Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Masked Child

The Hidden Child

by ShadeDancer 0 reviews

Chapters 1 and 2

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Crossover - Characters: Harry - Warnings: [!] [?] - Published: 2006-04-22 - Updated: 2006-04-23 - 3538 words

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, any similarities to Man in the Iron Mask, or Lord of the Rings.

Seven-year-old Harry Potter was slightly nervous, the castle was bigger than he had imagined, but didn't let it stop him from pushing on. He knew he should be in bed right now, should be in the rooms he was never allowed to leave, but he hadn't been able to resist the slightly open door. He was so sick of always being kept inside, even if the Professor did say it was for his safety. Just once he wanted to feel the wind upon his face and see the sky without a window between him and it. He hoped Milpy didn't come to check on him either; the little house-elf was in charge of him and took her duty very seriously.

A bit more boldly now, Harry continued to creep forward, marveling at the pictures snoring or moving around in their frames and watching as the occasional ghost drifted by him. Thankfully they never noticed him; he would have been in sure trouble then. He knew all about the ghosts and the moving portraits even though there were none able to be in his rooms, knew how they could talk and gossip. The suits of armor were fascinating as well. Most of them stayed still and at attention, only shifting occasionally, but one set was creaking around in a wobbly duel that Harry couldn't help but stop to watch. Not long after that, Harry realized he was completely lost.

"Oh no," he moaned softly in a barely audible whisper, "I'm in so much trouble now."

Harry was so upset that it took him a while to notice a tugging sensation on his magic, he didn't know how he knew it was on his magic, but he did. Whatever was doing the tugging was gentle, loving, and yet there was an ancient power to it. On some level Harry sensed this presence was trying to help him and so he followed the tugging.

"This way?" he questioned in his soft, childish voice and the tugging came again to guide him.

Unbeknownst to Harry, not only was the Presence responding to his voice, but another had heard him speak as well. Professor Severus Snape heard the soft, childish voice and followed the sound, ready to torment the young soul out of bed. He knew it had to be Harlan Potter, it was summer and there were no other children at Hogwarts, so it had to be the blasted boy-who-lived and Severus was secure in the knowledge that the child was terrified of him.

"Which way now?" Severus could hear the boy say as he came up beside him, "This way then?"

Severus didn't know who the boy was talking to, but the child abruptly turned to face him as if suddenly sensing he was there even though Severus had been careful to keep to the shadows. For a long moment the two, man and child, were locked in a stare and Severus had a sudden epiphany. This wasn't Harlan Potter. Oh, physically they looked the same, but there were slight differences. This child before him was more slender, his hair more untamed. The child's eyes were also greener, more like Lily's eyes, and Severus could just make out a scar upon the child's forehead. The biggest difference though, was that this child before him wasn't frightened. This child returned his stare calmly, an air of curiosity about him. And then, as if he was never there, the child disappeared right as Severus reached out to touch him. For a long moment Severus thought he had seen some sort of apparition of the dead Potter twin, but he had felt the child's warm flesh briefly under his own hand, and thus the seeds of suspicion were planted.

~~ ~~ ~*~

"He is seeing you," Milpy wailed, "he is almost touching you. Professor Snape is seeing you. If Professor Snape is saying anything you's will be in trouble. Milpy will have to punish herself. His Headship will punish Milpy!"

"Please Milpy," Harry begged, his arm still tingling lightly where the man called Professor Snape had briefly touched him, "please don't say anything. Maybe Professor Snape will think I was a dream, or that I was Harlan and I ran away. You told me that Harlan and I look exactly alike and that he's afraid of Professor Snape. Please don't tell the Professor! If you tell him, he'll be angry and might not come to see me. He might not teach me anymore and he promised to bring me some new books next time he visited. Please Milpy?"

Milpy raised watering eyes to Harry and stopped banging her head against the wall. She knew she should tell the Headship what had happened, but then it would get her Harry into trouble. She didn't want to get her Harry into trouble, he was such a sweet child who was always nice to her unlike her former master. She also knew that her Harry was right, his Headship would punish her Harry by not visiting and he was the only one who ever came to see her Harry. Not even her Harry's mirror brother came to see her Harry, didn't even know her Harry existed. But her Harry knew, Milpy told her Harry to make him happy, told him stories of his mirror brother.

"Milpy is staying quiet," she finally said, squeaking as her Harry hugged her hard, "but Milpy is hoping Professor Snape's not saying nothing about seeing her Harry. Milpy and her Harry get in trouble then, we will."

"Thank you Milpy." Harry let go of the house-elf.

"Milpy is thinking that her Harry must be getting to bed," Milpy said sternly, "and that her Harry must not go out the door again."

"I promise Milpy." Harry said as he crawled back into bed, "Will you tell me a story? Will you tell me what Harlan did today?"

Harry fell asleep listening to Milpy tell him about his twin brother and what he had done that day. Even though Milpy talked differently than humans, he understood her well enough that he almost felt as if he was with his brother, doing the same things Harlan was. And right as Harry felt himself dropping fully into sleep, he felt the Presence from the hallway wrapping around him as if in a hug. He had never felt the Presence in his room before, but it was as if now that the Presence knew he was there it could find him and stay with him to keep him company when no one else could. If Harry felt any bitterness at his situation in that moment, it was lost to the arms of sleep and he would not dare express it to his Keeper lest he be punished.

~~ ~~ ~*~

Seven-year-old Harlan Potter woke feeling odd. He wasn't sick, but he felt as if for a brief while he had been whole before being ripped apart again. He didn't know what to make of it, and so did the only thing he could think of. He went searching for Albus Dumbledore and finally found the old man in his office, quill scratching across a piece of parchment as he dealt with the daily business. Ignoring the fact that the Headmaster of Hogwarts was obviously busy, Harlan walked around the cluttered desk and slipped into the old man's lap.

"Grandfather," Harlan's voice was soft, "I dreamed of a boy just like me, but he had a scar on his head. He seemed really nice to me, but every time I looked at the scar, it made my head hurt. I feel odd now, is it because of the dream?"

For a moment the quill stopped its soft scratching across the parchment before it deliberately began again, Albus keeping his voice carefully neutral as he spoke, "there's nothing to worry about. It was a dream, nothing more Harlan. Now, how about I finish up this letter and you and I will go down to breakfast together."

Harlan smiled up at his 'grandfather' and the old man graced the boy with a twinkling-eyed smile even as he was fiercely scheming in his head. Harlan had dreamt of Harry. That meant that something was either wrong with the dampening wards he had placed around the boy's rooms to keep him from being detected, or the boy had somehow broken through them via the twin bond he knew Harlan and Harry shared. It was probably Harlan's magical strength that had pushed through the wards Albus mused, thinking that Harry didn't have more than average amounts of power, and it would have been made all that much easier by the existing twin bond. Albus realized that Harry would have to be moved from Hogwarts. Distance would strain the twin bond and wards could deal with the rest, but something would have to be done about Harry's similar appearance to Harlan. He was starting to think it would save a lot of trouble if he was to just kill Harry, but he didn't know how it would affect Harlan through the bond and couldn't quite shake the feeling that Harry would become useful sometimes in the future. Even as Albus escorted Harlan down to breakfast, he continued to plan, and by the end of the meal he knew exactly what had to be done. All for the greater good of course.

"How are you today Harry?" Albus asked as he walked into the child's room, eyes twinkling as usual.

"Professor," Harry looked up from the book he was reading in surprise, "I didn't know you were coming today?"

"I hadn't planned on it," Albus answered truthfully, "but I decided that there were things that needed to be done and that now was the best time. Now grab a cloak, you do have one don't you? We're going out."

"Out," Harry was both surprised and suddenly afraid, the Professor had never taken him out before and had denied all requests he had ever made to do so.

"Yes," the word was nearly terse and Harry saw a brief flicker of impatience cross the Professor's face before the benevolent features were back in place, "you're always wishing to go out, so we're going out."

Wordlessly Harry stood and gathered up his things to put them away, but after taking another look at the Professor he decided that it would be best to leave them for Milpy to clean up even though he hated making more work for the little house-elf. He was feeling uneasy and afraid, his magic churning inside of him as if it wished to escape. Had to Professor discovered that he had left his rooms last night, was he going to be punished in some way? Harry couldn't think of anywhere the Professor would want to take him, much less this late at night. The only thing that kept him from attempting to run, make a sudden bid for freedom as he had never done before, was the fact that he knew the Professor could stop him within seconds and that the Presence was back. As if sensing his worry, the Presence had wrapped around him and comforted him as if it was a mother and he the child. Unfortunately, he could sense unease within the Presence as well. Reluctantly Harry went and grabbed his cloak from where it had hung, long unused, upon a peg in the back of his wardrobe. Fumbling with the clasp a bit, Harry finally got it on and went back to stand in front of the Professor.

"I'm ready sir," Harry was proud that he wasn't crying from the fear that was filling him up.

"Good," the Professor gave a nod, "pull up your hood and give me your hand then. We must be quick, we mustn't let anyone see you."

Doing as he was bid, Harry took the Professor's hand and nearly had to run to keep up with the man as they twisted through the castle's passageways to reach a small side door that led out to the grounds. If it was possible, the Professor seemed to move even faster once they were out of the castle, not allowing Harry anytime to enjoy the fact that he was outside for the first time he could ever remember. Even after they reached the forest and no one could see the from the castle, the Professor did not slow. By the time they reached a cleared spot that it seemed the Professor had been aiming for, Harry was breathing heavily and his legs felt weak; there wasn't much exercise a child could get when locked up indoors after all.

"We're far enough away," Albus said to Harry, though he didn't elaborate on what they were far enough away from, "now, hold on tight and don't let go of my hand."

That was all the warning Harry got before he felt the air constrict tightly around him as it he were being forced inside some sort of cramped place, his body aching as he was roughly yanked through space to a completely different location than the one he had started from. This place wasn't the relatively intriguing forest he had been standing in moments ago, not even a different part of it. This new place was grimy, dark, and damp and Harry instinctively knew that it would look this way even in the brightest light of day. It was a shifty place, one that Harry doubted anyone of repute ever frequented on legitimate business. A creaky and dirt encrusted sign he barely caught a glance of before the Professor was pulling him down the street proclaimed this place to be Knockturn Alley. Harry's foreboding increased. Why was the Professor bringing him to such a place, and in the dead of night at that, when most of the shops appeared to be closed and only men appearing drunk and women in skimpy robes were about?

"Professor," Harry started to speak, only to find himself on the wrong end of the older man's wand and under a silencing spell.

"No talking," the Professor admonished, "not a word. Hurry now, can't have anyone seeing you."

For just an instant Harry could have sworn the Professor looked demented, but then their eye contact was broken and he could no longer see the Professor's face as he was once again pulled along. Over and over Harry stumbled on the rough paving, losing track of the turns they took through the maze that was Knockturn Alley, until he was roughly shoved inside a darkened doorway and through the hidden door it contained. Futilely Harry tried to speak, protest, tell the Professor that he wanted to go back to Hogwarts, that being outside was no longer fun, but the spell resisted all his efforts.

"Albus Dumbledore," a surprisingly well-groomed man seemed to materialize out of nowhere in front of them and Harry's eyes widened as panic became such a pressure upon his chest that he began to hyperventilate, "to what do I owe the pleasure of your esteemed presence."

"Cut the crap," Harry had never heard the Professor talk like that before, "do you have it ready?"

The man glowered, "it was short notice, but aye, I have it ready."

"Good," Harry felt himself being shoved forward, his hood falling away, "put it on him."

The man's eyes widened in protest, it seemed he might possibly possess a conscience after all, "but he's only a child! He looks like-"

Harry never saw the Professor move, but suddenly the other man was gasping for breath as the Professor's hand tightened around his neck, wand pressed firmly to his temple.

"You will do it Aramis," the Professor's voice was low, deadly, "and I will not hear another complaint from you. Never mind who he looks like. How is your little boy? Raoul? Won't he be about the same age as Harry here?"

The threat was unmistakable and Harry could see Aramis bow his head in defeat. No matter how much this seemed to go against the man's morals, he would not risk his own family for a stranger. Not even if he now realized that the strange child was the supposedly dead twin of the boy-who-lived. Deciding that it was his only chance, Harry made a sudden break for it. He would rather brave the dingy streets and the unknown world beyond than find out what was in store for him. He just didn't understand why the Professor was acting like this, surely all of this wasn't because he had dared venture out into Hogwarts in the middle of the night?

Before Harry could make the last few, desperate steps to the door, he was caught in a spell and flung roughly into a chair, restraints wrapping firmly about him. He had failed. Out of the corner of one eye, he saw Aramis approaching with a roughly carved wooden box that was set down upon a table that had just appeared next to his chair. Eyes wide, Harry managed to turn his head just enough so that he'd be able to see when the box was opened. It wasn't that he wanted to see what was in store for him, but that he had to. The box lid was opened with creaking slowness as if Aramis was hoping to wake up from a dream if he tarried long enough.

Inside the box Harry could see what appeared to be a jumble of metal. In horrid fascination Harry watched as the metal contraption was lifted out of the box. The first piece seemed to be some sort of cage, but it's use became horribly clear once the second and third pieces were taken from the box. A mask and a padlock. They were going to put him in that thing. Desperately Harry began to thrash as much as he could, rocking the chair around as he struggled once again to be free. For one long instant he thought he had actually succeeded, that he had broken through the spell holding him to the chair, but then he realized that he wasn't free. He was falling, falling backwards so that his head hit the rough stone floor with a crack that made him see stars. And through those stars he could just barely make out the Professors stony countenance.

"Do it Aramis." The Professor ordered coldly, "I want this over and done with so I can leave here and be well rid of this brat."

Neither the Professor nor Aramis took the time to set either him or the chair back upright as Aramis knelt down next to him, the mask of Iron held tightly in one hand. Iron. It wouldn't hurt him or completely stop him from using magic, but once it was on him it would inhibit his magic enough to prevent him from breaking out of the mask that was meant to cage his identity.

"Please," Harry mouthed the words even though he knew no sound would come out, the Professor's spell was strong.

"I'm sorry," Aramis had seen the movement of lips, "I'm sorry Harry."

Sorry was useless at this point. He might be sorry, but Aramis would do the task set down for him because the Professor had the means to bend the other man to his will. The mask slipped down over his face, suffocating him, his breath coming in short gasps through the slit cut for a mouth. But Harry's suffering was not to be a simple as the mask being put on and locked into place. The metal began to heat up. Hotter and hotter it became as the slightly too large mask was molded with flame to fit his young face better. Harry's senses went into overload. The heat, the smell of the metal, the Professor's chanting as he willed the iron to grow as Harry did, as he cursed the mask to be unable to be removed by any wizarding magic other than his own. Even if Harry's magic was somehow able to work its way through this iron prison, Harry knew he did not have the power or knowledge to circumvent the Professor's spells.

The heat finally stopped, but the Professor continued to chant, Harry's labored breathing rushing out through the mask to provide counterpoint to the spells. A hand slipped behind his head, Harry didn't dare open his eyes to peer through the slits and see what was going on, didn't actually know when he had closed his eyes to hold back the welling tears. He was being lifted up, finally, from the awkward position he had been laying in, and for a hopeful second he though the mask was slipping from his face. But the mask stayed in place, it had been molded to fit his face now, and the final part of the contraption was fitted into place. With a heavy snick the lock was slammed home, the Professor's spell securing it, and Harry was finally able to do what he had been trying to for the past hour, though he didn't know it had all taken that long. He screamed.
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