'… by definition, Horcruxes are somewhat sentient. They, being a shard of the soul, have enough intelligence to defend itself to the best of their abilities…'- Secrets of the Darkest Art
"Mum!" whined the second widest member of the quartet that walked through the snow covered forest, "My feet are wet!"
"Oh, my Duddikins." 'Duddikins' mother said, placing two placating hands on the boys shoulders, "Vernon, we should go back before he gets a cold."
"Wet feet are all part of the experience, Tunie." replied the third, and largest, of the group, "Don't worry, I packed another pair of socks and shoes for you, Dudders."
The fourth, smallest, and often ignored member of the family looked on impassively. It would not do to snicker at the pig of a boy, and it was certainly not worth the retaliation that would certainly come.
This group went by the name of Dursley, well at least the first three, and they thought of themselves as perfectly normal. Though the fourth member was considered by all those around her, sevearly lacking in the 'normalcy' department. Compared to 'Duddikins' mother, a thin equine-like woman was Petunia Dursley née Evans; her beefy husband, Vernon Dursley, who's only noticeable feature was the bushy mustache; and finally their five-year-old son, Dudley 'Duddikins' Dursley, who looked ever so much like his father, if only more overweight.
Finally, related only by the blood of Petunia, was the soon-to-be-five-year-old Henrietta Lily Potter. A small twig-like girl who, unbeknownst to her, had inherited much of her mother's looks, including the distinctive emerald eyes. The only feature she had inherited from her father, was the jet-black hair that fell down her back in an untameable mess, a trait that drove Patunia mad. She was quite proud of her looks that differentiated herself from the Dursley's, though the only feature she disliked about herself was a thin lightning bolt scar -one that the Dursley's insisted was because of a car accident that killed her birth parents. She doubted it.
As the Dursley's walked down the path at a steady pace, the raven-haired chose to skip around the path. Moving from the right to the left of the track, eyes shining with excitement.
It was a week ago that the walk was announced. Vernon had come home after a long day of work and announced it to the household during dinner.
"My boss has given me some time off work," he had said, digging into a roast pork that had been cooked, thankfully, by Petunia.
"Why is that, dear?" Said woman replied.
"Well, he said that I should get out more, enjoy the outside world while I could. Of course, I thought we could go out golfing together. But, no," he scoffed, "he gave me a brochure for nature walks."
And so, the Dursley's had decided to go on a walk, specifically to the Grizedale Forest, off in the Lake District. Of course, that was also the night Dudley threw his biggest hissy fit to date.
As always, Henrietta would be dropped into the lap of Miss Figg, a woman who smelled a lot like wet cat . Coincidentally, she owned half the population of cats in Surrey. But after injuring herself trying to coax one of her pets from a tree, she was in no condition to care for the child. So, the Dursley's, not wanting to admit defeat, chose to call up a couple of babysitters. Twenty declines later, and the last of the Potters was reluctantly allowed to join.
Now the Dursley's plus one were walking around the National park, Henrietta up front as the more athletic of the family and Dudley far behind. She swore that every time the whale of a boy took a step the rocks and pebbles nearby shook.
Eventually, they had reached their way deep into the forest where they set up a little picnic. Henrietta had two pieces of her 'special bread' also known as stale bread and some butter, whereas Dudley practically had a feast of some leftover fast food from the night before. Petunia, had a Caesar salad as Vernon and his son tucked into the various meats.
As the rest of her family ate, Henrietta looked around the wooded area, watching some animals as they skittered across the snow covered ground. A cool breeze caused her to shiver, so she wrapped her overly large hand-me-down clothes around her to stave of the cold. Silently, she thanked the man for his so called 'gift', not that he noticed of course. The large shirt -big enough to pass as a dress as Vernon had informed when she received it- folded in on itself acting as a second and third layer of clothing.
The day was quite peaceful, Henrietta noticed, apart from Vernon telling her in no too few words that any 'funny businesses' would not be tolerated before leaving for the hike; Dudley tripping her to get to the car first; and the same boy being a general awful traveling companion, not much had happened today. So, she enjoyed the day out with her relatives.
That is until it was time to leave. It was in the evening when Henrietta finished packing up most of the picnic supplies and the quartet began trekking back to the car. The raven-haired girl was certain that all the animals in the surrounding area had fled due to the amount of complaining that Dudley was dishing out. Every step it seemed that something was wrong; "My feet are wet." "My shoelace is untied," "How much further?", and every time he complained, Petunia would try and cheer him up.
It was times like these that made Henrietta question the near unbreakable wills of the two adults who took each complaint in stride. Eventually, Dudley stopped his complaining, choosing to sulk at the back of the group because Petunia dared to tell him to be patient.
Of course, that could not last at all. Soon, Dudley decided he had enough of Henrietta's stamina and ability to, not, complain about the cold and wetness of outdoors, and wanted to deal with it.
"Hey!" massive intake of air, "Freak!" another intake of air, "I… want to show you… something!" Dudley called out, pausing to take another breather.
Upon hearing her nickname, Henrietta paused, looking back at the far off Dudley, then carefully made her way back towards the overweight child. Passing the two adults, she found Dudley leaning on a tree. I'm sorry tree, that you have to deal with such a weight leaning on you. She thought.
But before any of them could get a word out, a pained chirp sounded out from nearby. So instead of talking to her tormentor, Henrietta decided to investigate. Dudley also seemed interested in what had interrupted him from bullying his freak of a cousin. Walking -waddling for Dudley- around the tree, Henrietta spotted the creature making the sound. It was a small bird, near the size of her own hands.
She also noticed something that made her stomach twist. Now Henrietta was not of age to go to school, but she was still quite knowledgeable of many things. If she was not being picked on by Dudley's friends or being made to do chores, she was usually found in her cupboard under the stairs with a secret stash of the book she had stolen from around the house. The Dursley's had a surprising number of books that ranged from science, construction, to even wildlife -most of which looked suspiciously new. She had learned to read at a very young age completely on her own; it was as if the meaning of words just flashed into her mind.
So, she read. Besides her, nobody in the house really read; Vernon was quite content with his newspapers, Petunia with her gardening, cooking and occasional trashy romances, and Dudley would avoid books like the plague. If Henrietta was to hazard a guess, they only had these books to reinforce the idea that they were a normal family that reads books just as much as they watch television. She was just happy that they didn't really pay much attention to the filled bookshelf.
So when she saw the blood stained snow, she knew something was wrong. She knew that the red liquid was meant to be inside of you, not out. Looking closely, she could see that the puddle was growing at a steady rate. If the bird didn't get medical attention soon, it would die.
"Ew!" Dudley squealed in disgust, moving away from the dying bird.
Giving the squeamish boy a sidelong glare, Henrietta picked up the bird, using her oversized shirt as a makeshift glove. She cooed quietly to the bird in her hands. Though, just before she turned around to go see if her aunt and uncle would take it to a vet, she felt two large and chubby hands shove against her back.
"Freak!" she heard Dudley yell and before she knew it, she landed on the ground with a muffled crack-splat. Her thoughts went straight to the bird as she flipped herself over, a choice she regretted. Even though she was underweight for a four-year-old, she was still heavy. So when Dudley pushed her over, the bird was stuck between the snow on the ground and the thin body of Henrietta, it didn't stand a chance.
Henrietta stood, horrified at the broken form of the deceased bird she had moments ago tried to save. Blood stained the snow around the bird once more and the last Potter sported a similar sized blood stain on her chest.
Looking up, she saw that the two adults of the family had joined the two manned concord in the forest -probably because of the squealing Dudley- and was staring down on the stunned girl with disgust and fear. But the heat death of the universe could happen before Henrietta would even care at the moment. Slowly, she turned her head with a contemptuous sneer upon her face towards Dudley. They all paled considerably.
Hate filled her very being as she glared at the lump of a boy who was scrambling towards his mother. But before he could, an invisible force slammed into him, throwing him into a nearby tree with a crack.
And the world descended into madness. Vernon was shouting bloody murder at the four-year-old, Petunia rushed over to Dudley to see if he was okay. He was unconscious and bleeding, his femur was sticking out of his skin. Petunia looked over to see Vernon advancing on the freak, hands raised with malicious intent.
But before he could reach the child, a loud, magically enhanced shout made the family pause. "Leave. Me. Alone!" Had Henrietta been in a different state of mind, she would have noticed the forest seemed to die at that moment, the only thing moving was the enraged four-year-old, the only sound was the deep breaths of the same girl. "You all hate me, so just leave," she made a dramatic gesture towards the way they were travelling, "and forget about me!"
Henrietta just wanted to be alone, away from that hell of a family. She knew she hadn't been on the planet for long but she knew that the way she was raised was not normal -visions of how she was treated flashed before her eyes.
It was this fateful day that she would get her wish, because, unbeknownst to her, she was in fact, a witch, just like her parents before her. And on this fateful day, she had she had performed multiple feats of accidental magic. The most obvious of the magic she had used was something called a 'banishing charm' sent at Dudley, the others were not as flashy: The eyes of the two still conscious Dursley's glazed over before they picked up their broken son and headed back towards their car. They would head back to the city and to the hospital for Dudley to be healed. When asked how the boy had been injured, all they could do was answer dumbly that they did not know. The last was less of a spell, but still very magical; a wave of power swept across the Ile's as all non-magical recordings of Henrietta Lily Potter disappeared without a trace.
Henrietta, not noticing her 'Guardian's' actions, ran off deep into the forest. She did not stop until her feet gave out from underneath her, falling to the floor and began to cry. She didn't know why the Dursley's hated her. Well, that would not be entirely true; They had told her many times that they hated her because she was a freak, just like her late mother and father. But besides those venom filled words, she got no explanation.
It was cold. So very cold. Night had fallen, and snow had soon followed. Henrietta was hungry, but that was the least of her problems. It was cold, and if that survival novel she read was correct then she wouldn't survive long. Her breathing was slowing as frostbite set in, and before long she was in and out of consciousness.
Unbeknownst to her, a little shard of life was trying to figure out how to keep its host alive, ensuring its own survival. See, this little shard of life was a piece of a Dark Lord's soul, Voldemort. As it was, James and Lily Potter did not die in a car accident, but were really killed by a Dark Wizard who fancied himself a Lord. This Dark Lord was also the cause of the scar upon Henrietta's head.
The scar, in actuality, was a little thing was known as a Horcrux, a sliver of someone's soul forcibly removed and anchored to an item or host to grant eternal life. However, one could not simply pick up a pebble and turn it into a Horcrux, because the creator must have an attachment to the anchor for any magic to take effect.
Now the peculiar, and sometimes forgotten, thing about a Horcrux, was that it was intelligent -it had to be if it wanted to defend itself. Commonly, Horcruxes were inanimate objects such as pennies, rings, necklaces, things like that; in rare cases, they were animals; finally, the rarest and most unorthodox kind, were sapient hosts. The idea of a sentient hosts had been said by those who practised the art to be the stupidest hosts you could ever choose to bind a soul shard to.
Object and non-sapience had limited free will or none at all in most cases of the former. An object was static, you could hide it and not worry much if you were smart about your hiding place. Animal horcruxes were more of a mutually beneficial deal, both would get immortality, with the host also gaining increased intelligence and the creator complete control over it.
As for sapient hosts, they were problematic. In principle, they acted much like an animal host but with a few key differences. Along with intelligence, sometimes abilities or power would bleed over, not only that, but it still had free will. With this, the host could become a formidable foe if they chose to stand against the creator.
That alone was reason enough for everyone in the last millennia to avoid creating a horcrux from a sapient host. As such, not much was known about it.
Voldemort never planned to turn Henrietta into a horcrux, he had a different object in mind, but when the spell sent to kill her as a baby struck, it backfired. His soul was split, and without any direction, it latched onto her. It was then that the soul shard found a previously unknown ability: Merging. Souls were never meant to be split, so when a shard is ripped free from the 'master soul' it seeks to return, but it also has the ability to merge itself with its hosts soul. What effect it would have, it had no idea, but in this moment there was little choice -No amount of accidental magic could save little Henrietta as she succumbed to the freezing temperatures.
Finally, the soul shard made its choice. If its host was dying from the cold, it would need to turn up the heat. So the Horcrux did something no other of its kind had ever done before. It merged itself with her soul.
Two became one with all the consequences that would ensue.
Just before Henrietta lost consciousness for what would have been the last time, her world went up in dark red flames. The fire did not spread nor smoke, but the flames continued to burn the area around her. The snow sizzled and evaporated, the ground below became scorched, yet all Henrietta felt was blissful warmth surround her.
The entirety of the national park was covered in a thick blanket of snow, a forested winter wonderland. That is, everywhere but a small area deep in the national park; a twenty-foot circle of snowless, scorched land. In the centre, was the prone form of Henrietta, looking completely untouched by the inferno that had blazed around her that night.
The child tossed and turned ever so slightly before waking with a gasp. Her sleep had not been the most pleasant, not because of the hard ground she slept on -it was actually quite comfortable, if she said so herself- but because of a recurring dream. Shrill laughter echoed in her mind as a woman screamed, then a bright flash of green that blacked out the entire scene. Only two glowing red eyes remained.
Looking around she found herself still in the forest, noting the strange scorch marks around her. Henrietta shivered as a tingle spread throughout her body making her feel all warm inside. Though, this was not the only thing she was feeling as a wave of relief and freedom settled over her mind. She was finally away from the Dursley's if her memory served her correctly.
A low growl startled the child before she realised that the cause was her stomach. Before her belly had interrupted, she had wholeheartedly agreed that leaving the Dursley's was the best choice. Now a part of her really regretted running away, at least then she would have been fed at the Dursley's... no matter how little.
"What was that?" a small, silky voice asked. Henrietta would say it was perfectly reasonable the way she had reacted. The raven-haired girl had thought she was alone, then out of nowhere a voice spoke up. So, she screamed, looking around for whoever spoke.
She found no one.
"Silence!" the voice hissed, clearly feminine. This time, she had been expecting some sort of response, so she continued scanning the area, that was until something moved in her peripheral vision. Looking to the disturbance, she found a snake, reared up and ready to strike at a moment's notice.
"A snake?" Henrietta said aloud, completely forgetting the voice she had heard only a few seconds ago. I thought all the snakes had gone into hibernation.
However, it was not the time to be thinking about snake hibernation schedule, as the snake went from aggressive to comically shocked, as if someone had just stepped in it's pudding -not that Henrietta would know what it's like.
"It speaks!?" the voice shouted, though this time she could pinpoint where the voice was coming from. It was coming from the snake, who coincidentally had its mouth wide open, and its eyes practically bulging out of its scaly head.
Henrietta looked at the serpent for a moment, her mind trying to wrap its head around the scene playing out in front of her. "You… can speak?" she asked eventually, her face mirroring the snakes.
"I thought speakers were legends…" the snake replied, awe resonating of each syllable.
"I…I…What?" the raven-haired girl, though still a child, had a very mature outlook on life. An unnaturally mature outlook. This often created a wider divide between the Dursley's and herself, so she often hid it along with a majority of her life. With this mature outlook came a strong belief in reality. She knew the difference between reality and fiction; speaking to snakes was most definitely a fictional ability that did not occur in real life.
"You are a speaker of the tongue of serpents..." the snake seemed to be handling the knowledge that she could talk to snakes as well as she was.
Eventually, her mind couldn't take it anymore and decided to shut down, leaving only the basic functions running. "Hello, my name is Henrietta Potter…" she said.
Obviously confused, the snake decided to play along, "I… was not born with, as the humans call it, a 'name.'"
Henrietta looked at the snake for a while before saying "Mara".