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 next few days were tense as Snape, just as Petunia had said, took up residence in Harry's room. When he'd finally cornered his aunt and asked about it she'd explained that the Potions Master had confided in her that he had no real family left to speak of, and had planned to spend the holidays alone in his apartments in the dungeons of Hogwarts until she'd asked him to stay.
Harry had temporarily allowed himself to be mollified by his aunt's words and stayed with Dudley in his room. Snape, as Petunia had said, transfigured a bunk bed for them to use though the raven-haired boy had yet to sleep in his own as Dudley kept insisting that Harry sleep beside him every night.
As it turned out, his cousin had been having the most horrible nightmares almost nightly since Harry had left for school. They would lie together under the covers, as the gaunt blond boy would recount his dreams. He was always in the dark and unable to move. He would hear the voice of his four-year-old cousin as he yelled at his mum, then his father's voice yelling to get him out that turned into an inarticulate scream as a wave of heat assaulted Dudley's frame. He wanted to reach out somehow and save his father but no matter how hard the boy tried, he couldn't move.
Harry would hold his cousin and stroke his hair each night, forced to relive Vernon's last moments as he comforted the other boy until they both drifted off into a much-needed sleep. He was really worried about Dudley's well-being and went, after the second night, to talk to his aunt about it but stopped cold in the entry to the kitchen as he came upon her and Professor Snape at the table speaking softly to each other over cups of tea and holding hands. He didn't know why, but the two of them together like that was more disturbing to him than Dudley's nightmares. Not wanting to deal with the confrontation and still unnoticed by the two adults, he backed out of the room and went to find his cousin.
Christmas morning finally arrived and Harry was pulled from bed by an excited Dudley and dragged down the stairs into the parlour. There they found Aunt Petunia and Professor Snape sitting together on the couch and sipping hot cocoa. The sight of them like that soured Harry's mood somewhat, but Dudley's mood was contagious and soon they were both tearing into their presents with wild abandon.
From his cousin he'd received socks and a folded piece of paper. When he opened it Dudley pulled it excitedly from his hands and explained that it was a picture he'd drawn of Harry at Hogwarts. "I thought that maybe you could make it magic and then you could see it like you do the pictures of your mum and dad."
Harry winced inwardly and laughed off his cousin's words but he could feel the Potions Master's eyes boring into the back of his head.
The next package he opened was from Hermione. She'd found him the perfect book, Blind Mages Through the Ages:/ One Thousand Years of Surmounting the Impossible / Promising himself to read it as soon as possible, he moved on to the gift he'd received from Draco and his family. It was a small box with paper that his aunt informed him was dark green with silver scrollwork on it. Whatever was inside, Harry could tell that it was magical at some level and seemed to be calling to him somehow. Peeling away the wrapping paper, he opened the box and pulled out a finely crafted necklace with a small circular pendant attached that had a coiled serpent embossed on it. The raven-haired boy ran his fingers over the image of the snake and decided to wait until later to try it on.
Next was a large lumpy package with a small card attached. Opening it, he found the message inside written in Braille,
'Happy Christmas Harry and I hope that what is inside serves you well, I can never seem to have enough of them.
Opening the package he found several pairs of warm fluffy socks. Grinning to himself he set them aside and reached for his last package.
It was square, flat and fairly heavy. He pulled it to himself and pulled off the wrappings. It was made of wood, whatever it was. Eighteen inches on a side and 2 inches thick, its top surface was alternating flushed and raised squares, eight across by eight deep, with a shallow hole in each.
"What is it?" Harry asked, as he ran his hands over its surface.
"Open it," urged his aunt. "There's a small catch on the side facing you; the whole top lifts up."
Finding the latch where she'd said, he opened it to find 32 small figurines in familiar shapes. "A chessboard?"
"It's a Braille Chessboard, Harry," his aunt explained. "The man at the store said you use it in combination with a regular chessboard and keep track of all the moves." Guiding his hand to hold one of the kings, she said, "You see? The black pieces have a bump on the top so you can tell them apart from the white."
"Have you ever played Harry?" asked Snape unexpectedly. Still exploring the contours of the pieces with his fingers and memorizing their shapes with his fingers, the boy shook his head mutely. "Let's move to the kitchen table and we'll see if I can't help you get the basics down."
Harry spent the rest of his day going between his increasingly fascinating rounds of chess with the professor and playtime with Dudley. The raven-haired boy was still at it late into the evening, sitting at the kitchen table with Snape as his cousin and aunt lay sleeping on the couch in the parlour. The raven-haired boy was trying to think his way out of a neat little trap that the Potions Master had set up for his queen when he was interrupted from his chain of thought.
"So tell me, Mr. Potter," said Snape quietly. "When exactly were you going to tell me about your sight?"
Startled, Harry flinched and knocked over a glass of milk that had been sitting directly beside his hand moments before. "Wh...what do you mean?" asked the harried boy as he fumbled to right the glass.
"/Evanesco/," said the professor with a wave of his wand to clean up the mess. "Your sight, Mr. Potter," he continued. "While your eyes may no longer function, I've suspected for some time that you can in some way sense the magic around you. It's the only way that you'd be able to know how to fine-tune the potions you make. From what I've seen over the last few days I can also assume that you can sense people in some similar manner...their auras perhaps."
Caught, Harry just nodded dumbly as Snape continued. "As none of the other professors have mentioned this little ability, I'll assume that you're trying to keep it somewhat of a secret?" A thin smile crossed his face at the boy's nod. "How very Slytherin of you... very well, I will keep your little secret as well outside of my class. You realise, however, that we would be much further on in our studies if you'd shared this little piece of information. Now unless you can free your queen, which I doubt, I'd suggest that you go on up to bed."
Harry went and got a very groggy Dudley from the couch and helped him up the stairs. He lay in bed beside his cousin for the longest time, half concerned and half relieved that the professor had found out his secret. Turning towards the bedside table, he opened the box from Draco and took out the necklace. Feeling the call again, he opened the clasp and placed the chain around his neck. When the pendant touched his skin he felt an electrical thrill run through his body and then fade away. When nothing else seemed to happen the boy put his head back on the pillow and fell into a peaceful sleep, unaware that the eyes of the serpent around his neck were now glowing a faint, ghostly green.
The rest of the holidays went in a blur for Harry He received several owls from all his friends, and was delighted, even if his aunt wasn't, when Hedwig appeared over the kitchen table one morning and settled about his shoulders. Finally the last day of the holidays had arrived and they sat again at the breakfast table for his last meal at home before returning to school.
"Harry, Dudley," his aunt said gently. "There's one last bit of news I've been saving for the both when you till the end of holidays. I've put the house up for sale."
"What?" the two boys sputtered through mouthfuls of cereal. "We're moving? But why?"
"It's a good thing really," she said quickly. "I want us all to move to Hogsmeade. We'll be closer to the school and since Dudders will be starting in the fall next year it just made more sense. Anyway there's an old house that Professor Dumbledore has offered to give to us after it's been fixed up a bit."
Harry couldn't see Professor Snape pale but he could feel the emotional turmoil from the man. It felt like a cross between fear and anger. "The Shrieking Shack?" the dark man asked tensely. "Did he call it that?"
Looking a bit peevishly back at Snape, Petunia nodded, "Yes, I believe he did at one point; said that it had a reputation of being haunted but that it was balderdash. Why is there something wrong?"
Severus shook his head tiredly. "No...it's just that I have some history with that house, it was rather...unpleasant." Brightening a bit, however, he continued, "Perhaps this it what it needs, however. A new start."
Everyone's heads were whipped around by the sound of breaking china as Dudley threw his plate of food to the floor. "NO! You won't take me from my father's house!" Dragging himself to his feet, the blond boy staggered from the kitchen to throw himself on the couch and began to cry.
Looking torn by her son's pain she turned to Snape and said, "We can't go out like this...Severus, would you take Harry to King's Cross and get him on the train?" At the dark man's nod she turned to Harry and folded him in a deep hug. "Write as soon as you get there. I know you love this house too, but it really is for the best."
An hour later, after more tearful goodbyes and a hectic ride on the Knight Bus that Harry was becoming to enjoy immensely, they found themselves on the far side of the barrier at Platform 9Â¾ where the boy was again nearly overwhelmed by the magic around him after a quiet week at home.
Seeing Harry's obvious discomfort, Snape asked quietly as possible, "What's wrong?"
The raven-haired boy shook his head and said shortly, "My sight, remember? I've been away from magic for two weeks...it's just a bit much to deal with until I'm used to it again."
The Potions Master looked doubtful but said, "Well, alright then. Will you be able to get on the train by yourself?"
Harry nodded and replied, "I'll be fine. See you back at the school, professor." With that the boy separated himself from Snape and walked towards the passenger cars. Halfway there he caught the sound of Draco's voice and turned to try and find his friend. He pushed his way through the crowded students and their families as he continued his search, people were pushed so close together that their auras seemed to blend together. Closing his mind's eye in disgust at the chaos around him, he resorted to trying to single out Draco's voice from the din.
Harry's efforts were rewarded moments later when he heard the blond constantly repeating the phrase 'yes sir' in response to a masculine voice that seemed endless in its flow of instruction.
"Draco?" the boy called uncertainly, though he knew he was quite close. "Where are you?"
A moment later Harry felt Draco's familiar grip on his arm as he was led away from the crowd.
"Well, well...What do we have here?" The raven-haired boy recognised the voice that had been speaking earlier now directed towards him. "You must be the famous Harry Potter. Draco's spoken of little else than you and your friends since he arrived home."
Harry found himself listening raptly to the man's every word. It felt like he was at the back of some cave and his entire focus was on the face and voice of this man standing at its entrance.
"Oh, yes," said Draco's father, he had to be as he sounded just like an older version of Harry's friend. "Where are my manners? Lucius Malfoy, a pleasure to meet you at last." Turning back to his son he continued the instructions he'd been giving earlier. "Remember, not a word of it to anyone. And as for you, Harry," he said swinging his gaze back to the boy with a calculating smile. "Remember not to speak to anyone on the train, you never know who might be listening."
The elder Malfoy led the thoroughly confused boy and his son to the rail car and watched as they boarded. The two friends walked in silence to an empty compartment where Harry tried to ask Draco about his father and his strange words but as soon as he opened his mouth he lost his train of thought.
After several more minutes of waiting, in which Harry saw no signs of either Hermione or Neville, the clock on the platform struck eleven and the Hogwarts Express pulled out of the station. The raven-haired boy was feeling a nagging worry for his other friends, as he was sure he'd be with them on the way back, but he couldn't do anything about it at the moment Harry opened his inner eye and turned his attention towards Draco.
He hadn't noticed before, but the blond boy was sitting in a most uncomfortable way. He was perched on the very edge of his seat with his back rigid as if trying to touch as little of his body to it as possible. As Harry increased his concentration he hissed in shock and sympathy as he learned that Draco had a perfectly good reason to be sitting that way; from the signs Harry could see, he'd been beaten severely.
Draco's back was covered in welts and bruises, all burning hotly in the raven-haired boy's sight. They extended down to include his buttocks and the backs of his thighs. From the looks of them, some must have been several days old but some were fresh, Harry opened his mouth again to ask what had happened but the words caught in his throat.
The aura around Draco was tinted heavily with shame and anger but also with an oddly large amount of guilt as he looked back at his raven-haired friend, knowing that the boy must now be aware of his injuries. After a few moments the blond could take it no longer and said, "Talk to me, Harry."
The raven-haired boy suddenly felt as if his throat had cleared of some obstacle. He took a deep breath and asked, "Draco, what happened? Are you alright? Let me help you!"
Grimacing in pain as he held up his hand to slow the questions, Draco answered the best he could. "My back is punishment for something. It hurts a bit, but a lot less than it did yesterday. And before you try to do anything my father knows you're studying under Madame Pomfrey and has forbid me to let you use anything she's taught you to fix me. He said I wouldn't learn my lesson if it didn't hurt for a few days."
"How could he do this? I mean you're his son! But I can still heal you...he doesn't know about..."
Draco shook his head abruptly. "He knows you can sense magic somewhat and that being at the school gives you horrible headaches. That's all he's gotten out of me."
Relieved, Harry sat down beside his friend and put a hand gently on a less-damaged portion of his back. "Just relax, Draco, and breathe slow and deep."
The blond stiffened as he felt the tingling sensation race through his body but relaxed as the pain that he'd been subjected to for the past several days faded to nothing. "Mmph," he grunted in relief. "Thanks, Harry, it's much better now."
"Well, hold on a moment," the raven-haired boy answered. "I've only just numbed it. Give me a minute or two to fix everything." Finally the damage was repaired and the boys spent the rest of their trip telling each other of their respective Christmases, though Harry knew that Draco was leaving out loads about what his father had done to him.
Eventually the train was preparing to pull into the station and the boys went about gathering their things. "I wonder what happened to Neville and Hermione." Harry asked as they trooped off the train.
"I heard she wouldn't be coming back to school on the train," answered Draco. "Something about some trouble at home."
"Who told you that?"
Harry again felt the surge of guilt as Draco answered. "I overheard my father talking about it."
In short order they were back up in Merlin Tower. Since it was Saturday, they'd have one more day's rest before classes resumed. Hedwig was sitting on Harry's bed waiting for him as he expected, but he was more surprised to find Neville sitting on his own bed, full of excitement at their arrival.
"Harry! Draco! Did you have a happy Christmas?"
Smiling at the podgy boy's enthusiasm, Harry answered, "It was fine, Neville. Why weren't you on the train though? We didn't see you or Hermione."
His smile faltering a bit, Neville explained, "Well Gran was feeling a bit under the weather so she had me come back a few days early." Brightening, he continued, "It was worth it though. Look what I found under my pillow when I got back."
With that the boy stood up and pulled something from behind his back. When he draped it over himself his aura became muted and a bit hard to sense but nothing else. For Draco, however, whatever Neville had done must have been impressive.
The blond boy gasped and cried out, "An invisibility cloak!"
Confused, Harry turned his head in Draco's direction and asked, "What? I can still sense him fine."
"That's just because you don't see like we do, Harry," explained the blond. "To us it's like he's not there, it's a wicked-cool thing to have when you're wanting to pull a prank."
"I found this note with it as well," said Neville. He handed it to Harry but because it wasn't written magically, he couldn't read it so he handed it over to Draco, who read it aloud.
A very good friend left this cloak in my care
And I can see no better use for it than in your hands.
Use it with care
"You should see what else I found," said the podgy boy excitedly. "Come on, I'll show you." With that, Neville threw the cloak back over himself and pulled the two boys under it with him. They made their way out of the tower and in the general direction of the library.
"I found this room one night when I was looking in the restricted section for Nicholas Flamel. I was nearly caught by Filch but ended up here." With that he pushed them through a door into an old, empty classroom with a large and ornate mirror sitting in a dark corner.
"Look!" chirped Neville. "Look in. Do you see them? That's my parents all better!"
Harry did see something. The mirror was obviously magical and was acting just as a portrait or photo would. He saw himself flanked by his parents just as they'd looked in the photo along with Petunia, Dudley and a dark figure he couldn't quiet make out. His whole family together and happy. Suddenly it wavered and instead of his family he saw himself kneeling before Lucius, Draco, and another man with glowing red eyes. Confused, and more than just a little bit scared by the image, Harry closed his inner eye and turned to Neville.
"Sorry Nev, I don't see them, I don't see anything. Do you Draco?" The blond, like Harry seemed a little putout by whatever he'd seen.
He grabbed Harry by the arm and said, "Let's get out of here."
The two boys got to the door and realised that their other friend wasn't with them. Turning they saw Neville still staring raptly into the mirror.
"Come on Longbottom!" said Draco. "It's after curfew; we need to get back to the tower."
"I'll be just a few more minutes Go on ahead and I'll catch up."
Harry and Draco shared a dubious look and exited the room, leaving Neville alone, kneeling in front of the image of his parents.