful look on Osiris's black-green face as most of the gold was passed to him.

He did not want to even touch the slowly growing suspicion his subjects had a betting pool on him for who knows what. Despite being the personification of Death, he sure was quite the pushover, he mused in absentminded bemusement.

After shooing everyone off with another snap of his fingers Death then focused on the initial problem. One very soulless Harrison Potter.

It hadn't been that long since the boy's soul had been taken from the body. Between the timing of worlds and dimensions, less than mere milliseconds had passed since the contact between one Avada Kedavra and crying infant. A good thing because for his plan to work Death required the body to be still warm and blood to still flow, otherwise the already rather unpredictable use of death and soul magic would be much more complicated than it already was.

He needed to swiftly make the necessary preparations, God there wasn't any time! Death, in a very human gesture, bit his lip as he crossed his arms nervously. Sudden bouts of risk-taking and acts of rebellion were not in his nature, not in Death's nature, he wasn't particularly volatile or the type to not think ahead. Death was always imminent, measured, planned. Everything marked down, every soul written, with sharp precision. Death in itself is not emotional, it is restrained and cold and simple. Death was not a means to an end but merely an end in itself. Death was natural, Death does not should not go against the flow of nature, of life, it shouldn't change, it should maintain.

Yet here he was, about to change everything, jumping foolhardily into something he didn't even research beforehand and only now realizing the potential mayhem he might cause- oh Chaos must be clapping his hands and laughing maniacally at his usually unflappable mature older brother right now. And he could practically see Judgement at the same time, frowning disappointedly at him in that condescending holier than thou way of his.

"It'll be okay." He reassured himself admonishingly. He was Death after all. It was more than a little embarrassing to think something like this was causing the personification of the end of life itself to fret like some teenager readying themselves to go on their first date. Suddenly the image of a stereotypical reaper awkwardly fidgeting with a bright red tie as it sat on some fancy mortal restaurant made the worry slipped ever so slightly off his face as the corner of his lip twitched into a wry smile.

"Well, I've always wanted a vacation anyway." He softly joked to the empty room. And then proceeded to half-heartedly chuckle at his own joke like that wasn't sad at all.

And with that dry piece of humor Death promptly plunged his hands into his chest cavity, into the pure power that was concentrated there like black snakes twisting against each other. Gritting his teeth, slim fingers grazed over the strands of power, searching for the perfect place to claw into, picturing the small black haired little boy with the wide green eyes completely unaware of the blood that had been shed in his home. Words of ancient incantations from civilizations long ago flowed out without thought, as if the magic just knew and pushed the chant off his tongue like honey. It took agonizing seconds but he had felt the resonance tug at him. Acting completely on instinct instead of intellect, the entity failed to completely ready himself for the sensation as he twisted his fingers between flesh and power and magic.

Then Death pulled.

...

...

...

For thirty anti-climatic seconds, absolutely nothing happened. As Death was contemplating his current situation, hands stuck in that nasty, sticky place between his ribs, saturated with his power to the point of tangibility squirming between his digits in a very discomforting way, the entity found himself regretting his rather illogical train of thought that led him to where he was now. And he just knew that his favorite silk robes were never going to recover from this gory aftermath either.

However before the entity began to extract his limbs out of his torso much to his irritation, disappointment and a bit of relief at the failure; Death felt a resounding lurch at his midsection. The feeling of being burned and constricted consumed him, if he had any breath or existent lungs they would have been promptly winded at the sudden drop in oxygen, the whole experience was completely wrapped in a blinding bright green light.

 


 

"Avada Kedavra."

The green light of the all-so-feared unforgivable spell practically blazed in eagerness from the yew wand. Lord Voldemort looked on impassively at the baby, Harry Potter, the Boy Who Was Going To Die In About 3 Seconds. It was a shame really. What a pathetic end to the Noble House of Potter. He almost felt bad at the loss.

Well. Not really.

Crimson eyes snapped to reality as he felt an unfamiliar sharp tug in his magic. The familiar Killing Curse that usually flowed so easily through his wand felt strained and taunt like a string pulled apart at the very strands. Voldemort, as aggressive as he was, instead of trying to break off the spell, pumped even more of his magic through. It should be impossible, the curse was supposed to be, no, is instantaneous. The child should be dead and cold by now, looking at him with blank, unseeing eyes.

But Harry Potter wasn't dead, he didn't even look like he was affected by it. Instead of dull glassy eyes staring at him helplessly, they glowed. What was once green as the forest was slowly turning brighter, more vibrant, like those wide pupils were absorbing the Killing Cur-

Immediately the rising Dark Lord forcefully slammed his magical flow off, sharply cutting off the spell. The abruptness of ending such a sheer amount of power, intent coupled with his tainted Dark magic and complexity of the curse, however, was not without consequences. Pain worse than any Cruciatus wracked the serpentine man's body. In retrospect, if the dark wizard hadn't been so taken off guard, a bit more aware or a little less insane, he might have recognized the feeling of pain. He would have recognized the torment of having a soul broken.

And as the last electric green tendrils were passed into the eerily silent infant, pained crimson eyes could only watch as now Avada Kedavra green eyes flashed with something that Voldemort could not identify. It wasn't Dark. It wasn't Light. It wasn't even Grey. It just... Was. And it filled the man with a fear he hadn't felt since he was just a young child when he realized how easy it was for people to die, like little Billy's unfortunate pet rabbit.

That was Lord Voldemort's last coherent thought before the backlash of his own Curse burst himself into ashes.

Death, or now he guessed he really should refer himself as Harrison Potter. Or Harry. Harry Potter sounded nice. God this was all very exciting. Either way, he watched with intrigued eyes as this albino snake-man that had oh-so-kindly wished to murder the previous owner of this child's body, said child's parents and probably their pet cat if they had one- had promptly disintegrated, turned into some sort wraith and fled the house. It was all rather unexpected, to say the least. Was the man important to Fate's plans? Something just felt distinctly 'wrong' about the now spirit-like mortal. A ritual gone wrong perhaps? He wondered...

But right now he didn't have the energy to really follow up on his curious train of thought. It probably wasn't even that vital anyway. Not to mention he wasn't Death right now. He was Harry James Potter. And Harry James Potter was tired and wanted a nice nap. It was going to be an interesting vacation as a living mortal and he needed a good long rest to prepare for what's to come after all. The whole 'wraith murderer thing' can be put aside for now. And so while Avada Kedavra green eyes fluttered shut, a small adorable quirked smile rested serenely on his deceivingly innocent young face as the immortal in a child's body dreamt dreams of adventure, opportunity, and a paperwork-free future.

Hopefully blissfully ignoring everything that had just occurred wasn't going to bite him back in the arse.

Chapter Text

The one where Death contemplates murder among other minor things

"Oh dear."

A woman, in her mid-fifties, with pale pink hair loosely tied in a bun, covered her mouth with a dainty well-manicured hand. Her gaze locked onto the letter with familiar clear, slanting handwriting. "Well, I'd never thought I'd see the day!" She huffed as she peered over the note at the other group of people watching avidly at her reaction.

"I totally agree Love," A young handsome man with windswept dark orange hair the color of a desert sandstorm clapped his hands and cackled in glee. "Me neither! To think- our silent as a grave, and just as boring, big brother Death- skiving his previous work to try mortality of all things!" The male playfully wiped a nonexistent tear from his eye with a loud sniff. "I'm just so proud."

A slightly older man next to him glared through his copper rimmed glasses, he had black hair peppered with the occasional streaks of white and grey that was immaculately slicked back. "Oh do shut up Chaos." He sneered, "This is a serious matter and it would be prudent if you didn't act so... You." He made 'you' sound like something dirty and very much unwanted on the bottom of an old shoe.

Chaos just gave a sardonic smile, "Is Order being a little pissy this fine meeting? I know I would be if I had such a large stick up my ars-"

"You are both acting like children!" Screamed a very distraught looking teenage girl if the state of her hair was any indication. They were a messy explosion of curls that while before was a canary yellow was now furious crimson. Both men scowled but nonetheless complied.

Another lady, this one with her own wavy waterfall of delicate curls, the coloring of clouds foreboding a coming storm and eyes only a shade darker, coughed subtly to garner everyone's attention. "Yes, well, Magic while you make a very... loud point-" The frizzy-haired female flushed, "-and while it would have been entertaining enough to watch Order and Chaos devolve to petty name calling-" Now it was their turn to flush, one with subdued bashfulness and the other with annoyance respectively, "-we do need to address the heart of the reason we all gathered."

"Well, I think it's perfectly clear why we've all gathered." Spoke a lady with tanned skin and pale green hair that was nurturing a small garden of daisies, "My counterpart has decided for some reason that now would be a perfectly good time to leave his duties and go on vacation. Though my question is why now?"

The question was met with blank faces save for two who quickly glanced at each other in sudden realization, paling simultaneously as it dawned on them. Unfortunately for them, it was a very visible, non too discreet reaction and all eyes were swiftly upon on them like eagles after weakened prey.

"Magic. Fate. What have you done?" The tallest male, he had short hair that seemed to have captured a small shard of space just to decorate his head and a long dark robe that seemed to be weaved from the night sky to match, questioned in a tone that would not accept any falsities. Magic's hair had gone a stark white whilst Fate's, in comparison, seemed conflicted, a blotchy mix of grey and near black.

"Weeeeeell..." The younger looking of the two shuffled her feet nervously, hands fiddling at the hem of her canvas painted shirt, ankle length bright orange skirt curling literally around her legs. "There's a chance that we maaaayy have an idea of who Death has taken over."

"It was just meant to be a favor." Fate cut in stubbornly. "We never even thought he would do this."

Order narrowed his eyes, he was the strictest of the group and was quite scary with his ability to discern lies, truths and the extent of a person's worth in general. Currently, the two females under scrutiny did not feel very worthy at all. "What. Did. You. Do?"

"I begged Death to spare one Harry Potter from a Killing Curse. Magic and I were bored and we haven't had a decent story to watch in decades!" Fate burst out, her delicate doll-like demeanor completely shattered as her face went pink in her haste. "Harry was meant to be a, to be a prophecy child and he was going to be so fun to mess with but something must have gone horribly wrong and knowing Death he always feels so guilty when he messes up-"

"Not to mention you've been harping about how important Harry being alive was and how terribly disappointed and betrayed you'll be if the mortal didn't live," Magic muttered unhelpfully. "And we all know how Death gets when he finally accepts to do a favor for someone."

Cloudy grey hair darkened even more, a wet sheen dampening any curls till the woman's hair was completely straight and black. "I'm sorry.." She said in a very small voice.

"It's not your fault. Well, not really." A hand belonging to the last woman, who had visible bags under her ink black eyes that contrasted greatly to papery pale yellow skin and hair the color of coffee, gently patted Fate's shoulder in reassurance. "What I'm curious about though,"

Chaos snorted loudly, "Of course your curious, yeah, let's all completely brush past the fact Death has literally left the building because God forbid Knowledge is curious!"

"Okay. What crawled up your pathetic arse?!" Order snapped irritably. "Even you're not usually this, this, this... Chaotic."

"Oh bravo Order, as usual, your arguments are always so simplistically eloquent. I can see why you were chosen for your personification now." If the glasses wearing male could burn holes with his glare, the entity of chaos would have been nothing but a small pile of ash. But since he couldn't, Chaos just smiled scornfully. "And if you must know I am merely feeling a bit... displeased at my favorite brother's disappearance."

Now it was Order's turn to smile snidely, truth-detecting eyes glinting in vindication, "That's a lie and you know it. Your not upset that Death has left," the smile turned into a sneer, "your just throwing a widdle temper tantwum that he didn't tell you personally." The younger male bristled, his rage showing through, windswept locks unraveling messily, moving like it had been caught up in the desert-storm colors it held. "Is Chaos a liddle jealous? Sad that your favorite brother didn't even say goodbye? He'd probably told his deities and minions before you."

"Order..." Magic warned, much more attuned to the growing hostility in the room. It wasn't just Chaos being affected by the man's words after all. Unlike any of the others, death was a thing affected everything. Life did not necessarily relate to chaos or fate or space. Love and knowledge weren't always something people put together. Time may not ever really need order. And magic, while it did touch a bit of all the entity representations, did not completely have a hold onto them much like death did. So it was a logical conclusion that personification of Death would be the same too.

"I bet," Order continued, his usually cool steel eyes alight with misplaced anger, clearly he too was feeling a little hurt at the silent dismissal of the entity now gone, "I bet he didn't even spare them the indignity of passing his departure through a letter. I bet the only reason he saw fit to tell you through paper was because he probably didn't want to stand in any sort of proximity to your incessant childish behav-"

"AAaaaArrRGgggGHhh!" Screamed the furious representative of Chaos as he tackled the suited, glasses wearing man to the ground. "You fracking hypocritical BASTARDIZATION OF A WALNUT PIG!"

It took twelve minutes, a lot of shouting, some bloodshed and a healthy dose of magic to get the two entities to separate to opposite sides of the group.

The pink haired woman coughed awkwardly after the short but rather action packed distraction was over. "Uh, what were you saying before luv?"

"Yes. As I had been saying.." Knowledge inhaled, trying to reign in her annoyance at being so rudely interrupted, "I find myself curious at how Death, of all entities, had managed to even break out of his, well, to put it mildly, obedient personality."

Everyone started, brows all furrowing in contemplation at this. Death as said before, held a firm hold in all their beings. He was the end to all things and so all things would eventually fall to him. It made the entity the closest thing to a true God- all powerful, all consuming, all victorious. But of course, whatever God that had created them would not have, would never, allowed such a being of existence to walk on any sort of grounds. It just wasn't right.

But death in itself was not something that could be restrained. Nor manipulated. Chaos can be calmed. Judgement can be passed. Time can be measured. But Death can not do any of those. Too omnipotent, too excessive, too untouchable.

So instead, God took away as much of Death's control as possible.

It was a tad mortifying when it finally dawned on said entity that he had been made, on purpose, with that ingrained fault. His power simply just burst from him, like a powerful waterfall when he only wished for a trickle of water. The first time he had really lost control with himself he had destroyed planets, worlds, universes. Death had been inconsolable for two centuries, shutting himself even further in his realm. Not even Magic or Knowledge or Life or any of the others working together could help reign in Death's all consuming power. Yet while that power was free from any proper manipulations, it's embodiment was created, built with one major contradiction to such untamable powers.

A sense of responsibility. A strong, but sometimes to many, confusing morality. To be forced to worry, to be burdened with actually feeling the weight of consequences and on some level was cursed with a near compulsion of trying to keep everything in some sort of line only he could see. That coupled with his position and immense strength had resulted in the being holding a constant hesitance and paranoia of itself.

The other entities when they too realized the extent of Death's personality were all equally horrified at the idea. It was like psychological chains locking up what was just so natural to them. But on the other hand they all, on some level, could almost understand why.

Entities were powerful embodiments with personalities, and whilst rarely, fights between them do occur or sudden attempts at rebellion. Love tended to create mortals with so much beauty and an equally frozen heart to cause despair or incite destructive jealousy onto the world when she was in a mood, Helen of Troy was just one of many for example. Chaos and Order fought the most but the worst ever battle between them as far as they could remember, had resulted in Death, who found to his annoyance had gained himself the role of peacemaker in these headaches, having to split a large chunk of his realm in two pieces creating Heaven and Hell, just to give the two something to do in their petty little war. And there was one memorable time Life had gotten into her stubborn head that she should hold the higher power and death was just a cruel unneeded tragedy. In front of everyone, she had tried declaring an official war against Death- only to hastily take it back later after Death decided that they needed a little private talk... That consisted of three hours of logical reasoning, blatant looks of disappointment and guilt-inducing rhetorical questions by said entity.

Death was a constant neutral. He was not one to be aggressive nor was he particularly submissive either, never had he acted out of his place nor was the first to strike in a fight. And at the same time, he was the final straw that they used to reign the others back to their roles, to soothe the jagged edges and to calm the flames of discontent. It seemed so unnatural to be so selfless, to never fight for himself, only others yet it was who Death was. As ironic as it is.

Because of this inbuilt complex of his, Death rarely participated in any sort of power displays like other entities. In fact, there was nothing in the world made purely, absolutely by Death alone. Life who held no such qualms, had given birth to nature and brought forth the first organisms to roam. Time told the sun and the moon to move in a strict pattern he himself had calculated in order to create the days and nights. Fate used her hardened tears to gift the earth with stones capable of letting one see snippets of the unpredictable future. Order implanted the idea of, well, order so governments and systems may grow. Even Chaos after seeing what Order had done, decided to bestow the world with seven sins to watch as they in turn bred into new vices and insanities. Death however could not create anything on the sheer fact his very being was destruction and oblivion, if he wanted to leave a tangible mark, to gift or curse any of the many worlds residing; he had to work with another entity.

It was a common enough practice among the entities, nothing to be particularly ashamed of, a way to entertain themselves and experiment with their unique attributes as well as provide an excuse for intra-entity relations to be strengthened. For example; Love and Life got on very well together, both spreading beauty and joy in the simple things like the colors of the sunset or the smell of morning dew. Knowledge and Magic created a fearsome combination when they weren't bickering over the superiority between science and spells. Chaos and Order were completely on opposite sides of a very wide spectrum so they hardly worked together at all, yet when they did they produced the most marvelously complicated designs and ideas that became awe-inspiring double edged swords to whoever wielded them. But anything Death collaborated on with his fellow entities always ended up a little darker, a little wilder and a lot more dangerous than anyone of them hoped. Creatures that feasted on happiness, showed ones deepest fears, consumed your very soul. This only fueled his unprecedented fears and insecurities whenever he found once again his powers unleashed caused abject horror and terror and pure darkness into the world, even further. It was a rather cruel circle reminding Death to be responsible, neutral, self-controlled. To never act out of his predetermined role. Never be more than means to an 'end'. Never more than the end.

"Well, maybe he finally decided enough was enough and 'live a little'." The green haired woman, Life, suggested with a warm smile, rather happy at the idea. Knowledge however in contrast, frowned.

"Life. That is all very positive but we are talking about Death. He does not 'live' even a little."

"You think his innate self-restraints are starting to slip?" Space asked contemplative.

The woman with paper skin and inky eyes took off her glasses and wiped them with a newspaper patterned cloth as she shook her head tiredly. "I.. I really don't know."

The group of entities all fell into tense silence. It was only a few moments later that one of them, a man of indistinguishable age with hair of copper wires and faint brass outlines of intricate cogs decorated his skin, spoke up. "This is the first time Death has rebelled and to be quite frank it is a rather mild act at that, I say we just let this slide for now and just watch over him. Who knows, it may be good for him to relax a bit."

There were soft murmurs at that, mainly ones of agreement but Order then responded in a low tone, anger and worry and a touch of fear underlying his voice dangerously, "Yes but what of us? What shall happen to his many Realms and all those who resides in them? This isn't like when we have our mid-existential crisis for God's sakes! This is DEATH." He stressed. Another thing that separated the being from his fellow entities; Death held not one but many domain's under his ruling and with that many subordinates, creatures and lesser 'gods', like the entities they too have never experienced Death's absence for any extended periods of time and the unknown effects of this was disconcerting.

"I'm sure his little demons and angels and other deities can manage one mortal lifetime without their boss." Love pointed out gently.

"Plus Chaos and Order have quite a bit of sway in the Heavens and Hells so they can always pop in to see if everything's okay." Magic weighed in.

"I will try and oversee the other lands when I can." Space volunteered.

The meeting continued from there with helpful suggestions and comments in ways to maintain the balance with the one person usually in charge from the shadows gone. At the display of order coming together Order, whilst still a bit unhappy, was definitely appeased.

"Well, I can't do much there," Fate said shyly, "But I can loosen my hold over the strings I weaved around one Harry Potter's life." The other's nodded approvingly. They hadn't even thought about how to help make Death's new mortal existence easier.

"Oh! Now that he's human I can give him the control over magic he never had." Magic smiled, cheered at the idea her kind but reclusive 'brother' could finally have a chance at wielding her beautiful gift without fearing the worst.

"Then I shall bless Harry James Potter with a durable body that can sustain the pressure of his overwhelming power." Life decided after some thought. "That way it minimizes the chance of his physical structure from self combusting or withering before his predetermined time is up."

Love shook her head, her light pink hair softly moving in a way that reminded one of flower petals flowing lazily against a summer wind, "Really, such impersonal gifts and blessings." She tutted mock disapprovingly, "I will wish for the dear to find love in his new journey. Love that will be hard to find and even harder to work for but one that once gained will last lifetimes and break all impossibilities." The older lady looked wistful at her own description, half lost in her own romanticism.

Chaos made a disgusted gagging sound, much to every female's immense displeasure. "Great. Now Death is cursed to a smooshy romance novel of a life. For that, I will at least guarantee the guy an exciting life, full of action and twists and challenges even he will find interesting to face."

Judgement looked at his counterpart with equal measures of annoyed irritation and reluctant amusement at the blessing, "Well I guess I am, as usual, to keep our dear brother alive from whatever chaos you will incur. I will grant his human vessel an ordered mind and clear eyes to help aid with the crossroads of choices he will meet at."

"And I.." Knowledge continued, not wanting to be left out in aiding their absent brother, "Will bequeath him the gift of understanding, there are many things our brother had never really try to understand and even more that he just could not. Hopefully, he will learn from his experience and grow from it."

So into their discussion on what to do in Death's absence they completely forgot about their worries and in turn, the consequences implied, about the most powerful being in existence possibly slipping from his sight of his duty. About what it could mean when all the shackles fall and when there will be nothing left to restrain.

Nothing to truly stop a monster when finally unleashed upon them all.


 

Death, no, Harry did not foresee the trials and tribulations of taking over an infant's body. Everything was blurry and loud and... squidgy. He couldn't move the way he wanted to and the experience of soiling oneself was not something he wanted to ever do again. Ever.

He also didn't foresee his new guardians being such, such-!

Well, let's just say, if they keep up that attitude of theirs, Death will be more than happy to personally escort these poor excuse of flesh lumps to Hell. Well maybe not the obese infant, he'll have to see what Dudley (honestly that was one of the worst names he'd ever heard. And he'd watched in horror as Magic gleefully deemed their pet project- an execution spell that they made together when Magic was only a few centuries old- to be named in a bastardization parody of the mortal 'muggle' Abra Kedabra) grows up to be like. Though Harry did not exactly hold any high hopes with the way that spoiled child was practically smothered with gold, fluffy trinkets and whatever mortals these days smother their children with.

Whatever it was, Harry certainly wasn't getting any.

In all his years where he had watched Judgement do his work, constantly helping with Death's decision to place every soul, he had never truly understood why Judgement gave softer punishments to those from broken families and childhoods and such. Death while not made to be cruel was not made to be particularly emphatic either. It had taken nine hundred and sixty-four grueling centuries worth of emotional management classes, sympathy courses, basic psychology tutoring, intensive sensitivity training (which he had to repeat seventy-two times with Chaos before everyone just gave up, saying they were lost causes. Chaos being Chaos promptly fist pumped the air and declared victory for 'being fucking insensitive'. Death had suddenly felt very inadequate and secretly tried reading angsty teenage romance novels before burning them in disgust) and other rather tedious studies on feelings taught by most of his fellow entities and also the occasional class by some deities (he remembered with great indignation having to sit in one class taught by Lucifer and Michael on family issues of all things!) to get his EQ and social skills to be where they were currently. Which, admittedly was still probably only slightly higher than a seven year old child. A very quiet, very anti-social seven year old child.

Of course now, as his infant form shivered in the darkness with only a thin sheet to feebly protect him from the dust and spiders of the tiny cupboard he lived in, now he was beginning to understand why some people in this world just want to watch it all burn.

So far in his new mortal life the only people he knew was; his parents noseless murderer who tried to kill him- and failed spectacularly, a very distraught black haired man who had grabbed him very abruptly from his nap and just as quickly discarded him for the sake of revenge, a half-giant with a very loud voice who also picked and passed him to the next person like a awful pass-the-parcel game to an old man with a long name and an even longer beard that, get this, dropped him on the doorstep of the Not-so-Noble House of walruses and horses... and left him there. In November. Who leaves a baby on the doorstep in November? Who leaves a baby on the doorstep, period?!

In conclusion, Harry and in turn Death, was decidedly very unhappy with this turn of events and was possibly starting to sympathize with the mindset of psychopaths and murderers that snap and gruesomely 'off' their family for 'seemingly' no reason at all. Both things did not exactly bode well for the future.

Harry sighed, any bitter thoughts about the mortals around him (that all made terrible role models for a rabid werewolf much less an innocent child) and how apparently Fate's a bitch who had planned to make Harry Potter her's, was pushed away as his infantile mind focused on more pressing matters. Like the need to go to the bathroom again.

Oh, he so was not enjoying his vacation so far.


 

"BOY!"

"Coming Uncle Vernon!" Harry shouted back as he moved toward the kitchen, stumbling slightly in his haste. He wondered what was wrong this time. "Is something wrong with lunch uncle?" The boy asked sweetly, pretending he wasn't clenching his jaw so hard he could hear his teeth crack.

"Of course not you idiot child, Petunia did an impeccable job- not that you would appreciate it." The blacked haired boy just stared blankly at the table filled with food as tittering laughter of the guests and his aunt responded at the jab. The giant man smiled an ugly smile as he bit into a large juicy steak that Harry had painstakingly cooked.

Then the small five year old gave a small quirked smile (which would have been seen as absolutely adorable to anyone who didn't loathe his very existence) as his eerily bright green eyes lit up with quiet mirth. "Yes, I'm sure next time all of us should be much more grateful to the people who provide us with the food on our plates. After all, we wouldn't want to be ungrateful pathetic worms would we uncle?"

The guests sitting at the table with them shuffled uncomfortably as Vernon was turning a furious shade of puce. Harry watched absolutely fascinated at the change in coloring. He found a strange sort of intrigued interest in it. Dead people never did that.

"WHY YOU INSOLENT LITTLE FRE-"

"VERNON!" Petunia screeched in alarm as her husband was about to raise his ham sized hand at their creepy freak of a nephew, "We have guests." She stressed, the word 'guest' was said in a way that made it seem like the queen's special secret service was visiting- instead of some boring accountants in financial.

The fat man looked more than a little disgruntled at being stopped but he obeyed the unspoken command. Beady eyes narrowed at Harry and the boy had the sudden inclination to just... squash the man, like the fat cockroach he reminded him of. After living out this mortal lifespan he was really going to have to go do some serious therapy.

"Get out of my sight boy." The older male hissed in what was probably supposed to be an intimidating manner. Harry decided to comply nonetheless. And if he had an extra skip to his step at one upping his relatives, no one commented.

Against all odds though, Harry did actually enjoy life at Privett Drive. Well enjoy was a strong word. More content really. Sure he was constantly hungry, the verbal insults were annoying and the occasional beatings were not great but Harry couldn't help but smile at the whole experience. It was refreshing in a strange way, like trying a week old lemon for the first time after a whole lifetime of eating a prestigious array of high-class sweets. It definitely beat being a helpless baby at the very least.

He liked being able to do things. As a baby, he was unable to and as Death, he never really needed to; a few orders, a stack of paperwork or six, a few snaps of a finger and a wave of his hand for the rare need to actually use his powers, and he was done for the day. Honestly looking back, Harry could not comprehend how he could not have had his mind literally rotting from mind-numbing boredom eons ago. But right now he was having fun learning new skills and trying new things.

Gardening was great. Him being who he was, it doesn't come as much as a surprise that most things directly under his touch decay and die within twenty four minutes at most, forget hours. So he had relished the feeling of growing and cultivating the greenery around him (though it did take him a few tries not to accidentally let slip his new-found control and rot whatever vegetation he had been currently touching), watching with pride as seeds he planted bloomed under his touch. And then there was cooking. Cooking, Harry had found, was absolutely fantastic. Seeing raw ingredients by his own hands transform into a deliciously mouthwatering meal was nothing short of magic. The only thing he could think of to make the whole experience of cookery even better- was someone to let him try one of his own damn meals.

Another thing he found simply amazing was the inventions. He had heard a few things from his reapers and the occasional demon or devil (Hell was very enthusiastic in upgrading their realm) on the advancement mortals had made in technology but seeing it all was a completely different thing altogether. The first time he saw a washing machine he had watched the whole process, completely entranced, for a full hour, he would've lasted longer if Petunia didn't drag him off to do other things. Television was astounding, Harry would always try and sneak a look at the shows whilst doing his chores- he felt great amusement at how dramatic the plot was, especially when death was involved (he liked how popular he seemed to feature in the operas on soaps). And don't even get him started on the portable radio that walked men. Really. Mortals were ingenious!

In fact, the only thing that really drove him up the wall was whenever his work was criticized- which was unfortunately picked up on by his relatives who joyfully did just that. Harry didn't mind if he was called a freak (well he did mind but it wasn't particularly hurtful), he didn't mind the unreasonable workload or even the beatings (though it really didn't stop him from feeling the new experience of pain- which was certainly not fun to any extent). Those things were things he could ignore easily in his opinion. What he did mind was the lack of food, the purposeful loud stomping at night to keep him awake and the rather counterproductive attempts at sabotaging his chores- though that was more because of inconvenience and frustration than anything. But what he absolutely loathed was being told his hard work was faulty or needed to be redone, especially when it wasn't. There was just something about it that made the usual indifference in him just burn with righteous indignation.

Life was meant to be imperfect, she had flaws and holes and contradictions. So it just made sense that if Life was imperfect, Death would be the closest thing to perfection there could be. In death you are just a soul, nothing more nothing less. There are no more impurities, there are no rose-tinted glasses to skew your view, there are no more bleeding scars but faded lines. All things come to an end. The end is death and death is the end, a perfect circle that no matter how hard one tries can never circumvent. And of course this need of perfection in Death would be transferred to the being of it's personification. As Harry Potter however, he had been repeatedly been told that he was anything but- an unwanted freakish child who was abandoned at their doorstep. While that was a pretty cruel thing to tell a very malleable child (which thank god he wasn't or he'd been all kinds of messed up) it truly failed to affect him because honestly, he'd heard worst slurs against him. Plus it was all technically true what they said- he was unwanted by the Dursely's at least, since having magic essentially in some form made him an outcast and different then freak while hurtful wasn't exactly wrong considering what it meant, he was a child and he had indeed been abandoned on their doorstep (but that was more because of irresponsible adults than anything).

As he was about to take a well deserved rest in his cupboard (he knew that after that confrontation, Vernon was going to be very heavy in his punishment and it would be prudent to let his small body get ready for the oncoming discomfort), a soft but still audible crash was heard upstairs. Harry froze. He looked at the floor upstairs and then longingly at his cupboard that just recently he'd got enough magical strength to charm for satisfactory comfortability, clearly torn between his curiosity and his laziness.

"Oh what the hell." The boy muttered to himself before quietly making his way up the stairs.

As he got closer Harry heard worried murmurings, pacing steps and a continuous chant of 'Oh god, dad's going to kill me, what am I going to do? Oh god, dad's going to kill me.' Needless to say, it didn't take a godly entity to put the pieces together. Deciding to might as well go all in, Harry slowly opened the door to Dudley's room and entered.

"Dudley? Something wrong?"

The fat child jumped at what was, for at least him, the sudden startlingly arrival of his little scrawny cousin. There was a look of fear and guilt in the tubby boy's eyes, his large room filled with toys and luxuries was covered in sticky, sugary liquid. "I-I, Freak you shouldn't be in my room!" Dudley snapped.

The smaller of the two looked hard at the obviously soda covered bedroom and then at the owner of said room, the boy's mask of anger might as well have been made out of cling wrap it was so see through. 'A common defense mechanism.' Harry mused absentmindedly, recalling a few of his impromptu psychology classes that he had been practically chained down to participate in. 'Loki was a surprisingly good teacher. Too bad I've forgotten most of the stuff he said.'

"My name's Harry thank you. And I only came to see if you need help." Harry replied clearly and slowly like speaking to a frightened animal. He'd never did great with children. They were so illogical and messy and loud. It wasn't like he didn't like kids, they were amusing at times and held some of the most delicate pure souls that were quite a sight to see, but it was in that way where you like dogs but don't necessarily want to keep one yourself.

Dudley's pudgy face screwed up in confusion. If it was just a bit redder and sweatier the resemblance to his father when trying to do a crossword puzzle (and failing) was disturbing. "Noooo," he said, like prolonging the 'O' sound made his disagreement more convincing, "You're name's Freak. Or Boy. It's what ma and da call you."

Bright vibrant green eyes were struggling not to be rolled. How... Sad. Pathetic seemed like too harsh a word. Really, had the true Harry Potter lived this would be just another large ugly crack in the mirror of his childhood, just waiting to completely shatter. Children were just so stupidly, unknowingly naive most of the times yet simultaneously was so perceptively sharp that whatever comes out of their loud, little mouths had the potential to either be the floweriest of fluff or the most cutting of knives. Even he was taken aback at some of the things a child was capable of saying with their almost annoyingly pure innocence.

"Nope. My name's Harry." He corrected shortly, then before the other boy could protest and they would be forced into petty bickering, he quickly continued, "And I don't think Uncle is going to very happy bout this."

That definitely got Dudley's attention as his chubby face paled drastically. It was funny, if the boy was just a year or so older, he'd probably realize how much of a scapegoat Harry was and blame everything on him instead of feeling guilty for his misdeeds; not that Harry was complaining of course. The slightly older child wasn't as set in his views molded by his parents right now. Harry knew he could use this to his advantage with a few choice words, an act of 'selflessness' and maybe the boy wouldn't be so predestined to the same place his parents would go when he died.

With the kindest smile he could plaster on his usually apathetic features (Harry was sure that it came as more of a smug half-smirk but Dudley wasn't exactly a shining example of intelligence anyway) Harry shut the bedroom door behind him and walked over to the scared boy, his small slightly calloused hand gently touching the other's shoulder.

"In fact," Harry said serenely, his voice lowering like he was giving away a big secret, vivid green eyes practically glowed as they widened in fake worry, "I bet he would be furious Dudley."

His free hand strategically rubbed against his arm that held a large hand shaped bruise, completely aware of the brunet's gaze following the motion in growing horror. Ah the pitfalls of self-preservation. It could blind the best of people. "He w-wouldn't." Dudley stammered, then he shook his head and glared at his cousin, confidence returning a bit. "Da loves me. He just wouldn't!"

Harry inwardly tsked. Stubborn boy. Outwardly he raised his hands in a placating manner, eye contact still unbroken as he continued to smile calmly. "I know he loves you Dudley." The raven haired boy soothed, the larger of the two nodded self-righteously, "Yeah! That's right- Da loves me! Much more than you!"

Harry to his credit didn't even twitch, "Obviously." He agreed. "And that's why you're in big trouble."

Dudley stared at Harry, completely unable to comprehend how the two statements were related. Harry ignored him and continued on with his persuasions, speaking confidently, calmly and a touch condescendingly. "See, Uncle probably only loves me maybe thiiiis much." The smaller boy made a pinching gesture with his hands to emphasize his point, his overweight cousin nodded along dumbly. "And he always punishes me terribly when I do small things wrong right?" Dudley nodded again. "Now uncle, your da, loves you thiiiis much," thin arms spread as wide as they can, at this point the larger child had to interrupt.

"Exactly! So da wouldn't punish me like you when I do small bad things!"

Harry just gave a crooked smile, "Ah, but what about big bad things?"

Understanding dawned on the overweight young boy in a way only child-like, normally incomprehensible, logic could give and Harry watched with thinly veiled satisfaction as Dudley looked ready to be sick with fear. It was all false of course. Vernon and Petunia doted on his cousin with such enthusiasm the kid could probably have literal skeletons in the closest and they'll just scold him a bit and maybe send him to bed without dessert. But Dudley didn't have to know that.

"Wha-wha-what d-do I do Harry?!" Dudley nearly sobbed, his fat jiggling as he shivered at the sheer idea of being treated remotely like his scrawny cousin in front of him. Harry shuffled awkwardly for a bit, slightly regretting his choice of action- even if it was kind of fun in a vindictive twisted sort of way. Being human was just so interesting what with these confusing emotions and all! He did feel a little bad about the boy though, but Harry figured that, as mortals say, taking a peg or two from him wouldn't hurt. And Dudley held enough pegs to open up a store. "Oh god, Harry! Please help me!"

Harry sighed, eyes closing as if the sight of his near bawling cousin was painful. Which wasn't exactly far from the truth. Kids were so loud. "I don't know Dudley... I mean I think I could do something.. But if uncle and auntie finds out.."

"I won't tell I promise!" Dudley burst out desperately. One vibrant green eye opened to look at the obese brunet. "Pinky promise?" He asked. He knew from eavesdropping behind walls that his cousin believed people should keep pinky promises like a dragon kept gold.

"Pinky promise!"

What a stupid child.

With a hesitant small smile, Harry ducked his head shyly and let his feet shuffle to perfectly portray uncertainty. Loki and Lucifer would be pleased at the deception. His more Heaven-based beings under his command, probably not so much. "Well then.. I mean, I guess for you Dudley I'll do my best."

Then with that tedious (even if it was slightly entertaining) manipulation of social psyche done with, Harry waved his arms in what he hoped was an appropriately fantastical manner (though he was pretty sure he was just making a complete arse out of himself but children do that all the time so hopefully he was fitting right in) and chanted the first magical sounding rhyme he could think of.

"Magic O' Magic, please don't be mean,

Help me make my dear cousin's room clean!"

Harry, blushing furiously at the show he was making (maybe trying to go out of his comfort level was not as great as he had imagined, Magic was probably crying with laughter right now if she was watching) then spread his hands out to the room and sparks of beautiful fiery orange sparks scattered like petals on a windy day. Dudley watched in awe as the sticky remnants of soft drink vanished everywhere the sparkles landed and soon his room was spotless.

Truthfully Harry could've just as easily snapped his fingers or even just ordered the place to be cleaned but then it wouldn't exactly look as impressive to a child's point of view, would it? Actually would it? He didn't really know considering his lack of a childhood (and his current one really wasn't a great point of reference), was he being presumptuous?

Apparently, he was not because immediately after his little firework show faded to nothingness large beefy arms almost suffocated him in what Harry assumed was the act of hugging. He hadn't really had much experience in physical acts of comfort in his short mortality so far but if all of these hugs were like that he honestly didn't see himself liking them in any near future. Why on earth were they so popular?

"Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!" Was chanted into his bony shoulders. Harry lifted his eyes to the ceiling in disgust, his clothes weren't exactly thick and padded so he could feel the bodily fluids of the other weeping boy starting to seep into the fabric. Fantastic. He hesitantly tried to replicate the gesture in a rather clumsy attempt at a hug, it didn't help that he was trying to minimize as much body contact with the larger child as well.

After a few moments of this, the raven haired wizard nearly shuddered in relief (or more disgust as the sensation of wet tears and snot became more apparent on his being) when Dudley finally lifted his head to look at him. "But... How?" The child breathed.

Avada Kedavra green eyes looked at the innocent wonderment in those usually cruel childish ones of his cousin, in calculation before giving his signature quirked half smile.

"Magic."


 

"Okay, so what if you just charm it? Like when you managed to waterproof my jacket?" Dudley suggested. Harry shook his head in frustrated reluctance.

"It's not that simple." He explained. "I don't think you can magic-proof magic, it doesn't make much sense other wise. It'll be like trying to fireproof something with a flamethrower."

The brunette boy grunted in annoyance but looked considering and his favorite cousin couldn't help but chuckle a bit at the irony of it all. If Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia could see them now, their dear Duddikins helping his freak of a cousin with his magic, they'd have a right fit! His chuckle turned to an embarrassingly unseemly giggle at the image of Vernon going purple and Petunia mimicking a sheet of paper in terms of paleness.

Harry had never thought this one showy little act of goodwill would result in the boy being so enthusiastically intrigued into the inner workings of all things magic. Dudley had always seemed to be the type of lazy human being that would rather forgo any sense of dignity than lift a finger for himself to the raven-haired boy. But Harry soon, with startlingly clarity, realized that it was clearly not the case. He had watched before his eyes as what once would have been a malicious spoilt child, flourish into a curious, creative boy in just under a year. It was both heartwarming and incredibly useful to Harry watching the whole transformation.

Useful, because whilst he did have the raw power and pure magic to live very well in this world, Harry had never ever put that much practice in using his untapped potential. In short, he was incredibly rusty at drawing up his powers- he had admittedly very poor control in restraining his dangerous strengths and there had been no events of an apocalyptic scale that allowed him to properly exercise even half his power. And even then it was mainly his innate powers, the ones that come only to Death himself that he used when he could, magic (much to Magic's consternation and irritation) was barely even considered to him and therefore was more or less ignored until the times he collaborated with Magic herself.

Harry was rather regretting his lack of enthusiasm for it now.

Thankfully children were naturally curious little things, and having one constantly asking questions and testing ideas and generally trying to push the limits of their new obsessions. Whilst in most cases it would have had been simply maddening to the age old immortal in a small boy's body, he could only feel rather grateful to Dudley for it. His excitement for the art was contagious and Harry couldn't help but get caught up in the giddy feelings of accomplishment whenever they got time to successfully try new things they thought up. From simple levitation, to making cushions softer, to turning one of Dudley's old toy rabbit into a real one. The look of fascination and pure and utter happiness that emanated from him every time got the raven haired wizard near bursting with pride, it was hardly the biggest of miracles nor the fanciest of spellwork but no one had ever looked at any of his accomplishments with even half as much joy as right now.

The two's relationship had grown in leaps and bounds since then. Of course, Dudley still treated him rudely in the presence of the Dursley matriarch and patriarch, but behind closed doors, it was like the whole world outside didn't exist. Just them and their not so little secrets. It definitely helped Harry go through school as well, sure thanks to all the frankly untrue rumors of his (nonexistent) delinquency the small boy with unnervingly vivid green eyes was pretty much treated as an outcast- but thanks to Dudley and his friends, he hadn't been outright bullied by them like he could have been. Though personally, Harry would've rather liked to experience that, for maybe around two weeks, just to see what it felt like.

"Is there like some sort of anti-magic? Like anti-gravity or like a black hole that sucks stuff. We learnt 'bout that in class when you were... Uh... 'sick'." The larger boy looked slightly ashamed at when he said that. They both knew Harry wasn't really sick that day. He had been locked in his cupboard as punishment for accidentally shriveling Aunt Petunia's prized roses with his freakishness. However, Harry didn't seem to be bothered by the other's guilt, in fact, on that day he had been rather put out by his mistake and thought that some time out would do him good to improve his control. He would've liked some water though.

Shrugging nonchalantly, the raven haired child just stared hard at the old Walkman on Dudley's bed before replying slowly, "I don't really know Dud. I mean... I wouldn't even know how to picture something like that." A lie. Well sort of. Harry didn't actually know how to cast this particular charm but he had heard enough rants about 'the stubborn stupidity of England's magical finest and their unwillingness to cooperate with the 20th century,' by Knowledge herself to pick up a general idea on what to do. But he didn't wish to exclude his cousin (who had quickly grown on him like a weed, though to be fair he didn't exactly have much of a social garden to grow anything in the first place) and asking him for help both made it seem like they were equals and that Dudley felt he was useful. Harry inwardly smiled at his thoughts. To think. Him capably and successfully, emotionally manipulating a child. If only everyone could see him now. They would be so proud. No really. They would. All of them. Even Judgement and Time. They were kind of bastards that way.

The older of the two just grinned smugly while the other looked on in patient interest. Dudley was actually very good at picturing things in his head and putting those images into comprehensive clear words. A feat that unfortunately most mortals under the age of ten (some even older) could not do. Really, if his parents weren't such enormous bigots on all things magical the brunet boy would've gone far in creative writing, particularly in the fantasy genre. "Okayy- well a black hole is like this big giant black vacuum ball in space right? And it sucks up everything! Even light which is why it's so black! So here's what I think you should do-"


 

Harry shuffled nervously. Dudley was puffing his chest out, immensely pleased.

Piers Polkiss had his mouth wide enough to, as people say, 'catch the fly' or was it flies? Either way, Harry had thought it was a simply disgusting image and had no idea why such a thing was common enough to be considered relevant in these modern times. And they called him freakish. Honestly, mortals.

"That.." The skinny rake-like boy finally announced after a prolonged silence. "..is so cool."

Harry didn't know his cousin could possibly puff up further but apparently, he was wrong. While both bemused and admittedly a little touched at how Dudley was proud of him to be considered 'brag-worthy' to his best mate, he was still feeling a bit of nausea at showing a non-magical mortal, well, magic. But the older boy had begged and pleaded and Harry never really could say no to people he liked (which looking back now, was really the main reason of many wars, murders and whatever you would classify the mess responsible for his current mortality), especially over long periods of persistence. Plus, he was pretty proud of the loud-mouthed child being able to keep their secret for so long. So he decided to reward Dudley for his silence... By letting him break it- dear god Harry was such a wuss and he knew it. The green-eyed boy though at least had enough backbone (well he liked to think so at least) to insist on making Piers give a vow of silence that will make the other physically unable to speak of Harry's 'abnormal' acts.

Like turning into a big, black snake for one thing.

Harry hissed in pleasure as Piers tentatively yet bravely, in the way six year old boys stupidly do when they think they're invincible and that not even a two story drop could break them, scratched under his chin. If he could talk human at that moment Harry would've probably said something dry and witty about the difference between dogs and snakes but for now, he will let it slide. As long as the boy stroked his scales at least.

"He likes having his scales stroked." Dudley, his fantastic mind-reader of a cousin, happily pointed out in perfect timing. Piers, who he'd always liked and will never ever doubt his mob mentality again, complied. Harry hissed a very satisfied sigh as he found his friend (yes Piers and he had gotten on much more amiable terms since Dudley had insisted they both spent time with him. It had been weird at first, eerily like when a parent sets up play dates with strange kids just to spend more time with their friends gossiping about the new teacher and her atrocious taste in shoes, but when Harry had stumbled over a poorly hidden book on the occult owned by one horribly embarrassed but hopeful Piers, he knew they would get along like hell on fire) had much better snake-stroking skills than his cousin. Though when he said that to Dudley later on, the boy for some strange reason doubled over in laughter.

And so Piers joined their secret club, bringing a bucketload of very interesting (if not a little dark for a six year old) ideas to try out. Honestly, it was the most fun he had had in a very long while.

Needless to say, Harry Potter was at least not contemplating a mass family murder anymore.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3- The one where Death takes a vacation from his vacation at being Harry James Potter

Alternate title: The one where Death and a Dark Lord becomes 'bros' but not really

Alternative alternative title: The one where a Dark Lord is stuck with his worst fear in a dark forest for about six days and realizes death (the person not the ending of his life) isn't so bad after all

When Harry was eight he realized that, really, he should've tackled the whole 'my parents' murderer exploded after failing to kill me and now was floating around vengefully, if not a but aimlessly, somewhere out there very likely plotting my untimely demise as well as some other people's' thing ages ago.

It was such a sudden stray lightning bolt (much like his scar but more metaphorical) that it really shocked the boy out of his nice fuzzy mid-afternoon daze. Honestly, Harry felt a bit bad for forgetting the wraith. But then again, the man had murdered his parents so... Anyway in his defense he hadn't had much free time for reminiscing about his infancy (actually he spent quite a bit of time trying to suppress those absolutely humiliating times) what with the Dursley's working him to the bone, his two friends with their overactive imaginations constantly busying him with their secret 'group school projects', marveling at mortal inventions and all this on a half empty stomach- it really couldn't be helped.

Today, however, the small boy with hair the color of the darkest midnight was for the first time in his current lifetime, bored. And no, being too exhausted and hungry stuck in his cupboard when he was younger did not count. The spiders living there had been entertaining enough to pass the time after all. Really they weaved the most interesting things when you give them a few dead flies and ask politely enough.

His aunt and uncle were away for the next week and a half for some sort of business conference, which he had promptly allowed any information regarding it to go from one ear and out the other. Dudley had been allowed to have that time spent at Piers' place which Harry had been banned from since that one time he had 'accidentally' somehow let in a big terrifying black snake a year ago. And his cupboard spiders and other animals that he occasionally conversed to in the house had been all killed last week by the terrible mortal known as an exterminator. So all that had left Harry alone at home to house sit. And when he said house sit he literally meant sitting around the house doing nothing.

Well he had a list of chores that would've made even Cinderella cry (a very interesting albeit a bit ridiculous story that Dudley smuggled from the library for him because honestly, how in God's name is it that in a whole kingdom only one girl has size five feet?) if he didn't have the beautifully useful ability of magic at his beck and call. God, when he meets Magic again, Harry swears he will kiss the blessed entity for letting him use her gifts so easily. And maybe take some time to give a stern talking to with Fate for extra measure.

But back onto the important topic at hand- his potential murderer person that Harry just knew was still out there. The snake-like man was... different to what he had encountered before. Not in a good way but not exactly in a bad way either. Well actually he wasn't really the best choice in discerning something good or bad, what with being all 'neutral' and 'un-judgemental' and the 'all souls are equal in the eyes of death' kind of way that he is. Of course, while all souls are equal, the sad truth was some were just more equal than others.

Death had always thought of the souls of everything to be like glass balls. Harry, now armed with basic knowledge of modern day mortality, decided to change his metaphor for souls slightly and say they were like snow globes. Edible snow globes anyway. Each snow globe was different, unique. There were ones that were smooth with soft colors of spring and others were jagged with aggressive reds and dark icy blues. Sometimes there were snow globes the shapes of hearts or as small as one's nail or a shifting mass where one couldn't quite pinpoint its exact form. Ones that tasted of melting chocolate next to a roaring fire, of scotch and whiskey, of sweet strawberry ice cream in winter. But there was no 'bad' or 'good' soul in Death's eyes. There was plain. There was boring. There was ugly. There was pretty. But that was it. The extent of any real opinions toward them.

And then there was 'interesting'.

Oh, how he loved the interesting ones.

Everyone had their preferences. Angels liked the 'pure ones', the ones that glowed softly with pale colors that were as close to white as possible, perfectly unmarred and untainted by the evils of the world. Demons preferred the 'determined ones', those of twisted colors that fought with each other, the ones were streaks of brilliant golds and silvers that come from finding hope and resolve among the filthy despair that near consumed them, apparently those souls came from people who've prevailed, who survive the most hopeless of situations whilst still maintaining a semblance to a heart of gold. Apparently, they tasted absolutely sinful. Reapers didn't really have favorite types in comparison. Though they openly disliked the 'irritating ones', the ones who simply just refused to leave their physical bodies and screamed bloody murder (pun intended) as they clung on like rabid dogs to a bone, but that was more because it was a hindrance to their work than anything, Death found the whole thing vastly amusing.

The souls of swirling vortexes of colored complexities. With lightning bolts of fire, forests of mists, endless seas of storms. The imperfect cracks that run further than surface deep, black rotting jaded edges and winter dark shadows that whispered hateful words. These were the most beautiful souls, souls from the most ridiculously complex and intriguing of people. Whether these people had been benevolent saints or psychopathic murderers were of little consequence to the entity. In fact if a soul manages to catch Death's interest, that lucky being on the precipice of life and the afterworld would be swiftly offered a deal by him personally. It was nothing like a demon's offer, a devil's contract or even an angel's favor. If they chose to accept Death's deal then they were required to do was become part of his 'collection' for a predetermined amount of time. They were allowed their consciousness, awareness and, if the entity felt like it, bodies of their past selves. All that was asked of them was for their company.

For a minimum of, about, three thousand years, give or take a century.

Which really wasn't that bad considering that, depending on the individual, it was more of a 'get out of jail free card' for the ones who didn't wish being experienced to eternal damnation in hell. Those destined to heaven were usually less likely to accept of course, but after some reassurance that they could back out of their agreement if they were truly unhappy or if Death failed to be entertained by them, they could always be sent to wherever they were supposed to go, after all, being the ruler of all things dead did have its perks. In fact he vividly remembered one rather pretty orb he had come across a few decades ago, pale seashell pink with swirls of toxic green and oily dark streaks of paint that created smeared pictures of war, blue-eyed blonde smiles and a strange cross like symbol with all its legs bent the same way; a rather interesting looking soul but unfortunately and disappointingly an equally boring personality, what could've been a brilliant man had he not been swept up with petty bitterness, overzealous hypercriticism and racist hypocrisy, the delusions he held were so tightly onto to the point it had been fiercely carved into his soul, even given the insight and reflections that all souls were blessed with when meeting their ends the man had refused to see, to accept anything but the biased veils he had blinded himself so irrevocably with. In short, the orb when blessed with speech again bore the entity so utterly with it spouting some Aryan nonsense on a broken loop and offended near every other soul in the collection that the soul was promptly thrown back to hell with Death huffing in his displeasure.

It really was just a guilty pleasure of his. Everyone had their vices. Even the all-powerful entities of personifications. Especially them. Love could not stop making real life soap operas with anything that remotely moved, mortals, immortals, animals, jealous lovers, love triangles, complicated backstories you named it. Life and Fate enjoyed screwing people over and placing bets on them. Magic was a prankster. Time was quite taken to collecting clocks from various famous dead people for some unfathomable reason (they don't even talk back! Isn't that just so boring?). Space had and could make alternate universes, enough said really. Chaos was... well Chaos was who he was. Even Judgement secretly had a Law and Order thing going on behind his uptight mask and glasses.

So when Harry meditated to try and look back in his mind and remember back when the self-explosion incident eight years ago (wow he did not realize how much time he had spent in that cupboard. Maybe he should ask about taking Dudley's second bedroom?) and noticed in startling clarity that the wraith like mist contained not one soul, merely the tiniest crimson red scorched shard, well, it didn't take that much more to clinch his decision to pursue the man.

Oh and because the man could possibly come back to destroy him or some such. Hah. Yeah sure. No, more like because having a vengeful murdering wand-waving jackass (excuse the language but Harry had lived in a cupboard, he deserved some leeway in explicitness when it came to describing one of the factors that put him in said cupboard) would very much disrupt or at least annoy him persistently during his holiday.

And also you know, there was nothing else to do for the next six days and Harry was bored. Was he bored enough to have tea and crumpets with his physical body's parents murderer one would ask? Harry would answer with a thoughtful look, followed them by a darkly amused smile with eyes colored deeper and brighter than any emeralds that glittered with things that no one but their owner knew of and say,

"Well, I can bet I won't be at least bored."


 

"Wow and I thought I was living terribly. Maybe Petunia's right, apparently I am a bit ungrateful, huh."

Lord Voldemort, or what was currently left of him, turned to face the person who so rudely interrupted his brooding (because Dark Lords do not sulk) in what he had presumed was an abandoned area in the darkest heart of a forest somewhere off of Germany. It was a boy. Small, scrawny, skinny. Couldn't be no more than six really. Messy, almost gravity defying locks the color of the darkest shadows itself decorated moonlight white features that seemed to glow under the darkness of the night and highlighting the most ethereal green eyes. Green like... Like... No... It couldn't be...

"I'm Death."

Well shite. That was worse than expected.

Suddenly Voldemort wished it was Harry bloody Potter in front of him. Freaking Albus Dumbledore with his condescending twinkles. Lucius Malfoy in a goddamn pink corset and matching high heels. Literally anyone else.

If he had the strength and power to speak the wraith-like mist would have wasted it on hissing indistinguishable swears like a snake that had it's tail stepped on. Instead he chose to glare as menacingly (and fearfully but it was very well hidden) as he could for a thing that didn't really have eyes. As if feeling the not-glare aimed at him, the boy that wasn't a boy, looked at him curiously and with an annoying amount of bemusement painted so clearly on his face it might as well have been written on his forehead.

"Ah, can't speak can you? Well we can't have that."

Delicately thin fingers snapped their fingers, the sound so much like an arm broken cleanly in half and suddenly the former human felt the sound of harsh raspy breathing, his breathing and it caught in his nonexistent throat at the realization. "How?" Was all he croaked out.

Death, the boy that reminded him eerily of the baby that had disintegrated his body to dust, merely smiled a smile that hinted he held enough unsaid secrets that saying even a handful of them with his tiny hands would somehow make the whole world a much less mysterious place than before, and shrugged.

"I am Death." He answered like it was the answer to everything. And it kind of really was.

This time the mist figure did hiss. "Why are you here? You cannot take me! I have done rituals to make sure of it! How is this possible?! There is just- you cannot take me!" The hoarse raspy voice was now cracking under the rising volume and the last sentence had hysteria practically bleed through every letter and syllable. It was almost funny. In a pathetic sort of way.

The entity of death, the physical manifestation of the thing the Dark Lord feared most, then raised a slim eyebrow and chuckled softly. It was such a human like gesture, the Dark Lord couldn't help but find it difficult to associate with the being that was meant to represent the end of all. "Ah, I understand your worries Mr. Riddle-" the wraith made a distinct noise that heavily implied that describing his distress as 'worries' was like saying that Dark Lords were only 'minor inconveniences'. "-but I am currently not on duty if you will, and therefore am not obliged to take your soul to eternal damnation where I'm sure you probably belong."

That was, surprisingly, not that reassuring to the intangible dark spirit. The younger looking death incarnate refrained from groaning at the obvious agitation of the other. How annoying.

"If it helps it isn't your time anyway." Harry, or now more accurately, Death tried. Comfort wasn't really his thing. Unless you just came from being tortured but he was pretty sure it was less his personal social skills and more the sweet relief from excruciating physical and mental pain. "Your uh, thing with your soul, whatever you did, helped potentially expand your lifespan." 'Though it would probably have been a much more fulfilling life had you not done it.' But Death decided to keep that little thought to himself.

Death swore he saw the intangible darkened air that was 'Voldemort' (he did not want to even believe that was this mortal's name. Flight of Death? Well that was just insulting) bristled in sheer rage alone. "You cannot take me." The wraith seethed now for some reason more confident. Hm. Maybe he was too comforting. "I am now untouchable by death. I am beyond that."

The childish pale face merely looked at the other in the most condescendingly pitying way it could muster. "Sure you are." The being assured half-heartedly like a bemused parent to a very small child agreeing that yes, sugar plum fairies were real and so are pink nosed reindeers that stole strawberry cheesecakes from people's fridges on New Years or just something equally as stupid.

Voldemort suddenly felt the very familiar itch in his mind which he'd always got right before letting out a nice Crucio. Or an Avada Kedevra. Though if his last moments still in his body were any suggestion maybe just a good old fashioned muggle strangulation with his bare hands. See if that thrice-damned defied infant could live through that dammit.

The thin pale boy must have seen the other's rising ire with his unnervingly almost toxic green eyes because the smaller male promptly changed the subject. "So what are you doing in this… unwelcome part of the forest?" He attempted politely. Apparently that too was a sore part (honestly this... man was just so sensitive) as the dark vapour actually growled at him. A very rude mortal indeed then. To be fair though, Death was pretty sure if he had been vanquished by a mere babe and reduced to insignificant mist he too would be rather disgruntled at many things. But if memory served him correctly the man hadn't been the prettiest looking of people when he did have a body, not that he was judging by appearances but you had to admit- with a face like that, it was hard not to assume that the man not being a morning person was a big understatement.

"Why are you here then?" Voldemort asked shortly but with very well veiled curiosity underlying his irritation. Death merely brushed it off with a wave of his tiny, pale as bleached bone, hand. Rude mortal as he was, it was refreshing for him to be addressed like this with this instead of outright fear. The wraith was of course afraid of him, he could practically smell the terror, but the man wasn't pleading for his life, nor breaking down in front of him, he could respect that. After millenniums of 'Please spare me I'll do anything!' and 'I don't want to die!' and 'Oh god, oh god, oh god, you bastard, please no!'- listening to it all got old very fast. Also the Dursley's have really numbed any sort of verbal insult thrown his way even more than past millennia had done. Which is actually pretty impressive thinking about it.

"A few things have happened recently but as you mortals say, long story short-" The eight year old boy gestured at himself as dramatically as a eight year old boy could, "-I'm on vacation."

"Death." The wraith disbelievingly and unbelievingly replied. "On vacation."

"Is it so wrong to believe that Mr. Riddle? I am in desperate need of a vacation, you know, everyone else gets one after all. Very offending that." The child chided, vivid bright green glowing playfully even with his rather emotionless stoic expression. "I've been stuck in this, well, putting it mildly- 'job' since the first living organism's last breath left the world, and not once have I ever been caught up with the paperwork. Seriously, you'd think it'd be easy being the physical representation of an immutable visceral force, but oh no, it's always 'this flesh lump decided to start a war over a shiny a bit of shiny yellow apple with another flesh lump and destroyed a small country, Death'; or, 'another overzealous bigot raised an equally overzealous and bigoted army and destroyed a large chunk of Europe, Death', or even, 'Loki and his family got into another little 'domestic' about him being adopted and New York pretty much got demolished, Death.' I mean, really. You'd think after hundreds of millions of years those idiotic deities would just go do some serious intensive therapy or something. Honestly-"

Realising he was effectively ranting to the killer of his physical vessel's parents (not that Voldemort knew that) the entity of death coloured ever so slightly in embarrassment, cheeks going the palest shade of pink humanly possible. If someone was more poetic they could say it made one think of a budding rosebud that had withered into winter ice which of course made really no sense but it sounded nice. Voldemort at that moment thought the colour like a drop of fallen blood diluted by a skull filled with ice-spun sugar which also made no sense but admittedly also sounded nice and poetic in the dark gothic sort of way which honestly did suit Death more than the previous description.

"So," Death coughed then smiled; not just a wry twist of the lips, an amused quirk at the edges of his mouth nor a baring of teeth, but a genuine if not a very faint smile; "I have decided to accompany you for a short time." and it was such a surreal thing, as being a partial bound spirit, Voldemort was just instinctively aware that this was really Death. It was like how he just knew he was stronger during sunset to sunrise and that he shouldn't be inclined to any holy grounds any time soon. He knew all this, he feared all this, all of death just as naturally as he knew Death was there in front of him, But all he could see was a mysterious tiny boy with striking green eyes that glowed more ethereally, white skin even paler and a petite slim smile brighter and warmer than any moon he had ever seen.

For a moment Lord Voldemort, Flight of Death, Tom Marvolo Riddle looked at that smile, at the boy, at Death-

-And he forgot to be afraid.


 

"You know I'm pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to fish." Voldemort the wraith pointed out very unhelpfully, his still raspy voice poorly hiding his entertainment.

The small boy, completely drenched and looking like a half-drowned cat, glared, wet hands gripping an equally wet stick that had been crudely carved to a point. It was obvious that the child was not pleased. It was also obvious the child was completely without fish.

"Couldn't you just go get some of those thin potato slices instead?" And oh if black misty spirit clouds could look condescending… Actually Voldemort was doing a pretty good job of it much to Death's annoyance. A part of him mourned the very short period where the Dark-Lord-on-hiatus had been quiet and actually pretty respectful (not to mention extremely boring to talk with) to him for all of, until he figured out that he wasn't actually going to die, like Death had reassured consistently. Then the snark came.

"It's not the same." Death huffed good-naturedly. "I wish to experience a 'true' camping trip and from what I've heard one must capture at least one fish, slay it, then consume its burnt flesh under the moonlight."

The wraith stilled its usual movement (which was more its vaporous form shifting slightly with the wind) and the smaller, more human shaped male could swear he felt Voldemort staring at him. "And where..." The not really a Dark Lord at the moment drawled, "in Salazar's name did you here that from?"

The entity in a physical form just hummed noncommittally, Voldemort wasn't fooled. The 'mysterious child of the shadow' act stopped working on the second day when he saw Death try climbing a tree- and failing quite terribly- to catch something he thought and he quote 'looked pretty'. It turned out to be a scrunched up sweet wrapper that was thrown there by the wind.

Voldemort found it hard not to stab such idiocy with poisonous cutting barbs worth of insults. Especially when said idiocy got old after the first hour and a half. But Death didn't vanquish, curse his soul with indignation and rage at his taunts. No the child just gave a wry humoured smile and threw his own insults, which were actually more passive than the Dark Lord expected verbal jabs from Death would be like (not that he expected to be trading back disparaging comments with the entity of death like muggle children with card games) but it was… agreeable. At least, he admitted, it was better than floating in a dark forest with just himself and his thoughts.


 

"So what's your problem anyway Mr. Riddle?"

Voldemort stopped his, uh, fluctuating flight and turned to face (well more for his sake than the other's) the raven haired boy who was currently leaning against a fallen log, evidently having temporarily abandoning his attempt to create fire using just his hands, sticks and dried leaves. It had been a while since he had started and so far the only thing that's happened was the revelation that Death when frustrated tended to rot the things he touched. And turn things to ash and dust when particularly annoyed. The once-serpentine man did not want to see what Death was like when actually upset, though something told him that was a very, very hard thing to accomplish which really was an equally very, very, very good thing.

"My problem?" He asked with still more than a hint of a rasp. Years unable to speak does do that to people. At least his more hissing quality to his speaking was becoming slightly more evident over time.

The entity in question was staring back at the other, it was unnerving how much attention could be put in those unearthly glowing eyes. "You know," A pale hand waved in a flippant gesture to emphasise the space the wraith was presently consuming at this moment. "Why are you so bitter and all."

"I'm not bitter."

"You say bitterly with what is probably a bitter expression."

"Fuck off."

There was tense silence immediately followed by the explicative. If Voldemort held any less dignity (and had any arms) he would have slapped his mouth at what he had just spoken to the death child. Sure they constantly sparred with dry humour and sarcastic jabs (more the spiritual male than the other) but he'd never dared to even, to actually, to Death, and oh Salazer was the child shaking, in rage? In offence? Outrage? If their roles had been swapped Voldemort had no doubt in his mind the other would have been dead and rotting at his feet since their first few sentences exchanged due to impudence and failure to respect their obvious betters.

He was sure there was some sort of sacred unspoken commandment that read 'He Shalt not Swear Against the Embodiment of Death nor Shall he Speak Ill for the Poor Soul that Forsakes this Law He Shalt be Smited in the Most Abominable of Ways.' Not that Dark Lords were exactly meant for following the rules but Voldemort thought that this one would definitely be one of those firmly in the realms of exceptions.

But then the child threw back his head, shaggy unkempt to the point of defy gravity black locks strewn messily over his young face only emphasising the boy's dirty looks that only spending time in the wilderness could provide. But that hardly mattered when for the first time Voldemort heard Death laugh. It wasn't some magical fairy tinkling of wind chimes like his almost angelic physical appearance would suggest, nor was it the harsh chilling cackle, like frozen bone and rusted metal grinding together, of what he'd always pictured an incarnation of death to sound as either. No, it was soft and whispy, but clear enough to hear ring out in the quiet of the forests. There was no horrifying frozen terror that pierced through, no feeling of numbness seeping through the mind or body. It was strangely.. soothing. It seemed to echo, resonate, to his very being, his soul and ironically, he felt more alive than he had been even with a body.

"I, I think," Death gasped between laughter, evidently this was something that happened few and far between, the Dark Lord of England should not be feeling an unexplained sense of smugness at the idea that he was one of those rare few that caused this. "This is the first time anyone has said that to my face."Then with a thoughtful look the boyish face added, "Well, without actually meaning it anyway."

The vaporous Dark Lord raised a nonexistent eyebrow. "What do you mean by that?"

"It's an embarrassing story. I rather not speak of it." And oh, if that wasn't a reason to want to hear it Voldemort, who after being touched by that laughter could feel his old insatiable curiosity and wonder and all those things he had felt when he first found out about magic, didn't know what was.

"I can tell you about the time my headmaster burnt my wardrobe when I was a child." He offered, "An eye for an eye is only fair after all."

"Indeed Mr Riddle." Green twinkled and Voldemort had a sinking suspicion he had been tricked somehow, completely thrown off course by the young boy with calming, soul-touching laughter and a confusing sense of humor. He couldn't find himself feeling angry at that though. No, he was too busy being unwillingly enraptured by a story of a whole other dimension, of strange magic that would never be found in this world, of muggles with technology beyond imaginations, of aliens and of champions of death who tried courting Death with the lives he had slaughtered. He even laughed, actually laughed till his vaporous vocal chords grew hoarse, when Death finally met this self-proclaimed Champion of him to turn the alien man down politely, only to find that the Champion wasn't courting him, but Hel, a rather selfish little Norse goddess who wasn't even technically part of the 'big guns' of Hell much less the realms of death themselves.

"So what happened after you explained everything?" The wraith asked. Tiny shoulders shrugged.

"Before I tell you I must add that I was in my original form at that time and not in the body of a child." An downward curl of a faint grimace, "Because that would've been very awkward."

"And?" Voldemort pushed, a part of him slightly mortified at how eager he sounded, he pushed that away quickly though, it wasn't as if there was anyone actually there to judge him much less live to tell the tale.

Death chuckled, scratching his cheek a tad flustered. "Well, let's just say it was no longer Hel he was courting by the end of that little tea party."

Voldemort laughed. He didn't even feel his usual resentment, his hatred, his bitterness when he offered up stories of his life in return, maybe a touch of uncharacteristic self consciousness but that was it. The two most unlikely of pairs spent most of the day exchanging little anecdotes, some were funny, some were hard to speak about but all of them at least were more than a little dark and interesting to listen to.


 

"You want a marshmallow?" Death offered, the pale pink squishy sweet looking large in his delicate outstretched hand.

"I don't have a mouth." Voldemort deadpanned. He still couldn't comprehend that Death was offering him marshmallows. Maybe he had died and this was some sick joke form of limbo he found himself in. The child looking entity popped the marshmallow into his mouth, chewed thoughtfully and then swallowed.

"That does not answer my question."

"You are such a child."

"Thank you. Now do you want a marshmallow Mr. Riddle?"

The Dark Lord sighed sufferingly as pink and white sugary confections passed through his body by a chuckling eight year old.


 

"What is that?"

Avada Kedevra green were bright and shining with undisguised mirth. "What do you mean?"

A smoky shadowy tendril poked at the glowing sphere of swirling forest greens and faint lazy waves of early morning sunshine. Voldemort recoiled almost instantly when the thing unexpectedly pulsed, turning an overall paler shade of yellow than before. Death smiled affectionately at the ball which he cradled gently like a fragile egg. "Oh, do you mean this?"

Voldemort glared as much as he could glare. The man did that a lot really. Death didn't mind. It was kind of adorable. For a person who liked throwing around killing curses like Zeus throws around his many, many offsprings. And lightening bolts. It really did speak volumes when the first thing that he thinks of when using Zeus as a metaphor is his sex life and not his innate legendary powers. So the representative of the end of all just continued on.

"It's a soul." He answered simply.

"A soul." The vaporous dark lord repeated slowly, gaze still on the object in question. "Where did you get a soul?"

"One of my beautiful children gave it to me as a present when I bumped into them by the lake. Really it was such a surprise to see it. And it was so worried for me, such a dear, and gave this to me.' Death smiled. Just a twist of his pale lips on what could've been described as hauntingly angelic features that gave the child a chillingly beguiling allure that drew even the most wary whilst still whispering ominously of danger that even a deaf man could hear. "I suppose it thought I was hungry."

Voldemort didn't ask about it again.


 

It was a uncharacteristically beautiful morning in the usually dark and uninviting forest. The sun was filtering through the trees, highlighting the small things that one could miss in the shadows and dark. Wildlife was chattering lively, the whole vibe not menacing and creepy but now warm and filled with curious wonder. Dew drops glistened like crystals of the highest clarity on grass adding to this magical beauty.

It really was a sad fact no one was there to appreciate it.

"Of course you all look pretty now," a very disgruntled young boy grumbled as he stared grimly at the idyllic image that certainly was not there last night when a huge and frankly, very uncomfortably unpleasant storm had hit. It did not help that he had been sleeping in a tree that night and didn't have time to cast a cushioning charm before his butt was rudely met with muddy earth. A large part of him blamed the Dark Vapor Lord who had been suspiciously silent through the whole ordeal with the exception of an undignified loud snort when Death let out a colorful string of swears he had picked up from none other than him. It had been a long night filled with heavy rain, annoying debris flying everywhere (the boy swears that particularly sharp twig was aimed at his heart) and even worse; the insects flying or scuttling for cover and were unfortunate enough to get caught in the storm. Don't get Death wrong, he liked all creatures, just not when their twitchy little legs suddenly squish into his damn face.

He did not care what Mr. Riddle said. He did not scream.

"Stupid nature. This is why everyone built houses."


 

"Why do you call me Mr Riddle?"

Death raised a brow and looked at the wraith. He was currently trying to weave a makeshift net in an attempt to catch some fish. Sewing was never his forte, neither was making things, so really it was just a mess of dead vines littered randomly around the earthy soil. "Well I absolutely refuse to call you.." The child scrunched up his face with distaste, "Voldemort. I mean honestly. And you dislike the name Tom, which I personally don't understand, there are many upstanding men that holds that name. And calling you Marvolo seems a bit ridiculous-"

"Yes, yes, but how do you know my name?" Voldemort persisted. "In fact, how do you even know where I even was?"

Avada Kedevra eyes closed before opening slowly, the color glowing brighter, Voldemort always thought he had seen how vivid those eyes were but now, such hauntingly inhumanely green looked at him and he realised just how very little he knew. He almost felt humbled by the sheer age, the knowledge, the untapped power.

"I am Death, Mr Riddle. It isn't that hard an answer to come to."

The Dark Lord paused, his soul quivered, submissive to what it had innately recognised, no body to protect and muffle the sheer waves of death rolling against him in lazy waves. But he was not just a soul, there was more to that, more to him. He was a Slytherin with an advantage, he was being for some reason, favored by the entity and he knew it. So he kept going.

"Then why ask me things?" He asked. "Why the stories and chatting and those gaps in what you know of me?"

The boy; no, Voldemort couldn't see the child in the other anymore, there was only Death there; tilted his head slightly, eyes locked on his non-solid form as if weighing something before he answered. The wraith vaguely felt like he had just gone through a test of sorts and passed. "I, believe it or not Mr Riddle, am not omniscient. My realm is death. My powers are and only for death. My knowledge that naturally comes to me is only about death. Things like how a toaster works, the color of the sky as the sun rises and falls, things like that are not in my domain, my knowledge. Do you know why Mr Riddle?"

"Because they are unnecessary to you. Because they aren't things that would serve you as Death." Voldemort answered, "I still don't see ho-"

"I can't see every individual soul, I can't bare it's memories just by looking at them, I cannot know everything about every single being in existence even if I wanted to. When they are dead, bodiless, passing on to the realms of my lands, then my hand is free. If I wish, I can know near everything about a soul, their names, birthdays, deathdays, all I need is them firmly dead, away from any restraints of life." Unearthly luminous eyes bore into his very being. "So tell me, Mr Riddle. Do you count as dead. Or alive?"

A flash of teeth that somehow was even whiter than his bone pale skin.

"When you figure that out then you answered you own answer."


 

"Ok this is ridiculous."

"I'm surprised you didn't think so when you decided to do this all.. muggle-like." Voldemort responded dryly, earning himself a glare and a huff and what was obviously not a pout from the child. "I'm rather impressed you lasted this long on berries and roots."

"Ugh." Death groaned. "I will never understand vegetarians. I don't think I craved meat this badly since that blood ritual withdrawal period where people stopped sacrificing slaughter to me."

"…What?"

"Never mind." The child waves dismissively even though the wraith was close to bursting with intrigue and questions at that, much to Voldemort's annoyance. "I'm getting some proper protein by the end of the day or I will burn this forest down."

Well if that wasn't an ominous sounding threat the Dark Lord didn't know what was.

The forest seemed to think so too as moments later every nearby bush began rustling violently, chatters of wildlife that had been muted since Death's arrival now sprung anew, louder than ever. The pair watched as finally, a wild boar finally made it's presence noticed. The thing was large and stocky, but held a slight limp that would've made itself useless eventually in the wilderness. It quietly trotted toward the child, bent it's head in what looked like respectful subservience before laying itself on the ground.

There was a silence, like the whole of the woods was holding their breath as one, hoping to see if the entity would take their peace offering. Then the boy that held the power of death, who was death, spoke.

"Huh."


 

"Shall I present you with a story Mr. Riddle?"

"You know I am not a child right?"

Death chuckled. "You are in my eyes."

"That still does not mean!" Voldemort blustered, bodiless form floating nearby where the strange child lay.

"I can speak on and about the Four Founders of Hogwarts if it pleases you."

The indignant wraith paused, before muttering, "I suppose one tale would not kill me."

Death chuckled again. "No but I could if you're offering." Green glittered with childishly terrifying malignity, once again reminding the wandering half-soul again just who exactly he was 'sleeping' under the stars and talking with. As if sensing the wary fear the boy's eyes rolled visibly at the bodiless man. "Honestly Mr Riddle, even by mortal standards you are so, what's the term? Springy."

"Jumpy." Voldemort corrected. Death clicked his fingers and made an 'ah' noise. "And forgive me if I feel that way about the physical manifestation of death when he tells you that he could end your existence at the drop of a hat."

Pale features crinkled into a small frown at the response, "I do not know Mr. Riddle how I can make you believe me but I can tell you that Fate is just as real as I and she does have plans for you that extends beyond me taking your soul during an impromptu camping trip."

"I should hope not." The wraith muttered but he definitely felt much more relaxed now, reassured at the implications of the statement as he read between the lines. He quickly switched topics before Death realised how much he had potentially slipped to the vaporous Dark Lord. Death may be very wise but he was naive too. Unusually so. Apparently death doesn't always make you less innocent in the ways of the world as many would think. "So how do you know about the Founders?"

A faint ghost of a smile. A flash of, was that pride? Yes, it was, there was pride glistening in those expressive eyes that could never really be conveyed on his face. "I collected them." Was all Death answered like a parent who was seconds away from pulling out some photographs of their children to coo about. "Beautiful strong souls all of them really. And you could barely separate them too, package deal they are."

The entity of death then looked down to the ground, feet shuffling and thin fingers fiddling on the hem of his dirty shirt as glowing green glanced coyly up at the shadowy spirit of Voldemort, looking more like a vulnerable child than anytime before. "Maybe one day, you would like to meet them Mr Riddle." Death offered shyly, "Not just them, but the rest of my collection."

Voldemort had heard much about Death's 'collection', it had been something that came up a short while back. He could just imagine shelves upon carved shelves of orbs much like the one he had seen before, illuminating the darkness with a contradicting cold warmth that few appreciate. Death would probably visit everyday, to watch colors bleed through colors and listen to countless stories that have never been spoken, points of view never being heard. He would with careful hands bring a few down to interact with others from long forgotten eras, to distant futures or from exotic lands to universes one could only read in books about. And Death would smile that faint smile as he watched it all, his own little lives, little worlds he had created that never could be.

"I would like that." Voldemort replied softly, honestly. Then he hastily added, "If I die. If. I am going to be immortal after all."

Death laughed.


 

Five days pass quickly and by evening Death knows he needs to be back at the Dursleys, back to Harry Potter. He had to get there a few hours before sunset for a quick clean over in the house so it looks like he'd been there, working, the whole time, and maybe he'll have enough time to get rid of his muddy clothes and his duffle bag. It was going to be sad, leaving, he will miss the creepy dark forest, it's grown on him. Maybe he'll try getting Life to help him create his own forest, it'll probably much more dangerous and deadly but it'll be nice to have something resembling life that wasn't reapers in his personal realm.

He didn't know how to break the news to his vaporous companion though. Death knew how hard it will be for the dark lord, more than the other will know. Because souls are meant to be whole, natural, half souls can go on fine but any less becomes erratic and unstable, like gaping wounds it leaves them open to diseases of insanity, depravity and so many things that shouldn't belong in any healthy soul. And Voldemort wasn't even close to the picture of health in that matter. Unknown to the mortal spirit, Death's very presence prevented any worsening effects, grounding the wraith, stabilising him. If he hadn't been there to ward off the lingering diseases and disgusting parasites of the spirit, the mortal would've ended up even more corrupted than before.

But once he left, well, he could only do so much when the other wasn't even dead.

"Mr. Riddle?"

"Yes?"

Death could feel the weight of the wandering spirit's gaze on him and turned to face the look forwardly, "I must leave. You should be forewarned that once I'm gone you'll find yourself unable to properly remember my appearance but other than that most of your memory will be intact. I truly wish I could stay longer but circumstances stop me from doing so."

Silence filled the air and the entity mentally berated himself for his blunt words. Intensive sensitivity training for 72 times and this is what he comes up with. At least he had gotten better. He didn't add the fact that the man's going to go clinically psychopathic once he all but abandons him. That's progress.

"How long?" Was finally asked, breaking the silence. It was hoarse and human, so very human with the thick emotions the other would never had shown to a living being before now. Well technically he still hadn't shown them to a living being but it was the thought that counts and that thought made something in Death's mortal body feel a little hollower in his chest cavity.

"I'll go in a few hours. I won't leave till the hour before the sun sets." The boy promises, he won't leave till the last moments available. He'll just use magic to clean up his looks and hide all his 'camping' things in his closet.

Voldemort's shadowy figure was twisting and distorting itself in what Death could assume to be his conflicting feelings over his departure, but the dark lord reluctantly agrees. They sit by the riverside and talk. Death tells the other about gaining strength through possession, as a apology gift for abruptly withdrawing, the other takes the gift with surprisingly quiet dignity. It was all very pleasant but the knowledge of them parting ways hung over their heads like a hangman noose, unlikely as it were they had become possibly friends, 'bros' would be what Dudley would call it.

Finally Death looked at the lowering sun and knew it was time.

"I am sorry Mr Riddle."

Voldemort went silent before questioning, "Will I see you again?"

The boy with Avada Kedevra green eyes that glowed even on the starless nights gave a dry crooked smile. "Probably when your dead." The wraith chuckled good-humoredly, "So never then." He deadpanned half serious.

"I suppose." Death mused, the corners of his mouth stretching a bit wider. "It was enjoyable while it lasted Mr Riddle. And I thank you for that."

The wraith made an embarrassed noise, no one has genuinely thanked him for his presence, how ironic was it that it was Death of all things that done so?

"Surprisingly I could say the same thing… Death."

Death chuckled, "Yes, very surprising." Then the child-like face turned solemn. "I really must leave now."

Voldemort nodded stiffly, not that it could be seen but the other must've known. The small petite boy walked into the shadows, vivid green eyes never straying from him as he slowly faded into the darkness. "Goodbye Mr. Riddle."

And then he was gone.


 

Harry Potter opened the door to greet the Dursley's, Vernon rather unceremoniously dumped his very heavy suitcase into his scrawny arms causing him to drop loudly onto the floor with a groan. At least he can blame the bruises on his arm for that then his failed attempt at tree climbing. Still doesn't stop him from mentally swearing to hell and back. Dark Lords apparently are terrible influences. Who would've thought?

His thoughts were cut off as the weight of the bag was lifted, bringing back all circulation to Harry's arms. Rubbing the sore limbs the boy looked up to see his grinning cousin with his hand out to help him up. "Hey Harry!" He greeted cheerfully. Harry grunted in what he hoped was equally as welcoming.

With the larger boy helping with the heavier bags, Harry was finished unloading in record time, giving the two some spare time to rush up to Dudley's room to catch up. Dudley chatted on about a new game console thing Piers got as well as this new book they got engrossed in (since the genre was fantasy based the brunet boy had to stash his copy at his friend's place) called Howl's Moving Castle which apparently was and he quote, 'bloody better than some stuff the telly comes up with' which from Dudley was high praise indeed. The older of the two promised to tell Harry all about it when he finished.

"So Harry, how did you spend the week?" His cousin finally asked, not that the younger minded, he liked listening to stories even mundane ones about how many cans of coke Piers managed to chug before he choked. "It must've been very boring." Dudley continued pityingly, guilt obvious on his large face.

The raven haired boy gave a vague nostalgic smile at the other and replied,

"Believe me or not, I find my ways to make sure my holidays are anything but."

Chapter Text

The one where Death got molested by some snake. Which thinking about it was totally inappropriate considering his mortal body was ten, his immortal spirit was way over a millennia of a millennia and the snake was like, seven months old.

He was sleeping. Well kind of. Harry didn't really dream so it felt more like just closing his eyes and waiting for the blackness to consume him. He was pretty sure he didn't actually need that much sleep, two to four hours minimum per day probably, but there was nothing much really to do in his cupboard and it was a strangely soothing luxury he had never experienced when he was Death. Sometimes, if he was lucky, he even caught the strands of a dream; colors that floated by like unreachable strands of mist in the starless night, a feeling of icy cold wind on his face, scents of freshly cut grass and salty sea.

In fact for the first time Harry could feel the beginnings of sweet flavor on his subconscious tongue. It wasn't very strong but it was enough to vaguely discern the taste to be slightly tangy. A tart maybe? Piers had let him try a lemon one once. That was absolutely divine. He was close, so close to figuring out when-

"HARRY HARRY HARRY WE'RE GOING TO THE ZOO!"

Pain hit his side as he fell off his cot at the sudden banging on his cupboard door.

"Fuck." Harry muttered. And he had been so close too.

"HARRY HARRY HARRY!"

"SHUT IT DUDLEY I GOT IT!" He snapped. The boy may not need sleep but damn it all, he certainly wasn't going to be happy when it was taken away from him. Especially if it was a dream. Silence was his response and for a second Harry worried he had been too harsh to the child. Well until he heard the boy mutter,

"Woah ok, so Harry's a grouchy bed monster."

And it was just such a ridiculously, silly thing to say that Harry in his still hazy sleep-addled mind giggled. He didn't admit it but it had been such a relief to hear when the older boy joined in on the laughter. Thank god, he could not imagine having his cousin hating him just because this was the first time Harry had ever raised his voice at the large boy. Actually this was the first time he had actually yelled in his mortality. Ever. Hm.

But the paler boy realized just how little credit he'd given Dudley when his cousin didn't get offended. Dudley didn't get mad like he no doubt would've done years ago, he just laughed along. The boy obviously wasn't like his parents at all anymore, maybe still more than a tad spoilt and a quite a temper when upset, yet the larger kid had stopped discriminating others just because of what others said, more willing to stand up to what he believes in (admittedly it could use quite a bit of work but the larger child was getting there). Harry could see he was getting stronger in heart and when he peered at the boy's soul he no longer saw something dim and filled with dull muted unattractive browns. Now it was bright and filled with rich silver swirls as well as orange sparks that went off like fireworks on New Years.

"But seriously Harry- the ZOOOOO!"

Of course the child's volume control hadn't changed one bit. Not that it wasn't endearing. In a annoying 'I'm going to choke you if you don't stop' kind of way. God he hated how loud kids were.

The scrawny pale boy groaned and hit his head on his pillow as his cousin proceeded to bang on his door again.


 

"Wassup boys!" Piers drawled in a terrible American accent. The gangly kid had been getting completely obsessed with those dumb slasher films that have been coming through and honestly, the first time when he sneaked through the Polkiss family window to join the two older boys to watch one of those rare movie video things of it on Piers' telly he had been quite taken to it. Ok so maybe the teenagers depicted in the show made seriously bad choices, the police were dumber than a drugged up hellhound and was in denial so deep that the Pit in the underworld looked like a shallow pool in comparison, and the plot devices were a little too convenient but he would be lying if he didn't yelp in surprise at the jump scare scenes or feel his heart beat faster as he watched the suspenseful build up. Maybe he'll get some of those films to give to the guys down under (not Australia, dig a little deeper than that) as souvenirs. Harry thought that film, The Shining, he was pretty sure it was called, would be quite enamoured by more than a few of the demons at least.

"Hey Piers!" Dudley greeted happily. Then he stopped turned to his scrawny cousin and jabbed him playfully with his elbow. Harry started at the sudden action and mock glared at the other before facing Piers with a slim smile. "Hullo." He welcomed simply with a wave of his hand.

"Shut it freak," Aunt Petunia who had been before then, watching her beloved soon with gooey love in her eyes, hissed in what was a very audible manner. "You're lucky dear Duddikins was kind enough to let you come. Don't embarrass us by speaking."

Harry slowly put down his hand mid-wave silently, causing an awkward silence to fill the air between the three boys and the Dursley wife and husband.

"Now look what you did." The horse like woman hissed even angrier, Vernon Dursley was also silently supporting his wife by sporting the same red color of her cheeks on his whole face. Harry wanted to fling his arms in the air in exasperation at those stupid meat lumps before him. Or maybe summon a few choice demons to drag them to a little special place in hell. Actually he just really, really wanted to punch them in the face. He had been pretty indifferent to his, well, he didn't want to call them caretakers, anyway he'd pretty much let them get away with everything because one- he was trying to properly experience life like a normal little mortal (as normal as someone like he could be) and was pretty sure maiming your relatives would not be considered in the acceptable range of that, two- Harry was still pretty sure this is what is considered 'normal' to be treated this way considering the circumstances therefore was willing to put up with this unless his life in this body was severely threatened and three- it would probably distress Dudley if he did that.

Instead he pulled on the most resigned look on his reserved face which frankly, coupled with his messy hair, bone thin figure and too-large clothing; just made him seem even more heart-breakingly pathetic. Like a drenched kitten that's just been kicked.

He could see Piers trembling with indignation and shock, clenching his jaws as well as his fist whilst Dudley was looking up at the sky, his face red with humiliated disappointment and ashamed ire toward the people who raised him. Once the two adults had finally turned away from them, the two boys were by his side, hands firmly on his skinny shoulders as they whisked him toward the lion exhibit, with only a brief shout to their guardians to where they've gone.

As the sun shone, air filled with lions roaring, the buzz of life and his friends laughing and pointing out all the animals with glee in their eyes, the green eyed boy felt one of his increasingly less rare smiles that he found himself making more recently, stretch on his face. He hesitantly embraced the peculiar sensation of when happiness and contentment seeped into his chest like warm slick honey soothing over the slow burn of vindictive rage from before.

And he couldn't stop the thought on what a nice day this all was right now.

"Okay that was cool but now we've GOT to see the reptile exhibits!" Dudley gushed as the trio left the Nocturnal House. Harry really liked that one, all dark and filled with wondrous creatures of the night. He also enjoyed the aviaries, the African section, the Australian section, Asia... Okay so he was having a complete blast. The only thing he would've really wished to change if he could repeat it all again was the constant stares on him. And they weren't human stares. He had tried really hard to ignore those intense curious looks made by the general animal populace. It was seriously uncomfortable but sadly understandable.

Most of his creatures and fellow related deities usually inspired fear but Death, purely as itself, always had a sort of allure and pull to every being. It was where souls always end up, made, recycled, lived. And there was no denying that they all belonged in his realm as much as, if not more so, than Life's. However it was mainly the animals and other creatures that weren't human beings that were always just that much more susceptible to feeling and recognising that strange mix of yearning, fear and want in their souls. Maybe it was because of the lack of denial they hold toward themselves, an acceptance that they are part of one big cycle and they are safe with him, with Death. It clears up their view, their eyes and they can see easily that he wasn't there for them, not for any of them, not yet anyway. So they look with awe and amazement and even a touch of lust as they sense the deep unending power that lay beneath the surface of human flesh.

Still didn't make the experience of so many living eyes staring at him less weird though.

Dudley and Piers however loved it as his presence helped a lot in letting them all see the animals up close and personal. If he had to be brutally honest with himself, he too was finding enjoyment in seeing them so closely too.

It was so very unfair though. Life got all the cool stuff like anteaters and elephants and parrots. All he got was Dementors and Thestrals and Boggarts. Which, don't get him wrong, he loved them all dearly. But it was sadly obvious that his creatures all were severely lacking in a… color scheme among other things. On one side it was extremely boring to look at after the first couple of decades, forget centuries. On the other- hide and seek in his personal realms was a very challenging and fun game indeed.

"Oh, OH." Piers grinned as he waved the zoo pamphlet in front of the other two's faces. "There's even frogs and toads in there too. Maybe the right familiar for you is right here all along Harry!"

Vibrant green eyes rolled in mock-irritation. The boys ever since first laying eyes on that picture of a witch and her familiars had been completely obsessed in finding 'The One' for Harry. Dudley insists it would be something magical like a baby dragon or a nine-tailed fox. Piers went the more conventional route, stubbornly saying it would probably be a toad or a cat or something. Personally he was pretty sure he couldn't technically have a familiar at all, he wasn't even sure familiars were an actual thing in this universe, but it was a cute thought anyway. And vastly entertaining.

"I dunno Piers," Harry murmured shyly, "I mean, I've been so used to the bachelor lifestyle I don't know if I even want to the meet 'the One'. Then again," the black haired child sighed deeply and dramatically, "I have been feeling soo lonely.."

The tallest of the three slapped him over the head causing Harry to stumble and burst into giggles. "Wanker." Piers muttered.

"I know he is but so are you." Dudley replied with a wide grin that fit very well on his face.

"I don't think that's how you say it." Harry pointed out.

"This coming from the kid who calls using a Walkman, 'musically walking the man'." His cousin teased. Pale bone white cheeks flushed ever so slightly, which in normal human terms meant the younger boy was blushing furiously. Piers slung a gangly arm over the small male's shoulder with a laugh. "Really Harry, for a guy who has a hard time making expressions show on your face, you sure get flustered real easy."

"Oh shut it." He grumbled, but twinkling vivid green eyes spoke of a completely different tune. "Let's just go see those scaly creatures okay?"

Harry rolled his eyes at the chattering crowd, back leaning against the wall. Vivid green finally landed on one of the glass exhibits, a large anaconda was watching him with very interested eyes. Actually most of the reptiles in the house was pretty much eyeing him like the most eligible mate in breeding season. It was a little unnerving.

"Ugh, kids are so loud am I right?" He casually acknowledged the large serpent. The legless reptile reared back as if surprised someone like him would address some-serpent like her. The anaconda though quickly caught and composed herself, though still quite flustered in snake terms, much to Harry's bemusement.

:Yessss O' Hooded One, my God of Death. They are indeed.: The snake agreed. :What brings the bringer of the end to our meagre abode?:

Harry felt a tad insulted in being mistaken as his horsemen, the Grim Reaper but he could see how the young serpent could fail to discern the two. After all the man was one of the closest things created by purely his own blood and power, not to mention whilst both usually don't venture out to the outside worlds often, the Grim Reaper had been quite the 'tourist' back in the old days. It was very adorable watching his young counterpart make friends with Pestilence, War and Famine- also beings Death helped make with the urging and assistance of Chaos. In fact, Death had been so proud of his most human looking creations he had asked Life to gift them with four strong and worthy stallions; hence, the Four Horseman. Very uncreative naming but what can one do?

For some reason Hell and Heaven got into such a tizzy over them too. Death really was very proud.

Anyway, Harry mused, maybe it would be easier to just say he was the horseman of Death instead of Death himself. It would only serve to be confusing to the snake if he tried to explain himself and it would be honestly much too troublesome for someone if they were only going to visit the place once. Not to mention he was sure the Grim Reaper would get a kick out of Death being mistaken for him instead of the other way round for once.

"I am here young one," He replied with no small amount of mirth hidden underneath his unsmiling face, "To try life as a magical mortal."

:Oh?: A snake in a nearby glass container, one who had brilliant bright green scales that dulled under the presence of the entity's own vivid colouring, couldn't help but join the conversation, much to the anaconda's annoyance. :And how isss it like Death God?:

Harry mused at the answer thoughtfully before replying, "It is… very different to how I lived before. Strange. But not at all as terrible as what you all would imagine."

One of the snakes huffed, the boy had a bit of difficulty discerning which snake it was but he was sure it was the green one. :I would never replace my beautiful green scales for such soft fleshy ones.: She declared. The other nodded in agreement.

"Yes." The entity in a mortal vessel looked admiringly at shining green, the snake preening under the gaze, "I suppose it would be quite the disappointment for such a lovely sheen of scale to be wasted on boring outer meat."

The serpents were about to say something else (possibly fishing for compliments or trying to not-so-subtly check if he currently had a mate not that Harry understood why, every creature he's met so far who recognised him seemed to do that) but suddenly a voice interrupted their conversation.

"Oh my god you can talk to snakes!"

Harry turned to give his two friends a look, not in the least perturbed about their appearance from seemingly nowhere. Kids apparently when they wanted to can be sneakier than the shadows. Of course, it only could last for a few minutes at most considering most mortal youngling's inability and willpower to close their mouths for any longer.

"I've talked to other animals before. You've seen me do it." He answered. Then a pointed glare at Dudley. "You stole one of Mrs Figgs cats just for me to tell you it was hungry and that it saw what you did last summer. Whatever that meant."

"Bloody hate that cat." The larger boy muttered. Piers however, ignored his best friend's grumbling in favour of speaking over him to his second best buddy.

"Yeah but this time you were full on hissing at the thing Harry!" Piers practically squealed as he jumped up and down where he stood. "Hissing!" This time he did squeal. Harry just knew that if he had been tweeting like a bird the occult obsessed boy wouldn't even have been half as excited. Well, maybe if it was the cawing of ravens, them being death omens and all. Creepy child.

But this statement made the entity turned mortal pause, as Death he could communicate with all beings. It would be pretty awkward if he couldn't speak centaur or spider or even worse, Chinese. Every being is touched by death and obviously before he had so many reapers and death gods, Death had to do quite a lot of both the hands on work as well as write the files. So, naturally, a universal language filter was very much imbued in his being though it was more of a passive ability than anything.

Whilst he could speak in whatever form of communication he wanted to and while they would understand him and vice versa that didn't mean he didn't try actively pursuing the knowledge of each language. Considering he had since pretty much the beginning of time, he had at one point, began relentlessly learning all the languages he could the mortal way as an attempt to entertain himself and pass the endless flows of time. So usually he would at least know or was aware of, when he himself was speaking the language of serpents. Yet for some unfathomable reason it all seemed like what came out of his mouth was english to his ears.

How very strange.

Harry gave it exactly a moment's thought- before shrugging and deciding that it really wasn't worth much to think about it. Maybe his human vessel was just more attuned to snakes. Maybe his mother had a secret snake fetish (don't judge him, he's seen weirder stuff happen, how do you think Nagas, gorgons and such became a thing?) or maybe it was just a family trait on his body's biological father's side.

Either way, it did explain why every reptile was staring at him with some serious worship in their slit eyes, practically swooning. As well as trying (rather cutely in his opinion) to get out of their cages, to wrap around and claim him with the force of their will alone. At the corner of his eye he could see one determined black mamba that was bumping his head against the glass surface separating him and his god. Yes, a lot of animals Harry had met were in awe of him, naturally. Afraid, of course, enough for them to be very polite and respectful but still be attracted to the heady power of the being. But this was just a little ridiculous. It was exactly this reason why Harry didn't ever make himself speak a species' language when faced with one, as it always did give them a wrong 'impression' of Death favouring them or some other strange notion.

"Oh. That's.. cool." Was all the entity said rather blandly. Then Harry flashed the two a mischievous contemplating look, the older boys grinned when they saw their friend do that. Whenever that look came around it meant rule breaking and very fun things from their resident magic man. Unfortunately it doesn't come often due to Harry's rather obedient nature plus the boy usually being the scapegoat for most of their punishments. But when he got the 'look' in his glittering eyes they knew they were in for something completely awesome.

"Who wants to play with a few snakes?" Harry offered.

Dudley and Piers glanced at each other and said simultaneously with a grin, "Wicked."


 

"Oh please tell this one to pretend to strangle me, Piers, Piers take a picture of this!" The beefy boy exclaimed as a large brown viper slithered toward him as accordance to Harry's hisses. Piers, currently with an intimidating cobra wrapped around his head like an ancient Egyptian noble's headgear complied with glee. Crowds of families and children gaped and pointed at the trio who were surrounded by dozens upon dozens of snakes, probably thinking this to be some sort of show. Though it was mainly the smallest pale boy with the stunning green eyes in the limelight as the legless reptiles seemed to be much more attracted to him, wrapping around his legs and torso, almost stroking the child as if trying to entice him. A few people couldn't help but fail to stifle a laugh when particularly aggressive black mamba slithered up the boy's shirt earning a high pitched yelp of surprise.

"Wow that one really does like you." Dudley wolf whistled mockingly, "Get a room you two." His jeers were quickly cut off with an unmanly screech as Harry fished out the offending snake from under his clothes and threw it at him. Fortunately for Dudley, the snake was just as shocked at the sudden action and merely bumped off of the brunet's still rather chubby figure and onto the floor hissing indignantly. Unfortunately for Harry that was the moment the other two thirds of the Dursleys arrived, signaled by his Aunt's unmistakable shriek and his Uncle's signature bellow.

"FREAK!"

Harry stared at the furious couple turning a rather ugly shade between red and purple. Then at his two wide-eyed companions, looking with fear mainly for him than themselves. Then at the snakes surrounding him, all heads reared up intimidatingly and protectively as they sensed the aggression and violent intent toward their Death God and potential mate (which no offence to the creatures, was so not happening). Then back at his uncle and aunt.

"I would be lying if I said I saw this coming. Bloody Hell."


 

Dudley looked at the cupboard door in front of him. It was hard. So hard. To come to terms with what his family had done. What his parents had done. Harry didn't deserve any of this. Yeah he was a special kid with amazingly awesome powers but that didn't mean he should be punished. The large boy sometimes found himself wishing he too had Harry's magic abilities but it always faded fast, he had grown up with love and care and affection. Admittedly probably too much of it. But his cousin..

It's been eight days since that incident at the zoo.

Harry hasn't been let out properly once after the harsh beating his father gave when they arrived home that day, except the occasional times he was released for the bathroom but he was always immediately shoved back into that godawful place. But dear lord that beating that night. There was so much screaming and yelling and painful sounding noises that Dudley could still hear from his room, under his soft warm covers which he futilely used to try and block it all out, to ignore the wrongness of it all. Tears had sprung into his eyes as he heard his always so quiet little cousin inadvertently cry out with pain after the sickeningly familiar sound of something being whipped. That audible groan after a crash. The inevitable sob that Harry always will deny coming from him, saying it was just the human body's reaction as his bright green eyes are rimmed red from tears even when the smaller child always denied it. It was probably the worst 'session' Dudley had heard so far. He was sure he had heard the cracking of bone just like he saw on tv and suddenly he wished he hadn't watched so many violent shows, just so he couldn't recognize what was happening only a mere few feet away from him in his own house.

He stared at the cupboard. Such an ugly thing that hid an uglier secret. A messy peanut butter sandwich in one of his hands and an apple in the other. Placing them both down next to a cup of water, the brunet boy looked around nervously for any signs of his parents, an unneeded and paranoid gesture considering it was the middle of the night. Satisfied, Dudley silently pulled out a key from his pajama pocket and slowly unlocked the door. It had been hard to find the opportunity to snatch the little metal object and he couldn't stop the sigh of relief as the lock clicked open.

"Harry?" The large boy whispered fearfully. What if his cousin was unconscious? What if he was dead?! He had read that people can live a month without food and two weeks without water but Harry was just so tiny and fragile and he was a kid! Oh god, he could just imagined his closest friend's corpse staring at him in the cramped cupboard, eyes no longer glowing with life and magic, mouth opened accusingly yet no sound leaving his lips, his body as bone thin as ever and only slightly paler than before. "Harry please are you in there?" Dudley pleaded.

"Dudley?" A soft voice groaned. "Bloody hell how long have I been stuck in this hole?"

"Bout eight days. And probably a few more days longer too, my parents are seriously pissed." The older answered apologetically, then he added sorrowfully, "Happy Birthday Harry."

The unruly haired boy looked at him with touched amusement. "Thanks." Dudley felt his already guilt-filled body twist at that. He didn't deserve such an expression. Not when his family and him had done this to the other.

"I got you food and water." He offered, but it felt feeble and weak on his tongue. "Peanut butter. I know you liked it when I gave you half my sandwich at school."

Harry grinned, it wasn't a big smile, it never was but it was bright and real and Dudley just marveled at how his cousin seemed so delighted at this one measly, pathetic looking sandwich. "You made this for me by yourself?

"Yeah.." The large brunet murmured bashfully, it was the first time the boy had ever made something in the kitchen and they both knew it. "It's probably pretty terrible." He joked lamely.

The sandwich was taken gently from his pudgy hands by slim pale fingers, moving toward the raven haired child's mouth as he slowly but into it, even though Dudley knew the other must be starving the smaller boy savored the simple meal. "It's delicious." Harry said seriously, on his face was a wide smile, the largest Dudley had seen on his cousin, which really to most people would be considered a generally normal smile but the Dursley boy was overcome with a warm bubbling of pride and real accomplishment at the sight. It felt better than when his ma and dad praised him. Way better.

"Oh, and I got these." He added before he forgot. Dudley quickly turned and ran to the television room and grabbed something from behind the tv before scampering back to the cupboard. "It happened the day after you got locked in." The brunet informed as he presented a heap of unopened envelopes to his now wide-eyed cousin. "I managed to get them all before ma or pa could see them. Thought if they found them you'll get hurt even worse." He explained, "It's weird. They just keep coming each day in the weirdest places!"

"Very eloquent Dudley."

"Oh shush Harry. Not all of us can know big boring adult words like you do you nerd. Anyway, just the other day there was some that came in ma's egg basket, and boy that was hard to snatch without anyone looking but Piers helped with distracting them."

Taking one of the letters Harry could easily make out in the moonlit darkness his name and the address that included the fact that he lived in the cupboard under the stairs. Wow. Whoever wrote this were pretty cold mortals if they knew he was living in less than comfortable conditions and only wrote him a bloody letter.

"Have you opened one yet?" The green eyed child asked curiously, fingering the edge of the envelope, itching to carefully tear it. His older cousin shook his head. "Nah, figured you'll want first crack at it since its addressed to you and all." Dudley cracked an impish smirk, "Also if that thing is cursed at least I won't be hurt."

"Jerk."

"I know I am but what are you?" The larger boy frowned as his own words registered in his mind. "Er.. That was not what I meant."

The duo looked at each other and burst out laughing. It was a little forced and a touch hysterical for both parties, as they tried to forget the guilt and resentment of the past few days and try to focus on each other. "So seriously you gonna open that Harry?" Dudley finally asked. Harry nodded and with a neat tear down one of the paper packet's side he took out a letter and started to read it out loud.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,

Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

"Oh my god." Harry could not freaking believe this. There's a school. Well actually if he really thought about it of course there should be a school. It would be stupid not to have one. Not to mention Hogwarts? Wasn't that the Founder's school they always talked about? Huh. How ironic. But he was bloody eleven years old and was pretty sure that starting a magic school at a younger age would be in general, an all round smarter less stupid idea. What did magical families do with their kids for eleven years? Just sit in their houses like idiots? What about the non-magical families? Did they just expect those parents to go 'Oh. Magic? Well that does explain why little Amanda here could move things with her mind but I always thought she was a mutant like in those comic books, no big deal, at least I've finally got an answer after waiting in ignorant anxiety for eleven years.' then shrug the whole thing off like it was nothing? Actually, the better question was, what sort of backwards school was this then, to just drop something so big by note of all things? Not to mention did most wizards just live in cupboards under their stairs? Is that why no one was making a big deal about his living situation? Magical mortals seemed dumber than regular ones apparently.

Dudley however, did not seem to share the physically younger boy's skepticism and disapproval about this whole thing. He seemed to be still stuck on the fact that there was a school for magical people like his cousin. The elder of the two began nattering on animatedly about the possibilities and how cool it was and something to do with broomsticks. Really. Children. But Harry had grown fond of his cousin and so indulged the boy in his eager ramblings and wonderings on what he thought Hogwarts would be like.

They talked and chattered about everything and nothing at all, until the moon slowly went down to meet the other half of the world and the sun was slowly making its way to greet them. The two parted ways, one much more reluctant than the other but after much reassurance from a cheerier green eyed boy with unruly shadow black locks, Dudley finally locked the cupboard door and left his cousin in that cramped little prison under the stairs.

Harry, once his cousin was gone, ignored the ache in his muscles and flesh and bones (pain, while a novel concept to the entity, was beginning to find the whole experience less morbidly fascinating and more throbbingly discomforting now) decided to pile the large amount of envelopes neatly in the corner of his room. It was the first time he'd received mail in this lifetime after all so he didn't want to burn the things just to make some extra space in his cupboard. Not that he was certainly going to let the place clutter up either.

As he began picking up the scattered pockets of paper, his sharp gaze found itself resting on a single stray envelope that had isolated itself from the others. At first glance Harry would have had almost dismissed the pause of his actions- if he hadn't felt his ethereally bright green eyes glow faintly as they laid sight on it and the entity in him softly cooed with the familiar shadow of power that greeted him and entwined weakly to his own.

The malnourished child quickly, and to his slight vexation, messily pushed the Hogwarts letters into a corner and collect the lone envelope that practically sang to him. As his fingers clung to the white parchment Harry smiled as a fond nostalgia and achingly warm homesickness filled in him. Trembling with these newfound emotions, ones that tasted bittersweet in his mouth and felt oddly like when Uncle Vernon tried to strangle him but nicer, the entity tore open the letter with much more eagerness than any magical school could entice from him. Harry immediately recognized the messily, slanted handwriting, haphazardly ignoring the whole 'writing in a straight line' rule every being tries to obey and smiled as widely as his face would allow.

Dear Death,

Or is it Harry now?

Well since Harry is kind of a super lame name I'm going to stick with Death. Or Big D. Of course last time I called you that you kicked me out of Hell. Actually to be more accurate Lucifer kicked me out of Hell. You watched with that half smile of yours and I'm pretty sure I saw you high five that damn devil. It was a pretty unenthusiastic high five, one of the worst I've seen really, but I know what I saw.

Anyway we're all watching you up there and I gotta say brother, I am. so. PROUD.

Harry snorted. Trust Chaos to say that..

At least one of us always has an eye on you and don't worry about your Realms, we've got it all covered. Kind of. You have a serious lot of crap to do. It was Life, Knowledge, Time and my turn this year to do your filing and shit and I swear to God I am so very sorry Death for instigating that interplanetary war with Mars and that zombie apocalypse two decades ago. New appreciation for your job. Still boring as though. No wonder you finally cracked and eloped.

Personally I bet everyone you would've left your stupid giant paperwork filled office when Hell freezes over- and guess what? It has not. Trust me. I checked. Twice. Also your minions down there are not happy you've gone and I've temporarily taken over, I would've thought they would have liked if Chaos reigned supreme. Ingrates.

If it makes you feel better, no one won that betting pool on when you finally went. Space was the closest because he said and I quote 'The poor man will probably only leave because of something stupid he agreed to since you all are so pushy.' Which isn't exactly a proper guess so that doesn't count. And I am not pushy. Nope. Nu'uh.

Also by the way, your relatives? The Durs-lames?

Yeah they are so going to Hell.

We've all cleared a nice little space there and started renovation with our little... 'personal touches'. You should see Magic's contribution- like dear god, it made me feel inadequate and that's saying something!

So you're probably wondering why we haven't written till now. Well we thought you needed some privacy with your vacation... It's totally not because it took this long to figure out how your job works and put some semblance of a plan to tackle your ginormous and frankly terrifying workload (even Order was intimidated and he's freaking Order).

Anyway I'll just let you know we're all watching you -toOtally not betting on your life btw because that would be wrong. Heh. Oh who are we kidding? I already won a pyramid as well as a large chunk of some underground crypt in France because I just knew one of those scaly narcissistic worms would try cop a feel haha. Once I'm off your paperwork duty I am SO raising some undead mummies and confuse the hell out of people by placing them in random states in America for no reason.

The boy almost crumpled the letter and threw it in exasperation. Instead he just sighed long-sufferingly. Of course the chaotic entity never learned. And why America? Harry hated America. Not for personal reasons. It's just… Everything always happens in America. It doesn't matter what world you look into. Nighty-five percent of the times the huge stupid things happen in America. Alien invasions? America. Superheros and villains with weird powers and tons of collateral damage? America. Super spies, sociopathic detectives and criminal masterminds? Okay admittedly that's more England but in terms of places where the heart of the Apocalypses happen America still freaking wins.

So yeah, no offense. America sucks.

And while all of us have really wanted to intervene more than a few times at what we saw but we (when I say that I mean they not me) have decided to respect your privacy and will occasionally send you letters now that you'll soon be away from those two disgusting dredges of human scum. I'm forced against my will to write that we all miss you and other such sappy nonsense but since Love will be taking a bat at the intra-realm correspondence thing next time I assume she'll be more than happy to cover all that jazz. Yes we did choose who goes next via a lucky draw, don't look at me like that damn it, but it beat fighting over who went first because let's face it- we all are selfish and suck and don't want to share.

I may have won the draw by cheating but that just shows how much I love you : )

Of course since we (this time I do mean we now) are snoopy nosy bastards, all of us will stoop to interfering a teensy tiny bit. Not too much. We need some fun too after all. Okay we need a lot of fun. Or bad things happen. Bad things.

(Whisper) Baaaaaad thiinngs.

Okay I'm done screwing around now, okay well not really, but I am near out of time and Order is currently hunting me down with a very large, very scary looking knife gun. Yes, I know. That ass stole my knife gun. Wish you were there to see it. Or stop it.

Well since you can't write back (one way pen pals and all I'm afraid) I'll just cut this off now.

See ya bro!

Chaos.

Harry slowly closed the note with a smile and the warmest glimmer in his eyes. Wow, it was strange reading something by one of his fellow entities. The representative of death turned human didn't realise how much he had actually missed everyone till he saw this. It was… hard to explain what he was feeling but it was somewhere between nice, terribly uncertain and maybe some regret mixed into it just enough to make his stomach churn uncomfortably enough.

However his maudlin musings were put on hold as Harry watched with an intrigued expression whilst the ink on the back of his folded note began scrawling by itself in the embodiment of all things chaotic's more casual scrawl. Which was even messier than before, Harry had to squint and pull the piece of enchanted paper closer to make out the words.

P.S. I'm sending you some of my paperwork. :P

There was a short silence until the child suddenly realised the envelope in front of him, before innocently empty now looked… bulkier. Without a word, Harry summoned bright vengeful looking crimson flames with his free hand and lowered them threateningly at the document stuffed envelope, burning green eyes narrowing for a whole different reason as the wretched note continued writing itself.

P.P.S. No you can't burn it I've tried. Order and Magic made it so the only way it's gone is when you've finished completing the stuff handed to you.

The personification of death hissed but let his fire from his fingertips flicker out.

"Fuck you Chaos." Harry snarled at the offending pieces of paper like they were the reason he was apparently stuck with his work whilst on holiday. That act of defiance was not even close to satisfying considering the subject of his ire wasn't here to fully face his very displeased face. Coward.

P.P.P.S. Fuck you too ;3

This time Harry did crumple and throw the letter against the wall.

It mockingly straightened itself out.

The entity groaned and kicked the envelope now filled to the brim with all too familiar files and sheets and documents.

"Damn it."

Chapter Text

The one where Death talks his way into going to school (which lets be honest- is the complete opposite of what any other kid would've done), reprimands a teacher (another thing sane kids don't do) and meets a few important characters in the plot line when shopping.

"Uncle Vernon, may I please talk to you?" A small boy with hair as black as a burnt corpse, skin as white as a drowned one and bruises as red as the blood in his veins, timidly questioned as he quietly moved closer to the dining table. Harry had finally been allowed out of his tiny cupboard much to his relief (he had been getting a little stir crazy and he had been forced to consume his new spider friends when his hunger cravings got too bad for him to willingly endure) only to be forced back into his usual duties of cooking. A welcome change of pace if it wasn't completely mocking the fact that his nutrition level was far from healthy. However, it did allow him the opportunity to ask the one question he had been mentally going over in his head for the past few days in darkness. "Please?"

The obese whale of a pig merely grunted between bites of pork crackling. It was a disgusting sight but the meat smelled so good Harry was fighting his physical body's reaction to drool in a very undignified manner. Since the boy couldn't exactly determine if the noise from his biological uncle was affirmative or not, Harry decided to just continue.

"Well... Uh, sir. I just, well, you see.."

"Spit it out boy!" Vernon spat impatiently. Harry really wished the older man hadn't done that. Especially when facing him. Urgh. The boy though kept his face blank and free of the revulsion he was currently reeling from.

"I wish to go to Hogwarts sir." Harry answered clearly and honestly. Then the child gave his best self-deprecating smile. It was much easier to pull off then he thought. "It's a place for freaks like me after all."

Most people with a decent conscious and a semi-functioning heart would have long melted under such a sight, Uncle Vernon just sneered. "I'm sure it is freak. I've heard about what sort of.. school that place is from Petunia and I refuse to let you step one foot in there."

"But why sir?" He asked, the raven-haired boy decided not to cry at this moment because it would only demean himself for no manipulative value but he did add a slight waver in his soft voice. It probably wouldn't work with the obese male but Harry would like to think of this as practice against a brick wall. A very ugly fat brick wall that's consuming roasted pig at an alarming rate.

The man answered with said mouthful of pork so Harry couldn't really understand what was being said but the eleven year old was sure it was along the lines of 'Because I don't like you,' 'Because I can't stand you and don't want to see you happy in any sort of way,' and 'Because I'm a selfish arrogant ass who is going to speared and roasted on the spit by the fires of Hell.'  When Vernon was finally done, so was Harry.

"Look Uncle Vernon." Harry started, all meekness gone from his short stature. In its place was a calm assertive air which, while did not dominate nor felt overall aggressive it did give an underlying cold silent intimidation that would make the most rebelliously stubborn sit up and straighten their backs unconsciously. "I understand. You think I'm a freak yes?"

The fat male nodded slowly, and the entity now mortal had the sudden and rather humorous deja vu moment of all those years ago when Dudley and he were in very similar positions. "Well what if I told you Hogwarts is essentially an all-year round boarding school? If I went I'm sure I'll be gone for... Maybe nine months? I don't even have to show my face at Christmas, just one nine-week summer holiday every year."

Vernon stared at him like the child just spouted off the latest theories of astrophysics instead of the simple and clear explanation it was. Apparently his uncle was much slower in the brain development department than his son as his comprehension to read between the lines was terribly slow. Even with intentionally very large spaces outlined in crayon. Actually Vernon was probably still stuck on how his usually timid monster of a nephew had been wearing a facade instead. The moron most likely didn't even know it was a facade still. Idiotic lump of semi-sentient lard. What in Heaven's name was any reasonable being (mortal, deity and entity) thinking, deciding to let these distasteful example of human specimens live was beyond him. To think there was more of them crawling around on the same planet made the child's skin shudder in disgust much like the idea of feeling a swarm of oil covered cockroaches climbing up his arm.

After what was probably a good whole minute of silence between the two relatives, the younger decided to continue on just in case the thickness of the other's head had failed to be penetrated by his sound logic. "Uncle Vernon." He started slowly like speaking to a particularly dim child. "If you let me go..." The boy paused waiting a second for the simple words to slowly sink into his uncle's mind like rocks thrown into sludgy mud, "You'll won't ever have to bother with my freakishness for a long time. Your son won't have to either." He added thoughtfully.

That seemed to do something for his uncle as that blank unseeing expression morphed back to a much familiar shade of red that would've looked quite lovely on anything else but this man's face. It was Harry's last proper coherent thought before a beefy hand grabbed the hair on the back of his head and slammed his face hard onto the table. The entity in a mortal body could barely let out a grunt of pain before his forehead felt the impact a second time. And a third. And a fourth.

Finally he was blessedly released from the tight hold on his hair and lifted harshly by his chin to face the angry older man, red-faced and panting from physical exertion. For some reason the first thing on Harry's mind when the fog of pain subsided slightly, was that really, Vernon should be in better shape considering the amount of practice he had in beating him black and bruised.

"Listen here boy." Uncle Vernon hissed, close enough for more spittle to fly onto his face, much to Harry's immense displeasure. The boy could smell meat and fat and garlic as well as something inherently sour on the walrus-like male's breath which made him want to point his, now bloody, nose in the air and sneer. It wasn't an expression he usually ever made, despite the fact he was indeed one of the few people who was genuinely considered actually 'better and above everyone else', it wasn't in his nature to be arrogant but something about this infuriating mortal made him want to pull all the damn stops. Harry was patient. But he wasn't that patient. "I'll let you go to that damned freak show school of yours but if you threaten my son again..." The elder of the pair trailed off in what was supposed to be, well, Harry didn't really understand what the effect was supposed to do but it evidently wasn't working. He just felt confused. Harry didn't mean to threaten Dudley, it was just meant to point out a positive outcome to his absence in a way that appealed to the man's delusional prejudices. How was that threatening?

The child nodded anyway, he had already got what he essentially wanted and it was good thing too since he'd smuggled out his acceptance letter he had written about four hours ago after breakfast. Hopefully those ravens really did know a professional messenger owl, those birds were a bit too proud and playful sometimes but Harry was sure those big black birds will do their job with as much professionalism a bird could muster. After all, when did the Grim Reaper (it still made him chuckle at being immediately type-casted as the being that was practically his son, if only they knew) ever ask a mere raven's help? They'll probably squawk about that for generations to come, especially if he gives them a little thank you gift. Harry was thinking of something along the lines of a charmed silver egg that would sing or something.

Uncle Vernon scowled at the easy acceptance to his threat but seemed overall appeased. It didn't stop him from giving that extra hard shove to the thin child when Harry was turning to leave the room. The boy managed to save his face taking another hit by a flat unforgiving surface but his forearms were not so lucky, taking the brunt of the impact.

That was going to bruise badly in the morning. Actually, he was darkly interested at how messed up his face will look the next day. Harry really hoped he wasn't going to have a black eye though, what with his whiter than snow skin and blacker than the darkest sin hair. The last time he had one of those Harry swore he looked like a really ugly panda. Dudley and Piers said he looked oddly adorable with his giant sad green eyes added to the mix of his genetics which, strangely enough, didn't make him feel any better.

Harry knew his next step was to focus on the small problem of finding all of his required school stuff before term starts, instead of worrying about his looks but honestly what with the throbbing aches all over his body it was just easier to think about the more simple things in life. God he really hoped he wouldn't get a black eye.


 

*knock* *knock*

"FREAK GET THE DOOR!"

"YES UNCLE!" The boy shouted dutifully, running swiftly towards the door and valiantly ignoring the bruises on his knees, arms, head and his general soreness that usually came when his body neared the edge of fatigue and hunger. He had begun to seriously miss his old body, the one that wouldn't even twitch when a knife was imbedded into him, where tears from physical stress was something of an unknown and blood only flowed through his veins for decorative purposes. Harry had already memorized the pained sensation of aching muscles, tender skin and had noted every shade of bruise he had possibly ever had. Pain and hurt and stress was no longer the intriguing mysteries it had been before, it had become boring with Vernon's rather repetitive choice of discipline- dull, annoying, an unwanted inconvenience. Needless to say it was probably the driving force of why he was trying so hard to get into Hogwarts. It sounded a little cold. Very indifferent. But it was true and it was him.

Harry Potter was bored.

Playing the abused child with pretty powers in a suburban neighborhood with his two friends was fun. Still was. But it's lost that 'something' that made things refreshing and vivid and just that little bit more engaging. He was on vacation for god's sakes! And yes, while he's had much more freedom than he's ever really had ever, those past few mind-numbing days that only ended the day before last made Harry realize how little he was inefficient he was using his holiday time. The cupboard had long since failed to capture his interests anymore and become more tedious punishment and an obligatory resting place than the interesting tiny human cave he thought it to be.

Things he thought to be fascinating and admirable have started to lose its appeal. And that really was the sign that Harry should start to try something new. Something he had never done before. Something that he just knew would make Magic and Chaos and maybe Life roll around in laughter. It was something all entities had in them, though Death himself had never really acted on those impulses and he was sure everyone would be amused at seeing him indulge himself this way.

Because even he had to admit… Being a little bit of a drama queen and, as the mortals say these days, stirring an already overflowing pot, is always entertainingly funny.

So when Harry opened the door and came face to face with a serious looking woman in black robes, the stereotypical witches hat and an aura of stern discipline, the messy haired child couldn't stop the faint, cheeky grin carving itself onto his usual stony expression. Luckily thanks to his inability to properly express emotions, it usually came off as a polite shy smile to the people who barely knew him.

"Good morning ma'am." He greeted shyly. Harry made a show of widening his big child-like eyes in wonder as he took in the woman's appearance, knowing full well how the vibrant green shined in the morning light. "Are you here to see someone?" He asked, completely aware from the robes alone that clearly that someone was him. "I don't recall Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia telling me about any guests." The boy adds on anyway, emphasising his 'I'm such a sweet innocent child, please don't hurt me' display he had going.

The woman looks down at him, her yellow-green eyes scanning over his petite figure, gaze pausing to take in his various bruises first before settling on Harry's vibrant eyes of intense green and lightening bolt shaped scar. Harry decided from that alone that this lady definitely had her priorities straight. A practical and observant woman. Whether she is essentially 'good' or not was something completely different.

"Actually I'm here for you Mr Potter." She began, her voice posh and serious but not unfriendly nor arrogant, multiple images of the stereotypical 'tough love' teachers on television and books came to mind at that moment. And from a look she had already determined his identity, so she was a smart women too. He could see himself warming up to her. "I'm the Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall but you may just call me Professor McGonagall."

Oh.

Oh.

Suddenly the growing warmth of, not affection but something more akin to respect, plummeted to frigid cold extremities.

"You were the one to write my letter?" Harry questioned, all child-like politeness and meek kindness seeped out of his voice and face like blood gushing out of a disembowelled corpse. Tiny hands clenched and trembling with barely suppressed rage that he didn't even know he had, not to this depth, until now. "You were the one who sent it with my address? A very specific address I may add?" The last question asked in a furious hiss, low and dangerous and passionately fierce.

The professor recoiled at the sudden demeanour change in the boy, a flicker of fear at the sheer anger directed at her, of such magical strength harnessed and sharpened like a wicked blade threatening and looming, before it drowned in the guilt she felt as those accusing words imprinted in her skin like a burning tattoo. "Mr Potter, I didn't-" She began but paused, unable to think of anything to defend herself with.

When Professor McGonagall saw the letter write itself out, the address it was going to be headed to, a part of her didn't want to believe it, refused to. Albus had promised he would keep the boy safe for Merlin's sake! Even when she confronted him about it, when she argued, doubted, when she knew those Dursley's were the worst sort of muggles… Even after all that the woman knew she had still been hoping what in front of her was wrong, denying the truth. She was pathetically hiding from the harsh reality literally in front of her in the form of a bruised malnourished boy with green eyes that darkened with things no child should have gone through on their watch.

And she called herself a Gryffindor.

All that McGonagall could say in reply was a feeble, soft, "I didn't know."

"You didn't know?" How did the boy manage to make the words sound so innocent and mocking at the same time. Maybe it was just the shame in herself that was twisting and warping his words to hit harder than it was meant to. "You didn't see the writing on the envelope that informed you I lived in a cupboard under the stairs? You didn't know that I get locked in there enough times that I can probably recreate the space down to every last dusty corner and dirt ridden floorboard? Maybe you didn't know I literally eat the food scraps off my relatives plates when I'm lucky enough or maybe you didn't know that I'm more acquainted with my uncle's belt on my back then the taste of ice cream on my tongue!?"

Each sentence was a personally made bullet, aimed against shattering whatever illusions, justifications the woman had built up as her reasoning, that Harry took a sickeningly vindictive pleasure in watching them fall as well as the colour from her face as he near screamed out what his body had to endure for the past eleven years. To be perfectly candid though, he wasn't really personally enraged at the treatment. After all he could've got out of it anytime he'd liked and gone to Tahiti if he wanted to, hell, he could have ruled Tahiti if he wanted to. But that wasn't why he was mad, well actually it was why, but for a slightly different reason.

He was furious on behalf of Harry Potter. Not him. But the Boy That Could Have Been. Because this treatment wasn't really meant for him, these people didn't know they were dealing with an entity of an age no one could truly fathom, a being of immeasurable power, one who found the concept of being in pain as exciting and refreshing as drinking soda for the first time, no, they thought him to be just a small innocent child. They thought him to be just a little boy yet they had beat him and starved him and isolated him with cruel remarks and callous lies. And maybe this woman doesn't deserve the tongue lashing he was giving her, maybe she honestly didn't know, or maybe she did know, she had an inkling ever since she saw the letter but like every other adult he'd met so far, had stubbornly refused to move from their ignorant bliss. Either way, Harry had decided that he was going to stir the pot good, and things were definitely going to change. Because whilst he couldn't really find much of him to care about how he was treated, at the same time the entity would never wish to even passively encourage such abuse and the people who left him on the Dursley's doorsteps were going to know that well. Children should never have to be treated the way he had been.

Also, for a less noble reason, that he would rather not admit to, it had been a while since he'd last had a near hysterical hissy fit and Harry just knew he needed to let one out ever since he'd missed his chance at the Reaper that essentially screwed him over. But that's totally not here nor there.

Minevra McGonagall opened her mouth to respond but words refused to come out of her mouth. She was appalled. And disgusted. And so, so sick to her stomach because she knew what the boy was saying were no exaggerations and that she had let them send him there, to that deplorable place with those hideous people. Harry couldn't possibly have known but it felt like he did, like he knew she was a part of it, somewhere, the reason for his mistreatment. Because she did know. She did know and yet just because she believed in Dumbledore she had reasoned any uncertainties away. And Harry's blunt words had stripped every excuse her mind could and had made to make up for her actions, or in this case inactions.

The child, Mr Potter, Harry, watched her quietly, eyes hardened and piercing like hooks that seemed to be trying to tear down the elder woman as he waited for her to struggle with something, anything, to say.

"I'm so sorry Harry." Because calling him Mr Potter just didn't seem right at that moment, the boy she had swore to look after, that everyone swore to keep safe, James and Lilly's son, had been failed. And the distance of basic etiquette could not do anything to convey how much this was killing the teacher inside, how previous beliefs and trusts and faith of certain people have now shattered into pieces as she tried futilely to mentally pick them up and figure out where should they go now. "I knew your parents, and I knew that your… relatives weren't the most pleasant of people but I still thought Alb- I will make things up to you," She quickly changed the subject, as much as she loathed the one man who was most accountable for this right now, she didn't want to upset the boy further. "Your aunt and uncle will definitely be seen accountable for what they've done, I'll make sure of it."

"Do not worry Professor." The boy reassured wryly which didn't really help in terms of comforting but Harry was still more than slightly miffed about his mistreatment from his relatives and how little the so-called school had done when they written his address. He was slightly mollified by the honest confession though. Slightly. Think of it as righteous indignation if you will. But at the same time whilst he would love the Dursley's to be put in a prison and as unlikeable as they were, Harry couldn't possibly do that to Dudley. His cousin needed his parents still and it would be selfish for him to take that away for vengeful satisfaction.

God, his thoughts were so needlessly complicated. Even he had trouble understanding himself sometimes.

"Those two will be going to hell once their lives are ended and that's enough knowledge to satisfy me."

The stern looking woman who was still quite visibly pale and shaken at his appearance and careless reveal of his background, tried to compose herself as they walked to the end of the garden. "I didn't take you as the religious sort Mr Potter." She replied a little shakily, making Harry raise an eyebrow.

"You didn't take me as a cupboard living boy either miss." Harry pointed out politely. He didn't understand why the woman's features paled further at the reminder then flushed with defensive anger. Really, you would think he would understand mortal humans a bit better now but they were still, in his opinion, just as confusing as always. "For someone who has really only met me less than an hour ago, I don't think you should be making any preconceptions of me already."

"I didn't mean.." She began, but the young boy interrupted her, much to her displeasure of the thinning of her lips were any indication.

"I understand Professor." He offered with a wry smile. "Most people can't help but make pre-conceived notions about other people, it's really just something people have to live through."

The older of the two paused to look at Harry curiously, something akin to pity and simmering fury at something that wasn't the boy but Harry didn't really know of what. "Those were very wise words for someone so very young." She said. Vivid green eyes blinked, unsure of the appropriate response to what seemed to be a compliment but sounded too sad to possibly be one. The boy just shrugged, like the action could let his discomfort roll off from his shoulders. It didn't but the gesture was oddly comforting. Humans with their strange little twitches. Harry found it only slightly unnerving how he was slowly and subconsciously learning these things.

"Well, not many people this young has experienced some things I have." He tried to reassure. It didn't work. If anything Mcgonagall looked even sadder. God dammit. "What I mean is," Harry hastily added as he looked up at the woman's forlorn expression, her lines in her face more pronounced and she just seemed so old and defeated, nothing like the cool powerful lady who knocked sharply on his door. "It's hard not to seek some sort of solace in a greater being. In a world where everything can break in a blink of an eye, can turn against you in a moment it's so very easy to find comfort in something that you believe will never leave your side. When you feel like the world is on your shoulders and you have no one to turn to pass even a tiny sliver of your burdens, to speak about the fears that no one but yourself truly can understand it feels less sad and less lonely thinking that there is at least someone there for you, listening to your troubles.

The idea of something greater, something so big that no one can comprehend, is watching you, looking upon you without disdained contempt or warm love, is both humbling and comforting to think of and a belief I welcome open heartedly as a balm to ease my anxieties and worries. It's not a weakness to depend on someone that may or may not be real as long as it doesn't control you and when it fails to do that it can become a source of strength and courage that one would previously hadn't had the heart to uphold."

Harry smiled tentatively at the older lady, hoping his sincere explanation would help with whatever strife she was dealing with. It was true what he'd said. He really did believe in a God. One that was the reason for his existence and his fellow brothers and sisters. The entity always secretly liked the thought, that there were things bigger and more incomprehensible and more overwhelmingly powerful than he could ever be, out there. There was a strange, admittedly uneasy refuge he found in the belief of a greater God. Someone he could curse and place blame for his stresses and problems which ultimately come from everyone else cursing and blaming him. It made him feel less isolated. Less different. Less... Abnormal.

And maybe, maybe in the deepest darkest parts of his very being, maybe, he just didn't want to be the last one to walk and breathe alone as universes crumble, worlds become empty and everything finally succumbs into nothingness.

"Mr Potter, are you alright?"

Avada Kedavra green eyes blinked rapidly, his vision was unexplainably blurry and his throat felt strangely blocked. It felt like every part of him was chocking but not really. Human bodies were strange, his had only reacted this way when he was in physical pain, was he hurting in some way?

"Ah, uh, yes Professor." Harry murmured softly, the raven haired child didn't really trust his voice not to remain steady if he spoke up any louder. Stupid human vocal chords, screwing up for no reason. "I'm fine, really I am."

The stern lady didn't look convinced at him at all but gave a short, sharp nod in acquiescence anyway. Though much to the eleven year old's immense intrigue, the woman's already pursed lips were practically non-existent at that point. "I see." Harry really did not think she did.

Still he coughed a little to clear his throat and Mcgonagall had the polite decency to attempt to ignore him trying to reassert his control over his physical body. The child decided he liked that about her, Harry always hated these sudden slips of unintentional weaknesses, he always found it humiliating, mortifying and unnervingly vulnerable. He was quickly finished calming himself and looked up to meet the professor's eyes and shyly nodded, a very light flush of pale pink dusting over his cheeks in embarrassment. "So, Professor Mcgonagall," he started, "What are some of the magical ways of transport? I'm guessing it isn't just riding a broom everywhere yes?"

Mcgonagall looked like she wanted nothing better than to relentlessly pursue her curiosity about his sudden loss of composure as well as his home life (he wouldn't be that surprised if she thought the two were connected) but the woman seemed to take the hint and began explaining things like the Floo Network, the Knight Bus (which really sounded like something he definitely wanted to try out, like, immediately) and Apparition. Harry was quite engrossed in the explanation, the female professor was evidently, very good at her job and was both patient as well as informative in answering his questions whilst they began to walk a bit toward their destination. Professor Mcgonagall after a while looked much more sure of herself as her tense strained posture relaxed slightly as she fell into the comforting flow of teaching. It really showed how much she enjoyed her work and Harry certainly could not fault her for that.

So Harry happily listened on, interjecting occasionally with a few questions and some comments that, by the surprise on the older lady's face, was probably much too mature and intelligent for what a boy his age should be asking. But that didn't matter, if anything Mcgonagall looked fairly impressed (he ignored the flashes of anguish on her expression that was occasionally shot toward him) and a good distraction from morbid thoughts and troubling choices was something needed. For both of them.


 

"So this is the Leaky Cauldron?" Harry asked. It was a rather redundant question considering they were standing right in front of the dingy looking place, sign of it very easily visible to their line of sight. Though the boy would defend himself in saying that it was almost immediately right after apparating into the area and wizards apparently enjoy very uncomfortable modes of travel. He missed his own, non-nausea inducing ways to move between places, ways that didn't encourage the bile from his stomach to come out of his mouth and didn't feel like someone had enthusiastically shoved an out of control merry-freaking-go-round into his aching head.

"Yes," Professor Mcgonagall answered stiffly, her stern lines on her face softened as they looked down at the ragged, green-eyed boy's doubtful look at the place, "While it is charmed so muggles can't see the pub, it had been agreed on that if the rare unaware squib stumbles across on the place that the Leaky Cauldron would be designed to be easily ignored and unappealing." Harry still seemed like he wanted to grab a bucket and mop to clean the whole building up but was understanding at the least.

The woman couldn't help but feel the now familiar rise of distressed mournfulness for the obviously abused boy and vicious animosity toward the one man responsible for Harry's childhood. Mcgonagall closed her eyes in an attempt to quell the conflicting emotions eating up inside of her every time she noticed how gaunt the boy was, sickly pale his skin and the way he unconsciously strays away from contact. 'Damn you Albus. Damn you to hell.'

They walked into the place, The Leaky Cauldron was busy today, much busier than Harry would have thought a pub like this should be but he wisely kept his slightly OCD comments silent. A part of him wondered how bad Order, with his excessive OCD and hatred of germs and unnecessary dirt, would have freaked if he was the one being dragged in here. The man probably would have cursed the place down. Or screamed bloody murder. Or actually just murder someone bloody.

"Ah, McGonagall!" A bald man behind the counter greeted heartily as he caught sight of the pair. "Your usual I presume?"

"No thank you Tom, I'm currently busy escorting Mr Potter here to buy his school supplies." Professor McGonagall smiled thinly, but there was a touch of fondness there that made one think twice about her strict demeanor.

Harry gave a shy wave to the man but didn't stray far from McGonagall. Moments later he was glad for it. Tom's eyes widened in recognition at him, eyes landing on his scar like a dehydrated man to a bottle of water. "Bless my soul," the bartender breathed, awed, "It's Harry Potter."

And just like that the whole place goes quiet. Harry wonders how on Life's green earth did they know his name and why it wa-ohdeargodno someone was coming up to him. And grasping his hand in a firm if very sweaty handshake. The boy was not pleased.

"Welcome back, Mr Potter, welcome back." The man gushed warmly. Harry, not really sure how he winded up in this situation decided to fall back to his old non-life's experience in greeting his children and subordinates. So with his free hand he gently patted the larger hands grasping his, giving the grown wizard a small but kind knowing smile like 'Yes, I am completely aware of why you look at me like I am your world and not only am I not weirded out by the attention but I gladly welcome it and appreciate your feelings'. "Thank you sir, I cherish your kind words." Harry replied. The man looked like he was on the ninth cloud (whatever that meant).

Immediately when the wizard let go another witch took his place. "Doris Crockford, Mr Potter. I can't believe I'm meeting you at last."

As soon as they saw how warmly the first man was welcomed as well as how cordial and friendly the Harry Potter was, soon the child was swamped with eager fans. Harry, being the polite being he was, attended each enthusiastic show of support with affectionate fondness and humble gratitudes. When he looked at his professor the woman seemed torn between telling everyone to leave the poor boy alone and shove off, or to leave Harry to his admirers considering how surprisingly easily the child was fairing. She seemed to be choosing the latter option, the boy couldn't help but think the professor was probably still reeling from her own personal problems that have been served eleven years cold, courtesy of none other than him. Harry felt a little bad about that, he did, but he knew that the lady needed to hear the truth and his usual passive-aggressive approach to everything wouldn't cut it.

Still. He wondered that, if McGonagall wasn't slightly daunted by his recent outburst, the two could've possibly be almost halfway done shopping by now. The poor woman was probably bored waiting for him to finish up, not to mention tight on schedule now that he'd put her 'bout two hours behind. Maybe even have more kids, actual loud messy kids, to accompany. Paperwork too. Dear, dear. Now he really did feel terrible for yelling.


 

"If you have anything you need, anything," The wizard stressed, gripping his thin fingers like a lifeline, the boy was having a bit of trouble trying to not pull his hands away from this frantic lunatic, "Just owl me, Gregovich Juniperber, assistant administrator of the Magical Creatures section in the Ministry."

Harry gave the man a rather shaky smile that the older didn't notice or was too enamored to care, said his obligatory few words of niceties and awkwardly waited for the stranger's hands to let go. He did not. After two whole minutes Harry couldn't take it anymore and looked pleadingly at the professor now watching rather bemusedly at the hole he had buried by himself. Luckily it seemed she too was quite impatient to get away as well so the woman put her drink down on the counter and walked purposely to the two.

"I think it's time to let go of Mr Potter's hand." McGonagall suggested in a tone that did not say she was suggesting anything, the man flushed and quickly complied muttering hasty apologies which somehow still managed to fit in a smattering of compliments before leaving to do whatever he had been doing before. Green eyes watched the adult move from earshot before slumping against the wall he had strategically placed himself against, and sighed loudly. "Oh thank the lord that's over." Professor McGonagall flashed him an expression that could only bely bemusement.

"You are aware that the word 'no' and its concept is still well accepted even in the Wizarding world Mr Potter?"

"But Professor, that's so impolite." Harry whines, barely registering that he's not even acting but actually being the child his appearance suggest, yet way too tired to care. "I couldn't possibly," the boy makes an indiscriminate sound and waves a hand in haphazard motions to loosely imply the idea of rejecting someone. Especially ones so eager with expectations so low. God he hated being such a pushover.

The woman quirked a brow, but mercifully let it go. Though if the humored shine in her yellow-green eyes were any indication, Harry was sure that they'll be some form of gossip when she went back. Magic or no magic, Hell or Heaven, the inner workings of a school will always be the same.

"Well come along then," she said walking briskly away, Harry already respectfully behind her, "I apologize if from now on I seem to rush you. I still have one other future student to go to today and we are very quickly running low on time."

The boy grimaced at even the notion of having to accompany children during what is clearly the holidays and explain to them a whole new world in a few scant hours. Repeatedly. There was probably some part of Hell that was exactly that. If there wasn't there certainly should be.

"No, I should be the one to apologize for wasting so much of your time." Harry answered genuinely.

Professor McGonagall gave a small tilt of her lips that could've been a smile, or just a twitch and a flicker of the shady bar lights. "You may have seen it as wasted time Mr Potter, but for those people that have waited eleven years to meet their savior, those brief minutes with you, it was anything but wasted."

Now he was sure the professor was smiling. Obviously quite proud and his selfless use of his time. Though Harry still didn't fully comprehend why he was so famous, from what he'd gathered he was quite the celebrity for… doing… something. The child wasn't exactly sure what. Apparently he vanquished a nameless man? A homeless man? "So do come on, Diagon Alley may wait for you but I certainly will not."

Harry smiled and followed.


 

Diagon Alley was.. Nice.

It wasn't fantastic like a toaster but it was pretty cool. Very colorful. Extremely lively. Seriously loud. Kinda narrow. But Harry could see the appeal. He wouldn't particularly wish to work let alone live there but nonetheless Harry could see the appeal.

Professor Mcgonagall who had been leading him on, paused in their journey to whatever destination they were before so determinedly headed towards in pretence of waving formally and signalling a huge bearded man's attention. The large male lit up in recognition and bounded toward them, the crowd parting for him easily for fear of being trampled otherwise. Harry could very much relate. Damn his malnourished tiny body. Though the malnourished part was a tad his fault.

"Harry," Mcgonagall introduced, "This is-"

"Rubeus Hagrid." The half-giant cheerfully greeted much to the female professor's consternation at being interrupted. "Keeper of the Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts." A large calloused hand was pushed toward Harry to shake and the boy without hesitation took it, a little bit fascinated by how tiny his own hand was in comparison to the man's, it felt insultingly like pushing a chihuahua in front of a Cerberus. "And you must 'ere be Harry Potter!"

Hagrid's announcement as expected caused quite a bit of chatter and openly gawking among the bystanders, Harry winced slightly at the sudden influx of attention once again directed towards him. And they had just calmed and settled down too. The large male looked around with a slight frown at the increasing crowd and leant down close to Harry as he whispered, not so quietly, "You know I knew yer parents. Good people they were. Even carried ya when you were just a babe."

"My parents were wizards?" He asked, genuinely surprised. Harry didn't know that. Too be fair Petunia never liked to talk about her sister and he, as Death, only took a brief glance at their cooling bodies and not so much of their background in general. His mother was obviously a.. muggle-born, which Harry honestly loathed saying because he was fairly sure muggle was just one of the dumbest words he had ever heard in his presence and he was going to smack the back of Magic's head when he become immortal again for making him endure such incredibly dim-sounding language.

But his father? The boy was quite sure his father was a pureblooded magical mortal if this Potter name was what he thought it to be. Ah, the Peveralls, he had always felt a sort of connection toward them and their descendants, a very.. unique place in his heart if you will follow common mortal sayings. A pity their bloodline has all but dried down to a few rare individuals. It seemed Death will have no master after all.

The two adults both shared a look at each other at the innocent question. "You didn't know?" Mcgonagall asked. Harry shook his head.

"I was told my parents were alcoholics that died painfully in a car crash." He answered, it was technically true, his relatives love telling him that story. Seriously if he was a normal child Harry didn't even want to think how warped that boy's psyche would be. A part of him felt a little glad that he'd accidentally killed the child off, really, the soul would probably have been taken sooner than later anywhere- most likely suffering from starvation and scarred with the memories of abuse. Looking at those tiny shivering souls of children who had been treated with such hostility and cruelty were always so pityingly sad, it was the closest thing Death, with all his cold indifference and unattached distance to these mortal beings, had felt to heartbroken. If dying immediately at birth was like getting a big zero in the game of Life (yes she does love that game and yes she does always win) then in Death's opinion, dying after and as a result of, shockingly, dreadful mistreatment was definitely scoring in the negatives. Because really, how could you truly call that living?

The two adults looked aptly horrified. Hagrid was flushed pink with anger whilst McGonagall apparently decided to take a more ashen look. Harry had to say they did not look great in those colours. Though Professor McGonagall did marvellously managed to bring to mind the image of a statue he had once saw in Greece when collecting souls lost to that woman with snakes for hair. Nice lady. Very lonely. He had felt so bad for her he asked Love to help set her up with someone. Who knew basilisks and gorgons made surprisingly very attractive offspring?

"'Arry.." Two huge hands practically enveloped his narrow shoulders. "Your parents weren't alcoholics who died in a car crash." Harry grimaced as Hagrid's grip tightened, he wasn't exactly the physical peak of health currently much less enough to stand up to a large man like the one in front of him. The boy was pretty sure he didn't have enough strength in his human vessel to tackle down a scarecrow. "They were wizards."

Green eyes widened as he forced himself to look like the stunned hopeful child he was supposed to be. "Wizards?" He breathed out. Truthfully he just really wanted to get the charades over with already and check out Diagon Alley. He was already exhausted from greeting his weirdly intense fans, the entity really didn't want to act any more than needed now. "Like me?"

Hagrid gave him a wide grin beneath his hairy beard, genuine, caring, honest warmth that Harry had always found hard to emulate glimmered so naturally in his eyes. The boy didn't even need to look at the man's soul to now that this man was exactly what he appeared to be. "Thumpin' good ones at that. And I'd wager, once yer trained up a little ye'll be even better."

Even if he already knew that it was true, Harry still failed to fight the bubbling pride and pink flush creeping up on him. The urge to follow up to this giant of a man's expectations was strangely appealing to him. The compulsion to please wasn't what Harry assumed was like having a father figure looking over you proudly would be like, no it was surprisingly hard to see this oversized being as something of the sort, actually the entity in a mortal vessel figure it more of the feeling of having a small child look up to you like you invented chocolate chip ice-cream. Endearing and a bit of guilt because he did not invent the delicious flavoured treat but still feels complied to play along since disappointing such naivety was his emotional equivalent of hunting a baby doe.

"Thank you." The boy murmurs, faint blush still dusting his cheeks. Hagrid just grins toothily, slapping on the smaller of the two's back and nearly causing said boy to tumble into the hard pavement. "No problem Harry!"

Before the moment of silence following became too awkward, Professor McGonagall coughed and said, "Well Mr Potter, it has been a very… enlightening and eye-opening pleasure spending time with you today, however as I am on a bit of a tight schedule I hope you wouldn't mind Hagrid accompanying you for the rest of your trip?"

Hagrid brightened at the suggestion, it seemed the man had been very eager to take the job and Harry couldn't possibly refuse saying no to that, even if he didn't already like the man. Although the boy wasn't exactly sure the man would make a great teacher, Hagrid showed signs of being certainly quite proficient in handling children despite his intimidating size. Not that he was a child. Well he is but. God it's so very confusing, Harry swore he was going to have age-identity issues once he was done with everything.

"Yes, I'll be delighted for Hagrid to accompany me. I am sorry though that you cannot continue to accompany me." McGonagall definitely smiled this time and Harry returned it with his own crooked one. Hagrid just kind of grinned in the background. The raven haired boy then bid his farewell to the professor and parted ways, now with a noticeably much larger companion than before.

"So Hagrid." The younger began, "Where to first?"

"Well Harry, I was just off heading to Gringotts for a li'l errand to run. Yer don't mind do ya?"

Harry shook his head, "I'm good, I think the professor and I were heading there before to get some money anyway."


 

The moment they stepped into Gringotts, Harry could feel himself under the intense scrutiny of beady black eyes that made the boy feel like some sort of unidentifiable treasure yet to be weighed and judged. Goblins. Gringotts was a wizarding bank run by goblins. Funny, Harry kind of assumed it would be run by wizards.

Hagrid excused himself to complete whatever job he had initially come here for when Harry was obviously quite engrossed in looking around the interior of the place. The moment the boy was left alone, the goblins who were currently free practically ran toward him. The number of the creatures that were still busy attending their clients were scowling heavily, clearly unhappy at the thought of missing out being one of the first to greet the powerful being of death they all instinctively recognised. To be fair though the ones available were a little struck speechless anyway. They were just staring and fidgeting and while it was decidedly very endearing it was also quite uncomfortable.

"Good afternoon sirs," Harry greeted formally and kindly, seeing the short humanoid creatures weren't going to start anytime soon. "I wish to withdraw some money from the bank but I'm not very sure what sort of currency this world runs in. Would it be a bother if I ask you to help me acquaint myself to the basic structure of wizarding economics? I wouldn't want to impose."

"You wouldn't bother or impose us at all Death Lord." One of the goblins blurted out, the others nodding in agreement, their usual twisted grimaces smoothed out into blatant but polite awe. How well-mannered, the humans should definitely try and learn a thing or too from them. The young almost angelically delicate boy, who really would not exactly be the first thing that came to mind when someone said Death Lord, smile indulgently at the creatures.

"I thank you then. Though I'm currently answering to the name Harry Potter right now if you don't mind," More than half the goblins in earshot if possible, boggled even harder at him. Harry could just see their minds absorbing the information and consequently shifting their current world view just enough to make them a bit dizzy. Luckily goblins were known for their high intelligence and the backlash of the significance of the statement was minimised, for which the boy was grateful. "Now," Harry clasped his hands together, "Who wants to tell me about your bank, who wants to show me my vault and who wants a hug?"

The last question was kind of a joke. But that didn't stop him from feeling a tiny bit offended that the majority of hands voted for boasting about their bank as opposed to being hugged.


 

"How much?"

The blonde teen at the register stared at the small mountain of books that actually was larger than the buyer of said books. To be completely fair though, the buyer looked like he was eight years old but still.

"Give me a moment." She muttered still gaping at the sheer number in front of her and how she really should have took the morning shift today. The boy looking up to her with gorgeous big green eyes gave a small, shy smile. "Thank you miss." And damn if that made her want to just pick the kid up and coddle him because Merlin he was cute.

The books ranged from basic fairy tales like Beedle and the Bard which she expected for the boy's age range to a very controversial grey text on Removed Runes And Rebellious Rituals Since 1500s. That one made her give a very scrutinizing look in where the child looked anywhere but her.

"Is this for an elder brother or sister?" She tentatively asked. "Because this seems like it's a bit too, uh, mature for you."

He shook his head, unruly black locks swaying at the motion. "No that's for me," the boy replied innocently, "I was raised by muggles so I want to know everything about this world before I join it."

The teen gave an 'ah' noise. "So first year at Hogwarts? Oh, and that'll be seventy-three galleons and nine sickles."

"Yup." The boy chirped as he fished out the coins from his pouch. "Thank you very much."

As the kid gave an extra adorable wave as he left the store, the blonde shop assistant couldn't help but laugh. As it drew the attention of her fellow employee who was arranging the books up front before, she pointed at the door where the pretty boy with the really obscure taste in books just left and said, "If that kid doesn't become a Ravenclaw I'll eat my smock."


 

"I'll wait outside fer yer okay Harry?" Harry nodded obediently and went inside the store. A part of him was unsure at the protocol for actual clothes shopping. He's purchased books and an assortment of strange items in his past before as a whim or passing interest but clothing was always just a bother to him. Plus with a snap of his fingers he could dress and look however he wanted anyway so clothes shopping was unnecessary. It was probably the longest time anyone has ever gone, in the history of any universe, without needing to purchase clothes and Harry was truly sad to watch the streak finally end.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for some school robes?"

A squat woman dressed all in mauve who held a friendly grandmotherly air that reminded Harry fondly a bit of Love, greeted him with a warm smile.

"A firstie? Don't fret dear I'm sure we have your size. Anything else?" The woman, Harry was pretty sure was Madam Malkin, asked. The boy tilted his head in thought before answering,

"I'll need three sets of school robes, five casual robes and two traveling cloaks- for casual robes I don't have much of an opinion nor preference other than they be consisted mainly of dark colors but no black." He was a little sick of millenniums upon millenniums of seeing and wearing nothing but black but he certainly wasn't sick enough to think that he would ever look good in canary yellow. "For my cloaks, maybe one dark green with gold trimmings." He added thoughtfully, he'd always enjoy that combination of colors. "And blood red and silver. Other than I'm in your very good hands ma'am." He gave what he hoped was an absolutely winning smile to the elderly lady who blushed and grinned.

"Well aren't you a charmer Mr-?"

"Potter." Harry answered, "And I only charm the pretty ones."

For the woman's credit she didn't even bat an eyelash at the name given, only focusing on the boy's attempt of a compliment. "You. Are. So. Adorable!" Madam Malkin squealed, pinching his pale cheeks hard enough for actual color to mark visibly. Thank god for his innate healing because the boy would hate to explain those pink blotches on his face to Dudley. He wouldn't have been above lying and saying a dragon kissed him instead of an old witch pinched his cheek. "Anyway, go to the back sweetheart for your fitting, there's another young man being fitted up right now in fact."

Harry gave his thanks and a wink that he usually just reserved for Love or when he was about to reveal one of his rare pranks, and went to the back of the store.

"Hullo. Hogwarts too?" Why on earth did everyone keep asking if he's from Hogwarts? It wasn't like it was one of the only magical schools of England or anything. Oh. Wait.

Harry focused his previously wondering attention immediately the source of the bored drawling voice that came from the middle of the room. "Yes." He replied simply as he hopped onto one of the footstools, the raven haired boy eyeing up the new customer. It was another boy, his age, platinum blonde, looked like some elven fairy prince from stories and was consequently haughty as hell. The kid looked almost out of place in the brightly coloured clashes of colour and fabrics. Not that Harry could really talk what with his whiter than white skin and darker than shadows in the night hair. Honestly, if he didn't have such obscenely intense coloured eyes one would think him straight from a black and white film.

"My father's next door buying my books and mother's up the street looking at wands," said the white boy. And that wasn't racist, (because mortal humans were incredibly touchy about that now) this child was literally white with the exception of his eyes which were grey. Though one could argue it was dark white. Or light black. And Harry blamed all humankind for how strange a turn his thought process has become in a mere eleven years. Or maybe he was always like that but now he had somehow learnt the art of awareness somewhere along the line. "Then I'm going to drag them off to look at racing brooms. I don't see why first years can't have their own. I think I'll bully father into getting me one and I'll smuggle it in somehow."

Harry looked at the other child. Really looked. Not enough to the point where he not-so-metaphorically could see into his soul but just at the little things. Because in his experience so far as a child, when you are greeted by a strange being your age that you wish to be friends with, they tend to either do two things- wait for you to start a conversation they can desperately latch onto, or they ramble about the first things that come out of their tiny heads in hopes the other person would join in. Sure this platinum blond seemed to be confident, but Harry could pick out the frequent glances his way and that little twitch in those fingers like he was determinedly trying not to clench them.

"Have you got your own broom?" The elven looking child asked. No, actually he looked a bit like those Veela now that he thought about it.

"No." Harry said. Because one, why on earth would he? And two, why on earth would he? Actually did the boy say 'racing brooms'? Never mind, Harry didn't really want to know.

"Play Quidditch at all?"

"No," Harry repeated, wondering what on Life's green earth a Quidditch could be. It sounded insanely stupid. Of course Magic would create some sort of thing with such a name just to laugh at the fact that people will now use that name seriously and with a straight face. It was just like her. And Chaos. And Life. And- well one gets the idea.

"I do - Father says it's a crime if I'm not picked to play for my house, and I must say, I agree. Know what house you'll be in yet?"

He had to give this child some credit here, the blonde was stubbornly persistent. If it were him, Harry would not have had the sheer will to keep socially leading a dying conversation. Not that he was letting the conversation purposely die. Just Harry had near no idea what this kid was on about.

"No," said Harry, "I don't actually know." Five words was apparently all he could come up with, he mentally whacked himself.

"Well, no one really knows until they get there, do they," White Boy hastily reassured him. The blonde had this air about him that made near everything sound condescending so most people would have thought the boy to be rudely dismissive at this point. Or just plain arrogant. Fortunately for the young child, Harry was certainly not most people. "but I know I'll be in Slytherin, all our family have been - imagine being in Hufflepuff, I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"

"What's wrong with being in Hufflepuff?" Harry couldn't help but question curiously. "Other than the name of course." He could not stop himself from adding.

White Boy looked absolutely relieved that he finally had gotten a proper response this time, then sniggered at the dry comment. "Yeah I know, it sounds completely pathetic. Suitable for the people who get sorted there I think."

The raven haired boy raised an eyebrow, "Well that's a bit harsh. Seriously though what's wrong with Hufflepuff that you'll actually leave school if you got into it?"

Now it was the other boy's turn to raise a brow. "You don't know?" Harry shook his head. The blonde sneered, though Harry was pretty sure that was more an ingrained response. His family had probably some sort of aristocratic standing and not to stereotype, but those 'old' families always encouraged their countries social prejudices. And Harry had a feeling he was just about to be introduced to one of them.

"There are four houses of Hogwarts- Slytherin is the best house." He began like it was just the most obvious thing to start off with. "It has all the most 'pure' and cunning of individuals, Ravenclaw is alright, the ones who get in there are all nerds and bookworms though, Gryffindor are for the stupid idiots," Harry decided that it just meant the warrior- or as you said nowadays the sporty types, "And finally Hufflepuff is where all the rejects who don't belong go. They say they have loyalty and all but everyone knows that that's hippogriff shite."

Harry frowned, not exactly willing to agree with the idea but still unsure how backwards this place really is. Loyalty was one of the best traits to have in his opinion, but at the same time it was quite the double-edged sword that is not only hard to earn but just as hard to wield. And in an environment filled with children where the flashy obvious traits of strength, wisdom and intellect were valued, loyalty would just seem to be a consolation prize in comparison. Definitely an under-appreciated group if he'd ever saw one if this was public opinion.

"I-"

"Say how come you didn't know that?" White Boy cut off curiously. Then without even waiting for a response the child must have come to his own conclusion and sneered even harder. It was hard not to roll his eyes, Harry was pretty sure he was about to meet with Prejudice no.2 now. "You're parents are our kind aren't they?"

"If you mean they were both humans with magic then yes." Ah, so there's disdain for people without powers here, very cliche. "If you mean alive then no. I was raised by my aunt and uncle. They aren't witches or wizards though." Harry continued just to see the other squirm a bit.

He was slightly disappointed with the lack of discomfort the child was showing at such casual admittance to being an orphan, though the blonde did fail to hide a pained wince before he tried to look as apathetic as possible. "Oh, sorry," Someone really should tell the blonde boy that apologies lose it's effect when you're also attempting to sound like you couldn't care less. Whoever raised this one must really have all kinds of issues because this, this right here, is a terrible example of faking condolences. It was literally the first thing Death had to learn and if you can't even fake a simple 'I'm sorry for your loss,' well, you are clearly doing something wrong.

"Um. Thanks?"

"Though it really must be a shame that you had to live with muggles your whole life, I couldn't even imagine it!" There was a disgusted intrigue in the blonde's voice and Harry wondered what sort of stories had his parent's told to make the idea of living with non-magical mortals sound like living like animals in the jungle. But this seemed like a pretty okay topic to participate in anyway so Harry decided to answer, ignoring the disdain that come when the word 'muggle' was said.

"Yeah it probably would be strange for you to cook your own meals without magic I'm guessing." He agreed. The other just looked at him with incredulity.

"You actually have to make your own meals?" He asked horrified. Harry gave a wry grin.

"Please, I have to make my aunt, uncle and cousin's meals too. I am very good at it." Harry boasted, proud of the fact he could cook. "Don't your parents cook for you sometimes?"

For a moment the boy's stuck-up facade shuttered and a lonely wistful young child was revealed to green eyes before pale features distorted back to a contemptuous frown. "Of course not," He sniffed, "That stuff is house elf work, not for proper wizards like us."

Harry wanted to prod a bit further about it but decided that it would probably not be for the best right now and changed the subject. "Well since I haven't been here for long why don't you tell me some things you like to do?"

White Boy appeared to be genuinely surprised by the question this time, "What I like to do?" Harry nodded slowly like he was speaking to a particularly dim-witted child. For all he knew he might be. Or he's just emotionally stunted. Which would be great. They could be emotionally stunted together.

"Yes. Obviously." Harry drawled sarcastically in what he considered a very good imitation of the other boy. It earned him a chortle and an uncertain smile which definitely meant he did alright. Maybe. "How else would we become friends otherwise?"

"Friends?"

Harry looked at the other boy, who was staring right back at him in a sort of tentative, wary, suspicious hope in his grey eyes.

"Friends." He repeated firmly, giving the blonde a crooked smile. One that was shyly returned and made the other boy look more like a child than some egotistic wannabe adult.

But before the blonde could respond, Madam Malkin, who Harry really only just fully realised had been hear taking his measurements the whole time announced, "That's you done, my dear," and Harry, feeling a bit sorry for not having any more excuse to talk to the boy, hopped down from his footstool.

"I'll see you at Hogwarts." The platinum blonde blurted out as he turned to leave. It took a bit of effort not to chuckle at how cute this elven child was but Harry managed to tone it down to a very amused smile.

"I suppose you will."


"This is fer you, 'appy Birthday Harry."

Harry stared. And stared. And stared.

"So.." Hagrid started awkwardly, visibly fidgeting as the boy stared at the stunning gift in the cage. "Do yer like her?"

"Oh my god." Harry spun to face the large man, dark hair swirling even without any wind and eyes glowing brighter than any emeralds glittering under an open fire. Because this was his first ever pet. One he has direct responsibility to care and nurture. The color of untouched snow and blazing intelligent amber jewels that were eyes, "Like her? Hagrid I fucking love her. Thank you."

Hagrid beamed like the praise was shining pure gold in his hands. Huh, maybe there was creature blood in the man since it was obvious to Harry that he does on some level recognize his true form. Half-Giant perhaps? Though it might not be so strong considering how slowly and subtly it was showing itself, even by mixed blooded individual standards, but it was there. Not enough of it for the male to kneel at his feet the first time Hagrid laid sight of him but enough to feel a swell of satisfaction and unexplainable bliss at the thought of pleasing the green eyed boy. It was an interesting thought that would need further investigation later down the road. A little bit disturbing. But still interesting.

"You are such a beautiful girl aren't you?" Harry cooed as amber eyes gazed at him before puffing her snow white feathers up as the owl preened proudly under the attention.


 

"Hagrid I may take a bit here, you don't mind if I meet you at that ice cream place in an hour do you?"

Hagrid looked both like he wanted to protest in leaving the eleven year old alone and gladly leaving the shop filled with strange unpleasant odors and bizarre, equally unpleasant cuttings of creature parts. "I dunno 'Arry.."

"Please?" The boy asked, making sure to use what Piers and Dudley call, 'puppy dog face'. "I wouldn't possibly know what flavor to get and I trust you'll know some of the most interesting ones."

That seemed to decide it for the older man, "Oh all right then," he acquiesced happily. "But no more than an hour. Or I'll get worried."

Harry gave a small lopsided grin. "Of course." And waved the half-giant goodbye. As soon as Hagrid left, the eleven year old turned and headed to the end of the wall covered with potion ingredients, looking carefully at them like he was in a sweet shop. If sweet shops contained much more compelling things like pickled newt toes or that thing in that grows in goat's stomach. Bezo roar or something.

"Is there something you are going to take or are you going to just stare and take up space like a mindless block of wood?"

Harry looked up to see an undoubtedly intimidating and tall man looking at him, sneering at him. Pitch dark, greasy hair that went down almost to his shoulders, framing sallow but not sickly features and long robes that billowed magnificently with the slightest of wind which made the boy wonder where he could pick up a set. But really caught his attention, what really made Harry look and see was the man's eyes. Obsidian black, unfathomable, darker than the starless night. He'd heard people describe colors of eyes as 'pools' but this man's were deep enough to be considered oceans of ink. Harry felt drawn to those eyes, the windows of the soul, and frustratingly enough those windows were closed. Enough so that a brief second of green clashed with black wasn't enough for the boy to open them. And he really, really wanted to open them.

The lines of the stranger's sneering face deepened further, emphasizing the disdain so clearly transcribed in his expression it wouldn't have been clearer if it had been literally written on paper. "You're lack of response is probably a good thing considering that if you do speak you would probably lower my IQ to staggering levels."

And woah wasn't that just the rudest thing that Harry had ever come across from a complete stranger that he had only just met. It also effectively snaps him out of his soul-searching daze with a charming yet icy smile that would've made Frosty the snowman shiver. The boy may have let himself take the verbal abuse of his biological relatives but 'let' was the key word. He let Uncle Vernon and Auntie Petunia define him as a freak and a lying ungrateful stupid brat but there was no way he had so little pride that he would just let some haughty random man with an affinity for gothic colors to walk over him. Despite his outward appearance and personality he was an entity of near omnipotent strength. Also he had enough passive-aggressive experience to make Chaos keel over and beg like a friggin dog if he wanted to.

"Yes well it's quite obvious from your... pleasantries," The word was emphasised in a way that made it anything but, "that you value your intelligence greatly. Which is unfortunate considering my words are filled with generously bestowed wisdom if you bother to listen hard enough."

The face of the hook-nosed morphed from a sneer into one of shock, either from the child's unexpected vocabulary or just from some kid actually just responding back at the scathing remark and not have already burst into tears, before finally settling into something near expressionless with the exception of a raised brow and the smallest quirk of the lips. Harry could almost say it was an expression of pleasantly surprised.

"I could listen with a muggle stethoscope until my ears crumble to dust and I bet not even a trickle would come from the fountain of wisdom that comes from your mouth." The elder man retorted, though it lacked the harsh bite it held before. Harry could just feel his own cold veneer melting quickly as well.

"It sounds like my mouth isn't the problem then. Maybe you should get your ears checked sir?" Harry asked innocently, though it was ruined slightly by the involuntary giggle that escaped from his lips. Against his initial reaction, the boy was having quite a bit of entertainment with the easy verbal sparring. He'd almost never got to exercise any sort of wit when he was an all power primordial force of death, though it was to be expected considering every god and entity both feared, loved and highly respected you. Even the silver tongue of the Norse God of Mischief rusts and the sharp comebacks of the Devil dulls when faced with Death himself, which really was a pity because he swears he could at least hold his own if those two actually tried. It had been funny at first, seeing them try and insult him without actually insulting him until it just became incredibly, incredibly sad.

"Maybe you need your head checked boy. Considering you were just caught staring at a jar of bezoars like they were a stack of chocolate frogs, truly tells us many things about your lack of sanity."

"Maybe I was contemplating how a bezoar is formed in a goat stomach and why only that particular animal apparently provides the properties needed for the formation of stone-like mass to be able to act like an antidote to general poisons."

The man's eyebrows shot up, now visibly impressed. Well visibly if you squinted really hard. "And were you?"

Harry gave the man a cheeky look of sardonic amusement. "Of course not sir, I was looking at the pretty Flitterby moths next to it. What with me being just a simple child and all." It was obvious that the dark robed male was fighting valiantly against his own amusement in order to preserve his generally unhappy looking demeanor. But before the stranger could reply, the store manager came and stole their attention.

"Sorry for the delay Professor, but I've got the powdered bicorn readied here for you."

The man, professor, pierced the stouter employer with a chilling glare that ironically made the other sweat vigorously, before giving a short nod in approval. "Good. Then give me my purchase and I shall take my leave then." The order was hastily complied and Harry couldn't help but giggle again at the sheer panic the intimidating man could create in others, he'd always found a perverse pleasure in making others squirm. From the spark of humor in the professor's eyes, and the twist of his lips, he too probably shared the same opinion.

The shop employee however, apparently did not share there silent twisted humor and decided to show said displeasure through glaring at the younger of the raven-haired pair. Dumb human mortals. Unable to even sense who is far the more powerful of the two just because of this fixation of appearances. "And how may I help you kid?" The manager groused, definitely not in a 'helpful' mood. "Did you let go of your mummy's hand at Honeyduke's and lose your way here?"

"Actually my mummy's dead, do not insult my intelligence and for your information, I just needed to get the things for my first year at Hogwarts which I would have gotten already if the service here wasn't so absurdly incompetent." Harry gave the same fake icy sweet smile that he had given not a few minutes before. A soft cough, barely heard, made the child's lips twitch upwards before they smoothed itself out again. Apparently the professor recognized that smile, and the condescending implications to it. God he hoped the professor was from Hogwarts, Harry was liking him more and more.

The store manger looked quite furious but bit his lip and went to get the aforementioned items regardless. For a person who just insulted an eleven year old customer, the man was surprisingly very professional. When the boy pointed that out to the professor lingering near the exit of the store he got another cough-laugh that made Harry smile. A genuine one that made his green eyes shine and his pale cheeks heated ever so slightly with warmth.

"So I assume you're a muggleborn first year for Hogwarts?" The man's deep baritone voice was nonchalant and didn't betray the slightest hint of the curiosity Harry was sure he had.

"You assume correctly. Though I'm what is seemingly defined as 'muggle-raised' apparently."

The boy studied a vial of oily looking eggs as he waited for the implications for that statement to sink in. "I see." And there it was. "So who.." The professor trailed of as he waited for Harry's answer to fill in the gaps.

"My aunt and uncle took me in. And before you make some inane awkward comment about how generous they must be, please desist. They are terrible human beings who certainly did not raise me out of the goodness of their shriveled hearts."

That probably came out a little more callous than he intended. The professor seemed slightly blindsided by the near casual viciousness that just came out of mouth of a child. He didn't show it of course but Harry could tell. Well, he made an educated guess. Reading the man was quite the challenge.

"Professor Severus Snape." Was what the tall black clad adult replied. Because that apparently was the appropriate moment to introduce oneself. "I'll be your Potion Professor and I'll be expecting you to read your textbook before the term starts."

"I've already read the textbook." Harry shot back, half lying, he had scanned it during a short fifteen minute break, "I'll be expecting you to teach us that Draught of the Living Death potion."

"That's far too advanced for a simple first year to comprehend much less prepare. I expected you to at least know that if you've really read the book."

"Well I expected you to realize I am no 'simple' first year."

"Quite." Professor Snape drawled. "I also expected you to address yourself when I in courtesy did so to myself."

"First off your courtesy was ill-timed and secondly why should I be obligated to reply to it?"

"Maybe a foreign concept called 'manners'? It may be too high class for someone whose obviously been living on the streets."

"Maybe I'm just a rebel?"

"A rebel whose managed to voluntarily read a whole textbook in less than a day?"

"I said I was a rebel not an unintelligent time-waster."

"I never implied anything of the sort."

"Then if I did go to your class for the first time without reading the text you wouldn't accuse me of something along those lines?"

"Touché."

By the time that they stopped the shop manager had gathered all the general first year supplies for potion making and was calculating the costs. "That'll be thirty-four galleons Mr-?"

"Potter." The boy answered, not letting his gaze leave the potions professor's. "Harry Potter."

At the sound of his name Harry could hear a choked noise from the area of the cash register, the employee was probably doing something extremely entertaining with his face but as tempting as it was, striking green eyes refused to leave the angular features of the potions professor's face. Angular features that have gone blank, unreadable and indiscernible. Frankly, it looked like the man was withdrawing into himself and that confused and admittedly stung him. "Professor."

"I must go."

And he did.

Harry stared at the empty spot where the tall man with a cutting glare and an equally sharp wit once stood not just a few seconds before.

"Mr Potter?" The boy turned away to face the store manager, absentmindedly noting how much the man's attitude has changed just by a simple name. Then again, so did Professor Snape.

"Yes?"

"Uhm.. May I have your autograph?"

Harry sighed.

Chapter Text

The one where Death gets some letters and goes on a train- and promptly gets himself in the middle of a three way. Ugh oh my god guys not that sort of three way. Jesus Christ. Get your heads out of the gutter it's only first year… Not that there's anything of the sort in later years… You know what? Forget about it. Just… Just read the chapter.

Honestly, mortals these days.


My Dearest Death,

What a simply beautiful boy you've ended up being! I do hope you'll keep those eyes when you come back, they are simply the prettiest green I've ever seen.

We are all missing you greatly back here, yes, all of us. Despite what all those 'macho' men here say, they are all sulking and wishing you hadn't left. I caught Time actually try and sneak out of his overseeing duties just for a visit. Which would be funny if it didn't mean I just lost one of my best cupids to Space. I don't even want to know what that man would do with my cherub.

Speaking of Space, he actually made an alternative universe where this Harry Potter character actually doesn't die- protected by some sort of ritual and a mother's love, which I thought was a fantastic excuse to use in place of an entity having to throw themselves literally down to stop a curse, however apparently the idea 'makes no sense', has 'too many flaws and inconsistencies' and is 'such a stupid weak sauce argument'.

Your siblings are simply terrible Death! No sense of romance at all!

That universe will be up and running soon and we all can't wait to see how much your presence has caused the original fated timeline to stray. Don't tell Fate but I'm sure your story you're writing with your steps is going to be much more entertaining than what she had cooked up. Ah but I guess that is the price of divine intervention is it not? To let the stars pave out your destiny with not a hint of resistance truly is the path of the unfortunate and weak.

Anyway dear you have GOT to start shopping more! Tailored clothes would look simply adorable on a kid, Life wants you to get navy jeans and Fate insists on a three piece suit. Throw out all those hand me downs Death, I know you don't really care much about looks... Well you do, we all do, but honey, your the least vain out of us all.

Also on the note on appearances- you really ought to shape up and eat a bit more, Life prescribed running and pressing a bench or something plus fruit, veg, protein and dairy. I mean this is basic stuff for living Death, how could you not know- wait, no, never mind, that answers my question. Just please try to make an effort in not being half-dead darling.

Wish you were here,

Love,

Love

P.S. Order is next up to write. Take what he says with a grain of salt okay? For a man who prides himself in strict discipline he is quite emotional- even though it's only you and Chaos that can manage to drag that passionate side out of him.

P.P.S. Would you be a dear and help me with these documents? Chaos told me how you did it for him and I thought that a sweet boy like you certainly won't turn down a little frail lady like me right? Kisses


 

Children from various ages and sizes, all from around the neighbourhood of one Privett Drive gathered around a particular large tree in the park, chattering excitedly with determination and glee lighting their eyes. In front of the amassed group of juveniles there stood three boys, a tall rakish dirty blonde with spiked up hair, a slightly large, rounded brunet and a thin delicate raven with glowing green eyes. It was the brunet that spoke up, "Thanks for all coming everyone, I'm sure you guys know the general gist of the rules or heard it from the others." There was a collected murmuring of agreement, "The time limit is till sundown and the winners gets bragging rights and enough candy to make them sick for a week!" Much more energetic murmuring now, some where even squealing.

"Not that that's ever going to happen ever." Piers muttered to the younger boy next to him as their friend began explaining the general rules and regulations. Harry gave a quirked smile, "Well you and Dud were pretty close last year, though I still think using a net to slow me down was a foul. And that Anna Shallot girl was pretty good too."

"Because you let her! That's not fair that her aunt runs the library and she promised free reign over the books if she won."

"For your information I got free reign anyway, apparently being considered second best was good enough."

"Potter you are a sneaky little-" Piers failed to finish the insult as cheers all screamed out from the crowd of mini mortals, taking that as his cue Harry walked up next to his cousin, winked at the gathered competitors and then ran the other direction like the hounds of hell were playing fetch and he was the stick. Distantly he could hear the roar of,

"Let the fourth Annual Harry Hunting Game begin!"


 

Death,

It has come to all our attention that you have been personally placing yourself in a stupidly precarious position with your new life. Malnutrition. Dehydration. Hand me down clothes. A shitty excuse of a box that you can't call a cupboard let alone a suitable room for a child. Letting those ugly lumps of fat and bone push you around and raised a, a hand against you!

WHAT ARE YOU THINKING DAMMIT

You are so lucky that Life has given your vessel some serious recovery speed and that Magic helped with the boost but those ingrained qualities were sewed into you to try and prevent the unnatural degradation of your mortal body. It was not for you to try out self abuse on nor try out any form of suicidal activity for your own morbid curiosity and pleasure dammit. Don't say it wasn't because I remember the last time you tried seeing what happens when you break pieces of a soul just because and I quote, 'I want to know if they hurt' and 'Wouldn't it make just the prettiest little paperweight when you glue it all together?' and fine, yeah, I could care less about a few measly mortals but this is you we are speaking of here.

Anyway, on a more pleasant note, I see you have gotten your magical school acceptance letter. Hogwarts wasn't it?

God I hate those darn places.

There's no proper order there, well there is some semblance of order but those magical idiots play with it like a children's jump rope. The Ministry there is no better, probably worse than the school. This is why Magic should have consulted me instead of played around with Chaos in the making of her community.

Actually it's chaos here too, well not Chaos- the slacking coward has gone off to hide somewhere away from what even I admit is your monstrous load of paperwork. Your filing system was atrocious by the way, I fixed it by age of universe, then planet, species, then time period and finally alphabetically. I mean I know it's been forever since anyone other than you have seen these records but that doesn't mean you should let it all dissolve into, well, you know.

Where were we? Urgh writing everything in a letter makes me feel like some dumb prepubescent female mortal, the fact I'm supposed to just spew out my thoughts with no rhyme or reason is making my head throb alone. I'm rereading my previous words and the urge to gag at paragraph structure is overpowering. This is ridiculous. Not that communicating to you is ridiculous brother, your one of the few people of equal standing that I actually actively seek your company from, however I rather do so in person than on some frivolous note.

This has nonetheless been an... experience and even with my reservations I do look forward to contacting you again. Time's turn is next, though knowing him he'll probably just be as boring as watching paint dry. Yes I know, that's hardly fair.

Paint can be fairly interesting depending on the medium after all. Hah. And they say I have no sense of humor. Take that Chaos, you imbecilic lump of melted crayons.

But seriously. If you don't stop this purposeful negligence on your own behalf I swear to god I will personally come down there myself and smite your human ass right where you stand.


 

"ALBUS! HOW COULD YOU?!"

"Minerva what are y-"

Sounds of objects hitting solid surfaces, indecipherable screams and the frantic sounds of running echoed outside the halls.

"Merlin." A short, goblin of a man looked up in a mix of bafflement and bemusement at his fellow coworkers who were also giving similar looks as they walked closer to the source of chaotic noise. "Someone's obviously been killed."

"Don't be so dramatic Filius," The taller hook nosed professor of potions drawled. The group paused as the crash of something glass was overheard followed by a muffled wail of 'My lemon drops,' and a furious hiss that sounded suspiciously like, 'Screw your lemon drops and shove them up your wrinkled old-' Snape looked down at shorter male, "Clearly someone's obviously massacred all the orphans and puppies on the west side of London."

A plump kindly older looking woman snorted at the declaration, "Honestly, whatever it is I'm not going twenty broomsticks close to it until that raucous all calms down."

As the small number of gathered professors quietly looked at the gargoyle guarded door of their headmaster's office and listened to the violent threats and pleading and destruction, they all nodded solemnly. Curiosity could wait till tomorrow. Today they keep their health in check and lurk away from the battlefield commencing beyond the doors ahead.


 

"Uncle Vernon can you help m- never mind." Harry muttered as the obese adult shot him an ugly glare. "I'll get it myself."

Staring balefully at his heavy looking suitcase, the green eyed boy grabbed the sides and pulled, cursing Order and his scathing but accurate comments about the thinness of his arms. Hedwig, his beautiful pet owl, cooed on encouragingly. It would be very adorable and all if he hadn't been busy lugging his custom made trunk with the strength of a scrawny eleven year old. Instead it just felt slightly condescending. Harry didn't know what to feel about having the snow colored bird grow enough of a spine to stand up to him whilst knowing full well what he was. Luckily for Hedwig, bemusement won over any sort of feelings along the lines of 'How dare thee mock someone as worthy as I, thou shalt be struck down by the sky for thou petty insolence.' Yeah, he'd gotten over that complex pretty quickly ever since the Greek deities came into play. The incest, alcoholism and Oedipus drama was enough to put any sort of high horse in its place.

He wondered briefly how uncle Vernon would do in Ancient Greece. Probably flogged to death due to being excessively... Vernon. Or crowned emperor. It really was a toss up between the two in those days for the incredibly selfish and greedy.

"Well." The green eyed boy started awkwardly, "This is goodbye then." Harry had already bid his heartfelt goodbyes to Dudley and Piers before but he felt it impolite to just say nothing to Vernon considering the man had drove him to the station.

"Pity you'll be coming back." His uncle sneered.

Well alright then.

And with those pleasantries done with, Harry clicked his tongue in an order for Hedwig to follow and pushed the trolley holding his trunk without a second glance. Though when he was at a safe distance the boy made a gesture with his middle finger at the flesh lump, he wasn't sure if Vernon saw it or why the gesture was considered so rude in the first place but Harry found it deeply satisfying nonetheless. He would say it was a human thing if he hadn't seen Chaos doing the action many times behind certain other entities backs. Maybe it was just a juvenile thing?

But back to more pressing matters. The raven haired child squinted at the signs, Platform 9, then Platform 10.

9 and 10.

9.

10.

Oh dear god Harry knew he forgot to ask something important.

"Excuse me sir," The old man in the security uniform smiled at the small fragile looking child before him. Though he did raise a brow at the owl on said child's thin shoulders. "Do you know where, uh, Platform 9 and 3/4s is?"

And the boy looked just so embarrassed that he had to actually even ask such a thing that the elderly security guard chuckles. The mortification at the reaction failed to make it any less funny. He put his hand on the raven haired kid's shoulder, the empty one not the one with a gigantic white bird on it, gently and answered, "Boy I don't know what it is with this tradition but every year a bunch of kids like you always ask me the same thing. And I don't know what those gosh darn older boys tell ya but there ain't any 9 and 3/4 here."

He chuckled again as the scrawny child buried his face with his hands and groaned. It may have been his old ears but the guard could've swore the boy said something along the lines of "Cannot believe this" and "Damn magic to the pits of hell" and maybe some sounds that sounded distinctly bird-like. The owl cooed and bopped its head like it almost understood what the young child muttered.

Not really sure what to say, the man just patted his shoulder again and offered a lollipop.


 

"Eck." Harry scrunched up his face as he licked the sugary sweet piece of candy. "This is unsurprisingly gross." Scrutinizing the pink sweet and rolling the stick between his fingers he murmured to himself. Maybe it's the context flavored with my mortification that's ruining the taste."

Why would anyone expect humans to become less annoying with magic? The boy swears they just become stupider and more embarrassing. To make him stoop to this- this degradation! And yes, maybe he shouldn't fault them for keeping their dumb secret but honestly, this was one of the most crowded stations around- surely somewhere a little less populated would have just been good sense? 'I mean,' he mentally groused as he gnawed at the lollipop and intensely scanned the crowd with narrowed glowing eyes, 'if an old man has been asked where this thrice damned platform is so many times to the point he just assumes its some sort of well known hazing ritual that has to mean something doesn't it?'

Finally sick of the too-sugary sweet Harry pulled out a holly wand from his worn jeans, black as charcoal and with a shine like a well-polished onyx. He could still here the squeal that old wandmaker made when he finally chose a wand and said wand blackened so fast Harry might've as well have set fire to the thing. And he would be lying if he hadn't been a tiny bit tempted to. Wands seemed to be a bit redundant in the not-really-currently-an-entity's opinion. Sure they made nice training wheels for the beginners but to make them compulsory was just wasteful.

Despite his own misgivings about having to pay for something he really did not need, it was apparent from the second he stepped into the old shop that the wands certainly did not share any such misgivings for him. Before the old shopkeeper, Ollivander, such an eccentric man, could even welcome him the whole establishment practically vibrated where it stood with sheer magic-fueled excitement. Because while wands aren't the most sentient of objects, they were known to choose their users. And what wand didn't want a piece of four feet three pure unadulterated power?


 

"Curious, very curious. This has never happened before." Ollivander breathed, glazed silvery eyes filled in absolute awe as another wand jumped hoops to impress the petite green-eyed child in front of him. "It shouldn't be possible, no one should be compatible with all of these."

"Yes, well," Harry hedged, unsure and frankly unwilling to even try explaining that it wasn't everyday the physical manifestation of death walked in and essentially asked these magic sticks for assistance and how said sticks probably realized how revered they would be, maybe even more than the Elder wand. It wouldn't be true of coarse, he made the Elder wand. But that didn't stop the wands flinging themselves to get his attention.

Another swish of his wrist and the stick (Apple wood and dragon heartstring) produced a beautiful flurry of small canaries with the deep, vibrant colorings of a peacock.

"Wonderful! Simply wonderful!" The old wandmaker clapped his hands with childish delight, "This is simply incredible! To see such high level magic surely this is-"

"No, no definitely not."

It took what seemed to be hours in the store. Wand after wand. From complicated firework displays to exotic flowers blooming from the cracks of hardwood flooring to impressive displays of dominance where they tried to disintegrate the competition. Even Ollivander with his excitement was feeling the strain of it all. Harry kind of wanted to just say yes to a wand so he wouldn't have to see the older man's face when he rejected another one, the man had been a very good sport though despite with him being so picky. Also his arm was really sore.

"I wonder..." Ollivander dashed to the back of his shop, leaving Harry alone with at least a hundred rejected wands. With a satisfied sigh, the boy dropped his wand waving hand and prayed that the wandmaker would be in wherever he was for a good, long while.

Which of course meant that the elderly man was back before he could say 'Amen.' The boy tried his best not to grimace at Ollivander's reappearance, something he was sure worked thanks to the stiff muscles on the face of his meat suit.

"It's an unusual combination - holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches, nice and supple."

Respectfully the boy didn't comment about how elderly men, or just anyone really, should not ever use the word 'supple' when in the context of handing a long phallic-shaped stick of wood to a child, and took the offered wand with a polite nod, waiting for the inevitable show of extravaganza. Harry really hoped it wasn't fireworks again, it hurt his eyes. And his eyes were way too pretty to be covered up by circular pieces of glass.

But there was no fireworks. No extravaganza. No show. As soon as pale fingers clasped the wooden brown stick, Harry could feel his skin warm and tingle as a rush of what he realized was pure exhilaration swept over him in the most affectionate way. Glowing, he was glowing, both internally and externally. A smile, wide and ecstatic and pure, involuntarily stretched on his face as lightening bright green eyes turned to Ollivander. The man was muttering 'Curious, most curious.' Under his breathe but Harry ignored it, too focused on the powerful, honest to god emotion pulsating through him. It felt like golden lava being pumping into his veins in what could only be the best kind of way.

"Sorry," said Harry absentmindedly, "but what's curious?"

"I remember every wand I've ever sold, Mr. Potter." Ollivander looked at the child with his pale eyes, "Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather -just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother why, its brother gave you that scar."

Now that got his attention. Harry swallowed. Wow Fate really thought this whole thing through. Obviously not subtly considering that was the most obvious plot foreshadowing in the history of probably ever, but she still did think this all through.

"So.." Harry trailed off, "Do you have this in black? Because this colour does not go well with this new cloak I bought and…"

Say what you will, if he was going to own a pair of training wheels for wizards, Harry was going to have a nice design dammit. Wands though, were like very overeager puppies, the boy found, once again proven when his holly wood wand twisted itself into the sleek beautiful black thing it is today. No bumps nor markings, just perfect unmarred darkness in his hand.


 

With a little twirl of the thing the pink stick of candy transformed into a thin bar of plain chocolate. It was a little sweeter than he preferred and had a strange aftertaste that was suspiciously strawberry in flavour but in Harry's opinion it was infinitely better than what it had been before. So as he nibbled the treat and leaned on the trolley that carried his luggage and owl, the child let his eyes survey the crowds quietly.

There was no way he was going to go through such indignities of asking a complete stranger something like that again, oh no, Harry was going to make sure he's found one of the magicals and follow at a polite, well-hidden distance. As his friends tell him, it is considered the way of the 'ninja', though Harry does wonder about the accuracy of the statement. But the rules were fairly straightforward and easy to apply in situations such as these so the boy shrugged off any doubt of these 'mad ninja skills' away. They were useful and it was way less of a trial emotionally to participate in and- did that lady just say muggles? Jack in the pot.

Focusing his gaze Harry locked onto the talking key that would show him his destination. It turned out the key was a plump woman who was talking to four boys, all with flaming red hair. Each of them was pushing a trunk like Harry's in front of him and, here was the clincher- they had an owl. With triumph the entity-on-haitus pushed his cart after them, stopping when they stopped, with enough distance between them to be just near enough to hear what they were saying.

"Now, what's the platform number?" said the woman. And either that meant the school changes it's pick up location every year which was smart and a bit worrying, all these children had never been to Hogwarts either despite the age variations which was more worrying for those kids then him or the woman has quite 'a lot of air in the head' personality that Petunia tells everyone Mrs Canningway has, and this lady has completely forgotten the platform number even after coming back to the same place for the last, maybe six years if he estimated the eldest boy's age correctly. And that was a lot worrying.

"Nine and three-quarters!" piped a small girl, also red-headed, who was holding her hand. Or it could have just been a test for her child. Harry decided to go with that, he was trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. "Mom, can't I go... "

"You're not old enough, Ginny, now be quiet. All right, Percy, you go first."

What looked like the oldest boy marched toward platforms nine and ten. Harry watched, careful not to blink in case he missed it, but of course the moment the elder redhead reached the dividing barrier between the two platforms, a large crowd of tourists came swarming in front of him and by the time the last backpack had cleared away, the boy had vanished. He tugged at his black messy hair in frustration and quietly whispered a few choice words in a native Peruvian dialect of river dolphins which earned him way more than his fair share of nearby stares. Not that he care currently. His attention was all on the next redhead.

The lady must have said something because the next child replied with a grin, "I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?"

The woman looked a little chastised. Did that happen often? To be fair though, looking at the near identical counterpart grinning at his brother even Harry would be hard pressed to figure which is which at first sight.

"Sorry, George, dear."

"Only joking, I am Fred," said the boy, and off he went with a sly wink. Harry couldn't help but chuckle, cheeky child, Chaos would've loved him. His twin called after him to hurry up, and he must have done so as the moment he distracted himself with his thoughts the other was gone. This was getting ridiculously vexing.

And when the third brother managed to slip his sight, the thin boy narrowed his furiously bright green eyes, grit his teeth and began pushing through the crowd with his trolley. Apparently the higher powers (and when he said higher powers he meant the bastards he considered family) were set on making him do this.

"Excuse me," Harry quietly began, he could feel his cheeks burn which probably meant his white as snow face was now visibly (though really not by much) pink.

"Hello, dear," she said looking down. "First time at Hogwarts? Ron's new, too."

She looked pointedly at the last and what seemed to be the youngest of her sons. Ron was gangly and about as tall as Piers, with freckles and the customary flaming red hair that Harry just knew was some sort of trademark gene in this family.

"Yes," the green eye boy nodded as he answered the question as politely as one could muster in a single word. "The thing is-" He hesitated. It was one thing to admit weakness when said weakness was some sort of crippling problem that could cause issues in the future but it was just plain embarrassing to tell some random person that he didn't know something that really should've been known. There was a difference. There was. "- the thing is, I don't know how to-" Harry trailed off, making a vague indiscriminate gesture that was supposed to imply the train station platform but could've have been interpreted as flying kittens for all he knew.

"How to get onto the platform?" she said kindly, and Harry nodded relieved.

"Don't worry," she said. "All you got to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don't stop and don't be scared you'll crash into it, that's very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous. Go on, go now before Ron."

The boy in question, Ron, gave a rather weak smile which he responded back in turn before facing the very solid looking wall in front of him. "Okay then. Here goes, well, me actually."

The boy started moving slowly toward it, building up speed from a brisk walk to soon a full out run as he got closer and closer. He forced his eyes open, both eagerly intrigued by what he would see and fearful that this was some very cruel joke that would result him in meeting his end literally face first. The involuntary but inherent fear in his body won out mere centimetres away from the barrier and green eyes closed as his body tensed expecting the incoming crash.

A crash which did not come.

Harry opened his eyes and was greeted with a whole new and completely packed platform on the other side. Waiting by it was a rather gorgeous scarlet steam engine whose smoke drifted lazily over the heads of the crowds. The sound of cats and owls and the occasional amphibian joined the oncoming barrage of clamour, fitting right in like they belonged in this symphony of noise. The only saving grace to it all was that with this many people, Harry found the animals less able to recognise his presence among the masses. Of course it didn't stop them from honing in on him like catnip or an owl treat or whatever toads liked, when he got unfortunately too close.

A new thing he had learnt from this experience. Hedwig made a fantastic bodyguard. Harry definitely needed to repay that half giant of a man with something in the future. He didn't know what but he'll figure it out eventually. Say what you wish about Death, but his debts never go unpaid.

As he pushed his way through the families saying goodbye and the children in tears or in anxious anticipation, Harry realised he had another problem. He couldn't just bring the trolley into the train. He would have to carry his trunk and Hedwig and everything into there.

"Bugger."


 

The first few carriages were already packed with students but Harry determinedly pressed on through the crowd until he finally found an empty compartment near the end of the train. Putting Hedwig gently down first onto one of the seats, the boy then started working on pulling and heaving the damning trunk toward the train door. The stairs were proving to be an absolute nightmare. He could barely raise the thing high enough to move it over and Harry had already felt the unwelcome pain a trunk corner could bring when smashed on his foot. Twice.

"Need a hand?" It was one of the red head twins from before, the one that went second if Harry recalled.

"God yes." He groaned as he draped his small body over the large trunk dramatically, a hand on his heaving chest and another hand over his forehead in a poor rendition of a damsel in distress. "The trunk has slain all my efforts and I am unable to defeat this mighty beast."

The twin stared at him gapingly and for a moment Harry thought he had misread the situation and the other's personality but he needn't have worried as the older male seemed to have recovered rapidly, laughing heartily at the exaggeration. "I like you." He responded before turning to his counterpart, who had been watching a short amused distance away, "Oy, Fred! C'mere and let us help this princess to her carriage."

"Of course my liege." Fred easily caught on to their little 'bit', giving a sweeping bow before aiding in moving the large luggage. With the duo's chivalrous help, Harry's trunk was swiftly moved to be snugly placed in a corner of the compartment, though not without a few 'My lieges,' and 'slain the mighty dragon back in ye olde days,' and even one particularly loud 'Off with yer head peon!'.

"Thanks a lot," The boy said gratefully, brushing his sweaty black mess of hair away from his face. Twin small sharp intakes of breath were made and green eyes looked up to see the similar freckled faces watching him with a mix of amazement and awe.

"Blimey," One of them, Fred, pretty sure it was Fred, spoke, "Are you?"

"He is," Confirmed the other one, George, scrutinising Harry's forehead and making him feel just generally uncomfortable, "Aren't you?"

"Aren't I what?" He had to ask.

"Harry Potter," chorused the twins. And oh right, he was apparently famous here for some reason that he hasn't been informed to.

"Yes that's me." Harry replied with a shrug. The sooner everyone here got over this strange affixation with permanently scarred underage boys the better. He had even caught his eye on a few books about him at the stores and wasn't that just disturbing bordering on out right violating.

As the two boys gawked at him, Harry took his time to muse on how he wished to spend his time on the train. The first few minutes when the scenery started changing between station to country was always a fascinating thing to watch but even he would find himself growing bored after a while. A book to read? He wanted to finish the last four chapters of Trixi Titan's Terrible Twin, the second book of some sort of series for pre-teen wizards and witches. It was terrible to be frank, but the kind of terrible you scoff and degrade yet still compels you to finish until the very end. After that maybe he'll start on Love's share of paperwork. The easier ones of course. It does sound like a pain however and it would ruin the marvellous trip to magic school so maybe he'll just take a nap instead, yes, that s-

"Fred? George? Are you there?" A voice called from the open train door, the raven haired entity identified it to be the mother of the twins. The near identical boys both shared a look that probably passed a whole meaningful conversation between them whilst Harry could only see the raising of brows and minutest of head movements. "Coming mom!" George shouted while Fred leaned down to the short green eyed child and murmured a, "Holler if you need saving from any evil trunks yeah?"

Then with a grin and a wave respectively, the two cheeky red heads hopped off the train leaving Harry who watched it all with a quirked smile. Those brother's reminded him entertainingly like his own chaotic brother split into two. And wasn't that a scary thought?


 

As the train finally began starting off to it's destination, Harry couldn't help but watch with a little bit of wistfulness at the redhead family's matriarch and her daughter waving and laughing and crying as they ran to keep up with the steam driven machine just to prolong the moments with her family. It was all a rather touching scene.

Then the door to his compartment slid to reveal the youngest boy from the redheaded family that seemed to be a recurring theme for Harry today. Maybe it was a sign?

"Anyone sitting here? Everywhere else is full." The boy asked nervously. Harry hesitated for a second before shaking his head and the other child sat down, sneaking a non too subtle glance at him before staring at the window.

"Hey ickle Ronniekins," Two familiar and similar faces popped into view, "Listen, we're going down the middle of the train." "Lee Jordan's got a giant tarantula down there."

"Right then," Ron mumbled clearly disgruntled or some other sort of emotion that wasn't pleased. Harry however looked up in interest.

"A giant tarantula? Really?"

The older boys glimpsed at each other before facing the raven haired child with charismatically endearing wide smiles, "Yeah, it's pretty wicked. Have we introduced ourselves yet?"

"How rude we are brother-"

"Well I'm Fred-"

"-and I'm George Weasley."

"Hello Fred, hello George." Harry greeted amiably, already warming up to the duo, "I'm Harry Potter as you know."

"So your really Harry Potter?" The youngest of the Weasley's blurted out, apparently not happy at being the only one ignored. Green eyes blinked at the sudden outburst, "Uhm. Yes I'm pretty sure." With a thoughtful look at the twins he asked mock confused, "Am I Harry Potter?"

Fred walked closer to the pale child, eyes narrowed and fingers stroking a none existent beard on his chin. "I say," He clapped his hands in a sort of 'Eureka!' moment, then pointed accusingly at Harry, "You're an impostor aren't you?!"

George gave an exaggerated gasp and stumbled toward them, "Oh my stars!" He drawled in a terrible american lady's accent, "Heaven forbid say it ain't so sir!"

Fred nodded gravely, "I'm afraid so ma'am. Now boy, tell me who you really are."

Harry shook his head, shaking, eyes big and watery and bright. "I can't," He whispered, "For the sake of the family, I can't."

"Tell us!" Fred boomed, though the effect was ruined by the utter mirth in his eyes and his fellow counterpart near vibrating to contain himself. Harry, also having trouble restraining the humour of it all looked the tall freckled older boys in the eye and said, "Fred. George... I am your great grandfather, I've come into the future to scope out you two to see if you're worthy of fighting in the great dragon war."

There was a beat of silence before the three all broke down to the point of tears. "Merlin," One of the twins, Harry couldn't see past his blurry vision, heaved between raucous laughter, "Did not expect that." The other was too busy guffawing and bent over holding his stomach to answer. Ron just seemed confused and slightly upset.

"So are you Harry Potter or are you not?" He demanded a little rudely.

"I am, I am." The pale green eyed boy nodded as he wiped away his tears of laughter, something that has never happened before he would add, and nodded. Then he took a look at the still laughing teenagers and burst out into uncontrollable chuckles again. Times like these he really appreciated humankind as it is.

"So Harry," George began after all of them, save Ron, finished expressing their humour, "You want to come with us to meet Lee and the tarantula?"

Fred nodded cheerily, "He's a bit of a scary beast when you first see him but if you give him a few treats and a pat on the head the guy'll like you just fine."

"And the tarantula too." George added with a snicker.

Harry gave his usual quirked fond smile at the two expectant teens but then he caught sight of the glum younger redhead and felt a tad guilty for dismissing him this whole time. Reluctantly he shook his head, "Love to guys, really, but I think I'll stay here for a bit longer. Sorry." He tilted his head a touch toward Ron who now was gaping at him openly. The twins seemed deflated but understanding nonetheless.

"That's cool Har,"

"We'll just-"

"-have to-"

"-catch up-"

"-later!"

The small, almost skeletal child grinned and waved the duo away. Their brother too waving as well. When they were gone however, Ron immediately zoned in on Harry.

"So you really are the Harry Potter?" He asked again.

"Yes." Harry said slowly, the placating if not patronising way he usual went when going about explaining something annoyingly simple to an equally as simple being.

"Oh - well, I thought it might be one of Fred and George's jokes," said Ron. "And have you really got the... you know…" The freckled boy gestured at his forehead. With a soft sigh Harry decided to indulge the kid and pulled back his bangs to reveal his lightening shaped scar. Ron openly stared.

"Do you remember what happened when.." Oh. OH. He was famous for THAT? Really? Well, he supposed that killing someone as an infant was quite the impressive feat, even in this world of wizards. Mr Riddle did hold that ridiculously offending alias of his so he must've held some sort of negative image bad enough for a child murderer to be revered to.

"I don't remember anything before the attack." Harry answered honestly, "My first memory though was a flash of green light, almost of the colour of my eyes see? But I remember almost everything else that happened after."

"Wow." Ron said, like it was an actual riveting masterpiece of a story rather than the vague explanation it was. Before the conversation could die out into awkward silence though Harry quickly asked, "So you know a lot of magic then?" The redhead made a noncommittal noise which really meant nothing to the other, and answered back with a completely different topic of question.

"I hear you live with muggles?" This child was kind of rude. Harry decided. Though most children are usually anyway. He couldn't wait till his year turned into teenagers. Handling teenagers shouldn't be so hard right? "What are they like?"

"Terrible. Well, not all of them are, I was just unlucky. My cousin's cool but my aunt and uncle are some of the meanest pricks you'll ever meet I swear. Your family seemed pretty cool though, three older brothers and all."

"Five." He answered gloomily. Harry internally winced, yeah he knew what a big headache that could be, and he lived in literally a whole separate dimension to everyone. The entity in him couldn't even imagine all his 'family' living together under one sky et alone one roof for an extended period of time. "I'm sixth in our family to go to Hogwarts. So I've got a lot to live up to you know? Bill and Charlie have already left - Bill was head boy, Charlie was captain of the Quidditch team. And now Percy's a prefect. Fred and George mess around a lot, but they still get really good marks and everyone thinks they're really funny. Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it's no big deal, because they did it first. You never get anything new, either, with five brothers. I've got Bill's old robes, Charlie's old wand, and Percy's old rat."

To emphasise his point the boy pulled out a sleeping fat grey rat from his jacket. The moment green eyes laid themselves on the creature he almost recoiled. Is that-?

"His name's Scabbers and he's pretty useless, barely wakes up. Perce got this owl from my dad as a reward for being made a prefect, because we usually don't affo-" Pale freckled skin went pink and Ron stopped speaking, choosing to stare furiously at the window and the scenery outside. Apparently someone was ashamed of their economical status.

Deciding to pity the boy, because really, he could have been so much worse off, Harry knew, the green eyed boy recounted his own days at the Dursleys. That seemed to relax the other some. And soon both of them were sharing stories and complaints of their childhood, it was all quite nice.

They were interrupted after a while when their door slid open to reveal a smiling woman pushing some sort of trolley filled with sugar delights. "Anything off the cart dears?"

Ron looked sulky and embarrassed again as he shook his head and pulled out a brown bag of presumably homemade lunch. Harry, who had no such domestic treatment nodded happily and walked to the corridor. He'd never really handled his own money for treats himself, always having it given to him by his cousin and Piers but there was something almost empowering about finally being able to get his own food. Well get his own food and actually eat it immediately anyway.

There was an amass of things he had never seen before, cauldron cakes, sugar quills, something called pumpkin pasties. It was a little disorienting. Thinking about his fellow companion in the compartment Harry bought four of everything. A bit excessive but it wasn't like this was going to cripple him financially, what was the point of gold if you didn't make a few unintelligent buys anyway.

Carrying it all, Harry quickly dumped all the treats unceremoniously onto an empty seat. Ron looked faintly amused. "Hungry?"

"Starving." The raven child tossed a friendly smile before biting into a liquorice.. wand? He got five good chews into it before he pulled a face. "Okay maybe not that starving." Ron laughed at the disgusted expression before making a face of his own as he pulled apart his own meal.

"Ugh mum always does forget I don't like corn beef."

"I'll take them," Harry offered, the other looked a bit dubious, like the idea that someone would want these sandwiches was the height of madness.

"You won't want these, they're dry and kinda mushed." He began protesting but the smaller boy stopped him before he got to into it,

"Nonsense, I kind of like savoury stuff more than sweets anyway. Candy ain't my biggest thing really." The redhead looked slightly affronted like Harry just insulted his mother and father and everyone else he loved. "Except chocolate," The green eyed boy backtracked hastily, "If you steal my chocolate I would have to kill you. Anyways I did buy extra for us to share anyway, so swapping would be more than fair. In fact, take those liquorice wands, like immediately. I insist."

Ron giggled, "You're weirder than I thought." He commented as he snatched the remaining black sticky wand shaped sweets, "But.. thanks."

"No problem. Now.. those sandwiches?"


 

"Okay now these are real chocolate."

Harry eyed the packet warily. "Are you sure? Because I don't think I can take another one of those beans of those, you lying bugger."

"Oi! I didn't lie! I just said that there was chocolate flavoured ones. Not my fault you got fish and baked beans." Ron grinned unrepentantly. The other scowled half heartedly.

"But chocolate frogs? They aren't real frogs are they?" The freckled boy laughed, "No of course not. Blimey! You really have been living with muggles."

"S'what I said."

"Anyway nah, they're just shaped like frogs and move like them but they're perfectly chocolate I swear. What you need to see are the cards which are inside the packet. Collectibles featuring famous witches and wizards you know?"

The smaller of the two nodded sagely, Dudley had a huge cricket card collection a while back, the sport not the bugs. That would be strange.

He unwrapped his chocolate frog and took out card. It showed a man's face. He wore half- moon glasses, had a long, crooked nose, flowing silver hair, beard, and mustache. Harry stared. He knew that man.

"Albus Dumbledore." He read out loud. "Currently Headmaster of Hogwarts." Green eyes looked at his friends blue. "I know this man."

"Of course you know him Harry! He's like, one of the most well known and loved wizards ever!"

"No, no, I mean I didn't know that but I mean I recognise him." Harry furrowed his brow into a distinguishable frown on his face. "He's the guy who dropped me onto the doorstep as a baby after, you know."

Ron's mouth dropped open, which was disgusting since he was chewing a pumpkin pastie and a liquorice wand together making a very unappealing vision. "He dropped you on a doorstep?"

The raven haired child nodded firmly. "In November." He stressed.

"Blimey, I mean, you sure?"

"I told you I remembered near everything after the green light right?"

"Yeah."

"Well my memory may be a little fuzzy but could you honestly say it would be hard to forget someone that looked like this?"

He pushed the Dumbledore card, with his long beard and brightly coloured clashing patterns of clothing at the taller boy.

"Huh, guess not. Wow."

They dissolved into silence as it became obvious Ron was having trouble knowing how to process this information. Harry tossed a packet of the chocolate frog to the other who took it gratefully and they both ate in the quiet sounds of the moving train. The quiet however, as always, became too uncomfortable to continue. "So," Ron coughed after swallowing his second frog. "Wanna see me try this spell my brothers taught me?"

"Yes please."

The freckled boy rummaged around before finally retrieving a very battered wand. It had definitely seen better days that wand. Just as the wand was raised, poised for action and a spell readying itself on his lips , the compartment door was opened again. This time with a plump, timid boy and a bushy-haired girl already in her robes.

"Has anyone seen a toad? Neville's lost one," she asked in a way that somehow sounded like an order but without the authority backed up.

"Sorry no." Harry replied, Ron shook his head in support. The girl however had shifted her attention elsewhere though.

"Oh, are you doing magic? Let's see it, then." She sat down next to the redhead without even asking for permission, now that was definitely rude. Ron, understandingly looked a bit taken aback by his sudden increase in audience. "Er all right then." He cleared his throat.

"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow."

The boy waved his wand a bit but nothing really happened. The rat stayed grey and unperturbed in his sleep. Ron looked disappointed and as Harry was about to say something that hopefully would be considered comforting the bushy haired girl butted in.

"Are you sure that's a real spell?" said the girl. And wow, even Harry knew that was just not how you start making friends. It was right up there with 'You're dead and going to Hell,' and 'You do look fat in this dress, thankfully you won't be wearing it where you'll be going.' He didn't even know souls could go that hysterically offended.

"Well, it's not very good, is it? I've tried a few simple spells just for practice and it's all worked for me. Nobody in my family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've learned all our course books by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough - I'm Hermione Granger, by the way. You?"

The pale boy glanced at Ron who was red in the face and stunned at the sudden influx of words that had just come so rapidly from this female creature's mouth.

"I'm Ron Weasley," Ron muttered reluctantly.

"Harry." Was all he answered, Harry was not in much of a mood for someone to speak about his life like that they knew it because of some books they read right now. And he knew similar types to this girl. They've researched everything about the world and would think them some sort of expert. It'll go away eventually but he rather not the inevitable barrage of questions and preconceptions of his own life to start right now thank you. "And I think it is a real spell. Ron was probably just flustered with the new eyes on him." He added defiantly.

The girl looked shocked at being rebuffed from her statement whilst Ron shot him a grateful look at the support mixed in with incredulousness that screamed 'What the hell you doing mate?' Mortals, really.

"Really." She huffed indignantly. "Okay then, do it again." She said bossily.

Blues eyes looked at green which just nodded encouragingly. Ron gulped but determinedly held his wand over Scabbers, and began the rhyme, unaware of a certain black haired friend of his also focusing intently on the rat.

"Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow."

A wave of his wand and the children all gasped as the rodent turned a bright shade of yellow. Scabbers still slept through it all though. After getting over the surprise Ron couldn't help but beam at Harry who returned the gesture, then smugly raising a brow at the sputtering girl.

"But that's, that's not,"

"A real spell?" Ron finished for her. "Well I think it is unless my rat just suddenly learnt the ability to change colours."

"Yes, well, anyway, we'd better go and look for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon." She sniffed and turned her body away from the two boys and strode out of the compartment, taking the timid boy, who had watched and said nothing this whole time, away.

"Whatever house I'm in, I hope she's not in it," said Ron. He threw his wand back into his trunk carelessly and Harry wondered if that was the reason for it's poor condition. "Can't wait to show George the spell worked. I was actually so sure it was some sort of dud when it didn't work the first time."

"Well we can't expect to get everything right the first time." The smaller of the two reassured, "What houses are your brothers anyway?"

"Gryffindor. They're all in Gryffindor." And the gloom was back again. This kid sure had some sort of complex about his family. "All my family are in it. Don't know what would happen if I didn't get in. Though I guess as long as it ain't Slytherin I'll be okay."

"Slytherin?" Harry recalled a certain pale platinum blonde who insisted on Slytherin to be the best house there. He really was getting very mixed signals here. "What's wrong with them?"

"You're joking."

"Really not Ron. It seems pretty alright to me."

"That's the house Vol- I mean You-Know-Who was in!" Harry raised a brow.

"So?"

"SO!? That's where all the 'dark' wizards go!" Ron hissed, looking paranoid like one of these dark wizards were going to jump in from the window to defend Slytherin's honour. Harry was not impressed.

"I'm sure that's not true. Just because there's a few particularly bad apples doesn't mean you should throw out the whole sack of them." That was a good metaphor the mortals said. Something that made more sense then pots being able to call kettles black. Ron still looked unsure, the entity in mortal form sighed.

"Look say those beans of yours. Say nine out of ten times all the green coloured beans are really gross flavours like sprouts or some sort." The freckled boy wrinkled his nose at thought but nodded, "But the one out of ten is like, the best flavour ever."

Blue eyes gazed at nothing dreamily, "Caramel fudge ice cream."

"Uh, yes, that one out of ten is caramel fudge ice cream flavour. So knowing nine out of ten is super gross stuff would you stop eating the green coloured beans altogether."

"No! Course not Harry, then I'll miss one of the greatest flavours ever!" Ron denied vehemently, Harry smiled pleased.

"And that's the same with Slytherins, so maybe most of them are really bad dark wizards or something, but would you be so mean to dismiss the few cool ones?"

"Well when you put it that way.. Wait but what if there aren't any good ones? What then?"

"Well you got to taste them first to find out right?"

Ron looked horrified. "What?"

Harry giggled, "No you dope! I meant give them a chance. You wouldn't know what flavour a bean was without tasting them so you need to give these Slytherins a chance to prove themselves."

The redhead still seemed unsure about it all but nodded thoughtfully nonetheless. It was an improvement either way. "Alright Harry. For you I'll give them a tiny chance."

"That's all I can ask. All I can ask."


 

In the middle of a heated one-sided discussion about the basics of this Quidditch game Harry still thought sounded extremely dumb the door to their compartment slipped open again. This time it was three boys, and Harry recognised the one in the middle from Malkin's. He looked much more snobbish but the raven haired boy could see a glimmer of childish eagerness in cold grey eyes as the gaze rested on him.

"Is it true?" the child of white asked, "They're all saying Harry Potter is around here."

Harry gave a quirked smile and nodded, "That's me." The pale boy responded with a faint flash of a smile before his was gone.

"Oh this is Crabbe and Goyle by the way," The blonde gestured carelessly to the hulking figures that could not possibly be eleven year olds. Then again he should talk, he looked eight rather than what his physical age should be. "And I'm Draco, Draco Malfoy."

Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigger causing Draco to look at his direction and sneer.

"Think my name's funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford."

He turned back to Harry, ignoring the furious reddening of the freckled boy's face. That wasn't very nice. Very rude. Harry did not know how he was going to survive till teenage-hood. It must get less complicated right?

"You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort. I can help you there."

He held out his hand to shake Harry's in what was probably a gesture of friendship, even if it was a terrible way of doing so. He'd almost thought of not even accepting it but the boy had seen how lonely the other was. How desperate to have an actual friend, he'd seen the blatant yearning when they talked about family and offered friendship before and he couldn't in good conscious dangle these hopes just to snatch it away from small naive fingers. Of course he had to set some ground rules too.

"I appreciate your help, I really do Malfoy," He began with what he wished was an easy smile that didn't betray the strain he was feeling in such a messy social situation. They did not cover this in intensive sensitivity training dammit. "I did say I want to be friends with you before," Draco smiled triumphantly and he could feel the betrayed glare boring right at him by Ron, "but," The smile was gone and the glare had lost it's intensity yet it still felt like Harry was in the middle of a mortal minefield. "but Ron is also my friend and if you can't accept my decisions and tastes then I'm sorry. I hope you are still willing to be friends despite it though."

Harry stuck out his hand this time as during the talk Draco's had fallen to his side. Grey eyes studied the outstretched hand warily now, meanwhile Harry twisted his head to face Ron and sternly said, "This goes for you too. I don't like choosing sides, if you guys can't get along after giving it a shot fine. But I refuse to be tugged around because of that understand?"

The redhead nodded stiffly. The show of equality seemed to clinch Draco's decision as well as he took the hand and firmly shook it. "Fine Potter," he drawled. "But don't expect me to do whatever you say, I am a Malfoy after all."

"Yeah that really means nothing to me." The green eyed child bluntly said, causing Ron to burst into laughter at the gaping expression of Malfoy and his cronies. "Where have you been living? Under a rock?" The blonde asked, the idea that someone didn't understand the greatness that is Malfoy beyond him.

"Nope, just under some stairs." Harry deadpanned with sardonic humour.

"Oi! That's mine!" Ron shouted in the background as one of the large bodyguards, Goyle, reached to grab a handful of Bertie Bott's beans. The larger, rock of a boy slowly stared at the sweets in his hands, then at the fuming redhead and shoved it all into his mouth. It was hard to tell if that was malicious on his part or just very slow on any uptake. Draco actually looked a little ashamed at that.

"Oh yeah well, watch this!" The freckled boy copied the action, shoving a fistful of the beans in his own mouth, the two goons, not to be out done continued shovelling the various tasting jellybeans into their maws. Ugh.

"Charming." Draco muttered.

"We sure know how to pick 'em." Harry murmured in agreement.

"What is going on?" It was at that moment, Hermione Granger came back into the scene. She then wrinkled her nose in distaste as she saw the three boys stuffing their faces with candy whilst two others watched at the sidelines with disgusted bemusement. "You know those will rot your teeth terribly, I know, my parent's are dentists."

Ron looked positively tomato like again and Harry absentmindedly wondered if it was healthy for your head to get such sudden rushes of blood so many times in one day. The freckled boy swallowed whatever he was chewing so he could properly scowl. "What do you want?"

"Just telling you all to better hurry up and put your robes on, the conductor says we're nearly there."

"Oh well that's it?" Before he could even get an answer the pale blonde nodded, "Good, now leave us so we can get changed."

The bushy haired girl looked quite put out at the dismissal but continued on nonetheless. "All right then. I only came up in here because people outside are behaving very childishly, racing up and down the corridors," said Hermione in a sniffy voice. "But I see when I'm not wanted." She added as she left. Draco closing the door behind her as Ron glared.

"I don't think she does really." Malfoy drawled.

"Here here." Ron grumbled, and the two gave each other a small grin before they realised who they were and who they were talking to and promptly looked at opposite directions. Harry chuckled. They would be best friends yet.

Finally a voice echoed to the train, warning all the students they were approaching their destination in about five minutes time.

"Well," Draco gave a stiff nod as the trio turned to go, "See you at Hogwarts I suppose."

Harry smiled, "Yes, see you there."

Ron and the two hulking other boys just grunted, both with mouths too busy occupied with confectionary. The blonde and raven haired children just rolled their eyes at the gluttonous antics and parted ways.

"So Ron, what do you think?"

"They're pretty okay.. for Slytherin."

Harry rolled his eyes again with a soft smile.

Chapter Text

The one where Death freaks out about getting wet, makes future plans for redecorating and oh, gets Sorted... and somehow ruins that. Which is frankly bloody ridiculous because all he had to do was sit down, put on the hat and lay back.

Or the one the author was too indecisive, said 'Screw it.' and consequently resulted in this stupid sorting hat scene that, she just knows, is going to bite her back quickly in the future.

"Firs years, firs years o'er here!"

Harry shivered unhappily in the cold. Apparently the makers of Hogwarts uniform had failed to give adequate thought on what to do when winter comes. And it hasn't even started snowing yet. Fantastic.

The boy glanced at his red headed friend who was doing no better. "Guess we should head over."

"Guess so."

They trailed through a narrow path in a forest, everyone was quiet with only the rustle of trees, quiet crackling of leaves under shuffling feet and the soft chattering of children filling the air. Harry heard the boy who lost his toad sniff a few times. Whether it was from the temperature of his incompetence at keeping one pocket-sized thing on his purpose Harry wasn't sure.

"Nearly there!" Hagrid shouted, his large form visible even across the river of children, "Just round this bend!"

With that encouragement everyone quickened their steps, and even Harry was unable to shake off the vibrating excitement and anticipation that came seconds before the forest revealed what would be essentially his home for the next seven or so years of his life.

It was… marvellous really.

The first thing you saw was a great black lake, glittering under the darkness of the sky, beyond that was lazy rolling hills of greenery the land was so well known for, and perched on top of it all was a castle. Harry had heard many attempts at describing the building, back when he was Death and souls were just stories to be told, it's towers, it's turrets, the windows, the sheer size. But none of it did justice as his gaze raked over the magnificent castle, standing proud and glorious and strong as it too must be watching them with as much curiosity and expectancy as they were. Each brick and stone, worn and old, exuded an old power that Harry could barely just feel from the distance. A warrior's protection, a scholar's curiosity, a sly man's wisdom and a mother's love. Such wonderful traits embedded into the magics surrounding them all, everyone unaware of the fine tapestry being weaved in the spaces which are unseen, curling around their innocent fingertips as they too, unknown to them, become one in this invisible web that is Hogwarts.

To be honest, Harry was a little jealous he didn't have a castle like this.

"No more'n four to a boat!" Hagrid called, breaking the silent awe of the children and pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Harry did not like what he saw. And what he saw was a tiny wooden boat of a thing which was expected to allow four children sized mortals to stay afloat and un-drenched for probably more than thirty seconds. The petite boy internally swore he was never getting in that thing with Crabbe and Goyle. Because, just, no.

Clearly Draco was having the same idea as he took one look at the boats just innocently floating there, then at his two hulking bodyguards, then back at the flimsy boat-shaped driftwood, before dashing off to join Harry and Ron. Much to Ron's very visible displeasure. Apparently it will take quite a bit of effort for the two to ever become solid friends. Hermione, upon seeing the trio entering the boat, bid farewell to the still sniffing boy who lost his toad to run up and join them. And now both Weasley and Malfoy were simmering in something that was as far as pleasure as one could get with the arrangement. The two boys as well as moving away from the bushy haired girl, were trying to sit as close as they could to the black haired child whilst contradictorily, trying to still maintain as much distance from each other as possible.

Harry would have found a lot more amusement in all of this but once again, he couldn't help but worry about the boat he was now on- and was rocking very ominously now that he mentioned it. Dammit, if he gets soaked in this chilly weather he was actually going to kill someone. And coming from him that really should be a threat well-wary of.

"Oi you okay mate?" Ron asked looking at the other's even paler complexion. "You look whiter than, well," The freckled child gestured to an affronted looking Malfoy.

"Not everyone can be stupidly poor, freckled and ginger, Weasley." He sneered causing said ginger's freckled face to heat up in indignation. But before the angered boy could splutter something out, Draco glanced at the green eyed boy, who was still looking forlornly at the edge of the boat, and said, "Though Weasley is right Potter. You look simply terrible, don't tell me you're afraid of the water?"

Somehow the blonde had this astounding ability to make even a simple question of worry sound like the most condescending, insulting thing to ever come out of anyone's lips ever. Whilst Ron looked even redder on Harry's behalf, Harry himself could feel a small curl on the edge of his lips at the question. Malfoy was quite the adorable child wrapped up in thorny barbs wasn't he?

"I'm not afraid." The raven-haired boy stated, glancing up at Draco before looking back down at the boat, "I just shudder to think what would happen to my person if we tipped over."

Ron snorted at the idea, clearly one of those people who would probably laugh it off and find it a funny story to tell everyone afterwards. Malfoy however also looked down at the black cold waters beneath him and decided to mimic Harry in terms of trying to be as small as humanly able whilst maintaining his usual air of decorum. The red head stared at the sudden shift in posture and the irate looking pair next to him. "You guys aren't bloody serious." He deadpanned.

"Shut up and stop rocking the boat so much." Draco snapped, Harry nodding in serious agreement. "Do you know what bog water would do to my hair?" The aristocratic pureblood bemoaned.

"Your hair?" Harry asked baffled, "Why would you care about that? We could get some sort of disease or worse! I've read stuff on parasites found in lake water that breed and hatch eggs under your skin and there is no way on Life's stupid green earth am I going to go through that." He insisted as Draco paled even whiter, almost matching Harry's particular shade at the moment.

Ron stared at the two like they were the crazy ones before bursting out from laughter. The other boys in the boat were not amused.

"Everyone in?" shouted Hagrid, who had a boat to himself. Smart man. "Right then - FORWARD!"

And the fleet of little boats moved off all at once, gliding across the lake and Harry couldn't help but sigh in relief. Thank God, they were magic boats. Ron chuckled again as he must have noticed the relieved expression on his face. But other than that, everyone was all silent, staring up in childish wonder at the great castle looming overhead. It towered over them, majestic against the starry sky while they sailed closer to the cliffs where it stood, magic heavy and comforting in the air, beckoning the new students even closer with promises of beginnings and friendships and homes.

'It would be hard not to feel some sort of connection to this place, no matter who you are.' The non-entity mused as he admired the view.


 

It took an underground tunnel, a passageway in the rock and a generous expanse of grassy hill before they eventually all arrived at the huge, Oak front door. The half-giant checked if everyone was present and okay before taking three large knocks on the castle door with his even larger fists. The door immediately swung open revealing a stern faced Professor McGonagall.

"The firs' years, Professor McGonagall," said Hagrid.

"Thank you, Hagrid. I'll take it from here."

She opened the door wide and lead them through the entrance hall. It was almost as big as his own hall back in his personal realm, not as long though. It was lighted with burning torches which Harry thought was a little old fashioned considering there must've been more 'magical' decorations to use instead, and they followed the older witch across polished stone floor. The green eyed child could already hear the chattering of hundreds of students as they neared their destination, the rest of the school must be waiting for them to come in. The boy shuddered a bit at the thought. He really did not think the whole 'school equal noisy children' thing properly did he?

However they weren't immediately pushed toward the noisy hallway but instead ushered into a small, empty chamber off the hall. All of them standing closely together nervously as eyes watched McGonagall, waiting to be told what to do now.

"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room.

The four houses are called Gryffindor, Hufflepuff," Heh. Hufflepuff. It almost made Harry feel like he was in some sort of weird parody of a children's story book series. "Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Each house has its own noble history and each has produced outstanding witches and wizards. While you are at Hogwarts, your triumphs will earn your house points, consequently any rule-breaking will lose house points. At the end of the year, the house with the most points is awarded the house cup, a great honour I hope each of you will be a credit to whichever house becomes yours." Green eyes blinked lazily at that. Was that meant to be an actual punishment? Losing metaphorical points which would fail to give you a presumably shiny large cup at the end of the year that technically you don't even personally own? These people better not make any serious karma inducing mistakes because Hell was going to be a big surprise for them.

"The Sorting Ceremony will take place in a few minutes in front of the rest of the school." She took a breath from her lengthy introduction and then eyed the toad boy's, Neville's he was pretty sure someone called him, cloak that was somehow fastened on his ear and a smudge on Ron's face. Feeling self conscious Harry attempted to brush down his own messy hair in an effort to look neater. "I suggest all of you smarten yourselves up as much as you can while you are waiting."

"I shall return when we are ready for you," Professor McGonagall stated as she left the chambers. "Please wait quietly." Despite the 'please' added at the front of the sentence, the boy had a distinct impression that it was most definitely not a suggestion.

The pale raven haired boy turned to his redheaded friend, "How exactly do they sort us into houses?" he asked.

"Fred said it was some sort of test." Ron shrugged, but Harry could clearly see the beginnings of anxiety and worry. Children this age are unsurprisingly very full of expression, even the more reserved ones like Malfoy. "Hurts a lot apparently, but I think he was joking." Though the freckled boy sounded unsure despite the self-reassurance. A few kids who were listening in looked even worse off than they did before. Draco was tugging at the edge of his robes, pretending he was just adjusting them. Granger, whom apparently took Ron's word a bit too seriously, was whispering very fast about all the spells she'd learned and wondering which one she'd need and generally freaking everyone out even more. Neville was a mess. Harry could see even Goyle and Crabbe tapping their feet and fidgeting with their hands respectively, and he was pretty sure the two were literally just charmed carved blocks of granite.

The majority of them though, all fixed their eyes toward the door with dread and heavy nausea. Like the stern professor was going to appear at any moment with red horns, holding a trident (seriously, mortals have the strangest imaginations) and whisked them all away to their doom.

The quiet tension built up to suffocating levels, so you couldn't blame Harry when he violently jerked at the sudden screams of the children behind him. "What in the living-" His curse on his lips died as gasps formed on the people's around him. Because the cause of his shock was most definitely not in the realms of the living.

About twenty ghosts had just appeared, passing through the back wall like the stone was nothing. A pale white hue and transparent, but not enough so that one couldn't see the intricate details of each ghost if they looked close enough, they glided across the room talking to one another, hardly glancing at the first years. They seemed to be arguing. What looked like a fat little monk was saying, "Forgive and forget, I say, everyone deserves a second chance."

"My dear Friar, haven't we all given Peeves all the chances he deserves? Many can argue we give him far more than he deserves actually. The man gives us, spiritual beings, all a bad name and you know, he's not even really a ghost and- I say, what are you all doing here?" Some ghost had apparently finally noticed the group of gaping first years.

"New students?" The Friar asked helpfully. A few heads nodded. Harry just smiled serenely, it had been a while since he had, had any contact with any of the dead. And school ghosts of all things! Fascinating, he didn't remember the Founders telling him about them. Though most of the ghost happenings probably happened after their time. Because if they did, Harry was pretty sure the name of the school would be Hogwarts: Murder House for children. And that was not a name you wanted to attend to for schooling.

In the midst of his musings, Harry realised someone was staring hard at him, looking up he saw it to be one of the ghosts- wearing a curly powdered wig, with robes covered in silver bloodstains and carried chains in his hands. The pale boy gazed a bit longer at the paler ghost, then tilted his head in acknowledgement. That apparently was the cue for the spirit to rush over to his side, bowing low and attracting much attention. "Death Lord." He breathed, his breath cold and barely more than a hoarse whisper. The other children wouldn't be able to hear it much to Harry's relief. But unfortunately, the other ghosts must have, for they too were staring with awe and amazement in their eyes before also gravitated quickly toward him, circling at a respectful distance as they murmured wondrously at the unexplainable emotions their intangible bodies were filling up with in the entity's presence.

"Death Lord."

"Is it really him?"

"He's kinda smaller than I expected.."

"Of course he is you imbecile, did you leave your brain as well as your body? Obviously he's graced our plane of existence as a human for a reason."

"Lord Death."

"Our Lord."

"Death Lord."

A few of the braver ghosts reached out to stroke an arm or brush a hair out of his way, when they saw how indulgently the boy, their Lord Death, allowed them this pleasure soon all of them were gathered, surrounding the boy with open curiosity and reverence. Harry merely smiled at his subjects, stubborn ones these were, unwilling to come back to his realms to play school of all things. Who would've thought.

The other children however, did not seem to share his easy acceptance of the situation. Generally the looks on their faces were a mix of uncomfortable wariness down to horrified curiosity to just plain terrified. Harry was willing to bet the ones near tears were from non-magical background.

"What are you doing?" A sharp angry voice rang out and all heads, solid and see-through, turned to face the stern professor who'd returned. "Harassing a first year, for shame, I expected better of you all. Move along now, the Sorting Ceremony is about to start."

The raven haired Death Lord could feel the tense crackling in the air caused by the spiritual beings congregating protectively over his small human body, completely unwilling to obey the woman's orders. Harry certainly could not have that, so he held up his hands in a passive surrendering gesture and whispered, "Do as she says my wayward souls. I do not wish to interrupt this, uh, sorting of ceremonies, was it?"

With great reluctance the ghosts looked at the powerful entity hidden underneath layers of human flesh and blood, one by one, slowly floating away through the opposite wall. Once all the spectres were gone, made perfectly sure by the keen scrutiny of Professor McGonagall, the teacher turned to face the students.

"Now that, that small bit of drama is over, please form a line and follow." Professor McGonagall told the first years.

Getting oddly nervous, Harry did so, feeling a bit of comfort in the fact Ron stood behind him and Draco with his goons in front as they walked toward and through the double doors of the Great Hall.

Lit by what seemed to be thousands of candles that floated mid-air over four long tables adorned with glittering golden plates and goblets, as the rest of the students were waiting. There was another length of table where the teachers were sitting which was where they were herded up to, coming to a halt to face the hundred of students (and the occasionally ghost that was looking right at him) staring at them whilst the teachers watched their backs. It wasn't the most tender of sensations Harry can tell you that much but the view was great. The Great Hall was astounding. Harry was definitely not jealous. Especially not of that frankly amazing ceiling dotted with stars. Jesus Christ where could he order some of that? Actually wasn't Jesus a carpenter? Hmmm…

"Its bewitched to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts, A History." Granger whispered, a little redundantly if you asked the boy. What did you think they did to the ceiling? A satanic demon ritual to make a deal for some really rad special effects done for their hall- actually… that could work…

A four-legged stool was placed down in front of the children, drawing Harry's future plans for his realm to a temporary halt as he, along with the rest of the first years, watched intrigued at a point frayed looking witches hat on top of the chair. For a brief second Harry thought they had to pull something out of it like those fake mortal magic men on the telly that Dudley insisted he replicate (with actual magic of course). Maybe depending on what they pulled out it'll determine what house they belong to.

Of course that hypothesis went out the window when the hat began to sing.

"Oh, you may not think I'm pretty, But don't judge on what you see, I'll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.

You can keep your bowlers black, Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I'm the Hogwarts Sorting Hat And I can cap them all.

There's nothing hidden in your head The Sorting Hat can't see,
So try me on and I will tell you Where you ought to be.

You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry Set Gryffindors apart;

You might belong in Hufflepuff,

Where they are just and loyal,

Those patient Hufflepuffis are true And unafraid of toil;

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

if you've a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;

Or perhaps in Slytherin

You'll make your real friends,

Those cunning folk use any means

To achieve their ends.

So put me on! Don't be afraid!

And don't get in a flap!

You're in safe hands (though I have none)

For I'm a Thinking Cap!"

The whole hall burst into applause as the hat finished its song. It bowed to each of the four tables, well, as much as a hat could do so, and then became still again. Like it didn't just sing a some surprisingly catchy and deep tune.

"So we've just got to try on the hat!" Ron whispered to Harry, visibly relieved. "I'll kill Fred, he was going on about wrestling a troll." The raven haired child snorted at that.

"Your brother's sound like fun."

"Yeah." The redhead muttered. "Fun like waking up to find you've grown bunny ears."

"Did they at least match your hair."

"No."

"Shame."

"Harry you're kind of a wanker you know that?"

"Yes well such is the burden I must bear."

"..What?"

"Shut it you two." Draco hissed, though the corner of his mouth was twitching as though fighting back the urge to snicker, "Professor McGonagall is speaking."

It was true, Professor McGonagall had by then stepped forward holding a long roll of parchment. Harry did not envy her job at all. "When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted," she said. "Abbott, Hannah!"

A pink-faced girl with blonde pigtails stumbled out of line, put on the hat, which fell right down over her eyes, and sat down. 'Seemed pretty simple.' Harry thought. 'Though that's what I thought when I agreed to Fate's request so,'

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat.

The table on the right cheered and clapped as Hannah went to sit down at the Hufflepuff table. Harry saw the ghost of the Fat Friar waving merrily at her. They all seemed very nice, with a name like Hufflepuff one would usually expect that though. Or at least you would safely presume they weren't serial killers who enjoyed the taste of blood and vodka or something.

"Bones, Susan!"

"HUFFLEPUFF!" shouted the hat again, and Susan scuttled off to sit next to Hannah. Yes, thinking about the name more, they probably had the most comfortable furniture too. Soft pillows. Couches. Damn. Now he wanted to go Huffle with the Puffles.

"Boot, Terry!"

"RAVENCLAW!"

The table second from the left clapped this time; several Ravenclaws stood up to shake hands with Terry as he joined them. Ravenclaw were the intelligent ones right? They would obviously have their own personal library. And with a library comes amazing books to read and lay down with. Harry always did enjoy books, not to mention they seemed like the most quiet out of a noisy lot.

"Brocklehurst, Mandy"

"RAVENCLAW!"

Yes, Ravenclaw seemed pretty good too.

"Brown, Lavender"

"GRYFFINDOR!"

Or perhaps Gryffindor would be where he would go? In this life he was willing to try exercise his new found freedom and what better way than the house of the courageous?

"Bulstrode, Millicent"

"SLYTHERIN!"

Though Slytherin he could definitely see himself fitting in. If Malfoy was a bit of an indication there was some sort of power play going on in there but it all sounded quite prestigious and apparently his vessel had an affinity to snakes. Plus, Harry would bet his whole Gringotts account (and it was a big account considering the interest the goblins had given him) that their rooms were filled with silk, ornate decorations and refined but still lavish furniture. And if that isn't a good place to garner some ideas for tasteful designs for his own use than what was?

"Granger, Hermione!"

Already up to the 'G' section. Huh, this was going faster than he'd thought. Then again, for most people the sorting took seconds, the longest he'd counted was a sandy haired bloke, Finnegan something, who took about a minute or so.

When finally called, Hermione almost ran to the stool and jammed the hat eagerly on her head. This one took even longer before the hat finally shouted,

"GRYFFINDOR!"

Ron groaned loudly, mostly drowned out by the cheers, unheard by most except Harry and Draco. The blonde was smirking, reaching out to pat his hand half-mockingly, half-sypathetically on the freckled boy's shoulder. "There, there Weasley. At least Slytherin, and therefore I will be okay."

"You know that if you're going to be in Slytherin you'll be taking classes with them right?" Harry pointed out, causing Malfoy to pale. Both looked at each other in a moment of shared misery and commiseration at that, forcing Harry to hide his laugh under a faked cough.

"Neville, Longbottom!" it was the boy who kept losing his toad, who was called next, he looked so nervous that he fell over on his way to the stool. The green eyed boy winced at that. You had to feel bad for that. It took an even longer time sorting Neville. When it finally shouted, "GRYFFINDOR!" Neville shot off, probably from all the built up tension and nerves, still wearing it, and had to humiliatingly jog back amid laughter.

"Malfoy, Draco!"

"Well that's me." The noble blond drawled, swaggering forward toward the stool with confidence most of the other children had failed to show beforehand. The hat barely touched his slicked back hair before yelling "SLYTHERIN!"

Draco joined his two hulking child golems looking immensely pleased. Harry clapped for him which made the child grin even brighter. Ron gave him two claps which really was more than Harry expected.

There wasn't much more left on that list, which was good for McGonagall, that sort of needless strain on her voice would definitely ache a bit tomorrow. Then again. Magic.

"Potter, Harry!"

The hall broke into hushed and not so hushed whispers that made the called-on boy feel distinctly outside the realms of comfort as he begun walking up to the rather rickety looking stool. He also felt slightly irritated at them all. God. Even when trying to be quiet children were still loud. Perhaps he shouldn't have accepted to come to Hogwarts after finding out his sudden fame. There's going to be attention and gossip and stares everywhere.

As Harry felt the fabric of the hat brush against his bird's nest of raven hair, the would-be official wizard couldn't help but feel quite giddy at the idea of being sorted. Ok more the sorting itself than the actual getting into a house thing but still. Magic would be absolutely ecstatic to find out some of these wizards actually had the imagination to make a talking, sorting hat when he tells her about his experience. Knowledge would probably be more intrigued at how it had been made whilst the others would wish to use it for their entertainment most definitely. Honestly though, he just thought it would be pretty nice right now to talk to someone closer to his age.

Then a piercing scream hit everyone's ears.

It was filled with such blood-curdling fear and anguish it took Harry a few seconds to move past the sound and realize the source of it came from his head. Well, on top of his head. It seemed his excitement caused his still rather fragile control on his more 'deadly' powers to slip out more than usual. The hat if it was really sentient through human magics, would probably be feeling like its on the edge of its own demise, literally meeting death head on if you will. No wonder it was freaking out so bad. Oops.

As much as Harry felt bad about the whole 'terrifying the centuries old hat' thing this was quite the embarrassing predicament he found himself. And when he could feel the self aware article began to shift in a desperate attempt to get as far as possible from him that's when Harry realized he needed to intervene. Now.

'DESIST AT ONCE HAT.' He mentally ordered with as much authority as he could inject. If the thing was going to act like he was a tyrannical God then it wouldn't mind if he lived up to its expectations. The hat complied near immediately, though it did whimper a bit. 'GOOD. NOW SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP.'

The shuffle and hesitant shifting back on his head confirmed the order. Harry would not lie. That pleased him in a the more primal 'godly' side immensely. 'GOOD.' He praised though the hat shuddered at the word like it was slime dripping down into its fabric.

That really was the problem with soulless but self-aware objects, they weren't considered 'alive,' so they fell under an obscure part of Death's domain but they didn't have a soul which would've been able to inherently connect with the entity in a way that he had been told felt 'terrifyingly like being welcomed home.' Without that feeling there was only dread, cold and dark and unendingly horrifying to look straight into. Since there is no soul to collect, to remake and remodel, just complex strings of magic and emotion and some faint spark that could easily be misinterpreted as a personality. Because of all that, death to these things is what is considered a 'true death' and they know it and fear it.

Which is really such an inconvenience. It had been such a long time since he's met anything this self aware, which really makes this Sorting Hat quite the work of art, so he'd completely forgotten this was the reaction he would garner in close proximity. Wands didn't count because they weren't really sentient enough to identify anything other than capability, suitability and power of a potential master. If pressed (like hard to the point that some of his bones were already cracking from the pressure) Harry had to say he preferred the almost perverse need to please him in comparison to being treated like he was some apocalyptic, invincible being that could destroy one's very existence with a mere thought. Well, he was an apocalyptic, invincible being that could destroy one's very existence with a mere thought, but that's really not the point here.

The hat must have felt the entity's disapproval because the magical article of clothing whimpered again. Harry mentally sighed. 'DON'T YOU, I DON'T KNOW, HAVE TO SORT ME OR SOMETHING?'

'O-of course Death Lord!' A timid voice squeaked in his mind. 'Where do you wish to be placed sir?'

'AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DISCERN WHERE I'M MOST SUITABLE?'

'Well, you're suited near equally to all of the houses my Lord.' The hat answered, apparently getting a bit more comfortable as he re-entered his designated role. 'Loyalty to the literal death and hardworking despite your complaints, such curiosity you have fulfills the thirst of knowledge you would need for a Ravenclaw, snake-like cunning as well as manipulation is inside you in droves and finally courage. That one was a bit tricky, but yes you have courage, it's rather new if you don't mind me saying, did something happen recently milord?'

Harry thought back to the start of it all, his all powerful self flitting around his grim throne room fretting about breaking the rules, then that sudden flare of insistent determination silently encouraging him to actually do something for once. To act out of his role. To be more than just an end. The boy chuckled softly, how a few tiny insignificant years, ones that would have passed by him before as naturally as air through his fingertips, now held so much, molding and changing him in a way eons has failed to do. 'You could say that...' His inner voice softer, more human like than it has ever been before. The hat too must have sensed a changed as the boy could almost feel it's shift in demeanor, still fearful but now ready to please and pledge loyalty at a drop of a, well, it.

'So my Death,' the Sorting Hat began more confidently, now finding itself quite eager in sorting this unworldly being, 'What House would you want to honor yourself into? The House of the Brave? The Cunning perhaps? Or do you wish to indulge in Knowledge or plan to dabble with the Loyal?'

'I get to choose?' Harry asked, genuinely confused, 'I thought that was your reason for existence.' He pointed out, with a slightly accusing tone. 

'Yes, well,' the sentient hat huffed, 'You're one of the few who can be put in any House milord. When that rare happenstance occurs it is not up to me anymore, I can only guide and nudge a person in the direction of what I think is best. I am something to be recognized and heeded but not necessarily something to be followed mindlessly.'

The entity-child smiled at the backbone and wisdom this hat was showing to someone who just a few moments ago, had the thing literally almost running for the hills. To be fair, death did do that to people, uh, sentient clothing.

'Ok,' he acquiesced amiably, then with little to no thought at all he decided, 'I wish to go to all of them.'

The hat stiffened, which probably in clothing-speak meant the thing had frozen in shock.

'You can't do that!' It protested indignantly.

'Why not?' Harry asked baffled, 'You said I was well suited for all four houses so why should I limit myself to only one? Because I am certainly not going to relive this life three other times just to figure out what living how the other quarter lives, that would be tedious. Plus I need to test out the comfort of Hufflepuff, the use of spacing in Gryffindor, the artistic tastes of Slytherin and the libraries of Ravenclaw for a.. project I'm working on.'

Ignoring the blatant implication the boy could easily time travel or cross worlds (which was extremely hard to do by the way) the Sorting Hat gaped, disbelief at the sheer dismissal at century old tradition this individual was insisting he should break. All for the sake of what suspiciously sounded like interior design.

'But,' it began weakly, 'that's never been done.'

'Well Death's never destroyed a magical hat with his bare hands before but it isn't that hard for me to do so is it?'

A strangled fearful sound echoed in the child's head. Apparently the joke was not well appreciated. Note to self: jokes about ending another's existence? Not funny to particularly sensitive people slash objects. Who knew.

'So?' Harry asked, rather patiently all things considered he may add. 'May I here your verdict?'


 

The hall hushed and quiet had began murmuring to themselves in confusion and anticipation. What was taking so long?

After the hat suddenly gave a terrified ear-splitting scream as it twitched erratically the moment it descended on the Boy-Who-Lived's head the magical artifact suddenly went ominously still and silent. It had been twenty minutes since then. The teachers were giving sidelong looks of worry that were probably meant to be subtle but failed miserably considering the face that every student could easily see them at the front of the hall right next to the current person of interest.

Professor McGonagall looked distinctly uncomfortable, which no one could really fault considering they were all equally at a loss at what to do in this situation as well. Though considering the professor in question was the one in charge of the Sorting it was obvious most of the pressure for someone to do something was on her. Just as it looked like the woman might take off the hat, because what else were they supposed to do- It wasn't like the Founders gave them a set of instructions when they created the hat- the magical artifact opened its mouth and everyone stilled, waiting expectantly.

"GRYFFINDOR!"

A cheer went up in the house of the brave but it didn't last long before,

"SLYTHERIN!"

The Gryfindors opened their mouths no words coming out from them, the Slytherin's were no better but they would like to think that they expressed their disbelief in a more dignified manner.

"RAVENCLAW!"

A few weak claps were given by stunned Ravenclaws, one of them in their true house fashion, was writing down the whole event as well as questions and theories accompanying this anomaly. Though most were just struck completely dumb, eyes glued to the hat who was opening his mouth. Again.

"AND HUFFLEPUFF!"

Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived-to-Defy, then took off the hat, placed it in the stunned hands of one Transfiguration Professor, looked at the equally shocked tables of student before him and asked, "So, where do I sit?"

And then the hall descended into chaos.


 

An emergency meeting was held right after Harry finished the feast. Harry honestly was not surprised. If anything after all that shouting and general confusion he actually expected to be whisked off to some office the moment the Sorting was announced. It looked like a lot of the professor's clearly wished to do that, they had barely focused on the frankly delicious meal before them, choosing to gawk at some scrawny green eyed boy. Wasteful really. Because the food was delicious.

In the end before the emergency meeting, Harry had decided to sit with the Gryfindors. The Ravenclaws had looked like they were willing to crack open his vessel's skull to pick at his brain so that was not an option. Hufflepuff was still a stupid name. Slytherin while probably the house that would give him the most peace, was decided against as well, simply because they too were staring at him much too much like the Ravenclaws, just with an extra sharp edge of calculation that the boy did not want to deal with currently. And that left-

"I can't believe you've managed to get sorted in all the bloody houses!" Ron exclaimed between mouthfuls of food. Harry politely chose to look away from the mess his red headed friend was making. Hermione Granger who was sitting on the opposite side of them, didn't even try not to look completely disgusted.

"Well, I," she began rather haughtily, "think that you've obviously must have done something." The bushy haired girl sniffed accusingly, "It doesn't say anywhere in Hogwarts: A History, that you can be in more than one house, much less all of them!"

"Is there anywhere in there that says otherwise?" Ron shot back, the boy arguing more for the sake of dislike of the girl than an actual belief that people can be in four houses. Granger flushed at the rebuttal, and was generally silent for the rest of the conversation.

"But really, all four houses," A boy with hair the colour of sand mused, "How will your classes work? Where will you sleep?"

Harry paused from his meal. He had not thought about that at all. However he quickly shrugged any such worries off. He was on vacation for God's sakes. This was the professor's headache, not his. And wow, it felt good to pass off responsibility.

"I'm Seamus Finnegan by the way," the boy added with a friendly if not slightly nervous smile.

"Harry Potter." He replied,

"I know." Seamus nodded, "Pretty sure everyone does actually." Harry nodded too.

"Yeah I've seen the story books. Awful stuff really."

"So it isn't true?" Someone asked down the table. Apparently everyone was unabashedly listening in on the new celebrity.

"Nope." Harry answered simply, cutting a small appropriately sized piece of steak and putting it in his mouth with some obscenely tasty mashed potatoes. Did they mash these things with ambrosia? He would not be surprised if the answer was yes because ohmygod. "Raised by muggles. Never have I ever, and I quote 'Rode off toward the English country horizon on the last flying unicorn as the sunset paved my path to the journey beyond.'"

Most of the older kids snorted at the boy's sarcasm whilst an alarming number of them actually looked disappointed. Granger was notably one of them.

Ron, who'd already known all this since the train ride, had ignored the general conversation in favour of freshly baked bread. In the lull of silence though he looked up from his meal and gave a grin at Harry. "Don't know about you but those biscuits with that gravy? Delicious. You ought to try some."

The two friends shared a smile, one childish and friendly, the other small and relieved, then Harry snatched one of the pre-dipped savoury biscuits on the redhead's plate. "Oi! Not cool!"

"You can take some of my mash, it's bloody brilliant." Harry offered amusedly at the other's overprotective outburst for food of all things. Green eyes looked unseeingly at what appeared to be nothing before giving a subtle nod and murmured, "Compliments to the cooks."

Harry blinked as he suddenly found a mini mountain of fresh steaming mashed potatoes on his plates. The butter on top still in the process of melting down on the potato-y goodness. Ah, house elves. Such over eager and willing to please creatures. Maybe he'll have time to find their kitchens and help out for a bit? They'll probably have some sort of fit though.

"How did you do that?" Ron's blue eyes were wide and he was breathing hard like he'd just found his own personal messiah. The redhead tried to do his best imitation of Harry, blank faced he looked at the wall and murmured under his breath, "Please can I have some more chicken drumsticks?" Looking down at his plate the boy's stoic facade broke into the widest grin as he grabbed a large sauce covered chicken drumstick and bit into it with relish. "Merlin this is the best place ever!"

"Hey I did not look like that!" Harry exclaimed in a playful protest. Jabbing the other boy in the ribs with his elbow enough to make him gag a little but not choke.

"You totally did," Ron teased as he flicked a pea at mock outraged green eyes, revenge for the almost making him choke from his food. As nice as those biscuits were, he did not want them to be the last thing he'd ever tasted. "The only way I could've been more like you is that I dip my hair in tar and powder my face."

"Well now your just being mean. My hair is way too nice to be compared to tar."

Ron rolled his eyes as he chewed his food. "Ponce you are."

"If I'm a ponce, you're a pig Ron."

As they traded retorts and ate, it seemed soon everyone became more comfortable around them as their attention soon drifted off to other more mundane things and topics. There still was far too many eyes on him for his liking but Harry was used to such things anyway and ignored them all.

"That does look good." A ghost dressed with ruffles commented wistfully as he watched Ron munch on the chicken. Harry looked up at him with a slight frown, "Do you want some?" He asked. The intangible being's eyes widened and shook his head, "No, no, I couldn't, I mean, I didn't wish to insult milord,"

"It's Harry Potter." Harry quickly corrected, glancing to see if anyone heard the last muttered slip up, a few were watching them but not with enough attention to catch the last bit. "Please call me Harry."

"Of course, excuse my insolence my Lo- Harry." The small child gave a small smile at the ghost, "I don't think I've introduced myself? Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington at your service. Resident ghost of Gryffindor Tower."

"Nice to meet you Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington." Harry greeted politely, earning a pleased smile in return.

"I know who you are!" said Ron suddenly. "My brothers told me about you - you're Nearly Headless Nick!"

The ghost looked extremely unhappy with the nickname, it didn't sound like a very good one either, but seemed to be visibly refraining himself from acting out his full displeasure, fully aware of who else was watching him. "I would prefer you to call me Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-" the ghost began stiffly, but Seamus Finnigan interrupted.

"Nearly Headless? How can you be nearly headless?"

Harry wondered if pushed hard enough, ghosts could turn red, Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington looked pretty close to doing so. "Like this," he said irritably before tugging his ear causing his head to fall over, a thin bit of skin off his neck keeping it connected to his body like some morbid sort of hinge. The stunned shocked faces seemed to please the nearly headless spirit before remembering Harry's presence. The ghost coughed sheepishly but Harry just giggled in response, boosting the transparent mortal soul's pride immensely as he preened at the sound.

Flipping back his head onto his body he turned to face the Gryffindors, speaking earnestly about that House Cup nonsense again. Harry continued with his meal.

Considering his background as a malnourished human, it honestly didn't take long for his stomach to signal its fill, groaning in contented bliss. Harry still snacked on a brownie slice but otherwise it was obvious he had finished his meal. As he sat contentedly looking at the other kids still stuffing their faces with pumpkin pie and other such treats, the corner of his green eyes lingered on the increasing shadow hovering over him.

"Mr Potter, the Headmaster would like to see you in his office before the feast is finished. If you please?" Professor McGonagall asked, an arm waved toward the entrance they came from, suggesting very firmly to follow. Harry nodded and moved from his seat, completely aware the great hall had quieted down and watching the scene play out like hawks. A quick glance told the boy that the Headmaster as well as three other professors weren't at their seats either. Most likely waiting for him. Harry wasn't going to lie, context that he just ruined thousands of years old tradition and traumatized artifact leading said tradition aside, it was a little flattering.

"Lead the way Professor."

From the lack of lips on the woman's mouth, Harry was pretty sure he should have said something else. Pretty sure.


 

"I've brought the boy Albus." Was the first thing McGonagall said when she entered the room. Harry looked around curiously, he couldn't help but compare the room to his own office. It was a large pleasingly circular room, filled with strange silver decorations that whirred and gave off funny puffs of smoke occasionally. The walls were filled with bookcases and portraits of snoozing people, it was a good guess that they were previous headmasters, and overall the place felt quite inviting. The only thing his office and Dumbledore's had really in common were the fact they were circular in design and filled with books. Though looking at this vastly more pleasant looking room, Harry wondered if he should redecorate.

Though he did like to think his chandelier made from brightly shimmering souls were much prettier than those boring candles. So there.

In the midst of the office stood three men and a woman. The woman was elderly, and of a slightly plump figure but held a kind reassuring smile, striking him with the image of Love, it was even stronger in her than Malkins. Next to her was a very short old fellow with a shock of white hair and green robes, brown eyes looking at him with intrigue, excitement and a glimmer of confusion mixed with the familiar look of devotion - elf or goblin blood then. Harry decided he liked the two immediately.

On the other side of the group spectrum though was the darkly dressed professor he'd met before in Diagon. Well not really. The Professor Snape he'd met in Diagon was an imposing intelligent man with a dry snarky humor filled with barbs and jabs. This Professor Snape was sneering, clearly unhappy and looked like his words were armed with grenades and knives, ready to completely cut him down with vicious glee. It confused Harry immensely, this sudden change of regard and attitude. And, while it confused him, it also made him feel a sharp empty stabbing sensation on his throat that tasted bitter and dry on his tongue. That was a new emotion. It wasn't anger, no, sadness? He wasn't sure that was right either. Something more complicated obviously. Disappointment. Yes, something along those lines. Whatever it was, Harry found he did not have much care for it so he promptly moved his attention to the last man, standing in the middle of the group.

"I know you." He blurted out, it wasn't tactful but sometimes tact wasn't necessary in certain situations. Whether this was one of them or not he honestly didn't know. "You were the old man who dropped me off on that doorstep. Mighty cold of you. Just like the weather then really."

The old wizard apparently did not see that being the first thing out of his mouth. Well Harry didn't either. Oh well. McGonagall was now glaring at Dumbledore fiercely, the elder of the two cowering slightly under the intense look. The other teachers glanced at each other but otherwise said nothing, Snape's sneer flattened into that blank unreadable look he'd seen before the man left from the potion store. So those three had no idea what that was about either.

"Harry, my boy," Dumbledore spoke hesitantly, his eyes, which had been bright blue and twinkling before, dimmed guiltily, "I do apologise if you have had a hard time at the Dursley's but there is a reason for that-"

Harry blinked a few times before realising what the man was trying to say, shaking his head the boy responded firmly, "Yes I did figure there was some sort of reason you left me there. I wouldn't think you were the sort of man who would just pick up newly orphaned babes and put them in less than pleasant households for fun." He paused for a bit and then made a slight face on his pale features, "You aren't are you?"

The twinkle was back and full of humour now. "No, I assure you I'm not." Dumbledore chuckled.

"I'm still unhappy with you though."

That stopped the chuckling.

"I also thought the doorstep bit was overdramatic and very unnecessary. I've thought about it for a while now, and I'm sure there wasn't any reason for that was there?"

The wizard accused shuffled his feet.

"Ah, yes. I do apologise for that but that really isn't what we are he-"

"I wish for a proper apology."

"Why you arrogant-" The tall hook nosed man began furiously, but was stopped by a hand from Dumbledore.

"Harry's right Severus." He said sternly, "He deserves that much and more. While I think some of the stories Minevra has said might be slightly exaggerated in the heat of the moment-" Both professors addressed turned red at that,

"I was NOT exaggera-"

"Of COURSE she was exaggera-"

"-nonetheless we all know that Petunia wasn't the most.. accepting of muggles."

"Worst kind." McGonagall hissed, furious at her tale being diminished to such extent. The next time she swore, instead of going to Dumbledore about this again she'll head straight for St Mungo's.

"Harry I am sorry for dropping you on that doorstep when you were a baby." Dumbledore apologised, he did look genuinely ashamed of his actions. Harry would let it go. For now.

"Apology accepted." The child nodded, causing the man to beam.

"Marvellous," The headmaster smiled, "Now back to the minor technicality at hand."

"Minor." Professor Snape snorted derisively. Like the word had somehow personally offended him.

"And don't you think we're going to drop that previous subject like you did to the poor boy on that doorstep." The plump woman added, with a near murderous look that didn't suit her kindly face well at all. Dumbledore coughed and wiped his brow. "Of course, course, wouldn't dream of it."

"Hope you do." McGonagall muttered non-too quietly. The bearded man either didn't hear her or chose at the moment to ignore it.

"Mr Potter, do you know why you've been placed in, ahem, every house?" The short professor asked, trying to move back to the topic at hand. "We've tried consulting the Sorting Hat but with all the secrecy spells placed on it and it being very stubborn in giving even the most obscure of hints.."

"Well. I asked for it to place me like that." Harry answered. The potions professor sneered at the simple answer.

"Don't be stupid, foolish child. You can't just ask the Hat to do something!"

"But I did. It said that I would do well in any house so I picked all four." The boy looked distinctly unimpressed by everyone, unable to see what was wrong with what he'd done.

"You can't just 'pick' all four Mr Potter." The plump witch pointed out not unkindly. "That wouldn't be fair to the other students would it?"

"But they didn't ask." Harry retorted, unaware of how much he sounded like his physical age currently. "Furthermore it would be unfair to me to just choose randomly a house and then spend the rest of my school life regretting it."

"How selfish of you Potter." Snape drawled with a raised brow. "Though I shouldn't be much surprised."

"Severus." Dumbledore admonished, the black-clad man gave an ugly glare but silenced himself. "Now Mr Potter, Harry, I don't think you understand the repercussions of what would happen if you become.. Well.. I'm not fully sure what to call it right now."

"An individualist?" The short man quipped in helpfully.

"Good enough,"

Harry tilted his chin up and looked challengingly at twinkling blue with glowing green. "Then by all means please enlighten me of your.. Repercussions." He confronted, the last word said in almost eerie similar tone of disgust and disbelief to the tall potions professor's own voiced protests. For a second Harry Potter didn't look like an eleven year old child, a small boy, for a second he looked old and powerful and painfully dominating. But then those strikingly bright eyes of the boy's softened ever so slightly and it could have almost be dismissed as a trick of the lights and shadows, the boy became a boy again and Dumbledore could swallow down the lump of -fearloveconfusionawerespectdreadhope- emotion back from where it came from.

The others may have disregarded it but the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Leader of the Light, Defeater of Grindelward, knew better. From the even paler pallor on his spy's face he knew the other must have sensed it too.

What was that?


 

"The matter of your dorms." Professor Flitwick, as he had introduced himself, tested with a spark in his eyes. Somehow it had become some sort of odd battle of questions as Harry answered all their concerns with astounding ease.

"Switch on a bi-yearly bases. Every holiday I move out of my current dormitories and into a new one until next holidays."

"Classes." Professor Sprout said next.

"Well I can really be put anywhere you want to so that's not a problem. If anything, that makes things easier for you all. Or you could just swap me around, fifty percent with Slythindor and fifty percent Ravenpuff. Or you could go accordance to whichever dorm I'm sleeping in."

"House points." Professor McGonagall added.

"I don't personally care either way."

"Its our reward system Mr Potter. You can't just not care."

"Fine. Then if for example, you were my teacher in this instance, I'll be considered in the class Gryffindor to prevent unfair discrimination."

"But what about favouritism?"

Harry shrugged, "It's one or the other we could argue really. As I said I don't mind, we could make me exempt from the point system as well but that'll draw even more attention." The woman nodded in acceptance at the answers.

"And for the teachers that don't have a house affinity like Professor Quirrel?" Dumbledore asked?

"Whatever suits the timetable the best. Again that's your decision really."

"Uniform." Flitwick squeaked out, getting much too excited over this.

"Colouring charm."

"Long term projects."

"Then obviously I stay in that class. There's no need for me to hinder my own education if it demands I require to keep in the same house in that instance."

"Okay, what ab-"

"This is ridiculous!" Professor Snape suddenly spat out. "Why are we all going along this, this farce?!"

"Because the Sorting Hat said so. And from what I gather you guys follow this Hat more avidly than the talking yellow sponge square does with his conch on the telly." Harry replied near on habit by now from all the questions that had been thrown at him.

The older hook nosed man looked somewhere in between 'unsure what to say' and 'going to throttle someone's neck violently'. Harry did so hope it was the former. He rather liked this neck of his. Helped him to breathe and everything.


 

"-so I'll be a Slythindor for Potions, Transfigurations, Defense Against the Dark Arts and History of Magic."

"And you'll be a Huffleclaw for Charms, Herbology and Astronomy? Blimey, that's confusing." Ron replied, "At least most of the fun stuff we'll be with us." He added thoughtfully while Harry quirked a brow.

"Us? So Draco's part of an 'us' now is he?" The green-eyed boy teased and the red head to flush slightly, "No! I-I meant us Gryffindors. Just because Malfoy isn't a complete slimy jerk and your friend doesn't mean he's mine!"

"Sure, sure. Whatever you say Ron." Harry snickered, before eying the table of green tied students getting up to leave. "Oh, I have to go now."

Ron looked quite unhappy at the prospect that Harry wasn't going to be bunking with him till next year. "I kinda get why you chose those snakes first since it'll be best to get the creepy dungeons out of the way but I don't see why Gryffindor could at least be before Hufflepuff." He grumbled. The smaller of the two pat the other consolingly. "Well I heard the Hufflepuffs talk about how their dorms are near the kitchen Ron, and if I can find the kitchen-"

"You have my blessing mate."

Harry grinned.

"Off to the dungeons, I'll go then."


 

…o)0(o...


 

Extra- The one where we see the other entities try doing Death's duties. Part 1. Probably. Assume there will be possibly more. I don't know.

"Hello boys and girls," A man in a dark black suit with silver skull buttons set with blue ghostfire and what seemed to be a Green Day shirt underneath, burst through the large heavy doors of Hell, hair the color of a desert sandstorm flying around like it had been caught in one and a wide grin that could put Cheshire cat's to shame. "Daddy's home!"

His greeting was met with disgusted looks of derision.

"For the last time," A demon, Beelzebub? Pretty sure it was Beelzebub, Lord of the Flies and all that gross stuff; sighed as he reluctantly pulled his hands out of some guy's entrails- like he'd rather have hands in disgusting organs than speak to the still grinning redhead- and wiped the blood on his shirt. "You are not our father Chaos."

The 'you stupid ass' was left unsaid but very much implied.

Chaos pouted, "Aww are you guys still mad about me recreating the whole Noah's arc thing here in hell? C'mon that was centuries ago! And I know for a fact you guys survived! Bloody cockroaches you all are really. Though you do get that frome me I suppose." All the demons present glowered dangerously, a few even were reaching slowly down for something, Chaos couldn't see what. Though as an entity, he generally had very little skills in the area of self preservation so he kept going,"Also you all would sell all the souls of Hell just so you could call Death, daddy! I mean you guys have worse daddy issues than your so-called holy counterparts upstairs you know?"

Something bloody and sticky flew right at the entity, smacking his nice suit with a sickening sound. The man was sure it was a bit of an oesophagus.

"Well.. That was rude."

...

"This is ridiculous."

"Well Order," Uriel sniffed haughtily. Oh, Order hated the fact these angels were made with his own characteristics, it had seemed like such a good idea at the time. The only comfort was that Chaos stupidly did the same thing too. Any being with even one of that entity's traits was a headache in itself. "I speak for the rest of us in that we do not require restructuring. We are doing fine without our Father."

"You know you should be calling me Father right? Death is technically your mother if we're going to really look into this family metaphor of yours." At the furious looks of the winged creatures Order readjusted his glasses and rolled his eyes. The awe they held for his brother was actually bordering on perverse. So much for holy lights. "Daddy complexes and abandonment issues. All of you." The entity muttered.

"Get. Out."

"Fine but I'll be back and I expect you guys to get over it and accept I'll be in charge for this unfortunate period of time."

Order didn't even know Angels could swear in Enochian. And if he did have a mother he would've been greatly offended.

...

"Fucking hell."

Time looked at a sweating exhausted entity of Space who appeared suddenly next to him, leaning on one of his prized grandfather clocks, much to his irritation.

"What's wrong?"

"All the universes are what's wrong brother." The man tugged frustratedly at the galaxies in his hair, "Some of them didn't get the memo that Death has left the building and it's like the moment I turn my back to focus on something else for a second I look back and the Apocalypse has started!"

Time winced sympathetically at his closest brother's plight. A part of him was rather grateful about how peaceful his clocks were in comparison, just the occasional tune up and the uncommon time paradox that needed a bit more of a personal touch but that really was the limit of his interference. "I can slow down the clocks for those worlds if you like?" He offered, but Space shook his head regretfully.

"Once the Apocalypse is in motion only the inhabitants have a chance of stopping it. Do you know how stupid this is?" Space bemoaned, "Their daddy leaves and suddenly a hundred years later they decide the best coarse of action other than waiting aimlessly is to hit the emergency kill switch!"

"Uh, brother, I know this isn't the best time... But you do realize that since Death's gone you'll have to do your own paperwork in regards to any apocalyptic events that happen under your watch."

The only response the entity of time got was a faint thumping of his usually composed brother's head on the wall.

...

"I blame you." Magic hissed as another reaper came through, wobbling under the sheer weight of documents. Fate whimpered at the sight, tugging at now ink stained grey hair as she had just had to complete some sort of contract for Hades and other Greek, Roman deities related to the underworld. It had been six hundred pages long and not a single word didn't make her not want to rip up everything to tiny unreadable shreds.

"I know."

"I mean seriously blaming you so hard right now."

...

"I don't know about you but I'm finding this delightful. All this inter-death politics, quite fascinating really."

Love smiled as Knowledge without waiting for a reply turned and headed straight toward a group of rather intellectual looking gods conversing in a strange mix of Gaelic and Romanian Lizard-tongue. Taking a sip of the simply fantastic blood red wine as she surveyed the usual black gothic decor of Pluto's grand hall mixed with touches of spring flowers with an approving eye. Truly a fine example of compromise. She knew those two would work things out eventually, pity how it all started, what with Zeus's meddling, the old coot.

But now was not the time to curse the stupidity of gods, now was the time to celebrate a certain couple's anniversary. And who better to do such a beautiful blessing to reaffirm that love then her?

It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she sent her sweet Death most of her share of the paperwork. Love sipped her wine again, her smile turned sly. Nothing at all.

Chapter Text

The one where Death meets some Slytherins, um, other things kind of happen, gets lost at one point, has a brief identity crisis (which was not fun at all) and that's really all that happens in this chapter. Yeah, I know.

"Draco wait up!"

The blond turned from the front of his fellow first year Slytherins - already he'd showed them his rightful place at the head of the pack, as expected of someone of his upbringing - and looked surprised as a familiar small boy with a mess of hair blacker than even his father's finest inks, electric green eyes and an all too familiar scar contrasting brightly against pale white skin, strode quickly toward him. Draco couldn't find it in himself to push down the flutter of delight and happiness that made it's way onto his face like he'd been taught. However he quickly covered it up with surprise.

"Potter, what are you doing here?" He asked. Ignoring the faint buzzing of excited chatter around him as the Boy-Who-Lived came towards them.

"I'm going to be bunking with you guys for the first half of the school year." Harry replied, "I'll explain the system later, for now I'm eager to see the dorms. It is true they're located in the dungeons yeah?"

Draco gave a quirked half smile much like Harry's usual ones, though Harry knew that was the most he would probably get with the other in front of such a crowd of people. Upbringing around here certainly was a strange thing. The green eyed child could not possibly fathom why any parent would stifle such bright large grins on their children's faces, no matter the heritage. Well, he didn't really smile properly either but in his defence he was older than any current planet and meat suits were much stiffer with the finer muscles on your face when said meat suit wasn't yours to begin with.

"Obviously Potter," the blonde answered, "Didn't you read Hogwarts: A History?"

Harry scrunched up his face, "Ugh you sound like the Granger girl. She wouldn't stop talking about that book, thinking back on it now it's probably the reason how I vaguely remembered the snakes lived in the dungeons."

Now it was Draco's turn to pull a face, "Don't compare me to that mud- I mean annoying girl." He quickly covered up, but of course the shorter of the two caught the slight change of wording.

"Wait." Draco was looking distinctly uncomfortable, looking at the ceiling of the Great Hall and completely avoiding Harry's curious gaze. "What where you going to say before?"

"Before what?" The blonde questioned oh so innocently, causing glowing green eyes to narrow suspiciously.

"You were going to call Granger something else."

"Annoying? Because she is you know. Even you must-"

"No, no, no, you were about to say something before that."

"I did no-"

"He was going to call her a mudblood." A dark skinned boy interrupted. Blaise Zabini, one of the last to be sorted and Harry only remembered him because he looked just as haughty as Draco first appeared but vastly different colouring that served to amuse him greatly. Though right now looking at the subdued expression on Malfoy's face and the thinly veiled aggression on Blaise's it was hard to see any similarities he'd though he saw before. "Is that a problem Potter?"

If the green tied house hadn't been listening in before, they certainly were now. If gazes could cut glass the boy felt he would have been neatly dissected and sold to the highest bidder by now. They seemed to eagerly wait for his response, like it would determine his place in the world and how he was to be treated. Harry was now wishing a bit he picked the Hufflepuffs first. They seemed super nice. And fluffy. And nearby food. Warm. Little to no expectations. Actually, why didn't he take up with the Puffs first actually?

It's stupid name. Right.

"Well if someone can explain to me the term then I'll see whether I have a problem with it."

The majority of the group seemed taken aback at his response. They were expecting a response, an opinion, not a question. "You don't know what a mudblood is?" Another boy, Harry can only remember his name was definitely not Theodore for some reason, asked curiously.

The petite child shook his head at Not Theodore's question. "I was raised by muggles who refused to tell me anything about magic. Technically, I only learnt about me being a wizard when I got my letter."

Everyone who heard the statement gasped, horrified, appalled and sympathetic at once. A few even looked like they were going to be ill, violently so. Crabbe and Goyle had their mouths open, like the idea of not knowing about magic was so uncomprehendingly impossible for them their thought processes have melted. Even Draco looked paler than his usual pallor. The raven haired saviour just stared at the sheer reaction a few simple truths can create, it was fascinating if not a little exaggerated.

"You lived with muggles?" Someone said in disgust.

"They didn't tell you about magic?" Another whispered, as if the concept was some sort of horror-esque myth magicals told their children. People muttered at the question, almost sickly afraid at the answer. Harry didn't understand. To be fair though, he found a lot of things he had trouble understanding with such strange responses. That wasn't even one of the worst things those meat lumps had done to him, didn't even make it to top ten, yet everyone was acting like he just confessed to murder.

He also didn't understand the reactions when people confess to murder either but that was not currently the moral of this story.

"Yes I lived with muggles. And yes they didn't tell me about magic." Harry shrugged off, ignoring the flurry of scandalised whispers that went even past inter-house barriers. He could see a couple of the Ravenclaws shooting aghast looks at him in the corner of his eye much to his faint annoyance. Children, they are just the most overdramatic little fleshies. "So anyone wish to inform me what this mudblood thing is?"

A few were about to open their mouths to do just that when they promptly closed them with a audible click as a large shadow of a man loomed over them, visibly unimpressed by the gathering. Black eyes immediately locked on the raven haired Boy Who Lived and the man's face contorted into a sneer. "Why am I not surprised?" Harry felt Professor Snape should be. After all, the man barely knew him enough to make such implied assumptions. They were correct assumptions but still. "Potter, cease whatever nonsense your going on about and let the prefects do their job."

And then the potions professor left as suddenly as he came, robes billowing some sort of nonexistent wind. The green eyed child wondered how he could get his robes to do that.

Two of the older looking kids coughed embarrassed and stepped out of the crowd, the rest of the Slytherins with the exception of the first years began leaving, but not without a few backward glances first.

"Well, hullo, I'm Gemma Farley, sixth year prefect of Slytherin." The blond girl introduced cheerily enough, though it seemed slightly strained. From the looks shot at his person, it didn't take much to figure out the reason.

"And I'm Justin Brookwells." Came a much more subdued voice, a brunette with his hair pulled back in a slick ponytail who looked on the students with a mix of disinterest and a dash of condescension. "We'll be guiding you to the common rooms and then your dorms."

And off they went.

The Slytherin common rooms were almost exactly what he pictured. A little nautical, shipwrecked kind of feel but it was all very refined and high class at the same time. A tad chilly as well, though that was maybe because of it being located in the dungeons and, from the indication of the windows, under that giant lake they boated in before. Damn. Harry really should've ordered some warmer robes or something with fur.

Dark green and splashes of silver and some darkened gold seemed to be the main color scheme in this place, unsurprising, these people apparently really took this House pride thing seriously. Harry wondered if this wasn't just one of the pettiest things he'd ever heard really. House Cup. Hah. Such amusing things the mortals are. They make amazing magnificent things like metal vessels that fly through the air, boxes that tell stories through images.. And then they come up with this idiocy.

When Order talked about maintaining a balance, Harry was sure he didn't mean this. Though stupidity in every world seems to breed so much it's hard to believe there's any balance at all. It's almost surprising there is no personification of Stupid. Surprising, but immensely relieving nonetheless.

The first years chatter nervously as they are gathered in a tight group in front of the older years. Draco, Goyle and Crabbe were some of the few that didn't look like a completely jittery mess of nerves, Harry liked to think they had to attend some weird sort of class for that. Zamboni over there seemed to have joined them to because they all looked like child sized statues of nobility, waiting patiently. Expectedly. Much like the older kids actually, oh they were subtle enough but Harry could pinpoint the source of their stares and brief glances to the most shadowy corner of the already shadowy room. The boy knew he could easily figure out the reasoning, whatever or more likely whoever is skulking in the corner, but where was the fun in that?

As the prefects shifted, it was barely any movement, a tilt of the head, a nudge to their friend, the smallest twist of their lips, the sort gestures you make before getting ready for an interesting show. Harry nudged the boy standing next to him looking somewhere else, still didn't know his name other than he was not Theodore. "Hey, not Theodore," he whispered, weirdly enough the kid actually responded to that, "You're looking the wrong way."

"What?"

Harry inclined his head toward the dark corner, "Keep your eye out over there. I think someone's about to start a scene."

Not Theodore looked at him confused but complied anyway. Curiosity always won over most things with children. It almost made them predictable. Well almost half way there anyway.

Soon enough Severus Snape, robes blacker than the darkest starless of nights strode through the shadows like he owned them, surprising several young students as they gasped or gave double takes. It was dramatic and very well timed and admittedly, not exactly unattractive to the entity in the mortal vessel.

"How did you-"

"Shhh I'll tell you later." Harry interrupted, eyes glued to the tall, dark and handsome hook-nosed professor before him. He did not want to miss what was about to be said.

"You are all Slytherins now." He began, intense gaze raking over them with such focus the green eyed boy near shivered as it passed then lingered on him. "You are the school's most cunning, most ambitious, and you all have the potential to be the best. Our House to us is power, it's our pride. It represents us and therefore you represent it." Woah, hey no pressure at all. "As you may not with our House comes a certain... Reputation with it. This will hang on all your heads like a noose ready for anyone to hang you with the first chance they get,"

Dear lord this is not an appropriate welcome speech for eleven year olds. The only place Harry could think of on the top of his head that is suitable is prison. And even then he's pretty sure no one tells those murderers they've got to do their best to represent their gang. Actually they may. Harry really must try prison sometime, there were always these stories he heard- this ritual of 'shanking' and something else in relation to dropping a soap bar? Such strange cultures and rituals that seem to be more of the seeing is believing variety.

"You will be scrutinised by your peers, your teachers and even by your own headmaster for almost every action you make. Just by being in this House people will immediately think you to be a Dark wizard, a Death Eater or just someone you can't be trusted. Outside the confines of this wall no one would take mercy on you."

Jesus Christ. He bet Hufflepuff never said anything like this. Again, Jesus Christ.

"But that is why it's even more prudent to stick together. That means, if a member of your House is in trouble you will assist them. We snakes stick together, unified in our House. There is safety in numbers and we are your numbers. We aren't like those Gryffindors, we hold self-preservation and so I don't expect you to barge head first into any sort of stupidity, if you see trouble coming towards you, you come toward me."

Huh. That sounded almost kind.

In a harsh, dark and a little insulting sort of way. But then, from what little he's gathered about the man, that seemed to be his personal slogan.

"Now as you all know the password for now is 'callidus mentis', this will switched every two weeks and the new password will be written on the noticeboard the day before it's to be changed. Tomorrow all of you have a free day, apparently this is some sort of way to acquaint yourself with Hogwarts. Heed what I said. Be cunning, be smart and don't be foolish." Snape gave a short nod at the prefects and one last glance at the gathered students before then making his leave as swiftly as he came.


 

"May I take one of the window beds?"

Draco looked ready to protest since he had immediately staked claim on a bed faced across and about a bed to the right of Harry's chosen furniture. Something about it being his father's or other strange sentimental nonsense. However not Theordore answered with a "Sure, go ahead." Before the Malfoy scion could verbally show his opinion, making the platinum blonde look like he was about to have a right sulk.

The bed next to him was taken by not Theodore- who introduced himself properly and was actually just called Thodore Nott, who knew?- and the one across him was Crabbe's, with Draco next to him and Goyle a bed over. Draco however, apparently wishing to be closer to Harry for some unfathomable reason demanded Crabbe to switch places with him, the large boy agreed readily enough at least, more than happy to sleep by Goyle.

Zabini, the more aloof of the five Slytherins (Harry decided he didn't really count), claimed the bed closest to the door next to Nott. Everyone seemed pretty excited about the oncoming year, even the dark skinned Italian boy.

"So what are you looking forward to the most Potter?" Nott asked curiously, the child as far as Harry could tell, had warmed up rather quickly to him since he helped point out their Head of House. How strange. Not that he was complaining but the green eyed child had found human mortals always seeming to be such suspicious little things, what with their constant questions and doubts, even children these days looked like they wanted constant proof and reasoning. Was the social interaction known as 'friendship' somehow different to that in this aspect? Or maybe this sudden rise in trust can only be satisfied in the younger age groups after meeting certain levels of checkpoints?

"Well, I think I'm quite looking forward to Transfiguration and maybe Herbology?"

Nott wrinkled his nose at the answer, "Transfiguration I get but Herbology?"

"Yeah Potter," Draco added in, eager to join in conversation. His presence drew in Crabbe and Goyle and by default Zabini who didn't wish to be left out of the group. "That's probably one of the most boring classes we've got to take! Almost no magic at all in that one."

"Hey I think it'll be rather relaxing." Harry defended, his gaze turned to Zabini who was trying to look disinterested at the whole thing, "Zabini you agree with me right?"

The dark skinned boy looked almost surprised he'd been brought into the debate but quickly recovered by giving a small smirk, "I guess it sounds alright, though Malfoy I'm pretty sure Astronomy is going to be the most boring class this year if anything."

The pale blonde groaned dramatically, even going so far as to fall onto his bed with an audible thump. "I totally forgot about Astronomy! My father told me it was a waste of time it was. At least it's once a week, Merlin help me." His bodyguards grunted in agreement. The other three boys chuckled amusedly.

"Hey at least we got Defense Against the Dark Arts, that sounds pretty cool." Nott offered.

Zabini snorted. "Please, did you see that quivering mess of a teacher at the Great Hall? The one with the turban?"

"Nooo." Draco replied looking suitably horrified. "That man? He practically had a seizure every time the Hat opened its mouth!"

"Um. I didn't really notice him." The brunette boy confessed. "To be honest Potter was kind of distracting the whole time."

Everyone nodded in agreement. Harry looked at all of them then mock scowled, "Well I refuse to apologise for my stunning good looks if that's what you're implying." He sniffed making all the boys burst out laughing.

"Oh dear god, and I thought going to deal with one Draco on a daily bases was bad enough." Zabini snickered out causing Malfoy to give the boy a slap over the head.

"Oi!"

"You're such a hypocrite Zabini, I know for a fact minor countries have died from drought with how long you take in the shower." Nott pointed out with a cheeky grin. The Italian spluttered.

"That's not true!" He denied, "Most of my time spent in the bathroom is so I can properly apply my skincare products."

"Because that's so much better." Harry smirked.

"It- I- shut it you ponce!"

"Why do people keep calling me that?"

They all paused to stare at the Boy Who Lived and as one, re-burst into laughter. Honestly, the Slytherin first years had been unsure about this Golden Boy coming onto their territory but seeing Potter joking easily around with them, pouting at their jibes and easily trading barbs with them- well it was safe to assume maybe this term wasn't going to be so bad after all.


 

"Hello I'm Harry Potter."

"T-Terry Boot," The small boy stuttered looking at him in awe. His new friends were apparently no better.

"Padma Patil." An indian girl immediately greeted, almond shaped eyes glimmering in excitement, "Would you like to sit down?" She asked eagerly. The raven haired boy nodded amiably, sitting next to Patil and turning to face the boy next to him. "And you are"

"Anthony Goldstein," A curly haired blonde managed to get out with a nervous smile. Harry returned it politely, apparently the Ravenclaws weren't the best with small talk.

"Uh, so have you guys read the Magical drafts and Potions textbook? Apparently there's literally no order in how the thing has been organised."

Boot stood up from his breakfast, slammed his hands onto the table and yelled "WHAT?" and then ran off to go get his textbook.

They all spent the rest of the meal debating over possible patterns, theories, reasons and just comments in general about Potions. Overall, not a bad use of time if Harry didn't say so himself.


"Oi Harry mate! Come on and join me and the rest of the Gryffindors out exploring round the castle!" Ron shouted with a grin as he ran up to the Boy Who Lived who was just finishing his meal and conversation with the Ravenclaws.

"Potter, forget them and join Crabbe, Goyle and I in checking out what's beyond the outer walls of Hogwarts." Draco drawled as he strode toward the two, pointedly sneering at the redhead's glare. Harry who had been quite innocently doing well on his own looked at the two large boys behind the blonde confused. The entourage just gave him a some halfhearted shrugs as an answer. "We've even brought some Bertie Bott's Every Flavoured Beans to munch on during our stroll."

"Hah! Harry prefers chocolate to candy Malfoy- take that!"

"I mean I don't-"

"Hmph, well thank Merlin we're also carry a few packets of chocolate frogs as back up right Goyle?"

"Right."

"Wha- that's cheating! Harry, I'll show you the Gryffindor common rooms as well! I mean I know you're Slytherin right now but technically you are also a fellow Griff-"

"You've never seen much magic have you Potter? Why don't I show you a few spells my father taught me?"

"Well my brothers Fred and George- you like them right Harry? Yeah well they've actually known some real proper good spells, specially pranking ones. I'm sure they'll love to show off some if I asked."

"Oh yeah? How about-"

"Uh Malfoy?"

"Yes Weasley?"

"Where's Harry?"

The two boys looked around to find a previously Harry occupied space now empty.

"Great you weasel. You scared him off."

"I did?!" Ron spluttered, "If you hadn't come you gelled up bloody ferret and went on and on-"


 

"It is so good to finally speak with you my Lord-" The ghost that snatched him away greeted excitedly.

The boy gave the spectre a nod and corrected politely if not firmly, "Harry Potter."

"Ah, yes." The ghost nodded eagerly, "Apologies... Lord Harry." Then he giggled like it was some sort of inside joke. Harry really didn't see much humour in it. But he gave a good natured sigh nonetheless.

"I suppose that's really going to be the best I'm going to get huh?"

"And you deserve the best milord."

Suddenly another spirit, this one was the friar from the day before appeared. Soon enough as if drawn by a beacon more intangible bodies soon followed. "Milord why don't you allow me your gracious company whilst I show you around some of the nicest spots to view the greenery?" The friar asked, however before Harry could even open his mouth another ghost interrupted.

"No, no, Lord Harry will walk with me as I take pleasure in guiding him around the dungeons. After all he will be living there with me for the first half of his year here." Bartimus or better yet known as the Bloody Baron insisted.

"Exactly Baron! You've got our Lord for half a year, do not be so greedy. Now our Lord would much rather take a stroll up to the towers and maybe meet all the paintings?" The Grey Lady, or Helena Ravenclaw, chided.

"At least my dungeons would guarantee in preventing the Death Lord from meeting a certain poltergeist yes?" The Slytherin House ghost rebuffed smugly.

All the spiritual beings shuddered at the thought. Harry however looked curious. There was another ghost that he hadn't met yet?

"A poltergeist you say?"

"No!" The Gryffindor House ghost denied vehemently causing the Bloody Baron to roll his translucent eyes.

"Smooth Nick." He hissed. The nearly headless spirit beamed.

"Thank you."

Harry sighed.


 

"Good afternoon Sir." Harry greeted with a slight smile as a hunched older man he had seen pass by once or twice, was about to walk past him. The hunchbacked semi-bald grouch paused, and stared at the small pale boy, with suspicious twitchy eyes. It was almost like he wasn't used to being addressed normally. Aw. Harry almost wished now that he had that problem. It was either students who wished to speak to the Boy Who Lived or ghosts wanting to pay their respects to their Death Lord. The boy felt he almost forgot what it was like to greet someone else first for once.

"Potter." The man growled like he had just ripped the walls of Hogwarts down with a giant metal ball instead of greet him like any polite individual would have. The child mentally sighed, what was up with people either swooning or spitting over his name?

"Yes I am." Harry answered back smoothly, "Unfortunately I do not know your name Mr-"

The man was still staring at him like a criminal who've grown three heads but at least replied with an awed if not extremely wary, "Argus Flich." Harry tried to give his most reassuring, sincere smile.

"Alright then, Mr Flich. It has been very nice to meet you."

A meow then distracted the air as they both looked down to see a scrawny thing of a cat preening as it lovingly curled around the child's leg. Harry grinned as he bent down to scratch the back of the feline's ears, snickering softly at the way the dust coloured cat just melted into his touch. Glowing green looked up at the old man. "Is she yours? She's rather lovely."

Flich nodded mutely, for some reason in some state of shock. Unusual man this one.

"What's your name miss?" Harry addressed the feline, stroking her head as he did so. She purred something making the child cock his head slightly, "Mrs Norris is it?" Another string of meows. The boy's smile widened. "It's an honor to meet you too."

"You can.. You can understand her?" Filch said, his voice now with more wonder than suspicion. Harry nodded.

"I've always had a... knack with animals you could say sir." Harry stood up, brushing off any stray hairs of his robes as he did so before facing the hunchbacked man again. "From what I gather Mr Filch you are a very dedicated caretaker of the school. Mrs Norris speaks highly of her master." The balding caretaker flushed pink with pride at that, all traces of mistrust wiped clean by the simple words of praise.

"It seems you're one of the few kids who've learnt some manners." Filch groused reluctantly through his reddening skin tone.

"My relatives actually were very helpful in that actually."

"Really? Thought you everything to do?"

The boy's grin grew shark like, more predatory and fearsome than any boy's face should ever have the right to be, "More like everything not to do." With the implication in mind the green eyed creature, because Filch could never feel comfortable with ever imagining this young boy to be like those other snotty children now, rubbed slowly his other forearm and drawing the old caretaker's gaze. "They weren't good people sir."

Filch's stomach rolled at that nauseously. He may despise children, may believe some good corporal punishment like back in the day would do a fat lot of good to them but child abuse was a whole different story. The squib looked at Potter, really looked. The skinny almost skeletal figure, bone white skin that looked like the effects of sunlight simply slid off the boy, how dangerously sharp those cheekbones were.. His stomach didn't just roll, they outright flipped and twisted like a professional quidditch player on a pepper up potion.

And then the creature, so kind and polite, with eyes that were so ethereally vivid they glowed like bright green moons and skin as pale as bone and hair like tendrils of chaotic shadows, smiled at him- Argus Filch, hated old squib of Hogwarts- clasping tiny delicate fingers around his own worn calloused ones and said, "Good people are always the hardest to find. However Mr Filch, for someone like yourself to be so dedicated to this school I do believe you are at least not a bad person. So I do so hope we can be on good terms."

Pale blue-ish eyes flickered at the small hands around his own, gaze filled with something small and child-like and vulnerable before the old man tightened his lax grip against smooth cool skin. This was a child to be watched. This was a child to be protected. He could feel it even deeper than his bones, Filch could almost say in his soul. Harry Potter was special.

"Well," Filch coughed awkwardly, unused to saying anything kindly to well, anyone really, especially to the bratty students of the place. However Potter's genuine graciousness made him want to try. At least for the raven haired boy. "Mrs Norris usually doesn't warm up ta most brats so I guess I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I'm heading to my office now, if you want you can follow around for a bit and I can point around a few little interesting bits of the castle most younglings tend to ignore."

Harry tilted his head to the side, much like how he did when listening to his beloved feline companion, listening to his words, not hearing, those were two very different things. And then the creature gave a fond look, like he was an animal that pleased him with the words he had said. It should be demeaning, offending. But it just warmed him up and made him feel whole. It was terrifying. And amazing.

"I would very much like that Mr Filch."


 

The library was already closing up for the day when he finally found the place. Harry cursed under his breath in the hissing baritones of a Burmese Python. He can't believe he passed what could've possibly been a delicious cinnamon slice that Filch had ordered for this. This right here was the reason why things like patience was a virtue. Because if he had patience, he certainly wouldn't be without dessert.

The boy turned to go back, or at least head to the dorms but his stomach dropped a bit when he realized the halls looked distinctly different from not five minutes ago. Harry swiveled full circle confirming his fears. He didn't recognize the area. And now he was lost. This was the sixth bloody time already.

Hogwarts. What a little bitch.

As if reading his thoughts, the castle shifted again. This time Harry was sure he'd been moved to one of the uppermost floors of the castle. Harry was wrong. Hogwarts was a gigantic bitch.

Of course then the floorboards tripped him.

The boy may have been imagining things but he swore the faint draft in the hallways was the god damn giant castle shaped piece of rubble's way of laughing in his face. Chaos and Magic would love her. He hoped Order disliked her, then he could band together with him and tweak the damn sentient building to at least not feel the urge to prank physical representations of death.

"When I figure out how to properly utilize my magics I will redecorate you so bad you'll wish the mortal mundane's 80s fashion came to take you first." Harry hissed.

Another draft of wind was his response.

For a split second the sentence 'Looks like you beat me to the punch in that race... Bitch.' Flickered into his head. And WOW. Never had he ever met a magic castle with so much sass. He didn't know if he liked it or not.

Also sucks to the castle, his wardrobe was gothic at best. The original English European type with subtle frills and black lace edging, not the leather clad with buckles that the people of the more 'modern' worlds were into. Actually confession time, he may have gotten a few gifts consisting of those sort of clothing and he may have liked those much more than he would like to admit.

Anyway, what was the point again?

Right. Harry was lost. Hogwarts was a massive female dog in the rudest possible way. And he was pretty sure it was almost past his ridiculous eight o'clock curfew.

Did he mention that he had no idea where he was?

"Shitting magic castles." He grumbled. The Founders certainly never told him that part of the tale where their building apparently has a thing with all powerful entities.


 

It was way past curfew. From the setting of the moon Harry would've guessed it was about nine to who knows fuck but he really, really wants to break in the beautiful bed of his. He can't believe he's missing time with those delightfully soft pillows. The boy was not happy. And he was dangerously on the precipice from being snarky to outright mean.

Amazingly at least, the entity stuffed in a child's body hadn't encountered any teachers nor prefects scouting around. In fact he hadn't encountered anyone. Just the sleeping paintings had kept him company for the most part.

However that all changed when he bypassed one corner and a very familiar child caught his eye, causing him to pause and backpedal.

"Crabbe?!"

Crabbe who had been wandering around aimlessly (Harry would like to think his aimless wandering at least looked purposeful, the larger boy just looked like he walked in circles and was just dizzy) turned to face the green eyed boy in surprise.

"Harry? What you doing here?"

"Could ask you the same question really." The smaller child shot back, disgruntled at the fact that he, all powerful God - with a capital G thank you very much - Death incarnation, was somehow on the same level as this dim eleven year old who closely resembled a large chunk of granite. Easily said, this was not exactly his proudest shining moment. Quickly he moved on. "Uh Crabbe? Any idea where we are?"

The large boy grunted in what seemed to be a negative manner. Harry looked at the unfamiliar hallways and staircases forlornly. The darkness of the coming night fall wasn't exactly helping things either.

"Brill."

Harry began to stride toward a random destination, glancing back occasionally to make sure the golem child was still loyally plodding along behind him. The raven haired child knew he shouldn't be so harsh on the kid but really, how lonely did Draco have to be for Crabbe and Goyle of all people to be what is perceived to be his closest friends?

"So what are you doing here anyway? Shouldn't you be with Draco and Goyle, not that I'm complaining mind you. Just curious." He asked, the sound of quiet footsteps not enough to fill the room. Honestly, he'd been content with near silence for millennia of a time yet eleven years as less than immortal and suddenly there is an inexplicable need to 'say things' in order to escape from what the humans call the phenomenon The Awkward Silence. To make even he bend his resolve and love for quiet, truly The Awkward Silence is a terrifying thing.

Despite that though. Harry didn't actually think the other boy was going to answer.

"I got lost." Was rumbled out. And Harry did not startle at the unexpected response. He was older than Fate and Magic and most gods would only ever dream of what he has seen for God's sake! It wasn't even a particularly loud sound too. Just an embarrassed mumble of a noise. "Tried to go back to our rooms after lunch to get a spare chocolate frog and I think I went left instead of right.."

"If you've been like that since lunchtime why didn't you just ask for directions?"

The boy looked at him in amazement and awe like Harry had apparently suddenly revealed his true all-powerful form and then proceeded to summon angels out of his arse instead of just pointing out a perfectly logical question that anyone with a sprinkle of sense would have asked. And now he has made up a terrible image in his head that can never be truly deleted. Joy. He got the idiot out of the two bodyguards. Or maybe they were both idiots. My god he didn't know if he should respect the Malfoy scion for putting up with the pair of cinder blocks or doubt the child's sanity and taste for sticking around so long.

The green eyed boy glanced again at the built, large-if slightly dimmed- lost eyes of the eleven year old child and softened slightly. Okay so maybe that was a bit mean. But hey, Harry never had to really deal with people who held mental facilities that just... lacked. Oh he dealt with idiots, Chaos and Magic were the leaders of idiots, but they were intelligent and crafty as anything. Gods could be stupid too, but that was more due to hubris and unhealthy amounts of alcohol. And when people died they gained clarity and perspective, any fogginess of their minds -such as forgetfulness, tunnel visions or general incomprehension when alive- were cleared and swept away.

Though Harry guessed the stupidity can be endearing. In a sad pathetic sort of way. Yeah, he can see that. Like an abandoned untrained puppy with unappealing features. And what would you do when faced with such a creature drenched in the rain?

"Okay, why don't you come with me then?"

Not that. Dammit. That wasn't, what he was going to, no,

"Really?" The boy brightened up, then his face turned slightly insecure, revealing the child underneath all that giant gruff guard facade. "I mean.. You sure?"

Bullocks.

Harry gave a small if slightly forced smile. "Of course." Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. "Why wouldn't I?" Why did he do that?

And Crabbe just looked so happy and it was just so obvious the kid did not have that many friends outside Goyle and Malfoy, God Harry was just such a pushover. Because now he felt bad and even if he didn't there was no way he was socially able to untangle the bind his large mouth set himself into.

"Well come on then. We've got other places to get lost in I guess."

The boy looked confused at the joke but happily complied anyway, walking at a close distance behind the smaller child. Harry could not stop thinking how appropriate the dog metaphor was.

It was surprisingly not as terrible as he thought. Crabbe was generally quite quiet but was willing to divulge things when asked and overall very obedient. They walked along twisting halls and explored alleys they swore weren't their before, conversing with some interesting paintings and hiding from an angry looking Filch with his cat. Harry didn't really understand why they had to hide at the pair but Crabbe was very adamant about it and it was the first time the smaller of the two had seen the other take charge so he went along with it.

After that the blocky boy seemed a bit more comfortable with himself as he began starting conversations instead of just answering in grunts and short worded mumbles. He was a very curious child which was both surprising and not, he was eleven years old after all but with a demeanor like his Harry found it difficult to imagine underneath that admittedly thick head was someone who was actually interested in things. The green eyed boy guessed it's been a while since anyone's actually asked how Crabbe was doing and that just made the whole situation so much sadder didn't it? So he indulged the child, taking time to draw the boy out of the cement shell he molded for himself, asking questions about Crabbe's life, about magic, little things.

Harry faltered mid stride at his own thoughts. Actually, he had been doing a lot of indulging lately now that he thought about it.

That doesn't sound right. It felt wrong. Glowing green darkened to pitch black holes as familiar endless roaring power crashed against his human body. For a moment Harry forgot he was Harry, for a brief flickering inferno of shadow and darkness he was Death, powerful all-consuming Death who was above any interaction with the living unless it was to steal them to his world. Their was more feeling in this icy rush of black fires that swam through his crimson human veins, anger, indignation, wrath, dominance. He was Death and now something more.

But then he blinked his black soulless abyss of eyes and they flickered back to vividly just too bright glowing green and then he was Harry again.

And Harry didn't understand what just happened. It was like he faltered, and something just... came out. It felt like Death on his worst days, vindictive, enraged, terrifyingly pained and so lonely- but every feeling, every senseless emotion usually so dulled down with his being had been pronounced and highlighted in ways that you could only feel when human. What was that? Was he going to condemn himself to that once he left this world? Where he goes back to an entity in the darkness and shrouded in black with nothing but his reapers to keep him company?

The mere thought made his throat constrict and chest feel like it's crushing against itself, he felt actually sick, cold but sweaty and the urge to expel the contents of his stomach noticeable in his distressed mindset. This shouldn't be happening. Why was he feeling this way? He shouldn't care. He couldn't. Not previously anyway. It never bothered him before. He wasn't capable of such responses. Not this much. To this terrible, horrible, disgusting extent. He's lived like that for years, centuries, eons the way he has. There was no reason to fear coming back to it. Back. Going back.

"Harry are you alright?" Crabbe asked, it was then he realized that he was leaning on the closest wall, trembling, his breath ragged and the extremities of his fingers tingling and numb. Without thinking he looked at his shaking hands with horror and slammed them at the wall with a satisfyingly unpleasant crunch. Pain, crisp and so, so simple to focus on, throbbed around his now bruised fists, distracting him mercifully from the storm of hurt and confusion and fear, so much fear for something he didn't understand nor thought possible to ever comprehend.

"Harry!" The shocked large boy gasped, snatching pale weakly twitching fingers with his own thicker ones. "What-"

"I'm fine Crabbe." He reassured after a few deep breathes, relishing the ache as he steadfastly pushed his turmoil down into the furthest shadow away from his mind. Crabbe didn't look like he believed his words, which was sensible considering he had just bashed his hands on the wall after having a... situation in which he behaved... Anyway Crabbe was now nudging his much smaller person- and either this kid was exactly as strong as he looks or the sudden influx of unexplainable and undesirable loss of control as well as its after effects sapped more strength than he cared to admit- and pushing on despite Harry's protests with such a solid loyal determination that made the green eyed child want to take nearly everything he'd said about the boy back.

"Prefect, adult, some sort of adult." Crabbe muttered as he half dragged, half pulled but fully manhandling the small pale boy around the school.

"You don't really need to do this." Harry murmured, though his body seemed to have other ideas as they went near slack, leaning against the warmth of the big child. Still he was embarrassed enough at his outburst as it is, this just felt like the feeling of salt being rubbed into the wound. "Really Crabbe, I do appreciate it-"

The Slytherin first year shushed him, and shook his head. "Something happened and Draco's not here so we go to an adult." He said simply.

"But we're out against curfew." Harry hissed. "We'll get in trouble!"

Crabbe faltered a step. Apparently not thought that far. But quickly shrugged it off and plowed onwards with resolve.

"It's better than you getting hurt."

And what on earth was he supposed to say to that?

It took another few minutes of aimless wondering in the halls before finally they spotted a bright light coming towards them.

"Is someone there?" A voice called out, probably gearing the heavy footfalls of Crabbe. The well built boy grunted in the affirmative and soon the light was upon them, revealing the older Weasley from before at Platform 9 3/4. His vision may be a bit fuzzy at the edges but really, there was no mistaking the bright fire truck red hair color. "What-"

"Harry got sick." Crabbe interrupted. "We got lost trying to find our House and then Harry got dizzy and he was shaking."

That caught the redhead's attention. Harry couldn't help but slightly admire that, in all honesty that was quite the Slytherin move in diverting focus, bringing up the injured child card before it fully registers how out of curfew they were was a smart move, now whether it was intentional or not he couldn't tell.

"Potter? Harry Potter?"

Crab nodded. Harry gave a rather weak smile. The Weasley prefect looked conflicted, probably his thoughts on telling them off about running around after hours and asking what's wrong with the Boy Saviour clashing magnificently. It seemed the latter won out eventually because the redhead knelt down and placed a warm hand on the cool scarred forehead of the smallest child. Harry didn't even realise how cold he was until then, sighing he leant into the touch as the Weasley frowned.

"He's freezing. I think we should stay calm and just wrap Potter up and rest for now. If anything changes inform your Head of House but I don't believe this should warrant the infirmary room." The prefect looked at the larger boy firmly, "Thank you for informing me, I'll escort you both to your dorms."

Both boys gave the older absolutely relieved looks. Thank the lord. They really just wanted to go to bed.


 

Thankfully they managed to get past Snape's personal room without any fuss. Apparently even the Head Boy had enough sympathy to not throw two first years to the dreaded Potions master on the very first night here. Harry was definitely going to have to go thank Percy Weasley the next time he saw him. As much as he'd like to talk more with the dark haired professor, there wasn't anything in this world he'd take to willingly see what the man would be like when rudely awakened at one damn o'clock in the morning.

Seriously, and that's not even due to the fact he could hold this world in his hands with a snap of his fingers. He technically co-owned every version of heaven and hell in existence though so indirectly he already had, as some strange people like to say, 'his fingers in all the pies'.

As they tiptoed past the other sleeping first years the two boys looked at each other, both basking in the glow that most kids get when achieving some secret form of rebellion, successfully getting away with something probably considered stupid and Harry just knew that Crabbe was going to be his favorite out of the bodyguard duo now.

Harry gives the larger boy a tired smile before diving headfirst into his thousand thread count sheets with a satisfied soft moan of happiness. Pushing that strange lull in his temporary humanity aside, Harry was going to consider this a pretty good day well done.

Chapter Text

The one where Death has his first week of magic school and it isn't completely terrible.

But then some people have the same opinion about the Second World War so really it was all a matter on who you're asking. Not that we're saying that WW2 isn't terrible. It was. Um. Shit. Dammit. Oh my god if the author could think of a better title you would not be reading that- I am so sorry.


"So what do you have today?"

Harry looked up from his half-eaten jam smothered toast at Draco before swallowing. "First period Charms and second period Herbology with the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs."

"Hah, I only have Herbology first. Really Potter, it must suck being in all four Houses. Now you'll miss three whole classes with me."

"Yes, a real pity that." Zabini drawled across from them with a dry smirk. "I think you could pay good money to see a Malfoy have to stoop to tending little twigs and trying not to touch the fertiliser." Harry pretended to look truly agonised at that.

"Dammit, you're right Draco I am honestly truly so sorry I'll have to miss your face when you're defiling your hands with soil and feacal matter."

The blonde boy looked like he was about to retort something truly witty and scathing when he paused. "Wait. What does faecal matter mean?"

"Dung, Draco." Harry informed, grinning at the whitening face of the already pale boy. "Didn't you know most fertilisers are composed of it."

"It does?!" Zabini half shrieked, despite his teasing apparently the noble pureblood wasn't aware of that little fact either. The green eyed child sighed dramatically, shaking his head sadly.

"Okay now I'm really regretting not coming with you guys."

Harry can safely say, if those glares held any real heat- his meat suit would be roasted medium well done. Mmm. That actually sounded quite good. It is a pity the whole human sacrifice thing has lost it's appeal to the modern populace, back in it's prime the trend of human sacrifice never did hold much finesse in terms of seasoning and flavour. All charred grilled stuff. Nowadays the entity was sure they would make much tastier offerings.


"There he is."

"Where?"

Harry twitched annoyed at all the pointing and whispering and staring and oh my god do these people have no actual celebrities in this world they can obsess over? Because this was getting bloody ridiculous. There were people lining up outside classrooms, standing on the tips of their toes to get a good look at him.

"Over there."

"No way."

"He's shorter than I thought."

'Malnutrition will do that to you.' He thought sardonically.

"Did you see his face?"

"Did you see his scar?"

Bloody ridiculous the lot of them. Here he was struggling to find the Charms classroom because Hogwarts kept intentionally messing what little sense of direction he had and-

Wait a minute.

Harry sharply turned to the nearest group of gossipy students, "Excuse me you guys over there, yes you guys. Any chance one of you know how to get to Mr Flitwick's Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw class?"

He knew there was an upside to starstruck idiots somewhere.


Hogwarts, Harry had found pretty quickly, was exhausting.

There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts. A hundred and forty-two staircases. And in three days he had met every single one at least enough times to recognise each goddamn one. These were stairs. Harry didn't even remember his classmates as well as he apparently remembered staircases.

It was like some sort of sick and twisted show of teasing affection the castle was giving to him because he swore no one else got this sort of treatment. Bullying. That's right. This sort of interaction is called bullying.

"Potter? Where on Merlin's beard did you come from?" Nott asked surprised at the sudden appearance of a panting, disheveled Boy Who Lived.

"I," Harry declared, "Am so late for Herbology." Theodore gave him a weird look.

"We're on the fourth floor."

"The castle won't let me down any lower than third." The paler boy replied resignedly. "This is bullying this is." He muttered darkly. "Just pissy cause I took her four masters all to myself."

"What did you say?"

"Oh nothing, just watch this Nott." Harry snapped irritably, before without any hesitation leaping off the handrails and falling fast toward the ground floor-

"POTTER!?"

-before a staircase swept up to pick up the green eyed not-an-entity and drop him off at the fifth floor. The child sat up from where he fell and glared balefully at the offending steps before moving his gaze toward a stunned Theodore.

"Can you tell Professor Sprout I'm being delayed Nott?!" He shouted. "Or find a spare teacher or something! Because I will jump off the balcony if I'm desperate enough I swear to god!" The last part sounded like it was more directed at the castle than the other but Nott just took that to run faster.


"Death Lord."

Harry blinked, before giving the unfamiliar spirit a bemused smile. "You must be the poltergeist Peeves then. I was wondering when I might run into you."

The short, black haired man with wickedly slanted, orange eyes was much more solid looking than his fellow spectres just gaped in an almost reverent nature. The child's eyes drifted from the poltergeist's face down to a brightly coloured ballon in the man's hands. "Is.. Is that for me?"

Peeves did a double take at the balloon he was holding before rapidly shoving the item in question behind his back and shook his head. Like somehow the action would make the incarnation of death forget the thing had been even in his sight. "N-n-no my Lord! That is, that was," He stuttered causing Harry to raise an eyebrow.

He stuck a small hand out, "May I see it?"

The ghost seemed extremely conflicted, a large part of him probably more than willing to please the entity to the best of his ability though Harry didn't really understand the spirit's reasoning for whatever reluctance is making him hesitate. However in the end the prospect of obeying and making Harry happy seemed to have won out as the man passed the small balloon gently into waiting hands. It was heavier than he'd expected.

"Is.. Is there water in this balloon?"

"Yes?"

Green eyes looked inquiringly at orange. Delicate child like face holding the expression of innocent confusion. "Why?"

Peeves appeared a little indecisive at what to say before finally settling on, "You throw it at people and they get wet."

"And you do this because?"

"It's fun?"

Harry stared contemplatively at the little water holding balloon. "Throwing this at others is fun?" He wondered out loud. Peeves nodded eagerly.

"Yes! See?"

The poltergeist pulled out another water balloon and winked at his Death Lord before throwing it at a pair of some unsuspecting older Ravenclaw students. The sheer expressions on their faces made Harry startle out a soft giggle of surprise. "Huh, that is amusing." He commented with a quirked smile.

Peeves grinned, visibly preening at the approval.

"Don't worry milord, you haven't seen anything yet."

Harry did not realise that he may have started something that could possibly stumble completely out of his control.


If there was one person Harry would say he viewed as almost a rival in this place, he would say with some contemplation, a Hufflepuff by the name of Zacharias Smith. Honestly the boy was such a child.

And it wasn't that he didn't like children. He did. Kind of. It just happened the general populace of them were annoying and loud and sometimes made Harry want to silence them all. Permanently. Insert innocent but creepy smiley face here.

That said, it wasn't that Harry didn't like Zacharias. It just happened that his mere presence and the action of him opening his mouth alone tends to implant in his mind the most tempting image of the Hufflepuff's violent and gory end. Usually by way of wringing that kid's skinny neck. And that is before he actually begins talking.

The first time he'd met the boy was on the first day in Charms. By some miracle the castle had decided to let him be early for his first day of class. Thirty minutes early. Harry didn't even know how that worked considering he had finished breakfast twenty minutes before the class was supposed to begin.

Fucking magic castles.

Zacharias was already there with a few gathered Puffs and what seemed to be the majority of the Ravenclaws. It did make the green eyed boy slightly more mollified to realise that he wasn't going to be standing awkwardly alone for the next half hour. Two minutes in, listening to the gangly boy that was Smith use his mouth more than Harry swore he used in all eleven years of mortal childhood, the entity of death was beginning to regret his previous relief.

"Again as you know, me being a descendent of Helga Hufflepuff herself and all, I have a very strong magical core that even my parents were very surprised by. So don't be too shocked if I'm a bit ahead of you all during our school year. Of course if y-" Only a scant few Hufflepuff's were actually listening and looking interested at the blonde bigmouth's boastings, the rest of the students present and within earshot looked like they shared Harry's regrets in arriving there so early.

"Dear lord my he have mercy on us all." Harry muttered, earning a snort from Padma Patil, a Chinese girl by the name of Su Li and another more timid pair of Hufflepuff girls. He turned to the unfamiliar females first with a raised brow, "How long has he been talking?" He whispered, the blonde one grinned and replied, "Way too long." The auburn haired girl next to her gave a small giggle.

"Harry Potter."

"Hannah Abbott."

"Susan Bones."

The green eyed child nodded, "Nice to meet you guys then. That over there is Padma Patil and Su Li. Terry Boot's the one coming up behind me along with Michael Corner and Anthony Goldstein."

The three boys as stated who had been previously creeping up toward the group all jumped. "Merlin Harry! How did you know?" Boot asked. "You didn't even look back I swear you didn't."

Harry smiled serenely before puffing up his chest and imitating the still boasting blonde boy a few feet away from them. "Well, as you know, me being the descendent of the Potter lineage myself and all, I have the ability to hear a teardrop of a baby caterpillar falling from three miles away and can turn into a mermaid at will." Everyone stared, slowly digesting the outrageously blatant lie then Corner thumped Harry's tousled raven hair playfully as they all descended into peals of laughter.

"And what-" An arrogant voice broke in snottily, "-is just so funny?"

Harry turned to see the talkative blonde had stopped his self-centred tirade to face them all looking rather annoyed, probably at being interrupted from the sound of his own voice. "Nothing." The green eyed child responded with as much innocence as he could muster.

The boy didn't look like he believed him but if he did Harry would've been forced to lower his opinion of the blonde even further and that was always such a pain to do.

"Zaharias Smith," He introduced, "Descendent of Helga Hufflepuff." Smith added with no small amount of pride. Like it was a necessary thing to inform Harry of despite the fact Harry could probably care less. He's actually met Helga Hufflepuff and as nice a woman she is, she isn't exactly a person whom he would personally chose to tell everyone about with the same enthusiasm this Smith character was showing about her. I mean yes, she helped build a school but it cannot be this big a deal.

"Harry Potter." Harry politely replied, Smith's brown eyes lit up and gave a large awfully fake grin as he snatched the Boy Who Lived's hand and shook it without even asking. Harry was not pleased.

"So nice to meet you Potter, funny how you managed to get into all four Houses somehow, though that's to be expected given your status. I probably would've got the same treatment really if my ancestor wasn't Helga Hufflepuff, though to be fair it just wouldn't be right if someone of my bloodline was anywhere but Hufflepuff. Can you imagine? Helga Hufflepuff's descendent in a House other than Hufflepuff?"

Good Lord if this kid says the word 'Hufflepuff' again Harry was going to, going to.. Well he didn't know what he was going to do but it would not be very nice.

Plastering on a strained smile he just shook his head in the negative, hoping his lack of verbal response will subtly implicate the fact this conversation should start dying anytime around now. Unfortunately either Zaharias was even more conceited than he'd originally thought or his own social skills were that poor or maybe a mix of the two, nonetheless somehow it pushed the blonde to keep chattering on relentlessly about himself. Even when he used his best helpless 'puppy dog' eyes on his friends they could not save him from the drone of arrogance that had been set upon him like the plague.

By the time they were allowed into class Harry swore to hell and back that he was on the cusp of literally dying from boredom. And as the physical manifestation of death he was totally allowed to say that seriously.

His impression of Zacharias Smith did not get any better after that.


"Woah mate you okay?"

Frustrated fingers brushed through completely disheveled sweaty black hair, the owner of said hair did not look any better. "I," Harry groused between panting breaths, "Think Hogwarts is trying to kill me."

"Don't be mad Potter." Draco drawled as he strolled up to the slim lightening-scarred wizard leaning against the cold walls of the dungeons. Silver grey eyes eyeing the other's appearance dubiously. "At worst it's just some extra exercise."

"Exercise is the worst Malfoy." Harry muttered, "I mean it's good for you and whatever but God, at what cost?"

"Uh, energy. That's why we eat food." Ron answered more than a little entertained at his friend's plight. It seemed whatever classes the green eyed child seemed to take always started with Harry in some sort of similar condition and with a riveting tale on his lips ready to tell them all about how the castle was singling him out. It's still a little hard to believe, especially to the teachers but by the fourth day of classes the general consensus between the first years was Harry Potter was extremely unlucky and directionally challenged. Even Neville Longbottom was on time more than Harry, though only just though. "So what happened this time then?"

"Did the stairs knock you up again?" Draco drawled.

"Or maybe they turned into a giant slide so you slid all the way back to ground floor?" Seamus snickered.

"I like the time you leaned against a wall only to find it was a secret tunnel and you spent an hour in the dark looking for the right stone to get out." Zabini added with a shit-eating grin. Dean Thomas gave the Italian boy a high five for bringing up that particular incident.

"I'm so glad your infamous rivalry between you wankers have been put aside in favour of mocking my tribulations." Harry scowled. "Seriously."

"Sorry mate just think of it as your amazing charm." Ron offered. Draco, being the sarcastic little brat he is muttered, "More like amazing stupidity."

Harry decided to let that go after he pulled down the pale boy's tie to reach perfectly slicked back hair that just screamed to be ruffled and ruined much to the Malfoy scion's shrieking displeasure. "Potter!"

"I'm sorry Draco," he apologised not looking sorry at all, "but I am amazingly stupid according to you so I do tend to things that are also considered unwise."

"Yeah well I'd ruin your hair in retaliation but," Draco sniffed haughtily as he tried to put back his platinum blonde locks into their previous pristine place, "it's a little hard to do that when it already looks like a bird wouldn't even nest in it."

"Hey in Potter's defence I'm pretty sure that no amount of magical hair product in the world will be able to tame that unruly black mess."

"Thanks Nott."

"No problem Potter."

"But seriously what got you in such a state this time?" Parvati Patil, Padma's Gryffindor counterpart piped up curiously. Everyone leaned in to hear the response, even Granger who had been trying to steadfastly ignore them all by reading the Potions textbook was trying to move closer to the group. Harry flushed a slight pink and rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly as he murmured something.

"What did you say?"

"I said," The boy repeated louder, his pale skin a shade darker than before and his strikingly coloured eyes looking anywhere but at his fellow peers, "a painting fell on me."

"…You're pulling our legs." Ron decided after a heartbeat of silence.

"Shut up Ron it was a big painting." The Boy Who Lived snapped clearly unhappy at his confession, "I had to drag myself from under the thing and they're heavier than they look."

There was not a trace of sympathy in the hysterics that came after, even Longbottom was chuckling and Granger was trying to valiantly push down her visible amusement. Harry just glowered at them all. "Yes, yes, laugh it up why don't you."

"Well if you insist Potter."


"This… This is hell." Ron groaned as he thumped his head onto the desk. Harry did not agree but silently thought it should be.

He watched as Professor Binns, a ghost so dull and stuck in some sort of monotony he didn't even register the Death Lord walk into his own classroom, drone on endlessly about a war that really didn't seem to be of any importance in anything. And at least Zacharias Smith had some variety in how he used his voice, this spirit had little to no inflection or used any other such technique to capture the audience's attention. It was almost as if the man was doing this on purpose.

Forget hooked blades, brimstone and fire. This was true torture.

"History of Magic is officially the worst subject ever."


Transfiguration was actually really interesting.

First McGonagall surprised them all (Harry obviously not included but he played along anyway) by transforming from a cat to her human self at the beginning of class. Said some stuff, then turned her desk into a pig and back. Considering most other classes so far had been just basic lectures and scant little magical distractions to keep the children entertained. This at least was quite impressive.

There was a lot of complicated note taking after the demonstration, but much to the excitement of the others they were all each given a match with the assignment of turning it into a needle.

Whilst others struggled Harry found himself a natural at it. It was an easy task and he'd done harder things when showing off to Dudley and Piers but he'd always found feats like this easiest. It was probably considering that technically inanimate object by default fell under his realm of expertise. After all you could say a match was definitely not 'alive' so therefore it can be considered dead which with that technicality makes manipulation with it so much easier than if Harry had to do this with a living hamster or something.

Professor McGonagall noticed near immediately his accomplishment, probably due to the afteraffects of her feline eyesight, and showed the rest of the class the perfect silver needle glinting under the lighting as she gave Harry a rare smile of pride.

"Very well done Mr Potter! I don't think I've had any student that's accomplished this task so quickly."

Harry couldn't help but feel a little shy at the compliment, he still wasn't very good at taking them even after all the praise his cousin liked to pile on him. What was he supposed to say anyway? Thank you? You're welcome? Damn social convention being so complicated. The boy after a bit of internal struggle decided to go with honesty in the end.

"It was nothing Professor." He replied in a bashfully soft voice, "I did stuff like this for my cousin most of the time back home." McGonagall at the mention of Harry's home life looked stricken for a second before smoothing her expression to curious pride.

"Really? Maybe after class we can talk about what you can do and see whether we need to reevaluate your skill level."

"If you think that's necessary."

Professor McGonagall flashed another smile, it was a bit more mournful but it was still a rather nice smile nonetheless, "I do."

In the end only Hermione Granger had made her match look vaguely grey and pointy, and she glared at Harry the whole time as he bid goodbye to his friends to walk toward the waiting professor.

"Professor." He greeted.

"Mr Potter," McGonagall returned, moving to sit behind her desk and pulling out a few objects, "I just want to know what sort of things your capable of accomplishing with your magic and I wish to ask.." The woman hesitated, for a moment seeming doubtful at what she was about to ask, "Can you turn the match to a needle without the use of your wand."

Harry grinned, he knew this woman was sharp, most people when he casually admitted he did magic at home for some reason just assumed it was only after he got his wand for some strange reason. Professor McGonagall, despite his initial prejudice, was a teacher he can see getting along great with.

"Do you want to see? I usually make it a bit dramatic for my cousin, part of the act and all."

The female professor's lips twitched looking for all intents and purposes wanting to smile but had used up her daily quota of positive emotions allowed on her facial features. "I think just the simple match to needle trick would suffice."

The boy did not pout nor feel a sense of disappointment at the declination. Harry always did like adding a bit of flair despite his usual personality, a taste for the theatric was always something one gets when living for far too long. He obliged anyway.

Without a word he picked up a match and squeezed into his palm, making sure to look like he was at least straining his concentration at his fist before opening his hand to reveal a shiny new needle. The Transfiguration professor looked quite gobsmacked, as if she didn't really believe Harry could've done it until he did.

Unable to help himself- he blames overexposure to Draco, Blaise and maybe a bit of Ron for his increase in sarcastic dry remarks- he waves both hands, still holding the needle, and deadpans with a 'Taa daa.' The professor being who she was, did not react so it left Harry standing stupidly in front of her still doing doing jazz hands in awkward silence. Yes, this is what his life has come to.

"What else have you done?" She asks and grateful to just quietly move past his moment of idiocy Harry coughs and with a swish of his hand turns the silver needle into a shoelace.

"I'm good with changing objects to other objects. Inanimate things seem to be more my forte since I can turn a flower into glass but it's harder for me to turn it back." The boy explained easily, "I wasn't going to try anything with actual sentient things either, closer thing I've ever tried was turning a bunch of leaves into an apple." Harry gave a look of disgust at the recalled memory, "That was a disgusting mistake."

Professor McGonagall made a strange slightly strangled coughing sound behind her hand at that, if he didn't know better he would've suspected she was trying not to laugh. Today just seemed to be a day where he's unintentionally witty or something. How unusual, he's never been much of a jokester when he was a godly entity, maybe it was mortality that has altered his perceptions of humor? Or maybe he always maintained the same amount of witticism but in this world it was enough to be considered generally funny. If that last theory was true than the moment Chaos steps one physical foot here everyone would literally be curled up in laughter.

"Yes, well," She coughed again, "If what you say is the truth than I think maybe we can provide you with some further extra tasks to your practical part of the class. In fact," McGonagall picked up a what seemed to be a black string of rubber and gave it to Harry, "I would like you to make something out of this. Think of it as extra credit."

Which meant it was not compulsory but highly recommended that he do so anyways.

"Is there some sort of guideline to what I'm meant to be doing or-?"

"Surprise me."

Great. He hated when teachers do that. It's probably why he wasn't good with art or English classes back in Surrey, tell him what to do and he'll do it but give him a pencil, some paper and nothing but the instruction to draw 'what you think autumn means to you' and he'll flounder worse than a literal flounder out of water. Really, what the hell. At least tell him if you liked the colour orange or something, Christ.


Defence Against the Dark Arts was pathetic.

It was no History of Magic but it was still pretty high up there in classes with terrible teachers that needed to take leave yesterday. Professor Quarrel stuttered, was probably a liar in that he apparently saved some African prince from a zombie, smelled horribly of garlic and was just overall twitchy enough to give Harry a headache looking at him.

There was also something off about the man's soul but for some reason he'd found himself almost repelled by the idea of looking further into it. He didn't like the headaches it brought.


"What have we got today?" Harry asked Ron as he poured sugar on his porridge.

"Double Potions with the Slytherins," said Ron between mouthfuls. "Snape's Head of Slytherin House. They say he always favours them- we'll be able to see if it's true."

Harry scoffed, "You mean you'll be able to see it's true. I'm Slytherin for his class remember?" The redhead widened his eyes and then narrowed them at his bacon like they were the reason he was wrong.

"Bullocks."

"Hey, we can still partner up for today so I don't see how it matters."

Before Ron could reply a soft hoot and a flutter of wings distracted them as the arrival of Hedwig made herself known. The snowy owl had visited every morning with the other mail deliveries without fail despite carrying a lack of message herself so it was surprising to the pale raven haired child when the bird lifted up a leg to reveal a small rolled up parchment.

Giving the owl some crust off his toast Harry unrolled the letter to read what it said,

Dear Harry,

I know you get Friday afternoons off, so would you like to come and have a cup of tea with me around three?

I want to hear all about your first week. Send us an answer back with Hedwig.

Hagrid

Ah, right. The half giant fellow. What a nice man, of course he will graciously accept.

Borrowing Ron's quill ("Oi! Could've least asked!") he responded in the affirmative and sent Hedwig off on her first reply journey. She seemed mighty pleased about actually doing some work finally. Maybe he'll send Mr Filch a note just to keep his pretty bird busy.

Once Hedwig was on her way Harry stuffed the rest of his chocolate covered toast into his mouth and began making his leave, tugging a reluctant Ron with him. "Mate what are you-"

"Come on Ron! I don't want to be late and if I'm travelling with someone the castle stops at least trying to delay me too badly."

"You are so paranoid. The castle is not trying to kill-"

"It is so trying to kill me."

Potions was somewhere in one of the dungeons. It was colder there and damper and decorated with pickled animals floating in glass jars all around the walls. Most of the first years looked quite perturbed by that last bit but Harry was more upset about how cold and damp it was. Sure the cold wasn't too bad despite his many complaints, it was the humidity that annoyed him. While the others looked horrified at one jar with a baby pig fetus, he'd shuddered at the mold growing in every crack in the stones.

If he sees some sort of fungi cultivation in the corner of the room Harry swears he would scream. He tells this to Ron and a nearby Draco who just look at him strangely. Harry didn't understand why.

However their beginnings of a conversation were quickly diverted when Professor Snape, billowing black robes in the nonexistent wind and all, strode into the classroom ready to take roll call.

Slowly he went down the list of names until he reached Harry's pausing as he did so. "Ah, Yes," he said softly, "Harry Potter. Our new- celebrity."

The boy was beginning to feel a sinking realisation he was going to be treated as anything but in this class.

"You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion making," he began speaking in barely more than a whisper, yet Harry was sure everyone caught every single word, the professor certainly had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort. An intimidating yet entrancing man indeed.

"As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…" Very dramatic though. Though the green eyed boy had to admit now he was getting quite hyped up for what was to come. Damn the man could probably make a killing if he turned to writing creatively or something. "I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death- if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."

Okay, well, that last sentence wasn't exactly ringing endorsement. Harry and Ron exchanged looks with raised eyebrows, he would've done the same to Malfoy but that required him completely turning around in his seat to face behind him and that was way too much effort. Hermione Granger though was on the edge of her seat looking near desperate to start proving that she wasn't a dunderhead.

"Potter!" said Snape suddenly. "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"

Hermione's hand shot up into the air like a bullet. Harry glanced at the sheer competitiveness coming off from her before facing the unnervingly intense black gaze of the potions professor. It was almost like the man he had first met weeks ago had never existed in the first place or something. How disappointing.

"I think it produces a sleeping potion known as Draught of.. the Living Death Professor?"

Snape stared at him with that unreadable look of his for a long enough time Harry was wondering if he should just take back his answer but then finally the older man nodded once sharply. "Correct. Perhaps you have more than just fame going for you after all."

The green eyed boy felt a little relieved at that yet looking at Ron next to him, the redhead seemed flushed with indignation. Did Snape do something to offend him?

Snape was still ignoring Granger's quivering hand.

"Again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"

Ah, there was the shadow of the easy bantering from before. Snape was acknowledging their first meeting at last, it may still look grudging and the man still felt distantly arctic but it was something. Harry gave a faint crooked smile at the question. "It's a stone taken from the stomach of a goat Professor and it will generally serve to save you from most poisons."

"Correct. What is the difference, Potter, between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

At this, Granger actually stood up, her hand stretching toward the dungeon ceiling. She certainly was persistent, Harry'll give her that. It's a little aggravating but still.

He did faltered at that one though, "But.. there is no difference." Vivid green eyes looked confused as the black clad male smirked,

"Wrong, the two are the same thing. One point from Gryffindor for a wrong answer."

Harry reared his head back, "You can't do that, it doesn't even make sense! And I'm in Slytherin right now!" He blustered, the other Gryffindors were nodding their heads in equal affronted fervour.

"Ah, apologies then, two points to Slytherin for correct answers then. And for your information Potter, having no differences and being the same thing altogether are completely unrelated answers." Snape then turned his focus back to the rest of the students and snapped, "Well? Why aren't you all copying that down?"

At least Harry could clearly see why Snape was the Head of Slytherin now. It was quite amazing how he managed to twist things against the boy. His fellow classmates however were not as impressed strangely enough at the treatment he was being prescribed to, even the Slytherins were looking a little uncomfortable at it. The not-currently-an-entity couldn't see why, this class was going to be quite entertaining personally.

After all, he did appreciate interesting things above all.


"Snape sucks." Ron groused as they were leaving Potions. "I can't believe he took a point off me just because Longbottom ruined the potion next to us!"

"If it helps Weasley, he'd probably have took the point from Potter if he was in Gryffindor." Draco drawled in what was probably the most comforting way Ron would ever get out of him voluntarily.

"You can say that because you're clearly Snape's favourite." The scowling redhead pointed out. "I mean none of you Slytherins can really complain about him considering he's biased as hell toward all you."

Draco shrugged, it was true after all. Goyle however grunted out a, " 'cept Potter." With Crabbe nodding in agreement.

"Right, except Harry, sorry mate."

Harry looked up at the sympathetic looks on his friends curiously. "Why are you sorry?" he asked, "I quite like the Professor. I think he's pretty okay with me too."

"Potter, I don't know which class you attended but even I know Professor Snape pretty much hates your guts." Zabini pointed out with a disbelieving expression.

"He chose me to answer the questions." Harry defended.

"He did it to humiliate you." Draco insisted. "I like Sev- I mean, Snape, I do but even I thought he was being unfairly harsh on you."

"No, I think we'll end up getting along marvellously." The green eyed boy replied flippantly, "Listen I gotta go and throw myself off a balcony now so see you later."

The group watched Harry leave, Ron was the first to speak. "He's delusional."

"I was going to say insane but sure Weasley, let's go with that."

Chapter Text

The one where Death continues getting used to Hogwarts by- learning how to straddle hard sticks of wood to fly, gets detention, gets propositioned by a dog, hunt down a unicorn vampire person with said dog and Draco Malfoy, propositions a centaur and then calls it a night.

So apparently Harry has learnt a few more things since his first week at Hogwarts.

One. Hagrid cannot cook. His cakes taste like rocks and share the same solid structure of one too. And the only proper way to consume it is to burn it and offer it up to the heavens as a 'Screw You' offering to your fellow entities slash siblings.

Two. When Professor McGonagall says 'Surprise me.' it is a safe bet to butter her up with something shiny. The stereotype that the female gender enjoys such objects has so far served it's purpose well. So far an intricately carved golden bracelet shaped like to lions running toward each other has been responded in a generally pleasing manner. McGonagall has been seen wearing it the next day.

Three. His wand was way too hyped up to be useful. It gets so needy and lonely all the time that Harry always takes pity on it, uses it for one simple thing which it gets overexcited about that something happens- usually some sort of large hole in a place large holes aren't supposed to be in- and then Harry decides he's better off wandless until the black stick of wood just looks so sad and rejected they start the whole cycle over again.

Four. At some point Binns needs to be exorcised. It is for his own good, for Harry's own good and for the sake of education's own good.

Fiv- "Potter this does not look like a list of things you've learnt in Charms last week."

Green eyes blinked at an exasperated Blaise that had been looking over his shoulder. "We have to write a list for Charms?"

"Yes. And yours is due, unfortunately for you, tomorrow."

"..Bullocks."


 

 

Flying lessons were okay.

Actually it was pretty brilliant.

Scratch that, it was fantuckingfastic.

Flying never was a 'thing' in the lifestyle that was being Death. Apparently it was deemed in some sort of invisible legislation known as societal expectations that beings of death and Death himself do not fly. Dementors do, technically, but it's really more hovering than flying unless told otherwise. Much like how tortoises could run if their life really depended on it but their natural choice of locomotive was more along the lines of plodding along. The same goes for Lethifolds too, hovering, floating, drifting, maybe a little gliding along with the winds in their cloud-like bodies but not really 'flying'.

So no, flying was just not something that happened in the under-realms, with the exception of those giant raven creatures they had but those were like a 'bunnies in Australia' type situation than anything. And if you failed biology and don't understand that reference then basically just imagine Death (the horseman not the entity) picking up a flock of black birds to bring home as pets only for them to mutate and spread all over his lands, annoying demons and making reapers just generally uncomfortable. But those were really the only things there that could fly- no, fallen angels didn't count either. Sudden teleportation however, or manifesting out of a mist of darkness or maybe even just the classic striding coolly out of the shadows were more his type of speed.

Right now though, after getting over the awkward and frankly just undignified stage of straddling a piece of wood, Harry could not see why he never tried such a method of movement. This was amazing.

Harry whooped with energy he didn't even know he had, buzzing all the way to the tips of his fingers as the wind hit his face and tugged playfully through his hair. He could hear the flying teacher lady shouting something about watching his form and grip but was too busy grinning wildly as he sharply dived downwards, much to the screams of his classmates, before giving his broom a strong tug letting his feet just skim the grass before flying back into the sky again. Damn, now this was finally turning out to be a proper vacation!

Later he made a mental note to figure out how to explain to his Reapers the wonders of air travel.

"Wonderful!" Madam Hooch exclaimed, she had this unnervingly bright gleam in her eyes, "Magnificent, amazing, fabulous!" If Harry didn't know better he was sure the woman would be just spewing out random adjectives, as he landed easily onto the ground he threw the older lady a bashful grin and shrug.

"That was fun. Is there some sort of game with flight or do we all just try fancy tricks in the air?"

And then he was eagerly explained what Quidditch actually is.

It still sounded incredibly stupid- the point system alone was just... Anyway, nonetheless after experiencing the wonder of swooping and gliding and rushing wind, Harry decided that maybe the game was a little less dumb than he thought. Though trying out for the game would be particularly tricky considering he was House-less.

Madam Hooch looked like she was about to cry when he told her that.


 

Apparently when he's not present the Houses revert back to their original state of aggressive rivalry. It's quite fascinating really, even if he's never seen the change himself. Ron and Draco were very good examples of this phenomenon. Sure they weren't best friends or anything but they had been amiable enough when Harry had left them to go to their flying class. And only a few short hours later-

"You guys got detention?"

"Yeah." Ron spat out, his freckled face covered in splotches of mud. It matched the rest of his body quite nicely. Though it clashed horribly with his hair.

"No." Draco said sulkily at the exact same moment causing the two to glare at each other with so much venom Harry could practically hear the vicious hissing sound emanating from them both. Harry just raised a bemusedly curious brow.

"I think you guys are the first in the year to ever get detention. Congratulations."

"It was all Malfoy's fault!" Ron accused, pointing fingers and all.

"Wha-no, no it bloody wasn't!" Draco spluttered.

"You took Neville's Remembrall!"

"I would've given it back!"

"You were threatening to drop it from the sky!"

"... I didn't say it'll come back in one piece." The blonde muttered defensively and turning the freckled boy's face an increasingly vibrant shade of anger. Sensing they were treading dangerously close to shouting territory the entity-on-hiatus decided now would be a nice time to intervene.

"So what does a detention in a school of magic entail exactly?" He asked, only hald curious, "I mean you must assume it wouldn't be too bad but still."

"It depends on who you get to serve detention with." Draco responded quickly, seeing the out for what it was and maybe partly because the boy had this obvious enjoyment in teaching Harry things that he knew. "My father told me that Snape won't be too harsh on Slytherins-"

Ron snorted and may have muttered that sounded suspiciously like "Biased git." But it was ignored.

"McGonagall will probably make you do some lines or something incredibly dull like that, and Flich, well,"

"He's a complete wanker." The redhead blurted out. Draco looked ready to argue, more on sheer reflex and principles alone but paused and shrugged halfheartedly in agreement. "Yeah."

Green eyes looked at them coolly. "I like Filch."

"Merlin Harry, Snape and Filch?" Ron moaned, shaking his head, "You have the like, worst taste in adults don't you?"

Harry looked at the Malfoy scion pleadingly, waiting for the inevitable rebuttal to Ron's opinion, instead all he got was a bored shrug. "He's not wrong Potter." Traitor.

"I hope you guys enjoy detention together." Harry sniffed haughtily.

"Oh hey, now that's just, wait up Potter!"

"Yeah wait up mate!"

"Don't you follow us-"

"I can bloody follow if I damn well-"

Harry shook his head fondly as he walked away from what was obviously another one of their arguments. It was almost painful how much they reminded him of two specific rather argumentative entities of order and chaos. Though Chaos would probably prefer the twins out of the red headed family and Order would definitely appreciate Professor McGonagall and her no nonsense attitude. She was most likely the one who had given his friends that detention at- Harry stopped in his tracks.

"Shit. I have detention too don't I?"

Oh well. He's sure that it'll be a nice little surprise for his friends.


 

 

Unsurprisingly Harry's first detention was given by one surly potions professor. Surprisingly the detention had not been the professor's idea.

"I think..." Harry began slowly, solemnly, drawing his friends attention from both Houses as they walked out of their potions lesson, "I think Professor Snape might not be very fond of me."

"No." Draco drawled with the verbal equivalent of a desert in the height of summer in his voice. "Say it isn't so."

Harry nodded seriously. Everyone groaned.

"And you seemed like such a normal kid when I first saw you." Seamus muttered.

"Who would've thought, Harry Potter, has terrible tastes in potion professors?"

"Hey," Harry protested, not completely sure what taste has got to do with it but felt offended at the tone alone, "I bet Snape tastes great."

An unfortunate passing by Hufflepuff choked and slammed into a wall. His friends looked nauseated. He watched their reactions confused and questioningly.

Really, no matter how many years he's experienced as a mortal they still baffled him. Was the question not some sort of suggestion toward cannibalistic tendencies? It might be frowned upon on in this world's day and age but that's what he thought at the idea of turning rabbits into lamps so what did he really know?

"That. That is disgusting Harry." Ron proclaimed, Harry didn't see why it was but remained silent. This felt like one of the times where saying nothing and gathering context for future reference was the best point of action. His large green eyes however were not as easily restrained as his tongue though because Zabini gave him a withering look that said, 'You have no idea what's wrong with what you just said do you? God you are so socially inept but since I find you most tolerable I will explain this to you later when we are alone.' Yes Harry did read all of that on the Italian boy's features. In his defense though the child had like a thousand variations of sneers and expressions of disdain for apparently every reason. He didn't know all of them obviously but he's had enough experience with this one to recognize it just from the crinkle of the nose alone.

"Why do you think Snape doesn't like you now out of all times?"

"Yeah, if anything, we really should be having this conversation last week when he verbally berated your incompetence because your potion was, 'too aqua and not turquoise enough,' like what does that even mean?

Everyone made various sounds of agreement. "I'm pretty sure Longbottom almost cried that lesson and he was on the other side of the classroom." Nott added thoughtfully. The other Slytherins snorted.

"Please, Longbottom's always about to cry in Potions." Draco rolled his eyes. The first year Gryffindors looked torn between indignation and reluctant agreement, though knowing the hotheaded house of the brave, they would probably argue just for the sake of disagreement with their rivals. Really, this House thing was exhausting. Hogwarts is many things but school unity isn't precisely one of them.

"Yeah but Snape obviously thinks Longbottom is incompetent." Harry pointed out, "I mean, don't mean to be rude to Neville but he isn't the most deft with his fingers in the art of potions. It would be rather hard to say nice things to someone who keeps melting all the cauldrons after a while."

With the conversation turned back to the green eyed boy the air of hostility cleared to more comfortable levels. Well mostly.

"Harry no offence but I'm pretty sure that greasy git would rather choke on his own hair than say a nice word to you." Ron replied heatedly, "And you do better than most of the chaps in our class!"

"Yeah, you even helped me when I was about to drop the pickled toad eyes before dicing them Potter. And you got reamed about sabotaging me!" Zabini agreed with just as much fervor though obviously with a much cooler composure. The raven haired wizard savior couldn't help but flush slightly at that and shrugged his shoulders, muttering something unintelligible about 'not being that big of a deal'. Of course, somehow, that only served to fuel the other children's protests even further.

Finally, tiring from protecting the dour professor Harry held up his hand in a gesture to silence his friends.

"Well I think there is only one solution to this." Harry announced resolutely.

"What?"

"I'm going to ask him." They stared. He stared back.

"You're going to ask him." Someone repeated slowly, he didn't know who it was that said that but from the incredulous condescension he was going to assume it was one of the Slytherins.

"Yes."

"You're going to walk up to that man's face and ask him point blank why he hates you." Definitely Slytherin. Probably Draco.

"Yes."

This was met by groans and sounds of hands meeting faces. Harry can not stress enough how annoying children were at this moment.

"No."

"Merlin Harry."

"Potter you moron."

"What?" Harry frowned. "Why not?"

"Oh my god Harry you can't just- you don't- oh my god Harry!" Again, can not stress enough. Children. Mortals. Ugh.

"There is no need to bring God into this." He chided. Really, he should know. And if God did answer some prepubescent child's whines instead of millennia of an incarnation of death's pleas for guidance when he needed it then Harry was going to be severely pissed. "And I dislike the notion that you think my idea is unwise."

"Unwise!?" Ron burst out, "Mate what you are thinking is the stup-mmph!"

"What I think the Weasel is saying," Draco hastily stepped in as Zabini, with visibly great disgust, was muffling the freckled Gryffindor's mouth with his bare hand. "Is that maybe a direct approach to the problem isn't always the best approach?"

"It is my approach." Harry retorted stubbornly, "I am unsure of Professor's opinion of me and if what you guys accuse is true then I am justifiably uncomfortable with being some sort of target in the classroom. Asking directly will ensure a quick conclusion and I think I'm more than capable of doing so."

"It's not that we don't think you can do it Harry. It's just.."

"It's just that Snape can make grown men cry and we don't think it would be great if you come back traumatized and forever rendered mute from the experience."

"And you all think that?"

They nodded.

"Well I'm sorry but I'm going to prove you guys wrong." He huffed, and with that Harry turned around and walked away. Later on the immortal would probably grudgingly reflect that maybe he acted a tad too 'young' considering his vast age but in his defense, he was pretty sure childishness was contagious- especially with prolonged contact. So it wasn't his fault, it was his lack of immunity to children. Definitely.


 

 

"Professor?" The potions master looked up from his stack of grading in slight surprise which was easily covered up in a heartbeat, his features the chiseled representation of cool disdain.

"Potter? Classes are on Fridays you realise?"

"Really professor I didn't notice," Harry replied with a slight smile as he leaned his weight against the edge of the class doorway.

"10 points from Gryffindor for talking back to a teacher." And that wiped the smile off the boy's face. Correspondingly it seemed to give the older man a sharp light of gleeful petty vindication in the black pair of eyes.

"Professor Snape I'm not in Gryffindor currently, I don't believe you can just take house points. If anything I'm still technically a Slytherin."

"You were exclusively Slytherin in my classroom Potter, now that you're no longer in my classroom you can be any house I wish."

Harry was not entirely sure that, that was correct but decided against antagonising the teacher and technically 'adult' out of the two. Taking a shallow breath he asked, "Do you dislike me for some reason?"

He had quite taken to the mortal phrase 'in for a penny, in for a pound,' and really, Snape's surprised face from the sudden blunt change of subject was worth whatever answer would be given. "Excuse me Potter?"

"Well," The younger shuffled his feet, absentmindedly wishing he was wearing some muggle jeans just so he could find somewhere to shove his hands into. Like, what on this green earth was he supposed to do with them right now? "See it has come to my attention that you possibly seem to dislike my person professor. Also my friends said you may hate my guts and everything I could possibly stand for."

And everyone thought he had learnt no social skills. Hah.

Snape apparently was either stunned speechless for a reason Harry wasn't completely sure of or just being silently offended at such accusations. Either way the resulting lack of response was not a comfortable one. "Professor Snape?" Harry inquired, prompting in what he hoped was an answer.

"I," The dark robed man cleared his throat before looking back at the child. The emotion in his face was not unreadable per say, but it was something complicated and deep and if there were people with faces like open books then Snape's was like opening a dusty tome in a dimly lit room and finding the writing was the same color as the paper it was scrawled on as well as in Latin even though you expected it to be written in Italian or somehting. "I do not hate you Potter."

The boy frowned, "I didn't say hate professor, I said dislike." Harry paused a bit before frowning at the older man even harder, disapproval and disappointment radiating from him in a way that probably made the usually so intimidating potions master inwardly cringe. "Did you hate me?"

The lack of answer was an obvious answer in itself. And wow that was kind of hurtful to hear. Or not hear.

Pointedly dismissing the hollow pang in his chest cavity Harry pretended that previous question had not been spoken as he moved on to, "And now? What of your stance on me now?" The boy asked, voice border-lining to an outright demand. It sounded completely self-absorbed even to him, but Harry just did not have people who disliked him. Well as an individual being anyway, not what he represented. Not really. Sure Zacharias wasn't fond of him but the sentiment was more than reciprocated so that didn't count. However Harry actually liked the sarcastic harsh man in the black robes and the idea that Snape despised him erred the boy more than he'd rather admit. Seriously he was chess buddies with the Devil, how in Lucifer's name did the older man hate him?

"Now," Snape replied slowly, tasting the word with his mouth thoughtfully, drawing it out as his mind formulated his response. A response Harry was waiting with an almost eager anticipation for. With a shuddering sigh like his answer was some sort of big burden thrust upon him the older of the two said, "I have reluctantly taken back my first assumption and found you to be... Tolerable."

Tolerable. That probably meant something yes? From someone like Snape it might even be the equivalent of a standing ovation. Yes, he could work with tolerable. Tolerable was good. Harry gave Snape a heartfelt smile of approval. "I find you tolerable too Professor Snape." He cheekily replied.

The professor hesitated before letting the edges of his lips curl up in return.

They shared an easy quiet space between them, it felt so similar to when they first met in the shop, and while Harry was intrigued in why that lighthearted bantering relationship took a sudden swerve to the underworld at the mention of his name, he was much more content in getting this feeling back. However the idea that something as flimsy and unimportant as a name of all things could break such a nice thing was unacceptable.

"I think you should give me a detention."

For a second time Harry had the pleasure of seeing Severus Snape flounder for words again. "Potter?"

"Because I'm not going to ask why you reacted so badly to when you heard my name, that's your business," the boy stiffly explained with a confidence he wasn't sure he actually had at the moment, it seemed like a good idea in his head. "But I do wish for an amiable rapport and so I will extended a symbolic branch of the olive tree if you will."

"And you thought me giving you detention would satisfy me?" Snape challenged derisively, in a way that would've make Longbottom's eyes filled with tears, but Harry could see the considering look in black calculating eyes.

"You liked to call me out for things which admittedly even I have had trouble figuring out why. It felt like some sort of vendetta if you don't mind me saying professor. So I just.." He uncertainly trailed off and made a vague hand gesture in feeble hopes it could convey what his mouth had failed to do.

Snape just stared at him with that complicated to the point of blank expression of his before giving a sharp nod and abruptly stood up and gestured Harry to leave.

The next day Harry got a detention for being a 'menace in the halls.' It was probably the nicest Snape had ever been in giving someone a detention. Longbottom who had been present during the whole thing actually did tear up a bit though so maybe that wasn't exactly true. Though Harry couldn't help but grin when the man subtly patted his shoulder as he left as quickly as he came.


 

 

Ron and Draco weren't exactly pleased to see Harry per say. To be fair they weren't exactly displeased either. In fact Harry would more accurately call their faces 'gobsmacked' when they saw him happily waving at them whilst he conversed with their most hated caretaker of Hogwarts.

"Harry?!"

"Potter?!"

"Good evening!" Harry called out cheerily. "Did I forget to mention I got detention too?"

Ron caught up to him first, smacking the green eyed boy's unruly raven head and grumbling, "Yeah mate, might've slipped slipped your mind a bit."

"Oops?"

Draco, not one to change pace for anyone finally joined the group with his signature sneer on his face. "Well, well, well, apparently Potter's gotten off his high horse and joined us on the ground huh?" It was teasingly good natured which Harry caught on well enough, his red headed friend however was not that quick on getting sarcasm because the boy went positively purple. However not wanting another ongoing argument, especially not one during a detention which he assumed was already going to be quite miserable, Harry decided to adopt his own teasing sneer and shrugged haughtily.

"What can I say Draco? I decided your usual view up on those large horses of yours was much too uncomfortable for my liking."

The two pale skinned boys traded grins at their exchange, Ron who while didn't quite get the humor was aware enough to no longer take offense to the Malfoy scion. Well, in this particular case anyway. Much. Harry honestly didn't think there was a time Ron was not offended by Draco. And that went both ways really.

"Actually," Harry was struck by a sudden realization, vivid green eyes glittered with well hidden mirth, "I thought you guys had your detention yesterday. You know, lines with Mcgonagall?" Suddenly the two other boys looked distinctly uncomfortable.

"Yes," The blonde coughed, "Well, we may have uh," More embarrassed coughing. Harry raised an eyebrow. Well this was going to be interesting. Looking at Ron the freckled child was pointedly looking at the ceiling, face taking more of an embarrassed faint pink hue. Actually Draco had the same coloring. "We may have planned to sneak out of our dorms to commence a wizard's duel."

At seeing the small boy's confusion Draco's embarrassment twisted into a sneer, "You have no idea what that is. Typical." He snorted.

"Well I think I've got the basic idea down." Harry shot back dryly. "I just fail to understand why."

"Well it wasn't like I was actually going to go!" Draco burst out angrily, Ron spluttered. "What?! But you-"

"I lied." The blonde hissed. "It was going to be a magnificent plan, your Gryffindor brashness would've practically compelled you to accept the duel and while you got in trouble wandering the school after hours I would've been in bed playing innocent."

It was admittedly a very good if not incredibly sneaky plan. Would totally work too. Of course there was no way Harry was going to say that out loud in front of Ron. Ron who was doing a startlingly well done job at pretending to skin the Malfoy child with just his eyes. He may be socially inept but he was certainly not an idiot so instead Harry said, "Okay so how come you're both stuck here with me then?"

The two rivals turned to their one mutual friend with faces so sour lemons would cry. "Granger." Was growled and hissed out with equal intensity. Because if there's one thing that bonds two opposing sides any faster was a shared enemy. Now Harry wasn't the biggest fan of the bushy haired girl but he had to mentally wince for the target of whatever consequences that came from both a Malfoy and a Weasley's ire. Dudley and Pierce weren't exactly the sharpest tools in the proverbial shed and Harry had learnt the hard way that there was no barriers young boys will not pass to achieve their petty vengeance.

Ugh he still shuddered when he saw a full wheel of cheese in the shops.

"She was eavesdropping at us like she actually had any business in what we did." Draco sniffed. "Even worse she just barged in and told us off! Like she had any authority."

"Called us selfish she did!" Ron agreed angrily, "Then after what, five minutes?"

"At least a solid ten." The blonde corrected with a wry smirk. "Don't think she stopped for air."

"Yeah, ten minutes, so after ten bloody whole minutes of berating us, calling us childish and pretty much saying how much better she is, Granger went and snitched on us! What a chit!"

"Here here." Draco slapped the freckled boy's shoulder before the pair both froze and recoiled away from each other so fast Harry was wondering if they choreographed the whole interaction. Draco looked at his hand with disgust, wiping it on his ropes with emphasized motions while Ron blew furiously on his shoulder as if the 'Malfoy germs' implanted on his person would float away before they completely attached onto him. And wow that was a strange visual.

"Alright you brats." Filch groused, having apparently left sometime earlier to collect his beloved Mrs Norris and a lamp, "Follow me."

"Of course Argus." Harry answered winningly, Mrs Norris purred. The boys behind him just nodded, at the corner of his eyes the raven haired boy could see Draco mouthing 'Argus?' at Ron who just shrugged, looking just as befuddled as the other. "Do you know what's happening tonight?"

The cantankerous groundskeeper glanced at the youngest Weasley and Malfoy before turning his attentions to his favorite student in Hogwarts. "I ain't completely in the know but Hagrid's the one in charge tonight." He acquiesced. "Though I don't see how that oaf could enforce any proper punishment. You know Potter-"

"Harry." Filch gave a yellow toothed smile at the correction.

"Harry. Well back in my day Harry we would've string these little terrors up by their thumbs." The old squib gave a slightly manic cackle at that as his friends began looking increasingly worried at being such a close distance to the caretaker. If Harry had been 'a real boy' he probably would've been weirded out too, fortunately he was a physical manifestation of death and other associated things with it, so he had found the stories Filch offered fascinating. Why didn't they teach this in Binn's lesson?

"Their thumbs?" He prompted, "Wouldn't the string cut off circulation?" Ron and Draco was now looking at him horrified, like he was just casually discussing torture in front of- huh. Filch shook his head.

"No, no, see we used specially made cuffs. They were made so the only pain was centered in the arms, like being forced to keep a pail of water above their heads but taking away the ability to cheat their punishment."

"Wait, couldn't you have just put a temporary sticking charm on the bucket?"

Filch cocked his head, thoughtful, "Never thought of it like that Harry. Would've made it easier though."

The boy shook his head, "See that's the problem with your magic dependent society, everything is unnecessarily complicated for some reason."

"It is no-"

"Shut it brats!" Filch barked, effectively silencing Draco's protest. "Honestly, kids these days." The man grumbled under his breath. The pale blonde gaped, actually speechless at the blatant favoritism that wasn't aimed at him. Harry, catching on to the disbelief, looked Draco straight in the air and winked. Ron had to stifle his laughter with his fingers as his school rival made a furious choking sound.


 

 

The three boys stared out at dark cold blackness. The wind was biting, the trees in the distance were making the most ominous rustling noises and even the night sky looked like it was about to cry what with the looming clouds masking what was probably a gorgeous smattering of starlight. Then they all craned their heads to stare incredulously at Hagrid who was waiting impatiently for them to step out of the safe, dry, warm castle towards the forest.

"You can't be serious." Draco breathed in horror. "We can't go into the forest, they're all sort of things in there- like werewolves."

"Hagrid you are joking right?" Ron asked with a weak chuckle as he wrapped his clothes closer to his body. Harry cursed himself for not bringing his nice coat, or a scarf, or even just some of those hand jumpers would be nice.

"Nope." The half-giant replied with what honestly was way too much cheer for someone who essentially just told three eleven year olds they'll be spending their nighttime detention in the Forbidden Forest searching for something in the Forbidden Forest that apparently murders unicorns in its free time. In the Forbidden Forest. Did he mention that they were going into a forest? That was for all intents and purposes forbidden?

"Professor Dumbledore told us not to go in there you do realize Hagrid? It was pretty much the first coherent thing he told us about." Harry said very slowly like talking to a particularly slow rock.

"Yea don't worry bout that 'arry." Hagrid laughed, "It's all been cleared by the Headmaster it has."

Because apparently the Forbidden Forest was not forbidden and dangerous enough to warrant wondering around at night for punishment. And to think Harry had respected that old man's ruling and restrained himself from exploring the dense forestation temptation. Maybe Headmaster Dumbledore did have a few apples loose from the fruit basket. Eleven year olds being sent to the Forbidden Forest. At night.

Forget apples, that man has lost the whole goddamn basket. Theoretically fruit has just spilt everywhere.

"My father will hear of this," Draco muttered, Harry and Ron couldn't help but roll their eyes at what was practically the pale blonde's catchphrase, even if they did kind of agree with the sentiment this time round. But seriously, the Malfoy head of the family certainly seems to hear a lot of things, Harry half wondered if Draco actually goes through with those threats half the time he says them because Draco kind of complains. A lot. Though to be fair Harry did get quite the nicely written letter from the man a few weeks in to the term, politely thanking him for being Draco's friend in none too many words. It was definitely a little cold but Harry does appreciate the good manners the words were wrapped in.

Unfortunately not even a mumbled threat about the Malfoy Head was going to stop what was going to be a horrible detention.

Absently Harry noted that Hagrid was carrying this huge crossbow and a quiver of arrows. And that did not make him feel safe about this activity at all. Also a large black dog that had been at the half-giant's ankle was practically latching onto his hip.

"Right then," said Hagrid, "now, listen carefully, 'cause it's dangerous what we're gonna do tonight, an' I don' want no one takin' risks." Like going into a forest at night. "Follow me over here a moment." The man led them to the very edge of the forest. Holding his lamp up high, he pointed down a narrow, winding earth track that disappeared into the thick black trees. Because that wasn't ominous at all.

"Look there," the lantern was pointedly lighting a few spatters of some shimmery grey blue liquid, "see that stuff shinin' on the ground? The silvery stuff? That's unicorn blood. There's a unicorn in there bin hurt badly by summat. This is the second time in a week. I found one dead last Wednesday. We're gonna try an' find the poor thing. We might have ter put it out of its misery."

"And what if whatever hurt the unicorn finds us first?" said Malfoy, unable to keep the fear out of his voice. Good. That is the acceptable reaction to this incredibly harsh punishment.

"There's nothin' that lives in the forest that'll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang," said Hagrid in what was probably supposed to be a reassuring manner. Ron and Draco seemed a bit calmer after that but they were eleven. What did they know? So maybe nothing had lived in the forest that isn't wary of the half giant and Fang the dog before, nothing had been killing the unicorns before either. But there was certainly something now. "An' keep ter the path. Right, now, we're gonna split inter two parties an' follow the trail in diff'rent directions." What. "There's blood all over the place, it must've bin staggerin' around since last night at least." Oh dear god. This was almost exactly like one of those movies Dudley smuggled to watch. There was no happy ending.

"I want Fang," Draco immediately spoke, looking at Fang's long teeth. Ron who had also been eyeing up the dog's claws glared at the blonde.

"All right, but I warn yeh, he's a coward," And just like that the redheaded boy's glare turned triumphant as Draco paled.

"I'll go with Draco," Harry volunteered. "That will make the teams more fair at least." The blonde looked relieved, even Fang looked much less like he was going to urinate himself. If anything the dog pressed closer to his leg, the big black beast looking up at him with adoration as he- oh Hell he hated when animals try to proposition him like that. And the other entities wondered why he barely bothered to get out of his comfort dimension without their prompting. Well it was mainly because he was a recluse with slight anti-social tendencies and hellish workloads. But the unwanted attentions of more sensitive mortal creatures (he's been lusted over from sphinxes to hamsters and even been asked out by some very prominent figures in mythology) can be a bit trying after a while. Extremely flattering don't get him wrong, Death has been around since near forever and it still genuinely surprises him how these strange, living, beautiful beings have wished for him as a viable mate.

"Oi, Fang!" Hagrid admonished, looking quite embarrassed for the dog that was not so subtly doing... things to Harry's leg. "I'm so sorry 'bout that 'arry, he's never done that before."

The green eyed boy shrugged and waved it off even though he was quite uncomfortable at the public display, "Don't worry Hagrid, I seem to have an.. Affinity with things like this for some reason."

Hagrid coughed, "Yes, well, I'll definitely have er word with him later. For now I'll set off around west of 'ere and you'll all can go east."

Harry nodded in agreement, to the direction not the plan. Draco still eyeing the dog dubiously (even more so after that inappropriate display of affection) and angrily, like it was somehow Fang's fault that he had chosen wrong, followed suit albeit much stiffer.

"Well a'right then!" Hagrid announced and really should anybody be that energetic about this? Ron and Draco at least shared his thoughts, though if Harry could read their minds (which he couldn't, though he can get impressions of emotions if he bothered to focus hard enough) it'll probably be something like, "Holy shit I'm going to die." Or something equally as dramatic. Though the raven haired child guessed it wouldn't be that dramatic considering their was a very good chance of death.

And with that optimistic thought he headed into the forest.


 

 

"You know what bothers me?" Harry announced as they wandered through the dense foliage and forged through under the eerie night darkness.

"You mean other than us being protected by some cowardly mutt? Or do you mean the life choices we've made that somehow lead us to this miserable moment?" Draco grumbled. Harry ignored him.

"Why is there a giant squid in the lake?"

"What." The blonde aristocrat deadpanned.

"Like, it's not a magical creature," Harry continued, "it's not even some sort of normal squid with magical properties. It's just a larger than normal squid in what is supposed to be a very magical lake and no one seems to be questioning it at all. I mean what its wrong with you mort-guys?"

"I should be asking you that Potter. Really, how on earth do you always think up the weir-did you hear that?"

Both children paused mid-step. Fang whimpered and moved so close to Harry the raven haired boy thought the dog may just get absorbed into him through sheer force of will alone. In a gesture that silently ordered the Malfoy scion to move behind him, Harry silently moved closer to the just audible noises of.. slurping. Urgh. That is disgusting, he's pretty sure in this universe vampires are supposed to have more tact than that. Vampires also don't drink unicorn blood in any universe he knows of either so maybe the creature they are looking for is some sort of chupacabra creature instead? He hopes not, those things were literally so last century.

Shifting silently Harry edges closer to the source of the noise, with his much better eyesight and the faint appearance of the moon, the boy could see the unicorn whose blood they've been tracking. It was a horrible sight as it was in the throes of dying whilst the creature, no, a human, the thing they were looking for was human, drank from the mystical horse's arteries. The poor creature was thrashing weakly, even from this angle the unicorn still held onto its beauty, long slender legs bent at disturbing obviously broken angles, it's moonlit body, bright and shining mane and that silver blue blood all too visible on the dark green forest floor. Harry wished he had a photograph of this scene, and yes it's a completely inappropriate thought even he recognized that but there isn't many things in the world that could have such a beautiful, hauntingly gorgeous death like a unicorn. So excuse him for being reminded that he had nice things. Okay so maybe nice isn't the word to describe it, but hey, Death's not exactly nice either.

The unicorn murderer man, and really there needs to be a better name to call him, must have heard something- did Draco make a sound? He might have made some sort aborted shriek because any noise Fang made could easily have been dismissed as background noises in this place- because he had gotten onto his feet and started moving swiftly toward him. Then, a pain like Harry had never felt in such intensity before, pierced his head; burning like his forehead had been set on fire, his scar getting the brunt of the startling sensation. Half blinded, Harry staggered backward, shocked, confused and in pain.

For a split second the power, the darkness, the sheer nothingness that came so natural to him sprang forth from where it had previously been so well restrained, buzzing under the skin of his palm and scratching under the nails of his fingers eager to be unleashed. It would be so easy to let it go, let himself go, take out the danger, drag it down into his world, feel the warm pulse of soul in his hands and savour it in his mouth. He could feel the stark blackness urging to be used, creeping into the whites of his eyes and tainting the red blood in his human veins. A part of him, the more logical, practical, objective part of him was rather thankful the nighttime surroundings were masking what was obviously some very inhuman traits being exposed on his human body.

For a split second every single living being in England shivered, an unexplainable cold sensation brushing lightly against the hairs on the back of their spine. Some would say it felt like death was breathing down their necks.

Those would never realise just how close they were to the truth.

One split second.

And then Harry was back. Green eyed, red blooded, physically human Harry. He didn't know if he was relieved about managing in controlling himself or feeling strangely strangled in his own body. His forehead still burned.

He could hear Draco inhale a deep shuddery breath beside, probably feeling something a bit harsher than a brush of cold air. Harry may not have much experience but the feeling at such close proximity may or may not be something similar to having shards of oily ice stuffed down forcefully into one's lungs. The dark cloaked man that had been slurping unicorn blood must have felt it to because he seemed to be doing some serious full body twitching, like his body was desperately trying to tear themselves into two but failing. He was muttering and hissing and occasionally shouting things too, maybe the person was a mad man? Made sense considering he was drinking blood from an unwilling and dying unicorn.

The raven haired boy's wandering thoughts focused on the small whimper that had escaped from the child next to him. Draco was white and shaken and frankly looked simply horrible. 'Oh,' Harry thought, 'Oh dear.' But he said instead, in a low, soft but solid voice, "Draco. I want you to go run back a few meters and then I want you to fire up the warning sparks from your wand. Can you do this for me?"

The words seem to shake Draco from his frozen horror, to tear his eyes away from the contorting madman and the bloody unicorn in the forest of the forbidden. For an eleven year old child this scene must be rather traumatizing, especially with the accidental exposure to Harry himself when he momentarily leaked his true self out, Harry would have to be more careful from now on not to inadvertently break these children.

The Malfoy scion turned out surprisingly resilient much to his surprise and pleasure. With only some hesitation at leaving Harry behind the blonde knew that it was the safest choice. Harry hadn't exactly hid that he was the more magically adept out of the two, so with a determined nod Draco ran toward the direction of Hagrid and Ron.

Not a few moments later Harry saw the faint glow of red sparks and the boy quirked up his lips. Good mortal child.

Unfortunately the unicorn vampire (nope, still a terrible title) must have noticed it too as he began pulling out his own wand, raising it up, raising it toward- suddenly there were hooves behind him, galloping, and something jumped clean over Harry, charging at the figure.

The unusual pain centred around his scar was merciless enough that it made Harry's knees go embarrassingly weak. His only consolation was that at least he was still standing upright so he had a near perfect, if not a tad blurry, view to see who had rescued his person. He didn't need saving, like not at all really, even without using his own powers the magic he had been gifted was strong enough to rule America single-handedly if he so wished. But it was a very nice gesture nonetheless. And the boy isn't sure in all his time he's really experienced a gallant rescue before so this detention was actually turning out better than expected.

The man who had managed to cause such inexplicably real pain, pain that the Vernon lump could never really achieve because Harry wasn't Harry, but someone wearing the meat suit of Harry and the beatings, the bruises, the sensations of injury should be dulled, should not truly hurt, not like that, had vanished. In his place was a centaur standing over him with an intense gaze of scrutiny and wonder. His hair was pale as Draco's and wildly untamed, his facial hair in contrast was surprisingly well-groomed, for woodland creature standards Harry supposed. Even with the inhuman slant of the face and the obviously inhuman aspects of his lower body, the boy could not stop his eerie glowing eyes from looking appreciatively at the strong figure of the centaur. Harry was an eleven year old human boy in body and incarnation of death in soul but he wasn't blind. The whole 'saving' thing helped to. That was nice.

Sure he isn't much to act on any impulse attractions like some of his brothers and sisters, and it's been at least a century and a half since he even got anything remotely close to a date with something (blind date with a Valkyrie, don't ask) much less a relationship and don't even get him started on anything more intimate than a few heated kisses. Damn Chaos for spreading that rumor about certain organs.. Shriveling, if they entered any part of his-

"Are you alright Lord Pluto?"

Harry blinked, the centaur watched him with eyes that were astonishingly blue and filled with worry and respect and admiration. Giving a slight smile in reassurance he straightened his previously half-crumpled posture. "Yes, I thank you for your kindness-?"

The centaur didn't answer immediately, but when he did it was like snapping out of some sort of daze, centaurs weren't known much for blushing, stoic mysterious image and all that, but this one was doing so furiously. Harry thought it was very endearing. "Firenze, Lord Pluto." He replied in an embarrassed rush, "My name is Firenze."

"Call me Harry then, Firenze." Blue eyes zoomed onto the scar imprinted on his forehead, widening as he realized just exactly what identity he had taken on.

"You are the Potter boy, but how?"

Harry shrugged, "Call it a whim, my friend and rescuer." Firenze went pink at the titles bestowed on him, yeah it was probably the titles, the boy hadn't really brushed up on centaur etiquette recently but it was probably that.

"I do not deserve such praise from a being such as yourself my Lord Pluto." Firenze murmured, his head bowed respectfully. "If anything I should apologise for getting in your way."

The young child shook his head and stifled a sigh of annoyance. Placing a small hand on the shoulder blades of the centaur he spoke cordially, "Be that as it may, you have gallantly stepped in to help and have warded off my attacker who had managed to inflict pain onto my person. For that I am grateful my strong rescuer."

Firenze made a throaty guttural snort that showed his pleasure at the words despite his reserved demeanor, pressing upward into the cold hand of the child, he answered, "I am honoured Lord Pluto."

"I'm going to just request you call me Harry at least in front of the human mortals."

"Of course milord." They stayed like that for a few heartbeats, Harry's hand on the kneeling centaur's shoulder as they looked into each other's eyes, it was all very intimate. Very pleasant. The raven haired boy suddenly cursed mortal growth rate. He could always age himself of course, even change his physical body's species if he wished (though it would admittedly take some time and effort) but it would kind of go against the whole 'let Harry Potter grow up' thing that he had promised Fate. Still, everything went so slow and he's suddenly struck by exactly how long he's kissed something technically alive. Not that he would say no to an undead if he was charmed enough. Dullahan after all always have the most flattering courtings. And vampires come a close second what with their aristocratic natures- though those have been slipping quite a bit in these modern worlds. Something called 'Twi-nights' or something ruining them which was such a pity really.

Then out of nowhere Firenze started fidgeting, with a cough to hide his awkwardness the half-human stood back up and with an offered hand asked with a nervous anticipation, "Lord Pluto, would you do the honours and allow yourself to ride me?"

Almost as soon as the centaur's request left his lips Harry's eyebrows shot up, his pale skin pinking at the obvious innuendo. Apparently today was the day for bold propositioning then. "Excuse me?"

Firenze was just kind of gaping in this absolutely horrified way, obviously mortified at what he just said. Harry felt it would probably traumatise the poor man if he laughed at the expression of his face, in his face.

"I-I-I didn't mean it like that! Forgive me Lord Pluto I simply meant that your feet must be tired from your venture in the woods, not that I'm belittling your physical body, you have a very beautiful youthful body that I have found admiring despite myself, no, apologies, that's not what I mean, your power sings to my very soul and seems to draw me toward your presence. Of course it isn't just that either, I wasn't implying I only like you for your power milord, not that I like you, I mean, of course I do, respect, yes, I respect you…" The centaur stammered off, visibly embarrassed at himself. The young boy could understand, he could feel some second-hand embarrassment himself, it must be so much worse since centaurs were usually like to see themselves as such mysterious creatures.

With a soft giggle, he tilted his head, letting his eyes glow a bit brighter than humanly possible and patted the centaur's flank gently. "I would be more than pleased to ride you my young Firenze." The half man brightened at that, not wasting anytime to kneel elegantly down at the child's feet. As Harry pulled himself onto the horse-like body he couldn't stop himself from purring into the centaur's ear, "And once my mortal body grows older I wouldn't mind pursuing a bond that could possibly end up with me riding in another way as well."

Firenze made an uncouth spluttering whinny at that, and while he couldn't see his face at this angle, Harry could most certainly see how red the tips of the creature's ears were.

Suddenly sounds of galloping and the crunching of leaves under hoof was coming from the other side of the clearing. Two unfamiliar centaurs came bursting through the trees, heaving and sweaty.

"Firenze!" The black-haired, black bodied and rugged one of the two thundered as he saw his fellow centaur and child. "What are you doing? You have a human on your back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mu- oof!" The pair of galloping half man-half horses grunted as they collided with an unfortunate tree, apparently mid-way through the rant they had realised who exactly was on Firenze's back.

"L-lord Pluto?!" The red headed horse man with a chestnut coloured body exclaimed in a suspiciously shriek-y tone. "Mars did not foretell such an appearance as immense as this."

"Yes, well," Harry replied dryly, "My presence did hinder Fate's plan I admit but I'm sure the stars will quickly realign and adjust soon enough to fit me in their plans."

"Bane, Ronan." Firenze said lowly, clearly unhappy for some reason, "You should do well to introduce yourselves to Lord Pluto."

"Harry Potter, please."

"My name is Bane, milord." Introduced the dark haired warrior-like centaur with a low bow, clearly chastised in the presence of the incarnation of death.

"And I, Ronan." added the auburn haired one, with an equally low bow.

"Bane." Harry greeted with a nod, then turned to Ronan to do the same thing. "Ronan."

Both centaurs dropped their head down, abashed at being so directly talked to by such a powerful entity. Harry distantly mused what would've happened if Fate herself came down to greet the fortune-telling creatures. They would probably have wet themselves. Firenze would have a babbling seizure. Fate, Death, Life and maybe even Knowledge and Magic would be the entities that species like the centaurs would be the most sensitive to, and the most revered after all. If some entity else like Space for example strolled passed them they would naturally acknowledge the power emanating from the man but there was no such natural affinity they would recognize, or at least nothing as intense as what they would feel for the others.

"May I ask why you have graced this earth with your presence Lord Pluto?" Bane murmured with undisguised awe. Ronan and Firenze shot their fellow herd member a dirty look, how dare he question such an otherworldly being of their actions? It may be one thing to willingly wish to mingle with the humans like Firenze does but it was a whole different story to question something that they have worshiped and have long since considered inevitable, untouchable characters of pure power. The dark haired male had realized this too going by the way of his paling face. "F-forgive me, I didn't mean-"

Harry put up his hand, effectively silencing Bane's stutters, "I am not here to demand respect from the loyal hoofed followers of Fate. You may wish to question my presence and speak casually to me if you like."

The centaur nodded relieved at the reprieve but like the other two, was sharing an expression of conflicting emotions about being allowed such merits with the entity now boy. Honestly, Harry enjoyed displays of proper decorum but it does get awfully frustrating sometimes how formal individuals can be. It's probably why humans have gained so much more favor and interest by the gods and higher brings compared to other species. They were so.. delightfully refreshing.

Like the snarky interaction he had, had with Professor Snape. Flyting, was what the Norse called it, he thinks.

"Anyway, I am here to live out this mortal life of Harry James Potter. Merely a simple reprieve from my usual duties." More like an accidental but not unpleasant escape.

Again all eyes were on his scar. And really, if this fixation for such a rather uninteresting pattern of marred skin continues like this Harry was going to develop some sort of serious complex about it. He didn't know if he should cover it up with his hair or slick his hair like Draco, leaving the scar for the world to see and hopefully desensitising their creepy obsession with it. Actually that sounded like a good idea. Except he would look way too similar to Draco for his liking, and probably the rest of the school's.

"What of the prophecy then Lord?" Ronan asked mildly. Harry looked confused.

"Prophecy? What prophecy- no, wait, I know how this works." The boy rubbed his thumbs in little circles into his temple, "I shouldn't try and mess around with Fate's already woven story as much as I already have, in fact-" He snapped his fingers twice, "There, last minute, gone, what were we talking about?"

The three centaurs glanced at each other before looking back at their Lord of Death. Firenze having a slightly harder time considering said Lord was riding on top of him, a place that made him puff up with pride, wait till the others of the herd hear about this. Bane and Ronan had somehow positioned themselves to cover each of his flanks as they trotted amiably toward the edges of the forest grounds.

"Lord Pluto, I'm sure you know what unicorn blood is for?"

Harry pulled a face, "Yes, it's honestly quite offending to what I stand for. Literally." His child like porcelain face soured further, "Only a foolish mortal with nothing to lose, and everything to gain, would commit such a cruel crime. Drinking the blood of an unwilling unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death. But by slaying something considered the epitome of pure and defencelessness to selfishly save yourself, they would only deserve a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches their godforsaken lips."

The boy stared at the back of Firenze's head, shining with streaks of silver in the moonlight with unnerving focus. "But who'd be that desperate?" he wondered aloud. "If you're going to be cursed forever, my way is better, isn't it?" And if maybe he sounded a little hurt and a teensy bit genuinely distressed at the thought, well, no one dared to comment. Though a part of their very souls almost clenched at the sound. If souls could do that of course.

"It is," Firenze agreed solemnly and was rewarded by a gentle but firm caresses down his spine. The centaur grunted at the pleasure. His companions merely glared. "But my Lord, are you aware of what is hidden in this school at this very moment?"

"No but you've certainly peaked my interest now." Harry murmured thoughtfully. Certainly he recalled a few suspicious behaviours from the staff but he didn't really pay much to mind. Well until now anyway. "Something to do with this man's wish for extended life is a good presumption obviously. Something that could bring him back to both full strength and power. Maybe cancelling out the curse of unicorn's blood by- oh."

"The Philosopher's Stone." Bane announced gravely. "And the man who would vie for such an artefact would be none other than-"

"Harry! Harry! Are you alright?"

Draco and Ron were running towards them down the path. Hagrid closely following along just behind.

The raven haired child shot the centaurs an apologetic look before focusing back on his more human friends. "I am fine," He answered, "Hagrid there's a dead unicorn back in the clearing over there."

The half-giant quickly hurried toward the direction Harry pointed at with a worried nod.

"This is where we leave you," Firenze murmured reluctantly, "I wish we would have met under better circumstance."

The little Lord Pluto slid off the centaur's back gracefully, tugging Firenze's face close to him before giving a chaste peck on his scratchy cheek. "If I find the time I wouldn't mind meeting the rest of your village." He offered kindly, like he didn't just turn a full grown centaur red with embarrassment.

Bane and Ronan seemed unhappy with this exchange but nonetheless bowed slightly as their eyes met glowing green. "Good luck Harry James Potter." Bane intoned seriously. Ronan adding, "We will be honoured should you wish to visit our village at any time."

The two then turned and cantered back into the dense woodlands, Firenze had a visible skip in his gallop as he followed. After watching them go Harry turned back to face Ron and Draco. Both boys looking pale, tired, dirty and half afraid. Not that Harry could really blame them, even objectively tonight was a very traumatising experience. So as pleasantly as he could he gave each boy an one armed hug and laughed softly.

"Well I don't know about you guys but this night actually turned out quite lovely. Shall we head back to the castle?"

"Insane." Draco repeated, "You are insane." Ron nodded in agreement but at least the two were smiling as well now. Harry sighed.

Children. He doesn't think he would ever understand them.

Chapter Text

The one where Death does some more magic, plays with himself and then meets a troll.

Today was the day when Professor Flitwick was going to finally allow them to try the levitation spell. Everyone sans one certain boy was right excited about it. Most of the lessons so far consisted of more theory than anything, so the energy vibrating off the new wizards and witches were understandable. Still. Harry almost wanted to scream at the slow pace they were going if it wasn't so unbecoming of his person.

Levitation? Really? Ugh, how.. Minimal.

Zacharias true to his idiotic idiot form was blabbing on about how he'll probably ace this simple task perfectly. Well, he may have simplified what the blonde had said, but to be fair Smith made it sound like he was the next Merlin or something. If Merlin's story contained eighteen epic chapters filled with prose and exaggerated poetry, and fourteen of said chapters would be solely about the author's heritage and appearance. Because in this scenario the story would be an autobiography. Because Zacharias was a douche.

"Potter! I challenge you to see who can accomplish a better levitation charm!" Harry rolled his eyes. Really, people keep saying Draco is the mouthy one but clearly his friends from the other half of the school have not had the pleasure of being acquainted with the resident little shit of Hufflepuff. Unfortunately his patience of this acquaintanceship was starting to wear thin. Harry after all doesn't and never has appreciated rudeness. With the exception of his vessel's relatives and maybe Snape, he's never really been treated with such blatant boorish disrespectful impertinence as well. And this misguided child to top it all off actually believes he's somehow better than him all because of some diluted blood he probably shared with a Founder?

Hahaha- Unacceptable.

"I accept Smith if it'll get you to shut up for once." He snapped irritably, Smith reared his head back in shock and more than a few of his friends and fellow peers gaped. It wasn't exactly a secret Harry disliked the blonde between the two Houses but it was usually treated with a cool disdain that would've made the Slytherins proud. This was probably the first time the young wizarding celebrity had ever outright showed any hostility and aggression to Smith. To anyone really. Harry liked Filtch for wizarding god's sakes.

Good. Zacharias really needed to have 'his pegs taken down' as they say. Now Harry really didn't fully understand where he should take these metaphorical pegs that presumably represent a person's hubris but if this boastful boy kept pushing him like this he knew very well where he could shove it up.

"Fine." Smith spat, "Maybe me showing you your place will get you off your high and mighty horse."

Harry glared, "I do not understand how that is an insult. Having a fine stead is a very valued trait in any household."

"The height of the horse symbolises arrogance because you're looking down on them." Terry whispered helpfully, he was one of the Ravenclaw's he was closer too who had realised Harry's poor grasp with modern slang and metaphors of the English language. Truth be told Harry did know this term but it was worth acting stupid to see that furious look on Smith's face.

The shorter raven-haired child gave a soft 'ah' of understanding before focusing his attention back to a sneering Smith. "Well your horse is practically Trojan compared to mine." Then his head turned slightly toward Terry's direction and murmured, "Was that an adequate enough rebuttal?" Boot gave two thumbs up, which is supposed to show support but for some reason Harry had a sneaking suspicion that the action was sarcastic in nature.

"What does that even mean?" Smith scowled and Harry just gave him a look of complete derision, an expression closely replicated by the other Ravenclaws, especially the ones with muggle backgrounds. Uncultured swine.

Before he could open his mouth to voice that particular insult Professor Flitwick stride in and it was time for classes to start.


 

 

"Wingardium leviosa!"

"Woah you got it on the third try Smith, that's so amazing!" One of Zacharias cronies and partner for the exercise gushed much to the blonde's smug delight and at least three quarters of the class' vexation. "Well I'm personally not surprised," Smith chuffed before turning to Harry with a smirk, "Beat that Potter."

"Now, now this isn't meant to be a contest kids," The part goblin professor chided cheerily, "But that was very well done Mr Smith!" Flitwick then looked expectedly toward his green eyed student as well, it seemed despite his words the short statured man was very curious to see how the famed first year will handle this charm. And if for some unfathomable reason he found himself personally quite taken to the bright, quiet Harry Potter as a student, well, no one needed to know really.

Of course that soft squeak of inexplicable glee and happiness and ohmygodtheresjustsomethingaboutthisboythatmakeshimwanttobowdownandsweareverythingtohim when the moment bright, vividly green eyes met his own was maybe a little telling though. Luckily most of the children were more focussed on Harry like him, instead of another slip up of the charms professor- really, it was bad enough he squealed so hard he fell off his stack of books the first time he did roll call. And it was strangely enough, nothing to do with the child's name.

"Do I have to do this spell with a wand professor?"

Flitwick blinked at the question, a little thrown off by it admittedly. "Mr Potter I think for your first time maybe you should use your wand. Swish and flick if you will. Swish and flick." The boy nodded, looking at his jet black wand a little unsure and the short man just wanted to take his words back for the mere justification of seeing Potter content again.

In fact he was just about to do that when the young enigmatic wizard lifted his wand with precise swishing and flicking gestures as he intoned, "Wingardium leviosa."

And the feather shot up in the air so fast and suddenly it cracked the ceiling. The magically strengthened ceiling.

There was just stunned silence and maybe the faint noise of dust from above falling onto an embarrassed green eyed boy. "Uh, sorry for your classroom professor." Potter apologised sheepishly, "My control in the strength of my stuff isn't very good, especially with my wand."

This time, Flitwick didn't even try stop the squeal.


 

Hogwarts was not pleased by the broken ceiling.

She apparently had decided to show said displeasure by making the armoured knights decorating the halls gesture various unflattering things at the raven haired physical embodiment of death every single time he passed them. And considering Hogwarts has been a school for centuries, the level of outright offensiveness that can be interpreted from the hand gestures alone was downright obscene at the best of times. Even Harry, with his stunted knowledge of most things involving social civility balked slightly at some of the more 'upfront' hand actions.

This lasted for a whole week and for the life of the rest of the school they could not figure out how it was done. The Weasley twins thought it was hilarious though. They ended up getting the blame. Harry would feel more guilty about that if they hadn't made it a habit to follow him around the past few days just so they could learn new obscenities without even using words. They didn't even try to help him, they just laughed and laughed. Serves them right it does.


 

"-so concluding this meeting does anyone have anything notable to say about our new batch of students for this year?" Dumbledore asked, smiling genially at his fellow professors.

"This years firsties have some upstanding students, Miss Granger has shown a marvellous enthusiasm for her school work for one." McGonagall began. The charms professor giggled,

"Yes, yes, Miss Hermione Granger has shown a healthy interest in her work but I think I can speak for all that there's another student we are all excited to speak of."

Dumbledore's blue eyes shined with blatant interest. "Oh? Pray tell Filius, who is this star student you seem to think we all wish to gossip of?"

The short man clapped his hands, practically vibrating, "Why mister Harry Potter of course!"

Professor Sprout blurted out a "Finally!" Before immediately covering her hands over her mouth in a blush.

The potions professor didn't even scowl at the word 'Potter' which really told how eager he was to discuss the child.

McGonagall coughed but even that didn't mask the slight upturned edges of her mouth, "Yes, well, Mister Potter has shown to be an exemplary student in my classes. Outstanding actually. Far ahead of any of the first years, any of the third years actually." She admitted. "I've been giving him extra tasks to measure his talent in transfiguration and so far he's not failed to complete one once. Not counting the one time he misunderstood my instructions." The usually stern looking woman idly touched a delicate heart shaped brooch pinned onto her robes, it was silvery and obviously hollow as a luminous pale pink liquid sloshed inside it. "He also has shown immense skill in jewelry making and buttering up to Transfiguration professors." She remarked with dry humor coloring and warming her voice.

The teachers all chuckled at the joke and then it was Professor Flitwick's turn to stand up, "Mister Potter has also shown incredible aptitude in Charms, he might not ask as many questions as Miss Granger during class but he's one of the few I've met that has actually requested to be allowed to be taught more spells. Spells which he has demonstrated an amazing ease in mimicking. Not only that he prefers doing his practical work wandless!"

A murmuring of agreement and surprise sprang forth from the various adults, agreement from professor's such as McGonagall who've actually uses wand based exercises constantly, and surprise from people like Snape, Sinistra and Pomphrey who's subjects haven't really required much use for the wand. "Wandless you say?"

"How is that possible?"

"Explain Filius."

Filius looked very gleeful in complying with the last order, "Mister Potter has suggested using something that focuses his already large amount of magic into a more concentrated point like how wands are supposed to results in him inadvertently overpowering even the simplest of spells. Why, just the other day you must have heard of the results of him trying out the levitation charm?"

"That was him?" Dumbledore questioned in fascination. "He's the student who accidentally broke the ceiling?"

"With a feather!" Flitwick repeated, his whole body lighting up at the memory. "I've never seen such raw pure use of magical strength in my life!"

The transfiguration professor nodded in agreement, "Yes, I've noticed Mr Potter's done his best work without use of his wand. He claims it's already hard enough time adjusting to transfigure delicate stuff with his magic without an amplifier to hinder him." Her fingers fiddled with a golden bracelet of two lions chasing each other.

"Just how many accessories have you told the poor child to make Minevra?" Professor Sprout chided playfully, earning a faint flush on the other woman's cheeks. The astronomy teacher snorted, "And here I was, like a fool, searching high and low for this mysterious trinket shop."

"Is that what you were doing wandering about at Hogsmeade yesterday Professor?"

Professor Sinistra scowled. "No." She replied sulkily. "But Minevra was being purposely obtuse on where she purchased those wonderful earrings that changed into different constellations she wore on Monday."

"I liked that beautiful glass bouquet you have decorated in your office." Admitted Professor Sprout.

"The floating crystal of seasonal colors is my personal favorite." Added Trelawney wistfully, apparently not one to not add in her opinion.

"Well back to the subject at hand?" Professor Snape interjected with a tone that did not bode any sort of variation of humor. "Mr Potter has," the black clad man paused for dramatic effect, "been adequately doing sufficiently in my classes."

Somehow that garnered more surprised mutterings from the rest of the adults in the meeting than any other comment or praise spoken toward Harry Potter. Snape scowled, fully aware of the reason behind the reaction and was duly offended by it. "Is there a problem?" He was met with answers of varying negativity. All of which came from complete liars. If Snape was aware of this he had made no show of it.

"Word from the Hogwarts rumor mill though Severus, is that Harry's quite the fan of yours." Sinistra said casually as she inspected her nails. McGonagall raised a bemused eyebrow at the stone faced potions master.

"Me and Mr Potter have reached an.. Understanding. Of sorts." Snape said carefully.

"Severus, my boy!" Dumbledore beamed which in turn made the dour faced professor sour further. "I didn't know you have made friends with young Harry. I am incredibly proud for you."

"As am I Severus." The transfiguration professor intoned with only the faintest shadow of a smirk in her eyes. "Though I am curious to how that came to be."

Snape merely made a noncommittal unhappy noise in response. There was no way he was going to confess that the young Potter scion had been the bigger man, had been the one to insist on allowing Severus to satisfy his vindications without even asking what said vindications were and ultimately resulting in the child almost being attacked in the Forbidden forest at night. There was also no way that he could stubbornly maintain his admittedly superimposed hatred over the boy after all that. He may be a bit of an unreasonable bastard but not to the extent of complete irrationality despite what many may think.

"Well unfortunately while Mr Potter has shown some beautiful manners and a presented himself as a very good team player, there isn't much to say about his talent in a greenhouse." Professor Sprout divulged, "Actually he has a bit of a tendency to, uh, completely kill off most of his plants for some reason. Not that he did anything wrong, in fact he seemed quite upset when it happens, it's almost like his presence just invites the flowers to keel over and die."

"That's.. An interesting image." Sinistra replied, "Potter's also quite polite in my classes but seems to be very unenthusiastic about the whole subject."

"You mean he refuses to learn?" McGonagall asked, trying hard to visualize the interested green-eyed student she taught with an attitude like Goyle's. Or maybe even the youngest Weasley.

The dark skinned woman shook her head, "Oh no, apparently he seems to already know most of the basis for the First year curriculum. He can name all the stars and constellations as well as the context of them without even flipping through the textbook. I asked him how he could know so much but he just kind of murmured something about space and order and drifted off to sleep."

"Sounds to me like our Harry Potter doesn't do well with late nighters." Dumbledore chuckled, the majority of the staff following his lead. "I guess even the brightest children have their weaknesses then."

"I-I-I think its q-quite cute." Professor Quirrel stammered timidly, before wincing like he was in incredible pain for a second. "O-o-or n-not."

The teachers ignored him.

"Okay, then. Anything else to comment?"

"The boy is a spitfire on the Quidditch pitch Headmaster, if he doesn't join a House team I will cry right here and now." Madam Hooch suddenly declared, immediately garnering all the Head of Houses attention.

"Dibs!" McGonagall screeched very uncharacteristically, a competitive fire lighting up in her eyes. Snape sputtered.

"Minerva, you can't, that's not, you can't just call dibs on a student!"

Flitwick nodded serenely, "Exactly, Potter's still a first year, it's not like he can play this year despite whatever talent he holds in the air."

"Actually," Sprout started, "He's not allowed to bring a broom to school, if someone just supplied one to him he would be technically allowed to play."

"Also his style is most suited to the role of a seeker." Hooch chimed in, knowing full well how valued a position that was. There was a pause in the conversation as the four teachers digested that before,

"Dibs!" Flitwick screamed. And then the protests started all over again though now much louder and with language much more colourful.


 

"Good afternoon Professor Snape." Harry greeted as he tapped gently at the entrance of the teacher's classroom. The potions master looked up with a blank expression from whatever work he was grading.

"Potter. How unexpected to see you here." The younger of the two smiled amiably, rustling a couple of parchments in his hand.

"I've got some homework I need to finish and I thought you wouldn't mind some company." He explained easily. Snape looked less than impressed.

"Why would you assume I need the company?"

Harry shrugged. "I didn't. But I wanted company that wouldn't distract me with babble because I may have hypothetically forgotten a four foot Transfiguration essay on the basic theory of space displacement that is possibly due the day after I realized." The boy widened his eyes innocently and rustled his parchment a bit louder as if it would somehow further his point. It must have helped somewhat as Snape's lips curled ever so slightly upwards in a way that was mocking but at the same time not unpleasant. They weren't friends like Harry had hoped but there was a tentative banter and amiability that was enjoyable nonetheless.

"Minevra would weep if she heard you forgot her homework." The older male murmured wryly, taking that as the cue to enter the classroom, Harry happily made his way to the front row seat directly across the potions professor's desk.

"Oh?" Harry began rearranging his writing equipment to his satisfaction, two quills on the right of his parchment, ink on his left and textbook floating slightly below eye level on the side with the best light. "I didn't think Professor McGonagall thought so highly of me."

A scoffing noise was heard at the teacher's desk, "Please, even you cannot be so obtuse to see how much the woman adores you, she's been showing off your so-called 'extra assignments' to anyone who's unfortunate enough to notice. The only one who could possibly be more enthusiastic about you would be Professor Flitwick."

The green eyed child could feel his face heat at the indirect praise, "The extra assignments Professor McGonagall gives me is actually entertaining and requires thought and effort." He deflected feebly.

"Because essay writing needs no use of higher brain function whatsoever." Snape deadpanned as he continued his own work, and rudely ignoring the sour expression Harry was pointedly giving him.

"You know exactly what I mean sir." He muttered as he too began his own work. The conversation dwindled by then, the room filled with just the scritch and scratches of quills against paper. Most students in the school would probably think that such a situation awkward and frankly one of their biggest nightmares, but Harry had found the whole thing rather soothing. It reminded him of working in his office really, though less lonely. Which actually sounds rather sad putting that in words.

It takes a solid two hours before he's almost done with his essay. There's still the conclusion to do but no one honestly cares about that. Harry sighs and leans back on his seat dramatically and reviewed his work in a way that only people who cares about not failing but is also aware that he's half-arsed his work and is probably not willing to put in any extra effort in editing said work can do.

His handwriting is jagged, stern, more like hieroglyphics than actual English but it's readable and consistently neat at the very least so Harry decides to count that as a win. His writing stamina has increased an unnecessary amount from the school experience, though considering the most he's had to really write while he was an all power entity of death was just a signature and a few sentences of criticism or advice for most documents- never in the last six hundred millenniums had he ever had to write an essay about anything. His hands hurt. Harry, because he's a cheater, deadens the nerves in those limbs so they could stop pulsing with pain by the three foot mark.

Thank god he wasn't actually mortal because his vessel's hands were way too pretty to be damaged by essays of all things. Harry had decided when he goes back to being well, 'himself' again he was definitely going to retain some features from his human body. His eyes would definitely be one of them.

"Finally finished I see Mr Potter." A low drawl called out across the near empty classroom. The raven haired child looked up with a wry smile.

"Yes well, theory has never been much of a strong point with me." He answered a little self-deprecatingly. It was true. Each entity had inbuilt knowledge that naturally update over time, however unfortunately that information is only relevant to their given affinities so some individuals would be naturally much better versed in things than others. Love could probably recite all the most romantic, emotional poetry by heart and can tell you the sexiest clothes to impress someone with just a garbage bag. Chaos knows just the right sentence to utter to make even the most polite members of society descend into anarchy. Order instinctively knows how to undo Chaos' mess, usually with a few choice words himself. Magic is a bit self explanatory. Space can recognize any universe he steps foot in, Time really likes to recite random bits of history of said universe. Knowledge knows, well she literally knows everything annoyingly enough, with the exception of a scant few things which never ceases to annoy her. Life is probably a close second in terms of being on top of things in general while conversely Death was inbuilt with probably the least amount of ingrained information.

The things he instinctively knows are vague, morbid and if they were textbooks they would be along the lines of; 'Reapers and Dementors and other such ghouls', 'Spirits, souls and where they go' and 'One thousand and one billion ways to kill someone, something or everything'.

That was it. Everything else he had to learn by experience and external aids. The fact that compared to the others he barely visited the outside world did not help much either. It's always secretly been a sore point with him.

"Yes I do expect it is." Snape says and he does it in such a way that it's really hard to tell if it was a snide joke or an actual insult. The older male was difficult like that. "Though I guess I can't hope for anything more from a child who takes jumping into teacher's arms like a fish to water." Now that was teasing. Harry blushed and blustered.

"I- I- that happened once!" He snapped embarrassed. Harry had found a while ago that a less bruising option to his escapades from the bullying of the school was to yell out to anyone below him and hopefully get caught in their arms. It was also a horribly embarrassing option that he no longer did much anymore because he had made the dreadful mistake of accidentally jumping into the arms of a very surprised Professor Flitwick who had been expecting some Diggory boy's essay and not an armful of Wizarding Boy Savior shrieking bloody murder. The Hufflepuff student obviously thought the end result was hilarious because he burst out laughing at the groaning two splayed out on the flooring, he looked very sheepish about it all afterwards and helped them up as an apology for his outburst but Harry could still see the twitching corner of the older boy's mouth when he scowled at him.

Harry was not exactly proud of that moment. Which was understandable really as it was not his finest.

"Flitwick still tells that story when he has the chance."

Harry groaned, embarrassed.


 

 

"Hey guys!" The first year Gryffindors and Slytherins all turned to see Harry Potter waving as he strolled toward them just as they were leaving Charms class. All of them in some way acknowledged the greeting but the children better acquainted with the child and wizarding celebrity lingered back.

"Harry!"

"Potter!"

"Potter."

"Mate!"

"Potter."

"Potter."

And only now did Harry realize, with startlingly clarity, just how many of his friends address him with only his last name with a mix of cool dignity and disdain. Huh.

Dismissing that rather useless piece of knowledge the green eyed boy walked toward the waiting group. "So how was Charms class?" He asked interestedly. Slytherin-Gryffindor drama was pretty much the only drama you could get around here. Well, that wasn't entirely correct, it was the only drama Harry could get around here.

Ugh he does miss being the physical representation of a primordial force sometimes, he always got first row seats to all the good stuff. That world where Chaos thought it would be cool to see what happens if natural disasters like tornadoes somehow meshed to contain sharp toothed killer animals like sharks? Hilarious. Completely stupid. Irrational. But hilarious. Order actually had to go to a different more sane dimension and cry for a bit.

Though, being part of the story is pretty interesting too.

"-and I was all, Wingardium leviosa but then Granger was all, it's not Wingardium levIOsa, it's Wingardium levioSA, and I was all, what-"

Harry takes it back. With interest. Like enough interest that the metaphorical bank goes into debt.

"- in Merlin's name did I do to deserve getting partnered up with Granger?!"

"Maybe you were a Dementor in your past life? Explain why you're stuck with the one student who can suck all the joy of magic." Seamus jibed, earning a scowl from the redhead and some snickers from the Draco and Blaise, the two Slytherins that decided to join them. Harry himself didn't laugh but admittedly enjoyed the wordplay immensely. He didn't care what the situation was, puns were funny.

"I hate her!" Ron declared, "She is such an annoying whiny Know It All! No wonder no one can even stand her, she's an absolute nightmare."

A soft gasp was heard behind them and the boys turned around to see Granger staring at them with a blotchy complexion. Harry immediately felt bad. "Granger, it's-" But whatever pitiful attempt at damage control that his mouth was about to try went unsaid as, with an audible choked sob the girl ran off in the other direction. "Well now I feel terrible." Harry sighed.

Looking at the other boys, they too seemed to be struggling with some sort of guilt. The Slytherins unsurprisingly less so than the other two Gryffs. Of course them being eleven year old boys also meant that they aren't the best when experienced with uncomfortable things such as guilt or apologies. "Well, it was true." Ron murmured defensively, proving his point.

"You guys should apologize anyway." Harry pointed out, because he couldn't exactly disagree outright with the redhead.

"Me and Blaise didn't say anything." Draco protests in faked guilelessness with Blaise looking at them all with smug agreement.

"But you guys can't stand her either!" Seamus growled. The Italian Slytherin shrugged, "Yeah but she didn't catch us saying that. Just that we were present when you Gryffindorks were mouthing off, in a public area I might add." Draco tutted condescendingly in the background.

"Harry!" Ron whined, turning to the green eyed child who did not look much sympathetic to the Gryffindor's plight.

"Ron I can't just make them apologize." Harry sighed exasperated. He totally could. He just didn't want to go through all that effort. "And technically, they are right. Granger probably didn't even notice those two."

"Excuse you-" Draco started heatedly before his fellow Slytherin stopped him with a whispered annoyed hiss of, "Do you really want to do this now?"

Harry knew this was why Blaise was one of his favorites.

"Come on Ron, you know we went too far," Actually, come to think of it, Harry didn't do anything either, "Come on, why don't we apologize together after the Halloween feast thing?" At the look on the redhead's freckled face everyone laughed and Harry amended with, "Okay the day after the Halloween feast."

"Thank Merlin."


 

 

He had forgotten Halloween was the day his vessel's birth parents were murdered.

To be fair though it wasn't as if Harry had actually met the two who birthed his physical body. They were dead when he arrived. So excuse him for being so callous about the whole thing.

Nevertheless after the fifth rendition of basically 'Hey Potter great job for murdering that one guy on Halloween, sorry about the no parents thing but I guess we can't have it all.' Harry was not happy at all. He couldn't even escape it from his friends who on one side made borderline insensitive comments or questions like 'Did you remember it?' (Ron) and on the other side of the equally annoying spectrum just communicated solely on uncomfortable and guilty stares (Draco).

So it was no surprise to himself at the very least did he find himself hidden in the darkest corner of the library (that wasn't forbidden) playing chess against himself- the only person in Hogwarts that hasn't been an annoyance to him today apparently. Even Snape was especially harsh and snappish. Unfortunately as refined and intelligent as a game chess was, the pieces were apparently magicked much like the talking hat but with a much lower intelligence so every figure was staring at the child like Harry was about to commit some sort of board game genocide on them. It was not helping his mood one bit.

The food at dinner time better be fantastic or Halloween this year officially sucks. Which is unfortunate because Death adored Halloween, or lesser known as Samhain. The day where nature takes a turn to slumber and the ground becomes deadened and hard, when the veils separating the dead from the living momentarily weaken and spirits are strong enough to cross over to mortal realms. This was totally his holiday.

So yes, that was how Percy Weasley, prefect of Gryffindor, found one Harry James Potter in a right sulk, terrorizing chess pieces.

"You know your skipping classes." Was all the older Weasley said after a small pause. Green eyes looked balefully at him.

"I am aware of my offenses. As is the professors who had suggested I take the day off due to the circumstances of today." Harry sniffed unhappily before turning back to glare at the frightened chess pieces like it was their fault he wasn't in class. The bishops at this point were looking heavenward and praying in various ways while the pawns just looked ready to wet themselves.

"Oh. Well I'm sorry for your loss." Percy offered halfheartedly, Harry continued staring down at the board to cover a smile.

"You know you're the first person to say that to me today."

"Really?" The surprise and indignation on the younger boy's behalf coloring his voice was so genuine Harry could feel some of his sour mood fade away a bit. "That seems rather..."

Harry nodded solemnly, "I know." He agreed before glancing back up to the Weasley prefect with a small smile. "So I appreciate the sentiment all the more. Thank you."

Percy flushed lightly apparently unsure what to do with the thanks. "Oh, uh,"

Taking pity on him, vivid green eyes shined amusedly as Harry asked, "Would you like to play a game with me? If you have time of course." He amended hastily, fully aware of Percy's rather uptight ways from various Weasley family stories he's heard plus complaints from some of the students.

The prefect looked painfully startled at the invitation. It seemed this Weasley didn't have many friends, or at least ones close enough to play games with. Harry could empathize with that. Being Death doesn't earn you many friends either. And Percy doesn't exactly have the privilege of making new friends either.

"Are you sure?" He asked and the younger of the two waved the uncertainties of the older airily away.

"Does it look like I have any plans till dinner time?" The question was obvious in its answer so the red head cleared his throat awkwardly and tried to reassemble some semblance of his previous haughty look.

"I suppose one game shall suffice. But then I really must continue my prefect duties." Percy finally decided seriously.

Harry nodded as solemn as a grave, "I wouldn't dream of disrupting your tasks." That seemed to crack a smile out of the older boy who finally sat down on the opposite side of the board. "Just one game is all I ask."

"One game." Percy acquiesced.

They played till the evening.


 

 

"You cheated." Harry accused with a laugh, Percy gave an offended look so real Harry wondered if the usually uptight prefect had been pulling everyone's leg this whole time. When finally settled and relaxed, Percy was much funnier and adorably awkward than the other Weasley's described him as.

"I am a prefect." Was all he answered in an indignant huff. "Cheating is not in our ways."

"Of course," Harry replied dryly, "I'm sure all of you swear a blood oath with one hand across your chest and the other on the great book of Merlin to never play foul in the name of chess, board games and all that is sacred."

"Now that you know our secret you must either join us or die." Percy deadpanned, barely missing a beat in the banter. Harry cocked his head as if in genuine contemplation, "I don't think I could live with such a heavy weight over my head like that yet at the same time I rather enjoy having a head in the first place.." The first year paused for effect before finally deciding, "I would choose neither option and go on the run."

The Weasley prefect gave him a look that perfectly conveyed how he thought about Harry's chances of survival if he ever went on the run from a chihuahua. Which was completely rude though at the same time perfectly fair, in retrospect it was probably pretty accurate if he actually was a mortal child with arms skinnier than flower stems and skin softer than their petals. Honestly his body looks like a willow fae child of the night, prettily pale and so delicate that even the faint morning light will burn him to ashes. Even more honestly he kind of likes it. His usual look is a bit more intimidatingly graceful and regally dark but there is always an appeal to stark contrasts between appearances and natures like now.

"Speaking of having to run I do think we must get along before the feast starts tonight." Harry added on thoughtfully as he finally looked away from Percy and the chessboard, and noticed how empty the library was. Well, emptier. Ms Pince hadn't even deigned to warn them about the time either which meant she's just really rude or she trusts them alone with her precious library. Harry does not believe in the latter option much. Percy too must have reached a similar conclusion as he looked around surprised at the silence. Then he cursed, jumping out of his seat, face red, looking a mixture of annoyed, frazzled and embarrassed as the prefect fully absorbed how much time has actually passed.

"Bloody buggering bludgers! I didn't even notice it's near evening!"

Harry motioned the pieces on the board to pack themselves up much to their little ceramic indignation before getting up from his seat. "Did you have anything you had to finish before tonight that I could assist you on?" He tried helpfully, "I mean it was my fault that you got so distracted Weasley."

Percy was wearing that surprised expression on his face again, maybe his friends don't offer to help with his duties? That must be terribly irritating. "Really? Uh, no, other than patrolling and overseeing the festivities I don't have anything that needs any immediate attention."

Harry nodded, "You must be really good at being a prefect despite it being your first year being one though. The Slytherin fifth year prefect Masonfield constantly complains about the sudden workload." Percy spluttered, his face pinked but unable to hide the pleased expression at the compliment. "That's hardly fair," the older boy finally said with a shy crooked smile, "Masonfield would have trouble even if his only job is to sit there and look, well, adequate."

"Petty insults Percy Weasley? How very deplorable of you." Harry snarked with a faint grin, Percy reciprocated the action before he remembered exactly how late it was. The redhead looked torn between running out to make a head start on making sure his assigned tasks are perfectly completed or chatting a bit more with the boy saviour. Luckily Harry choose to pick for him.

"Well, this has been a surprisingly enjoyable day. We should do this again sometime." The younger child said, giving the prefect a perfectly good and polite pass to excuse himself. Percy took it gratefully as well as reluctantly and power walked quickly out with many glances backwards. Harry patiently smiled and waved every time the redhead looked back at him like he somehow expected the green eyed child to have faded into nothingness or something, and said redhead would flush slightly each time he was caught. After Percy finally was out of sight Harry too decided to head to the great hall, though at a much more sedate pace.


 

 

The tables were literally staggering with the sheer amount of food placed on it. As both an entity whose own dining tables were barely ever made use of and a child with a history of malnutrition the sight was awe-inspiring and incredibly impressive. Another ingenuity of mortals was again made known through the wondrous smells of the culinary delights.

Harry's pretty sure he can hear Ron drooling across the hall at the table of the Red and Gold at this point. Draco beside him was trying to subtly wipe his mouth with the back of his hand. Even some of the teachers are completely ignoring the raucous sounds of the feast in favor of mooning at the golden crusts of pie and the slick juices oozing from the roasted chicken whilst all on golden plating.

Clearly gluttony is going to be the biggest vice of the night.

Harry and everyone else happily helped themselves to the gorgeous food, the sound of chewing louder than the usual chatter of the students for once. In fact, he was just about to snatch up the last fat overstuffed jacket potato right from Goyle's meaty paws when Professor Quirrel came barreling into the halls, sweaty and terrified. The turbaned teacher ran toward Dumbledore's seat, slumping against the table, elbow un-sanitarily in the gravy bowl as he heaved out, "Troll.. In.. Dungeons... Thought you ought to know.." Then he promptly fainted- which was very nice of him to at least wait till he warned everyone but at the same time it was awfully annoying as it also meant Quirrell effectively left a whole school in a state of panic he caused.

There was a huge uproar obviously. There would've been something wrong if there wasn't. Harry totally understood that. It was very understandable. What Harry didn't understand was why this uproar was so. damn. loud? He just wanted to finish his potato in relative peace. Or at least in quiet panic. Was that too much to ask?

It took some fireworks from Professor Dumbledore's wand to settle everyone enough to hold some form of attention. "Prefects," The headmaster addressed slightly strained, it was probably because of the whole troll in school situation but Harry's pretty sure the sheer shrieking volume played a good part of it as well. Really, how was Quirrell still out cold? "Lead your Houses immediately back to the dormitories!"

Percy was one of the first to move, he was in his element. "Follow me! Stick together, first years! No need to fear the troll if you follow my orders! Stay close behind me, now. Make way, first years coming through! Excuse me, I'm a prefect!"

The redheaded prefect whilst rounding up the chattering Gryffindor first year managed to catch eye contact with Harry and sent him a look that so visibly communicated how the boy should be careful. The green eyed child quirked the ends of his mouth upwards in bemusement at the worry, however it turned into a small frown as he noticed a certain bushy haired first year was missing from the group. Turning to a rather distressed Draco he asked, "Do you know where Granger is?"

Clearly that was not an appropriate question for the situation because Draco responded with a loud, increasingly hysterical, "Potter who cares where Granger is, last I heard she's off crying in the girls bathrooms on the third floor and hasn't left since, anyway don't you realise we dorm in the dungeons?! The one where the blooming troll is supposed to be?! Potter my father is going to hear about this if we end up attacked or eaten by the troll!"

And of course the nearby Slytherins overhearing that little revelation lost their collective shit. Apparently possible death is enough for these young aristocrats to throw away most of their dignity and enthusiastically join in with the escalating chaos. Masonfield, Gemma Farley and the other Slytherin prefects were looking increasingly frantic and frustrated with them all, shooting glares especially toward the Malfoy scion as they tried to calm their House down.

Harry would take some entertainment out of the whole thing if he wasn't being so busy fretting about what to do with the information about Granger. If she had been in the bathroom this whole time there would've been no way for her to know about the troll. And while it was mostly Ron's fault, Harry did feel a bit responsible for being the reason why she isolated herself like that in the first place. Not a whole lot but enough to feel guilty if she died by troll of all things.

The disturbing image of smushed, tenderised bloody flesh staining bathroom tile was enough for Harry to slip from the frenzy of the Slytherins and out the hall. Just as he was about to make a break for it with his tiny little limbs a hand gripped his shoulder so tightly the boy yelped in surprise and pain.

"Potter, where in sweet Merlin's name are you going?" Percy was radiating disapproval like heat off a furnace.

"I was going to warn Granger about the troll because she has been in the third floor bathroom crying and doesn't know about it." Harry explained as calmly and as succinctly as he could. Percy was a stickler for the rules but he wasn't completely illogical about them. The older redhead paused and released his grip on the smaller boy's shoulder much to Harry's relief, Percy surprisingly had some insanely strong strength in his hands.

"And you're sure Granger is in the third floor bathrooms?"

No. "Yes."

Percy narrowed his eyes but after a beat of silence reached some sort of conclusion in his mind because he nodded and announced, "The other prefects are already guiding the students to their respective dorms and the professors will be too busy either assisting or looking for the troll. I will accompany you to look for Granger."

It was more than Harry hoped for so he agreed and the pair ran off.

They managed about a good six feet before once again they were interrupted with the arrival of Ron. "Mate where ya going with Percy?"

"Ron go back to the group." Percy ordered immediately causing his younger sibling to scowl.

"Harry's my best mate, I'm coming with." He declared stubbornly. The two brothers stared each other down until Harry coughed pointedly and Percy finally relented with a hissed, "You better listen to everything I say as prefect." Which to that Ron rolled his eyes in a distinctly unimpressed manner before agreeing with obvious fake sincerity. The older Weasley's face, pinkening at the blatant disrespect and disregard of his sibling was about to open his mouth no doubt to start some sort of tirade on the rudeness of it all before Ron whispered, "Is that Snape? What's he doing skulking 'round here?"

It was. Quiet but quick footsteps were heard passing by as the potions professor walked past them, the trio had been conveniently hidden from view by a griffin statue and so was luckily unnoticed. As the man crossed the corridor and turned out of sight the three boys finally let out a breath that they didn't know they were even holding till then.

"Professor Snape should be with the other teachers searching for the troll." Percy murmured, "There's no reason for him to be on the third floor."

Ron, in true eleven year old fashion said, "We should totally follow him."

Harry looked up at the ceiling and wondered if Hermione would have graduated by the time they finally arrived to rescue her.

"We are not going to stalk Professor Snape." Percy insisted.

"But that slimy snake- no offence Harry,"

Harry held up his hands, "None was taken until just now. Thanks Ron."

"No worries mate. Anyway that slimy snake is definitely up to something! He's on the third floor, you know, with the forbidden corridor? We have to check it out."

"I don't know if you realize but we're also suspiciously on the third floor as well. And we don't have to do anything Ron. Especially if it's stalking a teacher."

"Actually," Harry coughed awkwardly, "we do kind of need to follow him a bit Percy, the directions to the girl's bathrooms are in that direction."

Percy sighed as Ron gave a silent but no less enthusiastic fist punch to the air.


 

"Guys I think we've got company." Harry whispered as they neared their destination.

Ron scrunched up his nose. "What is that awful smell?" He asked while Percy took one drawn out sniff and paled.

"Troll." The prefect hoarsely whispered, causing his brother to adopt a similar whitened coloring on his own freckled face. Harry secretly rolled his eyes at the unneeded dramatics. He had literally just implied that.

Hearing grunting and a shuffling of what could be either really giant feet or the sound of a tree learning to walk for the first time, the boys wasted no time in pressing themselves against the wall and sheltering underneath the shadows as they watched the troll lumber past.

Harry had seen a lot of trolls as Death. Mainly because he was Death and therefore has seen a lot of everything really but also because trolls in general tended to be ugly, slow and stupid- traits that generally get most individuals killed often. Anyway, the point he's trying to get is, that this specimen of the species was probably one of the most physically unappealing individuals he's ever seen.

It looked already like a particularly ugly troll but this one happened to be made of grey dirty play doh that had been just played with by some unruly toddling mortal child. Squished and deformed. The smell did not help in the troll's favour either. Harry was going to soak himself in warm rose soap for an hour after all this ridiculous nonsense. He may be 'slumming' it with the mortals right now but he was a being greater than any god and refused to smell like the excrement of a dumpster truck.

All three watched as the troll slowly passed them and entered one of the nearby rooms. Which was all well and good except, "Bollocks. I think that's the girls bathroom." Harry swore.

"Maybe Granger has left?" Ron tried weakly. Which was of course when a high pitched scream of terror echoed in the room the troll had wandered in. "Never mind."

"I'll go in and distract the troll." Percy said, ignoring his brother, "Both of you get the girl then get out of here."

It was a very simplistic plan and the things that could go wrong was virtually endless but there wasn't enough time to argue or delegate so the first years nodded and bolted into the bathroom. Harry ran in wondering if the owner of his human body would have got into this mess or it was just him, while Ron ran in swearing various words in a rather creative fashion. Well, at least the freckled boy would have one hell of a Halloween story to tell for his first year at Hogwarts.

Though while he hasn't personally met the woman yet, that horribly embarrassing shouting magic letter thing of Ron's the morning after their detention would heavily suggest the Weasley matriarch would be less than entertained by this story. Hermione Granger was against the wall opposite them, terrified tears running down her cheeks and just generally looking as if she was about to faint. The troll was advancing on her, knocking the sinks off the walls as it went. Seriously, Hogwarts was a aesthetically pleasing school to look at but if Harry was a parent he doesn't think he would want to put his child in here. It's kind of a shitty school if you value things like student safety, a concept that seems to be lost here.

"Percy, any time now!" Ron shouted.

Percy, in his brillance and fifth year knowledge of magic, threw a rock at it. It wasn't even a particularly big rock either. Neither first year was very impressed but took the distraction for what it was and ran around the troll, toward the frightened girl.

"What are you waiting for Granger? We have to go!" Harry demanded as he and Ron pulled her frozen body up from the tiled floor. Percy, finally getting his act together was shooting off various latin words along with rainbow coloured sparks that didn't seem to be damaging anything but the troll's patience. There is a suspiciously strong implication there about what to expect for future Defense classes. To be completely fair though, trolls do have notoriously high defences what with iron-like skin, a decent resistance to magical attacks, and being composed of mostly muscles, mud and dirt. Nonetheless, it does not inspire much confidence anyway. "Come on woman, run!" He screamed as the entity noticed the prefect being pushed back toward them and the troll looking at Harry in hunger. Whether carnally or digestively the answer anyway was a very strong hell to the no.

Stupid trolls and their stupid tiny, idiot brains that can't even recognise death if it slapped them in the face. And that's completely literal.

The prefect then must have cast a particularly nasty hex or something then because a very blue fizzle of what seemed to be lightening caused the creature to roar and bring it's full undivided and furious attention to the older redhead who looked distinctly regretful at casting the spell right now. With another roar the troll lifted one of it's giant meaty arms- the one holding a club which Harry didn't even want to know where it got, seriously this school- ready to swing at Percy, Granger had meanwhile sunk to the floor useless in her fear and Ron beside her whipped out his wand. "Wingardium Leviosa!" He screamed, causing the club in the grey creature's hands to jerk in the creature's hand. The troll hesitated for a moment giving the prefect time to try to escape out of it's arms length.

Seeing this though resulted in the arm being raised to strike again and Harry knew that if that hit connected the best outcome in that situation would be that Percy breaks all his ribs, he's lucky enough for one of them to hit his heart and dies a swift death.

Told you he was a morbid son of a female dog.

"Ron, do that again." He demanded frantically in which his friend looked at him, scared and unsure. "Trust me." Harry said in what he hoped was in a very inspiring manner. It must work because a determined steel enters blue eyes and Ron points his wand out again, this time with Harry joining in with his own wand. He doesn't really need the wand but the thing promised to be good and the image is much more dramatic than if he just shouted the words.

"Wingardium leviosa!" They shout. Immediately the club is yanked out of grey thick fingers much to the troll's obvious confusion, it rose high in the air, higher and higher upward until the thing just hovers unsteadily and drops. There's a sickening crack and then the troll was swaying, teetering like an unstable ball on a tightrope, and it too began to fall to the ground. The impact between troll and bathroom floor made Harry momentarily lose his footing. Everyone stared. There didn't seem much else to do.

"Is, is it dead?" Hermione asked softly. Percy walked up closer to it, still looking very shaken from the whole ordeal.

"I don't think so. Someone needs to go report this to a profes-"

There's the sound of footsteps incoming fast and with what can only be described as incredibly awful timing, Professor McGonagall burst into the room, closely followed by Professor Snape and Professor Quirrell coming up from behind. Quirrel, who already looked sick from the running, took one double take at the unconscious troll and whimpered, dangerously close to fainting again. The troll roared like five times and the whole breaking off sinks bit in the beginning was incredibly noisy and yet only now the cavalry arrives.

While Snape went over to where Percy was to examine the creature's state, Percy went to join the three first years shifting uncomfortably under Professor McGonagall's stare. Harry felt compelled to apologise for everything he's ever done wrong in his life while simultaneously wanting to hire her because of that. Hell could use someone like her. Order would probably love her. It will be an amazing, terrifying romance and Chaos would probably cry.

"Professor McGonagall," Percy started warily, his face fearful, actually he looked more afraid of her than the troll. He couldn't blame the prefect of course. Harry had never seen the woman look so angry. Her lips were so thinned they were near nonexistent.

"What on earth were you thinking?" Her voice was doused with a cold icy fire that was her fury. Ron was still holding his wand out in the air like an idiot which wasn't helping their case at all. "You're lucky you weren't killed. Why aren't you in your dorms?"

At this she stared down at Percy who shrunk under her glare. Snape at the same time gave Harry a look that could pierce a glacier and the boy cast his green eyes to the floor, hoping he could somehow ignore the painful needle like sensation that was undeserved guilt welling up inside him. Which was stupid and illogical because he shouldn't be feeling terrible at all, he literally just saved a little girl. Apparently no one told his body that because it involuntarily closed in on itself, adopting a guilt ridden pose.

Then Hermione spoke up in a small, weak voice, "It was me Professors." she said, slowly getting up onto her feet, "I- I was looking for the troll because I, uh, thought I could deal with them because there was this book I read you know, on trolls and I just thought.." Finally Ron dropped his wand, though more out of shock than anything else. Hermione 'Goody Two Shoes' Granger lying outright to teachers? Plural? "If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead now. It was about to finish me off when they arrived, I'm sure if they waited any longer to fetch someone else I-" She trembled and wasn't able to finish her sentence. She didn't need to. McGonagall's face softened at the shaking young girl, after Harry, Hermione was a close second among her favourite students.

"Oh Miss Granger, you foolish foolish girl," The transfigurations teacher said as she gave the younger girl a hug, Hermione hung her head. "How could you possibly even think this was a smart idea?"

Harry finally decided to glance back at the still glaring Snape, the intensity of it having dissipated enough to have become bearable during Hermione's explanation. Ron was still gaping at Hermione, apparently trying to comprehend her lying to help them get out of trouble. Percy just looked relieved this whole thing could finally be pushed behind them.

"I'm sorry Miss Granger but I'm going to have to deduct five points from Gryffindor for this," Snape now just looked infuriated now, Harry couldn't say that he thought such a level of anger was appropriate considering the girl was obviously traumatised now but he had to admit that it was a very light punishment for someone who admitted to going troll hunting. Ron and Draco just talked about going out of the dorms after hours to duel and they had to spend their night searching for unicorn murderers in the Forbidden forest. It all seemed incredibly unbalanced. "I'm very disappointed in you. If you're not hurt at all, you'd better get off to Gryffindor tower. Students are finishing the feast in their houses."

Once Hermione left, the female professor turned to the three boys. She wasn't smiling but she didn't look like she was going to verbally rip their throats a new one now either. "You boys were lucky, not many children can go up against a full grown mountain and get away relatively unscathed. You each earned Gryffindor five points, Dumbledore will be informed of this. Now you may go."

If anything Snape looked like the one who was going to verbally rip their throats a new one, Harry however was the only one who had noticed. As the Weasleys were turning to leave, the raven haired boy made no such move. Professor McGonagall raised a brow, "Mr Potter? I distinctly remember dismissing all of you." She said shortly and oh, so she is still quite upset with them.

"Well, I was waiting for my reward professor." He explained innocently.

"I've already given your reward Mr Potter."

Harry stood strong, "No offence Professor McGonagall but it isn't much of a reward when I'm currently in Slytherin."

The professor had the decency to look ashamed at that, "Oh my apologies, I just,"

"She just had forgotten considering how foolhardy and brash you acted, much like a Gryffindor." The deep rumbling voice of Professor Snape spoke as the man walked toward them. McGonagall bristled a bit at the insult of her House but she was still a bit too chagrined to retort. The dark clad professor put a hand on the raven haired boy's shoulder and gave him a look that if Harry didn't know better would have been classified as proud. "However as I'm sure that it was probably that Slytherin side of you that allowed the rest of those children to inevitably survive the confrontation I judge you earned your House a good twenty points. Let's go Potter."

And with that the potions professor swivelled toward the exit dramatically, billowing robes and all and strode out, leaving both Harry and McGonagall staring. A few seconds later, the much more annoyed face of Snape reappeared, "Potter," he barked, "Are you accompanying me back or not?"

Harry couldn't help but laugh softly, bidding his transfigurations professor a good night, he ran toward Snape.

Chapter Text

The one where Death doesn't really have much happening to be very honest. Though Snape does get injured twice. Which, is like, I don't know. This feels like a 6000 words of filler to be perfectly honest.

Harry decided to go flying on one of the school's brooms. He quickly regretted it. Okay, more like he didn't regret the flying in so much as he regretted landing back on the ground where a small crowd had gathered.

And that wouldn't have been so bad if the small crowd hadn't consisted of one extremely enthusiastic Oliver Wood. Oliver Wood who looked close to hyperventilating. "You," He pointed at Harry like it wasn't completely obvious who he was talking to. "You have to join the Gryffindor Quidditch team."

"Now hold on!" A larger brunette boy bustled out of the crowd, "If Potter's joining any team it's going to be the Ravenclaws!"

"Davies." Oliver Wood hissed like he'd been burned. Then he hissed again as a tanned Slytherin that Harry recognised as Marcus Flint shoved the Ravenclaw aside.

"Please, Harry is a Slytherin, he's joining our team." He sneered.

"Only for the rest of the term!" Wood protested shrilly, Davis after regaining his balance nodded fiercely. To make things even worse and more awkwardly embarrassing, a teenager that can really only be the Hufflepuff Quidditch captain came bursting through with a panting even shriller holler of, "Well in that case Potter should join us!"

The Hufflepuffs in the crowd cheered at that. Which surprisingly resulted in them being the House that instigated the coming riot. Funny, Harry would've thought it would have been the Gryffindors what with their huge bonfires of passion and minimum mouth filter.

Soon enough students from every year were arguing with anyone with a different colored tie. Harry wasn't even sure they were fighting about him anymore.

"-I don't think-"

"-you can shove your thoughts up your-"

"-well there's no need fo-"

Slytherins, Gryfindors, Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, were going at it like shouting was suddenly a competitive sport.

Harry was no longer there to witness it.

He had better things to do.


That was a lie. Harry really didn't have anything better to do. He's done his homework, extra assignments and all. He's done... Huh, that's it actually.

Boarding school kind of sucks.

After putting back the broom and mentally wondering why on earth these people's first reaction upon gaining the knowledge and magic to create flying objects was to imbue said bequeathed gifts into an object obviously made for the intention of cleaning floors, Harry wandered aimlessly around the courtyard. He didn't feel like surrounding himself with pre-adolescents right now and the older students like the Weasley twins, Percy and Diggory had classes at the moment. Which is unfortunate because Diggory was more of a last resort than anything. Not that the boy wasn't pleasant despite their first meeting, it was just that they barely make any actually conversation due to their unfamiliarity and general lack of shared interests.

Filch's company would be nice enough to have but unfortunately that meant spending a lot of time having to search for the caretaker, which meant spending a lot of time skulking around Hogwarts. The castle that lives to try trap entities of death in its various elaborate and frankly just plain stupidly, unnecessary, secret rooms.

Harry didn't even want to know why there was what looked like a underground shop for collars and dog training in the school. And yes, that is what it was and he refuses to believe otherwise.

So yeah Harry is not going to willing go through another reluctant round of 'Lets fuck over the Death Lord by trapping him in forgotten kink rooms,' for another afternoon if he could possibly help it for the rest of his mortal and immortal life.

"Harry!" Harry looked up to see Ron and Granger running up to him. Ron, all smiles and freckles while Granger looked shy and nervous. Apparently after the whole troll incident the two Gryffindors have managed to become something akin to friendship. Children tend to be quite simple like that. However since Harry was not some child and tended to be made of more complicated stuff. He hadn't felt the same strong bond being forged with the girl, just a mild appreciation for her sticking up for them.

"Ron, Granger." The brunette cringed slightly at the formality of using her last name but still stubbornly smiled.

"Hermione is fine thanks."

Harry tilted his head and coolly looked at her before cracking a small smile and accepted with a succinct, "Hermione then." Turning to Ron, because the green eyed boy still remembered how rude and hostile Granger had been for no good reason other than petty jealousies and how uncomfortable it all was, he then asked, "What are you doing here then?"

Ron's grin quickly turned into a scowl. "Snape, that greasy bat, took points from us just for bringing a library book out of school grounds- and he confiscated my book!"

"But you are on school grounds." Harry pointed out obviously.

"Exactly!"

"I know right!" Granger blurted out then blushed at the sudden attention. "And uh, he looked hurt too." She added awkwardly.

That though got Harry's interest, "Snape looked hurt?"

Relieved to be holding a conversation with the Boy Savior of the Wizarding world, the girl nodded, "Yeah, he was limping."

"What's wrong with his leg?"

"I dunno but I hope it's hurting him real bad." Ron muttered, earning a glare from the other two children.

"I'm going to check to see if he's okay." Harry huffed before leaving. Though he walked away just slow enough to hear Granger give the freckled boy a good whack on the shoulder and a hissed, "Ron! You can't just disrespect professors like that!"

The green eyed child covered his mouth to hide his laugh. Maybe he and Hermione would get on okay after all.


After a minutes hesitation Harry changed direction from the staff room to the infirmary.

It took a while and maybe two or five ghosts trying to help give directions before he finally found the medical wing of the school. He tentatively knocked and entered, observing avidly around the unusual, sterile room. Being Death, he's visited many hospitals, emergency rooms, heck even the occasional GP, though it's quite the refreshing twist that for once he's here for healing purposes instead of uh, non-healing purposes.

It was more spacious than the 'modern' medical facility he's been to in other worlds. Old and traditional springs to mind, the almost church like interior only emphasizing it. There's too many windows to be practical in his opinion but it's all very aesthetically pleasing. He wouldn't particularly feel very safe in here but at least he would feel like he was in a romantic movie about doctors in the 1800s.

"Hello? Is anyone in?" The boy asked tentatively. A matronly dressed, grey haired woman bustled out of a doorway toward him as a response.

"Yes, how may I help you?" She asked nicely, "I'm Madam Pomfrey, the matron around here."

"Harry Potter." He greeted just as politely, "And I'm not here for myself but I wondered if I could get something for a friend?"

"A friend you say?" The older woman frowned. "I'm sorry Mr Potter but if your friend is ill I think it would be best if you bring him or her here."

Harry flushed and shook his head bashful, "No, I mean, he's not my friend per say and he's not sick." He tried explaining. "I noticed he's scrapped his knee or something and I just, well, I thought it would be nice if I-"

Madam Pomfrey was looking at him like she's suddenly figured out the secrets of this universe and was damned amused by it. "Ah, I see. Well I normally don't do this Mr Potter but I'm sure we can find something to help impress your 'friend'." The boy can practically hear the quotation marks around the word friend, he has no idea what she's implying but if it'll get him the stuff he wants he'll contemplate it later.

He beams brightly at the matron and gives his thanks as courteously as possible. She seems to melt under the appreciation and bustles quickly to get some sort of magical equivalent of numbing anti-bacterial cream. When Madam Pomfrey hands over the small cream container she's still grinning at something obviously, adorably, hilarious that Harry just couldn't for the life (or death) of him see.

"Well, I hope you tell me how it goes with that 'friend' of yours." She says before going back into her infirmary office, chuckling all the way.

Seriously, what was so funny?


It didn't take as long as he thought to find Snape in the castle deathtrap that is Hogwarts Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry doesn't know what to feel about the lack of twists and turns and petty attempts at murder. Suspicious is a good start. As is unease, apprehensiveness and disturbed.

Like that one time he saw Chaos give Order a hug for no reason. A goodness to honest loving hug and a 'Despite everything I do respect you as my equal and you're a pretty okay guy,' speech, which sounded terrifyingly genuine. It's been a good ten thousand years since then but Order still occasionally shudders and swerves his head around like a spooked owl out of nowhere. Everyone pities the poor guy every time he does that. Well, obviously almost everyone.

Harry made his way down to the staffroom and knocked quietly. There was no answer. He knocked again, a little louder. Nothing. The child frowned. Well, it was a stretch to think that the professor would be there but at the very least he thought someone in the staffroom would be able to point him in the right direction.

Finding the door unlocked, Harry pushed it open and quietly scuttled into the room. Turns out, it wasn't as empty as first thought.

Snape and surprisingly, Filch were inside. Harry kind of felt bad about that last thought, obviously Filch being part of the staff, would be seen in the staffroom. That was terrible of him to assume otherwise. The potions master was holding his robes above his knees, revealing a terribly bloody and mangled leg which Filch was providing bandages to. The entity-on-hiatus looked down at his palm sized jar of magic cream which now seemed very inadequate in comparison to the injury.

"Blasted thing," Snape was muttering grumpily. "How are you supposed to keep your eyes on all three heads at once?"

Three heads? So they have a Cerberus guarding the Philosopher's Stone. Interesting. Maybe he can go give the beast a little talking to about going easy on the professor. Harry's sure that would be much nicer than some useless cream. With that decision made, the raven haired boy began backtracking out of the room. Unfortunately the doors this time round had decided to become fairly uncooperative and gave out a audible creak. Fucking Hogwarts.

"POTTER!" Snape's face was contorted and twisted in red furious anger, immediately dropping the robes to hide his blood-soaked disfiguration. Harry winced at the rage and embarrassment rolling off the tell hook nosed man.

"I'm sorry for intruding, I just-"

"GET OUT! OUT!"

Harry did not need much more encouragement to obey.

He closes the door firmly shut and presses his head on the opposite wall as the child tries to still his beating heart. He doesn't think he's been yelled out like that to the point of fleeing in ever. It feels bitter and nauseating in ways Harry knows he doesn't want to experience again. He feels like an actual child right now and he loathes the sensation this time.

There's a soft swishing sound of the door behind him opening and Harry turns to see Filch looking worried for him. It's strange how easily that comforts him. Human emotions are so fickle and interchangeable in ways that make Harry almost dizzy experiencing it. The comfort though, he finds welcoming with outstretched arms.

"Hullo Mr Filch." He greets and is absolutely horrified to hear his voice waver and throat wet and shaking like a little baby bird shivering in the rain. Harry doesn't understand how his body has just given up on him like this, against Vernon's meaty paws the human vessel of his understandably would exhibit signs of stress and pain but this was just words. Not even a lot of words. And he was tearing up. Harry wonders if he can just will himself to die of the shame growing inside him.

He probably could but that would be a mortification in itself.

"Potter are you alright?" The squib caretaker asked gruffly in what must have been an obvious failed attempt in sounding soothing. "What were you even doing snooping around the staffroom?" Filch then chastised, more because he was better used to scolding children than for any real malice.

"I, uh, I heard Professor Snape was hurt." Harry explained feebly, now feeling incredibly silly. What was he thinking, trying to, to what exactly? Impress Snape? In a whispered voice he added, "I wanted to give him this."

Small pale hands clutching at the little glass jar with the cream lifted to show the older man. "It's some sort of healing cream for open wounds.. I think. Madam Pomfrey gave me it when I said I needed some for a friend."

Filch's eyes seem to soften as the explanation goes on, by the end of it he actually cracks this smile that seems to completely transform him from bitter hated caretaker of Hogwarts to something much more 'grandfatherly'. Harry thinks it suits him. "You're a good kid Harry." Filch praises with such warmth that the green eyed child felt his own skin tingle at the heat.

"Thanks Mr Filch. I appreciate that." He answers bashful.

"Here, why don't I pass on your very thoughtful gift to Severus." Harry hesitated, unsure of his gift, especially after Snape's.. reaction.

"I don't think that I should."

"Nonsense Potter," Filch snapped, "You did good and don't let anything tell you otherwise. If Severus won't value your good will then I'll keep it for myself. Kids as decent as you are rare and I refuse to let you turn into some, some delinquent brat because you were disparaged."

The raven haired child giggled at the caretaker's defensiveness. "Sir I think one disappointment would hardly turn me into a Weasley twin." He teased, causing the usually cantankerous caretaker to huff indignantly.

"I rather hope not. It's bad enough you hang out with those felons. Now hand over the cream Potter."

With an annoyed, resigned sigh that's only half faked, Harry acquiesces his jar to Filch. The man nods, seemingly pleased at that and he tells Harry to go do whatever and beat it in a surly but fond manner that Harry has decided he loves. He doesn't care what the student population of England thinks, Filch is going to go to a very, very nice place when he goes to his realm.

He might not objectively deserve it but Harry was the boss. He can make the Devil eat mint chocolate chip ice cream and force him to admit he likes it, even though he obviously doesn't. Ironically the heavenly Michael doesn't like chocolate mint chip ice cream. Apparently there's a difference. It's kind of weird.


Dear Death,

I have researched appropriate ways to write a letter because apparently our fellow brothers and sisters said I'm 'boring' and 'dull'. You never called me that.

I miss you.

Anyway I have heard its customary to write things like asking how you've been and if you're enjoying yourself however since there is no way you could reply back sans shouting your message to the sky for a few hours, that advice was pretty much redundant. We've been watching you obviously though the gaps between observations are getting a bit longer now that we've ascertained you have pretty much got the human thing down all right. It's not that we don't care, I mean we were all ready to jump down there when we felt you, the real you, threatening to burst your mortal seams but as much as we like to forget, you are one of the most powerful of us entities meaning that there's literally no real danger at all.

For the world your in is a different story altogether. But we have infinite copies anyway so it's not a huge deal.

It's terrifying being one of the only coolheaded mature ones left. Space is one of them but he's never there. Surveying alternative universes and trying to minimise all the apocalypses which is fair but still.

It's a nightmare is what it is. Life is doing whatever she pleases, Chaos is encouraging her, Order obviously is tagging along trying but overall failing to stop it, Love just says adventure is a men's romance and Knowledge isn't stopping them because she wants to observe for research purposes. Also Space had been conveniently absent trying to prevent some sort of superhero civil war. Which I grudgingly believe is true because that sounds that ridiculous.

So I do hope your first time at mortality is treating you well. As you know I spent my first time as an esteemed mathematician who eventually succumbed to the addiction of gambling and drugs so I do advise you be careful. Just because we are above humanity doesn't stop us still from being human.

Everything is somehow more real and it's one of the closest things to frightening for entities like us who belong on a much more intangible scale to the others. Space ended up as a reclusive shaman in the jungle because he couldn't stand all the stimulation of everything in such a concentrated form so I'm sure he'll give some good, if vague, advice.

Time


Snape watches the old squib come back into the staffroom and greets him with a scowl and a harsh, "What were you even doing with the boy?"

The professor's usual pallor was, and had been for a while now, blotchy and pinkening unattractively with his anger tinged mortification at being caught by a student in such a position. Somehow it was even worse because it's not just any student, but Harry Potter. And even then Snape wasn't completely sure if it's the Potter part or the Harry part of the name that bothers him the most.

Filch uncharacteristically didn't seem too angered at the intrusion of the child, in fact he seemed quite aggravated toward Snape of all people. While the potions master wouldn't call them friends, Filch and he had an.. understanding of sorts built on many mutual dislikes, including children in general. They get along well enough, or at least don't particularly argue with each other so it surprised Snape to see the caretaker look right about the cusp of doing so.

"Mr Potter looked shaken at your display Severus," Filch growled, "I was comforting him."

Snape sneered, "He's hardly a delicate flower Argus." And the hook nosed male stubbornly ignored any discomfort or niggling sense of guilt he felt at the memory of the child with the brightest green eyes look at him the way he did, surprise and shock and maybe even some fear.

"He may be no flower but he's a good kid." Filch scowled, passing some small jar to the professor. "He was here to give you this."

Snape took it with a cool disdain he wasn't really feeling, inspecting the cream suspiciously from all angles of the jar and finally opened it, taking a short perfunctory sniff. "This is a wound cleaning paste with numbing properties." He commented, surprised. "Potter gave me this?"

The caretaker's scowl turned triumphantly smug, like some incredibly grumpy father who just proved their child could be the key to world peace or something ridiculously sweet like that. Personally Snape found himself preferring the scowl. That sort of expression on Filch was just unnerving. Irritatingly so actually.

They didn't speak while they bandaged his leg. They didn't speak as they parted ways. He didn't speak as he stared at the little jar in his hand. He didn't speak as he slowly applied the paste inside.

There was no words, because none were really needed.


The next day was a Quidditch game between the Gryffindors and the Slytherins. Harry went to watch because everyone else pretty much did and he was, to be completely honest, vying for some company right now. He wasn't going to go originally, flying was fun, but watching others fly? Not so much.

It was curious, the contrasting needs to be alone in solitary silence and the urge to go to nearest familiar face and wrap his limps around their body like a koala bear. Human mortals were so weird.

Harry was sitting in the Slytherin area, mainly because he had more friends there and also they tend not to be as nosy as his friends in the other houses. Okay that wasn't true. They were just as nosy as those other children, they just tend to be a lot more subtle and a lot easier to play the oblivious card with.

There was a lot of cheering and booing around him that he may have tuned out in favor of snuggling himself into his clothes. Harry was kind of regretting going outside now, he should've totally just made a Harry blanket burrito and lay there. This sucked. He's got it on good account from Dudley that blanket burritos were amazing.

Suddenly there's this collective gasp across the student body and that, that gets Harry to look back up to the sky.

It's one of the Gryffindor players, the new seeker actually, whose broom also seems to be rather taken with the concept of those mechanical bull rides. The seeker was pretty much screaming at the top of his lungs and dangling on to his broom like it was a lifeline- which it technically was. Now this was entertainment. Harry was so glad he wasn't playing right now.

"Did someone push the broom too hard or something?" He asked the captivated first years.

Draco shook his head, eyes never leaving the poor seeker. "My father told me nothing can interfere with a broomstick except if one used some power Dark magic. No student should be able to do that here."

Harry stared at the platinum blonde and his explanation incredulously. How much effort did these fucking magical wand-waving losers put in flying brooms? Are they serious? That's like spending time overpowering a skateboard when they totally had the skills and resources to build a car, or at least a goddamn motorcycle.

"Oh bloody hell, what's that Granger girl doing?" Blaise muttered, garnering the attention of Harry, Draco and Not. Crabbe and Goyle was still staring upwards but it looked like they were more invested in the floating clouds than the seeker about to possibly die. Classic Crabbe and Goyle.

Anyway, the Gryffindor first year in question was doing something that Harry wants to call sneaking, but was more on the lines of quietly fighting her way across the stands toward them. She even knocked over Professor Quirrell in her slightly violent quest to reach them.

Except it turns out she wasn't heading for them, but instead has crouched down, wand in her hand next to-

"What's she doing to Professor Snape?" Harry whispered in the horror one would usually feel when they watch a train wreck inevitably happen in slow motion. It didn't take long for the question to be answered however as the hems of the potions master's black robes quickly caught on fire.

"Oh my god, remind me to avoid that psycho later." Not said faintly as they alternated between watching Snape put out the flames inflicted onto his clothing and Hermione returning back to Gryffindor where she high fived Ron.

Gryffindor ended up losing by ten points by the end of the game but after some enthusiastic rioting it was decided that the match would be repeated next week due to suspicion of sabotage. There was some very strong implications in that announcement by Lee Jordan that Harry was going to be very seriously bribed in the next six days by one seriously insane Quidditch captain. Harry's heard about the Gryffindor's training regime from the Weasley twins and he wants no part of it so he immediately bolts from the stands.


"You think Snape was cursing the seeker's broomstick."

Ron and Hermione nodded vigorously, "He was muttering a lot and his eyes were practically glued onto the bloke!" Ron explained.

Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Guys I don't know how to break it to you, but everyone was looking at the seeker. He was a little hard to miss, what with all the turning and dropping and incredibly shrill screams."

"But Snape was also muttering nonstop!" Hermione argued, "I know about jinxes, you need to keep eye contact at all times. Snape didn't look away at all, he could've been jinxing that broom." Once again the green eyed entity in mortal skin leveled an incredulous stare against his friends.

"Could've." The raven haired boy deadpanned. "Could've been doing something to the broom and your first reaction was to set him on fire? You could've just shoved him like you did Quirrell."

"But that's waaay less funny." Ron muttered under his breath, earning two dirty looks. "Look mate, I know you've got this weird Snape thing going on and right now I'm kind of really hoping this is a Slytherin thing rather than a Harry thing, but we are almost absolutely positive Snape was up to no good."

"And I'm absolutely positive that Snape is not 'up to no good.'" Harry countered, then with a pause, "And I do not have a weird Snape thing."

"We will agree to disagree." Hermione placated.

"About the Snape up to no good thing?"

"Or the weird Snape thing? That again, I do not have."

The bushy haired girl sighed. "Both... Idiots."

Both boys looked at each other and grinned.


"Professor Snape, are you there?"

"Come in."

Harry opened the door to Snape's office and slowly entered. Snape didn't seem to be particularly surprised at who he had invited in or if he did the man certainly was very good at not showing it. "Potter," the older male intoned, "What are you doing here?"

Green eyes looked down at the floor, averted from Snape's person. The memory of the last time they met still ringing in his ears. Because apparently Harry had some sort of issue with people he respected shouting at him.

Oh god, does he have some sort of problem with confrontation of authority figures that he hadn't noticed?

"I came to see if you were alright. Considering you were set on fire and all."

There's a pause as Harry continues looking down at the flooring and Snape, well Harry doesn't really know what Snape was doing in the silence because he was too busy admiring the carpeting. It's uneasy and uncomfortable and Harry, whose never been good at complicated social interactions in the first place, is at a loss at how to fix this.

"I'm sorry, this was.. Doltish of me. I should go." The child mutters, pale skin no longer so pale at the moment. As he turned to leave, embarrassed and unhappy all over again, a hand larger than his on suddenly made it's presence known on his shoulder.

"Thank you."

Then just as quickly the warmth of the hand was lifted, along with the cold curling weight wedged in Harry's throat. The boy didn't reply and the professor didn't say anything more but both left the room with a small smile on their faces.


Dearest Death, my brother of darkness, of souls and all things macabre,

There are thousands upon millions upon billions, to the point of infinity and beyond, of universes out there and it so does amuse me how you've decided to partake in an adventure in this particular one. Sometimes I wonder if there are more worlds that even I am unaware of, or if we are in itself an alternative universe. Maybe there is one where you are still comfortably living in your domain, one where you enjoy these travels with the undying enthusiasm of a child or even a world where you still haven't grown out of your 'Dark' phase, unable to break out of your powers control from your mind.

It truly is nourishment for the mind to think such things. Makes even us feel small and our actions worth nothing. Like we are mere words in a story.

So many skies, so many clouds and many more stars. Are we just like a sky? Holding our worlds so possessively like how the night grasps its stars, yet we are so busy looking at those tiny balls of fire that decorate the dark that we cannot see that there is something beyond the clouds and stars.

But for now forget my rambles of skies and worlds and stars. For now we talk of you dear brother. To experience the world not as a god nor a beast but of a human mortal must be as captivating as is terrifying. For someone so intangible, representing the intangible, it's so hard to feel that sudden rush of strong sensory input that comes from tangibility. Even emotions you've experienced previously is like a halfhearted shade under a rainbow.

Everyone has problems the first time, and the second, and the hundredth time. For me, the entity that embodies one of the most incorporeal of things, becoming mortal in itself didn't hurt as much as feeling the sensations around me for the first time. I could feel each time my veins were pumped with the blood of my vessel, rain was like shards of jagged glass and the sun felt like it was frying me from the inside out. My problem relating with mortality was my intangibility, my powers to so easily move through thousands of worlds, never touching and always watching was my weakness. All of us siblings on some level have similar problems like I, but you and I more so than them.

However where my failures tend to be rooted from touch, yours lies in living.

I hope you think hard on my words. And I bid you the best hopes and memories for your first mortality.

Regards,

Space


It took one night. About twelve hours. Sometime around the middle of December. The whole of Hogwarts had woken to the usual rolling hills outside to be covered in several feet of snow.

Christmas was coming.

And Harry, who had literally no plans, is staying in Hogwarts.

Oh he could probably go off somewhere. Japan would be nice. Afghanistan not so much but he's always wanted to play a soldier's game. Actually Harry could probably go off to a whole other universe, he hears his dear reaper Death is having frustrations in one particular one- maybe a little father-son cooperation might be the best way to spend his time.

But the idea felt weird, almost wrong in his head. Like he was meant to stay here.

Like it was Fate.

Harry scrunched up his nose in annoyance. Fate's always been very adamant about certain things, things may change in various timelines and worlds divergent from the original story but there would always be constants. A place, a person, an event. Constants that allow the story to still be in the hands of Fate's.

And apparently staying for the winter holiday was one of them. Urgh. Why.

"I do feel so sorry," Draco began haughtily as he sauntered towards Harry staring at the signage sheet for students staying back. "For all those people who have to stay at Hogwarts for Christmas because they're not wanted at home. What do you think Potter?"

Harry, without breaking any eye contact, pulled out a quill and wrote his name on the end of the list with a flourish. "I don't know." He said smoothly, his expression showing none of the absolute glee he feels at Draco's face. "Ask me that again after the holidays."

He wasn't the only one staying back in Hogwarts. Turned out Ron and his brothers were staying too, because Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were going to Romania to visit Charlie. Harry was too polite to ask out loud who the hell was this Charlie character. Percy, after quite a lot of laughing- something that Harry had tried to avoid by asking Percy in the first place- had to explain his family tree and woah, there are way too many kids in the Weasley equation to share the same mother. Harry's never had the unfortunate opportunity to experience childbirth himself but he knows enough to know that you should never cross a woman whose experienced it seven times.

Jesus Christ. Ron and the others must've been the cutest babies under the sun or something. Because hamster babies were adorable- and those occasionally get eaten by their parents.

As he and Percy walked through the corridors, the prefect telling Harry various family stories and Harry listening with bemusement, they ended up being interrupted by a giant fir tree blocking the way and a half giant pulling it toward them.

Suddenly a little familiar freckled face popped out of the greenery. "Hey Hagrid, need a little help?"

Hagrid, still haven't noticed the two observers watching the whole scene just shook his head. "Nah I'm all right, thanks Ron."

"Hi Ron!" Harry called out, Percy gave a half hearted wave as both Hagrid and Ron locked eyes with them. The red headed first year was about to reply when something seemed to pull him back out of the tree. There was some muffled conversation and Harry was pretty sure he heard the Malfoy heir and then a proceeding war cry from Ron.

"Should we stop them?" he whispered to the older Weasley who shrugged, a gesture very uncharacteristic of him when it comes to the rules of the school. "We can't get to the other side in time," Percy explained, "It would be best to wait until another prefect or professor-"

"WEASLEY!" Came the booming deep voice of one very angry potions professor that caused all three individuals on the other side of the three to wince. "-see?"

Hagrid was already poking his own head through the fir, defending Ron for whatever conflict that had occurred. There was some more talking that Harry and Percy this time heard more clearly, points from Gryffindor were taken, Ron complaining about Malfoy and Snape, Hagrid inviting all of them somewhere. Before they knew it, all four (five if you include the tree) of them were in the Great Hall where Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick were busy with the Christmas decorations.

The hall looked stupendous. Trims of holly and mistletoe hung all around the walls, and there were towering Christmas trees decorated around the room, some shining with small icicles, some sparkling with many candles. Professor Flitwick had golden bubbles blossoming out of his wand and was trailing them over the branches of the new tree. Harry was incredibly impressed. "I am incredibly impressed." He says, because yes, that needed vocalising.

"So how many days until your holidays again?" Hagrid asked.

"Just one," answered Hermione, then tearing her eyes away from the beautiful christmas scene she added. "And that reminds me -Ron, we've got half an hour before lunch, we should be in the library."

The redheaded first year scoffed, "Uh. No."

"Ron." Hermione hissed, pointedly elbowing him so hard that Harry's pretty sure Ron choked on his on spit.

"Oh, yeah, you're right," He groaned.

The Potter heir and the Weasley prefect shared a long suffering and suspicious look.

"Holy crap guys." Ron stared, rubbing the spot where Hermione jabbed him. "You too look way to scarily similar right now for me to deal."

"The library? Just before the holidays too?" Harry sighed, "Hermione I totally understand but Ron, and I mean this with love, wouldn't voluntarily step in the library unless under explicit threat of death."

"Not even threat." Percy remarked. "There would actually have to have been a wand pointed at his back before he would even think of studying."

"Oh my god." Ron breathed in horror, "You two have been bonding." He accuses with the sort of tone one would use when they find out someone's secret hobby was hunting people for sport, or kicking bunnies, or cockblocking. Needless to say, it's incredibly amusing.

"And we really need to get going." Hermione hurries, pulling away the youngest Weasley who looked ready to hyperventilate. "Things to do, stuff to research, not like anything bad of course, just research, you know how it is. Bye!"

"BONDING!" Ron shouted right as they turned the corner and went out of sight.

Harry and Percy stared out at where the two had made their escape. "That was strange." Harry commented. Percy just shrugged again, he seems to do that a lot now that they've established a friendship. "Honestly, it doesn't even make the top thirty weirdest things I've seen one of my younger brothers and their friends do."

"Well that isn't fair, I'm pretty sure top thirty consists of only Fred, George and Lee Jordan's exploit. Ron probably doesn't even make top fifty."

The prefect grinned as he put his hands up playfully, "Guilty."

"Mr Potter, Mr Weasley," The usually fond but stern voice of the transfiguration professor called out with almost childish enthusiasm. "If you're done chitchatting maybe you would like to help with the decorations?"

Professor Flitwick, with his usual childish enthusiasm squealed out an excited, "Yes, yes, Mr Potter why don't I teach you how to make some coloured bubbles to help speed up embellishing the trees?"

"Mr Weasley can help me place the stasis charms on the snow and ice." McGonagall added with a smile, both boys returned it with an equally large grin.

"That sounds great Professor." The prefect agreed honestly with Harry nodding.

By the way, the life-sized ice reindeers? Totally Harry's work. Though Percy did a great job at the sleigh and Flitwick spelled the whole thing to move but Harry is still pretty stoked at how great his reindeers. Maybe this holiday won't be as boring as he thought.

Chapter Text

The one where Death has his first Christmas in Hogwarts and a ton of gift wrap was harmed in the writing of this chapter. Also there's a mirror, but it isn't used to admire anyone's stunning good looks.

Christmas break was pretty good. Harry actually found himself quite busy the days coming up to Christmas Day. It was nice. There was afternoon tea with Filch and Mrs Norris. He read new books in the library while Ron tried valiantly to study... something, the kid refused to show Harry what he was researching but it was obvious he wasn't very good at it. Sometimes Harry would throw out random dry comments on the redhead's frustration that would've made Malfoy proud, until Ron inevitably gives up and they go outside to fly. Percy, being one of the few prefects still there had nightly rounds almost every other day, which the boy would tend to gallantly volunteer his company to, spending the hours around the castle talking about their day and their families.

Fred and George and Peeves had this 'war' going on for a solid week that subsided entirely of very embarrassing but admittedly creative pranks that went from classic magicked water balloons that held more potions than innocent water in them to more complex hijinks which resulted in dog-sized spiders covered in goose feathers and the second floor halls being covered with lime flavoured jelly. And somehow Harry had ended up as their official 'judge' in all of this nonsense because apparently it was his fault. Which, let it be stated for the record, was completely false. He did not start that mess. And whoever says otherwise are dirty liars.

It didn't matter though because as a judge Harry finds himself always present during these 'events', so he's pretty much been in the middle of every metaphorical and literal train wreck to happen in the castle since the beginning, much to the child's chagrin. Most of the students still in school have managed to catch on to the pattern and pretty much would flee if Harry's so much as in the same room as them. Cowards. Ron, bless him, still hasn't connected the dots and just complains when he gets pelted with rubber ducks or painted orange. Though the green eyed entity isn't completely sure the redhead even realises they're are any dots to connect in the first place.

Of course after a week filled with mayhem it was Harry's civic duty to put his foot down. And if that happened to be the day that those morons covered him in salted maple syrup when he had just gotten out of the shower minutes ago, well, who was going to argue?

His hair smelt like cheap candy for two whole days despite all the cleaning charms and showers. Neither the twins nor the poltergeist was seen during that time. Which was smart of the trio. Because if they met Harry will be pretty sure they'll be never seen again.

Sometimes, when he was bored of playing with the children, the boy would go out to the Forbidden Forest to greet the centaurs. Firenze happily showed him to their village and he was greeted with a reverent welcome. Their were a small population and a dying one if the lack of females were any indication but Christmas was coming and Harry chose not to comment on their dilemma for now. Instead he distracted them by regaling everyone with stories of the stars and of the gods that no constellation alone can tell.

And when he didn't feel like going outside to converse with the centaurs, Harry would actively seek out a teacher to chat to. Maybe even learn a few things. Like transfiguring and moulding stuff with glass, or charming stuff to move. He's absolutely terrible at those things but the child enjoys the feeling of being challenged.

So yeah, it wasn't exactly what his fellow entities would have called a particularly fun holiday but Harry was pretty content all things considered. He had hot chocolate in his hands that always filled up, a variety of mortals to entertain him as he pleases and the satisfaction of watching snow outside whilst he was warm and snuggled cozily in thick blankets. And that's good enough for him.


Hi brother,

It's Life, your favourite counterpart? It's my turn to write and just gotta say bro you are doing like okay at the whole living thing.

B+ for creativity. Your Life points were lowered because you didn't do anything that interesting for the first decade of your life. I mean really? You are literally wasting your life. Go visit some other worlds, go visit a different universe, heck go to Las Vegas I am not joking do it first chance you get.

Honestly I don't even understand why you're even in school, granted it's a magic school with some seriously cool stuff but it's still a school. Like ugh. How could you even stay still in those walls, I would absolutely die by now.

Of course that's why we're opposites I guess, anyway I'm keeping this brief little brother but I am missing you and so's everyone else blah, blah, blah. Your paperwork is so cramping my style but I'm doing okay with the delegating bit. I only made six of your reapers cry today so it's a huge improvement.

See ya,

Life


Actual Christmas was admittedly not that exciting. Oh it was Harry's first proper Chrismassy Christmas, fitted with greens and reds and.. Things. Harry was not much of a Christmas person. That was more of a Time or Space holiday than anything, because whatever the universe, this particular holiday always seemed to be 'timeless'. Chaos just liked the holiday for watching disorganised people shop for gifts the day before. Actually, Chaos likes a lot of holidays for that reason. And to screw with people. But that's just standard of a good time in general when it comes to the representation of all things chaotic anyway.

It was quite flattering to receive his own gifts though. Ones that have been gift wrapped too. That's a pretty new concept. As Harry, he didn't get gifts that weren't food or borrowed items from his cousins. As Death, well, he got gifts, obviously, but they weren't exactly gift wrapped optional- unless you count when Love sent over that inhumanely, insanely good looking dark elf prince that had a bow on his… No that probably didn't count.

It was quite the Thanksgiving treat though. He both got a lot and did a lot of giving and said numerous thanks to various things if you know what he means. Ah yes. That was a good day.

But again, not gift wrapped.

Harry looked down at his various colourful presents and something akin to absolute delight seem to tingle in his chest as the boy saw that they were all addressed to him. It wasn't like the distantly pleased buzz he would get as an entity, this was vivid and intense and so simplistically human. The Slytherin dorms were empty so Harry wasted no time to satisfy his twitching fingers and carefully began unwrapping the closest gift, which quickly became a brightly coloured paper massacre.

"Well... I see you've got your gifts."

Harry's head snapped up to see his highly amused House Head leaning at the entrance of the dorm bedrooms, then back at the ripped up patterning in his hands before looking back up bashfully. "I.. Uh.. Merry Christmas?" He offered to the smirking professor, failing absolutely terribly in trying to subtly brush off the tattered remains of paper on his lap. How on this earth did he manage to make such a mess with only one box already?

Snape made a soft huffing sound that the green eyed boy had quickly acquainted with as the closest thing the older man had at laughter so far. He's adamant he'll make the potions master laugh properly one of these days. Preferably not at his expense though. Like currently so. Once again pale hands try and brush the paper off his black cotton pajama bottoms. Alas the gift wrap stubbornly clung on. This must be its revenge. Cruel, embarrassing revenge.

The professor made the huffing sound again. "Merry Christmas Potter." He said, walking towards the smaller male and sitting on the bed opposite as easily as if he owns it. He's in black robes this early morning, Harry's almost tempted to say it's his usual teaching robes but no, he's pretty sure that's just what the man's sleeping wear looks like. Jesus. Even he didn't wear that much black.

Okay no he did but that wasn't the point here.

Not completely sure what to do in this social situation Harry glanced at the professor sitting perfectly upright on the bed before opening the box. "I've never had a real present before." He confessed quietly. The older man made a thoughtful noise and when he flicked his eyes upward for a second the raven haired child thought he saw a pained expression on the other's face, but that was quickly shoved away in favour of greedily soaking up the image of the first in many gifts to come.

There were assortments of candy and chocolate from his not as close friends and upperclassmen he's chatted with occasionally. Snape ended up accepting a sugar quill, two cauldron cakes and some sort of disturbingly bright green lollipop under Harry's ceaseless insistence. He got a copy of Frankenstein from Hermione, something which amused him to no end. He's always been quite fond of the work for obvious reasons. There was even an emerald green hand-knitted jumper from the Weasely matriarch which Harry immediately put on, which resulted in a few snide comments from the older man. Ron himself had, according to the card, piggybacked on the Weasley twins' gift of experimental pranks, a gift which was half confiscated the moment the dour professor realized what the present was exactly and who gave them away. Harry managed to snatch away a good amount of the strange assortment of trinkets (which he really hoped didn't activate upon contact or anything like that) but he's going to have to definitely apologise to the two red headed pranksters if any future pranks in the potions room don't work.

With a sheepish smile the boy pushed back the already opened gifts away from them, slipping the items in his arms into an empty box, something that wasn't lost on the potions master if the narrowing of his eyes were anything to go by. "Give it to me Potter." He demanded softly but no less stern.

"But professor, it's my gift." Harry did not whine.

"It's a menace to education."

"Well, that's a little harsh.."

Snape lifted up one of the twins' assortment of pranks, it looked like a really small lava lamp to be perfectly honest. "This-" long fingers shook the thing gently to emphasize what he was talking about like it wasn't already obvious, "Was used last year to cover the classroom with sticky paint. In every corner and crevice."

Harry winced, he should probably never open any presents from his redheaded friends in front of a Head of House again. Except for Percy. Who got him a perfectly respectable if slightly tattered scarf of dark red. It was very kind, particularly as it was obviously out of his own pocket, hopefully the brand new self inking quill and 'muggle' wristwatch he sent back was just as well received.

"Well it's not like I'm the type of student to actually use them." And okay, maybe Harry was whining a little bit and making little grabby motions at Snape, "Come on Professor, please?"

Snape looked amused again at the pleading expression on the child's face but shifted the various prank gifts behind his back nonetheless. "While that may be true Potter, your friends are less likely to strike any sort of trust in my heart." Then with a pause, Snape eyed Harry with mock suspicion, "Not to mention your ability to stand your ground against them."

Hurry huffed, "One, rude. And two, my friends aren't all unruly like you imply. Hermione's good."

"She set me on fire." Snape deadpanned. Harry winced again.

"You knew?"

"She wasn't exactly secretive with her intentions Potter. Even if I didn't see it coming, half the school did."

"What about Draco then? He's your godson."

"And as my godson, know full well how the boy can make trouble when he wants to."

"Well how about-"

"Don't even get me started on the youngest Weasley."

Harry gave the older man a look. "-I was going to say Percy." The child finished. "Honestly even I know Ron would be the first person to use them given the chance."

Snape looked thoughtful before shaking his head and smirking. "Doesn't count, the Weasley prefect's not even in your year."

"You never said that!"

"The point still stands. And I'm letting you keep the ones you've managed to snatch aren't I?" The professor raised a challenging brow. Harry grumbled but reluctantly moved on to the next colourfully wrapped presents. He knew a useless effort when he saw one.

Draco's gift was unsurprisingly elaborate, all the way down to the wrapping which was pale blue covered in silver snowflakes that actually moved depending on how you shook the box. "Do you have a gift from Draco?" Harry asked curiously. He was feeling a bit guilty right now at opening all these gifts in front of the professor while the man just sat there and watched. Logically the entity-child knew that Snape had at least one present from him but it's kind of like trying to eat at a restaurant while ignoring the homeless man staring at you through the window. Like he wasn't feeling that much guilt over it, but that didn't stop him feeling uncomfortable.

Snape didn't answer the question but instead just took out his own present from the Malfoy's, unshrinking it from an unseen pocket in his night robes. Either the man thrived on the growing uncomfortableness of the situation or he really did forget to bring his own gifts out and partake in the festivities. Yeah. Obviously the first option, the bastard.

"It's from Lucius and his wife Narcissa." The professor explained as Harry took in the smaller, less brightly coloured gift in Snape's lap. "From the note attached, my godson had been too busy trying to find the perfect gift for you." Snape said with a wry smile, "Apparently Lucius ended up helping midway through because Draco wished to one-up all the Weasley's gifts combined."

Harry laughed. "That does sounds like Draco." He looked down at the large box and began opening it whilst Snape did the same. "Huh, now I'm worried what he's going to think of the gift I gave him now."

"Unlike your ability to say no, I do have faith in your gift picking skills." The professor drawled as he unveiled a glittering golden engraved set of measuring scales. Now Harry was actually seriously worrying about how his homemade gift to the Malfoy heir would be received.

"I don't think you should say that when you haven't even looked at my gift to you yet." He pointed out.

Snape paused in his careful examination of the scales to look up at Harry with something akin to fondness. "That's true, but I'm inclined to believe it anyway."

Harry makes a soft 'oh' sound and ducks his head to try and hide the pale pink flush rising up from his cheeks. Instead of trying to answer that head on the boy deflects by picking up his blonde friends gift and admiring it in the soft morning light. "Well I hope your not expecting anything like this or you're going to be sorely disappointed."

The small unmelting carving of Hogwarts castle fitted with it's own little patch of Forbidden forest and a molten silver Black Lake glittered.

"I don't enjoy useless trinkets." The potions master snorted as he looked derisively at the shining, shimmering statue. A icy tentacle from the sliver depths came up to wave at the boy. Obviously Snape had no idea what he was talking about, this is a brilliant present.

"You know if my gift to you ends up being jewelry or whatever else you define as a 'useless trinket' we are both going to be very embarrassed now aren't we?"

"I think I can get by." Snape replied with a raised brow.

They continued opening presents after that, well, it was more Harry opening presents and Snape commenting and criticizing them as they went along, but it was still a very enjoyable time for both parties. The Diggory boy sent him a pillow with bright yellow flowers which was not as entertaining to Harry as it was to Snape. Nott gave him a book on basic Wizarding history. Blaise's gift consisted of coloured pencils that changed shade at will and a simple sketchbook. There was even a present from the wretched child Zacharias Smith, some gaudy ugly golden badger that was charmed to shine brightly like a disco ball. Harry took one look at and dropped it like garbage. Snape must've agreed with the action because he pointed his wand at it, muttered something under his breath and turned it into a mouse.

"I am not feeding Hedwig that." The green eyed boy declared. "She is a beautiful bird and I refuse to taint her with the trash that comes from Smith's spoilt grubby little hands."

"Your hands are smaller than his." Snape commented because he could, earning the older man a squawk of indignation. "You're relationship with the Smith boy is surprising."

"Why would you say that? I despise self entitled untalented brats who think they're better because of some ancestor they're probably not even that directly related to." Harry scowled as he nudged the rather clingy transfigured rodent away from his pyjama pants. "Is it so wrong that there are people I dislike?"

"Not.. wrong." Snape said slowly, "Just unusual." Which, fair, Harry has been pretty amiable to most of the student population of Hogwarts sans Zacharias and his idiot groupies, but it wasn't like he's declared a full out family war with them like the Weasleys and Malfoys apparently had.

"Yes, well, you try talking to Smith on a semi-regular basis and you'll want to strangle his neck too." He sniffed, not missing the twist of a smile on the professor's face.

"If he's anything like in Potions then I'm inclined to have to agree with you there." Snape acquiesced easily, "Now hurry up Potter, you've still got a few more gifts to unwrap and breakfast will start in an hour."

Some of the presents were just plain predictable, books from the Ravenclaws, more edible treats and generalized gifts from people who just wanted to send something to the Boy Who Lived, an occult book from Piers and Dudley which was always a good laugh, and the Dursley's themselves-

"Is.. Is that a wrinkled £5 note?" Snape asks, unable to hide his surprise and disdain at the poor excuse for a gift. Harry grinned sardonically, "Would you believe that this is the nicest thing I've gotten from them? I should keep this for posterity honestly." He muses right as he begins smouldering the crunched up money with a small flame he sprouted from his fingertips.

"But," The professor for once seemed to be at a loss for words, like his whole worldview had shifted a little bit and he didn't know what to do with the new scenery, "They're your guardians."

"Well they aren't very good ones," Green eyes rolled, it wasn't like he was hiding what was happening to him in Surrey, people always liked to assume. "There was no bending over backwards to accommodate my needs or anything, not that Uncle Vernon could if he wanted to."

Snape didn't say anything to that so Harry continued opening his Christmas gifts. Even the professors and staff seemed to have given him a few, he's rather glad he got presents for literally everyone he knew. Obvious upsides to having a body that had a rich heritage and the 'soul' of someone who can woo goblins with its presence is that you barely need to worry about the cost of an island much less a few nice items. Flitwick's gift was an enchanted dreamcatcher that made dreams much more vivid and ensured less chances of any nightmares. Filch had made some sort of good luck charm that smelt like lavender. Sprout's present, true to her name, was a small pot of seedlings and a note about how excited she was that he'll be moving into her house next. And McGonagall had given him a Nimbus 2000 which made Harry grin and Snape scowl simultaneously.

"You will not join the Gryffindor Quidditch team Potter." The professor ordered in a manner that was only half serious.

"But professor," Harry teased, "They bought me a broom, I am pretty sure I'm obligated now to repay them with my body."

Snape coughed, a faint dusting of red on the tips of his ears before looking at Harry straight in the eyes and replying, "And if my gift ends up to be better? What would you obligated to do for me?"

The younger boy flushed at the undertones of the potions master's joke but gave a wry confident smirk either way. "Well it depends professor, but I think I could be convinced."

"It's the one wrapped in dark green." Snape pointed out. There were two gifts left, the green one that Harry now knew was Snape's and a plain brown parcel. With a jittery anticipation the boy reached out to claim and unwrap the present. Midway through he couldn't help but glance up to see black eyes watching him intently.

"Why don't we open presents at the same time?" He offers, the older of the pair nods in agreement and un-shrinks a light grey box with a light green ribboning.

"Fine."

It doesn't take long for both of them to take out their respected items, even with Snape's penchant for delicately opening paper like it was made of crushed diamonds or something. Harry looked at the small bottle of see through but sludgy liquid with more than a little confusion, there seemed to be a handwritten manual accompanied by the filled glass container but looked toward the potions master for clarity anyway.

"It's a work in progress but I thought you would appreciate it." The professor coughed and gave a tentative smile which looked very nice on the man but still explained nothing. Inwardly sighing at the fact he had to read a manual so early in the morning, Harry picked it up and began skimming through the first page. He got four sentences in before it clicked.

Harry gazed up at Snape with awe and a healthy dose of pleasing warmth, "You made a potion for me."

"It's more of a liquid coating." Snape tried to dismiss, "Theoretically your muggle machinations should work in moderate magical densities when essentially covered."

"You didn't have to though," Childlike fingers held the bottle with much more delicacy now, the professor may skim over the details but Harry's not naive enough to not know how much work that must've gone through the whole process. He was extremely flattered. "This, it's, now I'm truly nervous in how you'll take my gift to you." The boy sputtered.

"Don't be obtuse boy. It's called a gift for a reason," Snape sneered, lifting the lid of the unopened box in his hands. "Honestly, you would think I've brought you the moon."

Harry's already owned a few hundred thousand moons, hell, he's hung a few of them himself and honestly he felt those were way less interesting than what the humans implied. Nothing like this. This thought and effort and time and sheer creativity all mixed in one tiny bottle and a few inked characters. Snape can have his moons. This was much better.

Before he can tell the professor this, there's a soft noise of surprise which took precedence of the boy's attention. Snape held up a pair of sleek white gloves which had faint black markings of scales circling the edges but other than that it was a simple design. Feeling the need to both preen and explain at the curious expression holding Snape's face captive Harry gently put down his present and shifted himself to a more comfortable position.

"They're for potion making. It's thin and soft enough so your sense of touch isn't compromised but I requested cooling charms so you can handle hot cauldrons and resistance to other various things." Snape easily slipped the gloves on his long, slim fingers and Harry tried very hard not to think about the image, especially in reversed.

So he has a thing. You don't live as long as he without a few surprising self-discoveries. Sue him.

Snape looked a little surprised as he surveyed the fit of the piece of clothing. "It's perfect." He murmured and Harry grinned, stupidly proud at the compliment.

"Honestly, you would think I brought the moon." The boy mimicked playfully getting himself a rough ruffling on his head.

"Insolent boy." Snape chided but there was no heat to it, "Now come on, you've got one more to unwrap and then you can go skip off to talk with those redheaded menaces about food or pranks or mocking the Malfoys or something equally incessant."

"You have a very specific image of the Weasleys Professor."

"Tell me I'm wrong."

Harry paused. "Fair enough." He shrugged before giving a pointed look. "But it's still rude."

Snape raised a brow as one corner or his lips curled. "Just open it Potter."

"Sure thing Professor Snape." The boy grinned. Taking the parcel in his hands the raven haired child turned it around to see if he could discern the identity of the gift giver. He furrowed his brows a bit when he couldn't find any note. Maybe it was just inside the wrapping?

Slowly ripping the brown paper away, something silvery grey fell almost fluidly like water onto the ground, lying in an elegant heap of shimmering folds. Harry had to give a double take at the fallen item. He recognised that fabric.

He used to own that fabric.

"It can't be.." Harry snapped his head up, eyes glowing brightly with shock and for once, suspicion.

"You know what this is?" The child asked, not able to fully prevent his voice going a little high pitched and funny at the end. Snape didn't seem to notice, too busy staring at the light silver cloth. Harry didn't blame him. He was having trouble not keeping his eyes on it either. Though the displeasure aimed at it from the professor was a little unwarranted.

"It's your father's." Snape answered through gritted teeth, like admitting it took actual physical pain.

And wait. What?

"Father's?"

"Yes, it was quite the- favoured item of James Potter." Oh. Right. Harry had a sire. Obviously. He'd almost forgotten about that. "It's a-"

"-Invisibility Cloak." Harry finished for the potions master as he picked up the cloth and draped it over him in one quick, graceful movement, hiding his body in the process. The boy had to say, it was felt good to have something of his own back in his hands again.

Though he quickly realised his slip up when the Head of Slytherin looked him strangely and slowly said, "Yes. But how did you know that?"

"I read it in one of my readings?" Harry tried. And then, "Oh look at the time, we should head down like right now professor. I would so hate to be late for Christmas."

Snape still didn't look wholly convinced with what he was selling, but thankfully let it go. Harry was getting way better at this whole social thing now that he was human. The boy looked mournfully at the Deathly Hallow hugging his body, he wished being invisible was an acceptable norm at the dining table but alas, it was not to be.

With a soft sigh he pulled off the Invisibility cloak, trying to ignore the way the fabric instinctively clung to his person and gently folded it, tucking it under his pillow. He'll put it back on tonight.


It turns out they still ended up a good forty minutes early to breakfast, Harry had unfortunately just didn't need much sleep and Snape was either a naturally very early morning person or he had trouble sleeping too. They ended up parting ways when they saw the empty hall, the boy deciding to go toward the Gryffindor tower to see how his redheaded friends were doing and the professor, well, Harry wasn't sure where he went but he went somewhere.

"Merry Christmas!" Was the first thing shouted in the green eyed first year's face once he entered the Gryffindor dorms. As well as a couple of streamers and- never mind that, how on earth do the Weasley twins always know where he is?!

"Oi! Ron c'mon Harry's here!" George shouted behind his shoulder whilst Fred leaned on his other with a sly smirk.

"And look, Harry's got a Weasley sweater too!"

Now that he'd mentioned it, both twins were wearing bright blue sweaters, each with a giant yellow letter corresponding to the beginning of their name knitted on them. Fred slunk over to Harry's side, over exaggeratingly inspecting his green sweater like an art critic checking out a new post-modernist sculpture. "Harry's is better than ours though," He mused, stroking a non-existent beard as he did so. "She obviously made much more of an effort even if you're not family." Fred pouts.

George, never one to be far behind Fred, too had found his way past Harry's personal space bubble and was grinning like a loon. "Fred says that but you know he was the one to insist to mum that you should get a sweater in the first place." The twin cackled as his counterpart turned red and slapped George upside the head possibly a little harder than necessary causing said twin to burst into a string of muffled chuckles.

"Well I wasn't the one to tell her to make it green so it could match his eyes." Fred hissed, turning his brother's face into a similar shade as his own.

"I did not, Percy did!"

"Well I didn't see you exactly disagreeing. In fact, your exact words dear brother of mine-"

There was a lot of hushed mutterings and heavily worded facial expressions that Harry had kind of zoned out of by then. He's not really sure what they were talking about but he's managed to figure out that the twins also helped with the jumper which was very nice of them. And Percy too. Very nice of them indeed. Though the murmurings and such right now were a little less so.

"Mate!" Harry smiled a little gratefully when Ron finally showed up with half a chocolate bar in his mouth and a half opened gift in his arms. "I just opened your gift Harry and I gotta say oh my Merlin, you are the best." He gushed gleefully.

The raven haired boy laughed and the twins had finally stopped whatever teasing they had been doing beforehand to watch on curiously. "Ron it's just a bag of muggle candy bars, it's not a big deal."

"The. Best." Ron stressed. "I've had that Milky way one and I'm pretty sure I didn't see any stars but it was delicious."

Chewing on his chocolates Ron finally noticed what Harry was wearing. "Oh mate, your wearing a Weasley sweater." He pointed out rather obviously.

"And where's yours by the way?" George asked, leaning on Fred's shoulder who was leaning on Harry's head like some strange unstable tower. "Yeah Ron," Fred added, their grins back on their faces again, "Come on and get it, they're so cozy and warm."

"But I hate maroon." Ron moaned half heartedly but went to go get it anyway. Harry didn't really blame the reluctance, maroon didn't seem to be a very good colour for any of the Weasley's really.

"What's all this noise then?"

The curly haired Weasley prefect peered his head into the room disapprovingly before looking surprised at seeing Harry there with the rest of them. Percy had clearly been in the middle of opening presents as well because he too was carrying a similar lumpy orange sweater in his arms. It seems all the Weasleys were late sleepers no exceptions then.

"C'mon Percy, get it on, we're all wearing our jumpers!" Fred beckoned, George cackled, "Yeah, you've even got the 'P' for prefect on it! Perfect prefect Percy."

The oldest Weasley brother began spluttering out various disagreements but it was too late, like snakes the twins had already found their prey and before Harry even knew it, Percy was practically pinned side by side by two identical cheeky smirks as they wrestled their older brother into the offending item of clothing. The resulting scuffle was enough to draw out Ron, wearing an admittedly abhorrent coloured sweater.

"Does this happen often?" Harry asked, unsure whether he should keep watching or take pity on the prefect and step in. Ron snorted and rolled his eyes.

"Are you kidding? This is nothing."


After breakfast Harry and the Weasleys spent most of the afternoon in the midst of a furious snowball fight which even Percy had joined, not to mention most of the other students still left behind on the school grounds. Making snowballs turned out much harder than the boy had originally thought, throwing them even harder. Ron was in near hysterics the first few times Harry had finally gotten a decent looking ball of snow, only for it to disintegrate upon itself the moment it was flung into the air.

His redheaded friend practically asked for a handful of snow shoved down his shirt. So, it really was all on Ron really.

Obviously the child howled at the icy cold while Harry giggled at the look of shock on the other's face and it was probably around then when the snowball fight turned into a snowball war.

At some point some cheating sixth year pulled out his wand and started magically pelting snowballs at anyone wishing five feet of his person. The twins had began colouring snow to confuse people and Percy looked like he was deeply regretting most of his life's decisions. Ron and Harry had decided to overcome their previous differences and team up, Ron with his impressive aiming and Harry with his wandless magic made them pretty amazing. The green eyed child wasn't sure how one could possibly win in such an activity but he was pretty sure that they were pretty darn close to it.

Though luckily, before the whole afternoon could escalate into anything too violent, the call for dinner was made and hunger on christmas was apparently not something to be ignored for everyone was soon rushing inside, faces pink from the cold and frost in their hair. Harry did not blame them at all once he saw the banquet spread out on the tables at dinner time.

Fat roasted turkeys that were practically sweating in meat juices, platters of buttery potatoes cooked in various ways, freshly cooked bread rolls every few feet along the tables… Let's just say Harry was immensely grateful that human senses like taste are so much more enhanced compared to his usual body.

Then there was the dessert. Lord almighty, Harry was never the biggest fan of Christmas puddings but he thinks he could make many exceptions to the rule as he takes his first bite and practically melts at the sweet silken texture. Ron who had been eating like a starving man had not even slowed down when the puddings arrived, despite the redheaded boy still holding a turkey leg in one hand. It was almost enough to put someone off their appetite. Almost.

Harry looked up at the teacher's table and observed that the professors have been drinking an awful lot going by the reddened face of Hagrid. At one point he's pretty sure the half-giant landed a quick kiss on Professor McGonagall's cheek, who also seemed to be quite drunk because she just giggled and blushed like a teen. Snape was taking a long gulp of whatever alcoholic concoction was in his goblet and just generally nursing his drink while scowling, dare he say, sulking at the edge of the table. The Headmaster didn't seem to have had much alcohol at least, which was good considering that it would've been a pretty terrible school if every adult tonight got smashed on school grounds. However, the old wizard did have on a flowered bonnet which struck respect and awe in absolutely no-one.

By the time dinner was finished every witch, wizard and entity felt too full and sleepy to do much of anything but get ready to fall asleep. Well, except for maybe Percy who last he heard was chasing Fred and George around the castle because the twins took his prefect badge. Harry had trudged back to the dungeons, ready to go have a well deserved nap in his room for one of the last few times before moving to Hufflepuff.

God, that's going to suck. Zacharias Smith's going to be there. Harry's going to be forced to commit painful, painful murder on the boy's face.

Okay not 'forced', he's not into victim blaming but he's definitely not going to feel great about the homicide. Afterwards anyway. Probably. Oh my god he is so going to end up killing the Hufflepuff isn't he?

As soon as he reached his bed, the green eyed entity pulled out his cloak from under the pillows, letting his fingers slip between the delicately fluid texture lovingly. It's strange how he's been reunited with it all these centuries. The child wondered if he'll see his other Hallows, it's not like he was particularly emotionally attached to the items to be perfectly truthful. With the exception of the cloak in his hands which was just a shred of his own favourite travelling cape back then- something designed by Space who had been a little obsessive in dimension altering fashion at the time- the Hallows were essentially some mundane object he picked up by that riverside and imbeded some powers in it.

It's a tad hard to feel connected to something you've literally only owned for less than a minute really. And since the only reason he even made them was to piss off (kill) those brothers of Peverall and find himself a possible master they were kind of useless to him right now other than a simple connection to his original existence. Even then it wasn't worth much.

Thinking about it a bit further, does that mean if he ends up with all three Hallows he'll be his own master? Is Fate trying to say something? Because despite what most people may think, he is not exactly a strong, independent woman that don't need no master to function. No. Uh. Well that didn't make much sense. The point is, a master would anchor him theoretically and that would help quite a bit with his minor 'control issues'.

Pale hands tightened their grip on the invisibility cloak.

So a master would be very preferable, but if he has all three in his possession at the same time then… But wait. The child shaped entity scrunched up his face,- if in this world Harry Potter gained possession of this Hallow, wouldn't that mean there's a chance a Harry Potter in another parallel universe could possibly earn all three of the Hallows? Oh dear, did he just kill off his potential master? But then there should be other Harrys out there. Does he get multiple masters or is there just one Harry James Potter out there who could've been and he'd just took over his body? Shit. He's just going to leave all the details be ironed out by Space and Fate. This was getting way too complicated and meta.

It took a while before Harry finally pulled his attention away from his Deathly Hallow existential crisis to notice the small note that had fallen conveniently by his feet. Picking it up, he could see it was written in a narrow looping handwriting he didn't recognise;

Your father left this in my possession before he died. It is time it was returned to you. Use it well.

A Very Merry Christmas to You.

The letter was left unsigned. But whoever sent it had definitely put some sort of charm on it because Harry could feel the magic urge him to explore with the cloak. He felt more awake, more aware, and an intense rush at the thought of being to go anywhere again without being seen by anyone. The boy wondered if he should go to Snape and report this, he's pretty sure this is the magical equivalent of drugged candy yet the spell was holding him back, enhancing his possessiveness to the object so Harry would only want to use the cloak by himself.

The boy probably could have just shrugged the compulsion off, it was actually quite a strong bit of spellwork he had to admit but nothing that he would actually struggle too hard with. But Harry had to admit he was curious to this person's end game. So instead of doing the normal thing one should do when realising they've been put under some sort of charm like a sane person, Harry chose to let the spell carry out it's purpose and crept out of the dorms with his cloak on his shoulders. Wandering through the darkened halls, the child noted that he was walking up toward the higher floors of the castle. The fact Hogwarts wasn't doing anything to hinder him meant either she too had some Christmas in her spirit or someone explicitly warned her not to.

Harry had a vague suspicion on who wrote that note.

He finally arrived in what seemed to be an empty classroom. Empty with the exception of one giant mirror standing right in the middle of it. A giant, ornate mirror. With a golden frame and clawed feet. Yeah, he was totally going to miss that if it wasn't in the middle of the room. Good thinking creepy note writer.

There was an inscription carved around the top which, being of an annoyingly petite stature, Harry had to get on tip toes to properly read. It took a few moments before the boy realised it wasn't written in any language he'd known but instead was just written backwards in english.

Harry hummed thoughtfully at the etchings, a mirror that showed your heart's desire was a dangerous sort of thing. Not even he would really want going against him. But the boy had come this far, and it seemed only he should be the one to see what he truly desires so at least there would be no confused voyeurs wondering why his reflection would show like world destruction or something.

It's not something he particularly desires but he is Death, maybe subconsciously that's all he wants, he doesn't truly know. That's what makes the mirror so terrifying.

With a slow, deep breath, Harry takes a step back from the mirror and looks straight at where his reflection should be. But as expected, there was no reflection of his physical self. Instead, there was his original form or at least what he'd first thought to be his previous appearance. He was still tall, lithe to the point of skinny but in a handsome almost prettily ethereal way and his hair was still an untamed mass of shadowy curls that moved like the waves of the sea in the darkest hour of the night. But there were differences when he looked closer; he seemed softer, less bones and angles and fear. The entity before him looked confident and secure and stable. His eyes were glowing green as they are now but even brighter, shining with something that Harry couldn't even understand and he was smiling, such an easy wide, bright smile that looked both awkward and fitting on his face.

And there were people behind him, beside him, all around him. It made Harry's mortal heart speed up and his 'soul' clench at how comfortable that person he had always desired to be fit in like that. There were his fellow entities, laughing and joking like a family, a proper real one and not the makeshift thing they had going on for them where sometimes they had their moments but most other times they stuck with their own domains, loathing their counterparts. And with immortality flowing through their nonexistent veins, most of the time was a very, very long time indeed.

Then there were the mortals he's met and adored, still alive and not just simple souls in his collection or lost in the cycles of reincarnation. From a talking pig he'd once met in ancient Greece to Yzesye, an alien conqueror of nine planets, they were all there conversing like inside the mirror was just one giant party. The most prominent of the mortals he could see at the forefront of the reflection were the people that were still alive now, Ron and Malfoy were arguing about something, Percy and Order seemed to be getting along splendidly while the twins and Chaos were snickering ominously in the corner. Filch and Mrs Norris were giving the stink eye to a sassy red haired orphan child, McGonagall was chatting politely to a faerie queen and Firenze was in the midst of some sort of heart attack in front of Fate.

Snape was surprisingly, right by his side, looking for all intents and purposes rather irritated by such a sheer amount of individuals. His mouth was moving in what Harry imagined to be for snarkily commentating about his displeasure and the person that was meant to be him just threw his head back and laughed. Those green eyes glowed eerily, obviously inhuman but they looked at the potions master with this emotion, emotion he shouldn't have and-

And Harry didn't realise he was trembling, hand on the mirror like if he pushed hard enough he could be that person.

"Shite." He laughed hoarsely, his voice shaking ever so slightly, "This was a bad idea."


He ended up coming back the next night. It was hard not to when your desire was just a few floors away and Harry was so weak. He knew the thing was dangerous.

"Back again Harry?"

Harry pivoted around, darkness inadvertently seeping from his nails before it was quickly pulled back at the sight of the Headmaster of Hogwarts sitting on one of the desks shoved to the wall. Luckily it was dim enough for the old wizard not to have noticed his slip up but still he cursed himself for his carelessness.

"..I didn't see you sir."

Dumbledore smiled. "It is funny how even the invisible can be so nearsighted is it not?"

"Just because no one can see you doesn't mean you couldn't trip over a rock and fall." Harry retorted, the older man's smile grew wider.

"Indeed." He agreed amiably before hopping off the desk and walking toward the boy, "And I see you have discovered the delights of the Mirror of Erised."

"I show not your face but your heart's desire." The child murmured, Dumbledore seemed almost surprised that he'd cracked the relatively simple code but nodded anyway.

"Yes, men have wasted away looking at what they found here. Nothing but your deepest most desperate desires filled out before you."

"A family." Harry whispered and the headmaster shot him a sad look before continuing on.

"The Mirror will be moved to a new home tomorrow." Dumbledore looked at the child solemnly, "Harry, you should not go seeking out it anymore. After all it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

Which, yeah, was all well and good if it wasn't insanely obvious that the man had effectively led him here to the mirror in the first place. Harry's pretty sure it wasn't for anything particularly malevolent but it wasn't going to win the Headmaster any points in his favour anytime soon either.

"Now why don't you put that admirable cloak on and head back to bed Mr Potter?"

Harry cocked his head but complied. "Professor, what do you see in the mirror then?"

Dumbledore gave him a small smile, "Me? While I see myself holding a pair of thick woollen socks." It was an obvious lie, the look Dumbledore gave the artefact was much to sad for just plain old socks but Harry kept quiet anyway. "One can never have too many good socks after all, another Christmas gone by without getting a single pair too." The headmaster sighed. "People always insist on giving me books."

The green eyed child gave an obligatory chuckle at the obvious deflection before shrugging on his cloak and turning to leave. But of course, not without a last, "Oh? And thank you for this admirable cloak professor!"

Chapter Text

The one where Death finishes off the year by getting roped in to some heroic rescue for a magic rock and then accidentally killing a professor. Really, this school is truly the epitome of the word 'Safety'.

School came quickly after Christmas was over. Empty halls got, well, less empty and Harry moved into the House of the Loyal.

It was a very nice dorm, certainly a little tacky compared to the elegant finery covering Slytherin's but it was filled with sunlight and plants and soft cushioning that gave it a distinctly comfortable warmth that the house of green and silver just couldn't replicate with sleek ivory carvings.

Taking his trunk, Harry placed it under the bed opposite the door. While he wasn't exactly sure of the internal dynamics of the Hufflepuff first years, it was easy to give a good guess in which bed would least likely to have been taken. His new sleeping arrangement was the only one in the shadowy corner, every other part seemed to be absolutely soaked in sunlight. It was truthfully a little unnerving.

Soon enough though Harry got used to it. He got used to classes starting up again. He got used to remembering not to go to the dungeons at the end of the day. And impressively enough, he got used to ignoring Zacharias Smith for extended periods of time.

Well he transfigured himself some earplugs. But still.

He still hung out a lot in either Gryffindor tower or the Slytherin dungeons with his friends but now he made a bit more time for his Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw acquaintances he's been friendly with like Susan Bones, Hannah Abbott, Terry Boot and Padma Patil. Unfortunately with the exception of Anthony Goldstein, Harry wasn't exactly on good terms with the rest of the Hufflepuff boys once he'd made his feelings on Zacharias very clear. Truly the downside of being loyal- it always seems to blind people to the point of mule-headed stubbornness and a sort of sheep mentality.

Unfortunately the shepherd in this metaphor was 'I am a descendant of Helga Hufflepuff, hear me roar' Zacharias Smith which meant Harry had to deal with mini Smiths in the dorm who were all rude, brash and loud. The only saving grace so far was the other more sane students in the house also didn't appreciate the boastful child's personality. Plus the sheer comfortableness of the furniture. Because seriously those pillows were soft enough to make one forgive murder. Harry definitely needed some of that sort of thing in his life. Or Afterlife at least.

The first year Ravenclaws all in all were more annoyingly curious than outright rude, which was a refreshing change of pace considering his new roommates. The green eyed boy had taken to answering their incessant questions with a patience and an equally irritating vagueness that may have been inspired by a certain physical manifestation of space.

It was quite the game for the knowledge loving students to try and wrangle out a straight answer from the Boy Who Lived. Harry had a few sneaking suspicions that there was some sort of competition going on there that he wasn't aware of because the questions he'd been asked have been something as simple and irrelevant as favourite colours to more complex opinions on the political weighting that Muggles have. Which is to say none at all. But the point was, there were much too many queries to not be skeptical about it. And Terry Boot as well as the other Ravenclaws were all suspiciously tight-lipped on the subject too.

Not that Harry really cared.

Overall, despite his new House placement not much had changed since the boy had quickly found preference with his Gryffindor and Slytherin friends and therefore spent the majority of his free time with them. Though ever since the school term had started up again the youngest Weasley and Granger had been much more reserved, taking their time up in the library researching some big project or whatever. Harry was curious to say the least, especially when they refused to tell him about it.

That, Harry admittedly cared about.

Nevertheless he didn't want to push the subject since Hermione would get all huffy and Ron would look all conflicted and constipated whenever he tried to bring it up. Instead for the most part Harry let it slide, only giving a few choice remarks when the lies got especially terrible. Someone's got to teach them some better excuses because the green eyed first year knew for a fact that Ron hates spiders and in no way was he skipping lunch of all things to go hunt them with Hermione. It was more embarrassing being forced to listen to such things than infuriating.

Of course even research took a backseat when Harry finally figured out where the kitchens were. Ron looked like Christmas had come again when he had invited the gluttonous redhead up to visit for the first time. Though it was nothing compared to the expression of utter bliss and wonder when they took one step into the place and all the house elves had turned to run toward them, whatever delectable concoctions still in their hands.

He's pretty sure Ron almost cried when they told them to come back anytime. Well cried as much could with their mouth stuffed with pie. The freckled boy had a serious problem with food in the entity's opinion. In fact he had promptly told Ron so as they left earning a half eaten blueberry to the face. And no matter what Ron said, Harry certainly did not scream like a banshee. He had just protested the lack of hygiene of the the mushy blueberry. Loudly. In a banshee like fashion.

Hermione and he still were awkward, this period of separation not helping much either. In classes the girl still seemed to be incredibly competitive in vying for the best marks, especially against Harry and maybe Draco because apparently he called her blood muddy or some childish nonsense, their relationship was definitely more friendly at least but the frustration was real.

The Slytherins were more or less unaffected by the change. Zabini said he would forgive him for moving if the green eyed child gave him his treacle tart. Harry didn't but the Italian first year forgave him anyway. It helped that he had been casually wondering out loud how many knives one could possibly stick inside a human eye socket before they eventually bled to death with excruciating detail. The few perks of having the knowledge of all things dead was that you can whip up the best horror camp stories. Also no one wants your treacle tart.

Draco whined for weeks about being abandoned for the lesser House of Hufflepuff. It was funny the first few days of course. Various complaints were made by the young Malfoy from how far away they were now, to listing the many reasons why badges were stupid animals. Harry's pretty sure Draco doesn't exactly know what badgers were.

"-and they eat uh, capsicum! That's like the worst vegetable ever Harry! I know you hate it-"

It was sweet really. In what was possibly the most annoying way possible.

And Crabbe and Goyle, well, Harry isn't completely clear on how they're taking it but the boy had a feeling that the two hadn't even realized that he's no longer dorm-ing with them anymore. Absentmindedly he wondered what it must be like to be them, it would be oddly serene being able to ignore everything for the simpler pleasures the world had to offer.

Professor Snape the first time he saw the Boy Who Lived's new House colors had given him some obscure expression on his face that could've translated to 'I totally forgot about Potter not being in Slytherin oops' all the way to 'May rains of fire descend upon your yellow-tied person for deceiving me.' Neville, who he had been chatting to at the time about herbs, nearly had a small stroke. It is really so hard to see the painfully timid boy as Gryffindor, even for Harry.

On the bright side, the boy had gotten to properly know Cedric Diggory. They had a teasing banter going on based on friendly insults and jibes, something that caused much double takes from their fellow 'puffs who had always seen the handsome teen as the kind of the 'cool, nice, pretty boy' type character. Honestly the only reason that their friendship bloomed like that was because the Quidditch player walked into the first year dorms to politely ask Smith to keep the noise down when he saw his bright yellow Christmas gift sitting idly on Harry's bed and promptly burst into laughter. Harry of course swiftly retaliated by throwing said Christmas gift in the older teen's face. Really, it was the start of a beautiful friendship.

Cue Malfoy complaints here of course.

Harry almost missed the classic renditions of 'My father will hear of this.'


It took longer than expected for the inevitable confrontation with Ron and Hermione. For children these two held some surprising restraint for people who'd been boring holes at the back of his head constantly the last two weeks. Ron especially so. It looked like whatever secret he was trying to keep from his best mate was eating him alive sometimes. Harry had to say he was impressed with Ron for sticking out for so long. Annoyed. But impressed.

They ended up cornering the wizard saviour in a secluded classroom somewhere on what he thinks was the second floor. Harry wasn't completely sure. He just grabbed any hand railing on the way down from his fall and hoisted himself onto solid ground before being whisked away by the Gryffindor pair.

"Oh thank god," Harry groaned when they practically manhandled him into the room. "Finally. I've been waiting for weeks to know what the hell you guys have been doing."

Ron looked just as relieved as him about this and Hermione just seemed bashful. "It's a long story.." The freckled boy started but Hermione interrupted, "Have you ever heard of the Philosopher's Stone?" she demanded in a rather condescending manner. If Harry didn't know better he would think her slightly smug at knowing something he didn't.

Granger was a nice girl. But she was also quite the petty one. Ron seemed to have got fairly used to her because he didn't seem to be so irritated at the interruption. Which, good for him. The youngest male Weasley needed another close friend. Harry wasn't particularly fond of his choice of course but the redheaded child could do worse.

"Oh, you mean the one locked up in Hogwarts right now?" Harry asked with a overly sweet smile. He can be just as petty as the bushy haired girl if that's what she wants.

Hermione gaped at him, stunned to speechlessness as Ron burst out a, "Blimey mate you knew?! See I told you we should've gone to Harry!"

"Snape's planning to steal it!" The girl rushed out as if her words were running out of her mouth, ready to prove their worth. Harry raised an eyebrow.

"No." He said slowly, "No I don't think Professor Snape is."

"We saw him heading to the forbidden third floor corridor." Hermione hissed.

"And you know that injury of his before? Apparently it was a giant dog bite!" Ron added in a much more excited attitude, evidently not fully comprehending how serious his partner in crime was taking this. "A Cerberus guards up there, me and Neville saw it ourselves when we were running from Filch."

"Not to mention we overheard Snape threatening Professor Quirrell into telling him how to break anti-Dark Force spell." The girl pointed out with Ron nodding in agreement before bringing up another thing Snape had done.

"To be fair though," Harry began once the barrage of accusations started slowing down, "Snape sounds threatening at least forty percent of the time. Also I'm not sure if you've been to Defense class recently but Neville made Quirrel cry five minutes in because he accidentally.. I'm not exactly sure what Neville did but the fact is Neville made Quirrell cry. So seeing the man tremble at Snape's presence isn't really shocking."

"Yes but-"

"Do you have any proof?" The raven haired child stopped Hermione before her protests were formed. "Is there some sort of recording where Professor Snape admits he's been planning to rob an extremely powerful artefact?"

"Well no." Ron muttered sheepishly, "But Harry, I know you have a weird Snape thing-"

"For the last time. I do not ha-"

"But you gotta admit mate its suspicious." He finished stubbornly. The other boy tilted his head before nodding.

"Fine Ron. I admit the amount of coincidental evidence is quite suspicious." Before the two Gryffindors could butt in again Harry gave a stern look which easily shut their mouths temporarily shut. "However, as your friend I need to stress that its still not exactly damning. If you went up to the other professors right now with that sort of accusation, all it takes is Snape himself saying otherwise and he's in the clear. Which I still think he is by the way. It's kind of obvious you guys don't like him."

Hermione looked convinced at the logic of his argument, visibly muling over it while Ron, who's always been the more emotional out of the three, still looked ready to argue. "Then we can just poke around a bit more, I'm sure-"

"No." Harry said firmly, wanting to put this subject up for a swift and painless execution. The Philosopher Stone was an object that attracted danger like Chaos dipped in honey. Okay, well maybe not to that extent but he still wasn't going to let these eleven year olds go after it. "You've done enough poking around." He insisted admonishingly, fully aware of how old he sounded right now, "Exams are around the corner and I bet you two have barely studied despite the fact you've been hanging out constantly at the library."

Fully, painfully aware. Jesus Christ he was so old.

God he's not even capable of producing actual children and now he's apparently stuck with two. They are so lucky he's had experience with unruly kids considering what his Reapers get up to when unsupervised. And his Grim Reaper 'son' with his three horse riding friends. And Magic. And Fate. And Space. And that one interesting time with Order. And Life. And Chaos. Oh god how could he almost forget Chaos.

Hermione appeared to be taking his words to heart because her face was a scrunched up mixture of shock, bashfulness and worry. "I totally forgot exams were so close!" She wailed, "I haven't even rewritten my notes!"

Even Ron looked kind of anxious. Taking pity on the both of them Harry graciously offered to help them study, an offer Ron left up to like a dying man who'd just gained salvation and Hermione reluctantly agreeing too.

"Mate can we get some sandwiches too?" The redheaded boy asked, flinging an arm around the skinnier boy's shoulder with friendly ease as the three made their way up to the library, "You know for uh, study snacks."

"Ron you can't eat in the library!"

Harry laughed before fake whispering in the pouting freckled child's ear, "I'll see what I can do yeah?"

"You're the best Harry."


"Professor Snape?"

"Potter it's ten minutes near curfew and your new dorms are a good fifteen minutes away, normal sized human beings or not. Shall I just deduct the thirty points now and spare us all the trouble?" The tall potions master asked dryly. The small entity just shrugged.

"Do what you must but I did come down here for a reason sir."

"And what," Snape drawled, "Is this so-called important reason that you couldn't have waited tomorrow morning somewhere other than in front of my personal rooms to inform me of?"

"Well I want to know how well protected the Philosopher's Sto-" He didn't even get to finish his sentence before the professor whisked him into his quarters with a harsh tag of his arm. Harry, surprised at the sudden action and unused to being so roughly manhandled since the Dursley's, naturally ended up stumbling from the force and crashing onto the ground in an undignified, unhappy tangle. The boy looked up at the professor disgruntled and unamused. "Ow." He deadpanned.

"How do you know about the Stone?" Snape demanded with a face like an oncoming storm, you can hear the thunder rolling in the distance. Still, it seemed they were on amiable terms at least because the older man still went over to help Harry back up on his feet. Dusting himself off Harry couldn't stop himself from looking around the professor's living room curiously. It was unsurprisingly quite empty and full of books. If he craned his head slightly to the left he could just make out a picture frame on the-

"Potter." Snape growled. Harry turned to look at him, oh yeah lightening and thunder and hail was definitely in the forecast if he didn't get his mouth moving soon.

"I knew about the Philosopher's Stone since after that first detention you gave me." He answered honestly, Snape seemed somehow even angrier and paler at the same time. Is this what the humans mean when they say 'white fury'? Harry hoped not. "It's not like I particularly cared about it so I ignored the fact the staff of this school saw fit to bring that thing here until now."

Looking a bit less furious with that backhanded reassurance Snape relaxed ever so slightly. The man was still as taut as a high strung violin but at least now Harry was somewhat positive he wasn't going to suddenly break that composure of the professor's. "You're telling me you weren't even remotely interested in one of the most powerful artefacts made by man? And I'm expected to believe that?"

Snape's eyes bore down into his own and the boy inexplicably felt the strangest sensation, as if his brain was being lightly stroked by a fine haired paint brush. It was.. odd. Not too unpleasant, any deeper maybe, but this almost tickled. Harry refrained from giggling like the child his body was though. He's pretty sure that wouldn't go well with the severe professor.

Instead he maintained the eye contact, vivid green glimmering with the mirth he couldn't fully suppress at the unusual caresses and replied with nothing but the truth on his lips. "Not even a bit."

Also the most powerful artefact? Please. That stone is junior league at best.

The professor looked surprised at that, like he actually believed him. Harry certainly wouldn't have if the tables were turned, humans always did have a thirst for many things that this alchemic rock could provide them. Riches. Power. Knowledge. Immortality.

Maybe Snape trusted him more than he thought? That would be.. more pleasing than he really understood.

At that musing the feather light touches seemed to recede from his mind and Snape looked like he had he swallowed something sour, or had just admitted the house of the brave was a shoo-in for that year end cup they're always talking about. The professor appeared to have begun reaching out to Harry's person before aborting the movement like he had been shaken awake from a dream. With an awkward clearing of the throat Snape gave him an unreadable look.

"I, believe you." He stated. Harry gave the older man a small smile.

"Thank you."

There was silence after that. It didn't feel as short as it must've been. But there was some unnamable presence in that silence that made it seem feel like Time himself was literally dragging his body through the room with nothing but his arms. Except for obviously less funny or sad. The atmosphere was less distinct and yet at the same time suffocating.

"So if you haven't found any reason to bring this up before why now?" Snape asked and Harry sighed in relief as the moment passed.

"Oh right." The child snapped his fingers repeatedly as he recalled why he was here in the first place. "Yeah, Ron and Hermione know."

"What."

"Also they think you're the one whose going to steal the Stone."

"Excuse me?"

Harry looked at the potions professor's reaction, sure he sounded understandably offended but there was an underlying resignation there that Harry wasn't much of a fan of. "Of course I didn't believe them." He declared firmly, hoping that Snape would understand that the boy was aware that the man wasn't the cruel snake in the dungeons so many thought him as.

Snape was a proud, strong man, it unnerved Harry a bit to see the man so accepting of such a horrible implication. Harry himself wouldn't have stood for it if that happened to him personally.

The taller potions master cracked a crooked grin at the smaller child's stubborn belief in him, misguided as it is. He refused to admit it out loud but Snape could at least confess to himself that it was rather warming for someone to trust him as much as Dumbledore without even an Unbreakable Vow to bind him to his word.

"The problem is," Harry continued on, unaware of the half smile on the Head of Slytherin's face. "Knowing those two, after exams are gone they're going to go back to trying to play detective in this half baked mystery they've made. And normally I would just let them have their fun but," The soft features of the boy's face twisted slightly with worry and a maturity that had no right to be on someone so young. It made Harry look infinitely older than his years and Snape couldn't help but stare.

"But I can't in good conscience let them get hurt. Especially when I'm fully aware of what sort of attention the Philosopher's stone tends to bring in."

"That's very.. good of you Potter." The older of the two finally responded a bit lamely.

Harry looked up at the man, his gaze a green glow like a light at the end of a dark tunnel Snape felt his own be drawn to it. "So will you at least tell me what sort of protections are guarding the artefact? At the very least so I can be reassured that my friends will be okay."

Snape stiffened. "Don't you think you should be asking someone else then Potter? Reassurance isn't my strong point after all and I'm sure Professor Mcgonagall would be taken in by your sob story."

The child gave a soft growl of frustration as small hands pushed back his hair, "That's not what I meant and you know it professor."

"Then what is it that you mean? Because Potter, it sounds suspiciously like you're trying to wrangle up details of something expressly forbidden to you." The older man said coldly. Harry's eyes widened, half a manipulative action to make the professor feel bad and half because he genuinely didn't even think of that and he wanted the other to be fully aware of how much that accusation stung. Okay so maybe it was all manipulative but he was still a bit hurt.

"I'm not, I'm not using you for information. Honest." He whispered, letting his arms fold around his skinny chest in a defensive and at the same time pathetically adorable posture. And yes the child was fully aware of what that sort of thing does to people with souls. Pathetically adorable is a look he had practically mastered. Silent judgement and Obliviously attractive are also some 'looks' he's also been told work wonders for him.

As expected it worked and Harry could practically hear the soft but oh so satisfying crack in the potions master's demeanour. "This information doesn't leave the room." Snape relented, the man walking toward a dark green couch situated in what Harry figured was the living room. With a careless gesture toward the furniture in question the older of the two summoned up a tumbler of some sort of whisky, examined it speculatively, before downing a good portion of it in one swift motion.

Taking it as his cue, Harry sat down on the sofa as quietly as he humanly could and waited. He didn't have to wait long because Snape, after another swallow of the beverage- though this time from a proper glass, presumably conjured- sat down in a rather cushy looking chair in front of the boy. A part of Harry kind of wished that he took that spot but let the thought slide away, Snape looked ruffled enough. The whole feathers flying saying? Not something the entity-child wanted to witness firsthand.

"Unless an emergency calls for it." Harry tried to reason.

"If an emergency called for it you go straight to me or another professor you foolhardy buffoon." Snape snapped irritably, pouring himself another glass. Truly a role model for all teachers to stand up to.

The first year rolled his eyes agreed with a sulky, "Fine."

"Good. Now the Philosopher's Stone is very well protected, there are seven various trials provided by seven of the professors themselves including me-"

Snape began listing the different barriers securing the stone to the child who listened quietly and with a growing feeling that at the moment he found hard pressed to name. It made his stomach bubble and his head feel light, his heart pound and the boy felt a prickling nuzzle at the back of his neck. Harry knew what the feeling was. It was on the very tip of his tongue.

"- and that's why you have no need to fret like some mother hen Potter." The potions professor and Head of Slytherin ended, looking at the Boy who Lived expectedly. He'd probably thought he was reassuring or comforting or giving Harry some relief but no, that wasn't what he was feeling at all. What he was feeling was more on the lines of,

"I think I'm horrified." Harry replied faintly. "Can I have some of what your drinking please?"

"Absolutely not Potter." Was the immediate and devastating reply. As a primordial force of death and darkness he's never been one for taking up alcohol like some of his other siblings but right now he's pretty sure his child meat suit would soak up the drink like a sponge. And damn does he need to be liquored up right now.

"Can you at least, I don't know, alter your security choices? Or even your definition of security." The boy groaned, sinking his face into his hands. "Because I'm severely disappointed in you Professor Snape, the other six professors, especially Headmaster Dumbledore and generally the foundation of all Wizarding education."

"You are over exaggerating."

Harry stared at the older man. "Am I Professor?"

Snape stared back. "Yes. We took every precaution."

"Every- there's only seven security measures."

"Yes but-"

"Any half competent first year can get past all of them except for obviously the last one which you refused to tell me but I am putting what little optimism I have on the Headmaster left into it. Actually…" Green eyes narrowed, "You guys are doing this on purpose." He accused.

The silence was short but telling. Now that he was actually looking instead of mourning the death of logic in wizards, Harry realised that the older male had been hiding his amusement beforehand this whole time, in the faint creases of mirth in his eyes and the pursing of his lips. The child could tell what he had missed now that all the traces of humour were gone and a very different appearance graced the potions master. Serious and piercing, no where were any of his edges softened like before.

"I think it's time to leave Potter."

Harry stared, his own lightheartedness fading fast. "Yes." He agreed frostily. "I think so too."

Standing abruptly up, hands clenched to the sides of his robes the boy let himself be led out of Snape's quarters. As he stepped out of into the halls Harry heard the other murmur a quiet, "I am regretful at how things ended but I do not regret what I won't divulge."

Harry made no show of if he heard the man and walked away.

He had some things to think about.

And a Headmaster to vent his frustrations on.


"Password?"

The whites of Harry's eyes seeped black, emphasising even more the unearthly glow of furious green. "I suggest you move away creature of stone before I do it myself." He snarled.

With a gulp the gargoyle immediately obeyed. If Harry was in a slightly better mood he would've thanked the statue, if a little sarcastically. Unfortunately Harry was not in a better mood, he was in foul ugly mood that he had slowly worked up to during the walk from the dungeons to the Headmaster's office. If the stone gargoyle had a working bladder it would've emptied itself. The paintings certainly looked like they had if the lack of people in there were any indication.

Stomping into the office the first thing he noticed was the Phoenix looking at him curiously. It was probably a good thing that was what he laid eyes on as just seeing the beautifully fiery bird was enough to let the darkness shifting out of him to calm enough to recede back. As if recognising it's duty done the creature of fire settled back down on it's perch lazily, much like a person getting ready to watch a movie.

"Mr Potter." Dumbledore who had turned to face the unexpected intruder looked quite surprised when he'd realised who exactly was it. "How did you get in here? Not that this isn't a pleasant surprise."

"You're trying to bait me." Harry said lowly. The elderly wizard raised a brow and looking genuinely confused.

"Excuse me?"

"The Philosopher Stone, the unicorn attacks, the really halfhearted traps." Harry listed off his fingers while he tried to burn through the headmaster's head with his eyes alone. "I think you are being purposely obtuse on purpose professor. And if you think I wouldn't see the big picture then you obviously should've made an effort to get to know me better."

"And what.." Dumbledore paused, giving the young child a considering stare as he sat down behind his large mahogany desk and steepled his fingers together, "Do you think is the big picture my boy?"

Harry looked at the older man annoyed before purposely walking to the edge of the man's desk and picked up a glass bowl filled with circular yellow sweets. "Ah, how rude I've been. Mr Potter would you like a- MY LEMON DROPS!"

The sound of glass shattering was accompanied by small childish hands slamming on to the desk between the two. "The perpetrator responsible for slaughtering the unicorns is obsessed with prolonging life, hence the fact only blood has been taken from the creatures. But as everyone knows, drinking unicorn's blood without consent is a stupid thing to do unless," Harry picked up a bunch of lemon flavoured candies and melted them down in his hand until they hardened into one large yellow rock. "Unless the criminal had his eye on something far greater in the first place."

With just a little pressure Harry let the sweet crumple in his hands, watching the older wizard's whimper at the damage. "You would've known this and logically set traps accordingly, but to capture, not to kill. Yet all your so-called safety precautions, even if we assume that maybe the end game was to catch this person in the act itself, are disgustingly easy to get past."

"Now that's not very nice, the professors-"

"If you tell me the professors did their very best in ensuring no-one could get to the stone I will cry Headmaster." The boy warned. "I will actually cry. Real tears. Because most of the things you need to get past those trials is a good grasp of the first year, and I'm going to repeat this again, first year curriculum, the ability to sing the alphabet well and maybe a fairly intermediate skill in logic."

"Professor McGonagall's protection was quite clever actually." Dumbledore countered weakly. "Also, how do you know about all of the levels?"

"That's neither here nor there." Harry casually dismissed. "And Professor McGonagall's chess set doesn't even need to be played. It can pretty much be ignored, it only feels like your obligated to play. Like when someone asks how your feeling you immediately say you're okay, even when you're obviously not." The boy dramatically inhaled some more air into his lungs, truly the problem with having such limited breath span, "And to be brutally honest, it's got nothing to do with her subject of Transfiguration."

"What's that got to do with anything?" The Headmaster asked, apparently he's gone from shocked, confused straight onto just plain embarrassed with a good dash of distantly amused. At least the crazy old wizard was having some fun over this. Admittedly ranting on all the flaws of Dumbledore's plan had quite the soothing effect and now even Harry was feeling better enough to see the humour in this situation.

Harry shrugged, "Not much except everyone else kept to their respective subjects and character. It just kind of annoyed me."

Dumbledore chuckled at that before his face turned more serious. "Mr Potter, your deductions are quite accurate, scarily so I admit but why would you think I was, to put it in your terms, baiting you?"

The first year cocked his head to the side, "Well it's more of a hypothesis of mine really. The fact you ensured first year students could overcome these obstacles either means your expecting this person you're trying to catch to be incompetent," That earned another chuckle from the elderly wizard, "Or maybe you want someone else to confront this criminal. Someone who has just joined the Hogwarts cohort and is expected to uphold the title of Wizard Saviour?"

"That… may or may not be the case." Dumbledore said warily, the headmaster watching the child like it was the first time he really saw Harry Potter. "You truly are a remarkable young boy aren't you?"

"I am what I am professor." Harry replied with a wry grin as he gestured to himself, "Nothing more, nothing less."

"So you may or may not be correct in your assumptions of me may or may not have been doing what you may have thought. What would you do now Mr Potter if I may ask?"

"Well I may or may not be particularly pleased with the steps you may or may not have taken to this point of time but my friends may or may not have gotten mixed up in this mess, resulting in me may or may not going and ending up following what you may or may not have wanted me to do in possible the first place."

Dumbledore blinked, "I.. may or may not have fully understood what you have said Mr Potter." He confessed and this time Harry actually giggled.

"That's okay Professor. You may or may not want to know anyway." And with that, the Boy who Lived sauntered casually out of the office, the doors opening before the child like he owned the place.

The Headmaster of Hogwarts watched the boy go with a wistful smile and a twinkle in his eyes. When the doors finally closed the elderly wizard looked at Fawkes fondly and stroked his beard. "Well. I certainly didn't expect that."

Fawkes gave a quiet squawk.

"Yes, yes, this is turning out to be a much more interesting new era than I first thought." Then, looking forlornly at the glass shards and cracked pieces of the lemon flavoured hard candy he added, "I just wish people would stop doing that."


Now Harry didn't want to be brag. But he totally, as the young people say, 'bombed' the exams. Which is to say, he did very well. Not that he released some sort of explosion midway through the tests.

Transfiguration, Charms, Astronomy and Defence against the Dark Arts were easier than learning to breathe, both in the written and practical aspects. In fact, with the exception of History of Magic (which he might've have instead detailed a four foot essay on the various ways a ghost could be exorcised from the living world instead of some old Goblin war treaty), the child was fairly confident that all his written papers were quite perfect if he did say so himself. The Defence paper was a little bit more challenging mainly due to this excruciating headache he had somehow built up during that time though, it was strange. Maybe his human body is allergic to concentrated garlic smells?

Herbology as expected in the practical element didn't go so well, what with there always seeming to be a good fifty-fifty chance of whatever plant in front of Harry shrivelling up at his touch. The boy had contented himself to a perfect zero in that portion of the exam. That really couldn't be helped.

In Potions the colours were slightly off to what they should have been but Professor Snape had been unusually silent when he examined his Forgetfulness potion. Actually the dour faced man had been unusually silent since their last meeting. Harry wondered to himself why he found himself wanting to be friends with such a complicated sourpuss.

As said before Transfiguration and Charms was a breeze. Professor Flitwick called them one by one into his class to see if they could make a pineapple tap dance across a desk and wandlessly the boy had made the pineapple tap and jive and samba to the rhythm of some music he conjured himself. Professor McGonagall asked them all to turn a mouse into a snuffbox. Harry, who had spent a large chunk of this year creating special 'assignments' for the woman knew exactly the sort of aesthetic appeal that she most admired. And he pulled all the stops, from ornate gold carvings of frolicking lions to the intricate crimson edging and smatters of rubies.

Now he could have had easily not shown off to such a condescending extent but Zacharias, the night before exams started might have proclaimed that his parents would get him a whole number of gifts if he got first place in any subject and, well, that just wouldn't do. Also Hermione's face when he showed off that snuffbox was worth its weight in gold.

Speaking of which, the exams were exactly the sort of thing that managed to get Ron and Hermione's mind off the Stone and their insistence that Snape was the culprit. Even when it was finally over the trio along with Harry's Slytherin friends flocked toward the sunny grounds outside to relax and revel in the lack of academia.

"That was far easier than I thought it would be," Hermione commented as they all settled comfortably in the grass. "I needn't have learned about the 1637 Werewolf Code of Conduct or the uprising of Elfric the Eager."

"The what of the what?" Harry asked sleepily.

"Something about potions I think." Ron tried helpfully.

"Well at least there's no more studying." Blaise offered tentatively to the Gryffindor boy who groaned appreciatively at the idea.

"Yeah," Draco grinned, he had the faintest smudge of ink on his pale skin which no one wanted to point out least they incur the vanity of a scorned Malfoy. "And we've got a week before we find out how badly Weasley's done, there's no need to worry yet Granger."

"Oi!"

Everyone laughed and for once the two Houses almost seemed to get along, bantering and trading friendly enough insults, though Hermione looked a little distant not that anyone but Harry really noticed. She looked like she was nearing some sort of epiphany. Or heart attack.

Suddenly her eyes lit up and Harry could hear the little 'ding' of her brain as she grabbed Ron's arm and stood up. "Ron! I just realised something, we have to go right now!"

The redhead looked reluctant but all it took was another sharp tug and a hissed "Ron." and the two were off toward the castle like a shot. The freckled boy did give an apologetic glance at Harry and waved goodbye but Hermione didn't even look back, too engrossed in her earlier realisations.

"Well that was rude." Nott huffed with Crabbe and Goyle nodding their heads as they mushed on a chocolate frog.

Blaise frowned like the two leaving was a personal offence to him. Considering it was one of the first time's he'd ever tried passing the metaphorical olive branch to the two, it probably was.

"Wonder what that was all about?" Draco sniffed.

Harry watched them go with a growing suspicion. "Who knows."


"It's tonight," whispered Ron, once Harry managed to corner the two in the halls just when Professor McGonogall was leaving. "Snape's going through the trapdoor tonight. He's found out everything he needs, and now he's got Dumbledore out of the way. He sent him an urgent owl from the Ministry of Magic and I bet the Ministry will get a real shock when Dumbledore turns up."

"Guys it is not Snape, I cannot-"

Hermione gasped. Harry and Ron twisted around. Only to see Snape standing there right behind them.

"Good afternoon," The professor greeted smoothly with an odd, almost sinister smile. "You really shouldn't be inside on a day as nice as this- people will think you're up to something won't day?"

And wow, it was almost like the man wanted to freak people out into believing he was killing unicorns and stealing magic stones. That was just disturbing. Hermione and Ron seemed to agree if their rapidly paling faces were anything to go by.

Beetle black eyes slid toward the smallest boy of the trio, lingering on Harry while his smile dropped from his face. With a small nod of acknowledgement Snape then strode toward the staffroom.

As soon as the black robed professor left their sight, the two Gryffindors immediately huddled around Harry looking twice as determined now. Whatever intimidation tactic that had been was obviously ineffective.

"Right then, here's what we've got to do-" So, so ineffective. "One of us has got to keep an eye on Snape, wait outside the staff room and follow him if he leaves it. Hermione, you'd better do that." Ron whispered.

"What?" Hermione asked a little put out. "Why me?"

Ron rolled his eyes, for once the positions felt rather reversed and Harry had to stifle an inelegant snort. "Obviously because your the only person here that would have a proper excuse to hang around a teacher's lounge." Then in a fake falsetto voice Ron fluttered his eyelashes, "Oh Professor Sprout, I think there was a spelling error on question six,"

"Oh shut up," Hermione huffed before it turned into a round of giggles that Harry happily joined in with. "And Harry could have just as much reason to be there than me."

"Yeah but I'm useful in a fight." Harry pointed out smugly, laughing when the bushy haired girl playfully slapped the top of his head huffily.

"Also Harry has a weird Snape thing so he can't be fully trusted." Now it was Hermione's turn to be laughing while Harry huffed.

"Honestly there is no Snape thi-"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever you say mate, come on lets go." The Boy who Lived grumbled but went along anyways.

Though Ron's plan just wasn't meant to be because as soon as they began loitering around the forbidden third floor corridor they met face to face with Professor McGonagall. And she was storming mad. "Fifty points from Gryffindor! So you think you can just get past our enchantments, well I have had enough of this foolish nonsense! If I even hear you've comeback around here again I'll take another fifty, no, eighty points from Gryffindor! And you Mr Potter," Harry winced, that right there is the sort of intimidation that Snape should have used. Harry was certainly very afraid. "I don't know if this was something Mr Weasley dragged you along with or not but I am severely disappointed with you. Forty points from Hufflepuff!"

The two boys just nodded and scampered off before the second wave of rage came down, the green eyed first year followed his friend to the Gryffindor tower and patted his back consolingly. "At least Hermione's watching out for Snape." He reassured.

And of course that was the moment Hermione came out of the Fat Lady's portrait. "I lost Snape."

"Well he is rather thin, lanky and dressed all in black- you sure he's just not in a shadowy corner?" Hermione cracked a grin at Harry's attempt at a joke but Ron uncharacteristically looked quite grave.

"Guys this can't be the end." He said defiant and determined. "We can't let Snape win. Not this."

And oh did Harry so want to defend Snape but the situation was much too movie-esque to ruin at this point. Also he might be still a tad miffed at the man. He looked at the bushy haired girl a bit resignedly, knowing at least she will know how he stands in this before turning his head back to Ron and nodding. "Fine. But I refused to be caught and expelled so we are using my Invisibility Cloak."

Ron's face instantly brightened, "I knew you would come through for me mate! Now le-wait you have an Invisibility Cloak?"

The green eyed child scratched the back of his head bashfully. "Did I not tell you guys?" Ron groaned.

"See 'mione? We should've totally talked to Harry about this ages ago."

"Yes." She admitted sheepishly, "We should've."


Harry decided it would just be easier if he hung out at the Gryffindor Tower till nightfall, he didn't want to go back to his dorms when it was dark since it tended to freak out the paintings whenever he passed. Instead, the child popped down to get his cloak during dinnertime and then joined his friends back in the tower. The other two restless and pacing whilst Harry cuddled his cloak to his chest.

Unexpectedly Harry was the first one to crack.

"Okay this is killing me, let's just go now." Ron and Hermione jumped onto that suggestion faster than hungry hyenas on a freshly slaughtered gazelle.

"We'd better put the cloak on here, and make sure it covers all three of us. If Filch spots one of our feet wandering along on its own.." Ron trailed off, blue eyes having spotted something.

"What are you doing?" said a voice from the corner of the room. Neville appeared from behind an armchair, clutching Trevor the toad, who looked as though he'd been making another bid for freedom.

"It's nothing Neville." The redhead tried to persuade while Harry wondered what he should do with the obvious cloak in his hands. He didn't have to decide in the end because Hermione grabbed it and stuffed it behind her back. Rude.

Neville obviously did not look too persuaded. It did not help that his Gryffindor friends couldn't have looked any more guilty unless they painted their faces with the words GUILTY on them in bright red. "You're going out again." He accused.

Harry glared at his friends. How many times have these kids been caught? "Oi, how many times have you guys gotten caught?"

"No, no, no," Said Hermione, like repeating the word would make it somehow less false. "No, we're not. Uh, maybe you should go to bed, Neville?"

Neville shook his head. "You guys can't go out, Gryffindor is already in too much trouble thanks to you guys." Then to Harry, "Not you of course." He said apologetically.

"No, seriously, how many times have you guys gotten caught?" Harry repeated.

"Neville it's really important you don't understand." Ron pleaded by the chubby boy wasn't swayed. If anything he looked even more determined.

"I-I can't let you do this." Oh boy. "I'll f-fight you if I have to!"

"Neville, don't be an idiot!" Ron whisper shouted.

"Don't call me an idiot! And I won't let you make us lose anymore points for our House! Besides you told me that I should stand up for myself."

"Yeah but not to us." Ron tried explaining frustrated.

The temporary Hufflepuff slapped his hand to his face.

"Go on, just try to hit me." Neville demanded, apparently now getting into it, his fists up in the air ready to fight.

"Do something." Ron hissed desperately to Hermione. She looked at the freckled boy before stepping forward toward Neville who took a small step back. "I'm really sorry about this Neville." The girl raised her wand and-

"Woah, woah, woah." Harry said, practically throwing himself between the his friends and the terrified Neville. "What the freck Hermione?"

"I- it was a full Body Bind hex." She whispered, looking quite regretful at what she had been about to do.

Neville was staring at Hermione horrified. Well, those two were probably not going to be friends anytime in the near future.

"Look." Harry began firmly. "I get we have stuff to do and a time limit not to miss but that's not okay. You may be one of the best students right now but we're also first years, can you imagine if you got the incantation wrong? Something like that could have paralysed him!"

Hermione looked suitably alarmed, though not as alarmed as Neville who looked torn between being ready to faint or to try inching away from the girl as subtly as possible. The entity-turned-child turned to the scared boy and gave an awkward smile. "Neville, I am really so sorry for what Hermione did. It was inexcusable and I hope you can forgive us for it."

The two behind him nodded their heads vigorously but Neville shot them a surprisingly hard stare that made them stop. "Y-you didn't do anything Harry." He stuttered, deftly avoiding having to forgive his fellow housemates. Neville even gave a shy smile, maybe the boy was braver than he looks all things considering, "I guess I can pretend I didn't see you guys tonight though."

"Thanks Neville I'd appreciate it a lot." He said genuinely, he did not have the time nor inclination to deal with anymore drama this year. "And if we do get caught I'll see what I can do to make sure Gryffindor doesn't get punished again."

The brunette first year blushed, "No n-need, you already did enough by saving me."

Harry winked cheekily, "Anytime."

With one last guilt-inducing expression that made both Ron and Hermione squirm, Neville went back to his rooms. When he was gone from sight Harry clasped his hands together satisfied at the social bomb he'd managed to diffuse. He was getting much better at these situations.

"So, let's go. We have a rock to rescue right?"


When they got to the third floor corridor, the door was already slightly ajar. Obviously their mystery person was kind of stupid.

"Well, last chance guys if you want to leave," Ron murmured under the cloak. Hermione shook her head, "We're coming with you."

"And I don't like the idea of you two going in alone." Harry drawled. "Especially now that I know how terrible you guys are at not getting caught."

They pushed the door slowly open, all internally cringing at the inevitable sounds of the old hinges squeaking and the following rumbling sounds of what sounded like three very grumpy giant dogs. Even though the Cerberus can't see them under the cloak, the hound could still smell something amiss. Though it didn't look that ready to maul anyone anymore, in fact it seemed happy, eager, almost…

Oh dear.

Yeah Harry really didn't want to confront the three-headed beast if he could avoid it. Hagrid's cowardly dog was bad enough. He doesn't think with this petite mortal body of his could handle that sort of trauma.

"Does anyone have some sort of musical instrument? Or just a really decent singing voice?" Harry hissed.

"Looks like Snape brought a harp." Hermione pointlessly pointed out, the instrument lying innocently in the corner. "It was probably charmed to play till he got past Fluffy."

"Great. So he's a fan of the classics." Harry rolled his eyes, "Now if you do excuse me but I want to know if you have the ability to produce music whether from a procured item or the holes in your head so we do not, in fact, get mauled." In more ways than one.

"I.. can't sing." The bushy haired girl blushed.

"I.. forgot to bring the flute Hagrid got me." Ron admitted.

Harry turned around to face his fellow partners in crime under the cloak and glared disbelieving. "When this is over you are going to owe me. So hard."

"Yes." The redhead fervently nodded along with Hermione who added with an eager, "So hard."

With one last narrowing of his eyes he turned back to face the slightly distorted room through the cloak and sighed. He suspected this, but right now it couldn't be anymore obvious. Despite everything, he's still a complete pushover.

"Uhh, what should I sing?" He muttered half to himself.

"What about Waltzing Matilda? That always got me to bed when I was small." Hermione suggested.

"I've never heard of that one." Ron said a little baffled.

"It's a muggle song." The girl explained.

"Waltzing Matilda? Yeah okay, I think I know that one." Harry agreed, then with a small breath he began to sing. Considering his childlike state his voice was still quite nice, he'd like to think, despite it being quite feminine.

"Waltzing Matilda, she'll come and kill ya, Waltzing Matilda, Matilda said she.

And she'll sing as she watches and waits till your feet will boil, cause you'll come a' waltzing with Matilda that's she."

"Wait that's not-"

"Down came a passerby, helpless and all alone. Up jumped Matilda and grabbed him with glee. And she sang as she shoved his body through her sharpened claws, 'You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.'"

"Merlin."

"Waltzing Matilda, she'll come and kill ya, She's Waltzing Matilda, Matilda said she. And she'll come over yonder to ask you for your final dance, You'll come Waltzing Matilda with she."

"Harry-"

"Up went the body, mounted on his own-"

"HARRY!" The boy looked at the two annoyed, for some reason they were looking quite ill. "What is it? I'm trying to- oh huh, Fluffy's already sleeping. I must be better at this singing thing than I thought."

Ron and Hermione stared at the unconscious three-headed dog, all it's mouths frothing as it lay uncomfortably on it's back.

"Mate, you could make skeletons shiver with that song." Ron said slowly, Harry was touched. What a sweet thing to say.

"Thank you." He said genuinely. The redhead looked confused, "No I meant- mph!"

Hermione's hand covered Ron's mouth as she hastily answered with, "Let's not waste anymore time shall we?" Harry nodded, still feeling quite pleased at his friends praise. He's secretly quite proud of his voice, many of his subjects always told him it was 'beautifully chilling', 'painfully haunting' and 'shook them to the literal core' but it's very flattering to get that sort of critique from people not obligated to tell him so.

The Devil's Snare trapdoor was fairly easy to get past, they didn't even realise what it was because the moment Harry accidentally leaned on it when he fell the whole thing just shrivelled up and died. It was quite embarrassing to be honest. "Cheer up Harry." The girl tried as Harry walked with his face in his hands. "I mean, plants are quite, the Devil's Snare is,"

"Mate you could totally work as a magical weed repellent."

Harry blushed and tried to bury his face in his hands even further. It did not work.

"Hey, can you guys hear something?"

"Yeah like rushing water or-"

"A ton of tiny wings." Harry finished.

They reached the end of the passageway and before them was a chamber filled with small shiny keys with wings, fluttering and tumbling all around the room. On the opposite side of them, distanced by the keys, was a heavy wooden door.

"Okay so we're probably going to have to find a key to fit the door." Hermione mused.

"Are you serious?" The youngest Weasley bemoaned, "There must be hundred of these things."

"Key with broken wing. Come." Harry intoned, immediately summoning said key. When he showed his prize triumphantly the other two looked a little dumbstruck. "What? It was the only one that's obviously been used. And you guys seem to keep forgetting, I'm like your overpowered mascot character here."

The next room was McGonagall's giant chess board. He wondered how much money went into this sort of thing instead of for proper expenses. Like better quality teachers and security. Despite knowing they could just bypass it completely, Harry allowed Ron's moment to shine. The boy needed some proper confidence for himself after all.

In the end proper confidence was gained but the consciousness of Ron himself was gone, knocked out cold when he sacrificed the chess piece he was riding. Not wanting to leave him alone in the room like some kind of bastard, Harry wandlessly and wordlessly lifted the redhead's prone form into the air and with Hermione, moved to the next door.

Which had a troll lying unconscious as well.

It's nice to know that unicorns this man would happily murder but a troll was just too much for the man's delicate sensibilities.

Finally the second last door, Snape's room, was opened and it was bare except for the table contains seven different bottles and a riddle. Once they stepped in, both the exit behind them and the entrance to the final room flared purple fire and black fire respectively, trapping them in place. Harry once again let his friend have a go at playing the hero and it wasn't very long before Hermione picked up the smallest vial and announced it to be the answer.

"But there's only enough for one person." She said worriedly. Harry closed his eyes and withheld a sigh. Damn Fate was so obvious.

"You take that potion that get's you and Ron back through the other rooms and get a teacher, hell, scream bloody murder if you have to. And use the brooms back in the key room to get there."

"But what about you Harry?"

Harry quirked a crooked smile. "Ain't it obvious?" Hermione gasped,

"But what if.. You-Know-Who is there?" The boy cocked his head, curiously. So that's what got those two children so hyped up. It wasn't just the possibility of Snape but also the so-called Dark Lord. Made sense. Not much logic but made sense.

"Well I was pretty lucky the first time yeah?" Harry waggled his brows, purposely pulling attention toward the scar on his forehead.

Hermione's lips wobbled, and suddenly she threw herself at Harry and constricted her arms around him.

"Hermione?" He asked slightly strangled and a tad confused.

"Harry -you're a great wizard, you know. I am sorry for being such a, a git to you." The raven haired boy chuckled and awkwardly patted her back.

"Hey, it's a little trying at times I admit but that's what friends who are rivals are yes?"

She looked up at him with wide teary brown eyes. "Y-you consider me as a rival?" She said in awe. Harry nodded. "Of course, there's no way I would look down at you."

She hugged him tighter and the scrawny child could feel his bones grinding at the pressure. "You better not get hurt out there then, because I am going to best you next year and I need you to be in top shape for that." Hermione demanded.

"Then you should really let go." He said with a harsh wheeze.


So turned out the person who murdered unicorns for their blood, who Mars had foretold to the centaurs, who had planned to steal the Philosopher's stone was not Snape. Which, Harry wanted to point out, he never doubted for a second. Turned out though the culprit was none other than Professor Quirrell. Which admittedly never even crossed his mind.

To be honest he still kind of thinks someone shapeshifted into Quirrell and the usually quivering man is sleeping soundly in his garlic infused bedroom.

"I bet you thought it would be Severus didn't you?" The man mocked, looking nothing like how he'd portrayed himself the past year.

"No. Not at all." Harry deadpanned. "But I am surprised it was you through sir."

Quirrell laughed, "Potter, still so polite. But of course you didn't think it was me, after all, who would suspect p-p-poor, st-stuttering P-Professor Quirrell?"

"It was very smart, I am actually incredibly impressed." The boy admitted easily and honestly. The turbaned man seemed surprise at the praise, even a bit forlorn.

"You were always one of the nicer brats here, it is a pity that I'm going to kill you."

And with that Quirrell snapped his fingers ropes sprung out of nothing but the air as they wrapped themselves snugly around Harry. The first year Hufflepuff once again was impressed. Not only could the man act but do some magic wandlessly and wordlessly, apparently a feat of strength in this world. Maybe his stories weren't as false as everyone first thought. Harry wished to continue seeing what more the Defense professor could do so he laid back to watch.

Turned out there wasn't that much after. Quirrell said more of his piece, literally explaining everything he had done like some egotistical fool and then muttering his annoyance at the Mirror of Erised that was apparently the last thing between the Philosopher's stone and them.

"What does this mirror do? How does it work? Help me, Master!"

Yeah this was disappointing. Harry wondered if Quirrell's soul tastes like cheese, surprisingly complex for it's bland appearance but ultimately only good in it's first bite.

"Use the boy... Use the boy..."

And holy shite, was there a second soul in the older man's body? That can't be right, unless there was some very special circumstances, forcing two souls to coexist in one body takes an incredible amount of strain and deformation on both parties.

Whilst pondering on this, Quirrell had dragged him in front of the mirror, ordering the child to tell him what he saw. Harry rolled his eyes but complied anyway. He forced himself to imagine the Philosopher's Stone in his pocket and easily enough it was there. The mirror was pretty much charmed to make sure whoever takes the ugly thing wouldn't want to use it for himself.

There was literally no need for any of the other crap. Dammit Dumbledore.

"What do you see?"

"I see me smashing Dumbledore's stupid bowl filled with candy." Harry lied. It was less his greatest desire and more of a very accurate premonition.

The professor looked completely thrown with the answer and the child used it to move away, quietly loosening the ropes as he did. Then, on the back of the taller male's head, a raspy chuckle was heard.

"Interesting.. Let me speak to him.. Face to face."

Quirrell balked. "Master, you are not strong enough!"

"I have... enough strength for this."

'If you have to pause between sentences you probably don't.' Harry internally commented. He was getting irritated now. Close quarters with the Defense professor was taking its toll and his head was starting to ache like he'd been punched there.

Quirrell shakily began unwrapping his turban, the pain in his forehead was absolutely blinding and when the Defense professor turned around it took a few seconds to recollect himself to see-

"Oh Mr Riddle." Harry breathed forlornly as he realised who exactly was on the back of the man's face. "What have you done to yourself?"

It was... Unnerving. There really wasn't much he could say about it. Where the back of Quirrell's head should've been was instead the twisted, scarred face that the entity could only recognize because of the all too familiarly colored crimson that bore into his eyes. What was even more horrific than that was when Harry forced himself to look deeper, he had to cringe at the absolute blatant disfiguration of the already tiny remains of the soul inside. He's surprised he hadn't just shattered.

Sure he'd always had a morbid fascination in the dark and twisted and oh so interesting, even when it came to his previous souls, especially his souls. But this was beyond that. This was pathetic and ugly and heartbreakingly tragic. Maybe it was a by product of being so human the last few years but Harry didn't feel the same curiosity and intrigue he knew he would've felt before all this. He just felt sick and sad.

"Harry Potter." The face whispered, apparently he hadn't heard him, nor recognised him. The child faced entity wasn't much surprised after such an amount mutilation self inflicted on the being. It'll take time, ages for the shard to repair even half the damage if he manages to free himself from the already occupied meat suit.

"See what I have become?" The face said. And oh, Harry saw, the thing was if Mr Riddle saw. Mr Riddle had been smart and sarcastic and quite charismatic even as a dilapidated wraith. This self proclaimed Lord Voldemort, for that's who he must be, was a weak, pathetic shard clinging and afraid as it acted like an inelegant parasite on the unsuspecting Quirrell who probably wasn't even fully aware of how this would really affect him in the long term.

The boy moved closer, rope bindings slipping off him as easily as water would have, and looked up at the two faced man sadly. "Yes, I think I do."

And then he reached up on the tips of his toes, both hands ready to touch each face to seperate the souls from slowly destroying each other more than they already had. However who he made contact with skin, something surprising happened.

"AAGGHHHH!" Quirrell screamed, immediately dropping to his knees, "KILL HIM, KILL HIM!" came the frantic tortured cry of Voldemort, their faces blistering and what seemed to be melting.

Harry, surprised at the unexpected reaction startled quite violently, tightening his grip and inducing even more howls of pain.

"Fuck!" He jumped back, unsure of what just happened. Harry knew he didn't do anything, he was absolutely sure of it so then why-?

It was too late for the men though, the sight of them was not aesthetically pleasing in the slightest. Burnt skin and blisters and open bloody wounds. Definitely not something easily described. Once again Harry couldn't help but be glad the real Harry Potter wasn't there to see this.


In the end he let Mr Riddle go. Quirrell's soul was drained nearly dry for all the good it did and wasn't very salvageable. That saddened him in a way the loss of life would have saddened his fellow counterpart. He ended up untangling and sometimes even ripping the twisted tendrils of Mr Riddle and Professor Quirrell's two souls to get them apart, it was messy work and there was probably some more damage from it as well but finally what little left of crimson red was recovered and set free. Once again it turned into a wraith like form but now so much less distinct, unrecognisable.

Mr Riddle didn't even look back, so lost in the madness he incurred on himself.

Harry felt quite glum as he sat there, deformed carcass by his side as he swallowed the pale yellow soul down his throat. The soul will be recycled in him, broken down and remade with other bits he's feasted on until it becomes something new entirely. It was a hollow victory.


"So in the end what did you do with the Stone?" Harry asked as he sipped a cup of herbal tea. Dumbledore's eyes twinkled as he sucked on his favoured candy in a suspiciously familiar glass bowl. It had been three days since and while everyone's been fretting over Harry- who thought that one whole day in the infirmary to recover form the 'shock' was a bit much- the commotion has more or less been settling down.

"It's been destroyed." Dumbledore answered, Harry stared, tea forgotten.

"What about Flamel?"

"Ah yes, we had a little discussion and Nicholas and I thought it to be the best."

"Won't him and his wife die then?"

"They have enough Elixir stored to set their affairs in order and then, yes, they will die." Dumbledore smiled like he wasn't just talking about the death of an old friend. Harry wondered if he could get his reapers to pro-order those souls for his private collection. Original Flamels were so hard to get these days.

"Wait." The child paused. "So you spent money on all those stupid traps which I had to pass, willingly endangered students and I ended up killing a man for absolutely notHING?!"

The old wizard looked down at his hands. "Yes well, when you say it like that it does sound quite awful doesn't it?"

The sound of glass shattering and the door slamming was all he got as an answer.

"I.. Should have seen that coming."


Harry sat next to Cedric at the End-of-Year Feast, something which the older boy had insisted after hearing a (very dramatic) retelling of what the Boy-Who-Lived had faced. The rumour mill surprisingly was more or less correct except for the last part which was something only Harry and Harry alone would truly know. The edited version was still Quirrell being the surprise culprit but in no way or form was Voldemort mentioned. The boy wasn't sure if that was the best idea but he knew that the man would take at least two years to recover enough mental and spiritual power to do something as significant again, there was no point fussing right at this moment at the very least.

Green and silver decorated the halls to celebrate Slytherin winning House cup for apparently seven times in a row. Good for them.

Less good was when Harry had walked into the hall and it was like silence was a plague that descended upon the people like the locusts on well, anything really. Same people were actually trying to stand up from their seats to look at him. It was like the beginning of the year all over again.

Thank god Cedric was still his usual friendly self or Harry would've moved tables to some House less annoying.

Dumbledore arrived a minute or so later, the chattering slowly drying away once he stood up to speak. There was a lot of the usual nonsense that Harry had learned now to tune out and then came the thing almost everyone was waiting for. "So, without further ado the House points thus far are- in fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty-two; Ravenclaw has four hundred and twenty-six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy- two."

A storm of cheers came from the House of the Cunning and it was probably the most raucous he'd ever seen from the usually so dignified Slytherins bar the troll incident on Halloween. Harry clapped cheerily along with them, considering he was all and none of the Houses, the boy was quite exempt from any real feelings of House pride.

"Yes, Yes, well done, Slytherin," said Dumbledore. "However, recent events must be taken into account."

The room went very still. The Slytherins' smiles turned into looks of confusion and everyone was looking at each other similarly baffled. Drama much?

"Ahem," said Dumbledore. "I have a few last-minute points to dish out. Let me see. First to Mr. Ronald Weasley..."

Ron went absolutely red, almost purple in the face. Harry didn't even know you could do that without getting angry. Truly he still had much to learn.

"…for the best-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor house sixty points."

Gryffindor's shouts made the Slytherin's beforehand seem like mere whispers they were so excited and loud. Percy could be heard telling the other prefects with the pride only an older brother could posses, "My brother, you know! My youngest brother! Got past McGonagall's giant chess set!" The Weasley twins didn't look much better, thumping their younger brother on the back and screaming various things.

"Second -to Miss Hermione Granger... for the use of cool logic in the face of fire, I award Gryffindor house sixty points."

Harry's sure Hermione just burst into tears at that point. The first years and other members of her House seemed to be looking at her with pride for probably the first time. Gryffindor themselves were rather beside themselves, in just a few moments they were one hundred and twenty points up and in second place.

"There are all kinds of courage," said Dumbledore, smiling. "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award thirty points to Mr. Neville Longbottom."

Well that seemed a little unfair at this point. Neville at least looked shocked and was hugged by a good dozen people. Slytherin had almost completely lost their bright eyes and childish grins. It was more than a little pitiful.

"And finally," Dumbledore began putting them all into a state of silence. "To Mr. Harry Potter, for his courage, for his cunning, his intellect and his loyalty to his friends… I give each house one hundred points."

There was a pause as every mind in the room viciously tried to work out the math and realise yes, Slytherin was still ahead by roughly ten points. Once again the Slytherin's cheered their victory relief and annoyance a common enough theme in their faces. The Gryffindors looked downhearted that they didn't get the sudden win that they hoped but they seemed pretty proud of the almost turnaround that had occurred.

That night Harry followed the Slytherin's down to the dungeons and congratulated them for a well earned victory. He had been responsible for quite a bit of points as well and would have been miffed if that had been ignored in favour of some quest for the apparently destroyed Philosopher's stone. They talked and chatted, Draco seemed to be quite interested in what Harry was doing after school was over. And also about his mansion.

"You know my room is big enough that it can fit in another bed if it's needed." The Malfoy heir boasted, giving Harry some serious side eye. "And we have peacocks that live in the courtyard, giant white ones!"

"That's really cool Draco." Harry praised.

"Also my family dining ro-"

"Oh my GOD." Blaise suddenly shouted, cutting himself off from a conversation he was having with Nott to face the pair. "Harry, Draco is trying to ask you over for the holidays."

"Blaise!" Draco shouted, his pale face pink with embarrassment.

Harry blinked. Well, it wasn't like Privet Drive would be much exciting to satisfy him the whole time back. "Yeah sure."

"See Blaise you fool, you've ruined my carefully constructed p- Really?" The platinum blonde wizard turned to look at the other hopefully. Harry nodded amused.

"Yeah, I've got to go back home for a week but I'll be more than happy to stay with you the rest of the hols."

Draco looked absolutely giddy with delight.

"And yet again I am bereft of the gratitude I deserve." Blaise muttered.

Chapter Text

The one where Death has a holiday in his holiday.

Or, the one where Death meets the Malfoys, Dobby and Snowflake the stalker peacock

"That is so cool! Do me next!" Dudley squealed excitedly whilst Piers shrieked with glee as he began whizzing through the air like a homicidal plane. Harry smiled and waved his other hand in an upwards motion, levitating the larger boy off the ground much to his absolute delight.

They did flips and swirls and generally just recreated that Peter Pan scene with Harry as Wendy. Which, he would like to point out was unfair and so not cool considering he was the one who got them up in the air in the first place. But then Piers pointed out Tinkerbell was the one with the magic fairy dust and Harry quickly shut up after that.

Petunia had gone out to town to get groceries and generally gossip with the other housewives this afternoon and Vernon was having his post-lunch Sunday nap so today was a good day to freely show off the wonders of magic to his cousin and friend. Harry recounted his year in boarding school to the excitable children, patiently answering their questions and possibly, maybe embellishing a few details and facts.

"You really saved your friend Ron from a cursed mirror?"

"Yes, but to be fair, he also defeated the black army using his strategic skills and the help of the white army."

"Wicked!"

Not exactly his proudest moment but it felt awfully fun exaggerating his tale and watching his captivated audience gape and 'oh' and 'ah' at his words. "-and as I struggled against Professor Quirrell and Voldemort I accidentally touched their bare skin, which began burning their flesh! It was actually quite gruesome as they practically shriveled and blackened under my touch. Of course poor Professor Quirrell didn't make it but Voldemort? Well, who knows."

Dudley blinked before his mouth curled into a wide grin. "Holy cow Harry, and I thought boarding school would be a lot more boring. Even a magic one."

"Though isn't it strange you immediately burned them just by touching? How does that work?" Piers queried curiously. Harry shrugged, "To be honest even I don't comprehend what had happened that night. It was.. Odd."

"Maybe it's foreshadowing," Dudley put out there with a laugh, "We learnt bout that in school. But that sort of stuff only happens in stories." He added.

"Yeah, maybe it's like you and Voldemort's souls are magically linked." Piers joked. All three boys laughed at that but Harry's was unnoticeably strained. Children's intuition was terrifying sometimes.


So turned out he had a piece of Mr Riddle's soul embedded into him.

It was more than a little embarrassing that some prepubescent boys figured it out before the fucking entity of death. Actually, it was kind of absolutely, stick your head in the hole, mortifying.

Harry spent a few hours that night, literally soul searching before he found the telltale crimson shard of another soul amidst the cloying black shadows of his own. He had to admit it was quite a lovely image. The red glow of the jaded fragment, wrapped tenderly by loose strands of the inevitable ocean of darkness, gently trying to coerce the single light of color into its depths. The struggle of the broken soul against the inevitable was beautiful in its tragedy.

He watched for a while. In the swirls of shadows and death that were the inner layers of his being, he watched Mr Riddle's small soul desperately staying above the surface, determined not drown as it fought against the natural flow.

They are usually three types of people, Death mused contemplative. People who accept death as easily as they accept the sky is blue, people who laugh in the face of it as they run headlong into danger and people who fear it and run the opposite direction as fast as their little legs can carry them. Eventually, they all succumb to his touch, no matter how reluctant.

So maybe there's really one type of people in the big picture, the people who die.

And yet there is Tom Marvolo Riddle. The Man Who Escapes From Death. Even now, just a fragment of him, surrounded by his end and yet still somehow keeping afloat after all these years. Stronger souls have lasted only mere minutes when consumed by him yet this little spark of life is still going strong, shining it's red glow dimly but no less determinedly.

Such a feat was both offending as it was awe inspiring to be perfectly honest. Luckily for Mr Riddle, Death had fond enough memories of him when they went on an impromptu camp together so the awe-inspiring component of what he was feeling soon won out. Death mentally scooped out the little shattered soul of crimson red with a gentleness that mother's held their newborns, and lightly pressed his lips on the shard, letting it glow a little brighter as its own shade dimmed darker, a deeper red with the faint swirling shadows of darkness now filled with it.

'It would be such a pity, after all, to let even one part of his soul disappear,' Death mused idly whilst he placed the little piece of soul back into the never ending darkness of his own being, this time his vibrantly green eyes which stood out all the more in this near colorless world, observed with a faint sense of pleasure as Mr Riddle's soul now casually floated on top of the tendrils of black. The shadows that had once tried to submerge the vivid color now flicked at it curiously. Death smiled at that, it had been a long time since he loosened the hold of something so clearly meant to be his. Yet at the same time, he had marked it, tethered it onto his own self in a way that's not ever been done before.

Nothing too permanent, it was more of a hitchhiker situation than anything really. 'After all,' Death thought idly, the little crimson piece now bobbing quite contentedly floating in a sea of lifeless expanse, 'I've got to collect all the pieces to get the real prize.'


Dear Death,

It's Fate.

Um. I just want to apologise for being the reason you left in the first place. I didn't mean to pressure you, though I really should've known better to not take advantage of your nice-ness.

But you're gone now and I see you are having a pretty good time despite everything. I'm currently trying to archive and do a soul count of the dead in Universe #78204, World #344185 where some sort of freak shark whirlwind happened?

Again I am so sorry for what I've done. I don't think I've ever repented as hard as I'm doing now. So. Sorry.

Also uh, sorry for making the Dursley's so shite. If it helps at all, I've toned down the mistreatment in my new original Harry Potter story, worked out most of the plot holes and such like getting the baby to survive without resorting to asking my big brother for help. Though the real Harry kind of ends up a bit dumber than I considered, which isn't really fair considering I'm comparing him to you.

But he just got his Hogwarts letter and oh my god it's actually so obvious he'll never be a Ravenclaw you know? Well, of course you don't. You'll see later I guess.

Hope you have a good second year!

…Also maybe you should bring a rooster to school? Just a fun suggestion heh.


"POTTER WHERE ARE YOU, YOU DAMN MONKEY!"

Harry giggled maniacally to himself as he watched another group of determined children ran past his tree. The Harry Hunting game had gotten bigger than ever before now that Dudley had the forethought to make everyone pay up two dollars and the winners get all the money as a prize. There was at least four whole neighbourhoods worth of kids searching for him, probably more since the two had taken to spreading it across the school. Harry's pretty sure he's seen more than a few older teenagers trying to look like they weren't playing the game.

"COME OUT COME OUT HARRY!" Piers shouted with what looked like a lasso in his hands. "YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!" One of Dudley's friends added with an excited edge, he was holding a skateboard. The pale raven haired boy grinned wildly at the promise of a good chase, putting his head out so it appeared through the branches he called,

"YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT I DO."

Jumping out of the tree Harry then dashed away like a madman, delighting in the startled screams and shocked yells.


"Uncle Vernon." A swine like grunt was his answer and the wet mulching sounds of potatoes and steak bits, "This Sunday in the evening one of my friends will be coming over to take me to their place for the rest of the holidays."

The older man's eyes narrowed, "Nnugh mizaming nemends?" Harry sighed.

"Yes uncle, one of my wizarding friends. His name is Draco and his parents are considered nobility in that world if that helps at all."

"Vernon, dear," Petunia simpered, having already been won over ten minutes beforehand when Harry pointed out the logic that he wouldn't be tainting her perfect household for long and that the Malfoy's were filthy rich. "I think it's a rather fabulous idea that the brat should be gone as soon as possible dearest."

Vernon scowled. Obviously unhappy about having to give his nephew any form of happiness. Bastard.

"Fine. But I expect every summer holiday to be like this." He groused.

"Wait, but what if I'm not invited anywhere that year?" Harry protested. "I can't just impose."

"What? Freak afraid his few friends get tired of him by then?" Vernon guffawed at his own joke, his wife giggling along with him. Then he stopped abruptly, beady eyes laser focused on the thin green eyed child as he hissed- "I don't care boy. A week in my house is the most you're getting now that you've asked for it and showed how ungrateful you really are. If you can't find somewhere then I hear the homeless shelter has some new blankets."

Harry could not believe this man had the gall to say such a thing. To kick a boy from his only home. Even Petunia looked uncomfortable at his sneers, excusing herself from the room with a torn expression on her face. Not that the boy could bring himself to care.

"Well thank you for your support then uncle." He spat out, immediately earning himself a heavy handed slap to the face. It stung enough to bring tears to his eyes but the worst part of it was the fact there was still potato and gravy on that hand. Instinctively he gingerly touched his cheek, screwing his face up at the grease splattered on it than the actual act of physical violence.

Disgusting blob of fat. Harry wouldn't even feed the man to the lowest of hellhounds lest they keel over from indigestion.

"Don't you ever talk that way to me again freak!" He hollered, the obese male pushing his chair away to stand up just to slap the boy again. This time, Harry crumpled down onto the kitchen tiles, his eyes glowing a furious green up at his vessel's uncle.

"If anyone's a freak here it's you." He sneered at the man. "Hell is too good a place for a man such as yourself." Vernon went an absolutely startling shade of purple, Harry was pretty sure he's never seen that colour on a human's face before at all which really didn't bode well for him at all.

Of course, he was right. The younger of the two grunted at the impact of the foot hitting his stomach, swearing under his breath as the kicks descended on him in waves, his saving grace was that Vernon was good enough to hit in various places on the body instead of focusing on just his abdomen but was still dumb enough not to think of doing anything truly creative to Harry at the moment. "You dare speak of hell boy?!" He screamed, "I'll give you hell. You wouldn't know hell if it kicked you in the back!"

Harry probably would have laughed if not for the terrible ache in his back. Oh yeah, he may not know Hell inside out as much as others may have but Vernon sure as, well, hell will do so soon enough. The fat man is going to be very well acquainted to the fiery pits. And a stake. A very sharp stake.

He's not sure when but his control must have loosened during the beating because the boy could hear his aunt's shrill shriek and a clatter of something hard falling onto the floor. "Demon!" Petunia hysterically screamed and Vernon in some mix of horror and absolute fright punched Harry's face hard enough that the boy had to throw his head to the side and retch.

"Freak!" Was all Vernon shouted, practically kicking the heaving, coughing boy into the cupboard under the stairs. Harry was glad Dudley was at some camping thing with his school friends right now, he didn't think a young child should witness what monsters his parents were. "You'll stay there till Sunday and then I better not see your sorry face for another year."

The door slammed shut and the sounds of multiple locks echoed in the small darkened room. Along with Harry's groans of agony as his human body felt like it had been lightly sizzled under the cool air and then drizzled in garlic salt. Oh god, he would taste so good covered in butter and thyme right now. So he was hungry too. Sue him.

"Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck." He muttered under his breath as he wiggled out of his ill-fitting clothes, only to lay on the floor in an undignified near naked heap with a relieved sigh. This is probably the lowest point of his immortal existence. It was both humbling and humiliating. "Fuck."


"This is where the great Harry Potter resides?" Lucius Malfoy sneered as he surveyed the similar looking rows of bland houses with their similar looking gardens, though admittedly the garden in front of them was a bit nicer than the others. His wife was pressing a silken handkerchief to her nose, glancing at the mundane magic-less neighbourhood warily.

"It is rather.. lacking."

"Come Narcissa, let's fetch the boy and leave as quickly as possible." The Malfoy Head murmured, brushing a reassuring hand against hers. Narcissa smiled, brushing back lovingly. "Yes let's." She agreed. "Though from the stories our little Dragon tells us about him, I admit I imagined some sort of gold-plated mansion."

"I thought it would be a diamond encrusted castle." Narcissa laughed softly at her husband's dry dramatics.

"Of course you would dear, and people think Draco's personality come from my side of the family."

Lucius didn't answer, but the faint curling upward of his lips was enough to know he heard and was deeply amused as he knocked on the door with exaggerated disgust that made her curl her lips up in turn. She always did adore the man's humorous side to his personality, she's never said it out loud but she was glad the Dark Lord was gone. With their name back on as one of the most prestigious, the old Lucius she'd fell in love with had finally reemerged from that icy cruel countenance that he had molded for himself. It was still ice and sharp edges but it no longer was the harsh, unforgiving way it once was.

The pureblooded wizard barely knocked twice before a woman with the unfortunate physical appearance of a giraffe opened the door. Lucius raised a surprised brow, "Good evening miss," He greeted cordially, the horse like female took one glance at his face and blushed.

"Oh my," She giggled, "And you are?" She batted her eyelashes in some misguided belief that it made her any less unappealing than she already was. The platinum blonde could hear his wife snickering a few feet behind him.

Valiantly ignoring the urge to give a much less than polite response to the mud-blood, the man just gave a strained smile, "My name is Lucius Malfoy, me and my wife Narcissa are here to pick up Harry Potter?"

At the name of the Boy Who Lived, the woman immediately paled, "But you guys aren't supposed to be here until tomorrow evening." She whispered.

"Yes but we did send an owl yesterday informing an early arrival." Lucius pointed out, Narcissa who had grown tired of waiting was now also next to her husband explained, "Lucius and I have a formal gathering with a few important dignitaries that evening, and our son was very much looking forward to his friend coming over so we couldn't possibly delay Mr Potter coming over."

She gave a sweet smile to the muggle, condescending and confident with the belief of being infinitely better than this magic-less middle-class household. "Where is Mr Potter anyway?"

When there was no answer coming from the strangely speechless woman, just a gaping mouth and darting eyes Narcissa felt a strange niggling feeling that something was terribly wrong with the situation. Lucius must have felt something was off too because he took one step closer to the woman, enough to be intimidatingly close without having to touch her, narrowing his eyes. "Yes, where is Mr Potter? My son is eagerly awaiting his arrival and I would loathe to disappoint."

"Uh, yes. Just wait right here and I'll get the lazy boy up." She huffed, seemingly putting herself together again. The blonde couple looked at each other before facing the matriarch of the house.

"Thank you but would you mind so terribly if we came in to see him?" Lucius purred in that way that proved how good of a politician he was. The brunette paled only further, obviously due to the etiquette-induced corner she'd been put into.

"The boy's room is a mess." The muggle answered stiffly, "I'll get you all some tea before fetching him." She faked a smile which the two Malfoys returned in kind as they were led into the house.

Narcissa looked around in wondrous horror at the.. decor. "It's a lovely home." She complimented half-heartedly. The muggle, for they still don't know her name, beamed and began animatedly boasting about her meagre lifestyle like she was the lucky one out of the three whilst she made tea. At least the tea was admittedly quite lovely.

Once they all sat down for some obligatory chit chat, an enormous whale of a man came bumbling into the room. "Oh this is my darling husband Vernon," the woman introduced brightly, apparently against all odds looking like she was having a pleasant time. Narcissa couldn't even tell if she was pretending, which if she was, kudos because the blonde Slytherins were certainly having trouble. And they've had luncheons with Fudge of all people. "Vernon, this is the Malfoys."

The obese male, Vernon, took one look at the fine furs adorning Narcissa and the general nobility of their looks before giving the pair what Lucius thought was some sort of attempt at a charming smile. He couldn't really tell, all the sneering jealousy in those eyes were making it hard to even think the word charming in their presence. "Good evening, I trust Petunia has been a delightful host as usual."

"Yes, Petunia has." The head of Malfoy agreed reluctantly, it wouldn't do to antagonize Potter's guardians after all. Even if Draco wasn't frighteningly obsessed with his newfound friend, it was just plain good sense to make connections with the mascot of the Light side, even better for him if he forged some sort of bond with the child. "But we really must pick up your child and take our leave soon."

Vernon made a confused noise. "Dudley's away at summer camp."

Lucius glanced at his wife which she accurately interpreted as, 'What in Merlin's name is a Dudley?' before subtly rolling his eyes back to the walrus-shaped muggle.

"No dear," Petunia giggled nervously, "They're here for the boy."

"Potter." Lucius clarified getting annoyed, not once had they even said Potter's name, were they even in the right place? "We're here for Harry Potter."

The response was immediate, Vernon's countenance went from friendly enough to down right loathing. "Figures you freaks can't even follow a proper schedule. Does your kind not know what a fucking calendar is?" He actually spat out at the shocked Malfoys.

"Excuse me?" The Malfoy patriarch said disbelievingly at the sheer outright crass of it all.

"I'll just get some more tea shall I?" Petunia offered, already sliding away to the kitchen, Narcissa also stood up as well. "Can you please show me to the bathroom as well?" She asked sweetly, Petunia readily agreed.

"Vernon didn't mean to be so.. Rude. He's just had a rough day." The muggle woman explained hastily as they walked through the hall. Narcissa didn't buy the excuse for a second but made a sympathetic noise anyway, "Such a shame that," she lied, "I would ha- what was that?"

"What was what?" Came the slightly panicked answer. Obviously you didn't need half a drop of sense to know how suspicious that sort of response was.

"I heard a knocking sound," The pureblood looked meaningfully in the direction she thought it came from, the lady found her gaze directed at the staircase.

Petunia gave a strangled laugh, "Oh my silly Duddikins must have dropped a ball or something. You know how kids are."

"I thought you said your son was away on a camping trip."

A soft thumping noise was heard again and quiet curses which Narcissa followed with a growing sense of dread. "Why is the cupboard door locked?" They couldn't possibly have, it was unthinkable, "Is there someone in there?" She asked loudly, half toward the locked door and half directed at the horse faced mud-blood. The other woman looking like she was about to have a stroke.

"Cissa, darling?" Lucius who had heard his wife, walked into the halls followed by an enraged but white faced Vernon Dursley. If the sheathing of his wand was any indication, the Malfoy head had given the larger male quite a thorough introduction to what adult wizards unhindered by underage laws could do. "What's wrong?"

"If what I think is true," Narcissa began, glaring poisonously at the mudbloods, "Then the answer is absolutely everything here. Alohamora!"

The locks on the cupboard door under the stairs clicked open much to the cries of dismay from Petunia and the angry shouts from Vernon. Tentatively Narcissa Malfoy knelt down and opened the small door, Lucius quickly by her side both in support and curiosity. It was dark inside and smelt musty, like old mothballs and rust. The tiny room wasn't fit for one of their house elves much less an eleven-year-old wizarding saviour.

Because that's exactly who was residing under the staircase, green eyes eerily glowing in the shadows as they blinked owlishly while his undernourished, thin frame was all too visible under the darkening bruising and ratty pyjama bottoms.

"Merlin." Lucius breathed in horror. Children getting harmed by their families happened, even in the Wizarding world, but usually it came from overly strict training than anything in order to help the child succeed. Goodness knows that Longbottom child is a good example of it. But this was just sickening.

"Y-You FILTHY MUDBLOODS!" His wife screamed, doing an amazing impression of Walburga Black, she was so clearly upset at seeing a child her son's age in such a state but the head of Malfoy was too busy still trying to comprehend the sight before him still. He's done some pretty cruel things in his life as a Death Eater he must admit, not out loud of course but still. This wasn't training, there wasn't any reason for such behaviour inflicted on a boy. This was just abuse.

As Narcissa began tearing the Dursley's a new one with just her words alone, Lucius bent down lower to poke his head into the dusty cupboard. "Mr Potter?"

The Potter boy surprisingly looked quite amused at the whole thing now that the platinum blonde could make out the child's expression with what little light was there. "Please Mr Malfoy," He said in a very polite voice, like he wasn't half naked with bruises all over his body whilst in a previously locked cupboard. The rasp at the end the only vocal indication Potter was feeling any sort of strain or pain. "Call me Harry, I think we've kind of reached that point."

Harry gestured at his barely clothed form as emphasis to his point with a wry smile, the older man let out an involuntary chuckle before quickly covering up his mouth. How uncharacteristic of him to act in such an inconsiderate manner considering the very serious context. The boy, however, didn't look offended at all, instead he looked almost pleased with making the blonde male laugh.

"You look very nice when you laugh, it's a lot like Draco's." Harry praised, stretching his arms as far as the space allowed him to. "I've already packed my belongings and Hedwig should be waiting outside for us." The child informed Lucius cheerily, "I just need to get changed so if you'll be so kind to close the door?"

The boy trailed off, looking at Lucius expectedly. The Malfoy head just looked down at the boy, "And what of your injuries, Potter? Your priorities are sorely lacking if the first thing you request is for a change of clothing."

"My injuries will heal," Harry dismissed easily, "I'm eager to meet with Draco though so if you don't mind-?"

It was almost admirable how the green eyed boy was being so flippant about his current state of self, well if it wasn't so very saddening. Whoever decided to put the Boy Who Lived in this abusive hellhole was either a very sadistic Death Eater with a grudge or some incompetent dunderhead that couldn't tell a wand from his finger. Reluctantly the older man shuffled out of the cramped room and shut the door, turning around to see with more than smug satisfaction as his wife had reduced the muggle woman to hysterical tears and the fat swine of a man into a bloated piglet.

"-DISGRACEFUL BOTH OF YOU, AND YOU CALL YOURSELVES PARENTS?! I CAN'T EVEN CALL YOU MUDBLOODS, YOU TARNISH THEIR ALREADY FILTHY NAME!"

Ah, it's times like these you can really see the Black side of her family showing. He's always loved how cool, calm and collected the woman could be much like him but it's that controlled fire which rarely comes out that really sealed the deal.

"Now, now Mrs Malfoy, while I thank you for your good will- I think the name calling and, uh, pig-turning, very humorous really, is but a bit extreme," Harry said jovially as he stretched his limbs since he was now freed from his room. He sighed contentedly at the popping noise of his cramped joints.

Lucius and Narcissa had to give a double take at the child. No longer was he the malnourished beaten victim of a child they had seen before, now Harry looked completely different. His skin, while an almost bone white, was unblemished by any marks and Harry himself looked healthy, if a little on the gaunt side. Hell, the boy was pulling off the skeletal look in a way that was somehow darkly elegant.

As they gawked in a very undignified manner Harry surveyed the scene bemused and interested. The Malfoy matriarch was quite the lady indeed, McGonagall and her would probably make a simply terrifying duo if they became friends. Mr Malfoy seemed nice enough as well, yes, he thinks he would enjoy staying at Draco's place for the next few weeks.

Clapping his hands, the eleven-year-old looked at the Malfoy's with a soft smile and said, "Shall we head off? Once we turn my dear old uncle back into a more humanoid form of course."

"Mr Potter," Narcissa began uncertainly, "You look.. Well."

Harry tilted his head slightly, letting his green eyes widen to immeasurably adorable lengths. "I am as well as I'd always been Mrs Malfoy, though I thank you for the kind compliment."

"No I mean, what-"

"JUST LEAVE!" Petunia screamed, clutching the fat pig in her arms, "LEAVE YOU FREAKS!"

"Oh do shut up," Lucius frowned, with a muttered spell and a wave of his wand the hysterical woman was silenced. Then turning to the intriguing boy he asked, "Are you sure about these muggles?"

"My cousin Dudley's a good kid," Harry stated firmly. "I loathe my uncle and aunt but I would prefer my cousin to still have his parents intact that you very much sir."

"That's.. Selfless of you." The boy giggled, "Please sir, no need for such formalities. I'm fully aware I'm being, like Draco says 'Awfully Gryffindor.'"

Lucius gave a quietly relieved sigh, "Well thank Merlin for my son's good sense. Cissa dear?"

"I heard Mr Potter," The Malfoy matriarch gave the small child a gentle smile, "My curses will only last a day at best and I think my husband's will last for about-" "A week." "-a week."

Harry shrugged, "Good enough for me."


"Harry!"

Harry gave an easy going grin at his obviously delighted friend. "Draco it's great to see you."

The Slytherin looked tempted to actually throw himself into a hug with the other boy but one glance at his parents stopped him mid-way, instead opting for a friendly pat on the back instead. Harry winced a bit but kept smiling nonetheless. The two older Malfoys, who had not stopped inconspicuously staring at him the whole time must have noticed because now they were just blatantly staring at him. Like if a weighted gaze was a less metaphorical saying, Harry would be on his knees under the pressure.

"Draco, dear, why don't we go make sure Harry's bed is ready? Your father will show your friend to the.. bathrooms." The elegant lady of Malfoy house tried, Draco did not look much too impressed with the idea but with a meaningful look from his father he complied. Though from the faint grumblings in the distance, it was far from quietly.

Once the two was gone Lucius turned to the small black haired boy, hands crossed across his chest whilst he put on one of his most disproving interrogation face that Harry had probably seen. It was right up there with Order's and Time's. Snape's is pretty good too but there was this fatherly disappointment in the blonde's expression that gave it that extra sharp edge that made you want to curl into a ball and confess.

Honestly, if Harry wasn't older than the earth he was standing on and if Lucius wasn't well, someone who used to call themselves a Death Eater of all things than Harry was sure that he too would want actually admire the man. No wonder Draco respected his father so, what with that carrot stick thing the man had going on.

"Now Mr Potter, I hope you don't think you can just get away without explaining yourself yes?"

Harry sighed and snapped his fingers, the moment he did it was like his healthy looking appearance just slid off him like oil, leaving ugly yellow-brown bruising all over his body. While Lucius vaguely expected this, it still didn't stop the involuntary hiss of displeasure and sympathy to the obviously painful looking appearance. The man is sure people run over by those giant, ugly muggle smoke vehicles would be less bruised than this boy.

"We need to go to the Ministry about this at once." Lucius decided near immediately, "I will not condone such disgraceful, disgusting behaviour." Then with another considering once-over at the beaten child he amended, "But to St Mungos' first of course."

The green eyed young wizard frowned. Yes what those flesh lumps did was terribly wrong and Harry did want them to suffer, but those two days of being coddled after accidentally killing Quirrell had been practically suffocating. Also, Dudley does need his parents, he's only twelve years old after all and Aunt Marge was a frightful person to vacation with much less live with. No, he certainly didn't want that for the poor child, even for the satisfaction of seeing those rotten souls suffer.

They had eternity for that sort of thing later after all.

"Sir if I may, I rather you didn't." The older male looked at him incredulously.

"You rather I let you rot in that revolting household." He said slowly, as if the speed of his words was the one thing confusing him about this conversation.

"Rot is a very negative word." Harry purred, "I'd like to think of it as a.. dose of reality?" The boy winced at his choice of words. Maybe the blonde wouldn't pick it up and throw it right back in his face.

"A does of reality? For what Potter, battered wife syndrome?"

Trying to defend people you really hate kind of sucks. "I just don't want to lose contact with my cousin." He replied honestly, "And while my aunt and uncle treat me worse than a rabid mutt, Dudley has done no such thing and doesn't deserve to be an orphan like me because of me."

"So you're just going to take such treatment?" Lucius challenged with a sneer, "I expected more from the so-called Golden boy and even more from a friend of my son's."

"Then what would you have me do then?" Harry asked heatedly, disliking what the older of the two was implying. "Would you have me stand up and admit what has happened to my person? I'm a very important figure in the Wizarding world Mr Malfoy and you know very well there will be far-reaching consequences to this. I don't want to be pitied and I don't want my aunt and uncle to be sent away. Things that would most definitely happen if we told the Ministry."

Grey eyes narrowed, "Those are just excuses, you don't wish to be pitied? You don't want this cousin of yours to be raised without parentage? And for that, you'll let yourself be starved and bruised and bloodied?"

"It's one week in a year." Harry defended weakly, to explain how this sort of physical inflictions don't truly bother him would be near impossible. But his arguments did sound rather flimsy if said like that.. "Uncle Vernon told me if I wanted to come here I might as well do so every summer holiday."

"You are aware my family and I aren't going to be always here as your private bed and breakfast." Mr Malfoy pointed out.

Harry scoffed at that causing the blonde to look slightly offended and a little taken aback by it, "Of course I'm aware sir. Even if I wasn't, while this is a lovely house and all, I wasn't exactly planning on staying every holiday."

"Then what are you planning to do?"

The boy shrugged nonchalantly, "I don't know- traveling sounds good." He wondered absentmindedly if his favourite horse rider, the closest being to a biological son he had, the Grim Reaper, was still in that strange outcasted world of his. Apparently the fast food was of a much higher quality than the mortals there. Harry definitely planned on visiting sometime in the future now that he had the time.

Mr Malfoy was looking at him with a condescending, 'aw how cute is this child with its naive stupidity' expression. Obviously the expression much like everything else about this man was much more dignified than the average person but Harry could still tell. "You want to travel."

"Germany sounds pretty nice, nothing bad happens in Germany after all." Harry joked airily. "Or the Middle East, I hear the food is simply explosive."

"Mr Potter I don't think you are fully comprehending the sheer wrongness dealt to you." The man said soft and insistent.

"Mr Malfoy I don't think you understand that I very much don't give a damn." He retorted, the child was getting annoyed at the older male's apparent morality to this context. It seemed the Malfoys weren't as Dark and cold-blooded as they like to make themselves out to be. "I do not want my childhood to be judged by the Ministry."

"Well since you are just a child your wants do not hold much sway when the health of your person is called into question." Mr Malfoy sneered, "If it makes you comply I will see what I can do to prevent incarceration for those muggles and only take away their rights as guardians."

The Malfoy head sounded like such a suggestion was poison-forming in his mouth with the way he spat it out, like it was the foulest thing ever tasted. But maybe because of this, Harry felt his mouth stretch painfully through the bruising into a bright grin.

"Really? Oh thank you Mr Malfoy! I would've loathed for Dudley to hate me for getting rid of his family." The child beamed, bright green eyes so intense as they shined happily under the lighting. "Though if I may have another request sir?"

Lucius was ready to just agree and get it over with. Most people usually compromised in his favor, crumpling like wet parchment under his tone. But Draco's friend, Draco's abused wizarding savior of a friend, of course had to be not most people. The blonde just had the most redundant argument with an eleven year old and lost, maybe if he pushed on a bit harder he could have got the permission to give those mudblood scum a little taste under the darker spells of his wand, but Lucius also knew that he needed to be in this stubborn boy's good graces.

And that won't happen unless he reluctantly lets those foul people live, unfortunately.

"What is it now Mr Potter. You may be the Boy Who Lived and my son's friend but I do think you're pushing the envelope a little too hard."

The delicate features of Harry and his admittedly adorable smile then turned positively Slytherin. Lucius shivered at the sight. He may certainly think of the Potter scion as nothing but an interesting, confusing, useful little pawn of a thing right now but he thinks he could certainly learn to like the child soon enough.

Draco truly had good taste in companions, Crabbe and Goyle withstanding.


Harry Potter wasn't just good taste Lucius soon realised. Harry Potter was delicious ambrosia that no wizard nor witch couldn't eventually succumb to.

Said boy sniffled cutely, rubbing a particularly ugly looking bruise on his thin pale arms. The entire Wizengamont was practically melting in the face of… that face. The head of Malfoy had his doubts in letting Potter take charge of everything but things couldn't have gone smoother if it had been slathered in lemon scented body oil.

What would have taken an annoying prolonged few weeks just to get an appointment for something like this turned into a mere fifteen minutes once people realized who exactly was waltzing up to the Ministry. Things got down even faster if that was possible when Harry dropped his glamor once the secretary witch asked for the reason the great Boy Who Lived was here. Lucius had honestly never even knew the ministry could be so efficient.

Fudge was there in a heartbeat, the overweight man smelling a public relations opportunity like a blood hound, cooing at Harry with only slightly exaggerated sympathy while simultaneously loudly ranting about the injustices of it all. After that a court was quickly compiled, Dumbledore looking shaken and nauseated when he caught sight of Harry, the other Wizengamont members were of a similar opinion when they saw the fragile-looking child.

Even with Dumbledore's weak protests, they managed to lift guardianship from the Dursley's before dinnertime. Harry was currently in a limbo status as for the next few months the child will be subjected to various custody battles and debates and bribes. There wasn't one family in the Wizarding world that didn't want to have the great Harry Potter as an honorary member of their bloodline.

"Narcissa dear?" The sly blonde Malfoy murmured to his sleepy wife as they got ready for bed.

"Mm?" She hummed, still smiling fondly at the recent memory of Draco chiding his friend for being so late and the following excited babble of her son as he haughtily insisted of a spooky late night tour of the mansion to make up for it. If the witch listened hard enough, she's sure she could hear the faint noises of excited children and soft padding footsteps.

"I hear the Weasleys are vying for custody for Mr Potter."

Narcissa smirked, knowing full well what her husband was asking and fully approving.

"Well, we can't have that can we?"


It came to the surprise of absolutely no one that someone from the Ministry blabbed about Harry's home life.

That they had to do this on his birthday was completely fucking inappropriate though. Whoever this Skeeter woman was, she is both a coldhearted bitch and extremely good at what she does. Since what she does is spin magnificent tales that exploit people's trauma and secrets, the two statements aren't entirely unrelated.

Draco, sweet naive child that he was wrapped up in spoilt ignorance didn't fully understand the extent of the abuse Harry suffered but still gave him a very big hug anyway. Then helped Harry ignore the sudden influx of mail related to his tragic childhood by aiding his friend in opening up his various gifts and talking about who might end up adopting Harry.

"Look, they've even got a running poll betting on who gets you!" Draco waved the newspaper in his face, the graph and what's written in it stark in it's black ink against the paper.

"I'm so flattered." Harry said dryly as he gently pushed the paper away from his face. "Not objectified at all."

Draco frowned as he continued reading the poll. "Us Malfoys are tied with the Weasleys?" The blonde sniffed haughtily, "Well that's just unacceptable."

Harry hummed vaguely in acknowledgement as he opened another present. Chocolate frogs again. Great. He'll put it aside next to the other ten boxes. Harry kind of gets why Dumbledore wanted socks for Christmas.

In the midst of opening another generic gift from some stranger he's never heard of, a house elf popped into the room. "Young Master Draco, Young Master De- Harry, Master Malfoy is coming here with a guest."

"Thank you." Harry said politely, with a soft nudge to the blonde boy, Draco also mumbled his thanks, making the elf sob before disappearing.

"See Harry, this is why you don't say thanks." Draco grumbled.

"Oh shush and eat a chocolate frog."

More grumbles and then the faint sound of something being unwrapped and eaten. The green eyed boy smiled. Adorable.

"Happy birthday Mr Potter." Mr Malfoy greeted as he strode elegantly into the room. "I see you've seen the papers so wishing you a good morning would be rather redundant."

"Thank you sir," Harry said politely, craning his head up to show off his good mood via smile. "And I-" The boy trailed off as his gaze wandered off to the side of the Malfoy Head as he noticed just exactly who Lucius' guest was. "Professor." He nodded a little stiffly, remembering their last encounter and the dimmed flickers of anger associated with the memory.

He wasn't angry anymore. Harry has existed far too long to get hung up over such small things but that certainly did not mean he was just going to let it slide and be the one to take the first step in giving the proverbial olive branch.

It seemed his cold manner vexed the older man as the professor's jaw clenched in response. "Potter, do you mind if we talk alone for a moment?"

Harry purposely took a few drawn out seconds of pondering before pushing himself off the wrapping laden floor with a put upon sigh. Snape eyed him strangely before giving a sweeping turn with his robes and walking out from where he came. Harry gingerly followed him.

They ended up somewhere in one of the many random lavish guest rooms, far away from snooping Malfoys and spying portraits. Not that any portrait would dare defy Harry since they were all as afraid of him as the Sorting Hat was. Unlike the Sorting Hat unfortunately, they weren't weaved by some of the most powerful wizards in this world and therefore are not as aware of the existence of entities such as himself. Honestly Harry isn't sure what exactly they must see when they look at him but it's certainly not attractive.

"Is there a problem Professor?" Harry asked, arching his neck to the side in indirect defiance. He may be a push over, but among the entities he was definitely one of the most passive aggressive. Well.. Second most. When Time gets ticked, you can always count on him to slowly but inevitably wind you up.

And ooh, there's that twitch in the older man's jaw again. That was oddly satisfying.

"Potter.." Snape started slowly, Harry would almost think it was hesitant if it wasn't so disapproving. Though maybe it was just the boy not being exposed to the snarky professor for a while, Snape always sounded on some level disapproving.

"Happy birthday." He said, handing over a palm sized green present to the physically younger of the two.

Harry waited expectedly for more. He was severely disappointed as all he got was a blank stare and a small parcel in his hand.

"Oh." The child said, trying but probably failing to hide what he was feeling right now. "Well.. Thank you sir."

He felt a large hand softly brush his hair before the sounds of footsteps left the room leaving Harry alone with his tiny box. Not completely sure what to do, but knows enough to be aware that arson is not the correct response to this situation, Harry just unwrapped the little present with growing bitterness.

Harry wanted to throw it in Snape's big nosed face.

How the fuck dare he dismiss him in that manner? He did not emotionally invest himself to building some relationship only for this stubborn man to break it down because of his pride. The fact he was pretty much doing the same thing by refusing to bring the topic up was not the point here. Harry was an eleven year old child for goodness sake, well he wasn't, but he should be treated as such dammit.

Actually no he shouldn't be treated like a child. Except for in these situations. Because.. Damn Snape for making him feel this confusing convoluted way!

Ripping the wrapping harshly, Harry paused as he caught sight of words written on the box underneath.

'I'm sorry.'

With much less anger than before, the boy slowly lifted up the lid. Inside, cozy and snug against soft fabric was a beautiful twisted thin vial with golden brown liquid, it was connected to a short simple black ribbon. On the ribbon was the silver scrawl of 'For when you feel horrified.'

Unscrewing the lid, Harry took a small whiff to determine yes, inside was indeed whisky, not just any whisky, the child was fairly sure it was the same whisky Snape had been drinking during their last conversation. Something light and static fluttered inside the base of his neck as he giggled.

Stupid emotionally stunted human mortal. How dare he? How dare he even?

Harry demurely wrapped the ribbon around his neck, enjoying the feel of the fabric and weight much more than he expected, before tucking it under his robes as he made his way back to where the Malfoys were waiting. Knowing Snape, he'd probably left the manor once he handed him the gift. How dare he?

How dare the man make Harry forgive him through thoughtful sweet gifts?

Harry's smile hasn't faltered once since he put on the vial. It was infuriating.


Staying at the Malfoy mansion was very enjoyable. The food was fantastic, Draco was amazingly willing to please him- it was almost depressingly obvious that this was the first time the blonde heir had brought a friend home for the summer, and the pillows were made of literal clouds. Also Mr Malfoy's hair was like spun gold and Harry was maybe a tad bit obsessed with it.

He accidentally brushed against the man's hair once and it was like silken spider webs. Harry wants to pull on it as the man kisses his neck an- okay so maybe the infatuation was partly with the man himself as well. Who could blame the child? The Malfoy head had literally scooped him out of the cupboard and saved him from the wicked Dursleys, how could you not swoon. He would have played around with the same thoughts about Mrs Malfoy as well but her hair is honestly not as nice.

But seriously Lucius Malfoy's hair was like gossamer threads spun by the heavenly choir and when sunlight touches it, it sparkles like fairy dust.

Needless to say, Draco must never know.

Anyway, it was a rather lovely holiday. Except for maybe one thing.

Actually, two things.

Harry frowned as once again the shadows at the edge of his gaze disappeared as he turned around.

"Harry?" Draco asked, "What are you looking at? Never mind, come on it's a beautiful day to beat you on the broom." The blonde heir teased, Draco had been a bit stiff in the beginning, adorably nervous really. But soon enough they managed to resume their playful banter- just not in front of the other's parents.

"Pssh," Harry rolled his eyes, "In your dreams, the snitch totally flew into your hands the last time on purpose out of pity."

"Harry Potter, the Sore Loser who Lived."

"You should really stop looking at a mirror so much Draco, you're seeing yourself in everything."


It started with meeting the peacocks.

Well actually it also started during breakfast the first morning at the manor.

There's two different things. Obviously they started at different times. This was not the best start to a story. It wasn't the best start to anything actually.

Breakfast happened first, because it's the most important meal of the day. Sitting at the table Harry could not help but openly stare at his plate. The Malfoys couldn't help either as they took one glance at what was on Harry's plate and it was like their eyes were locked onto the absolute mountain of food in front of the tiny boy. Harry didn't even like breakfast food that much. Sure pancakes were nice occasionally and crunchy bacon is delicious anytime of the day but he was picky with eggs and just a few bites of cereal is enough for him. Give him a juicy cheeseburger any day. A breakfast wrap or something equally breakfast themed is more a 'will eat if given to him but otherwise given the option refuse to order' kind of thing.

So seeing the heaping piles of scrambled eggs, glistening sausages, roasted tomatoes, enough bacon strips to recreate a baby pig and what Harry thinks is the actual loaf of bread toasted in front of him was vaguely sickening.

"No offense Mr and Mrs Malfoy but I feel like you are trying to tell me something." He joked weakly as he looked at his meal warily. Goodness, you couldn't even see the plate.

Mrs Malfoy pursed her lips, "I assure you Mr Potter we've done no such thing." Then, calling one of the house elves, she ordered a good three quarters of it gone. It still left way too much breakfast goodness for him but at least he can make malnutrition an excuse for his lack of hunger.

It got worse though.

After that Draco insisted on showing off the prized Malfoy peacocks that wandered the courtyards. Harry, naive fool he was back then, readily agreed. He really should've known better when he agreed.

He really should've known better when Draco introduced him to their favourite prized peacock. Smaller than it's brothers and sisters, this one's beauty was unmatched- feathers as paler than Harry's own skin, tinged with an icy blue that made him look like it was some sort of delicate carving of ice instead of a living breathing creature of flesh and blood and bone. His size certainly didn't match it's large personality either, the larger birds seem to step away when it practically swaggered toward them confident in his beauty and Harry could see the Malfoy pride brimming in the avian creature.

Truth be told, even he was immediately taken with the elegant magnificence of this bird that seemed to be made from snow and ice. Harry had knelt down and cooed his greetings at the bird, praising his appearance and loveliness.

That too he should've known better.

Snowflake the peacock cooed.


Dobby, Harry thinks he could've handled. After managing to corner the elf who had somehow thought it was his blood bound duty to do everything he could to keep Harry Potter safe and happy, Harry had explained bluntly how he was freaking Death and therefore that while the help was nice, it was not necessarily needed. That resulted in a lot of tears and head banging on the elf's part but soon enough the message sunk in. Kind of. At least that weird tirade about how 'Harry Potter should't be going back to Hogwarts,' thing was forgotten so the child will take this as a win.

House elves he has learnt, while incredibly enthusiastic to the point of intense masochism, just want their masters to be happy and to know they are doing good work. A lot of good work. Just politely giving an order or sixteen to the enthusiastic elf and a 'thank you' is enough to satisfy the creature for a solid morning.

Of course indulging in these servantile beings' masochism encouraged the other elves to ask to do work from him. It was getting a little hard to think up some orders on the fly but Draco helped well enough. They even made a nice little game of most creative demand, which Harry was currently winning because he asked for Dobby to take a Monopoly game from the Dursleys.

Okay it wasn't really that creative but to the purebloods they were absolutely fascinated with the thing. Once Harry explained the rules the Malfoys took to the muggle game like sharks in fish infested waters. By the end of the night Mr Malfoy, who had managed to put his wife in debt and fool his son into some sort of Ponzi scheme and somehow lawsuited the hell out of Harry, admitted that maybe muggle games weren't too bad after all. It definitely was much more intellectually stimulating than those exploding gobstones.

So no Dobby, with his pure innocent desire to help, along with the rest of the house elves, we're not too bad.

Snowflake on the other hand however was terrifying in ways that Harry never ceased to believe. Like he's the physical representation of an unstoppable primordial force and yet he's pretty sure Snowflakes the bloody peacock was one too in a far different sense. A perverted sense for all those who are too obtuse to understand.

Now to clarify, Death has had suitors. Female, male and those in between. It's one of the few carnal pleasures he gets and while he doesn't do it as often as his fellow entities, Death has had a fair share. He doesn't make love either, the entity wasn't even sure if he was capable of that sort of thing in this sort of context. He's fucked and gotten fucked. Rough, fast and filthy. Slow, gentle and precious. He's done things with three out of the four Horseman at once. Death the Horseman was not at all pleased. Didn't even top his top ten carnal exploits.

The point is, Death, and therefore Harry (spiritually at least) has gotten a lot of intercourse. From mortal animals to magical beings to deities to that one purple alien who may or may not be dead set on killing a bunch of planets and calling himself Death's champion. He's not a blushing virgin. Okay no, he's just not a virgin.

So there should be no excuse for him being sexually intimidated by a snow white peacock called Snowflake.

But he is.

He totally, totally is.


"Oh look, Snowflake's back again." Draco pointed out, unaware of his friend's full body flinch. "Funny, usually he hates everyone. Father is pretty much the only one he deigns to interact with. I'm pretty sure I've only seen Snowflake like three times a year."

Harry wished he had that problem. He's seen that persistent bird everywhere. Usually when he was in some sort of state of undress. It was like overtime he began stripping, the white peacock was. just. there.

Like now, just as he was mid-way through taking his shirt off after a particular hot day of catching snitches. His pale eleven year old torso slightly toned and very sweaty are half exposed to the world, and more importantly Snowflake. Peacocks aren't well known for being predators but with the look in this one's eyes, it's hard to imagine them as anything but right now.

"Yeah.. Funny that."

Snowflake coos.


The boy wonders if Snowflake was a magical peacock. That can be the only explanation how the bird has managed to get past all the magical barriers he's tried constructing whenever he has a bath.

Also he did not shriek when the feathery elegant bird jumped into the bath while he was happily soaking in rose scented bath oils.

He also did not almost drown himself in mortification when Dobby popped into the bath too, apparently having sensed his distress.

When he came back into reality, the entity now mortal child realised that reality has a peacock that has taken his undergarments. Harry has never been harassed in this manner in his life. He wants to both cry and laugh till he cries. Either way there will be tears. And lost clothing.

"DRACO YOUR PEACOCK'S IS STALKING ME." Harry screamed as he hastily wrapped a fluffy towel around his waist.

The only sounds from his friend was muffled laughter. What a prat.


"So Potter," Blaise drawled as he skimmed through some book as they waited for Draco to get ready. They were supposed to go shopping for their school books today and the Italian wizard's mother apparently had an impromptu date, hence his presence at the Malfoy manor. "I hear from Draco you're afraid of peacocks?"

"I'm not afraid of peacocks." Harry scowled.

"No, he's just afraid of Snowflake!" Draco shouted from the bathroom like the prat he is. Blaise raised a judgemental brow at the Boy Who Lived.

"Snowflake? The small one who thinks he's better than literally everyone else?" There was a suspicious coughing sound from the olive skinned boy and Harry narrowed his green eyes at him as he studiously ignored the heat on his cheeks.

"You don't understand," Draco said coming out of the bathroom, steam visible from the room as the blonde grinned madly. "Snowflake for some reason loves Harry. Harry show him the trick." He egged on, apparently having found the whole Snowflake situation hilarious once he finally caught on.

"What thing?"

"I'm not showing him the thing."

"Oh come on Harry, show Blaise the thing."

"What thing?"

Harry huffed but did so anyway. Slowly, ever so slowly, he began unbuttoning his robes much to the italian boy's befuddlement. Once the green eyed child started lifting his shirt, then Blaise began to voice his confusion, "What are you-"

He stopped midway through when an innocent coo of a peacock was heard. Looking down, Blaise almost jumped when a small white peacock who was now ruffling open his tail feathers, suddenly appeared in the middle of the room. Harry gave both Blaise and the flaunting bird a long suffering look before redressing himself.

"Now that you two have essentially pimped me out to Snowflake for your amusement, you guys are buying me ice cream."

Snowflake cooed.

"No you can't come."

Snowflake cooed sadly.


Diagon Alley was seriously crowded. Like seriously packed, especially around the bookstore. Which is a pity considering that was where the trio plus Mr Malfoy, was heading.

"What's all this about?" Harry wondered aloud. "Some sort of sale?"

"It's a book signing." Zabini answered annoyed. "Gilderoy Lockhart."

The green eyed boy brightened at the name. "Oh my god really? I enjoy his books immensely!" He said excitedly earning various disgusted looks from his friends and Mr Malfoy. Clearly they weren't fans. "What?"

"Lockhart is a buffoon." Stated Mr Malfoy in no uncertain terms. "While I find it's prudent not to show distaste of him publicly, especially considering his.. high regard from our kind, he is, in no uncertain terms, a buffoon."

Harry shrugged, "So? His stories are very riveting, even if his characterization feels a bit weak."

"Harry.. I know this sounds ridiculous but.." Draco laughed awkwardly, "Do you happen to think Lockhart's stories are fiction?"

Harry looked confused, "Of course, they are children adventure books yes? It's all very dramatic and interesting but clearly unrealistic." The disgusted expressions surrounding him turned highly amused. Even the Malfoy Head was hiding a smile behind his mouth. "What?"

"Potter," Lucius began before he couldn't continue any further for fear of losing his composure in public. Luckily his son had no such conniptions. The older blonde will talk to his son about acting in such a manner but for now he will leave it be.

"For such a smart person you can be bloody dense about things." Draco snickered, "Lockhart's books are our textbooks for this year, Harry."

"We have a creative writing course?" Blaise slapped him on the head.

"Now you're being deliberately obtuse. It's our Defense textbooks. As in, those stories you've read? Are non-fiction texts."

Harry stared at all of them. Waiting for the punchline. It didn't come.

"Oh." He said.

Which was of course when Gilderoy Lockhart hugged him. "See! My eyes have never deceived me, Harry Potter is right here!" He declared and suddenly it was like the horde had descended upon them like ants on maple syrup pancakes.

Ugh, breakfast food. He's so sick of breakfast food and damn Dobby with his wide expectant elf eyes watching him the whole time.

There's a lot of clamoring and noise going on, Gilderoy Lockhart's clear and loud as it went on and on. "-and I thought to myself, 'It can't be Harry Potter?' and I just had to have a closer look to see you see, and lo and behold-"

Harry blinked hard at the sudden flashes and smoke coming from the old fashioned camera aimed at the pair. If he had the ability to lift up his arms, he would be happily rubbing away the dancing white spots in his vision. But alas, the blonde wizard physically restraining him was preventing him this simple relief.

"Nice big smile, Harry," said Lockhart, through his own gleaming teeth. "Together, you and I are worth the front page."

Harry smiled. Maybe if he did so he could earn the privilege of breathing.

It seemed to work well enough since Lockhart finally let go after the final flash. The green eyed boy quickly tried to make his way over to the smirking Malfoys and Blaise, his gaze also catching sight of red hair and freckles but for now he had to focus on escape. However again the smiling wizard caught him, arm over his shoulders like they were somehow friends or something, announcing how yes, the great Gilderoy Lockhart will indeed be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts in Hogwarts this year.

And to think Harry thought he liked the man as an author.

He still did, but now that he was aware of the obnoxious personality behind the quill the general reading experience is tainted.


"Bet you loved that, Harry?" Draco drawled teasingly once Harry managed to crawl out of Lockhart's grasp. "Not enough that the whole Malfoy house elves and peacocks served as your personal fan club for the holiday, now you can't even go into the bookstore without making it to the front page."

Harry was just about to retort with a cutting and absolutely devastating comeback, he was, really, but then an unfamiliar voice interrupted him.

"Leave him alone, he didn't want all that!" A small redheaded girl with freckles said, glaring at the platinum blonde boy. A Weasley? Ron did mention a sister come to think of it.

"And a girlfriend Harry?" Draco crowed, because clearly Mr Malfoy has not taught his son well enough to not get carried away in antagonising to the point of pulling in random strangers into the conversation. Despite the Malfoy head's usual hot-cold demeanour with an extra side of frosty, the man clearly liked coddling his child. "My my, Snowflake will be positively murderous." The redheaded girl, angry and confused went a positively scarlet colour.

Suddenly, Ron and Hermione burst in through the mass of people.

"Oh, it's you," said Ron, looking at Draco as if he were something unpleasant on the sole of his shoe. Draco sneered in response. It seemed absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Internally the raven haired boy sighed, it seemed he's going to have to make the two renew their reluctant truce again this year.

"Ron!" said an older red headed man who must be Mr. Weasley, struggling through the crowd with Fred and George. "What are you doing? It's too crowded in here, let's go outside."

"Well, well, well - Arthur Weasley."

It was Mr. Malfoy. He stood with his hand on Draco's shoulder, sneering in the exact same way. It would have been amusing if Harry wasn't in the middle of this mess of a family feud. He wasn't a Weasley nor a Malfoy, so why the fuck was he literally in the middle of this? He just got harassed by a B-class writer, he should be having ice cream and hot chocolate.

"Lucius," said Mr. Weasley, cold and curt.

"Busy time at the Ministry, I hear," said Mr. Malfoy. "All those raids.. I hope they're paying you overtime?"

He reached into Ginny's cauldron and extracted, from amid the glossy Lockhart books, a very old, very battered copy of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration. 

"Obviously not," Mr. Malfoy said with exaggerated disdain. Mrs Malfoy was right, the older blonde loved to dramatise. "Dear me, what is the use of being such a disgrace to the name of all wizard kind if they don't even pay you well for it?"

Mr. Weasley flushed darker than either Ron or Ginny. The resemblance in the two pureblooded families was absolutely startlingly. Harry is pretty sure genetics is not supposed to work this way.

"We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizards, Malfoy," Mr Weasley said.

"Obviously," Mr Malfoy sneered harder if possible, "We also seem to have a different idea on parenthood. After all, it seems you aren't aware of the term, quality over quantity-"

There was a thud of books falling to the ground as Mr. Weasley threw himself at Mr. Malfoy, knocking him backward into a bookshelf. Dozens of heavy spell books and texts fell down under the ensuing tumble. There was screaming and hair pulling and pushing and everything. Admittedly it was pretty hot.

Draco, Ron, the twins, the girl and Blaise were shouting encouragement as a woman who might have been Mrs Weasley shouted for the fight to stop, aided by a pleading shop assistant.

Percy was suddenly by his side, face red and embarrassed. To be fair, Harry probably would be too in the teenage boy's position. He'd always thought Percy might find himself a bit out of place with his family sometimes, part of it being the usual phase of a teen obviously but this certainly wasn't going to help much. With a soft nudge at the older redhead, Harry gave him a reassuring crooked smile when Percy looked down.

"Well at least your dad's defending your honour like the princesses you are," Harry said lightly, Percy still looked plenty embarrassed at the scene his family was making but at least the other saw enough humour to smile slightly at the joke.

Sometime during the exchange Hagrid had wondered into the bookstore and separated the two family patriarchs apart. Mr Weasley's lip was split and Mr Malfoy looked like a book hit him in the face what with the faint pinning on his pale cheek.

When Mr Malfoy looked at him though, Harry could see the older man look slightly abashed at how he must look in the Wizarding Saviour's eyes, it quickly faded as he shook himself out of the half giant's grip. Eyes glittering with malice Mr Malfoy summoned the battered transfiguration textbook from before, shoving it into Ron's sister's book filled cauldron. "Take the book girl, after all it's probably all the best your father could give you," He spat. "Come on Draco, Harry, Blaise."

Shrugging helplessly Harry followed, though not before mouthing to Ron an apologetic 'I'll write you?' in which, with pursed lips, Ron nodded. They had been exchanging letters the past few weeks and it'll be a shame to cut it off so soon before school started up again. Giving his freckled friend a thumbs up, Harry hurried to catch up with the fuming Malfoy.

He couldn't help the feeling that this felt slightly ominous to the year ahead.

Chapter Text

The one where Death decides he hates Lockhart

"I am so getting onto the Quidditch team this year, just you guys wait." Draco announced, his finger pointing accusingly at his sprawling friend. Harry flopped his arm over his head as he lay on the train's comfortable compartment seats.

"Draco I never said you couldn't." He groaned. "In fact I distinctly don't remember saying anything actually." The boy just. wanted. to. sleep. He had woken up at two in the damn morning with a peacock in his arms crooning happily. He did not have the patience for this train ride.

The sliding doors slid open to bring in a red faced Ron. Because of course, that was exactly what Harry needed.

"Malfoy." Ron growled.

"Weasley." Draco sneered.

"Potter." Harry muttered just to be contrary. He wasn't even looking at the two boys, just up at the ceiling as he felt his body try to become one with the train. "Now for the love of all things holy and magic can you guys just not?"

"His dad insulted my family!" Ron protested.

"His dad insulted mine!" Draco defended.

"All I'm hearing is that your dads did it." Harry pointed out, still unmoving. "I don't see why we have to revert back to the beginning of last year."

"Harry it may surprise you to hear this but the only time we are remotely civil is when you're around. There is no reversion." The Malfoy heir said dryly.

The arm covering his face slid off to lie limply off the edge of the seats so bright green eyes blinked at the two boys bleary and annoyed. "Then do that then." He hissed, "If you two are going to act like the children you are then do it away from me or do it here so then I will take great pleasure in pushing you two out of the window where your bodies would tear and splinter into horrifying bloody carcasses and your faces will be so mangled your own fathers' won't be able to recognize you from a raw meatball."

Both boys stared at the irritated child with equally sickened expressions. Coincidentally enough Ron made a similar face when he sang his rendition of Waltzing Matilda. "Yeah okay Harry." Draco whispered, his hand lightly pressing his lips in a scandalized fashion. "Merlin."

"What's up with Harry, Malfoy?" The redhead side murmured.

"He didn't sleep well last night because Snowflake found his way into his bed." Draco explained quietly, grey eyes watching warily as Harry slowly settled back in his previous position. "Apparently he ended up hiding in my sock drawer at five am."

Ron stared at his unfriendly rival. "There are so many questions. I don't know where to begin." He confessed.

"Well luckily for you Weasley I do." Draco said gleefully. And then launched into the epic unrequited love story of Snowflake the peacock and the Boy Who Lived.

When Harry woke up two hours later, still groggy but feeling infinitely much more human than before, he was greeted to the sight of a large stack of assorted candies and his friends, both Gryffindor and Slytherin, giggling as Draco Malfoy regaled them once again about the time Harry almost had to go to St Mungos because somehow Snowflake had made his way onto his broom and the boy was so shocked he fell off just as he was about to take off. Luckily his arm was just bruised and not fractured or that would've been a much more mortifying story than it already was.

Harry groaned and silently cursed the Malfoy scion before going back to sleep again. He did not want to be awake for this.


The Gryffindor table, much like every other House table, was filled with noise and chatter and 'Oh my god, how have you've been doing's.' Hermione apparently went somewhere with her parents. Ron groused about Harry not being over at his place that holiday. The boy was fairly sure he's going to be guilted over to the Weasleys come Christmas break. No he was completely sure. And already ready to crumble dammit.

"So I didn't know your sister was coming to Hogwarts this year- from the impression in your letters I thought she was like.. Six."

Ron guffawed, "Naw mate, though she certainly can act like a six year old sometimes."

"Like you can talk Ronnikins!" One of the twins shouted somewhere on the other side of the table. Harry didn't even want to know how.

"Shut it Fred!" The freckled redhead turned his head and shouted. "Or I'll tell Harry what you said in your sleep that one time that you insisted was an accident!"

"It was an accid-DON'T TELL HARRY!" A bunch of girls shrieked as the Weasley twin practically slid on the table in an attempt to reach his annoying youngest brother. The freckled teen flailed a bit as he pulled his body closer to the pair. Then, mustering up the shreds of today's pride and dignity, Fred turned to a highly amused Ron and a wide eyed Harry Potter, his arm holding up his head as he lay on the table. "Hey.. Harry, how are you doing?"

Harry pressed the back of his hand to his lips as he tried not to giggle. "Definitely better now that you're here Fred."

Fred beamed brightly, his pale freckled face pink, probably still from the embarrassment. His brother, doing the less spastic thing, had walked around the table to stand behind Harry and Ron, giving a faked put-upon sigh. "Children these days." He tutted.

Ron, high from the knowledge that for once he had the upper hand against his prankster brothers grinned madly and added, "You know someone else also says things in his slee-" The redhead's smiling mouth was muffled by a blushing George's hands. Fred tutted mockingly, still on the table and had visibly gotten used to lying on it.

"Children these days."

"I think I should be the one saying that." Every turned to look up and there Professor McGonagall was in all her stern and disapproving glory. Fred slid off the table to slink between his brother and the Boy Who Lived. "The Sorting is starting and I very much hope for your sakes that I won't have to come back here again."

All the Gryffindors in ear shot nodded as one, it didn't matter if they had no part in it, one look from their head of House and they were just compelled to agree. Harry liked Professor Snape, he did, but hell, the human child in him respects the hell out of McGonagall. Even the entity of him is admittedly a bit intimidated by her.

Hermione on the other side of the table might have whimpered a little. Harry only judged her a little for that.


Ginny Weasley, Ron's sister, was a little weird in Harry's opinion. Ron told him she was always weird but usually in a much louder manner. The redheaded Weasley girl flushed at that, punched her brother on the shoulder and ran off to the front of the group walking toward their dorms. Even Hermione, who had been engrossed with Gilderoy's 'A Voyage with Vampires' book commented offhandedly about that.

The green eyed boy didn't have the heart to tell Hermione that Gilderoy's books weren't products of fiction. She'll find out soon enough.

Fred and George too were acting a little different too, not in a terribly odd way or anything. They were still joking and grinning and generally just being a right laugh, but Harry couldn't help but notice they seemed to be sticking to him closer than usual. Lee Jordan was there too, he was a funny guy as well but the boy couldn't help but feel the teen was aware of something he wasn't because every single time one of the twins accidentally brushed against him, jostled by the crowd, Jordan would get the slyest grin and would wink at Harry. Harry does not know what to do with that.

Even Percy, who as prefect was up there in the front of the Gryffindor group, kept sneaking glances at Harry. The boy was pretty sure he knew what this was all about but he couldn't help but be curious nonetheless.

"Hey, Fred, George?" Two near identical faces turned to look down on him.

"Yeah Harry?"

"What can-"

"-we do for you?"

Harry blushed slightly, the faint dusting of pink decorating his pale features. His idea sounded silly now that he was about to say it out loud. Silly and very self-centred, but what else could it be to warrant such strange behaviour other than them wanting him?

"Um," He began nervously, "Do you really want me so badly?"

There was a sudden 'oof' as the twins collided with each other and arms and legs fell together in a messy heap. "What?" George croaked.

The green eyed child blushed harder, now he felt even worse. Ron was staring at the whole thing confused. "Why are you so surprised?" Ron asked. "It was bloody obvious even to me that you two and Percy want Harry badly."

There was another crash as Percy stumbled over nothing but the floor, from their angle they could only see that the tips of the prefect's ears were practically burning. "Percy wants me too?" Harry said surprised, Ron nodded vigorously while his older brothers tried to untangle themselves from the flooring.

"Yeah, you should've seen them this Summer Harry. I mean, they practically took my right as best mate to complain about you not visiting. And over the time we exchanged letters it was all, 'How's Harry doing?', 'Does he need rescuing from the Malfoy's?', 'I read the Prophet, is he doing okay?', 'Can I write to him?' Honestly, it was so annoying."

"Oh," Harry said, immensely flattered. Then shyly he looked at his friend and asked, "Do you want me as well?"

By then they were holding tightly the captive attentions of literally everyone there. Oblivious to it Ron scoffed, "Of course I want you mate! I've literally wanted you since Christmas last year."

"I've wanted you before that!" Percy blurted out, earning everyone's interested gaze as he tried to hide his mouth with his hands like it would somehow convince everyone that he hadn't just said that.

"Well we've wanted you since that time on Platform 9 and 3/4's!" The twins chorused determinedly.

Harry looked down bashfully, his cool hands pressing against his very warm face. "Oh." He repeated softly. "I didn't really think, I mean, if I knew I wouldn't have said yes to Malfoy for my first time."

George made a soft choking sound as Fred and Percy went suspiciously crimson. All three, plus the older Gryffindors of the group were staring wide eyed at the child, the latter looking like their favourite soap opera drama had just revealed a last minute plot twist to the season finale. Ron gave a decisive nod, crossing his arms smugly as he did so.

"I told ya Harry, me and my brothers would have shown you a much better time!" More choking sounds were heard across the House of the brave and the bold. By then everyone had given up any pretenses of actually walking to the dorms in order to watch the scene. McGonagall certainly won't be pleased with any of them but apparently her wrath was something that failed to register with everyone currently. Harry had no idea why these people are so obviously eavesdropping on what was clearly a personal conversation. House of Courage? More like House of the bloody Curious.

"I don't know, I had a pretty fun time with the Malfoys. You know that game we played last time, yeah, we were up the whole night doing it- Mr Malfoy practically screwed me over their dining table!"

Someone legitimately sounded like they were dying. Harry is vaguely sure it was Percy. He hoped there wasn't some sort of magical virus or anything hanging around. The boy hasn't experienced illness before but it wasn't exactly something on his bucket list or anything. Especially magical illness, ick.

Ron grinned, apparently being the only healthy one here, plus Hermione but she was still reading her book so she didn't count. "Yeah well I betcha that once my family learns the rules we'll have a hell of a time as well- though the twins will probably be at you on both sides so you gotta be careful and all," Yup, that noise definitely was from Percy.

Harry laughed, "Oh I'm sure they'll love it, but I've got more than a few tricks up my sleeve so they can't strip me down so easily. Plus I've got my best friend to help me out in a pinch yeah?" Ron laughed too, bumping his shoulder teasingly.

"Of course mate, we'll scratch each other's back yeah?"

"Duh."

"So you really will?" The redheaded boy said hopefully.

Harry sighed fondly, "Of course I will, I want all you guys as well."

"Wait what?" Fred asked officially lost, verbalising what the rest of the older children's own thoughts.

Ron rolled his eyes at the hopeless confusion painted on the majority of the students' faces. "I hope I'm not like this when I'm that age. Honestly you guys are making such a big deal over Harry going to our place over the hols."

"What."

"You guys wanted me to join you all for Christmas at your place didn't you?" Harry asked nodding, to himself at his rather astute conclusion. "I mean if I had known all of you wanted me over I would have told Draco I would visit his place another time, I just didn't think you guys wanted me to impose.."

The older Weasleys stared at the nodding boy with a mixture of disbelief and embarrassment. Their fellow housemates were not exactly stunning examples of understanding either what with their gawking open mouths and visible incomprehension painted on their faces.

"Yeah." Percy finally muttered.

"That's totally-" George began in an awkward murmur.

"-what we meant." Fred finished weakly.

"My family is actually so weird." Ron whispered to Harry. Harry couldn't help but silently agree.


There had been a lot of staring and pointing during the feast. Harry kind of expected that considering how many papers dedicated to his home life had managed to be printed in such a short time. There were pictures of his uncle, his aunt, his hospital photos which were certainly not supposed to have been given to the public and even a slightly blurry photo of his medical records.

Whoever this Skeeter lady was, was fucking good at what she does. And is so getting sued once Harry figures out if there such a thing as a magical lawyer in this convoluted world.

McGonagall took him aside after she finished introducing the first years to Gryffindor, her lips pursed and every so slightly trembling. The boy actually thought she was going to cry. He really hoped she wouldn't. Because while he has grown socially and emotionally during his time as a human, he was not ready to deal with crying in any form. Especially from a woman he had come to kind of respect and fear.

Wordlessly the woman pulled the thin child into a tight hug. "I-" She began hoarsely, "I have failed as a teacher and I am so sorry."

'Fuck. Okay. Uh.' Harry looked up at the ceiling hoping for maybe a sign, some help from a deity, Lucifer would be good in this situation funnily enough, he's always had a knack with people in vulnerable situations. Unfortunately it seemed the Devil was busy because nothing but a well decorated ceiling answered him. Figures. "That's not true." Harry tried, hesitantly half wrapping his arms around the professor and awkwardly patting her back. "You're a great professor."

McGonagall tightened her embrace and said nothing. Which was fine. He could sense she needed the silent reassurance, and that, was something he could give.


They were starting on the more 'magical' type plants apparently. The green eyed boy had to stare warily at the tufty little plants of a purple green colour that Harry had a sinking suspicion to what exactly it was.

Professor Sprout was standing behind a trestle bench in the middle of the greenhouse. About twenty pairs of different-colored ear- muffs were lying on the bench. "We'll be repotting Mandrakes today."

Fuck.

Harry did not do great with plants, human form acting as a buffer or otherwise his skill was mediocre at best. Harry also did not like loud noises or babies. So, it may come as a bit of surprise but seeing that Mandrakes were wailing plant babies from the stereos of hell, Harry also were not exactly fond of Mandrakes either.

Professor Sprout explained some things and Hermione, true to form answered every question asked. The Boy Who Lived didn't notice, much too busy wondering if he could make Ron do his share of the potting. Probably not. Maybe Hermione?

It turned out that there was no chance to even ask as the moment they put on their earmuffs that pretty much blocked all sound in the immediate area the first Mandrake was uprooted and it just went down from there. They squirmed, they kicked, they flailed their sharp little fists, and gnashed their equally as sharp and unnecessary little teeth. These things lived in the ground for god's sakes. What on earth do they need limbs and teeth for?

It was obvious they were extremely disgruntled at being taken out from the earth but for some infuriating reason they seemed stubbornly adamant not to go back in either. Harry had spent six whole minutes trying to push a particularly large one into a pot before deciding that, since no-one could hear him, he could whisper various methods of torture to the magical foliage in cruel, excruciating detail. That seemed to do it as just a few sentences in explaining what exactly flaying was in plant terms, his Mandrake just went limp and easily was shoved back into it's new pot.

Still, by the end of the class, Harry was sweaty and covered in dirt and just generally feeling disgusting. Trudging quickly back with the rest of his class back to the dorms for a quick shower, Harry groaned at having to tear himself away from the hot water to go to Transfiguration class. It took a lot of shouting from the other boys before Seamus and Ron had to literally drag him away from his beloved steaming water.

"You and your showers, it's absolutely ridiculous." Ron muttered.

"You're ridiculous." Harry muttered. "Seamus, tell Ron he's ridiculous."

Seamus laughed. "Sorry mate, but I think it's you whose ridiculous."

"Prats the both of you."

Transfiguration, as usual, was incredibly easy. As his fellow second years struggled to turn their beetle into a button- something that he had managed before Professor McGonagall had even finished her instructions- Harry had idly transfigured his insect into a jewel encrusted scarab out of sheer boredom.

The young Weasley, in contrast, was not doing well. Somehow he had summoned up a small foul-smelling puff of smoke and accidentally squashed his bug in the process. McGonagall was not pleased. Harry tried to help but even he wasn't exactly sure what was wrong with Ron's spell casting.

Handing in what they had done by the end of class certainly did not improve Ron's mood any, especially since even Neville managed to get his beetle to show some sort of button like change.

"What've we got this afternoon?" asked Harry, in an attempt to change the subject as they walked to the hall for lunch.

"Defense Against the Dark Arts," answered Hermione immediately.

"Why," demanded Ron, seizing her schedule, "is it that you've outlined all Lockhart's lessons in little pink hearts?" The bushy haired girl snatched her schedule back, blushing furiously.

"Oh don't be like that Ron," Harry said with a tired smile, "She's just a fan of the books yeah? I like how descriptive the narrative is in my opinion, what about you Hermione?"

The girl gave a grateful smile before launching into an excited rant about 'A Voyage with Vampires' that she currently had in her arms at the moment. Personally Harry hadn't liked it, even when he did think Lockhart's books had been children's fiction, but he listened along and commented occasionally when appropriate either way. Ron just kind of grunted and made sulky insults in the background, really, Harry didn't understand why Draco and the redhead didn't get along more.

About five minutes in through lunch and about fifteen minutes in Hermione's tirade, Harry felt a pricking sensation at the back of his neck. Looking behind him he saw a very small, mousy-haired boy clutching what looked like an ordinary Muggle camera in his hands.

When the smaller boy finally realised green eyes was on him he went a bright red, clutching his camera to his chest.

I'm- I'm Colin Creevey," Colin introduced, taking a hesitant step to the raven haired boy. "I'm in Gryffindor, too. D'you think- would it be all right if, maybe, I, can I have a picture?" he said, raising the camera hopefully.

"Really?" Harry blinked.

"So I can prove I've met you," the boy breathlessly said, edging further forward. "I know all about you. Everyone's told me, about how you survived when You-Know-Who tried to kill you and how he disappeared and everything and how you've still got a lightning scar on your forehead," And of course eyes went to his scar on his forehead. Harry wondered if getting a tattoo would take the attention away. Though unless the tattoo was earned by murdering the next dictator he highly doubted it would work.

"A boy in my dormitory said if I develop the film in the right potion, the pictures will actually move." Colin continued excited, "It's amazing here, isn't it? I never knew all the odd stuff I could do was magic till I got the letter from Hogwarts. My dad's a milkman, he couldn't believe it either. So I'm taking loads of pictures to send home to him. And it'd be really good if I had one of you?" The boy looked up at Harry with wide imploring eyes, "And uh, could you sign it as well?"

Harry just melted under that hopeful gaze. How on earth could he reject that? "Of course Colin, I would love to be in your picture." He said kindly, moving out of his seat to stand next to the awed looking child. "Hermione could you please take a photo with me and Colin?"

"Oi why didn't you ask me?" Ron protested as Hermione readily agreed.

"Because Ron you've never handled a muggle camera before in your life and I've seen you grind chicken leg bones with your teeth like the animal you are." Harry said happily as he wrapped an arm around the blushing boy.

The redheaded boy made a face and purposely opened his mouth revealing a half chewed up.. Something gross. "Such an animal." Harry repeated through his smiling teeth. Colin giggled.


"Harry, a word please?"

Harry bid his friends a quick 'see you,' before making his way to the front of the class where Gilderoy Lockhart was waiting for him. "Yes professor, is there something wrong?" He said politely. The blonde teacher leaned down on him and smiled, Harry could literally feel the light coming off the man's teeth touching his skin.

"Let me just say that handing out signed pictures at this stage of your career isn't sensible," The man said like he was imparting secret words of wisdom. But in that over acting way like some invisible camera was watching them and Gilderoy was making very sure the audience could hear every wise word that comes from his shiny mouth. Every wise, stupid, word. "A tad bigheaded to be frank. Very arrogant of you." Every. Stupid. Word. "There may well come a time when, like me, you'll need to keep a stack handy wherever you go, but I don't think you're quite there yet."

The Defense professor gave a low chuckle and Harry felt any sort of respect for the man plummet like a plane crash. As the man took a step back, Harry wasted no time tugging his robes in a huff and walking to seat himself next to Draco and his bodyguards.

"You're father's right Draco," Harry scowled, his face pink with humiliation at Gilderoy's insinuations. "Lockhart is an idiot."

The platinum blonde let out an amused breath before glaring at all seven of Lockhart's books that he'd piled onto his desk. "Told you so."

Before Harry could say something else the whole class quieted down as Lockhart cleared his throat. The self centered blonde man then gestured to one of his many winking portraits of himself on the wall.

"Me," he introduced, "Gilderoy Lockhart, Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly's Most-Charming-Smile Award- but of course I won't talk about that. I didn't get rid of the Bandon Banshee by smiling at her!"

Few people smiled at the joke. Hermione had giggled. Harry had not ever been so ashamed at the girl till now.

Lockhart said a few more things before then presenting everyone with a surprise pop quiz. Honestly Harry was pretty sure he was going to do pretty well in it, what with being a former fan before meeting the author essentially soured his experience, well, he thought so until he actually read the questions.

1. What is Gilderoy Lockhart's favorite color?

2. What is Gilderoy Lockhart's secret ambition3. What, in your opinion, is Gilderoy Lockhart's greatest achievement to date?

It went on for two whole pages, both sides.

54. When is Gilderoy Lockhart's birthday, and what would his ideal gift be?

"This is bullshit." Harry hissed to his friend. "This man is so awful he's ruined every book he's ever written for me."

"Ugh, I know, like number 36. List three things you find to be Gilderoy Lockhart's best feature, Merlin I don't know. What about his gaudy sense of fashion?" Harry smiled at that.

"Or the fact his teeth are so well charmed to blind his opponents at a distance?" Draco cackled quietly.

"Ooh very nice Potter, don't forget his blond hair implants."

"Writing it down as we speak."

"Good, I'm doing that too."

In the end only Hermione got the full points to the quiz, she blushed under the man's praise as Ron scowled next to her.

Unfortunately the class was still not over. Harry missed the showers. So much.

Gilderoy with an elaborate flourish, lifted a large, covered cage onto his desk.

"Now be warned!" The man said with a spooky low voice, Harry may hate the blonde's guts now but he had to admit the professor had the skills to tell a story, "It is my job to arm you against the foulest creatures known to wizardkind! You may find yourselves facing your worst fears in this room. Know only that no harm can befall you whilst I am here. All I ask is that you remain calm."

In spite of himself, Harry felt intrigue at what was hidden under in the cage. Even Dean and Seamus had stopped snickering at the man now. Neville was cowering in his front row seat. Draco was leaning subtly in his seat.

"I must ask you not to scream," said Lockhart in his low voice. "It might provoke them."

The whole class stilled waiting, Lockhart revealed what was in the cage with one fell swipe of the cover.

"Yes," he said dramatically. "Freshly caught Cornish pixies."

Seamus involuntarily let out a snort of laughter that even Lockhart couldn't mistake for a scream of terror. The Slytherin's snickered and the Gryffindors giggled. Even Hermione with all her hero worship of the man didn't look much impressed, though it seemed she was trying very hard to be.

"They're not- they're not very- well, dangerous, are they?" Seamus choked back another laugh.

The pixies, electric blue and shrieking their heads off like rabid budgies on stereo, were batting against the cage bars, tiny hands reaching out to the students. Lockhart tutted at Seamus, "Don't be so quick to judge, these creatures are devilish and tricky."

When he noticed that the class was still far from believing the man said loudly, "Well then, let's see what you make of them up close and personal!"

Harry's head shot up at that. "Wait what?"

It was too late, the cage was opened. The tiny blue creatures shot out, pouring out like a flying vindictive waterfall. Two were lifting poor Neville by the ears. The more intelligent ones went straight through the window to spread terror somewhere else. The rest preferred to stay and bring chaos and havoc.

Chaos would love the tiny blue bastards.

"Peskipiksi Pesternomi!" Lockhart shouted, wand pointed at the general midst of the blue swirling storm. Of course it had no effect, if anything it sent the pixies in an even bigger frenzy. The blonde celebrity's wand was stolen and thrown out the window, leaving the man running to go dash out of the room. "I'll uh, leave you all to gather the rest of them up and back into the cage okay?" He yelled before leaving with a slam of the door.

"Wait till my father hears ab-OW OW OW!" Draco screamed as the pixies began tugging on his slicked back hair.

"I cannot believe him!" Ron roared as he batted a pixie aiming at his nose with a book. "The bloody git just left us here!"

"He just wants to give us some hands-on experience," defended Hermione, freezing two pixies at once with a stupefy and stuffed them back into their cage.

Harry scoffed, "Hands on? Are you actually serious? That man obviously knows no- don't you fucking dare." He looked at the pixie zooming to his person and fixed a glowing green look at the blue creature's direction. The pixie shuddered, stopping mid-flight to hover around the wizarding saviour uncertainly. The pixies closer to the hovering one, too stopped their actions mid-way to see what the fuss was all about. They then all began fluttering around Harry, chittering excited and fearful at once.

Soon enough all the pixies were circling around an annoyed entity dressed up as a child.

"Woah mate," Ron breathed, the rest of the class looked similarly amazed. Harry just rolled his eyes. Took those blue buggers long enough to notice him. If they even tried to do what they did to Neville on him though.. Well, Harry doesn't think there would be any cornish pixies alive in this world and any subsequent worlds anymore.

With a sharp almost military movement, Harry pointed sternly to the cage and barked out a loud, "IN," which, the creatures immediately complied.

"Dude," Dean said, "That was awesome." The rest of the class nodded and Harry just waved them off. Too busy mentally maiming a certain blonde, blindingly white teeth narcissist of a wizard.

"Oi," Draco suddenly piped up with a frown, "Why didn't you do that sooner if you could just get them to do whatever you wanted?"

"Well that's a very easy explanation Draco." Harry said, "Obviously it never occurred to me at the time."

The class was much less enthusiastic about him now.


The first Saturday was probably the worst Saturday he's had in Hogwarts since he's enrolled.

"Whhhyyyyy." Harry whined, rubbing his eyes tired and teary.

"Come on Potter!" Oliver Wood, Gryffindor Quidditch captain said with an energy that one should never have when the sun has barely even started to rise. "Gryffindor is going to get a head start with training!"

"But I'm not on the Gryffindor team." Harry groused.

"Yes Potter but you are one of the best flyer I've seen." Oliver said happily, "And your technically in Gryffindor currently.. So I at least can make you fly as our temporary seeker, you know, since our last one graduated and all."

"And my permission was not even a factor in this?" The boy said resigned. "Also I'm pretty sure you're current seeker would take offence to that."

"Psh Lee Jordan's only doing it as a favour, he rather sit back and snark than do any real training." Despite his protestations, the older teen must have sensed his weakening resolve because he gave him a pat on the back.

"Good man. Here're your robes and get ready to fly some laps. Let's start with something small- fifty sounds good." Oliver winked and then left to give out more hellish training to the actual members of the team. Harry looked down at crimson red robes in his arms.

"Dammit."


"Mate are you not finished yet?!" Harry lowered his broomstick closer to the stands where Ron and Hermione had been sitting. His hair was a windswept mess, pale face pink with exertion and expression jealous as he gazed at the toast in his friends' hands.

"We've barely even started." The boy complained. "I just finished my warm up laps and Oliver had been talking to the others about their strategies."

Hermione cocked her head curious, "I don't understand why you were doing laps if everyone else wasn't."

Harry shrugged, "Since I'm not actually a 'real' Gryffindor and Seeker position doesn't necessarily require much strategy I think Wood thought it to be safer if I didn't eavesdrop. Honestly I'm pretty sure the only reason I'm here is to somehow either convince me to join the team or this is a long term plan where Wood wants me to end up training his new seeker. I dunno."

"Quidditch is stupid." The girl finally said after a short pause, much to the redheaded second year's squawk of indignation.

"It is a little dumb isn't it?" Harry agreed, enjoying the annoyance on his friend's features.

"You're a little dumb." Ron groused getting Harry to smile amused. That's when he noticed a soft clicking noise somewhere off the side of his vision. Turning to glance to his right, the boy saw Colin and his camera taking a multitude of pictures of his person. It would be cute if it wasn't a little creepy. "Hey why are there Slytherins here?"

"What?" The Boy Who Lived's gaze followed his freckled friend's, and true to form there was a group of royal green robed students holding broomsticks heading towards the Gryffindor team. "Oh dear I should go see what's up."

Doing just that, the child took up his magic cleaning tool and floated gracefully down to the pitch, Wood and Flint, the two captains, were facing off against each other like a bad cowboy film.

"Flint." Wood scowled.

"Wood." Flint sneered.

Deja vu much?

Their teams had gathered around their respective captains for support. Harry was wrong. This wasn't a bad cowboy film. This was a terrible mafia movie.

"What are you doing here?" The Gryffindor captain asked in a very impolite manner.

"What are you doing here?" Flint had shot back, "We booked the pitch beforehand, see?" The larger, mean looking teen unfolded a piece of parchment that held permission for just that, signed by Severus Snape. A little unfair considering Snape was their Head of House or whatever but legitimate all the same.

Still both groups began bickering like the children they are about who gets the quidditch field.

"But I booked the field!" Wood positively screamed. "I booked it!"

"And the note I've got says otherwise," Flint tutted smugly, "Shall I read it to you? 'I, Professor S. Snape, give the Slytherin team permission to practice today on the Quidditch field owing to the need to train their new Seeker.' "

"You've got a new Seeker?"

Harry watched as the quidditch captain of Slytherin smirked before stepping back to reveal an equally smug Draco Malfoy. The boy was so very sure that a flair for the dramatics just came with being a Slytherin.

"Draco I told you, you could do it!" Harry cheered, walking over to the platinum blonde with open arms. Upon seeing his raven haired friend, the arrogant facade slid off the other and the excited, eager proud child was revealed underneath. The Malfoy scion accepted the offered congratulatory hug with as much silent modesty as he had.

Which was nearly none by the way. So Harry really did appreciate the gesture. Even if it last three seconds before the bragging began.

Harry also deeply appreciated that the platinum blonde child hadn't noticed he was not at all listening to said bragging. In fact, he was far more interested in the increasingly heated exchanges between the two rival House teams. Honestly Hogwarts should introduce a new sport to this school, this obsession was bordering on ridiculous in how seriously its taken. Like competitive knitting. They can make the patterns magically move and stuff. There's probably some sort of gender feminist controversy there but the trash talk would be absolutely hilarious.

The shouting began to really escalate and some teenagers were starting to take out there wands. Hermione and Ron by then had joined in at the sidelines. It was getting so loud that Draco had stopped talking.

Then someone called Hermione a mudblood and it somehow devolved even further.

Tears, screaming, weird protective hugging over the bushy haired muggleborn witch. Who by the way, while upset, was far from crying openly like that Angelina girl hysterically yelling 'How dare you's at the House of the ambitious. Ron had tried to curse the offender but like most of his recent spell casting that didn't work and he ended up with slugs in his mouth.

"Holy shite Ron!" Harry said as he shrugged off Draco's one handed hug and knelt down next to his fallen redheaded friend, now puking slugs. Ugh. That is not a pleasant fate for anyone. The green eyed boy was feeling very nauseous just looking at him.

Draco surprisingly also went to Ron, grabbing his arm in an attempt to lift him up. Looking at Harry he snapped, "Don't just stand there we need to head to the infirmary."

"That's ways away!" Hermione moaned also looking quite sick.

"Hermione, help Draco with Ron and head toward the castle." The Boy Who Lived ordered quickly, making no room to argue, "I'll fly and get the closest professor since they'll hopefully know how to... Reverse that."

Not even looking to see if they nodded their agreement, Harry grabbed his broom and swiftly zoomed up high to survey the grounds. Unfortunately the only people he saw was windless, half-giant, Hagrid in his hut which was located a reasonable distance from the field, and Professor Lockhart.

"Nope." Was all he said before diving nose down at a breakneck speed, easily reaching the hobbling trio that had made not much distance since he left them. "Change of plans guys, I'm levitating Ron and flying him to the infirmary, meet you there."

The Malfoy scion spluttered as Harry with a flick of his hand lifted the ill looking freckled child like it was nothing. "Then why the bloody hell did I even have to do this in the first place? What the hell Harry?"

"Well I didn't know Lockhart was my only professor option at the time did I?" Harry shot before flying toward the castle with Ron by his side and a trail of slugs in their wake.


So good news, they had a potion to help Ron's tragic ailment immediately so the poor child didn't have to 'wait it out' like Hermione suggested. Bad news was since Ron was the one who attempted to cast the spell in the first place and Harry had flown at an alarmingly impressive speed inside the castle walls, they were getting detention. Ron polishing silverware with Mr Filch and Harry-

"Oh please professor," He pleaded, vivid green eyes widening as unshed tears made them shine, adorably pathetic under the lights. "Can't I have Filch watch me polish trophies too?"

"I'm afraid not Mr Potter," Professor McGonagall said sternly, "I suspect Mr Filch would go far too easy on you, plus Professor Lockhart requested you particularly. Eight o'clock sharp, both of you."

"But I was doing so well avoiding that man." Harry whined softly, not soft enough apparently because the older woman's mouth pursed into a thin line showing her displeasure.

"Mr Potter as good intentioned you were before, you know I will not condone disrespect to another professor." She scolded, but the effect was rather lost in the glimmering mirth in her eyes.

"Maybe I should be punished much more severely?" The boy said hopefully, "I hear Professor Snape is in need of an unruly student, uh, slicing bat wings?"

"Good try Mr Potter," The transfiguration professor deadpanned dryly, Harry slumped in defeat.

Ron patted his shoulder empathetically. "If it helps at all I would trade with you in a heartbeat."

"Well if it makes you feel any better, same goes for me."

The redhead cocked his head to the side thoughtfully before replying, "It doesn't actually."

Hermione sighed, "Well I guess technically you two did break the rules." Ron rolled his eyes.

"Oh shush 'mione."

"She's not wrong Ron."

"Don't put salt in the wound Harry."


For the first time in his life, Harry prayed for death to take him. It was a rather odd and confusing experience when he realised what exactly he was wishing for. Did this count as an existential crisis? Either way, all the boy could do was let his hand guide the quill to write the next insipid fan's address, tune out Lockhart's weirdly intimate knowledge of said fan, look at the clock over head and hope that his big brother Time would take pity on him and free him from this dull hellhole.

People says you can't die from boredom, which is technically true, however as Death, he knew that people can die because of boredom. His eyes fluttered close for a bit as he let the sharp tip of the inked quill ever so lightly trace a vein on his neck, shivering at it's touch. Oh yes he was half seriously contemplating that sort of option if detention doesn't finish in the next ten minutes. Or if his defence professor launches into another self-centred story about him and his super fan of the week.

Then again, his eyes flashed open to glare annoyed at the blonde smiling man sitting in front of him, maybe killing himself wasn't necessarily the correct solution to this. Emphasis on the word himself.

"Come . . . come to me. . . . Let me rip you. . . . Let me tear you. . . . Let me kill you. . . ."

Harry jerked startled. While very in tune with his current thoughts of murder, that certainly was not his own thoughts.

"I know, surprising isn't it?" Lockhart continued on, mistaking the child's surprised movement as something else, " Top of the charts for a whole year, even I was quite shocked!"

"Uh, professor, did you by any chance hear something?" Harry asked. The older man just looked at the boy blankly, Harry expected as much. Insipid fucking moron. He hoped the professor aged really, really badly.


Harry paused, Nearly Headless Nick was at the other end of the corridor looking troubled and frustrated and angry, obviously muttering under his breath as he floated around. Now a good person would go up to the ghost and ask what was wrong. Harry would go so far to say he did not qualify as either good nor a person but he sighed and went up to the spirit anyway. Not because he wanted to be good or anything. He was much too tired and annoyed from his detention to muster any sort of genuine kindness.

No, he was doing this because he is, as stated so many times before, a goddamn pushover and awkwardly uncomfortable enough to feel morally obligated to ask the brooding ghost what's wrong. Also Nick was kind of blocking the way to the dorms.

"…don't fulfill their requirements… half an inch, if that… So unfair…"

"Is something wrong Nicholas?"

Nearly Headless Nick spun around so fast in his surprise his barely connected head almost disconnected from his body completely. "Death Lord!" He gasped, "I, uh, I-"

Harry rolled his eyes, "Oh come now Nicholas, you are my House ghost right now, it isn't wrong for me to listen to any of your woes either way."

"I think that's supposed to be my job as House ghost milord." The spirit pointed out, his translucent lips faintly twitching in amusement despite his nervousness. The boy can appreciate the good humour in the undead man.

"Yes, well, nonetheless I would like to hear the reason for your woe. After all, if it's in my admittedly extremely wide jurisdiction I could possibly help."

"Well," The ghost said shyly, "It's not really that important to be honest, it's just I thought I could apply for this hunt thing except apparently I didn't meet the requirements…" In spite of trying to sound lighthearted there was an audible note of bitterness in the spirit's voice.

Harry raised an eyebrow. "You mean the Headless Hunt?"

Nearly Headless Nick nodded furiously. The raven haired boy gave a thoughtful huff. "I can see how you're particular lack of.. complete decapitation could be a problem for you."

"I mean, nobody wishes more than I do that it had all been quick and clean, and my head had come off properly, I mean, it would have saved me a great deal of pain and ridicule but this is just discrimination at this point. It's barely half an inch of skin after all." Nick burst out, frustration and disappointment colouring his words as he gestured wildly to his neck. To be honest Harry kind of understood why the ghost wouldn't be accepted into such a 'club', after all from what he hears, they actually use their bodiless heads for many of their activities. He's pretty sure the poor nearly headless spirit would've felt much worse if he was accepted and then forced to the sidelines to watch them head-juggle or something.

"Well do you want me to sever your head completely then?" Harry offered kindly. Nearly Headless Nick stiffened.

"Y-you can do that?" He asked both disbelieving and hopeful.

The entity-on-vacation scoffed, "Of course I can Nicholas. I just need something sharp, like scissors or a blade."

"Just give me a moment!" The ghost squeaked before melting into the walls. Harry barely had to wait a minute before Soon to Be Headless Nick flew back, his face concentrated as he mentally floated a small but wickedly sharp looking dagger. Dark and blackened with age, small hands gingerly felt the intricately carved handle of the blade- some sort of bone from a magical creature, unicorn most likely. "It's one of the few personal heirlooms I have." Nick explained softly.

"It's beautiful." Harry complimented.

Then he tilted back his head, opened his mouth and slowly dipped the dagger into his throat, blade first.

The spirit almost screamed at the action but no sound came from his mouth as smokey tendrils, the colours of the darkest shadows on a moonless night, seemed to reach out and curl around his offered weapon. It was like black flames, clawing at the blade, licking around the edges as it darkened the dagger even more. The entity's eyes had rolled back but instead of showing the whites of them, there was only endless, unfathomable black.

It was horrifying and so unworldly, the ghost numbly traced the cut of his neck subconsciously as he watched the whole thing unfold. He felt scared, and humbled, and awed as the feelings of death emanating from such a small far-like child washed over him, making him ironically feel more alive than he has in centuries.

Bright glowing green irises rolled back into the boy, his Lord's, head to stare at the spirit, the whites of his eyes still blacker than a midnight of empty nothingness. Wordlessly the dagger was raised out and upwards, completely pointing up into the air as moonlight failed to shine on the sheer black it was now coloured as. There was a heavy pause, it felt ceremonial and so Nick waited and watched. He watched. And he watched.

But somehow he must've blinked, never mind that ghosts have no need for such things, because one moment the blade was high, rising to meet the moon, and the next it was no longer there, limply held at his Lord's side. Nick looked up curiously at his dagger, it no longer was the colour of void, instead it shone dangerous and pride in the faint light of the night as it matched the sky in colour. Wait. He looked up?

The spirit's eyes gazed downwards to see familiar floating feet that shouldn't be on his eye level unless… With a gasp he willed his body in front of him to pick him up and it did easily, if a little clumsily. "I.. I.." The ghost was simply speechless as the fact he too was headless slowly sunk in.

Harry offered the dagger back, his eyes still black darkness and unearthly green light. There was even still wisps of smoke coming from pale lips, like translucent ash coloured snakes struggling to seep out. "Take your blade back. Show these Headless Hunt-ers that I have personally beheaded you, I'm sure that will get them to welcome you with open arms."

With a wave the entity left. Watching the Lord of Death walk away, it was so hard to connect the delicate small figure of a child with such immense, overwhelming power sometimes. Now, as Headless Nick hovered, eyes respectfully never drawing away from the fragile boy's presence until he was completely out of range, now he would never have that sort of problem again.

Chapter Text

The one where Death goes to a Deathday party, which is not a day that celebrates the greatness of his self but the day that Newly Headless Nick died. Just in case you didn't know.

The Gryffindor house sticks up for each other through thick and thin. Something they take great pride in as one of the 'Lighter' houses in the school. And something the older Weasley boys found to be quite thankful for after their embarrassing outbursts and confessions. It helped a lot that near everyone in the school admits to the Boy Who Lived's number of charms. Even Zacharias Smith, who has proclaimed very loudly his hatred over the green eyed second year, is always suspiciously lurking around at every corner the Potter heir turns.

Sure there's gossip, it wouldn't be a school without it. But in a society where you can live up to 300 if you're careful enough, and arranged marriages are still common enough not to be considered barbaric- well, there wasn't any actual problems with two consenting individuals of any sex in a relationship like that. Well, that's not true. The ones with a muggle background were mildly disturbed at best. And if Harry had any parents alive they were sure to worry about the lack of a heir.

But it was plain to see how infatuated the older boys seemed to be now that the Gryffs knew what to look for. The glances. The thoughtfulness. It's in the way they would shyly shuffle around an invitation for a simple chess game (Percy), the way they seemed to practically beg for attention as pranks seemed to rain down around the Boy Who Lived yet barely even doing so much as grazing the child (the twins), or the way they all seem to perk up and puff out their chests a little bigger when the young Potter boy was around. It was obvious and adorable and the general consensus was they were actually kind of annoyingly sweet.

Well Percy was being annoyingly sweet. The twins, with their weird peacocking prank mating ritual, was just annoyingly annoying.

So overall the House of the brave as one had decided to keep the Weasleys' little outbursts to themselves. Well, the older ones who actually understood, did at least. Third years and below generally had the innuendoes go above and beyond their little heads and had pretty much forgotten the whole thing by then. But not the upper years, they had decided to do the mature thing...

"Six sickles that the twins and Potter get together a month before Christmas next year!"

..And bet on them like racehorses...

"Nine that Percy confesses by the end of this year and their relationship will only consist of handholding and cheek kisses until Potter reaches sixteen!"

"A galleon for George- and ONLY George dating Potter by next Halloween!"

"Twelve knuts that it's NO WEASLEY and MALFOY wins Harry over by their fourth year."

"Uh, have you seen Diggory with Potter?! A galleon on them having at least a summer fling!"

"That centaur Potter hangs out with is literally a dark horse- three knuts!"

"Okay, who's the sick fucks who put down only one twin?! Obviously they'll share!" Lee Jordan screamed, as he jumped up from the couch. Then turning down to look at the two obviously embarrassed twins, whose skin tone was currently matching very well to the colour theme of their House, he grinned, "Am I right or am I RIGHT guys?!"

"Merlin, shut UP Jordan!"

...Also teasing them like no tomorrow. That is also a very mature thing they are doing.

"No way! It's so obvious George is more heterosexual!"

"You better bloody take that back."

"Make me."

"Also, which one of you put Snape and Harry as their bet for two knuts? Honestly guys take this seriously."


 

Harry wondered if he killed another Defense teacher this year, would that give him a reputation? Like, one is an unfortunate accident. Two is just plain suspicious. It'll look like Harry has a weird agenda with DADA professors, which is so not true. If anything, it's the DADA professors that have an agenda with him.

"Hey Mr Filch, hypothetically, if I murder Professor Lockhart-"

"I've already got an empty graveyard with the engraved tombstone of a cousin I don't have on it." The old squib said immediately before taking another sip of his tea. It was some flowery indian blend Harry had bought for the caretaker. Filch loves it.

Harry grinned into his tea. "You're the best Filch. It's a wonder more people don't like you like I do."

Filch snorted. Mrs Norris purred between Harry's legs.


 

"You got invited to a death day party?" Hermione asked with keen interest, "How fascinating! I bet not many people who are alive get to go to one before."

"Sounds dead depressing to me.." Ron muttered as he frantically tried to bullshit through another foot of the properties of certain types of soil. "Heh, get it?"

The bushy haired girl rolled her eyes, "Yes Ron, very funny." She said in a way that exactly conveyed how unfunny it was. "But seriously Harry, this is so exciting! You have to tell me everything!"

"Weeeell.." Harry drawn out with a sly smile, "Headless Nick did say I could bring a date."

"Headless Nick?" Ron asked, "You mean Nearly-Headless Nick right?"

The raven haired boy coughed awkwardly, "Yes, right."

"Oh can I be your date Harry?" Hermione asked eagerly.

"NO POTTER NO!" Some older Gryffindor girl sitting next to them suddenly burst out before her friends clasped their hands on her mouth. When they finally released her, she turned to the trio acting as casually as her embarrassed red colouring would allow her to be. "I mean, Potter! Potter. I think, maybe, as a proud prefect of Gryffindor House you should be accompanied by another prefect- who is not me. Maybe a redheaded Weasley with a badge and a love for yo- adhering to the rules?"

Percy Weasley who had been pretending to read in the corner of the common room blushed. Fred and George weren't even trying to pretend not to listen, they were however, valiantly trying to ignore the whispered teasings of their housemates around them. The dark skinned comedian Lee Jordan looked like he was about to go up to the three first years to say something but George shoved what seemed to be a chocolate frog into his mouth. A rather foul tasting one if the sour expression was any indication.

Unfortunately for the two red headed tricksters, there was only so many gross chocolate frogs in the world and Alicia Spinnet had already bounded up to jump into the space between the young wizard saviour and the female 'Parry' supporter. "Actually Potter," She purred, "While I agree you should be accompanied by an older male, Percy and the other prefects will be busy surveying the Halloween Feast."

Harry frowned, unsure how things had escalated so quickly. "Uh. Okay. I guess that makes sense."

"Actually maybe instead of one Weasley, why not bring two?" Spinnet suggested mildly, like she hasn't been plotting ways to get the twins and Harry together since she bet seven sickles on them. "After all we wouldn't want something like last Halloween to happen to you."

The green eyed boy thinks that if anything like last year happened again, he's pretty sure he can take it. The whole date thing he said was a joke in the first place. Headless Nick had literally given the go ahead to invite a flock of Dementors if Harry wished it to be. Originally he planned to go alone since, considering how any person he invites to this party would end up sticking by him the whole time. Pretending to be anything but human Harry Potter would be a trial in itself. Hermione would be far more interested in ghost history to really pay attention to himself at the very least.

"Well I don't want anyone to skip out on the Halloween feast," Harry demurred, "However I wouldn't say no if someone saved me some food for afterwords? I mean, I don't think a deathday party filled with dead people will have the most.. solid of cuisine. I would deeply appreciate it if someone could maybe snag me a sandwich? Or a chocolate cake or something?"

"I could do that." Percy piped up, earning at least three of the most unsubtle thumbs up Harry has ever seen. Gosh, Gryffindor really does love helping a fellow student out. It's funny, he's never seen any one this enthusiastic about helping Ron with the homework he's currently struggling in. Maybe it was just a really weird camaraderie all the Gryffindors have with food? Because that actually explained so much.

"No need, dear brother of ours," Fred spoke out, with George adding in smoothly, "We will kindly provide our dear Harrykins the sustenance for tonight, I'm sure you'll be very busy with your prefect-ing duties."

"I hear the Hufflepuff table has much better desse-"

"Shut it Bell." Alicia snapped.

"Make me Spinnet."

"Draco would totally know what Harry likes to eat."

"So would Blaise."

"Don't you da-"

As the whole room descended into arguments and general shouting, Harry and his friends slunk back to their dorms as quietly as they could. "Any idea what that was all about?" The green eyed wizard saviour asked a little baffled. He doesn't mean to stereotype but it seemed hotheadedness was a common factor in these people. As well as a weird obsession to feed people apparently.

Ron and Hermione shook their heads. "Not a bloody idea mate." The redhead replied, "I feel like it was something to do with my brothers but I heard Malfoy's name in there?"

"Really? I heard, 'Diggory is straighter than a ruler dammit, go brain yourself on an acorn and bleed out.'" Hermione said. Then, in response to the boys' stares she shrugged. "I have a good memory, don't be so surprised." The girl defended.

Ron rolled his eyes at her sensitivities. "That was not what we were surprised about 'mione but okay. Sure."

"By the way, the offer's still up for Nick's Deathday party Hermione if you still are interested to go?" Hermione looked tentatively pleased.

"Wow Harry! Are you sure?"

"Positive." Harry said, "And before you protest Ron about being left out- it's going to be old dead people and probably no food."

The freckled child clicked his mouth shut, making a scandalised judging expression like it was just that disturbing that someone would choose listening to some century old kook instead of have a slice of pumpkin pie. Which, saying that out loud, Harry found himself kind of agreeing with that sort of logic. Damn, now he wants to skip.

"Well have fun at that." Ron said dryly, "I'll save you some chips and stuff. If my brothers end up actually getting you food- super weird by the way- we can do the whole midnight snack thing. It'll be way fun."

"I'm sure it will be." Harry agreed.

Ron grinned back.


 

"A promise is a promise," Hermione reminded Harry bossily. "You said you'd go to the deathday party."

He sighed, looking forlornly at the colourful decorations that celebrated his holiday. "Yeah, yeah Hermione I know." It's not like he's regretting his decision to go to Nick's Deathday, Harry has been admittedly feeling a little homesick in all this surrounding life, and spending time with some of the undead will certainly remind him of his domain. However the human child inside him (and yes, he's found it a little unnerving that he's developed a childlike mindset over these years, its a mature child but a child nonetheless) was sulking about how there would be an obvious lack of colourful decorations, adornments, lavish foods and just all around 'fun'.

Essentially he was torn, on one hand the entity in him wanted a good proper Samhain- offerings, ghosts and darkness, and a small but now no less important part of him wanted a satisfying Halloween- candy and music and costumes galore.

Either way, Hermione was right. A promise was a promise. And there was no way Harry was going to skip out on Nick's Deathday. It's been a while since he's gone to a deathday after all.

The way leading to Headless Nick's party was lined with candles but unlike the ones surrounding the Great Hall, the effect was far from bright and cheery. These were tall, thin, black tapers, all burning an eerie blue. The candles are dim, ghostly lights that cast intimidating shadows that flitted around the two children. With every step they took, the temperature dropped, and Harry couldn't help but shiver in part delight at the gothic atmosphere of the place and part because it was actually getting pretty damn chilly. There was the faint whisper sounds of screaming wails and nails scratching in despair.

"Music to the ears yes?" Harry sighed happily as a particularly terrified howl echoed through the hall, his friend who was looking at him incredulously, hugged her robe closer to herself.

"This actually explains so much." She muttered under her breath, shuddering as a plaintive wail cut through the air.

"Did you say something?"

"What? Oh, nothing. Nothing."

Harry raised a skeptical eyebrow but said nothing. He won't judge like his young friend is doing. Children will never grasp the classics of music. Beethoven, Mozart, the screams of the damned, Destiny's Child… You know, the classics.

When they finally arrived, they were greeted by the sight of Not so Headless Nick in front of a doorway hung with black velvet drapes.

"My dear friends," The headless spirit said mournfully, looking like the epitome of a scorned, grief-stricken ghost. "Welcome, welcome . . . so pleased you could come. . . ."

Then with a sweep off his plumed hat, Headless Nick bowed low, ushering the two children inside. The dungeon was already full of translucent people, mostly drifting around a crowded dance floor. The quavering sound of thirty musical saws, played by an orchestra on a raised, black-draped platform echoed hauntingly. A chandelier overhead blazed midnight-blue with hundreds of the same wicked looking candles that had lead them to the party.

"Careful not to walk through anyone," Harry advised, Hermione nodded and was checking out a group of scholarly-looking spirits in a corner speculatively. Turning shyly to her friend, the bushy girl gave him a pleading apologising expression.

"Uh, I know this is really rude considering you did invite me and everyth-"

"Go, have fun." The Boy Who Lived dismissed with a smile. This was perfect. "I wanted to do a little solo exploring myself. Why don't we meet by the- and she's gone."

Shrugging, Harry turned to the mass of bodiless partygoers, his glowing green eyes sliding to the nearest gaping ghost as he smiled, elegant but wide. Almost like switching on a light, the spirits that had been impatiently hovering nearby surrounded the child. Some were respectful and maintained a distance, others were not so much, as icy air from their translucent figures caressed pale flesh in awe.

"Death Lord."

"What Nick said really was true."

"I can feel your skin milord." One murmured with wonderment, while the others who were also taking the chance at touching the entity muttered in agreement.

"So soft."

"Our Lord."

"So warm."

"Thank you for allowing us this great pleasure."

"Death Lord."

"Milord did you really sever our host's head?"

With all the exposure to beings so close to his element, Death felt the whites of his eyes begin bleeding black and something in his small human frame settle down in a way that he hadn't realised needed settling down before. Glancing back to make sure Hermione was still otherwise preoccupied, the raven haired entity began making chit chat with his subjects, allowing them to soak in the sensation of touch on his twelve year old body.

Wow that sounded way worse than he thought.

As Harry conversed and listened to the undead practically showering him with either compliments or exaggerated exploits of themselves, Now Headless Nick drifted toward him. His head was purposely situated under his arm to show off the fact that, yes, it was completely disconnected from his body, thank you very much.

"Enjoying yourselves?"

"Oh, yes," Harry drawled as he basked in the cold but no less appreciative gazes of the ghosts. Said ghosts were making loud enthusiastic noises of agreement.

"This is truly the best turnout in years," mused Headless Nick with no small amount of pride. "The Wailing Widow, the Cruel Chieftain, the Groaning Guard, even Drowned Diane from the end of south America! I don't even think I invited her!"

"Well it has been a pleasure talking to so many of your friends." The boy smiled and all the intangible beings around him practically swooned. Headless Nick beamed.

"Well then, I think it's a good time for my speech!" He said excitedly, "Let me just go warn the orchestra and-"

The orchestra, however, stopped playing at that very moment. They, and everyone else in the dungeon, fell silent, looking around in excitement, as a hunting horn sounded. Harry raised a brow. The ghostly host of the party looked both irritated at him being interrupted and cautiously, gleefully vindictive. For reasons Harry didn't know, but felt like he was going to find out soon enough, the man put his head back on his neck, adjusting it so it looked like it was still just as attached as it was before.

Through the walls of the dungeon where this party was being held, a dozen translucent horses burst out like a wave, on each horse was a headless man riding them. Dramatically, they galloped to the middle of the dance floor, whinnying and rearing back as applause at the entrances greeted them. Leading the pack, on the most magnificent undead steed, was a large muscular ghost whose head was held under his arm. Hoisting himself down, the headless man made a beeline toward the Gryffindor ghost, throwing his head up in the air and catching it with his neck much to the crowd's delight.

"Nick!" He greeted loud and boisterous as he slapped his palm onto the other's shoulder. "How have you been hanging? Head still on your shoulders?"

"Welcome Patrick," For a moment the ghost looked annoyed but quickly the expression smoothed into a 'I know something you don't,' smirk of triumph. "And for your information, I've found very recently that there are times when I've just.. lost my head."

Then, with an equal amount of dramatic flair, Newly Headless Nick tilted his neck so his head rolled down his arm, into his waiting hand. The ghosts watching went wild. Harry wondered how long it took the spirit to perfect that trick. From the smugness radiating off him, whatever hours long put into it had been certainly worth those fifteen seconds of fame apparently.

The Headless Sir Patrick and his fellow horsemen were quite speechless.

"Now if you excuse me," Headless Nick grinned in his own hands, "I have a speech to say."

And with that, the ghost that represents the house of Gryffindor did just that. No one interrupted him. And everyone applauded and cheered afterwards. Headless Nick even got invited to Sir Patrick's little club, especially after Harry introduced himself, and got a rather fine steed that had apparently perished in civil war times. Harry thinks that this whole thing was probably the highlight of the man's death so far.

It certainly was the happiest Deathday Harry had ever gone to.


 

"I didn't know Nick finally lost his head!" Hermione exclaimed excitedly as they walked out of the party. Harry would have stayed longer in the celebrations but he had an eleven, possibly twelve, year old girl to take care of and a curfew to adhere to. Unfortunately. Sir Patrick and his fellows were very entertaining once they'd gotten off their high horses, pun intended. It had been very amusing to listen to all the pick up lines they had involving heads or lack there of.

"Nick seems pretty sane to me." Harry shot back with a crooked grin because he can.

The girl rolled her eyes. "You know what I mean Harry. But aren't you even curious how the man even managed to fully disconnect his his head and his neck? I thought ghosts were completely intangible!"

"Yes, well," Harry cleared his throat, "We do live in a magical sentient castle Hermione, I'm sure there's exceptions to every rule if you look hard enough or find the right artefact."

Hermione didn't look much convinced, "So you think it's some sort of magic knife?" She asked doubtfully.

"Because having the actual Philosopher's Stone here is plausible but god forbid we have a ghost knife." The boy sarcastically retorted.

The girl gave a pause before making a tilting neck movement in acquiescence. "Okay, fair point."

"And no I refuse to help you look for said ghost knife."

She flushed in a manner that told the boy that was exactly what she was thinking about doing. Really, this girl was far more adventurous than he thought she would be considering her rule abiding manner. As she opened her mouth to protest, Harry beat her to it.

"Yes, yes you totally were."

"Stop reading my mind." Hermione sulked, Harry winked.

"I don't even need to read your mind when your face might as well be an open bo- did you hear that?"

"Hear what."

The green eyed child frowned as he focused on the faint voice in the walls.

"… soo hungryso longkill…"

As the voice moved upwards Harry knew instinctively that it came from no ghost or poltergeist. Whoever it was, is alive, is traveling somehow through the walls of Hogwarts, and was murderously hungry. Those are usually not a good combination.

"There's something in the walls," He informed Hermione quickly, much to her bewilderment, "I can hear it, follow me."

With quick footsteps, Harry earnestly went after the voice behind the walls. He's not the biggest fan of the castle but the boy was fairly certain that Hogwarts hasn't suddenly developed any homicidal tendencies, meaning that the ominous voice was probably going to lead up to something very important that will happen in the future. And while he's only been a student for one year here, Harry's fairly sure important is synonymous with Not Good.

The voice was getting increasingly frenzied and yet Hermione still couldn't hear anything. "Seriously? Nothing?"

The bushy haired girl glared as she tried to keep up with Harry's hurried pace. "For the last time Harry I have no clue what you're talking about!" She panted. Clearly the brunette had been hitting the books more than hitting a gym. At least she hadn't been hitting a person. That was a strange tangent to go to.

"If I'm wrong then I'll make it up to you." Harry promised as he practically hurtled around another corner. A part of him is wondering why Hogwarts hasn't tripped him up or pushed him down the stairs yet. The boy guesses the castle doesn't appreciate whoever or whatever is roaming around either. Though he doesn't think that this mysterious individual has been hindered by the building walls either so it probably means that the dumb overrated giant hut of rock rated them both on the same level.

Seriously, fuck Hogwarts.

They finally arrived at a deserted passageway, from the faint sounds of merriment Harry realised they were quite nearby the Great Hall. On the wall at the end, foot high words shining due to being freshly written were ominously visible under the dim torchlight.

THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.

"There's something hanging underneath." Hermione whispered horrified. "What is it?"

"Stay back Hermione," Harry demanded firmly as he walked cautiously closer to get a better view, "When I tell you to, run to the Great Hall and get someone. Anyone."

Pale faced, the girl silently nodded her head. Satisfied with her compliance, Harry went up to the graffitied wall and then promptly took a step back as he realised what, or who exactly was hanging on the wall. "Hermione go get someone!" He shouted, genuinely distressed. "Someone strung up Mrs Norris."

The poor feline was hanging by her tail from the torch bracket, stiff as a board and her eyes were wide and glazed as she stared blankly at Harry. Tentatively, the boy brushed her fur and sighed in relief as he felt the pulse of the cat's soul. Still alive. It was a testament to how shocked he was that he couldn't even immediately recognise whether Mrs Norris was among the living or not.

What sort of sick individual just does that to such a lovely cat?

In the background he can hear Hermione screaming for help in the halls and the loud commotion that followed. Harry is going to have to teach her to better conduct herself because hysteria is never a good move when trying to get help whilst not bringing about possible mass panic. The boy closed his eyes and prayed silently to Order for strength as the clamor of hundreds of students rushed out into the halls. Whatever noise the crowd made was quickly shushed as the first of the students caught sight of exactly what was the cause of the Gryffindor second year's loud dismay.

Then, when Harry thought that maybe, maybe, a professor would swoop in just in time to prevent the bubbling tension in the passageway from exploding- Zacharias freaking Smith sauntered out of the crowd. "Enemies of the heir, beware?" He read, then with an even louder voice than usual, the boy scoffed, "Well it's a good thing I'm not a mudblood, or I would be pissin myself right about now!"

Goddammit Smith.

What's going on here!?" Mr Filch screamed as he shouldered his way through the mass of students. Harry shut his eyes harder. There a whole staff of broom riding wizards that had been in the same Great Hall as everyone else and yet the one magic-less caretaker managed to get here before them. How.

"Mr Filch I don't think you should look." Harry whispered.

But it was too late. "My cat! My cat! What's happened to Mrs. Norris?" Filch shrieked in horror as he laid sight on the rather grisly scene. The green-eyed boy quickly went to the older man's side and steadfastly held onto his shaking arms, stopping the caretaker from throwing himself at his beloved pet.

"Mr Filch, Argus, she's not dead! Mrs Norris' isn't dead!" He shouted, his thin scrawny limbs following the thrashing movement of the man. Whoa, the aging caretaker was surprisingly strong. Mr Filch paused as Harry's words finally settled through his frantic mind.

"What?"

Zacharias, being of sound mind and annoying body, decided now was a good time to open his mouth again. "How do you know Potter didn't kill Mrs Norris?" The boy asked with a smirk.

Harry almost fell down when Filch turned to the blonde Hufflepuff with furious intensity, Smith at least looked cowed. "How dare you! You little brat-" he screeched, "Don't you dare accuse Harry, how dare you-"

"Argus!" Everyone looked as Dumbledore arrived on the scene, flanked by a number of other teachers. Because of course now they finally come. He likes the professors here in Hogwarts, he does really, but these people are actually so incompetent at child-caring Harry wonders why more people aren't dead.

Carefully unhooking Mrs Norris from the torch bracket, the Headmaster turned to Harry and Mr Filch.

"Come with me, Argus," he said to Filch. "You, too, Mr Potter. Gilderoy has so kindly volunteered his office as it's closest."

Gilderoy Lockhart beamed from behind him. "I'll lead the way Headmaster." He said in a manner far too cheerful for the situation. The students parted to make way for the small group, Lockhart looking excited and dramatically important, followed by Dumbledore, Filch and Harry. Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall followed up from behind as the rest of the staff tried to push the crowd calmly back to their dorms.


 

Lockhart's office was covered in magical paintings of himself. Which was fortunate because it pretty much guaranteed that Harry would not see a single splotch of those painted clones, ever. It seems having sentient artwork fear you at first sight does have some perks.

Dumbledore laid Mrs Norris on the surface of the polished desk, suspiciously bereft of paperwork, and began to examine her thoroughly with Professor McGonagall surveyed the poor creature just as close. Harry directed the forlorn squib caretaker to one of the cushy seats in front of the desk and sat beside him. Professor Snape stood behind them, looming and looking like he belonged in the half shadows of the candles. Lockhart was simply buzzing and hovering around like a irritating fly spouting random and increasingly violent suggestions to what might have happened to Mrs Norris. Harry shot the blond a glare and patted his magic-less friend consolingly.

"It was definitely a curse that killed her, probably the Transmogrifian Torture one, seen it used many times, unlucky I wasn't there, I know the very counter-curse that would have saved her…"

Filch gave a shuddering, dry sob. The green-eyed Gryffindor glared. "Mrs Norris isn't dead Professor Lockhart." Harry sneered. "And even if she was, which she isn't" he hastily reassured to the caretaker looking hopeful at him, "have some tact. Mrs Norris is very important to some of us."

Lockhart gave the boy an 'aw how cute,' expression, "Please, if Mrs Norris wasn't dead then I think I would kn-"

"Actually, Mr Potter is right." Dumbledore finally piped up as he straightened his back and adjusted his half moon glasses. "Mrs Norris isn't dead."

"I knew it!" Cried out the defense professor who was very much ignored.

"Not dead?" choked Filch, "Harry was right?"

"Yes." Dumbledore agreed amiably, "Harry was right, Mrs Norris isn't dead, but however, she is very much petrified. How I can not say,"

"If I might speak, why don't we ask Mr Potter?" Professor Snape volunteered coolly, "After all he was the first one present."

"Harry didn't do it," Filch immediately defended. "He loves Mrs Norris almost as much as I do, there is no way-"

"Patience Argus." The Headmaster said. "We are not accusing anyone of anything yet. Though it is a bit suspicious Mr Potter was there in the first place and apparently not at the Feast," The old wizard raised his brow enquiringly.

Harry didn't flinch, green eyes looked levelly at twinkling blue. The Headmaster was two parts amused, three parts knowing and five parts genuinely curious. "I was at Nick's Deathday party," He explained. "You can ask any ghost, they will vouch for me. Hermione was also there."

"So how did you end up down that corridor?" McGonagall asked, "To get there you have to pass the Great Hall anyway, so why didn't you just rejoin instead of ending up where you ended up?"

Oh shit. Harry opened and closed his mouth. "Oh, uh, oh,"

"Can't you see the poor boy is in shock!?" Mr Filch snapped angrily, "Harry Potter is innocent and it's my cat that's been petrified, so when I say he's innocent, Harry is innocent unless there is some damning evidence!"

McGonagall looked taken aback and both Snape's brows were raised in thinly veiled surprise. Dumbledore just smiled. It's so hard to read that man's intentions. "I don't think that's how it works Argus, but nonetheless we will respect your choice to drop Mr Potter's interrogation. On a much happier note, Professor Sprout had just potted some Mandrakes for classes. As soon as they have fully grown, we will have a potion made to revive Mrs Norris."

"I'll make it," Lockhart butted in. "I must have brewed a Mandrake Restorative Draught a hundred times at the very least. I'm sure I could whip up in my sle-"

"Excuse me," Snape interrupted disdainfully. "But I believe I am the Potions master at this school."

Awkward.


 

To the shock of no one, the attack on Mrs Norris was one of the only things that anyone talked about for days. Mr Filch didn't help as he practically stalked the area where she was hung. Harry even tried helping the poor man scrub the words off the wall with some Magical Mess Remover that did not work. He even offered to try use some serious raw magic mojo but the squib quietly refused. Harry thinks its because the caretaker needed something to do to take his mind off it all. The boy quietly promises to himself to visit the older man a lot more until Mrs Norris recovers.

Ron's little sister seemed especially distraught about Mrs Norris. Which was strange since as a new first year, she probably barely interacted with the feline. Ron says it was because Ginny was a huge cat lover but Harry still thinks it's a bit strange. Then again, so far Ginny has been pretty much nothing but strange.


 

"Good evening professor." Harry greeted mildly. Professor Snape looked up from his marking on his desk.

"Potter, what are you doing here?"

Shyly, Harry took a chance to flicker his eyes up to meet beetle black ones. "I uh, I wanted to thank you for your gift. I know it's a little late but I just wanted to say, it was.. Very thoughtful, and I, I want to apologize for overreacting for before. Um."

The boy mentally groaned at his attempt at awkward apologies- because it wasn't his fault, it was all Snape's and if the man had just apologized like a normal, socially adjusted person instead of giving him that frankly precious gift that Harry was still wearing under his clothing, the boy wouldn't have to do this. Now he was socially obligated to be the one to bring closure to their squabble. Damn Snape that cunning bastard.

However before he can further embarrass himself by stumbling through the maze of human societal constructs, a large hand brushed through his hair, ruffling it gently. Harry looked back to confirm, yes, it was indeed Professor Snape who was committing the affectionate gesture. The man definitely did it when he gave Harry his Christmas present but the child just sort of assumed it was a one off scenario. He didn't actually think this was going to be some sort of thing.

Though, as he felt his cheeks inadvertently flush under the caresses, Harry couldn't say without lying that he was completely opposed.

"There is no need to say sorry Potter." Snape said soft, "Your reaction was.. understandable."

"Well I thought so." Harry replied with exaggerated haughtiness earning himself a stifled inelegant snort from the older man. "Now that we've gotten that out of the way I would like to say that I enjoy our," the boy hesitated for a moment as he racked his brain for a word to describe whatever relationship they had between them currently. Finally he settled on, "comradery. And I understand why you'd chosen to not say the things you weren't supposed to say. I guess in that case maybe I was a bit hasty in my aggressions.." Harry dithered a bit as he realized he was reaching apology territory again but Snape just kept waiting patiently for the boy to figure out his thoughts. Honestly Harry's pretty sure his thoughts wouldn't be so scrambled in the first place if the professor would stop carding his hands through his hair. He's not going to point that out loud though in case the man stopped.

"However, uh, however I don't appreciate being treated like someone to be made a fool of."

"Not many people do." Snape replied dryly.

"Oh you know what I mean." The younger of the two huffed and tried to ignore the bemused expression on the professor. It was subtle and almost nonexistent but the condescension was all there. "Do give me some credit, after all, I obviously came out of the whole mess relatively unscathed."

Snape made a pinched expression that generally conveyed some form of unhappiness. "You killed a man. I wouldn't call it unscathed in any sort of relative manner."

"You heard about that?" Harry was surprised; he'd thought Dumbledore would've kept that sort of information to himself. Snape and the headmaster must be closer than he originally thought. Because if Professor McGonagall knew he was pretty much forced to kill someone as a result of some elaborate plan of the old wizard, he's fairly sure he would know. "To be completely fair though- he tried to kill me first."

His hair was pulled slightly as Snape's fingers clenched at Harry's callous manner. Harry couldn't help but let his eyes flutter shut at the sensation. Shit. Every feeling was more intense in mortal flesh and he'd always liked a little hair pulling in his, uh, escapades. Adding the fact that he's looked admiringly at the man's slender, long fingers more than a few times and that his young body is on the cusp of puberty.. well he's just glad that he managed to not make any inappropriate sounds. "That's hardly an excuse."

"I'm fine." Harry says, and if his voice is a little high and strangled it's because those goddamn fingers are still tangled in his hair and sending absolutely amazing tingles shivering down his neck. Fuck, Harry cannot wait to be old enough to actually have human sex. He's embarrassingly shaky in the knees right now and he's no longer aware of where the conversation has gone, he is that distracted by the sheer intensity of this sort of contact. How on earth do humans manage to do anything once aware of such pleasures is honestly beyond Harry.

Snape frowned unconvinced by the obviously not-fine way Harry had said he was fine. His fingers tightening as he did so and Jesus Christ, faint sparks were dancing down his skin as his head was pulled back slightly at the motion, exposing his pale neck to the light and his professor's gaze. This time Harry couldn't hold back a quiet breathy 'oh,' sound.

The potions master made his own 'oh' noise as he'd finally realized what was happening. Yet looking down at the flushed face of pleasure on the usual unruffled, composed young Potter, Snape found himself staring unabashedly. Almost on their own, his fingers tightened and pulled the younger raven-haired boy's head ever so slightly backwards to show off more of that pale expanse of skin. Harry looked practically wrecked and the older man drank the sight of it fervently, like a man who hadn't seen water in years. Snape gently leaned closer and-

"P-professor?" Harry gasped softly, but it was like a sharp slap in the face for the sallow skinned man. Immediately the potions master let go of Harry like he was burning and took three quick steps back as horror and self disgust slowly welled up inside him. What did he just try to do? When did these sort of sordid feelings towards, towards a bloody child, even grow inside him?

"I have to go."

And go he went.


 

"All the copies of Hogwarts, A History have been taken out," Hermione grumbled.

"Professor Snape won't talk to me. Like at all." Harry complained as he listlessly scribbled on a spare parchment. "Also Justin Finch-Fletchley literally took one look at me, turned around and walked back to where he came from."

"Oh boo you." Ron mocked, scowling as he furiously copied something from a History of Magic textbook. "Some of us here have some real problems- like being a whole foot short in their essay on the Russian Wizard war of 1832."

"Shut up Ron, I told you to start when I did, so that is all on you. My problems however are really lowering my self-esteem right now. Seriously, you guys should've seen Justin's face. Is there something on my face or?"

"No Harry your skin is as flawless as freshly fallen snow." Draco drawled sarcastically as he pulled up a seat next to Hermione's. "Hello Granger, Weasley. You two are positively glowing with happiness." The two Gryffindors mumbled darkly in acknowledgement.

"I know you're being sarcastic but that really helped. Thanks." Harry said with a smile. Draco rolled his eyes.

"Oh and Granger, I happen to have a Hogwarts, A History that I took out yesterday if you want to borrow it for twenty minutes." The Malfoy scion said as he pulled out the stated book and waved it teasingly in front of the bushy haired bookworm. Hermione snatched it greedily, "Twenty minutes is all I need." She said gleefully.

"Why do you even need it anyway?" Ron asked.

Draco scoffed, and since Hermione was too busy frantically flipping through the pages, he decided to answer instead. "Obviously, because like everyone else in school, she wanted to read up on the Chamber of Secrets."

Harry choked. Luckily no one noticed, too engrossed in the new discussion about the history of Slytherin's secret chamber. The green-eyed boy didn't listen. He didn't have to. He knew exactly what the Chamber of Secrets was.


 

Harry said goodbye to his Gryffindor friends and Malfoy, and strode down into the dungeons. He walked determinedly and resolutely. In fact, until about the last six feet between himself and Professor Snape's personal quarters, Harry was as firm and confident as a sunflower facing the sun in summertime. Now though, as he wavered in front of the door, his metaphorical sunflower of resolve was wilting in the cold temperatures of the dungeon.

Things between them, somehow, were three times worse than before. Mainly because this time Harry is fairly sure that his inappropriate and absolutely mortifying reaction beforehand was the reason for the fact the potions professor is no longer looking at him in the eye. And once again, the green eyed second year was at a loss at what to do.

Taking a deep breath, Harry knocked on the door. For now he will pretend that he didn't get more than a little aroused under his professor's hand from some literal petting. Because some idiot was trying to open the Chamber of Secrets and that usually doesn't ever end well.

Snape opened his door but once he realised who exactly was the person who knocked, it was painfully obvious that the man was regretting doing so. Harry gave a childish little wave because that was the cute thing to do. "Good evening Professor Snape."

"Evening." The older of the two answered stiffly. "What are you doing here?"

Harry faltered a little at the detached tone of the potions master. It seemed they just move one step forward and three steps back each time. "I wanted to talk about the Chamber?"

"Are you telling me or asking me?"

"Asking you?" Harry coughed, "I mean, asking you. Yes, I am asking you. Can I come in?"

The professor clearly wanted to say no, actually from the look of his sour expression, the professor would probably invite a bloodthirsty vampire in before Harry. It was insulting and confusing and super rude. Harry made sure none of those feelings showed on his face.

Finally the older man acquiesced and open the door further for the boy to walk in. "Make this point quick." He demanded. Harry rolled his eyes when Snape closed the door behind them.

Taking a seat on the couch from before, the wizarding saviour started with, "Just so you know, I'm clearly not the heir of Slytherin. However, I may know where the Chamber is, how to get in and what beast resides in there."

"That's.." Snape trailed off, choosing to look blankly at the younger male.

"Incredibly suspicious and incriminating?"

"Very."

"That's what I was afraid of." Harry murmured.

The potions master gave him a look. "I'm fairly sure you would have realised what a compromising position you're in if you already managed to figure out the mystery before the story even starts. Do only thing worse was if you had the ability to talk to snakes, something which is consider a trait only Slytherin and his descendants can do."

The raven-haired boy's eyes were gazing anywhere but at the professor. Snape felt the beginnings of a headache coming on. "Potter," He ground out. "Please for the love of Merlin, tell me you cannot speak parseltongue."

"I could say that," the second year said as he watched entranced at a particularly empty space of wall, "but then I would be lying."

"Now I'm the one that's horrified."

Harry shot the older man a small, crooked grin, "Now you know how I felt last time," The professor felt the corners of his mouth twitch upwards before his face smoothed back down to a faint sneer.

"What's the beast of Slytherin?"

"Basilisk. Obviously." The boy didn't hide the roll of his eyes this time. "Slytherin is the house of the snakes and we're looking for a beast that can possibly paralyse a cat. Therefore, basilisk."

"Basilisk kill with their gaze, not petrify." Snape pointed out but his pallor was paler than before and his black eyes were calculating.

"Ah, but Mrs Norris was surrounded by water, if she saw the basilisk indirectly that can explain her petrified state."

"Merlin."

Harry nodded in agreement. It's understandable the wizard would be unnerved. The idea of having lived over a giant, hungry basilisk this whole time would make anyone feel a little unsafe. "Also, I'm not exactly sure how it's been getting around but I can hear her through the walls. That's how I found Mrs Norris in the first place."

"And you couldn't say that you were lead around the castle by voices only you could hear, for fear of sounding insane, makes sense."

"Thanks." The boy said dryly, "Anyway, the chamber is in a girls bathroom- I.. don't remember which one."

Hey, it's not like knowing exactly where this chamber was, was the most important thing to Harry when he was an unstoppable primordial force of darkness and soul taking. How was he supposed to know that this one scrap of information would be so important to this extent?

Snape however, was not understanding and less than impressed. "You expect the staff to guard every female bathroom in the castle? With little to no evidence at that?"

Harry gave a pathetic little shrug. "Yes? I'm sorry but all I remember is that one of the taps has a snake on it. That's the entrance to the Chamber. You need a parseltongue to enter."

"How do you even know this?" The potions master asked suspiciously. Once again Harry chose to use the technique of looking anywhere but at the older man. It really was a reversal of situations from the last time they were in the professor's quarters.

After a relentlessly uncomfortable silence, Snape sighed and closed his eyes. "Fine, I suppose I deserve that. Let me go get the door." The man stood up from his seat and turned to leave. Harry knew he needed to say something, there was no way he was going to let this sort of tension just hang there again.

"I'm sorry about before." Harry burst out as Snape made his way to open the door for him. The professor paused and turned around.

"Excuse me?"

"I'm sorry." The boy gritted out, his face heating up as he fiddled with the hem of his robe sleeves. "I, I don't know what came over me but I realized I responded.. poorly, and I really don't want you to be disgusted with m-"

Harry stopped mid-sentence as he realized that Snape was now in front of him with an unreadable expression on his face. "I don't," he began before halting starting over, "You don't disgust me." Snape finally settled on. Then, guardedly the potions master reached out to give a quick stroke of the younger male's hair before letting the limb recoil back.

It wasn't much, but it was something and Harry would take it. Coyly the green-eyed wizard savior smiled, Snape gave an uncertain but no less honest smile in return.

"Well you don't disgust me either." The boy quipped in cautious teasing, "Goodbye professor."

Snape once again had pulled on another one of his annoyingly unreadable faces. But somehow Harry knew that it was a softer, more positive, unreadable face. "Goodbye Potter."

Chapter Text

The one where Death gets roped into making a potion in the girl's bathroom and finds himself in Professor Lockhart's arms.

So apparently when Harry was talking to Professor Snape last night, Ron and Hermione were once again off doing their mini Sherlock Holmes adventures. It involved spiders and girls bathrooms, and Harry doesn't even. All he knows for a fact was Percy caught them, and now the two brothers refuse even to look at each other. Oh, and for some reason, they think Malfoy might be the heir of Slytherin.

The reason is probably that Draco is doing nothing but actively encouraging such rumors but still. The two Gryffindors really need to stop being so lazy in their sleuthing. Everyone in this school should probably pick up some common sense and a half-decent detective novel. And a sub-par education. Heh.

"Seriously guys." Harry sighed exasperated at the two children's expectant gazes. "I cannot emphasize the importance of evidence. I also cannot emphasize how the spider idea sounds quite terrible, but if you insist on that route I'll come with as back up."

"I told you the spider idea bloody sucks," Ron whined in agreement. The redhead making no doubts in confirming his deep-seated phobia for all of arachnid-kind.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I'm not saying follow the spiders." She huffed, "It was just something I thought was of interest."

"Oh. Okay."

"What I'm saying is we make a Polyjuice potion, pretend to be Crabbe and Goyle and some other Slytherin, then get Malfoy to confess."

Harry stared. "Somehow this is probably worse than following a bunch of insects." He finally settled on.

"It's a good idea, and we get solid evidence if Malfoy is the real heir of Slytherin." The bushy haired girl insisted. "Also spiders aren't insects, they're from the subphylum Chelicera while insects are from the subphylum Hexapoda."

"Polyjuice potion does seem a bit dodgy to me." Ron admitted, completely ignoring the last part of what his intelligent friend said, "I mean, what if we stay like that permanently- as Crabbe or Goyle? I wouldn't want that sorta fate on anyone."

"Also, you know I'm actually friends with Draco right? He's just being a peacock about the whole thing; he's not the heir of Slytherin." Harry added. "Trust me, if he were the heir we would've heard about it before this year."

"Harry's right," Ron agreed, "Malfoy's mouth is looser than the Fat Lady with a secret."

Hermione looked torn between her hypothesis and the logic handed to her. "But people believe that you are the heir of Slytherin Harry!" She complained, "It's not fair."

Harry softened at his friend's distress. Misguided as it was, the fact that her attempts to diminish any wild rumors towards his person was very kind nonetheless. "Well, it's certainly not fair to try and pin it on Malfoy without any solid proof either."

"There's no solid proof he isn't either." She challenged. Which, point. A stupid point since one could argue that there's no substantial evidence of anyone being the heir, and in that strain of logic then everyone should be considered the heir. But then again, it seems this world just loves to run on stupid points.

The green eyed boy sighed resigned. At the very least, agreeing to this over dramatical farce would throw his friends' way off the scent of whoever the true heir is. After all, whoever wields the basilisk like a weapon is a weapon in itself after all. "Fine. Let's make a Polyjuice Potion. How bad could it be?"


"Wow." Harry deadpanned as he stared at the entrance of a girl's bathroom that his Gryffindor friends were walking into. "This, this is pretty bad."

"Oh come on Harry." Hermione savior, she was grinning like his hesitation and disdain was the funniest thing ever. Ron was this close to laughing outright at his friend's expression as well for that matter.

"No." The green eyed boy denied venomously. "I am not going to some girl's lavatory. Don't mean to point out the obvious, but I'm pretty damn sure only girls should go there."

"Mate," Ron said meaningfully. "Don't be that guy."

"I'm not sexist Ron," Harry responded annoyed. "Just because I refuse to sit on a litter box, doesn't make me against cats."

"Harry no one even comes here! It'll be perfect for brewing."

"If you discount the bacteria, the unhygienic environment and the fact that while no one may come in, people will pass by, and bathrooms echo Hermione. They. Echo."

"Harry, bathrooms are hygienic, after all, we do our business in- actually Harry's right, 'mione." The redhead scrunched up his face as he realized the actual connotations behind brewing in a bathroom. "I ain't wanting to drink no toilet potion."

Hermione sighed and looked up at the ceiling for guidance. Which, good luck with that. "We aren't going to brew our potion in a toilet." She said slowly, her brown eyes judging them at the very idea. "We'll just be doing it in one of the stalls."

"Oh, so we're doing it by a toilet, I see, sorry for the miscommunication." The raven haired boy replied sarcastically. The bushy haired girl made a little strangling gesture at his neck and Harry faked choking under it. Ron for his part looked partly alarmed but mostly highly amused. The freckled boy wondered when exactly did the two develop such a unique friendship of fake murder and fighting over ideas. At least he wasn't like that with anyone.

After finishing their little dramatics, the pair went back to discussing (and turning down) their plans, Ron at the sidelines helpfully adding things in when he could. "Do we even have the recipe for Polyjuice?"

Hermione frowned, "Well, no." She admitted, "I know it's in Moste Potente Potions, but we'll need a teacher to get it."

"Restricted section?" Harry asked with a sigh. This was just getting better and better.

"Restricted section." She confirmed. Even Ron was beginning to doubt the plan.

"Hard to explain why we want the book without saying we're planning on making one of the potions looked," The redhead argued. "I mean how'd that work?"

"We could say we just were interested in the theory." Harry suggested, "And when I say 'we,' I mean Hermione and me, no offense Ron."

Ron rolled his eyes, "None taken till just then mate. And anyway, you would have to be pretty damn dumb to believe that sort of lie." He paused and then added, with an oddly sly look in his eyes, "Or unless Harry asks Sna-"

"Oh my god for the last time I do not have a weird Snape thing." Harry blurted out. It was practically instinct at that point to say those words anytime his friend uttered the words 'Harry' and 'Snape' in a single sentence. His pale face did burn a bit warmer though at the name of the potions master, embarrassment and the faint but undeniable feeling of desire and giddiness fuelling his blush as he recalled his last encounter with the older man. Puberty for his meat suit was right around the corner, waiting to tackle his mental faculties to the ground and exploit the hell out of that one scene possibly for the rest of Harry's human life and then some. Harry didn't know if he feared the experience of being controlled by some hormones or was apprehensively excited at the prospect of fully exploring the pleasures only those with actual flesh and blood could have.

And maybe if those pleasures are experienced with a certain dour faced professor with the most amazing goddamn hands, then all the better. Or a handsome centaur. Or maybe a cute and an appropriately aged fellow student. Harry is honestly not that picky. What can he say, death gets around.

Still, doesn't mean he has a Snape thing dammit. "And Snape wouldn't just give me a restricted book for no reason; I doubt he'll even do it for Draco."

"Professor Flitwick might do it." Ron mused. Hermione gave a look that was a mix of agreement and horror at the favoritism apparently running rampant in this school. To be fair, though, Harry's last defense professor did try to murder him, so he thinks it all evens out.

"Actually.." The youngest Weasley boy continued, "There is one Professor thick enough..."

Hermione looked curious while Harry soured his expression as he caught on to the suggestion. "This plan is just getting better and better." He groans.


Gilderoy Lockhart is going to pay for every single transgression... Starting with his atrocious humiliations on Harry's person. He'd had enough of a brain cell to stop bringing in live creatures after the whole Cornish Pixie thing, but to Harry's dismay, the blonde instead decided to make defense classes Story Time. Which, would not have been so terrible if the idiot man hadn't been so taken with the idea of reenacting scenes from his books and insisting Harry help play a part in them.

"And who shall I have play the part of the poor, helpless maiden in distress?" Lockhart mused loudly before pointedly looking at Harry. Harry's right eye twitched. Malfoy and the other Slytherin were giving him pitying but still incredible entertained looks. Actually, most people in the class were giving him similar expression, some more sympathetic than others. "Harry! You'll do just fine!"

"Sir I think maybe you should pick one of the girls for the female role." The green eyed boy suggested through gritted teeth.

"Now, now Harry," Lockhart tutted, "We are all above gender discrimination, and let's be honest here, you would probably be the prettiest person in this classroom to wear the dress."

"It's not gender discrimin- I'm not- there's a dress?!" Harry spluttered, angry and frankly horrified.

"What do you mean Potter is the prettiest, I'll have you kno-"

"Draco is this really the time for that?" Blaise hissed as he pushed the indignant Malfoy heir back down into his seat. "And Pansy don't you even start."

"But what does Potter have that I don't?!" The Slytherin girl whined, a few of the more avid fans of Lockhart nodded. "Just because he's a little thinner, and paler, and has really bright green eyes and inky black hair.." Pansy trailed off, looking between Harry and their defense professor with an odd gleam in her eyes and a flush on her face. "Actually.. I think I'll be okay."

Strangely enough, Harry didn't think he'll be okay.

Before he can open his mouth to protest, Hermione gave him a pleading look, and Ron mouthed, 'Pretty please,' when the raven-haired child had the unfortunate luck to meet their eyes. Clicking his jaw shut, the wizarding hero silently seethed and gave a jerky resigned nod to his fate. "But no dress." He compromised, in a voice that promised murder if said , wasn't accepted.

The blonde professor just gave a brightly lit grin before bustling an extremely unhappy Boy-Who-Lived to the front of the class. Being forced into the position where Harry had to keep the man in good enough spirits for the very soon to be asked a favor, the boy had no choice but to try act as well as his pride would let him. Which was incredibly difficult since pride was something he had in abundance and every single striding of it was urging him to punch this prime example of human idiocy in the face.

"Oh, Mr. Lockhart!" Harry swooned in a sarcastically fake falsetto as he batted his eyelashes and gave a twirl of his hair. The class laughed at his impression while the fraud of a defense teacher just nodded approvingly. "Thank Merlin you came, the muggle villagers are terrified, and I can't exactly tell them that-"

"That those animal attacks are actually from a werewolf?" Lockhart finished. Harry nodded meekly like in the book. His eyes glancing down to quickly read ahead as the blonde began what was a five paragraph monologue on how he has narrowed down his suspects to four villagers with just a few clever clues and a brilliant mind for deduction. The boy rolled his eyes at that, truth be told he actually liked this particular book, very Sherlock Holmes and all, but he would eat the damn thing before believing Lockhart figured out the Mystery of the Mourning Moon like he wrote. Either the professor really is just an excellent writer for fiction like Harry first assumed or the man's stealing adventure stories from other people. What with Lockhart's abysmal use of magic, Harry's going with his first thought.

His musings are cut off by a pointed cough by the man himself. Bringing himself back to reality, Harry batted his eyes exaggeratedly again and gave a wide-eyed innocent look. "I'm so sorry; I was just so enraptured by how you managed to figure it out." He easily improvised.

Gilderoy tutted again, this time waggling his finger to do so. Harry kind of wanted to snaps it off. "While I do appreciate the fact you appreciate me, let's focus more on the acting than the story shall we?"

'I thought the whole point of this stupid endeavor was the story.' Harry wanted to say, but instead he bit his lip, internally cursed his Gryffindor friends and their apparent need for complicated embarrassing plans plus his inability to walk away from them, and then smiled weakly.

"Yes, sir."

"Now I do believe you have your line?" Lockhart raised his eyebrow. The raven haired boy tried to stifle his grimace.

"You are.. absolutely incredible Mr. Lockhart, what with your amazing intellect and even better hair, and even better sense of fash-"


The bell rang, and Harry could've wept at the beautiful sound. "Professor I think you can put me down now." He says, his pale face feels like it had been permanently set at a consistent rosy pink this whole class and his current position certainly wasn't helping his embarrassment.

He shoots a glare to a sympathetic, pitying Ron and a less sensitive, almost envious looking Hermione, as he is practically cuddled up against the blonde defense teacher. They were in the middle of some tense scene where Lockhart and the heroine Genevieve were hiding from the rogue, feral werewolf. In the story, they ran into a small boathouse that began slowly filling up with water due to high tide. It was a great scene, now ruined in the boy's mind as he was forced to cling to his professor's body and smell the overpowering odor of a million roses.

Professor Snape better be doing something about the Heir of Slytherin because if Harry had to agree to play along with another convoluted childish scheme that made no sense in the face of logic, Harry was going to kill another defense professor.

"Lockhart, I was here to discuss the-" The deep voice trailed off and the green-eyed young wizard closed his eyes shut and wondered if he just ignored the situation, maybe it would just go away. "What is going on here?" Nope. He was still there. And Snape didn't sound happy.

"Ah, Severus!" The blonde man holding the wizarding saviour like a princess beamed. Harry would unhook his arms around the other's neck but the floor was hard, and he did not trust Lockhart not to drop him. Then again, the floor did look mighty tempting right about now. "It's a shame you missed the performance. Harry here made a mighty fine Genevieve Allsmart to my me."

Snape sneered at the defense professor, "Well, I'll just wait outside until you finish your.. lesson." He said stiffly before walking quickly back out of the classroom, sparing a quick, unreadable glance at Harry as he did so.

Once the black-clad man had left, it was then that the students began trailing out of the room, talking with each other about this particularly interesting class. By then the blonde had thankfully let the boy in his arms back down onto the ground, Harry immediately made a beeline toward Ron and Hermione. Passing by Draco and the other Slytherins he whispered a, 'I'll explain to you later,' before reaching his Gryffindor friends.

"Harry you have to go distract Snape." Was what he was greeted with.

"I hate you both." Was what he replied with. "If you guys sucked any harder you two would be vacuum cleaners."

"Mate, no idea what you are saying, but I am so sorry." Ron said.

Harry narrowed his eyes. "Don't give me that, I saw you two laugh."

The redheaded boy coughed awkwardly, it did not hide the large grin on his face, "Ya gotta admit tho' that was pretty funny."

"Harry please," Hermione pleaded with wide soulful brown eyes. "If Snape overhears us, all our efforts would be for nothing!"

"You mean all my efforts," Harry said unimpressed. But he knew that he was going to crumble faster than a dry sand tower on a windy day. Not just because he is a pushover, but because the idea that he would have literally acted like some floozy hooker in front of his classmates for nothing fills him with a black, burning fire of despair that would only be sated by the blood of the source of his embarrassment. "You guys owe me a huge favor for this. Like, no questions ask, do what I say, favor. Am I clear?"

"Crystal." The girl agreed.

"Clear as mud," Ron said at the same time.

Harry nodded, satisfied. With as much of his tattered dignity that he could muster, he picked up his books and quills and strolled out of the room while Hermione and Ron headed toward the preening teacher.

Sticking his head out of the door to check where his target was, the boy's green eyes gravitated straight to inky black ones as Snape, who had been leaning on the wall, waiting, watched Harry with vague interest. Like a lion lazily watching a fluffy cub trip over its tail. "And what.." the older man drawled, "exactly were you trying to look out for?"

"You," Harry said honestly, with a bashful smile. The younger wizard might be imagining it, but he thought he saw the potions master seem almost pleased at his answer. "I wanted to see if you were alright, you backtracked pretty quickly out of there you know?"

"Forgive me for being surprised at your unexpected display." Snape defended wryly; the boy felt his cheeks heat back up again at the far too recent for his liking, memory. Why is being human so embarrassing? "Though you would hardly expect me to believe that this is the sort of behavior meant for classes educating others on defending themselves from the dark arts."

"That man has no value educating anyone, defense or naught." Harry seethed. "I don't see why he was hired in the first place. Talentless hack he is."

Snape's mouth was twitching upwards, making a valiant attempt to fight against his stoic mask to crack a smile at the boy's disgruntlement. "You're not wrong." He agreed smoothly. "But as a fellow member of staff, I shouldn't drive another professor's name to the mud in front of another student, no matter how incompetent said professor is."

"Please Professor," Harry snorted, "I hardly think you care about such trivialities, or you would be far more accommodating to the less able students in your classroom."

"Believe me, Potter, if Lockhart steps one foot into my classroom.." The potions master lingers off warningly, looking stern and unforgiving. Harry just grins, seeing the humor in the older man's eyes.

"Well you've left me no choice, I guess I simply must leave a trail of mirrors leading to you just to satisfy my curiosity now." The younger of the two teased, "I think after today, I would die happy as a clam if I could watch Lockhart's arse get handed to him good."

"Language." The man chided half-heartedly, Harry just huffed a small laugh.

"I don't see you denying it."

Snape just hums wordlessly at the playful accusation, which just made the boy smile even more. They didn't say much after that, the whole conversation between them comfortably descending into shy glances and quiet half smiles in the empty corridor. Harry almost forgot what he was out there for. Well almost did until,

"Oh my! It seems I am more popular than I thought!" Gilderoy exclaimed loudly as he stepped out of his classroom with the two Gryffindors lagging behind. "If I had known that you two were waiting to hear my glorious insights, I wouldn't have been so impolite to keep you wizards waiting."

"Actually, I was just waiting for Ron and Hermione. It's good to see you though Professor, ta." Harry said with a wave before making a quick escape from the shiny blond man, grabbing his friends as he fled. Not fled. A retreat. Tactical retreat.

Okay so Harry, Boy Who Lived and physical representation of unstoppable primordial forces, fled. But really. Could you blame him? He almost wants to give Gilderoy Lockhart eternal life just so that he wouldn't have to have the off chance of meeting the man when he dies.

The potions professor seemed incredibly disgruntled at being left to fend off the blonde by himself, though. Harry mentally sent out his condolences.

"So did you two get it?" He asked once they were a safe distance away from the two teachers. Ron nodded, and Hermione pulled out the signed permission sheet. "Sweet."

"It's a good thing Lockhart's daft enough to believe us." Ron laughed. "Not even a shred of suspicion that man had."

"That's because he has great trust in his students, he's not daft!" Hermione defended affronted on her idol's behalf.

"No, pretty sure he's dafter than a troll." The young Weasley said, much to the girl's rising ire. Harry's gotten better at social cues these days, better than Ron at least, and decides to say absolutely nothing that will bring attention to himself. Instead, he lets his mind wander to a specific hook nosed professor the they walked toward the library.

He should've asked the older man about how goes finding that damned Chamber of Secrets, but instead the conversation had taken a turn for the silent. What even was that? Harry's always had a propensity for quiet moments. He does literally live in the realm equivalent of a graveyard after all, but even he knows that the polite thing to do in a conversation is to, well, converse. Not to stare coquettishly up at the potions master like some old century Victorian noblewoman.

Harry knows in the mess and tangles and mush of feelings for one Severus Snape, there's a low knot of arousal he feels around the man. Sexual attraction. That he understands. Friendship. Vaguer, but he's been around long enough to understand the general idea, what is usually expected and reciprocated from the interaction. Though of course most of that sort of knowledge came from watching the worlds go by and reading rather than any practical experience on his part. It's a tad pathetic to admit, even to himself, that it's been millennia over millennium since he's properly applied the concept of friendship to things that aren't technically alive. Even so, friendship doesn't seem like such a hard thing to contemplate compared to whatever Harry feels toward the dour faced man.

Emotion is complicated enough as it was when Harry was Death and feelings were pale pastels and dull tones of paint with only the rare vibrancy of color between them. As a human, emotions were so bright and intense, they almost hurt. And the meshwork of sweeping strokes and splattered hues decorating the insides of his human husk was unexplainable, incomprehensible to the being. It's the way his mind flits across in a constant buzz and hum that makes it harder for him to listen to his own thoughts while he talks to Snape, how his basic motor functions seem to stall and backtrack, the way the insides of his mouth feel dry, and his tongue is so heavy and slippery it's like it's slowly melting.

It's the phenomenon known as hormones. Had to be. Harry was twelve, going onto thirteen. That's well in the average for human puberty to commence and mess him up good for the next few years or so. Or maybe this is just what all humans feel when faced with attractive potions professors. Just a human thing. A mortal thing. Harry hoped so. Because if not these were some very distressing symptoms that strongly indicates an immense boo-boo on Harry's part in his meat suit maintenance. He knew he shouldn't have stayed as long as he did under Uncle Vernon's terrible parenting.

"He is not a brainless git!" Shrieked Hermione suddenly, Harry flinched so hard he missed the corridor turning and made unpleasant contact with the wall. "Sorry Harry." The girl apologized sheepishly under the other's green-eyed glare.

Ron, the wanker, just laughed. "You alright mate?" He asked between giggles.

"Dandy." Harry sarcastically replied. "Are you guys still on about Lockhart?"

"He's not a brainless git," Hermione muttered sulkily. Ron and Harry caught each other's eyes and simultaneously rolled them, the redhead even managing to make a gagging motion before Hermione turned around to stare narrow eyed at the freckled boy. "He is not!"

Harry decided that tomorrow, he was definitely going to hang out the whole day with the Slytherins. He's sure they won't talk incessantly about Lockhart.


"Potterhart is just so cute!" Pansy squealed, Daphne Greengrass looked up at the girl, confused.

"Potterhart? What is that?"

Eager to spread her new obsession, the girl sprang up from her seat to sit uncomfortably close to the Greengrass heiress. "It's a code name I decided on, stands for Potter and Lockhart!"

Greengrass' face was somewhere between amusement and curiosity, with a mild coating of disgust. "You mean, like a couple?"

Pansy nodded.

"But, uh, I thought you liked Lockhart?"

Pansy shrugged, like that one important fact made absolutely no difference to her, "I mean, yeah, Professor Lockhart is my future husband, but if I had to give him up it'd be to Potter."

"O..Kay." Daphne says, in a totally judging tone.

"Aw Daphne, don't be like that!" The other whined, her face flushing, "You're making me embarrassed."

"As you should be," she mutters with a faint smile on her face. "Besides, Lockhart's like thirty, Potter, as annoyingly pretty as he is, is twelve."

"Potter is annoyingly pretty isn't he." Pansy agreed with a sigh, "He's like that muggle fairy tale my uncle used to tell me about, Snow White. Except his lips are about as pale as his skin and his eyes are greener than mother's best emeralds."

"More like the Ice Queen- but with messier black hair. And way shorter."

The two girls paused and contemplated the unfairness of Potter's looks for a bit before the young brunette Slytherin moved back to topic. "Anyway, I'm the same age as Potter, and you don't see anyone else protesting about the torrid love affair forming between me and Professor Lockhart."

"That's because it's only happening in your dreams."

"Exactly," Pansy winked. The other Slytherin girl rolled her eyes. "Besides, it's not like there are wizards and witches out there with bigger age gaps."

"I guess I can see your logic." Daphne admitted, then with a shy smile she confessed, "And maybe the whole professor-student relationship is kind of, interesting."

"Kind of- Daphne, the Whomping Willow is interesting, that monopoly game Potter introduced was interesting, a professor-student relationship is hot." Pansy moaned, "The taboo, the secrecy, the drama!"

"You've read your mother's 'Affair at Amour Alchemist Academy,' novel didn't you?"

"..Yes."

Daphne stared Pansy down silently before breaking her aristocratic features into a grin. "Me too."

The two girls squealed softly as their friendship took a turn for the crazy. "Professor Lockhart is so a Professor Geodern." Pansy gushed.

"No way, if Lockhart is going to be any character, he's got to be Mr. Dandylion."

"That would make Potter, Daisy Duke, though!"

"True, Potter's more of a Gwendolyn Inkscorch."

"Oh my god, Inkscorch and Geodern would totally be cute together."

"Like Potter and Lockhart?" Daphne asked.

"Like Potter and Lockhart." Pansy confirmed. "Ooh, could you imagine their children?"

"What." Draco said.

"No. Just-" Harry sighed. "I'm leaving."


"Professor Snape," Harry breathed soft and breathy, his pale skin flushed and his green eyes, always so bright and vivid, was wide and slightly glazed as they looked up at the man. The boy's neck was exposed to his gaze like an offering that he wanted to do nothing but eagerly accept.

"Call me Severus," He murmured roughly, the hand not currently entangled in messy raven locks, was tenderly outlining youthful features. The curve of the cheekbones, the softness of skin warmed with desire, the sweet pinkening of lips partly opened so beautifully. His thumb answered the unspoken invitation, finding its way past the pretty pale opening, into that sinfully innocent mouth.

Harry's eyes flared and glowed at the unexpected intrusion but just as easily dimmed, dark with anticipation and confused lust. Snape felt the younger male lick the pad of his finger, giving a soft suck as he did so and the potions master felt heat pool straight to his cock at that.

"Fuck." He hissed and Harry, the sly, sarcastic little shit, smirked triumphant and gleeful at Severus' slip of obscenity.

"Language, Severus." The savior of Wizarding Britain teased, his voice only slightly hindered by the thumb of the older man in his mouth. Snape can hear the laughter and content in the other's voice; it was odd how intimate and comfortable this all felt, nothing like his past and admittedly few exploits in the area. "Five points from Slytherin."

Severus couldn't stop the curl of a smile on his face and the crinkle of his eyes as he huffed amused, "You are shameless."

Harry smiles back; he looks so sweet and beautiful as he looks at Severus, affectionate and tender. He doesn't need to look at his own face to know that he was matching the expression, letting himself be bare in all his vulnerabilities.

Harry then suckles the thumb still in his mouth, and suddenly, things were back to the sweltering temperatures from before. The professor feels his throat go a little dry at the suction and decides instead to replace his hand with his tongue, sliding their mouths together, fierce and frenzied at the desperation to taste. His hand still curled into the younger male's hair tightened and pulled, earning a breathy drawn out moan that Severus swallowed down greedily.

"S-Severus," the young boy stuttered, his debauched, unsure appearance so different to the usual composed, unruffled, dignified person he was. The fact it was the older man who was the cause of such unraveling gave him a swell of pride. It felt almost too good to be true for someone like this to want someone like him.

So beautiful, so precious, so-

Young.

Snape woke up, silent and sweaty. The hard, incessant throbbing between his legs all the incriminating evidence he needs to confirm what he's dreamt, who he's dreamt of. He looks up at the ceiling of his bedroom, unmoving, refusing even to acknowledge his traitorous body that urges him for release.

This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Snape didn't know exactly what it was supposed to be but certainly not this. Harry was a child, was a boy for god's sakes. No matter how mature and intelligent he seemed, no matter how genuine his affections, it didn't stop his feelings being illegal and perverted at the very best.

He liked Harry. Harry was talented and modest, with words from his lips that had more weight than gold yet fell in an adorably clumsy manner that made people underestimate the true worth of his mind. He easily said yes and was easier to say yes to. Snape enjoyed the quiet company he brings, the tremulous trust he gives like a gift that the older man truly doesn't deserve, the banter between them easy and friendly.

Harry was far and beyond his age group. He was probably far and beyond a lot of age groups to be brutally candid in the professor's opinion. The boy indeed proved the saying, 'Age is just a number.' Unfortunately, if you take Harry's age with Snape's, that number is still older and more legal than the boy.

The point is, Snape liked Harry. He didn't know exactly when 'like' began being seasoned by the foul taint of lust, but he knew that at the very least, the attraction of the more carnal nature was not the driving force behind his gravitation toward the young Potter. That, at the very least, he wasn't so shallow or distasteful as to be only in it for the appearances and youth of the boy. It was a hollow reassurance to his nature.

Overcompensation maybe. He's not opened up and found someone for a platonic companionship since.. since he rather not think about. It's a subconscious projection of wanting a warm body, clinging onto the tentative bonds of friendship. Coupled with what's probably a mid-life crisis, it's probably, hopefully, a normal reaction in a less than normal situation.

He can do this. He can let this pass. He can get over it.

Snape is a man of control. He's lied and done terrible things for love and revenge; he can lie and not succumb to terrible things for.. whatever this was. He is a man of cool, calm control.

And if he runs into the bathroom and loses control of his stomach contents because this was Harry, James Potter's son, Lilly's son- well, no one but him will know.


"Hermione there is a crying ghost in the bathroom." The Boy Who Lived pointed out rather needlessly. "Why is there a crying ghost in the bathroom?"

Seriously the intangible female was so invested by her sobbing and wailing, she barely even noticed the entity of death the next stall over. Harry would almost be insulted if he wasn't quite relieved not to be interacting with the crying girl.

"Oh, that's Moaning Myrtle," Hermione answered, "Just try to ignore her." As she said that, the sobbing got much louder. The bathroom walls letting the noise bounce and echo, filling the room with blubbering howls of unhappiness.

"Tad hard ain't it?" Ron groused

"Wow, some of these potions look positively wicked." Harry commentated as he flipped through the Moste Potente Potions textbook. "This has literally no place in a school environment."

"Well it is in the Restricted Section for a reason," Hermione supplied.

Harry just gave her an unimpressed look. "There's a potion on how to turn one's genitals inside out. And one on earning the drinker a couple of extra limbs- out of his or her mouth."

"That mouth arm picture is makin me sick, change the page already." Ron moaned. "Merlin, that's right rank that is."

"Did you see the drawing of the man being consumed by a horde of spiders?"

"Don't even joke about that mate."

"Here it is," said Hermione excitedly as she found the page headed The Polyjuice Potion. It was decorated with sketches of people midway through transforming into other people. Harry hoped the faces drawn on there were ones of pleasant surprise instead of the open-mouthed agony he suspected they were in.

"This is the most complicated potion I've ever seen," Hermione murmured as she scanned the recipe. "Lacewing flies, leeches, fluxweed, and knotgrass.."

"Well, those seem easy enough to get," Harry said. "They're in the student store cupboard so we can help ourselves."

"But there's also powdered horn of a bicorn." Ron added, unsure. "I may not know what's in our potions cupboards but I highly doubt something like that is in there. Also, shredded skin of a boomslang, where in Merlin's name are we going to get that?"

"Not to mention you guys need something from whoever you want to turn into," Harry said.

"Oh nu-uh, I'm drinking nothing with Crabbe in it. Or Goyle. Or anyone really, ew."

Hermione was doing a frankly brilliant job of ignoring the two boys' complaints. To be fair, she's had quite a bit of experience in that department since knowing them."Don't worry about that yet, and we add those bits last."

"Stealing, invasion of privacy, misuse of a professor's trust.." Harry mused, "You know, for a girl who supposedly enjoys following the rules a lot, you sure break a lot of them."

What he had said must have hit some sort of nerve because Hermione shut the textbook with a loud, sharp snap of the pages.

"Well, if you two are going to chicken out, fine," she said hotly. Her face was patchy pink, and she looked ready to cry or scream or both. "I don't want to break the rules, you know, but unlike some people, I think threatening Muggleborns is far worse than brewing up a difficult potion. But if you don't want to find out if it's Malfoy, I'll go straight to Madam Pince now and hand the book ba-"

Wide green eyes immediately turned to blue, pleadingly. Harry was not equipped to deal with defusing this. He may not have recalled this correctly but he was fairly sure the last time Hermione was something like this, they had been fending off a troll, and Harry had shouted at her to get it together. He somehow doesn't think that such an option would be particularly helpful right now.

"We're sorry 'mione," said Ron apologetically. "We were just taking the piss a bit. We totally want to make sure Malfoy isn't the heir just like you. But not toenails, okay?"

The girl gave a little sniffle before smiling bashfully. "Okay."

"How long will it take to make, anyway?" Harry asked, changing the subject back to the task at hand.

"I'd say it'd be ready in about a month if we can get all the stuff ready." Hermione informed, already looking much happier. "There's certain ingredients that need extra care or need to be picked at specific times like under the full moon or, pickled for eleven days exactly."

"Sounds great." Harry placated. "But I guess the problem now is getting our stuff then."


It was a Quidditch day today. Harry sat in the Slytherin section and cheered supportively with the others every time Draco swooped and swerved or did anything particularly noteworthy. He clapped a bit every time Fred and George did some fantastic flight-work as well but that was a little less well received in the House of green and silver for some reason. Honestly, it was so awkward sometimes not being in one set House.

After the match, with Gryffindor just managing to sneak in with a win, everyone emptied out of the stands and began making their way back to the insides of the castle walls. However before Harry could follow Blaise and his other friends to celebrate Draco's first game, the stern face of Professor Snape came into view as the crowd of students separated like the Red Sea in his presence. "Potter, come with me."

"Sorry guys, tell Draco I think he did smashing for me yeah?" Harry said, Nott grinned, and Zabini coolly nodded in agreement. Harry hopes that Draco will never know he ever thought this, but in his opinion, Blaise Zabini seems to be much more suited to be the one holding the title of Slytherin's Ice Prince out of all of them. He has a similar pureblood pedigree to the Malfoy's from what Harry could gather. However, Zabini's personality just seems a little bit more.. Refined.

Harry followed Snape wordlessly until they reached an emptier part of the castle, only then did the boy start walking beside the older man, more like a friend than a student. "So where are we going, Professor?" He asked.

"The medical bay," Snape answered shortly. Harry mentally tried going over who he knew that wasn't there at the Quidditch match. The raven haired boy couldn't think of anyone at the moment.

The answer came in a small, petrified boy, laying on one of the medical beds.

"Colin, oh no." Harry was genuinely sad about the poor first year's predicament. Colin was like the cutest human pet that he never got to have as an entity. They always died way too quickly in his realms. Weeks at best, which was like nothing to him. And while he loves his souls and ghouls and all things in-between, nothing beats living companions with amazingly warm bodies and weird mortal habits that never cease to amuse him. Colin, with his avid hero worship and adoring passion, would definitely have made an ideal pet. "He was so cute."

"Excuse me?" Snape said sharply.

"Is he going to be alright?" Harry asked at the same time, his vivid green eyes glowed faintly as he looked pleading up at the other. Snape seemed to avert his gaze from his own, which was odd because Snape hadn't seemed like a man who would back down and be the first to break away from eye contact. Never been before at least.

"Yes, regrettably the Mandrakes we have currently are still too young to be used for the potion to reanimate Mr. Creevey."

"So he'll be like this for the rest of the year?" Said Harry incredulously. "But couldn't you all order some? Isn't there a Magical Asian community or anywhere that would be able to provide us with freshly matured Mandrakes? Do you people not have some way of magically preserving Mandrakes?!" He didn't realize he was shouting by the end of it until he felt the now familiar weight of the potions master's hand rest on his shoulder. Like an anchor in the turmoil of heated red waves, splashing in his thoracic cavity and thrumming in his arteries.

Harry's angry. He recognizes it. It's the same sort of indignant anger he felt for the child in him being abused like an unwanted doll forced upon a spoilt child. But this time there's something solid and real and emotionally connecting to him in a way nonexistent, hypothetical childhoods and the real Harry Potters couldn't be. Colin Creevey was a good, enthusiastic, slightly stalkerish, child who came to this school bright eyed and bushy tailed. He had a younger brother, a camera his father had given him with his hard earned money and the innocent wonder of magic and heroes like the Boy Who Lived.

It's not fair that this child's first ever real experience with the magical world would be tainted with fear and result in catatonia. It's even more so when the supposed teachers, magical wizarding teachers at that, who should be prioritizing this sort of shit, have done apparently fuck all to help him.

Wait for the Mandrakes to mature. Yeah, and while they wait, bodies of their precious students will pile up in the medical like corpses in a morgue. Bunch of uncreative fucking idiots these people.

"I can see you're clearly upset," Snape began.

"Really?!" Harry spat, his eyes now glued onto the still form of the younger boy. His expression frozen in terror and his hands still gripping his beloved camera.

"But I highly advise you not to take that tone with me." The potions professor finished, voice steely and hard. His voice cold enough to clear the warm, violent haze in Harry's head just enough to calm back down to a more reasonable state of mind.

Taking a deep breath, the boy shut his eyes for a moment, blocking out the image of Colin petrified on a hospital bed. He hadn't even realized that the whites of his eyes were threatening to go completely black in his rage until he felt the darkness inside him seep reluctantly back inside his mortal casing. "You're right," He said, before repeating in a much softer, more ashamed voice, "You're right. I apologize."

Harry knows he's not good at control, he's pretty shite actually. He's struggled with his lack of control since around the beginning of his existence. It's already hard as it is trying to maintain his identity as Harry Potter, little wizard human, what with his overly eager newfound magic bursting from his fingertips and his inherent powers bubbling restlessly inside him just as eager to be used. But it's these emotions and feelings and his awareness of them that's really screwing him over now more than ever. He's seen billions of Colin Creevey's in far worse, far tragic, far more painful conditions with heartbreaking backstories that would make sociopaths weep, and all he would feel would be a vague pitying, sympathy before taking away the lights from their eyes and breath from their lungs.

Now he looks at Colin and feels queasy. And sad. And strangely guilty.

Snape's hand squeezed his shoulder tightly for a moment before releasing his grasp, and Harry felt his body inexplicably relax alongside the professor's grip. It was odd. But at the same time, it was nice enough to not question. "You were upset," Snape said simply like that's all it was. And Harry guessed it was. "I wasn't aware of the extent of your friendship with the boy, so in hindsight, I should be the one to apologize. You reacted.. Far from well, but I should have expected as such."

"Why did you show me this?" Harry asked softly. "I don't understand professor."

The potions master was silent for a bit before finally answering, "I am in a predicament." He confesses, and he pauses again. Harry waits patiently for the man to continue. He's aware that Snape, much like, yet so different to Dumbledore, holds his secrets to his chest like a dragon and his hoard. It lightens Harry to know that he's one of the select few who's earned the privilege to manage to wrangle out something from the taciturn wizard.

"I think I have located the Chamber of Secrets."

Harry's brows shot up, surprised and impressed. "Well, that sounds like the complete opposite of a predicament to be perfectly honest. Tell me though, how do you know?"

"One of the female bathrooms on the second floor has a sink whose tap is decorated with an ornate snake design," Snape explained. "Wizards are many things, embarrassingly subtle doesn't seem to be one of them."

"And yet no one managed to catch on," Harry noted with no end of audibly dry amusement. "I guess perceptiveness isn't a particularly strong trait either."

"Unfortunately, wizards also tend to lack in basic common sense, which does bring me back to my predicament." With a deep breath, the man pinned his gaze on the smaller figure. "You."

"Me?" Harry was genuinely surprised, and maybe a little offended. "How am I the problem professor? I told you as much as I knew about the Chamber."

"And you will not understand how much I appreciate it, Potter," Snape soothed, his thumb firmly drawing small circles against Harry's shoulder blade in a way that made the boy just want to sigh contentedly and revel in the feeling. Though this was indeed a very inappropriate time to do so. "However it's because you've helped so much in this endeavor that it's a problem."

"I hardly think that's the case, sir." Harry protested.

"You're already a strong suspect among the student body as the Slytherin Heir Harry." The older man tried to explain, "Your technically in the Slytherin house, friends with many students with pure blood heritage and a conservative upbringing, your magic is intimidating to those that don't really know you, you know where the Chamber lies, and to top it all, you can apparently speak Parseltongue."

"Well, when you say it like that.." The boy muttered. "Then just don't tell anyone I told you."

"Yes, because my reputation is so very clean and pure." Snape drawled. Harry shrugged in acquiescence, made sense. Snape was definitely one of the top four individuals the general student body believe to be a viable heir of Slytherin alongside himself, Draco and some Slytherin fifth year with the unfortunate last name of Serpentes. And to be perfectly honest, no one really cared about Serpentes. "No, the fact is, it's suspicious enough if either of us told everyone where the Chamber was, as well as counterproductive because the true heir would be on much higher alert if we go public about our discovery."

"So finding out who's releasing the basilisk out to play is probably the best option for us." The younger of the two concluded. "The problem is we have no idea who it is, what they want, and when they'll strike next."

"Did you really just think finding the Chamber of Secrets would solve all our problems did you?" Asked Snape wryly.

"Maybe just a little," Harry admitted. Because this is apparently what he gets for putting faith in the magical education system. Accusations and complications. The boy sighed tiredly. "So what do you suggest then?"

"We need to find the heir." Snape deadpanned.

The younger of the two rolled his eyes as he covered his mouth to try hide his smile. "Obviously. I mean what's the strategy professor?"

"There's not much that can be done other than keeping our eyes out Potter."

"Is that all?" Harry sighed, how disappointing at the very least. "What about Colin sir? It's not right what's happened to him, he deserves better."

The professor's hands stopped their calming motions at the sound of Colin's name but other than that Snape showed no change as he calmly replied, "Your previous outbursts had some merit, I have connections that could possibly secure myself some properly matured mandrakes. The problem is ; however, there's almost no funding available that could possible afford such expenses."

"Problems, there's always problems." Harry hissed under his breath. It was ridiculous how inefficient this community was. There is only so many gaps that could be filled with magic alone. With a louder, more determined voice he said, "I'll pay for it all then. As the sole heir of the Potter fortune, I'll assist financially in your endeavors to secure a cure."

Snape was staring at Harry like he'd just declared to strip down, paint himself in purple body glitter and rule the world with the help of his rubber duck life companion Fredrick Jameson, instead of volunteering his financials to help a person in need like what a decent human being would do. Which, rude. Harry is a very nice individual. Harry also requires the killing of living creatures to survive, but Harry is still a very nice individual nonetheless.

"Are you sure Potter?" The potions master asked. "That's an.. incredibly generous thing you're offering."

"It's what any decent person would do."

Snape was still staring at him strangely. "Yes," He said slowly, "But there isn't much in the way of 'decent people' around here nowadays."

"Really?" Harry asked, "Well I hardly think that's true since I'm looking at one right now."

To the boy's surprise, and immense delight, he saw the pallor of the older man's cheeks flush a light dusting of pink at the compliment, the grip on his shoulder tightening and inching closer to the nape of his slim neck. Harry wanted to lean into the man's palm, warm and calloused from years of experience, and nuzzle against it, but he didn't dare for fear of disgracing himself again in front of the professor. While Snape had reassured him that he hadn't disgusted him, Harry couldn't help but want to avoid such an awkward predicament between each other again so soon.

"Flattery will get you nowhere Potter," Snape says, and Harry feels strongly inclined to disagree. Flattery apparently gets him his favored potions master stroking his neck lightly while presenting the pleasingly rare sight of said potions master blushing faintly.

"I hardly think its flattery if I think it's true professor." His face feels as warm as the hand touching his neck, his heart is pounding like a marathon, and it felt like most of the air in his lungs have gone straight into his head. Harry doesn't understand. His body is thrumming like when he is angry, yet he feels anything but, the shortness of breath like strangulation in the gentlest way, the low buzz of desire isn't sharp in his mind but softer, less defined and ever more confusing.

The green eyed wizard wondered if hallucinations were another one of these newfound human hormonal changes as well, because he could have sworn that Snape's eyes were dilated as he gazed down at Harry. The idea of the possibility that Snape was even remotely interested in him certainly was an effective way for his train of thought to be cut off in favor of disembodied screaming inside his head which, was definitely not normal. Not for him at least. The disembodied screaming voices usually come from somewhere outside his head.

"Call me Severus." The man murmured, his voice lower than his usual deep tenor.

"Severus?" Harry repeated cautiously, once again not completely sure he knows where this was going. His doubts must have been translated into his voice though because Snape immediately seemed to recoil back like he'd been burnt, his face twisting into anger and revulsion. "Severus?" Harry repeated again, now thoroughly confused at the reaction.

"I have to go." The man gritted out, before turning sharply to the door and striding quickly out, leaving Harry and a petrified Colin Creevey behind.

There was a befuddled silence in the medical bay, before Harry asked out loud, to no one in particular, "Why does this always keep happening?"

Chapter Text

The one where Death starts dating.

News of Colin's condition had spread throughout the school. News that Harry had pocketed up a sizeable chunk of his family fortune to save the boy was, in comparison, nonexistent. Colin, in the eyes of most of the students, was a dead man walking. Or lying. Whatever. The point was, humans have a huge affection in seeing the most negative side of everything, wizards or not. And everyone was on edge by the morning after. First years would huddle in tiny packs as they traversed the halls, jumping at every shadow in fear of being the next one in the hospital wing. It was kind of adorable. Like little penguins. Terrified little penguins fearing for their life.

Ron's sister seemed to be especially distraught as well. Even more so then when Mrs Norris was petrified. Apparently she sat next to Creevey during potions or something. Harry thinks Ginny is an extremely emotional person. Having just been sucker punched with brand spanking new and annoyingly improved emotions himself, he does not feel any sort of jealousy for when she reaches her teenage years.

Christmas was fast approaching on top of everything as well, so the atmosphere of Hogwarts was quite a mess of petrified fear and excited holiday cheer. Unsurprisingly they were not much of a combination together.

Because of the stupid Polyjuice potion plan, it was decided that the trio was to stay back in school for the holidays to finish it off. Also Malfoy was staying back as well, which to Ron and Hermione, was incredibly suspicious, and to Harry, was completely understandable since Mr Malfoy and Mrs Malfoy had to go overseas as political representatives of the British Ministry of Magic for an important meeting. Harry was not pleased with his Gryffindor friends. Neither was Ron for that matter since he was the one who wanted Harry over at his place for the hols.

Actually, most of the Weasley's was pretty darn upset when they heard the news. Which was amazingly flattering. Even Hermione's iron strong resolve had to melt under five sad Weasley gazes and one Potter one.

"Fine," She sighs defeated and immediately twin whoops of joy and the sound of multiple high fives were heard. The bushy haired girl glared at her fellow second-year friends, "But only if we finish over half of our 'project' by then."

"Deal!" Ron agreed with a wide grin.

"We could even buy some of the more uncommon things we need as well," Harry added which calmed Hermione immensely.

"Even the-" She glanced at the oblivious other Weasley's present in the common room, lingering particularly on the curious prefect watching them, "Really hard to find stuff?" The girl asked vaguely.

The green eyed boy looked apologetic at that, "I asked Professor Snape about that, and unless you can afford your own castle and know the right people, that's a negatory." Okay, so Harry could afford powdered bicorn horn. And maybe he could utilise his overpowered magic to track down the right people. But the amount of gold for such a rare ingredient was staggering enough without the guilt of using some dead unrelated people's money in the process. Also he was not putting that much effort in a plan that he doesn't even remotely support. Harry's kind of forgotten why he's going along with it in the first place.

"Ugh, I guess we'll have to get it ourselves then." Hermione sighed. Oh right, Harry agreed to this because his friends actively search for trouble and pain, and it was up to Harry to minimise it as best he can. Turns out 'best he can' involves breaking into a professor's private storage rooms and stealing some endangered animal bits. This will most certainly not end well.


The Burrow was very... homey. Like an old quilt stitched up and patched and worn. It was snug and warm and full of the energy only family and domesticity could bring.

Needless to say, Harry wasn't much of a fan.

His nose wrinkled the moment he stepped in, and he had to stifle the urge to sneeze. The place, while obviously poor, reeked of life and fertility and family. Death, and what he stood for had no place in this household. It made him quite uncomfortable to be there honestly. Like a hunter being invited into a den of rabbits for tea. The tea would be nice, and the rabbits would be adorably friendly, but it would feel wrong and so very awkward on so many levels to someone who's intimately familiar with what their organs looked like twisted inside out of their bodies.

"It's very nice." Is what he says instead. Ron beams like sunlight at that and Harry both wants to coo and shy away from it like a vampire. Normally he wouldn't be so affected, but it's this household that's screwing with him. God, has anyone even died in this place? Ugh. There's not even some sort of skinned animal decorating the walls or anything. At least he knows for a fact the Weasley's weren't vegetarians or he's pretty sure he would legitimately perish. The equivalence of his soul wasting away. Thank the lord for small mercies.

Just then, a plump kind-faced woman that Harry assumed was Mrs Weasley, came into the room, her hands mid-wipe on a flowery dish towel, before she paused and stared at the one dark haired child in a mini sea of redheads. The twins, Percy, Ginny and Ron all stilled as one, like a herd of gazelles noticing they were under contemplative watch of a lion.

"Children." She said in a very calm and frankly quite alarming way. "Is anyone going to introduce me to this lovely young guest of ours and then tell me why is he here?"

"Did no one tell mum about Harry coming over?" Percy asked in a loud whisper, his eyes, much like the rest of them, had not strayed from their mother's form.

"I thought you were going to do that." Ron whispered back furiously.

"He's your best friend." Ginny hissed.

"Wait." Harry said slowly, "Did no one tell your parents you invited me over for the hols?"

"Ah, well." Fred coughed awkwardly as George finished with an, "Apparently not. Sorry?"

Harry gaped at them before looking back at the equally incredulous (but far more unhappy) Mrs Weasley. Colouring with embarrassment at the awkward situation he's managed to entangle himself in, the boy stepped out to give out his hand to the Weasley matriarch anyway. He may not have been invited, but that shouldn't excuse him for being ruder than he already was.

"I'm Harry Potter, Mrs Weasley. It's a pleasure to meet you, and, um, awfully sorry about the inconvenience." He greeted sheepishly, "I wasn't aware you weren't expecting me, if it's too much of a burden I can always go somewher-"

"Oh nonsense my dear!" Mrs Weasley burst out, her demeanour much sweeter than before. "Harry Potter you say? Well my boys have gone on, and on about you! Come in, let me show you around the Burrow." She suggested, her arm wrapping around his skinnier one as she practically pulled the thin child further into the house. The woman frowned slightly at the boy's thin figure before pushing it down in favour of some indirect punishments towards her children.

Completely ignoring her offspring, the woman smiled wide and unrepentant as she, so innocently added, "I must insist you see our family albums, oh I have the cutest pictures of their toddler years, you should see when Fred and George during their tea party phase."

All five redheads somehow managed to pale and flush at the same time, each with varying expression of horror and embarrassment. They all just kind of stood there as their mother lead (dragged) Harry into another room, chatting delightedly about how Harry was such a dear, how she cried when she heard about those horrible muggles ruining his childhood and how fantastic Percy had looked in her best pearls when he was five. Only when the two were out of sight then did Harry hear a resounding jumble of frantic noises and shouting protests to come back.

"Just ignore them dear, that'll teach them not to write to their parents and warn them about houseguests." She dismissed after Harry couldn't help but look back when a particularly spectacular crash was heard.

"I really am sorry about the inconvenience." He said again, part out of genuine guilt and part fear of the woman. What was it about this world which produced so many terrifyingly intimidating older women?

"Oh hush now, no need for such talk," Mrs Weasley admonished kindly, "You are a dear friend of my sons and I will eat my own wand before I send a cute tiny thing like you out by yourself on Christmas break. Now, let me give you some nice embarrassing photo albums to busy yourself with while I fetch some hot cocoa and arrange some last minute sleeping arrangements."

"That does sound quite lovely Mrs Weasley." Harry admitted with a cheeky smile. Green eyes twinkled as the boy found himself sitting down on a comfy worn couch. Cocoa and blackmail?

Harry sipped his delicious hot chocolate, flipped to another amusing page filled with embarrassingly adorable memories and pointedly ignored any shouting in the other room. Maybe the Burrow wasn't too bad after all.

When the Weasley children finally slunk into the cosy living space Harry was currently residing in, his drink had been magically refilled twice and the child felt quite content as he watched the children and teens sulk. "I don't know about you all but your mum is just the sweetest isn't she?"

The boy got some grumbling that said otherwise.

"By the way," Harry continued airily, casually flipping the large, slightly tattered book in his hands. "I do love that year all of you dressed as reindeer. Love the tights. Very fetching."

"Give me that." Ron groused, snatching the album from pale fingers and hugging it protectively to his chest. And not all of us were reindeer."

"You're right." Harry agreed with a grin. "Because the muggle elf suits were just so manly."

At the confused looks of the pureblooded wizards Harry sighed. "They're not by the way. Manly I mean. Whoever convinced you to wear this was vastly misinformed if you thought that."

"Dammit dad I knew it." Fred muttered under his breath.

"Don't damn your father!" Molly Weasley snapped as she passed the room, thick duvet in her arms. Everyone jerked in surprise at her sudden appearance, and Harry heard George whisper, "How does she do that?" Before repeating in a much louder, cheekier voice, "Course we won't mum! Wouldn't dream of it."

The older woman narrowed her eyes suspiciously but let it go to instead, look at Harry. "Harry dear, this is quite awkward but is there any particular preference to who you would rather sleep in?" All the young wizards and witch blinked uncomprehendingly.

"Excuse me?" The green eyed boy gaped.

"Well you're such good friends with all my boys, so I thought it would be nice for you to choose. Ron and Ginny share a room together though, and so does Fred and George."

"Not that we don't mind sharing." George piped up, his face pink and eyes dark.

"Certainly not," Fred agreed smoothly and of similar appearance, "We would love the, uh, company."

"How come Harry can come into your room and yet I'm not allowed?" Ron protested, Ginny nodding beside him. They went ignored as Percy then insisted that it would be more convenient for Harry to stay with him.

"I have more space." The prefect said. "And my room isn't littered with anything that could drench you in toothpaste."

"Meaning your room is boring and ours has character." Fred retorted.

Percy snorted. "Is that what they're calling 'death trap' nowadays?"

"Please, do you even know Harry? He loves our pranks and so-called 'death traps'."

"Well I know that Harry loves a good night sleep, something he wouldn't have with you two fumbling around doing god knows what."

"Oh." The Weasley matriarch said, her eyes wide as she looked at her three arguing sons. "OH." She repeated. And then she grinned. Wide and excited and a little shark-like. Harry, Ron and Ginny shivered. Seriously, the women in this world.


"It was nice of Mrs Weasley to let me sleep here." Harry remarked happily. Misgivings about being not informed about their holiday houseguest aside, Molly Weasley had been the epitome of a good host. Dinner especially was absolutely exceptional. "It's unfortunate that there wasn't a spare mattress around."

"Well mum isn't the type to not bring in a stray dog when she sees one." Percy says as he busies himself by straightening out the duvet on his bed and trying to hide his excitement.

"You calling me a dog?" The younger boy asks wryly. Percy laughs.

"I'm certainly not calling you a cat." He jokes back, Harry smiles at the prefect and Percy suddenly felt his throat run dry because Harry looked so sweet and precious and open. It made the older boy want to kiss that soft smile and soak it all into his skin.

Percy knows he hasn't been particularly grateful to his parents recently, but he's never been so aware of it until now. The prefect isn't a moron. He knows very well that even if they hadn't had the spare mattress for Lee Jordan, conjuring or transfiguring one would be simple as a swish of the wand, and he's never been more appreciative of his mum for not doing so.

It makes him feel incredibly guilty though. Sure Percy may have said in his mind a few times how he would sell off one non-vital body part just for such a situation like this to happen between him and Harry, but now that it's actually come up Percy finds himself not wanting it. Not like this anyway.

Damn his penchant for the rules. Even the unwritten ones. Perfect prefect Percy indeed.

"Percy? Is something wrong?" Harry asked, and woah, when did the petite younger boy get so close to his person? "You're kind of just staring at nothing."

The older redhead could feel himself and his voice of reason short-circuit as they instead chose to focus on trying to count every single dark eyelash on those bright unworldly green eyes and committing the faint scent of tea and rain to his memory.

Chess games and night patrolling weren't exactly the most tactile of activities he could get with the subject of his childish affections, the prefect liked to take what he could get.

"If you are, uh, uncomfortable with sleeping with me-" Percy floundered, his face warming to a nice shade of pink, "-I can always transfigure another mattress for you if you'd like?"

Harry blinked. "Are you uncomfortable with it?" The younger of the pair asks curiously. It made sense, Percy was a teenager after all, not exactly unexpected if he wanted space.

The teen flushed harder, his red face taking on an expression of surprise and vehement disagreement, "Wha- no!" He denied loudly.

"Then what's the problem?" Harry questioned patiently, and Percy doesn't even know how to begin. 'The problem is that I want you to sleep on the same bed as me, because you want to and not because of my good-intentioned mother.' He wants to say. 'The problem is that I think you are stupidly cute and nice and smart and seem to appreciate who I am, even when my family doesn't always.', 'The problem is that I'm just a tad in love with you and you sleeping in the same bed with me is going to incur some highly mortifying problems.'

Instead though, like the smooth, suave playboy Percy Weasley was, he garbles out a strangled, "Problem? There's no problem." Then laughs awkward and nervous and suspicious as hell.

Harry frowns, because as socially inept as the boy can be sometimes (and Percy loathes how utterly endearing he finds Harry's stumbling through societal cues) this seemed not to be one of those. "Percy, I personally am fine with the idea, but if you need your space or don't want me so close physically I could just-"

"It's not that!" Percy blurts, because Merlin no, it is certainly not that. Harry waits patiently for an answer and the prefect suddenly can't think of a single reason why he shouldn't tell the truth right now. Well, he could probably think of a few reasons why he shouldn't confess his feelings right this very second, the night they are supposed to share a room for what could be most of the Christmas holidays, but they seem to fade in the face of bright, expectant green eyes. To be honest, most things seem to dull and fade under them. "It's- it's not that." He repeats lamely.

He's not sure how the younger wizard does it, but Harry manages to get even closer to his face without touching each other's. Percy does his best not to look down at Harry's lips. "Percy," Harry sighs, and the prefect had to look at those pale lips, parted open and invitingly. He couldn't help it. It would've been rude not to. Also he was weak and hormonal. Mainly the second bit to be honest. "Please just tell me, you know I think unnecessary teenage angst is much too complicated and counterproductive in the long run."

"It's embarrassing." He confesses, because it was true and maybe Harry would be satisfied with that. He wasn't. Of course he wasn't.

"I won't judge." And the worst part is, Harry probably won't. Not much anyways. It's not like he's confessing that he's Death incarnate or something equally as crazy. Percy knows rationally he needs to get over this crush, Harry complicates his plans of the future. He's going to be Head boy, he's going to work in the Ministry like his father but unlike him, he's going to be rich and successful if it kills him. He wants kids of his own that he can afford not to give thrice old hand-me-downs to. He wants the white picket fence and the magical garden, he wants the well-paid Ministry position and he wants the respect him and his family deserve.

And while he does hopelessly pine and fantasize about sharing something like that with the Boy-Who-Lived, it always felt off. Harry just doesn't seem to fit in the jigsaw of his perfectly planned life. The boy looked like he belonged in a painting of gothic, haunting, beautifully dark things. The delicate complement to the darkness curling in every corner. Percy was always mesmerized at the way the moon would hit the younger wizard's face and how the shadows would always seem to frame angelic features into something innocently deadly. Percy knew he was aiming high, hoping to soar in the sky and maybe even become Minister in the process- but Harry, with his overwhelming power and seemingly endless potential and subtly captivating personality, he was already halfway to space.

"I, uh, I," Percy stammers but he has already near made up his mind. He needs this. Even if Harry was interested in the less fairer sex, something no one has even confirmed by the way, there was still no way he would be interested in Percy. And even if Merlin revived from the dead just to grant such a miracle, a relationship between them would unfortunately not last. It's not even all because of Percy's future plans. Harry was the sort of person who would do the best to accommodate even the stupidest things, case in point, Ron. Percy just couldn't though, no matter how much he wanted something with the other, he wanted a long lasting relationship and his carefully planned future a bit better.

His family may run on the power of their emotions and love and whatever other nonsense, but Percy was far more rational. The prefect would not be led on by his heart alone. Harry may be kind and pretty and held a dry sense of humor that Percy loved. But at the same time, Harry was a crush, a fixation and a distraction that Percy craved but certainly didn't need. He could see himself sacrificing everything for this charismatic young wizard, his dreams, his future, his ambition, and that terrified him in its temptation. It was best just to give a swift end to his feelings before he got to such a point. Percy needed closure.

"I like you Harry." He confesses in a rush and flurry of words because Percy also needs a new brain to mouth filter since apparently he's either stumbling over his words or he's shooting off embarrassing confessions with no in-between.

Harry blinked uncomprehendingly for a moment before staring at the fidgeting red-faced teen like he'd never seen the prefect before. "You like me." The younger of the two stated.

"I like you." Percy confirmed.