Yup, Lily's blood wards are now an actual character. This just wouldn't leave me alone.
The Love had been woven in whispers and lullabies. It had grown from kisses, promises and the dream of a family forever united. It was everything Lily had to give, and it urged her to give more, so it could fulfill its mission.
The Love was Harry and James and Lily together.
The killing curse, a green streak of magic with twin goals : stake the victim's magical core and silence their minds, from the surface thoughts to the unconscious orders to keep one's heart beating.
The Love was too far. The binding incomplete. James, the Husband, the Father, was lost.
The Love was out of balance, but immediately found a new purpose. The Love was Harry and Lily together.
"Avada Kedavra!" A high pitched voice. A man shrouded in a darkness fed with anger, a fury too intense for a sane mind, and streaks of fear. The Enemy.
The Love pierced and tore. Lily screamed and fell. The Love, battered but holding, could still save her.
The fear in the Enemy's darkness pulsed louder as the man turned up Harry. "Avada Kedavra!"
Harry. A magical core so tiny, so fragile. With everything to become.
The Love couldn't draw strength from Harry's magic like it could from Lily's. The Enemy's curse couldn't be allowed to strike.
So the Love became mirror. Godric's Hollow exploded.
The tattered remains of the Love tried to fulfill its mission. Harry and Lily together.
Lily's body lay sprawled on the debris covered floor. Lily's magical core was a thousand fragments. Lily's mind flickered, thoughts barely able to form.
The Love was too battered. It had to choose.
Harry. Nothing mattered but Harry.
The Love, pulsing with purpose, drained the last of Lily's magic and bound itself (no, herself, the Love was a mother now) to the screaming infant. His blood, his mind, his magic.
The Love was Harry living.
Lily Potter died knowing her son would survive.
Harry was taken, wrapped in new clothes, moved.
The Love paid no attention. Something was wrong. Something was here.
Something foreign. Another darkness. The darkness concealed a shard of something-that-shouldn't-be. Something of the Enemy.
The Horcrux, broken off the Whole (well, as much as it had been whole) during the split second where Voldemort's triumph morphed into terror, had one purpose : return, find the Whole.
The Horcrux reached for Harry's magical core.
The Love, too depleted to destroy it, wrapped around instead, stifling it. Harry was hers.
"Freak! Never do anything freakish like this again!"
Harry cried (silently, he'd learned to be very silent) in his cupboard. He turned inwards, willing himself to change. To not be a freak who did freakish things. To be more like Dudley. To be worthy of love.
The Love watched in horror, at his core dimmed. An experienced mediwitch could have named the event : the first symptom of the condition called blocking. Denial of one's magic. Ariana Dumbledore had had a form of it.
Harry was four years old and his core was stronger than when he'd been a 15-months-old baby, but there was still little the Love could use without crippling her Harry forever. Holding the Horcrux at bay left her with few resources.
She had tried to find more magic, slipping into the Aunt's blood, recognizing its familiarity. The love that once-had-been. But the Aunt's was only a core that could-have-been.
No! The Love wailed as Harry unwittingly tore at himself.
No! The Horcrux agreed, surprising the Love.
For the first time, the Love considered the Horcrux as something other than a shard of the Enemy.
The Horcrux couldn't sense the Whole. It had been alone for years. Taking over this host would have already been a challenge without the Love. The Love had made it impossible. The Horcrux could not survive on its own. So, for now, the Host was his too.
The Host couldn't be allowed to lose his magic. Magic was power. Magic was everything.
Standing with his little hands pressed against the cupboard door, in a desperate plea for someone to open it and rescue him, Harry suddenly winced.
He rubbed his scar. The scar which hurt so much in his worst nightmares but that he couldn't actually remember hurting since he'd lived at the Dursleys.
The Love had decided to let the Horcrux through. Just a little, just enough to leave her strength enough for this. She was satisfied to see that the Horcrux used its freedom to assist her.
It took a few days, but the suffocating weight in Harry's lungs slowly grew lighter.
A freak. Yes, he was a freak. But now, somehow, deep down, he knew he couldn't stop the freaky things. When they would happen, he thought of Petunia, of Vernon, of hunger and loneliness. But he didn't turn inwards with self-loathing.
The Love wouldn't allow it.
With less of the Horcrux to contain, the Love could turn her magic on Harry. It wasn't enough to undo the damage the Dursleys were causing, but enough to send him dreams.
Harry rarely remembered the dreams. Sometimes he would wake up in tears, filled with longing. Often he would wake up oddly at peace, or even with a smile, before he remembered where he was.
Children, told over and over they're worthless and little else, sometimes want to disappear. The Love and the Horcrux, mortal enemies turned unlikely allies in face of the threat that was the Dursleys, never let Harry's darkest thoughts take root.
The Love couldn't make up for a living mother's love. But she could help Harry go on and cling to hope.
The Horcrux was a shard of a man-turned-monster that had never doubted his own self-worth. Wishing one's own death was too ridiculous a thing to contemplate.
And so Harry, somehow, deep down, always knew there was more wrong with the Dursleys than with himself.
The Horcrux wanted the Dursleys dead. The Love's magic did not work that way. The Horcrux nudged her, let me, let me! It would have meant letting it pour anger in Harry's heart, letting it whisper in Harry's mind. In those moments, the Love fought the Horcrux.
He would not change her Harry.
It would keep him safe ! The Horcrux argued.
But the Love refused to be swayed. The Enemy's darkness had been rage and fear. He knew nothing of love.
The Love protected Harry through other means. Day after day, year after year, she made the Dursleys' house hers. It wasn't quite home, but along with the Aunt, it was all they had. The Aunt loved the house, and it helped, a little.
When witches and wizards came near Privet Drive, the Love could taste their magic. Petunia never realized her sixth sense in those occasions was a nudge from her sister's semi-sentient blood ward.
Petunia would call the cops, afraid for Dudley. The Love could not make the Aunt feel for Harry, whatever love there may have been was buried too deep in jealousy, pain and unacknowledged dissatisfaction in her own life. But Dudley ? Oh yes. Petunia's love burned fiercely, and this the Love could draw on.
In those moments, Petunia was of a rare eloquence, and always found the right words to get the police to come fast. The intruders found themselves oddly indecisive and dazed, and very much breaching the Statute of Secrecy when they disapparated in a panic at the sight of uniformed muggles jumping out of their cars.
The Statute of Secrecy was enforced thanks to a net of wards that notified the Ministry every time a muggle adult learned of magic (including children made the wards too prone to false alarms). It was one of the most impressive magics of wizarding history, one of the few instances of widespread international cooperation. It informed of time and location, and a rough sense of the amount of magic being performed.
It made wizards dating muggles complicated (not that that wasn't intentional), tended to screw over muggleborn families (what didn't?), but in these particular instances, sent annoyed aurors after the intruders.
Every one of them figured it had just been a case of failed muggle baiting. It wasn't an unreasonable explanation, and the one the Love pushed in their minds, her magic pulsing all around Number Four Privet Drive.
Perhaps one of them, had they learned the truth, could have helped Harry. But The Love didn't trust others. She had been crafted under threat of murder. Living with the Dursleys did little to mollify her.
The Horcrux was no help on that front. It hated everybody.
Neglected children sometimes grew up unable to form bonds. Harry, the moment he met a boy willing to accept his love and return it, realized he'd never forgotten how to give it.
As Harry and Ron played Harry's first ever game of exploding snap. The Love felt a sense of mission accomplished. The Horcrux was disappointed by the lack of dark seeping from the red-haired boy. But at least there was magic. Not that the Love let its opinion matter anyway.
When Harry had his first potions class, the Love sang in thrilled recognition. Harry's eyes shone with interest as he wrote down every word of Professor Snape's speech, and he had pretty much decided by the third line that Potions might yet be his favorite subject. That particular feeling was very much dead by the time the period was over. The Love was so disappointed she slipped.
The Horcrux dived into the breach, morphing the boy's shock and sense of unfairness into the first seeds of a deep-rooted hate. It wasn't hard for the Horcrux : the Love's enthusiasm had echoed through Harry, making him feel inexplicably betrayed by Snape's hostility. The hate grew then organically, by the virtue of Snape being a mess of unresolved issues and Harry expecting nothing less but the worst from the man.
The next time, with Remus Lupin, the Love was more cautious. She could have nudged Harry towards the once-dear-to-Lily-and-James man as soon as he came to Hogwarts, but she decided to let the man take the lead. Unfortunately, Remus, too used to being rejected, unwanted, unneeded, did not see that trying a little harder could have made him just as important to Harry as Sirius.
When Quirrell's hands touched Harry, the Horcrux crowed in triumph. Mine! Mine! Mine!
But the Horcrux was a very angry vulture trying to vanquish a very protective griffin. The Enemy. The Love roared alive.
Had Harry grown up among magicals, had he grown up dark, maybe he'd have realized the well of power surging inside him for what it was.
Instead, he later figured the sudden weird feeling must have been adrenaline. Or maybe accidental magic. He decided three days' unconsciousness was probably a reasonable amount of recovery time for having battled Voldemort.
He had just wanted Quirrell-Voldemort off him. His most visceral memory of things that made you want to not touch was Aunt's Petunia burning frying pan. It had left blisters on his skin despite barely brushing him. Harry didn't have to consciously think of it: the Love remembered.
Quirrell burned. He had no face left by the time he died.
Harry never really thought about that too hard. Not even enough to reveal Thestrals to him. The Love didn't let him. She forced his heart and mind in another direction, one Harry wasn't unhappy to take.
"It was your mother's love that stopped Quirrell from touching you," Dumbledore had told the boy.
Harry was ignorant of magic and the magical world. Harry was under threat. Harry had barely begun to grow into his power.
But Harry had friends. Harry had a home. Harry knew, not just suspected, nudged by the Love's dreams, but knew, with his whole heart and mind, that Lily had loved him more than anything.
The Love was very happy with their first year at Hogwarts.
The Horcrux was conflicted, but it drew a sick satisfaction, rooted in competitiveness, at having destroyed the Whole's host. Power was paramount, and look at how Quirrell had burned.
Okay, I'm pretty sure the story's complete now :D. Unless you guys feel more needs to be said ? I'd be thrilled to hear your thoughts.
I didn't want to make Lily's love too powerful (or it wouldn't fit with canon), but also believe that Harry turned out relatively well-adjusted considering how neglected he was, so this was an explanation that made sense to me. Also, I like the idea that the protective wards around Privet Drive aren't a lie, because Dumbledore's more fun when he's an ambiguous character.