Summary: Harry grows up working on his Aunts Garden and develops a love for it, meeting Samuel and eventually Max, who gives him a Mark of his own. He finds Magic to be a Wonderful Thing. Rating may change later. Warning for language

Quick thanks to eth Guest AloHola94 who commented on my Bloodlines fic on fictionpress… sorry to say that likely won't be updated. It's just a combination of not being in the mood, recognizing that it needs work, and also feeling like I would have to revamp the entire thing to be really interested in it again…

Glad you've enjoyed it though :)

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Chapter 41—Storybook Crush

Once upon a time there was a storybook.

It was old, its pages soft and ragged from indelicate fingertips flipping its pages, and the spine was nearly worn through with age. The pictures inside were amateurish at best, and the story was hardly multifaceted, but the best stories of your childhood hardly ever have adult things in them.

It's a simple story, well loved in its life, and it is at once the best and worst thing to happen to Harry Potter.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

The first day of class, as per tradition, didn't have much learning happening.

There were lots of review sheets handed out, a booklet of refresher material they were to finish before next week, and Harry finished most of it in a daze.

Every time Mrs. Shaw looked his way he felt overly warm and tingly, and he might have been able to finish the entire booklet before then if it weren't for these distractions.

He didn't much mind though.

He did feel a bit irritated that Dudley apparently had her as a teacher the year before, that because of it Mrs. Shaw seemed to be paying a lot of attention to him and his friends, but there wasn't anything Harry could do about it.

His eyes met Mrs. Shaw's, from across the room, and he jerked, hurrying to get back to work.

His face felt ridiculously warm.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

In the storybook, there are flowers of all sizes and shapes; petals in every shade and hue the artist could manage, with delicate hands tending them.

They dig deep into the dirt, until even the drawn wrists are smudged, let roots clutch at fingertips like children to a mother, and the plants thrive.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

At one point, when everyone is mostly focused on their own booklets, Harry looks to Mrs. Shaw at her desk to find that she's absently playing with the petals of the cut flowers at her desk.

He twitches a bit, never really liking the idea of clipping plants only to put them in a vase, and baffled as to why she would go to the trouble and then mangle the petals of the tulips… but then the clouds outside parted and she looked out the window with a smile and Harry forot all about that.

She was beautiful.

His fingers twitched, and he wondered if he would do her justice should he draw her.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

Bare feet flex in grass, flowers flirting at ankles, and strong legs carry you through the story with words and images, laid along side the strong roots of trees and standing tall with the high grasses of the fields. All sorts of animals flit around; twining through legs, tugging at cloth, and the beasts are sheltered.

High above, where hands strain to reach, birds' call down with song, and a wide welcome smile stretches far in response.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

When Dudley and his friends gesture towards him to Mrs. Shaw, Harry knows it's nothing good. Realizes that Dudley might've been telling Mrs. Shaw awful things about him the previous year—was actually very likely considering the look Mrs. Shaw gave him, and felt like just burying himself.

He really didn't like the idea of Mrs. Shaw judging him based on what Dudley said… but had hope that maybe he could change her mind.

He would just have to be extra good.

The heavy feeling in hi chest sunk to his stomach at the sound of Dudley and his friends laughing, and he pursed his lips.

No, he would show that he was good. He could make Mrs. Shaw like him better. All the other teachers liked him better, Harry knew, and he could show Mrs. Shaw that he was the better student, too.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

If asked, you probably wouldn't remember much about what the story is actually about, but you would be able to say for sure that it was a good story.

The plotline isn't fantastic, the art isn't amazing, but on the whole it is a good story.

If you had to guess at what made this Harry Potters favorite book as a child, you might say it's the plants, or all the animals, but you'd be wrong.

No, his favorite part was always the main character, the woman tending the plants and animals.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

About to leave the class for the day, Harry stopped at Mrs. Shaw's desk.

She looked up from the forms she was looking at, the welcoming smile dimming when she saw whom it was. Harry pushed on despite it.

He held out the review booklet, pages filled with his neat writing.
"Sorry, I just finished this today, so I was wondering if I could hand it in early…?"

Harry felt sure this would make some of what Dudley said about him seem better. He finished his work early, see? All his other teachers seemed happy when that happened.

The corner of her mouth twitched, but it wasn't a smile. She didn't look terribly happy. She took the book from him, flipping through the pages, and gave him a blank look.

"Well? Did you want a pat on the back then?"

Harry flushed, and his stomach twisted. "Um, no, I just wanted—"

Her sigh cut him off. She set his booklet down with a resigned air.

"Okay, look. I've been told what to expect from you form other teachers, and really it's fantastic what you've shown them. But know that I'm not nearly so gullible." She raised her eyebrows at him and tapped her fingers on the cover of the review booklet.

"I don't condone tattling or suck ups in my class, and when I say that I want something to be finished by the end of the week, I expect it to be handed in along with everyone else. Do you understand me?"

Harry wished he could go bury himself now more than ever, but nodded.

She sat back in her chair and looked at him for a long moment.

"I'll take this now, but none of this in the future. Now go on, I'll see you in class tomorrow."

Harry nodded again, words stuck somewhere in his throat and making it harder to breathe, and left.

Dudley was already gone with Uncle Vernon, of course, so he took a minute to himself to sit at the base of the tree in front of the school.

Sat, head between his knees, and breathed.

He'd never—he just hadn't—

He sighed, long and hard, and thought that this year might be more difficult than he'd imagined.

.-~-~-~~-~-~

Looking at the woman, things might be understood a little better.

Looking at the story itself, many things just make sense.

But looking at the woman in the book, with her wild curls, wide mouth, and smiling eyes, well it's difficult to see why admiring a character in a book might have worse consequences for the future.

After all, it's just a story right?

.-~-~-~~-~-~

.-~-~-~~-~-~.

Yes, I know it's short, but if the end of last chapter was the hop to the next story arc, this is the skip, and next chapter will be the jump.

Hop, skip, jump, okay? Yeah. Okay.

Hope you all enjoyed :D

~Doodled93~