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...
Dear Aunt Petunia,
You remember how excited I was to find that I was a wizard like my parents? Hogwarts promised to be a link to them and a whole world denied to me by their death. You objected to all this, saying how it wasn't really my world anymore and how I wouldn't fit in. Well maybe you were right.
My first week here has been horrid. Most of the spells they've taught so far are beyond me because I can't 'visualize' the target I'm beginning to think I'll never learn this and I don't know if I want to be here anymore.
A sad and discouraged Harry Potter sat on a parapet of the Astronomy Tower, letting the wind ruffle his hair. Blinking back the tears that came unbidden to his eyes, he rolled the tiny scroll on which he'd written the letter to his Aunt Petunia from hand to hand.
He had come here after running from his friends earlier in the corridor. Discovering this place during their Astronomy lesson a couple nights before, he'd found the lonely tower to be a peaceful and quiet place, perfect for when he needed to be alone. And though he couldn't participate in the class itself because the stars themselves were invisible to him, sometimes, when the moon was full, he thought he could sense... something.
It was there, sitting on the parapet with his feet dangling over the heights, that he felt the familiar and welcome weight of Hedwig as she settled on his shoulders. "Hello girl," he said as he reached up to scratch her head. "How did you find me?"
The Coatl coiled around the boy's neck and nuzzled his cheek, "/I will always find you,/" she purred into his ear. Then she said quietly, "/Everyone searches./"
"For me?" he asked. "Why?"
"/The clever one has gathered your egg-brothers,/" she said, "/They fear that you are lost or hurt./" Harry frowned. He was happy that his friends thought that much of him, but he hated that they were worried needlessly. He was startled out of his musings by a nearby voice.
"They will, you know." The voice seemed to come out of nowhere. Both Harry and Hedwig, caught unawares, nearly jumped out of their skins. "Worry, I mean. They don't know what you can do, that you can take care of yourself. You should at least tell your friends."
Harry searched desperately but everything around him was clear as always. The magical stones of the castle were glowing with power, and he could sense his own energy as well as an ever-so-faint sense of things in the forest, but that was at the very edge of his range. Whoever this person was, he was as invisible to the boy's sight as Hedwig.
"Who are you?" he asked "What are you talking about?"
"My name isn't important, but if you want, you can call me Sal." The boy heard the shuffle of feet on stone beside him and noted a faint scent of leaves and earth. "I'm just one of the custodians of the school."
"Right then," Harry said finally "So if you know all about my sight, then you know I can only see anything living or magical. Why can't I see you?"
"Sorry," the man said, sounding almost embarrassed. Then the man smiled. Harry didn't need to figure it out from the tone of his voice; he could see a set of teeth suspended in mid-air before him. As he watched, lips formed around them, then a nose, face and head. The man continued to fade into being like some Cheshire cat until he stood completely visible before the dumbfounded boy. He wasn't a mass of sparks as the boy was used to, but looked like he would to any sighted person.
He looked old, not so much as Dumbledore, but his dark hair and beard were shot through with grey. His eyes were black and had laugh lines around them. Wearing archaic emerald green robes he leaned against the parapet beside the boy with his arms folded comfortably before him. Harry sat, stunned by the events of the past few moments, though Hedwig seemed anything but concerned as she curled back up on the boy's shoulder and went to sleep.
"How?" the boy asked.
Sal shook his head with a smile and made a dismissive gesture. "It's nothing, a parlour trick any wizard can learn to do if they live long enough and have the sight."
"You see like me?" Harry asked. "Are you blind too, then?"
"Being blind isn't necessary to have the sight, Harry. In fact, it is only wizards of the greatest potential that can develop it at all."
Brightening, the boy asked, "There have been other blind wizards then? It's just that...."
"They're rare, Harry," said Sal. "Weaker wizards that don't have your ability are rarely better than squibs. You've seen yourself the troubles someone without sight can have in casting spells. The fact is, you have been, and still are, potentially one of the greatest wizards in many generations...provided you don't give up on yourself. You're going to find that many people already believe that you will be limited greatly by your blindness. Shamefully, your headmaster already thinks of you that way, I'm afraid."
The boy was silent for a moment and in a small voice he said, "What if he's right?"
"Why do you say that?"
"Because I can't see anything that isn't magical or alive," Harry cried out angrily. "If I can't see it then in can't visualize it and make the magic work!"
Sal walked behind Harry and put his hands on the boy's shoulders in a fatherly fashion "Let me show you something," he said. The darkness around the boy seemed to waver for a moment and then suddenly he could see the tower around him, the green forest in the distance and the blue sky above.
Harry choked back a sob as tears began to run down his cheeks, "It's... it's beautiful," he said as he watched the clouds float through the morning sky. "How can you do this?"
"You're doing it, Harry. With my help, of course." The man began to massage the boy's shoulders, releasing the tension he found there as he continued to talk. "Your senses are young, Harry. In time you'll learn to see the world around you in so many different ways, this one included. What you need to understand now is that the everything is magical to some extent or another, even that silly matchstick you're carrying in your pocket. With practice, and in a place shielded from all the stronger magic around you, the ability to see the subtler shades will emerge."
"What do I do then?" Harry asked
"Find a shielded classroom; there are several in the castle. Practice, and when you are able to see your matchstick you'll be ready to begin your training for real."
Confused by all the man had said, as well as a little unnerved by the whole experience, Harry stood up and climbed off the parapet. The greens and blues faded again into black and he found himself back in darkness. "I...I've got to go. See you around?"
With a smile, the man replied, "I'll be here."
Sal continued to stare after the boy with a soulful gaze long past the time Harry went through the tower door and scarcely noticed as the figure of another wizard, slightly younger and more cheerful, appeared beside him.
"You're helping him then?" the newcomer asked.
"Observant as always I see," Sal replied. "It looks like I have little choice, anyway, if the boy is to survive what's coming. You know this is Ro's place to be doing this as much as mine."
"Come on, you old snake. The Merlins are the responsibility of us all. Anyway, you have more invested in him than just that...and you like the idea of teaching again no matter what you say." Wrapping an arm around his thoughtful friend, the man said, "Come on, let's go find the girls. It scares me when they get time alone to plot."
The two wizards quickly became vaporous and dispersed into the air. In moments, the top of the Astronomy Tower was empty as if no one had ever been there.
Harry had scarcely left the tower when he heard someone call his name. He recognised the voice of Justin Finch-Fletchley, the Merlin boy from Hufflepuff.
"Harry, where have you been? Everyone is worried sick!"
After reassuring the other boy that he was fine, they set off towards the Great Hall since Harry's stomach was telling him it was past time for lunch. They were met by dozens of questions from his housemates as to where he'd been the last couple hours and if he was all right. Hermione, Neville and Draco weren't in the hall yet, and Harry assumed that they were still out looking.
He was quietly whispering for Hedwig, who was invisible to everyone else in the hall, to go look for them when two of the missing three came through the door. Hermione, her aura swirling with anger, and Neville, seemingly anxious about something, practically ran towards him. As they neared, Hermione's anger boiled away to relief and worry as she and Neville sat down on either side of him.
"Where have you been?" she whispered fiercely in his ear. "Everyone has been looking for you!"
Harry could sense his housemates' anxiety and concern as he scanned the room. From the other tables, however, he could sense no more than the normal interest. Even at the head table, the professors seemed more interested in their afternoon meal than in him.
"Nobody else knows?" he asked in relief.
"Just the Merlins," replied Neville. "Hermione wanted to go to the headmaster about what happened in Potions, but Draco got into it with her about leaving off on it until you had a say."
"He's right. I'll deal with it," said Harry. "Where is Draco anyway?"
Hermione suddenly got very quiet, and the boy could tell from her aura that she was both angry and embarrassed about something.
"Like I said," replied Neville, "he and Hermione had words. Draco went off by himself after things became a little too intense and he got slapped."
Shocked, Harry turned in Hermione's direction to ask what would anger her that much when he belatedly noticed the approach of Professor Snape from the entrance to the hall. The waves of repressed rage were so intense that he was nauseated, and he grabbed hold of the table to keep himself steady.
"Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Potter, after some discussion with the headmaster I've decided that I need to meet with you both privately after classes end today. The two of you will be at my office door at six o'clock sharp." The professor almost turned away but stopped. Turning his gaze back on the two boys he singled out Neville and leaned over the table until his abnormally large nose was less than an inch from the boy's own.
"Mr. Longbottom. When you left my classroom this morning you were covered in boils. As I just came back from the hospital wing, where I was informed that you never arrived, I was wondering: where are your boils?"
Neville looked like he was going to pass out from fear, and would likely have welcomed it. Swallowing nervously and looking furtively at both Harry and Hermione, he whispered back shakily, "Th-they just went away?"
The Potions Master continued to stare deeply into the boy's eyes for several more moments before standing back up and said, "Ten points from Merlin for disobeying a professor. We'll talk more of your...disappearing boils tonight, Longbottom." With an evil sneer at the rest of Merlin house, Professor Snape twirled in a cloud of billowing robes and stalked towards the head table.
They ate the rest of their lunch in relative peace. Harry wanted to ask more of what happened between Hermione and Draco, but knew that he would have to wait until a better time. As they were finishing, a school owl swooped down and dropped an envelope on the boy's plate. Harry opened the note but was disappointed to find that whoever had written it had not done so with spelled ink, nor had they cast a translation spell so that Braille would appear. He mutely handed the note over to Hermione, who began to read it.
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 an answer back with Hedwig.
Harry quickly had Hermione write a short note accepting the invitation on the back of the letter and asked her to tell him when no one at the head table was looking At her signal he held the note up and felt it snatched from his hand as the Coatl sprung from his shoulders and flew off.
"Harry!" Hermione whispered anxiously, obviously full of questions.
"Let's go," he said simply. "We'll talk about it on the way to Hagrid's house."
I have so much to tell you that I hardly know where to begin. Remember I told you about the blind boy I met in the robe shop? You won't believe this, but it's Harry Potter. We met up again on the train to Hogwarts and now we're friends. He has this brilliant snake named Hedwig, it's covered in white feathers and it has WINGS! You know I've never asked for anything before (ha ha) but if you could find another one I would just love it for Christmas. He says its called a Coatl if that helps any. You know the other day I saw him pretending to talk to her and hearing them hiss back and forth you'd almost think they were really talking.
Sorting went a little differently than you said it would. I mean I was sorted into Slytherin but they made a new house this year called Merlin and I'm in that house as well with Harry, he was sorted into Ravenclaw. Blaise and Millicent are also in both Slytherin and Merlin and there's this other girl that's sort of attached herself to Potter, her name is Hermione Granger and she's a Mudblood but Harry likes her so I'm having to put up with her at the moment. Classes are going well, and I've made lots of friends. I've got to go now but will write again soon
P.S. I want to tell you about something that happened in potions today but I have to find out more before I say anything.
Draco had just come back from the Owlery after sending off a letter to his father when he quite literally ran into Neville. The other boy had come running into the dorm, nearly out of breath. So unexpected was his entrance that the blond never had a chance to react before being knocked to the floor.
Pushing the chubby boy off of him, he stood and brushed off his clothes as he gave the boy a scathing look. "What's your problem Longbottom?" he asked. "You keep running around acting like a lunatic and people will think you're mentally deficient." He made several futile swipes at his robes and continued, "Look at my clothes, you've wrinkled them!" Ranting on, Draco missed the stricken look that had come over Neville's face.
Draco went about grumpily changing into a fresh robe, throwing the wrinkled one on his bed for the house elves to collect, and turned back to Neville. "So, what had you running in like that anyway?"
"Oh!" said Neville, suddenly remembering the reason for his being there. "Harry and Hermione just left the Great Hall on their way to Hagrid's. He asked me to come see if you wanted to go along."
Draco frowned. He didn't like the idea of going to 'hang out' with the help, but he'd seen some strange things today and wanted answers. "Right then, give me a minute to change and we'll be off."
"Change?!" exclaimed Neville. "You just did that, didn't you?"
The blond snorted at the other boy and held up the material of his current robe. "This," he said, "is for indoors. I need an outdoors robe if we're going to Hagrid's hov... house."
Several minutes later, the two boys exited the castle and found Harry and Hermione sitting on the grass nearby. The raven-haired boy had his elbows on his knees and his head cradled between his hands. Seeing the two boys coming, Hermione touched Harry lightly on the shoulder and stood up, regarding Draco with a clenched jaw.
"Granger..." replied Draco as he gave Harry an odd look. "What's wrong with him?"
"Headache," said Harry "It's been kind of building up all day." He levered himself to his feet and said, "Alright, let's get down to Hagrid's. Maybe a little tea will help."
In short order they had all arrived at Hagrid's house. It was a huge shack on the edge of the Forbidden Forest that seemed ready to blow over on a moments notice. On impulse, Harry didn't wait for them to lead him to the door of the shack; instead, he stepped forward on his own and knocked three times.
The door opened to reveal Hagrid standing in the doorway wearing in addition to his normal attire, oven mitts. "Come in, come in! Just getting some cakes out o' the oven all hot an' fresh fer tea." The big man led them inside where they found it to be a single room cluttered with bits of this and that. Before Harry could even register the presence, a huge shape shot across the room and tackled him to the floor, and a huge boar hound set about trying to lick the skin off his face.
"Aargh!... Hagrid, get him off." Harry wasn't scared; the dog's aura was, if anything, bursting with excitement with all the new company, but the boy also didn't want to be covered in dog spit. The half-giant was picking him up when Draco suddenly let out a blood-curdling scream and began swatting at nothing in particular on his shoulders.
"There's something on me!!! There's something on me!" the blond screamed as his friends twisted and turned him, trying to find the source of his discomfort.
Hearing a hissing snicker from across the room, Harry called out, "Draco! Relax, it's only Hedwig! She probably landed on you because she didn't want to get slobbered on by..."
"Fang." said Hagrid. "Yer snake's in here then, Harry? I heard they could do that."
"Do what?" said a still half-panicked Draco. "What's she doing?"
"She's invisible," replied Harry "It's one of the powers that people think her kind have."
"Bloody hell!" exclaimed Draco as the serpent suddenly reappeared and began to give his cheek feather-kisses with her tongue. "Some warning next time, alright? You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
Things calmed down and Hagrid served them all tea and rock cakes. Harry liked it here; for all its size, the room felt cosy, and while not magic-free, it was much more bearable than inside the castle. He was half listening to Hermione when he noticed a paper sitting under a nearby table detailing the investigation to a break-in at Gringotts on July 31st. He desperately wanted to read the article but knew it would look odd for him to be picking up a paper since he was blind. Debating his options, and remembering the conversation he'd had with Sal earlier, he came to a decision.
"Hagrid," he said. "I know it's a bit rude, but do you think we could borrow your house for a few minutes? I needed to talk to my friends, and it seems like we're never alone at the castle."
"Course, Harry," the big man said, "go right ahead." Hagrid sat for a few moments as Harry silently waited. "Oh!" he said, suddenly understanding. "I...err...got some stuff teh do outside. Back in a bit." The huge groundskeeper made a production of gathering up some tools and called his hound after him as he went out the door
Alone at last, Harry gathered his thoughts and said to his friends, "I have something to tell you all."