Skull smiled as he watched the tenth-generation step into the time machine. He could feel the radiation eating away at his lifeforce once again; the others were also hiding the pain as they bid farewell to the teens. No one wanted to let on that while Yuni's sacrifice had resurrected them, it hadn't taken the radiation from the air.
Lal gripped Colonello close to her chest as she smiled and waved, the corners of her mouth quivering. He could see Fon hugging I-pin to his chest and could feel her flames flicker in confusion.
Skull saw this and knew that he could not bear to feel them die, one after the other, all over again. He focused his magic and pressed it towards the others, coiling it around the Arcobaleno like his Animagus form.
Skull carefully looked around and saw that they were confused at the lessening pain but hadn't noticed the magic. He grinned under his helmet and basked in the knowledge that they would just assume that the poison had dissipated or something. His fellow elements could be painfully blind when they wanted to be.
He turned his attention to the big-ass time machine and flailed his arm at the miraculous teens.
"THE GREAT SKULL-SAMA WISHES YOU AN AWESOME JOURNEY!" he yelled obnoxiously as he jumped around madly.
"Shut up lackey!" Reborn said whilst kicking him in the face. Skull let out a loud 'ack' and pouted from the floor.
"Sempai, you're so mean :'(" He wailed in Reborn's direction but smiled as he felt the sun flames filter through his helmet and start healing the pain. Reborn was such a tsundere, it was adorable. Reborn hadn't hurt him for years now, every kick or punch loaded with enough sun flames to heal any problems in his system. It was the only way that Reborn knew how to help without losing his sadist reputation.
Skull bet if Reborn and Lal had a tsun-off that Reborn would win hands down; the one time he had mentioned that to Colonello it had sparked a week-long secret-feud that had confused the other Arcobaleno to no end (he was totally right, Colonello just deludes himself with the idea that Lal was more tsun that Reborn!).
The time machine (literally that was sooo much cooler than time turners, like omg) started to boot up and Skull resisted the urge to shake Shoichi until he coughed up the schematics. He and Verde could totally tag-team and make a badass magic/tech version or something… granted that would involve telling him about magic, ugh.
Skull sighed and watched as the tenth gen disappeared into the aether. There was an eerie silence as everyone waited for the adult versions to appear.
"Umm, oh god, something seems to have gone wrong. Heh, oh my gosh, what did I expect, I'm a fucking idiot of course something went wrong!" Shoichi mumbled hysterically whilst tapping buttons. People started to shift around, and unease started to pervade the atmosphere.
As the tension started to hit a peak, Skull felt it.
There was no time to act as Harry felt a fluctuation of something ripping through the room and making the very fabric of existence shatter.
Harry tried to grasp for the Arcobaleno and felt slight relief as he could feel his magic still coiled protectively around each of them.
Then he felt nothing at all, the rift pulling the paradoxical timeline into shreds.
Skull groaned and attempted to roll over on his bed, a seemingly random wall stopped his endeavour and pulled him up short. He didn't have a wall anywhere near his bed.
Prying his eyes open, he stared at the single lightbulb mocking him. His mind slowly started to come on board as he shot up and looked around frantically.
It was the cupboard.
He tried to regulate his breathing as the back of his throat tightened. It must be a mist illusion, he thought to himself; they didn't have to be about solid visions, the strongest mist users could call upon your worst nightmares without knowing them themselves.
Had he pissed off Viper? He didn't think so.
Had someone placed a hit on him again? Maybe he had been captured and they were using illusions to break down his barriers to harmonisation?
Harry tried to pulse his flames and all he could feel was his magic, the absence of his flames almost overshadowed by the almost overflowing magic.
"What?" He muttered in a far-too-high voice. He froze, his hand coming up to press at his throat as the situation started to become far too real.
Even as an Arcobaleno his voice had never changed; Reborn was the only one who got the child's voice.
He could feel his magic rising to action, burning just beneath his skin. It felt pure and uncorrupted, his magic hadn't felt so clean since fourth year when he'd started getting visions from Voldemort. The final nail in the coffin for his magic had been the slow corruption of the pacifier, he had been rendered incapable of casting wand-related spells entirely.
Pressing a hand against the splintering wood door, he cast a silent 'Alohomora' and slipped out the cupboard. Harry stared in horror at the moonlit corridor of his childhood, every painting and shitty porcelain figurine in their places.
He walked deliriously towards the downstairs bathroom, automatically walking with an assassin's grace. The house was silent and still, the only sound being Vernon's loud snoring interrupted occasionally by the cawing of birds.
Harry cast a silencing charm on the creaky bathroom door before walking inside, the ease of the spell a small respite from the panic that clawed at his throat.
Flicking on the light, he stared unseeingly at the full-length mirror. His four-year-old visage standing frozen reflected at him.
And that was the point that Skull the immortal was fully suppressed for Harry the traumatised child-soldier to appear.
"No. Nonononono. It can't. I can't. Not again. Fuck." Harry felt a full-blown panic attack bear down on him, constricting his throat and making dread pool in his stomach. Images of all the people he'd lost, everything he'd only just managed to survive, flicked through his vision and he just couldn't deal with that again.
Tears started to roll down his eyes as his gasps turned into sobs and he started to drown under the memories.
"Harry? How on earth did you manage to get out of your room?" he froze in fear as Petunia's voice filtered in through the doorway. He looked up from where he had collapsed and tried to suppress the overwhelming despair as he realised he had fourteen more years of neglect and abuse to suffer through.
When his eyes locked with Petunia he could feel himself lose control of his Metamorphmagus ability and she felt her hair grow to her back and body shift into a lighter, more delicate form. Petunia stilled completely, eyes widening in a mask of horrified realisation. Her arms had wrapped around her before Harry could've even started to process; confusion filled her, and she tried not to do anything to evoke Petunia's wrath.
"Oh Lily, I'm so sorry." Harry bit her lip as she shook. The first time she had managed a gender shift in her last life, Ron had stared at her with the most disgusted face she had ever seen "Dudes aren't meant to turn into chicks mate; that's revolting!" she had never tried it again purposely, but strong emotions brought involuntary shifts.
(An involuntary shift was part of the reason Viper and Skull got along so well. Apparently, having an emotional meltdown and switching genders in the middle of your non-binary acquaintance's room was a pretty good basis for a friendship. Skull was pretty sure that Viper thought she had a mist secondary though, not the whole Metamorphmagus thing.)
Harry squidged her eyes shut and just tried to just enjoy the hug; even if her aunt would make her life hell later for doing such a 'freakish' thing, she was touch-starved and hysterical, and the hug was really quite good. She started to sob into her aunt's chest and was rewarded by a gentle hand rubbing at her back.
She cried for a while, despair and disbelief swirling in her head with denial not too far behind. For some reason Petunia didn't leave or throw her back in her cupboard, she just stayed and comforted Harry. At some point, she thought that she felt tears against her neck, but she dismissed that as ridiculous.
Once her tears had dried up and the panic had given into resignation, she just felt tired. Harry started to pull away, gentle hands come to cup her face and she found herself staring into the red-rimmed eyes of her aunt.
"Aunt Petunia?" Petunia smiled sadly at her, her eyes glistening.
"I am sorry." Harry froze, what? Why would her aunt be apologising, she was meant to be cursing her freakishness, not apologising. "I'm sorry that my jealousy caused me to be blind to the suffering we inflicted." A flash of understanding pulsed through Harry's mind and she realised what time she had been landed into. Her hand slipped to press against the slowly forming bruise against her cheek and memories of the first time Vernon had hit her, skimmed across her eyes.
"I can't believe that I let it get this bad. I should have realised what I was doing years ago, but that would've required admitting my sister was dead and I just couldn't do that. I'm so sorry." Harry didn't know what to feel. In her future, Petunia had been stuck in her ways for so long that by the time Harry had called her up on it, she had just buried her head in the sand and justified herself with 'freakishness' as an excuse.
This Petunia had only just had a child foisted on her and the only true crimes she had committed were making her room a cupboard and recently allowing Vernon to hit her when she had accidentally broken a plate. From her original memory, she could recall how Petunia had tiptoed around her for months after it and she had gotten into disputes with Vernon over it; of course, she had changed her tune when Harry had started to show accidental magic.
Harry was broken from her thoughts by a hand carding through her hair.
"You look almost identical to your mother like that. The hair colour is wrong but other than that you're practically her clone." Harry turned around to look in the mirror at her face and saw that Petunia was right, she had never stayed in female form long enough to see her reflection before. She idly noticed that her face structure changed slightly when she was female, the features mirroring her mothers, excepting a strange noble accent that must have come from her dad's side.
The light coming up on the horizon startled her from her curious examination of her face. Petunia noticed her worry and ruffled her hair.
"It might take a while for Vernon to warm up to you, but he will eventually and if he doesn't I'll set him straight!" Petunia's eyes briefly shone yellow with her determination and Harry stared bug-eyed at her, she, however, did not notice. "Can you transform back? I think having a magically genderfluid child might be a bit much for now, maybe after he's warmed up to you a bit more; we've always wanted a girl anyway."
Harry blinked and shifted her body back, eyes flicking to the mirror to watch how he changed. The idea of not having to starve and spend the next fourteen years battered and beaten was really, really good, though Skull didn't believe that such a thing would happen.
The idea of being able to freely use his Metamorphmagus abilities, though. Harry didn't know how he felt about that. He never purposefully used them, but, it had felt right then. He didn't feel anything like gender dysphoria like Viper and Lussuria had talked about, he felt just as right as a girl as he did a boy. The only reason he never used it was the image of Ron staring disgusted at him; it felt like a betrayal to his memory, to do something that he had so powerfully hated.
But, in this life, Ron was still alive, and if he wanted to change gender he would change his gender, fuck the consequences. He allowed a small smile to appear on his face and looked up at his aunt.
Erm, so I started a new series. You can really tell why this is in a folder called 'I really need to stop following the bunnies' can't you.
Anyway, genderfluid!Skull!Harry, I've had this headcanon bumping around in my head for literally years and I finally decided to start to write it.
Magical Arcobaleno: because apparently pumping magic into people during an implosion of the time stream clearly gives people magical powers. (its going to be hilarious, the Arco are just like 'I did this shit before, I can do this shit again!' then they turn eleven and get invited to their respective magical schools)
Fon/Skull: way later, like wayyyyyy later. But, I love Fon the fluffy bean and the Arco would all be so confused when Skull turns into a really attractive girl in front of them (minus Viper).
Harry being a badass heir/heiress: and all the social networking/fearsome reputation that incurs
Good Malfoys (or at least good Narcissa & Draco, I don't really care about Lucious): part of the last trope, but Harry/Hari would have an adorable sibling relationship with Draco. They would be the platonic King and Queen of Slytherin with Blaise being the Royal adviser or some shit.
Luna: just being Luna, what more could you want?
Decent Dursleys: while Petunia has gotten a metaphorical bitch-slap about her behaviour; Vernon would just like the 'normality' of having one male and one 'female' child; Dudley is just so confused why his cousin is sometime male and sometimes female, why can't he do that?
IDK about other stuff, if you guys want to give me ideas or elaborate on some of the previously posted ideas, I would love to hear them :).
This was so bloody self-indulgent though, it's just like 'I'll add a bit of that headcanon' and 'ohh, that would be fun let's add that'. I hope you guys enjoyed it and I will work hard to contribute to the still-too-small collection of Skull-centric fics out there.