Harriet Potter was an unusual girl, for multiple reasons. First, Harriet dreaded returning home from school. Second, Harriet and her family did not get along at all. In fact, Harriet's family openly resented and ridiculed her the moment her feet step onto the doorstep of Number Four Privet Drive. Third, and perhaps the strangest, Harriet Potter was a witch.
When Harriet was eleven, a giant named Hagrid had barged down the door of the decrepit shack her Uncle had been hiding them inside and had become her first real friend. Hagrid had introduced her to the wizarding world, where magic was an everyday aspect of life, like the oxygen her primary school teacher had informed their class was prevalent in the atmosphere. Within minutes of entering the wizarding world at the Leaky Cauldron, a hidden pub in the middle of London, Harriet could sense the magic, not only within the air, but the magic of everyone being she had come across, in each building she entered, in each item she held within her bony, slim fingers. She had become accustomed to magic in the months she had spent at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, to its subtle tones and shifts, to its reminder that she was not a freak.
This, in part, was why it was so difficult for her to return to the nonmagical world. Certainly, it did not help that her Aunt, Uncle, and cousin despised her existence and actively spent everyday treating her like rubbish.
On Harriet's fourteenth birthday, the 31st of July, she woke up in a puddle of her own blood. For normal people, an awakening such as this would evoke feelings of surprise, shock, disbelief, or some combination of all three. However, for Harriet, this occurrence is not as uncommon as others. Not only does she have her monthly visitor to deal with, but her various adventures whilst at Hogwarts always end up with some form of pain and/or blood loss for her to deal with. It's not so bad, she reasoned, because Dudley had been conditioning her on dealing with pain since they were little. So, it is with a remarkable sense of calm, that Harriet adjusts her position on the bed so that the blood did not spread, and stiffly rises from the mattress, clutching her tatty pajamas tightly so that no liquid would leak and cause another spill she would have to clean.
The first time she had received her monthly visitor was last year before Aunt Marge visited. Hermione had given her an embarrassing talk (on both sides), as well as providing a list of resources for her to study further if she wished (she didn't) in her second year, and as such she was slightly prepared for the event. She was not at all prepared for the amount of blood, though.
This morning was no different. Crusty, dark chunks of matter littered her underwear, saturated in a dark red liquid that was beginning to congeal and slowly trickle down her backside. Her room, the smallest bedroom within Number Four had previously been used for Dudley's toy graveyard and was, therefore, farthest away from the upstairs bathroom. Harry had to arch her feet and walk on her tiptoes to ensure no sound echoed down the hallway and woke up her Aunt. Her Uncle and cousin could sleep through a Quidditch match, but her Aunt was a light sleeper, and if she caught Harry ruining her perfectly good bed sheets Harry knew her chores would double in number.
After she finished her business in the bathroom, her gait distinctly changing to accommodate the added protection of a pad, Harriet stripped her bed, carefully carrying the bloodied sheets down to the laundry room, stepping over the creaky last step that Uncle Vernon never fixed. Luckily, her mattress was untouched from the stain, so after beginning the wash cycle Harriet flopped silently onto her bare mattress, too tired and irritated to both putting on new sheets.
This summer, she supposed, was not as bad as the others. It had to do in part with her discovery of her godfather, Sirius Black. Sirius was a wanted fugitive of the Wizarding World for the murder of twelve Muggles and the betrayal of the Potters to the Dark Lord Voldemort. He had been framed by a man named Peter Pettigrew, who was the true culprit and betrayer of the Potters but had been in hiding for years under his Animagus form of a rat. Sirius, through a series of events, eventually realized Peter Pettigrew was still alive and near his goddaughter and had escaped the wizarding prison of Azkaban in search of Peter Pettigrew.
Harry knew that her godfather was innocent of all his alleged crimes, but that didn't mean that her extended family had to know. When she entered Privet Drive that summer, she lightly added to her Uncle's tremendous list of rules and regulations, "You know, I'm going to have to send Hedwig out sometime."
"You will not send that ruddy bird out!" Her uncle had exclaimed.
"Well, dearest Uncle, I just have to inform my godfather Sirius Black that I am safe, happy, and well cared for," Harry had replied, her emerald eyes gleaming in laughter, "Otherwise, well I don't want to think about what he'd do to the people that would restrict access to his goddaughter."
Her aunt and uncle turned precisely the same shade as old milk, and Harry went upstairs whilst her uncle spluttered indignantly, and her aunt tried to calm him down.
Since that day, Harry had been able to send and receive letters with her best friends and Sirius, although his letters were always brought to her with the indigenous birds from the country he was hiding in. The last letter he sent had been carried by a large toucan with an even larger beak, its color brightening up the room and frightening Hedwig. Her aunt burdened her with a lesser number of chores (Mainly yardwork and cleaning around the house; cooking has now become Petunia's domain) and Dudley's gang of goons avoided her like the plague.
Mainly, her days consisted of waking up, avoiding her Aunt's scrutinizing glare, completing her chore list with minimal complaining, and then exploring Privet Drive and the rest of Surrey whilst avoiding the questioning and resentful glare from the other residents of Surrey. The neighborhood around her family's house was centered around the idea of uniformity, of showing only the very best and non-threatening image to everyone else until you convince yourself that is all that matters. This did not mesh well with the persona her family heralded around the neighborhood: that she was a vagrant, troublesome child who never obeys authority and is criminally rude and unappreciative. Lately, she had taken a liking to the local library. At Hogwarts, she and Hermione would spend hours within the cavernous library, studying and researching topics. She mainly focused on offensive spells, but Hermione read anything under the sun. The Surrey Public Library did not have any spells of magic, however, so Harry settled on classic fiction novels.
At the present, Harry was currently trying to go back to sleep but was not having any luck. There was a vague pain emanating from her stomach, and she could feel the beginnings of a migraine emerging. Harry took a deep breath, her hands on her stomach, and counted backward from ten. At number three, just as Harry was beginning to relax, a knock resonated on her window.
Her eyes flew open, and the pain in her stomach increased when Harry rapidly shot up from the bed to open the window. Hedwig flew into her small room, accompanied by four other owls, each of whom carried sizeable packages.
"Back so soon girl? You were only gone for a few days," Harry croaked at her snowy owl. Said snowy owl fixed her amber eyes on Harry with a fond shake of her head, before twisting around and pointing her beak at the calendar hanging on the wall across from her bed.
Harry padded across the bedroom floor, her long, delicate fingers skimming the newly arrived birds with fondness. Upon reaching the calendar, she realized exactly what message Hedwig was sending her. It was her birthday today. Not that she would be celebrating it, though, with how the Dursleys tried to forget her existence. For as long as she could remember, Harriet had never truly celebrated her birthday with anything other than a countdown to either school where she could escape the house, or more recently to Hogwarts, where she could return to the wizarding world.
One of the owls, large and tawny in size, had finished recuperating from its long flight and held out the package attached to its foot. Harry slipped it off, and not a moment to soon the bird was gone, disappearing into the night's sky.
The large, brown package was from her best friend Hermione Granger. In her last letter, she had reported in excruciating detail her plans to visit all the magical sites in France whilst her parents were undergoing some sort of science conference on the use of braces in human adults (they were dentists). Harry carefully unwrapped the gift, and nearly groaned at the sight of books before noticing the cover of the first one: Quidditch: The Witches' Sport. But first, Harry opened Hermione's letter before delving into the present.
Happy birthday! I hope this package reached you on time because I had to rent an owl from the local Owlery here in Paris and they said it might be cutting it close! I can't wait until I see you again. We'll have to celebrate your birthday as a group; Ron's been ever so pushing for us both to come and rescue you again. Perhaps we could negotiate with Hagrid on the Ford Anglia?
Anyway, I've gotten you a few books I picked up here in France. The first is about Quidditch; who knew it had such a strong foundation in female players? You know I can't even look at a broom without panicking, but I am all for some girl power! The second is a book describing the importance of soulmates within the Wizarding World and the culture surrounding it. I know you'll get your soul mark(s) today, and I know how nervous you must be right now. Truthfully, when I turned fourteen last September, I spent every day before then researching soulmates, but after I got my mark I couldn't believe how much was not written down about soul marks in the magical world! This was the most extensive book I could find on such short notice for you.
I'll be back in England by the end of next week. Let's meet up at Diagon Alley to get all our school supplies! Call me as soon as you get your marks, or I swear to God Harry I will tell Sirius about second year and have you face his mothering.
Your best friend,
PS. Don't tell Ron about your soul marks until we've figured out who they are. He's got his, and I love him as my soulmate, but he will threaten your soulmate(s) so fast you could barely say 'Ronald Weasley'
PSS. Don't tell Ron I said I love him yet. He still has the emotional range of a teaspoon, and I don't want to frighten him off.
Huh. Harry had forgotten all about her soul mark(s) being revealed today. Since she was a child, Harry had dreamed of having a soulmate that would take her away from the Dursleys to a place where she was loved, where she mattered. She would spend hours in the cupboard under the stairs imagining who her soulmate might be; a Middle Eastern king coming to take her to a palace in the middle of sand dunes, a rich American businessman who could put her high up in a skyscraper like a princess in a tower, a pirating adventurer who would take her on exotic, dangerous adventures around the globe; each of these she dreamed about and more, but as time went on, she realized the ugly truth about soulmates.
Any person can have a soul mark, but that does not mean a true and everlasting soulmate bond will form. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon might seem to be made perfectly for one another, their soul marks on display every chance they got (a salmon Petunia Evans always peaked out from the collar of her uncle's work suit, and a deep maroon Vernon Dursley on Petunia's ring finger) and it was the societal norm within Privet Drive. Harriet grew up with soulmates being constant, but an example of a true relationship was as rare as Harriet getting birthday presents: nonexistent. Her aunt and uncle would constantly argue in the kitchen when Dudley was safely tucked upstairs, but in the cupboard, Harriet would hear every curse word, every threatening message, and each slam against the kitchen cabinets ricocheted through the walls until she covered her ears.
In the magical world, soul marks are treated reverently; created by Magic as a gift, soul marks are living, breathing testimonies of the magical connection between two or more persons. Each mark depicts the name of the soulmate, like nonmagical soul marks, but it also creates a deep, metaphysical connection between each soul. Harry saw this first hand when, in her second year, Mr. Weasley had to calm Mrs. Weasley down through their connection as she yelled at her children for sneaking off with Mr. Weasley's flying car to rescue Harry from her imprisonment at the Dursleys.
Truthfully, Harry had very little hope about who her soulmates could be. Any person in the wizarding world would outside of her inner circle of friends and family would surely utilize her fame for their own gain. The only special thing about her in the wizarding world was the lightning bolt scar on her forehead; her skinny body was drastically undernourished from her many years at the Dursleys, her raven hair was untamable with a brush, her emerald eyes too piercing and unnerving, her body that more of a child than a woman. Turning fourteen, unfortunately, meant most of her classmates were noticing each other physically and compared to other girls in her age group, Harry was all sharp lines and flat skin. Even Hermione was beginning to form shapely curves under her strict adherence to the Hogwarts uniform, as Ron gushed to her one Hogsmeade weekend that Harry would rather forget.
Tucking away her concerns about her figure, or lack thereof, Harry turned towards the most unusual animal resting in her small bedroom: a bald eagle. Harry assumed this meant Sirius was located somewhere in America, although how he managed to convince a bald eagle to carry a package Harry will never know. Harry decided to open the letter first, as she was desperately wanted to hear about Sirius's adventures.
Happy birthday! I can't believe you turn fourteen today! Fourteen years ago, today, James asked me to be your godfather and I fainted right there in the hospital. You were the cutest little babe, Bambi. But how could I be a good father-figure for you? Now that James and Lily aren't here, I guess it falls to me to give you the whole "birds and bees talk" ….
At this, Harry began to laugh. Her godfather was many things, but responsible and mature enough to give a teenage girl "the talk" was not one of them. Besides, Harry had already heard the entire process from Hermione. She skimmed over this rather lengthy explanation, going into explicit detail using euphemisms like "adult naptime" and having the wizard "put on a raincoat" before any "napping" begins. Harry's stomach, already in pain from cramps, was practically screaming at her when she doubled over in laughter, her face reddening in an effort to stop, but ultimately failing in her endeavor.
…and that is how babies are made between a witch and wizard. Merlin, I expect you to burn this letter immediately after reading it. As far as everyone else knows, Remus gave you this talk, capiche?
As it is your fourteenth birthday, I want to tell you something your grandparents told me, and what I wish my parents had the decency to tell me. No matter who your soulmate is, I will never ever judge you. I don't care if you bonded with Draco bloody Malfoy or Snivellus the greasy git himself. Whoever your soulmate is, they will never change who you are and how I feel about you, Harry. I know its tough because I'm on the run from the Ministry, but if I were to be caught today, I would go back to Azkaban happily knowing how happy you are.
Enough with the sappy stuff! Merlin, I feel like Remus. Now it's onto the fun part of being your favorite godfather! PRESENTS! I know I gave you the Firebolt, but I wanted to beat my own record. I've gotten you a book on how to become an Animagus! Read it very carefully, and I want you to begin the exercises in it by the end of the summer. It won't involve using magic, so you shouldn't be bothered by the idiots at the Ministry. Hopefully, by the time you finish the book, I'll be a free man and able to teach you the shortcuts to becoming an Animagus. My next present isn't really a gift at all; really, it's a burden. I went ahead and sent an updated form of my will to Gringotts; I named you as primary recipient and heir to most of my family's wealth. Really, you'll be given a bunch of boring responsibilities like a seat on the Wizengamot and other stocks and properties that I have no business overseeing in the first place.
In case something happens to me, Bambi, I want to make sure you live in the lap of luxury for the rest of your hopefully long and safe lifetime. I mean it, kid. I'm too old to have any kids, plus you're the only kid I have room in my heart for. My last present, I hope, will make up for all this responsibility I'm dumping on you. Hermione was talking to me about the advancements the Muggle world had undergone in the last decade since I explored it. Ever since June, I've been immersed in the Muggle world, and by Merlin's pants can I tell you how absolutely amazing it is! I mean, they have honest to God superheroes now! If I didn't know any better, I would think they had used magic to create this new technology that Stark guy developed. I'd only gone into the Muggle world to spite my parents at first, but then Lily got me hooked on its music and culture and I've been revisiting all my favorites. I got you something called a Stark Phone, which Remus explained to me works like a Floo call but can access this place called the Internet and play songs. I (Read: Remus) downloaded all my favorite music and put in a subscription to have every song known to mankind and beyond downloaded onto it as well.
Enjoy, Bambi! Remus says hello as well, he's recuperating from the full moon earlier this week. Oh, Remus said my 'number' is in that Stark Phone, so you should be able to call me. Do it as soon as you get your soul mark, so I can threateningly call them and act as the aggressively threatening godfather. Maybe I'll use Padfoot to give them a heart attack? Eh, who knows?
Your favorite godfather,
PS: Yes, you read that right. Dumbledore and I have cooked something up to get me free by the end of the summer. You might need to be called in, but I'm trying my hardest to act responsibly and that means not using you to gain my freedom.
Harry had a full grin stretching ear to ear by the end of the letter, and after unwrapping and setting her book on Animagus exercises aside, she grabbed the cell phone. The smooth, cool texture of the phone felt alien in her hands, which were rough from gardening the yard and the chemicals in the cleaning supplies she practically bathed in daily. The screen lit up, the blue light casting shadows across her small room and blinding her. Harry put the phone down, its charger nearby in the packaging.
The third owl was a regular barn owl, and it did not want to remain as a guest in Harry's room. It was glaring intensely at Hedwig, who was innocently pruning her feathers whilst avoiding eye contact with its enemy. Hedwig did not appreciate it when males, no matter the species, acted as though the female populace could not perform the same actions. Harry could just imagine what type of sexist (owlist?) comment the barn owl had chirped before being viciously sky-dived by her indignant snowy owl. After taking the package from the bird, the barn owl shot straight through the window without so much as a goodbye.
The Weasley clan had sent this birthday present. The Weasleys were Harry's favorite wizarding family, and she was excited to see what they were up to during the summer.
Happy fourteenth mate! Mum wanted me to tell you that she's already getting a big party ready to celebrate your soul mark; I wouldn't fight her on this one, mate, I haven't seen her this determined since Ginny tried to hide away after her first year and Mum wouldn't let that happen. She's made you a birthday cake, it's in the package along with your birthday present. She knows the basics of how those Muggles feed you, but I haven't filled her in fully. Just enough to tell you to prepare for feasting like a king (queen?) when you get to the Burrow.
We got you two presents this year, but the second will have to wait until we can come and get you. Dad's boss at the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office got tickets to the Quidditch World Cup and gave them to Dad. We have more than enough for the family, and Mum and I first thought about bringing you and Hermione along because you guys are practically family anyway. We'll just take a Portkey to the site and set up a tent for us all to stay in until the game begins. Maybe you and I can pick up some Quidditch tips for you to practice on the Gryffindor team!
Since you're a part of the family, Mum and Dad decided to make it official. You know the clock in the living room that shows where we are? They added your magical signature to the wards, so a new hand was to it; when you think about it, it's kind of creepy but just know you always have a place here in the Burrow, Harry.
Can't wait to see you! Owl me as soon as you can so we can arrange to get you to the World Cup! Happy birthday again!
Your best mate,
PS: I haven't tried to send anything to our mutually annoying pet dog because of my father. Make sure he knows I'm thinking about him, would you?
PSS: Good luck with your soul mark, mate. If they try anything, owl me and I'll be there with my brothers to beat them up. Plus, if you don't like them you always have me and Hermione.
Harry honestly believed this was the most emotionally sensitive letter Ronald Weasley had ever written. Perhaps his soulmate bond with Hermione was rubbing off on his emotional intelligence. He had been her very best friend, even closer than Hermione if Harry was truly honest with herself. Ron didn't treat her like she was a celebrity; he ragged on her like he did with all his guy friends, and never held back in their chess tournaments, and never pressured her to do anything she didn't want to do. She couldn't wait to go to the Quidditch World Cup, though she never kept up with the professional leagues. Within Hogwarts, only the inter-House competition truly mattered. But Oliver Wood, her captain, would grant her a slow, excruciating death if she went to the World Cup and did not write every single trick and tip down, so Harry decided at least if Ron were there they could split the effort.
Her stomach rumbled again, although for an entirely different reason. At the beginning of the summer, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Dursley had been called to Smeltings Academy where the nurse laid it out in layman's terms: if Dudley did not begin a healthy, balanced diet, even after picking up boxing, his health would rapidly deteriorate and Smeltings would have to let Dudley go. Never one to take a (professional's) opinion, Uncle Vernon had shouted himself hoarse at the nurse before Aunt Petunia had to cut him off using their soulbond and hastily repair relations with the medical professional. The nurse had created a strict dietary schedule that Aunt Petunia decided everyone in the house had to follow. Hence, although Harry was so skinny a weak breeze could knock her down, she found her meals rapidly becoming smaller in size.
The sheer smell of Molly Weasley's cooking caused Harry's mouth to salivate like Pavlov's dogs. Five minutes later, a huge chunk of chocolate cake was safely ensconced in her stomach whilst the rest remained hidden under the hidden floorboard compartment Harry had been using for her school work all summer.
The last avian intruder was a Hogwarts owl, identified by the tag carrying the Hogwarts crest on its leg. It clutched a letter and package like the rest but allowed Harry to stroke its feathers in farewell before chirping to Hedwig and leaving.
Dear Ms. Potter,
Happy fourteenth birthday, my dear. One's birthday is always a most special occasion, especially when one receives their soul marks. It is one of the rare similarities between both wizarding and muggle worlds that today is a rite of passage in a person's life that both Fate and Magic deemed a relationship worthy between two or more persons. Love, as I told you in your first year, is the most powerful magic I have ever encountered. It lives within us, even in our darkest days, it shines the brightest. The soulbond is true love in its purest sense; unfiltered, raw, and life-altering. Alas, your parents are not here to detail their love to you, but I seem to have found myself with a rather intense fondness for you, Ms. Potter, and would happily share my perspective on their soul bond with you.
I would also like to offer my sincere gratitude for helping to save both lives at the end of the school year. Men older and wiser than you would have chosen the easy path, but you decided to choose what was right, and I cannot freely say whether I would have chosen the same when I was your age.
As it seems to be a recurring theme in your Hogwarts years, a new, exciting event will be happening at Hogwarts this year. I will not say what, as I rather enjoy surprises myself, but I will tell you that you will not be involved in the slightest. Now, onto one of the greatest parts of a birthday, the presents. It comes to me that I never reciprocated your generous gifts of socks for these past few Christmases, and it is only fair I offer something of equal or greater value. Ms. Potter, it is my honor to offer to teach you in private lessons at Hogwarts. If you accept, I would be teaching you all that I have studied in all aspects of magic, especially the ancient and disciplined magics I learned through my travels across the world. Do not mistake my light tone, Ms. Potter. It will be incredibly grueling on your magical reserves to practice these magics along with your normal school work. However, I have more than enough faith in your capabilities, and I do not doubt your abilities. Professor McGonagall has informed your other professors and has crafted a schedule for you based on your new requirements. Please send me an owl with your response immediately as I will begin crafting a specialized curriculum.
In an effort to get you started, I have enclosed a book on the magical discipline of Occlumency. In simplified terms, Occlumency is akin to Muggle mind-reading, however, please know that the mind is not a book to be read. It is a deep consciousness where humans, both muggle and magical, reside our most primitive and most complicated processes, where the true essence of ourselves lie. Occlumency will allow you to protect your mind, to divide it up into sections and center your consciousness. You will essentially organize your mind in such a way that you will develop photographic memory, and in some cases will expand your magical reserves. This is only the beginning of what I wish to teach you, Ms. Potter. If you wish to decline my invitation, please at least learn Occlumency; it is not only a useful tool intellectually, but I find that it also allows us to analyze situations without being clouded by emotions.
At the start of the year, after the welcoming feast, please come to my office to discuss these arrangements. Also, I have taken the liberty of finding that Grim you noticed so much last year. Hopefully, you will be able to see it again by the start of the school year. I know it has missed you desperately.
Harry had to read the letter three times before its contents registered in her head. Was Dumbledore close to getting Sirius free? He had mentioned it earlier in his letter, but Harry had assumed Sirius's rather optimistic attitude clouded his judgment. Dumbledore, on the other hand, was someone Harry trusted to be clear and frank with her, if not withholding information because of her age. This reassurance allowed Harry to feel hope blossom, warm and alien, within her heart until it spread to the tips of her fingers.
Plus, Dumbledore himself was going to teach her magic next year. With how much knowledge he had gained over his lifetime, Harry knew she would probably never fully learn everything he could teach her. But she could at least try. Hermione's going to flip when she finds out, Harry thought with a grimace. Harriet wrote a quick letter of thanks and acceptance, hoping she conveyed her gratitude although she was never a good author, she gave the letter to Hedwig and watched her bird fly off into the night sky, the moon illuminating her large and beautiful wingspan.
Dumbledore's book was rather large, its cover a sky blue with the title The Basic Guide to Mind Protection in silver letters over a superimposed image of a castle. Harry could not find the author anywhere on the book's cover and briefly flipped through the pages before giving up.
All in all, Harry concluded, this was the best birthday I'd ever had.
As Privet Drive slept on, still unaware of the unusual girl in their midst, Harry Potter began to doze off. Wrapped in her tatty blankets, on her small, stained mattress, her stomach still cramping, and her body exhausted from the constant manual labor, Harry Potter entered a dream. Later, she would only be able to remember a muggle gardener named Frank, but what happened to him would be lost to her mind forever.
If someone were to be watching Harriet Potter whilst she was sleeping on the morning of her fourteenth birthday, they would have noticed the baggy, ripped pajamas adorning her body like an adult's do a child. They would have noticed her eyelids moving rapidly, her skin burning up with a fever, her hands twitching in response to the dream. And they would have seen, as her movements shoved her sleeves up her arm, the arrival of her soul marks. Adorning each arm, right before her wrist, written lengthwise in elegant handwriting and block letters respectively, Steve Grant Rogers and James Buchannan Barnes were tattooed on Harriet's arms for the rest of her life.