Blinded at the age of four, Harry Potter only wants to lead a normal life with his family. On his eleventh birthday, he finds out that he can have anything but...
The first week of classes was a disaster for Harry. While his ability to see inside the castle using his mind's eye had greatly improved, he still couldn't stand to use it for more than a couple hours at a time without developing a splitting headache. Therefore he decided not to use it except during class, and even then only when he needed it.
He grudgingly accepted the help of his housemates to navigate the halls and find his classes. It galled him to have to rely on somebody else for something so simple, as he'd always prided himself at being able to map out any place that he frequented often, even without his sight. It was a skill that had served him well whether he was at school or simply going to the local grocery store.
Hogwarts, however, had stairways that led up one day and down the next. Doors appeared, disappeared, or refused to open unless they were asked nicely or tickled in just the right spot. And he could swear that the suits of armour were moving around on him. Not having Hedwig as a constant presence on his shoulder was disconcerting, but he knew that it would be nearly impossible after that first morning at breakfast.
Hermione had brought him down early, unsuccessfully trying to help him memorize a route to the Great Hall. As they ate, more and more of their fellow students and the staff drifted into the hall. He couldn't help but overhear their whispered comments, and he felt their constant stares even without his sight. They were just finishing up when the Hall was suddenly filled with dozens of owls, all carrying some parcel or another. Harry started but Hermione put a calming hand on his shoulder and told him it was just the morning owl post.
Hedwig didn't seem to know or care what the girl was saying. One moment she was on Harry's shoulder; the next he felt a jolt as she launched herself up at the smorgasbord above her. The noise above suddenly doubled and the people around them started screaming in alarm and disgust when most of the frightened owls dropped more than just their packages on the students below.
Less than an hour later, Harry was back up in his dorm room, trying to explain to Hedwig why she couldn't go with him to his classes. "What were you thinking?" the boy asked as he rubbed her feathers. "They won't let me have you inside the school now except in the dorm"
"I'm sorry master." The Coatl rubbed her head against the boy's cheek in a blatant attempt to win some sympathy, "I know the other younglings were upsetting you with their chatter. I only wanted to take their eyes from you."
"Well, you've done that," said the boy as he scratched her head "Wasn't there any other way to do it?"
"Yes, but not as fun."
They were interrupted by a knock at the doorway.
"Yes?" said the raven-haired boy as he quickly stood up.
"Harry, err..." said Draco, stumbling over his words, "we've got Transfiguration up first. We're five minutes from being late, and McGonagall seems a little too uptight to be giving any slack if we come in after the bell."
Harry nodded and grabbed his bag on the way out. Draco stood in the doorway for a moment, looking at the Coatl with an odd, unreadable expression on his face before turning and charging off after the other boy.
Picking up Hermione as they passed through the common room, the three ran through the halls with Harry gripping the shoulder of Draco's robes tightly, trusting the boy not to run him into a corner or the odd suit of armour. They got through the door of the classroom and into their seats just as the final bell rang The professor gave them each a stern look, and then started her lesson.
"Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic at Hogwarts," she said. "Anyone caught messing around will leave and not come back."
Everyone was impressed as she changed her desk into a pig and back again. Harry was almost entranced as he watched the sparks of her own personal magic channeled through her arm and into the wand. As she swirled it through the air, it picked up yet more energy that coalesced at the wand's core and exited at its tip as a beautiful cone of light. The desk was swallowed by it and bent to the professors will into the shape of the animal she wished. What interested Harry was that even though it had the form of a pig, it was still a desk. He could see its original form trying to force itself out so that it could be a desk again.
Harry was excited to make his first attempt at true magic, but first the professor had them taking down lots of notes on the theories behind it. Most of it he'd covered already in his reading, so it was a bit frustrating. Eventually, she had them all trying to change a matchstick into a needle.
The boy picked up his wand, ready to do his first magic and froze. He suddenly realized that the matchstick wasn't alive or innately magical to begin with. That being the case, he was having a real problem visualizing it as they were supposed to in the spell. He tried casting as they were taught and aiming in its direction, but nothing happened. He also realized that he had no idea, beyond how it felt in his fingers, what a needle should look like.
He sat nearly in tears with frustration as everyone around him began attempting to cast the spell. Neville, though able to see the matchstick was having no more luck than Harry. He would wave his wand and say the words but something was holding his magic back. It looked to the raven-haired boy that as soon as Neville began to bring his magic to bear, he'd be overwhelmed with some unnamed fear
Hermione and Draco, on the other hand, seemed to have no problem at all. In short order, the two had differing measures of success. While the blond had only gotten the two ends of the match to become pointy, Hermione had affected the complete transformation. Harry scrutinized her work with his sight and consoled himself that if he could figure out how to start the transformation, he would at least know what it should be like finished.
After class was over they went to Herbology where Harry at least felt a little more in control of his situation. He had spent hours at a time tending the garden back home, and plants, whether magical or otherwise, seemed to flourish under his care
Defense Against the Dark Arts turned out to be a wash out because Professor Quirrell was so absolutely hopeless in both theory and application that it was embarrassing. When asked how he had dealt with a zombie he had told them of encountering, he went on about the weather. Harry also found it hard to concentrate because he developed terrible headaches in that class no matter how little he'd used his sight that day.
The rest of his classes went much the same way: he either did exceedingly well or found himself stumped by his inability to see. He was able to keep up with his classmates in theory and bookwork, but unless he found a way to 'see' non-magical objects, he might have to leave the school.
Harry was eating breakfast with Hermione and Draco on Friday when he asked sullenly, "What do we have next?"
"Potions with the Gryffindors and Slytherins," said the bushy-haired girl.
"I feel for you, Potter," said Draco
"Professor Snape has been giving you death glares since Hedwig pulled her little stunt during breakfast that day," the blond replied. "Seems he didn't like having to change his robes before class."
Harry sank his head down on the table. He really wished this week could be over with as soon as possible. The boy had gotten the impression that the Potions Master didn't like him the first night at the Sorting Feast, but now he'd be after him full-bore.
Potions class took place in the school dungeons. The air in the classrooms felt cold and close, like a tomb. But even added to the misgivings he had about the Slytherin Head-of-House, this hadn't dampened his enthusiasm for potion making. At least here he didn't have to cast a spell to make magic.
Professor Snape strode menacingly into the room, robes billowing like some malevolent bat's wings. This of course was all lost on Harry, as clothing had no aura Instead he sat calmly as the professor went through roll call and paused at his name.
"Harry Potter," he said. "Our new--/celebrity/."
Harry could hear snickering coming from the Slytherin end of the room as the potions professor continued with his lesson.
"You are to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion making." Snape's voice was a whisper yet no one had any difficulty hearing him. Like Professor McGonagall, he seemed to be able to keep a class silent without effort. Harry noticed something else in the professor's voice, however; underneath the sneering tone, he could hear the passion for his art.
"As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don't expect you to really understand the beauty of the slowly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power that can bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper on death."
Harry sat with the rest of the class in awed silence as the man went on about his craft. He listened carefully, memorizing everything to write down later on his Braille machine. He suddenly noticed that the room had gone completely quiet, save for the uncomfortable shuffling movements of the nervous students around him. Catching the quickly strengthening musky yet acrid scent of the potions master getting stronger, he focused his inner eye to see him slide up to the edge of the desk.
"Mr. Potter," Snape said. "What would I get if I added powdered root to asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
The boy's eyes scrunched together as he contemplated the question. He knew the properties of both ingredients, if they were to be combined in that manner... "A sleeping potion, sir," he said uncertainly. "A fairly powerful one, I think."
There was a short silence as the Potions Master regarded him with a stony glare. "Let's try again," he said, sounding terribly irked. "Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"
Harry thought hard. He'd read about them somewhere...in his potions book, the section on poisons. "The stomach of a goat, sir?" he asked.
"Really, Potter?" the man asked with a spiteful sneer as the Slytherins across the room continued to snicker in amusement at the boy's discomfort. "Are you absolutely sure? Then what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?"
Harry glared at the man behind his glasses. It was a trick question, of course. "They're one and the same."
Tut, tut, Mr. Potter. It appears that fame isn't everything. I'll have you know that while asphodel and wormwood do make a powerful sleeping potion called the Draught of the Living Death, your description of it was sloppy and incomplete Your answer about the bezoar was sheer guesswork on your part, and you left out the other name for wolfsbane, which is aconite. I find your lack of preparation, considering your...disability, to be offensive and dangerous. While Dumbledore may be able to force me to have you in my class, I don't have to allow you to endanger the other students with the practical. Mr. Potter, to the back of the classroom; the rest of you, pair off and we'll start with the potion listed on the board."
Harry was so angry he physically shook as everyone got busy with his or her assignment. The professor glided in between the desks, praising his Slytherins and punishing the Gryffindors for even the slightest infraction. Merlin house, on the other hand, with the marked exception of Harry, he left untouched. This was most likely because they were new and he was unsure how taking points would affect his own house.
The class drew on and, as the potions were nearing completion and Snape was complementing Draco on how he'd stewed his slugs just right, Harry noticed that the magical weave of sparks in Neville's cauldron had gone all wrong.
"Professor!" was all Harry had the time to yell before the boy's cauldron began to belch forth an acidic green smoke. Everyone else moved away, but Neville was too slow. When the cauldron melted, it splattered the ruined potion all over him, causing the boy to moan in pain as he broke out in angry red boils.
Snape cleaned up the mess with a wave of his wand and glared at the afflicted child. "Idiot boy! I suppose you added the porcupine quills before you took your cauldron off the fire?"
The boy nodded miserably and whimpered as some of the boils began to pop. "Potter!" roared Snape. "Accompany this incompetent fool to the hospital wing!"
The two boys left, and Harry truly felt for Neville as the boy continued to bite his lip to keep from crying with pain. Unable to stand his friends suffering any longer he stopped and said, "Neville, give me your hands." Taking them Harry tried to relax back into the same state he'd been in with Dudley on his birthday. He could see the boils on the other boy's skin as unnatural little red storms of sparks. One by one he overwhelmed them with his magic, freeing them of their taint.
A wave of light-headedness swept over Harry as he finished with his friend. He stumbled backward and nearly fell when two pairs of hands gently took hold of his arms and held him up. Drunkenly focusing his 'sight' behind him, he sensed a flustered Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy holding him up.
"Harry, are you alright?" the girl asked.
"Really, Potter," Draco said with a strained look on his face, "you could help a little. You weigh a ton." Neville, who had finally come out of his own stupor, quickly helped his friends get Harry to a nearby stone bench. When he sat down, the boy leaned back against the stone wall and waited for his head to stop spinning. Hermione rubbed his back while his two other friends stood back watching.
"Really, Harry, you can't go around doing things like this! You'll give me a heart attack!" The boy stiffened under her touch and suddenly jerked unsteadily to his feet.
"What things?" he asked. "Being totally ineffectual in all my classes? Not being able to do the simplest spells?...Professor Snape thinks I'm too dangerous to even be in his class! You know what? I don't even belong here!" With that he pulled away from his friends and, to their amazement, ran unassisted down the corridor and out of sight. There was a few moments pause as the remaining three stared after their friend, and then Draco noticed something.
"Err...Neville, weren't you supposed to be covered in boils?"