Prequel and Chapter 1
D.I.D You Hear the Rabbit Cry?
Maybe it started when he was a child. Maybe it resulted from life with an abusive aunt and uncle, from days spent hiding bruises and nights spent hiding quietly in a cupboard under the stairs. Maybe it was because he needed a friend, someone to confide in, someone who wasn't cruel Dudley or sneering school children or a school counselor who was justfourmoreminutesuntilmylunchbreakthankfuckinggod tired of her job. Maybe it was because he was weak. He was an easy target. He could never defend himself from his uncle or stop the bullies. Save for his freakiness, he was weak. Maybe that was why.
Maybe not. After all, his body was never his, not even in his first year of life. How could it have been? Things were fine at first. His parents were oh so good, after all. Oh so loving. Nothing was wrong with his life, not at first. And then HE came, and his parents were dead. Traumatic enough, of course, considering that he was barely a toddler at the time. It would have been enough to scar anyone (and oh how it did). But that wasn't all. Of course it wasn't. HIS soul was split as well, you see, and a piece of it just happened to enter him. Two minds, one body, oh dear, what was he to do?
And so little Harry split.
"Useless boy," Vernon huffs, and Harry nods wearily. He forces himself to stare at Vernon's shoes instead of allowing his eyes to drift off, half closed and glazed. There's a pressure growing behind his right eye, and he knows that Boy wants to front. Harry holds his ground, but only just barely. Simpering like a fool may shut Vernon up for now, but it will only encourage more mocking later. Harry's tired of feeling like a fool. He is not stupid, he is not useless, and he'll be damned if he lets Vernon think that he thinks that he is. He'll be damned if he lets Vernon break him!
That's the spirit! Potter whispers sarcastically, and Harry resists the urge to roll his eyes. Vernon might be too self obsessed to notice Harry's distraction, but he'd be sure to pick up on more blatant disrespect, and Harry can't afford that. His back still aches from yesterday. Even Bruises wasn't enough to curtail his Uncle's anger about… about, what, exactly? Letters? Owls? Someone acknowledging Harry's existence in order to play a practical joke? Harry doesn't understand it, and he's not sure that he wants to. Maybe there was no reason at all for Vernon's anger. Maybe he just hadn't used up his monthly quota yet and wanted to make sure not to waste any opportunities.
At least Vernon's current anger seems to be dwindling. Finally, with one last demand that Harry get back in his goddamn cupboard and don't engage in any of that freakishness of his, the man storms off. Not willing to test his luck, Harry quickly complies with Vernon's last command, ignoring his stomach's pleas that he find food first. Harry's sure that he'll be fine for at least another day as long as he's careful now. With that in mind, he lies gingerly on his side and closes his jade green eyes to rest.
Almost immediately, Harry feels a distinct tugging sensation, and then he's falling back within his mind. His eyes open to a small room with several doors attached, each leading to a hallway lined with additional doors. A slightly older teen waits for him in one of the room's armchairs. When the teen notices Harry, he scoffs and pushes long black bangs away from his eyes.
"It took you long enough," he greets Harry. Without waiting for a response, Potter continues, "What did you do to piss the Vermin off this time?"
Harry laughs dryly. "Who knows? Maybe I breathed too much of his precious air. Because goodness knows there's not enough of that to go around!" Potter nods. He gestures to a worn red chair across from his own, and Harry takes a seat. For a minute, the two sit in companionable silence. Then Potter sighs.
"What are we going to do about the letters?" he asks. Harry doesn't reply or give any indication that he even heard the question. Potter frowns.
"Harry," he warns, "You can't just ignore this. I know that it sounds insane—I mean, a school of magic? Really?—but honestly, does it even matter? They could be inviting us to join a cult for all that I care. It would mean freedom from the Dursleys, even if only temporarily. How can you just let this slip through our fingers?"
Harry rests his head in his hands and grits his teeth. "I'm not letting anything slip through our fingers. I'm trying to be logical about this, okay?"
Despite himself, he can't ignore the appeal of what Potter's saying. It's the same appeal that lead Freak to sneak the letter past their uncle and Harry to read it in its entirety even as he became increasingly convinced that it was the cruelest prank that he'd ever seen. There can't be a school of magic waiting for them. There is no Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even if such a thing existed, Harry's sure that it would want nothing to do with a scrawny idiot like him. He should be putting the idea as far from his mind as possible, not pretending like this is something that has even the smallest of chances of being real.
He still can't forget the letter.
When Harry makes no sign of turning his thoughts into action, Potter makes a noise of disgust and stands up. He walks over to one door that stands apart from the others and disappears inside of it. Harry considers following but decides against it. He's had enough of people for the day (month, year…). It's time to sleep. Maybe, with any luck, he won't wake up again.
Harry has never been lucky. But perhaps, just this once, he won't be condemned.
It's Harry and Potter who meet Hagrid, but it's Hansel who enjoys Diagon Alley the most. He's always loved fairy tales, and as far as he's concerned, being a wizard is totally the best thing ever! The candy store probably doesn't hurt, either. When he realizes that some of the candy actually moves, he's almost beside himself with joy. He loves the owls, as well. He would take home all of them, if he could! Why can't he? They're nice owls, see? They don't even bite or anything! And they come in nice, shiny cages!
By the time Potter manages to drag them into the wand shop, he's exhausted from the effort of keeping Hansel under control. What would people think if the first impression that they had of "Potter? Harry Potter?" involved the antics a six year old? That he's retarded! Granted, that would require that they pay attention to him and not just his reputation. Potter isn't sure that anyone here is capable of that. How can they be so convinced that he (well, Harry) is their savior? Even if he supposedly did defeat this "Dark Lord" of theirs as an infant, what makes them think that he's in any way exceptional now? He's just a stupid kid!
Potter internally winces. He despises this body. Even when he manages to ignore its obvious weakness and short stature, there's still the age: eleven. Eleven! Potter is fifteen! What has he ever done to deserve this? He's not a pre-teen, and he's not a damn babysitter!
Hansel giggles and disappears inside. A moment later, he's replaced by Harry. Potter scowls at this. Some help you are. Prick.
"Can I help you?" Potter turns quickly to the source of the voice, embarrassed that he didn't notice the old man's approach. The old man simply watches him.
"You need a wand," the man prods. Potter slowly nods. Yes, he supposes that they do.
The first dozen or so are failures. Even if one will respond to him, if Harry flicks their wrist, the lights will explode. Glass coats the floor, and though the man (Ollivander, apparently) quickly cleans it up, Potter can't help but wonder if this is really safe. He has had his own fair share of bad picks, as well, and it seems as if they'll never find the correct wand.
"This one perhaps?" Ollivander places yet another wand into Potter's waiting hand. With a sigh, Potter tightens his grip and shifts his hand slightly to the right. He's not at all prepared for the sudden electric shock that traverses his arm. His wrist spasms, the wand moving out of control. In a panic, Potter falls away from front, leaving Harry alone to experience the cold wave that crashes down on him. Light bursts forth from the wand, and the edge of Harry's mouth eases upwards. Perhaps he likes this magic thing, after all.
Hagrid arrives just in time to remain oblivious, and Harry goes to get fitted. There's another boy already there.
"Draco Malfoy", the boy proclaims proudly. "And you must be Harry Potter? I know all about you!"
Harry tries to smile, but it's more of a grimace as he mutters, "how nice."
The boy looks stung, but Harry's far too tired to care. The best he can manage is a small, apologetic smile. "Long day," he offers. Draco nods and begins to prattle on about his own day and how excited he is to go to Hogwarts.
"Maybe I'll see you there," Harry tells him. He gathers up his new robe and leaves with Hagrid, fully expecting to never give the boy the time of day.
Harry knows better than to let people get close.