It was dark. It was always dark for some reason. Why does it always start with darkness? A thought drifted through his brain with a disgusting amount of bitterness and pain. Because darkness came before all. A thought drifted back in a voice that was not his own. The thought confused him for it was not the kind of thought he would have had; ever. His thoughts tended to lean towards bitter resentment and vengeful anger. It had been a long, long time since he had even the remotest of wise thoughts. That was how he knew the thought did not belong to him. Or maybe it did belong to him, just that part of him that had died so very long ago, long before he had even received his Hogwarts letter.
Why do you fight this? The voice questioned into the silence that followed its previous statement.
Fight what? He asked, confusion thick in his voice.
Your choice. The voice responded, as if it should have been obvious.
What choice? He asked, a hint of annoyance creeping into his voice. I don't even know where I am.
The voice seemed to sigh in a fed up manner before falling silent, leaving him to drift through the dark alone. Alone, save for his bitter thoughts and plans for a revenge he would never have.
Harry James Potter snapped his eyes open at the sound of his Aunt Petunia hollering his name and demanding him to go and fix breakfast. He stared at the ceiling for one brief moment, contemplating the oddity of the dream he had just had, one where he had been floating through nothing but darkness with a strange voice that asked even stranger questions. Not wanting to risk his aunt's ire, Harry shook his head out of his thoughts and quickly bustled his way out of his cupboard. Petunia barely acknowledged his presence as he swiftly stepped into the kitchen and started pulling out the pots and pans necessary to cook breakfast.
Acknowledging her instructions on what to cook that morning with a polite 'yes aunt Petunia', Harry went about cooking, mostly on autopilot. He had a weird feeling creeping up on him and he had no idea what it was or could be. It was like a chill that was slowly racing its way up and down his spine several times but at the same time it was nothing like that. His scalp prickled uncomfortably; though he refused to allow it to show in either his actions, in-actions, or otherwise outwardly reveal that anything was out of the ordinary in the Dursley household... well, out of the ordinary of what he considered his regular life.
Far be from what people thought of him, Harry was far from stupid, in either academics or real life. He knew the way the Dursleys treated him was not the way normal families treated their children. He knew it was abuse to say the least, having read the term in a dictionary in the library at primary school during recess. Not fully understanding the dictionary definition, Harry had gone to one of the few school computers that the school had and looked up instances of abuse. What he had found described his home life almost to perfection. When it had finally settled in that he was being abused, Harry had contemplated going to a teacher or someone to report his abuse but he knew that doing so would incur an inquiry, which meant someone would be talking to his Aunt and Uncle. Since there was no real proof of his abuse, Harry wanted nothing of the sort, knowing that he would likely receive one of the worst beatings of his life, likely several of them.
"Get the mail boy!" Uncle Vernon snapped just as Harry was setting the pots and pans in the sink after laying out all the plates full of food on the table for Vernon, Dudley, and Petunia. None for him. He barely managed to pick at the food he was cooking so he would have something to get through the day.
"Yes uncle Vernon," Harry said obediently as he finished setting the pots down and left the kitchen. Harry calmly marched over to the door, ignoring the strange sensations creeping up and down his spine as it grew worse, and picked up the mail. He started flipping through the mail, for what reason he had no idea since he never had any mail, as he turned and started back towards the kitchen. His heart practically stopped dead when he came to a letter that had his name written on it in neat black ink, oddly listing his bedroom as part of his address.
Still functioning on autopilot, Harry continued into the kitchen, now completely blind to the odd feeling he was having, handed Vernon the mail aside from his letter, and moved off to the side around the table. His attention focused on the letter in his hand, Harry did not notice the watchful eyes of his cousin, nor the ever growing sensation running throughout his body. He slipped his disbelieving finger beneath the wax seal and was seconds away from opening it before it was ripped from his grasp. He would have fought, would have protested, would have turned to face his so called family while simultaneously preparing for a beating. Harry would have done all of this if it had not been for the shocking, staggering, and overwhelming sense of déjà vu that had slammed into the forefront of his brain.
It was not any sort of normal déjà vu. Not the kind of vague sense that he had seen something similar to this situation before, the kind that one could barely recall, like a dream of a dream of a situation. This was a clear recollection of this exact situation that slammed into his brain. Harry clearly recalled being in this exact spot, at this exact moment, in this exact house, in this exact kitchen, surrounded by these exact people, all gawking at that exact same letter. It was too eerie for words, too strange of a thing for his thoughts to comprehend.
Then, in the space of one, single, solitary beat of his heart, his brain did something even stranger than the déjà vu. The best way he could have described it, which was still a very poor way in his mind, was that his brain had shifted. Like it had woken up briefly and shifted positions before lying still once more. Within the span of a secondary heartbeat, a rush of images, sounds, smells, thoughts, expressions, and sensations flared into his mind. They all went by inexorably fast, too fast for him to try and witness it all. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, he did not have to try to process everything that moved through his mind. He already knew what they were. Memories. They were the memories of the life he lived before... before... what? He could not remember that part.
The memory hit him like a sack of rocks to the head. He had lived to be over a hundred and fifty, almost a hundred and sixty years old. The war with Voldemort had not gone as planned, well not planned parse but certainly not the way anyone had expected on either side. Voldemort had returned and expected to be able to immediately conquer everything and anything he desired while Dumbledore had this insane notion that Harry, as no more than a teenager, would defeat the madman in a matter of months, a year tops, and save the entire wizarding world. That had not happened. Dumbledore had died just before the end of Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts and Harry had been forced to go on the run with his two best friends... or what he thought to be his two best friends but turned out to be one best friend and one traitorous pest he would sooner see dead at his feet than speak to again. Harry had then spent the next century and a half doing everything within his power to take down the Dark Lord before he finally fell to a cutting curse that managed to nick his carotid. He bled out in seconds. Next thing he knew, he was standing here, back in this blasted kitchen that he so loathed.
"Boy!" came a familiar bark from a familiar voice that Harry had thoroughly suppressed from his mind decades, to him, ago. Slowly, almost as if his neck were made of stone, Harry turned and raised his head towards his uncle, revealing cheeks stained with blood as he bled from the eyes at the sudden and painful influx of information that had suddenly taken up residence in his brain. Harry glared a glare that had more than once sent Severus Snape running from the room (walking really but for Snape, it was running) and the Dursleys all paled, though Petunia curled her nose at the sight of the blood on his face.
"Mine," Harry practically growled out as he stretched out a hand. The letter came flying back into his palm, resting quaintly there, as if it had never been ripped away. Harry was beyond unhappy. He had no idea how or why he had ended up way back here in the past in his eleven year old body. The last thing he could clearly remember was grasping at his neck and fighting for air and to stay conscious.
"How dare you!" Vernon started to bellow. He didn't speak again.
The table in the middle of the room snapped into several pieces. A leg rose up and rendered the fat tub of lard unconscious before he could say more than those three words that Harry would not stand to hear directed at him from the mouth of man he had come to loath more than Voldemort or at least as much. Petunia screech but it was cut off but a well-placed stunner that came flying from Harry's right hand. He did not bother to cast a spell at Dudley. The boy had fainted seconds after his father fell. He did, however, cast a spell over the entire scene to keep everyone in the room unconscious until he returned. There were things that needed tending to, things only he could tend.
After a quick trip to the bathroom to ensure his appearance was up to his standards, as much as they could be at the moment anyways, and promptly trashing his glasses and fixing his eyesight with a simple spell, Harry vanished with a slight pop. Moments later he reappeared at the entrance to Diagon Alley. Not missing a single beat, Harry strode from the Apparition point and marched down the winding path towards Gringotts. He glared death at anyone who dared to look at him too closely, causing several shoppers and shop keeps scattering out of his path. Harry was still processing the fact that he was somehow back in 1991, the year he went to Hogwarts for the first time, but one thing that had almost always stayed constant throughout his life was the fame. He detested his fame and had master the art of glaring in his mid-twenties when some fool witches and wizards had attempted to crowd him in an attempt to simply be near him. So he was eleven again? The glares worked just as well.
"I need to speak with you." Harry said in the harsh rasping language of the goblins when he had strode through the bank doors and up to a very specific goblin. Not giving the goblin any time to think or respond, something he had counted on by speaking the creatures native tongue, which he had finally mastered after his fiftieth birthday. "My name is Harry Potter. I understand that I might be coming off as rude or abrasive and I apologize but time is very short for me and I must act before my movements have been noted by certain people. I need to get into two of my vaults and have Albus Dumbledore stripped of his access to the Potter vaults as he has been unlawfully stealing money from me."
"You are a very strange little wizard," the goblin, Morick by name if Harry recalled correctly. He stared down at Harry with a strange look on his face. Unfazed, Harry gazed back, a scowl permanently lodged between his eyeballs. "What, pray tell, makes you think we would comply with your demands?"
"Because if you don't, the entire wizarding world will know that the goblins have secreted away a hoard of treasure that they gained from several vaults over the centuries," Harry said, going straight for the jugular as was his instinct from both battle and verbal warfare with several witches and wizards that thought to contradict him simply because they were younger and thought they knew better than he, or vice versa. He smirked when he saw the goblin's jaw hit the floor and eyes bulge out of his sockets.
"Wh-which... vaults did you say?" Morick stammered in a shocked whisper. He obviously could not believe that Harry, a seemingly eleven year old boy wizard had discovered the goblins greatest secret. Harry had not known that the goblins were doing what they were doing until the bank had been leveled in a raid and the massive hoard had been discovered in the after math a mere two months before Harry had died, or thought he died. He still had not figured that part out yet.
"My trust fund vault so I may get galleons for my shopping and the Lestrange family vault." Harry said, switching to English so his throat did not burst from the harsh rasping language he had been speaking in. "By right, by blood, and by magic, the Lestrange vault belongs to me as there is no living line that can claim it that is not incarcerated." he continued before the goblin could challenge him on his right to access a vault that did not have the Potter name stamped all over it.
"We will have to verify that." Morick said, a slight nervous hitch to his voice as he shifted in his seat.
"As you wish," Harry said, signaling for the goblin to do what was necessary. Morick got up and started to walk off, only to be stopped by Harry speaking up once more. "And Morick. I do expect any... items that might have been removed from any of my vaults over the years to be returned post haste. That includes all vaults that fall under the Potter name."
Morick shifted nervously and audibly gulped before giving a slight bow and quickly walking off to confer with a different goblin. Harry sighed and leaned against the counter he had been standing in front of. He did not think that he could have intimidated the goblin if he had not had that particular little piece of information; indeed, he was surprised that he had managed to get the goblin so entirely off his game. Even before he had ended up... here, the goblin race did little more than acknowledge the fact that he was a very powerful wizard that was fighting to free them all from the tyranny that was Lord Voldemort. Now the creatures, or rather just the one, seemed to actually fear him.
Harry sighed and rubbed at his temples, trying to ease the tension behind his eyes a little. He had a splitting headache (he could only imagine why!) and it was only getting worse the longer he functioned on this level of stress and awareness. But he could not stop to relax. He had no idea what was going on and how it affected the world around him. He wanted to nip several things in the butt as quickly as possible so he could take the time to relax and figure some things out. Namely, whether or not the Ministry was registering his use of magic, though judging by the way Aurors were not flooding the bank trying to apprehend him, Harry assumed that they weren't. Or couldn't. He wasn't sure at the moment.
Morick returned a few moments later with two keys in his hand and nervously gestured for Harry to follow him towards the carts, which did very little in the way of alleviating the pounding in his head. Their first stop had been his trust fund vault, as it was the closest to the surface. Harry tore off a strip of cloth from his shirt and transfigured it into a pouch with a wave of his hand, discretely of course, and started filling it with galleons. When he had enough for everything he needed, Harry moved a little deeper into the vault to a hidden section. He slid aside part of the stone wall and retrieved two thick scrolls, shrunk them down, and placed them into his pocket. His time at the Lestrange vault took far less time than his trip to his trust vault. He simply walked in, grabbed Helga's cup, and walked right back out again, wrapping the damnable thing up in his tattered jacket just so he did not have to have skin contact with the wretched thing any longer than necessary.
When the cart deposited them back on the surface and the goblin assured him that his demands would be met, Harry walked over to a different goblin and exchanged enough galleons to have six hundred pounds of muggle money. Satisfied with his business at the bank, Harry walked from the bank with nary a backward glance, the cup secure in his firm grasp. Harry marched down the street, which had grown slightly more crowded during his time in the bank, and straight into Ollivander's shop. To avoid suspicion with the dotty old man, Harry allowed him to go through most of his stock like before until he thought of the holly and phoenix feather wand. Not allowing the man to go off on a tangent about Voldemort and his supposed greatness, Harry doled out the money and quickly left the shop and then the alley all together.
Deciding to do his shopping at a later date and time, Harry vanished with a small pop in a darkened alley way and returned to the Dursley's. When he did not appear into mass chaos of Aurors and other Ministry officials and that the muggles were still unconscious the way he had left them, Harry went into the living room and sat down on the floor with his back to the couch and just breathed. He took several long moments of just breathing and trying to calm down. With his heart rate at a more sedate pace and his rampant thoughts were under control once again, Harry closed his eyes and delved into his mind, entering a deep meditative state.
The first thing he did was assess his Occlumency shields. He had finally learned the art well into his thirties. He frowned when he saw that they were torn and tattered, almost to the point of nonexistence. Harry assumed that the transfer and melding of his eleven year old self and his one hundred and sixty year old self had taken its toll on both his mind and his shields. With a heavy sigh, Harry set about coaxing what was left of his old shields together and into a cohesive whole, however small they may be. He then went about building more, newer shields that were thick and strong and melded with the little remains from his old ones.
When his mind was well and truly guarded by several layers of thick steel walls, Harry retreated from his outer walls and back into his mental landscape. His landscape, the one he had before all this happened, was a replica of Hogwarts but with his own little twist. On the whole, it looked mostly like Hogwarts did but there were more towers and the dungeons were by far, way more complex than they were in reality. The moving staircase that led to the multiple floors of the castle were more numerous and moved far more often, though they were under Harry's complete control. Another difference was that when someone attempted to read his mind, instead of appearing in the entrance hall they appeared outside the gates and when they crossed the gates they were instantly transported to the dungeons, where they would have to find their way out in order to actually gain access to his memories. Of course, this was all assuming they got past Harry's shields.
After Harry had gone over his mind, making sure everything was in order and there was no permanent or sever damage, and had repaired what little damage that had occurred during the transfer, Harry left the halls of his mental Hogwarts and made his way down to the gate. Beyond the golden gates was nothing but darkness but that did not deter Harry. He summoned a mental rope that was tied securely to his waist and the bars of the gates. When he was sure he was secure, Harry stepped beyond the gate and entered the darkness.
The darkness was not actual darkness or empty space. It was his own little twist to his Occlumency shields. A last resort if you will. Anyone who got past his outer shields would be forced to traverse the pitch darkness of the shadows that guarded his mind, wandering aimlessly among the darkness with no way to tell direction or where they might or might not be. It truly was a wonderful little twist on the mental art and had not been invented until Harry was well past old and had neared 120. Quite ingenious really and Harry had commended the man who had made the discovery greatly.
Harry floated in the shadows briefly, as if he were an astronaut in space, before he asserted a small amount of will and allowed a bit of direction to appear in the dark void. He turned towards his mental landscape, a simple white dot with golden gates around it that led to the grounds of Hogwarts. He lengthened his rope some more and summoned up a wind that pushed him off to the side. When he saw nothing there, he pushed towards the other side of his mind. There he found what he was looking for. The chaotic mess that was the eleven year old Harry Potter of his past that he had come to inhabit. There was no actual consciousness to that mind anymore, his consciousness having enveloped the younger and weaker awareness, but the actual mind did remain and was trying to fight for dominance, though it was far too weak and disorganized to win.
His heart wrenched slightly at the thought of what his younger self must have gone through before it had been over thrown by his stronger and older self, Harry moved closer to the disorganized mind and touched the outer edges, whispering a few words that only he could make sense of in that specific order, even at such a young age. The mind calmed and allowed Harry to do with it as he will. Harry smiled and put one hand on the edge of the younger mind and the other on his mind. He frowned as he focused as hard as he dared, trying not to pull anything. The chaotic younger mind did not resist and slowly melted away, becoming the Room of Requirement in Harry's mind scape of Hogwarts. The splitting headache that had been plaguing Harry for the past hour or two vanished, leaving Harry to float in pain free bliss. His two minds had become one and with a sigh, Harry returned to the world of reality.
Harry slowly opened his eyes to the Dursley's living room and allowed his eyes to adjust. The first thing he noted was that the sun was setting, meaning he had been sitting there for at least six hours. His stomach confirmed this calculation when it growled loudly in protest to its empty state. Standing up, stretching and popping a few joints as he did so, Harry went into the kitchen, which was still in the same condition he had left it that morning. With a flick of his wand, the table was repaired and the mess from the food that had been on it vanished, the plates and other ware repaired and returned to their cabinets. Another flick of his wand had the three people in the room stirring from unconsciousness.
"Good evening," Harry said in a sickly sweet voice that sent chills up and down the spines of everyone in the room. Under the table his wand moved in complex patterns, weaving a compulsion spell over all three of the muggles. "Tea and a healthy dinner." He said, directing his focus to Petunia, who flinched briefly before doing as ordered. "Go and clean out both of your rooms." He ordered Dudley, who scrambled out of the room. "If I were you Vernon, I'd go clean out the shed. It's your new room." Vernon stared at him in denial, trying to fight Harry's spell with pure will power alone, but failed in the end and went out back.
"Your tea sir," Petunia whimpered as she set the tea down with shaking hands in front of Harry. "Dinner will be ready soon."
Harry waved her off as he took a sip of the tea, sighing as his empty stomach settled and no longer pained him. It wasn't much, but it would be enough until dinner was finished and promptly inhaled. He listened and watched in amusement as Dudley lumbered up and down the stairs with all of his possessions, transferring them all to the garage or garbage. Outside, Vernon had almost completely emptied the shed of all the gardening equipment and was now doing what he could to clean up the dirt, cobwebs, and grime that covered all of the interior. Harry smirked. He would have stuffed the bastard in the cupboard under the stairs if he thought he could fit the oversized whale in the tiny space. Well... he supposed he could with a little magical contortion but he was not that cruel. Besides, if his use of magic was ever discovered, which he doubted, then he wanted the charges to be as minimal as possible.
He was startled out of his thoughts by a shaking plate being set in front of him loaded with sweet potatoes, green beans, and a good slice of pork that had been cooked to perfection. A salad was placed next to his plate filled with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, green onions, small pieces of uncooked broccoli, carrots, and croutons. A bottle of dressing was set to the side in case he wanted some. A glass of water was placed on the other side of his plate, in easy reach of his right hand.
"You may eat when I have finished." Harry said as he picked up the silverware, slipping his wand into his pocket. "Until then, go help your son."
Petunia bowed nervously before rushing from the room. Harry smiled as he started devouring the meal. He would not be staying at the Dursley's for long but that did not mean he would not enjoy his stay, nor did it mean he would not get a little payback for everything they had done to him over the years. He had been unable to in his previous time through, being too distracted by the war and fumbling his way through life, but he would have his revenge now. Harry scowled slightly as this brought up the thoughts of how no one had dared to help him, in either the muggle or magical world, but he quickly brushed aside the thoughts and enjoyed the meal.
When he was finished with the meal and his stomach was suitably satisfied, Harry got up from the table and went upstairs. He sent Petunia and Dudley running with a flick of his wrist and promptly banished what was left that they had not managed to move in the time it took him to finish his meal. Harry brought up his wand and started transforming the end of the hall that had the bathroom and Dudley's former rooms, making it all one large suit with the door sealing off the entire section of the house, leaving only the master bedroom (though it could hardly be called such now) available directly across from the stairs. Harry did not care that he had sealed off the only bathroom in the house. They could go in the bushes out back and shower with the hose as he had been forced to do numerous times before.
After properly furnishing the room, Harry stood in the middle of it all and turned his gaze towards the ceiling. He relaxed his eyeballs and allowed his sight to slip from regular vision into the magical vision he had discovered he possessed sometime after his hundredth birthday. It allowed him to see magic. Not just the pulsing energy of magic but the structure of spells, wards, and wild magic. It had been a talent that had come in more than handy on numerous occasions and allowed him to not only infiltrate enemy encampments undetected, but to create several handy spells unique to him.
Harry studied the simple wards that surrounded the property, tied to his mother's sacrifice by blood but with several different other functions. One such function was that they wound an insidious compulsion into both him and the Dursley's, which explained why and how Vernon had resisted the way he did. All of it linked back to Dumbledore, as Harry already knew, but it only served to disgust him all the more, especially as he could see the lines of the compulsion spell trying to make their way past his shields. Harry batted his hand, sending the strands running, though not in such a way that would alert Dumbledore of his meddling, and set about altering the wards at a base level.
The first thing he did was to remove Dumbledore as the notification recipient and placed himself as such. Next, He abolished the compulsion spell completely. It was no longer needed. Then he went about strengthening the wards to the point where nothing from the outside world would be able to gain access to the house or even sense what was going on. To the outside world, the house did not exist. It was not a Fidelius Charm, no, that could be circumvented. The wards were quite simply that strong and not even Dumbledore would be able to get through the wards. Now, again he would not be here for very long. This would be like a failsafe, somewhere he could go and not be found when all else failed.
Harry cast a quick tempus. It was well past nine in the evening. He sighed heavily and flopped down onto his transfigured bed, cast a quick silencing charm just in case, and fell asleep. It had been a long, long time since he had a full, restful night's sleep and he was hoping that now, with no war hanging over his shoulders, he would get some well-earned rest. He was not disappointed.
Harry slept well into the morning, his rest deep and peaceful with none of the nightmares that had usually plagued his dreams. Yawning deeply, Harry rolled over and stared up at the ceiling of his room. He blinked several times, clearing his eyesight, and trying to fully wake up. He had not slept so deeply in years, decades even. As he lay there, Harry contemplated the pros, cons, and over all consequences of his current situation. He could perform magic outside of school, which is a bit of a shocker since he knew the trace should still be active on him at this stage in his life, not to mention he had been performing magic on and around muggles. This was a plus, obviously, but it was still a conundrum that needed solving. The two things that needed solving the most and likely would never be solved was how and why he was back here in time.
With a heavy sigh, Harry rolled out of bed and went into the bathroom. After relieving himself, Harry spent the next hour indulging himself in a nice, long, hot bath, something else that he had not been able to do in a very, very long time. It had always been quick showers or even quicker cleaning and freshening charms that really did very little in the way of making him feel well and truly clean. The bath took care of that. Even though his body was not the body he had left behind, Harry still felt all the blood, grime, and gore from fighting in a war leave his body. His muscles slowly started to relax, though again they were not the same muscles he had left behind.
After he was done soaking and was finally clean, Harry got out of the bath, dressed in the same clothing he wore the day before after a strong cleaning charm, and went downstairs. Not surprisingly, all three Dursleys were huddled in the living room, unsure of what to do with themselves. The compulsion Harry had placed upon them was a unique one and very old. It was designed for slaves when the magical world still had human slaves. It would bend their will until they would obey any order given to them by the one in control of the spell.
"No one is to know what happens under this roof," Harry said as he entered the room, startling the occupants. "Go about your daily lives as usual and tell no one about me. If someone asks you about me tell them you sent me to boarding school, unless I am in the house for you to consult." After receiving answering nods, Harry walked out of the house and down the street where he stuck out his wand to summon the Knight Bus. "Leaky Cauldron, London." He said to the guy that had greeted him.
Ignoring the jostling of the ride, Harry waited patiently until the bus stopped outside the leaky cauldron. He waited for the bus to leave and then promptly turned and walked away from the pub and headed towards the heart of London, which just happened to be a few blocks away. Going into the nearest mall, Harry found the nearest clothing store and proceeded to purchase just about every single article of clothing in the store. Shirts, pants, socks, underwear, shoes, jackets, gloves and even a few hats. He stepped into one of the changing rooms and quickly changed into an entirely new outfit, including underwear. He would have put on the shoes but they had one of those damn security tags on them that alerted the store if he took it near the store entrance.
"Hello young man," the check out lady said to him, causing Harry to pause. He had not been called 'young man' since he was forty. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts he continued to place his items on the counter. "Did you find everything you were looking for?"
"I did thank you." Harry said with a charming smile on his face that caused the woman to smile back at him. "This is for the uh... yeah." He said with some slight embarrassment as he handed over the tags for the underwear he had put on. He also held up the sleeve of his long sleeved shirt that still had the tag on it and the tag for his pants.
"Really wanted a change of clothing didn't you?" the lady asked with an indulgent smile on her face.
"Yeah!" Harry said with an emphatic sigh and small chuckle. "Too many holes in too many uncomfortable places." The woman chuckled in amusement as she rung up the shoes, removed the tag and handed them over to Harry, who took them eagerly with a grateful smile and quickly slipped them on his feet and tied them up. They were a regular pair of black sneakers. He had gone through ten pairs before he had found one that felt comfortable on his feet.
"So are you here by yourself?" The woman asked, concern lacing her features suddenly. Harry assumed that he acted so old for his age that he projected a persona of someone who was actually much older than eleven.
"Oh no," Harry lied easily as he started counting the muggle cash he had got from Gringotts yesterday. "My mom is working in a different shop in the mall but her shift isn't over so she sent me a head with the money she saved up to get me some new clothes since I really, really needed to get new clothes."
"Alright," she said as she wrapped up the sale and gave him his change. "Just be careful walking around with so much money. It's not safe."
"I will," Harry said with a reassuring smile as he picked up the eight bags of clothing he had purchased and walked out of the store into the mall proper.
Harry quickly located a bathroom and slipped inside and then into the, thankfully, empty handicap stall and set down all his bags with a slight huff. He bent down and pulled a bag with most of his various pants towards him. Thankfully they were all still folded so he gingerly pulled them all out and balanced them in one hand stacked on top of each other. With a wave of his wand they were all bound together with a strong, tight rope. He then shrunk them down so that they sat perfectly in the palm of his hand, no bigger than a quarter. He then waved his wand over the empty bag and it grew large enough to be considered a backpack. Harry then set about tying each other bag and then shrinking them all down to the size of a coffee mug.
Satisfied, Harry placed everything into the backpack sized bag and then shrunk the bag down to the size of a quarter and stuffed it into the pocket of his form fitting black jeans. He smiled slightly as he rubbed his stomach through his black long sleeve that had an image of a rearing lion in the center. Deciding it was time for lunch, it was close to noon after all, Harry donned the forest green cap he had left out of the bags and left the mall to return to the Leaky cauldron where he ordered a good, hefty meal from Tom, along with a room for the next three weeks. He would be hunting for a semi-permanent residence that he could stay at during the summer and maybe the winter holidays if he so chose but he needed something immediately.
"Something about food made in the magical world," Harry mumbled to himself as he wiped his face and hands with his napkin. "Always better than when it's made in the muggle world."
His meal finished, Harry went out back and tapped the brick necessary to get into Diagon Alley. Today was much more bustling than it had been yesterday, probably since yesterday was when people received their letters and today was the day after. With a slight shrug, Harry delved into the street and made straight for Madam Malkin's. Today seemed to be a day for buying clothes in excess, not that Harry minded, he just found it odd that he chose clothing first as opposed to either books or the other various stores he needed to visit to get all of his supplies for the upcoming year at Hogwarts. Given his knowledge bank, it was not strictly necessary that he go to the school, but it would serve his purposes for both present and future.
When the bustling woman finally finished with his fitting for his school robes, Harry left the shop and went about gathering up the things he needed, along with various other things that no sane shop keeper should allow an eleven year old to have. For those, he had to venture into Knockturn Alley where few questions were asked and even fewer people took stock of what people bought or did. At the apothecary Harry grabbed several different cauldrons of various different makes along with several ingredients that were not on any Hogwarts curriculum. Flourish and Blotts had him buying all of his necessary reading material and a few books that were simply for his enjoyment, though a few were on the Dark Arts.
Surprisingly, very few people questioned him, an eleven year old boy in appearance purchasing all of these things on his own. Then again, he was pretty apt to staying unnoticed and on the edges of people's awareness. That would all change when he got to Hogwarts but for now it was enjoyable and often taken advantage of as he bought things other children would not. The last stop of the day he made was to Eeylops Owl Emporium to purchase his first and longtime companion. Hedwig. She had been such a brave and loyal owl, who had served him so many times during the war until she had been lost to a curse that had been meant for him. Despite the war raging, Harry had set up a memorial for her in commemoration of her sacrifice. She had also been the tipping point in that particular battle. Harry had destroyed the entire contingent of Death Eaters of that raid after that.
With all of his shopping done, Harry returned to the Leaky Cauldron and went up to his room where he deposited everything in a heap at the foot of his bed. Except for Hedwig of course. Her, Harry had set carefully on the rickety table that was in the room while he set everything down so he could let her out of her cage. Just like before, Hedwig had taken an instant liking to him and had sidled up to his shoulder so she could start preening his hair. Harry smiled as a feeling of comfort and familiarity washed over him and he spent almost an entire hour just petting and socializing with his owl.
Harry sat on the Hogwarts Express completely bored out of his mind. He had arrived at the station a full hour and a half prior to when it was supposed to depart, something he was starting to regret, and he had no desire to read. He had spent the rest of his summer hunting for a new place to live and had found it a few weeks ago in the form of a lovely and rather large bachelor pad in muggle London. It was a few blocks from Diagon Alley and so would not leave him feeling disconnected from the magical world but was separated enough that he could get away from everything easily. The flat was located on the twentieth floor of a muggle high rise and he had arranged to live there for the next five years with a contingency for another five if he so decided at the end of the first five. Harry had moved in and taken the place over the second the paperwork had gone through; with a little 'assistance' (he was eleven after all).
When he had settled into his new place and had spent a week just enjoying himself, Harry had started pouring over his Dark Arts books and some of the more darker potions books he had purchased for a way to rid himself of Helga's cup without it blowing up half the house. He knew of a few ways to destroy a Horcrux but he did not want to go there. It had been dangerous destroying those things with no protection and he did not wish to repeat those injuries. Until he found a safer method of destroying them the cup would just have to sit in isolation at the Dursley's, under heavy wards that kept it contained completely of course.
"Excuse me," a voice said and Harry stiffened instantly. He knew that voice and it took every last ounce of his considerable self-control not to turn around and hex the boy into the next millennium. Hedwig's continued preening of his hair and a soft nibble on his ear helped as well. "Mind if sit in here?" Weasley asked, his voice grating on Harry's nerves like nails over a black board.
"I'm actually waiting for my friends," Harry said with forced calm. He's just a boy. He technically has not betrayed you. Hex him now and there will be hell to pay. He's just a boy. An innocent, ignorant, boy. "They should be along shortly."
"Are you sure I can't–" Weasley's words were cut off as Hedwig hooted demandingly and swiveled her head to level a glare at the redhead. Harry swore he heard a slight squeak as the boy quickly left the compartment and rushed away.
"Thanks girl," Harry said with a small smile as he reached up a hand to stroke Hedwig's soft feathers. She hooted back at him and started preening his hair again. Ever since Harry had purchased her, Hedwig had rarely left his shoulder. Most would have considered this strange or odd but Harry found her presence comforting and allowed her, her favorite perch, though she had an actual perch in his flat.
"Oh that's a lovely owl," another voice sounded, this one bringing a smile to Harry's face. He turned to see the same head of bushy hair he had seen throughout most of his life, usually buried in some book or flapping about as she flung spells left and right.
"Thanks," Harry said with a beaming smile. "Her name's Hedwig. You're welcome to share my compartment if you like." He said, gesturing to the seat across from him.
"Can I pet her?" Hermione asked as she moved into the compartment, still staring at Hedwig as if she had never seen an owl before.
"Oh she loves attention," Harry said as he reached up a hand and coaxed Hedwig onto his hand so he could bring her closer to Hermione. "She only really dislikes someone if I do, with the rare few exceptions of people that just simply rub her the wrong way. Just like a person really." he chuckled at the end there, eliciting one from Hermione as well.
"I'm Hermione by the way, Hermione Granger." Hermione said as she stroked Hedwig's chest, giggling slightly when the bird nibbled affectionately at her fingers.
"Harry Potter. Yes, yes I know I'm famous," Harry said quickly as Hermione's eyes shot up and bulged, about to go in on how she had read all about him. "But let's just pretend I'm a regular eleven year old wizard heading to Hogwarts for the first time. After all, I've read a few of the 'history books' that have me in them and almost ninety percent of the so called facts they've listed about me are complete rubbish."
"Really?" Hermione said, cocking her head to the side in confusion, as if she could not comprehend that a book was anything but pure fact.
"Oh yes," Harry said with an annoyed huff as he shifted Hedwig back to his shoulder. "For example, I don't live in some fancy mansion or whatever. Nor have I ever been worshiped as some deity. I swear, whoever is publishing those things needs to do a little more research before they even start writing. I mean honestly, I didn't even know magic existed until I got my Hogwarts letter."
"Really now?" A smooth yet childish drawl sounded from the compartment door. Harry idly noted that the train had started moving and was nearing the edge of the city. He turned to see a familiar blond standing in the doorway. "How does Harry Potter grow up not knowing about magic."
"I was raised by my muggle relatives," Harry said keeping his face carefully blank. He did not feel the same way he had felt the first time around about Draco. The blond had come to him during the war offing up information to try and help them all bring down the Dark Lord. As such, they had worked very closely with each other and had to bury the hatchet at some point so they could stand to be in the same room with one another. Still, this was the younger version of Draco Malfoy, one who had yet to feel the effects of full scale war and who had prejudices rooted deeply within his mind. "They like to pretend magic doesn't exist so did not tell me."
"Fascinating," Draco said with a calculating look in his eyes. He held out his hand, much as he had done before. "I'm Draco Malfoy."
"A pleasure," Harry said as he shook the hand like he had not last time. Perhaps I can change more than just the war. He thought to himself. "This is Hermione Granger. Yes she's a muggleborn and she's a friend." The look he leveled at the blond dared him to say something derogatory towards her. Surprisingly, Draco did not say a thing and merely turned and left the compartment after spending a good chunk of time staring at Hermione.
"What was that about?" Hermione asked in confusion, turning from the door back to Harry.
"Some wizarding families greatly dislike muggleborns," Harry explained with a slightly sour expression on his face. "So much so that they try everything in their power to purge the wizarding world of their influence. It's what the last war was all about. But that's neither here nor there. Want to play Exploding Snap?"
Hermione stared at him in complete confusion and he laughed and patted the seat next to him as he took out his deck. The rest of the train ride passed in companionable fun as Harry taught Hermione how to play the game and then proceeded to get his ass handed to him several times. It never failed apparently. No matter the time line or the age. Hermione was just that much better at the game than he was, even when she was just learning how to play. The distraction had worked though. Hermione neglected to pin him on his little slip over telling Draco that he was raised by magic hating muggles and then explaining to her about the prejudice towards muggleborns.
"So what house do you think you'll be in?" Hermione questioned as they followed Hagrid towards the boats. As he had been calling the first years Hagrid had been scanning the crowd of eleven year old students. Harry knew he was looking for him but did not want to be noticed quite just yet so he clung to the shadows slightly.
"Oh I'm sure everyone will be expecting me to follow in my parents footsteps and go to Gryffindor." Harry said once they were settled into the boats. Funnily enough, they ended up in a boat with Draco, who sat in front of them and kept silent. Harry eyed the blonds back for a few moments but decided to let it be for now. "But I honestly don't know what house I'll be in. It all depends on how they do the sorting. You on the other hand, I think will be going into either Gryffindor or Ravenclaw."
"Gryffindor?" Draco questioned from the front, startling them. He did not turn to face them when he spoke but Harry was still surprised the blond had spoken at all. "Why would you think Gryffindor?"
"Just a little hunch," Harry said after a silent contemplation of the boy in front of him. "Hermione seems to have a quiet bravery about her, despite her love of books."
"Harry," Hermione whispered as they disembarked and put a little distance between them and Draco. "We played Exploding Snap the entire train ride. I never told you that I loved books."
"You didn't?" Harry damned the squeak that came from his throat as he glanced nervously at Hermione. He also damned his slip. There were times when Hermione was just too damned sharp. "I uh... could have sworn you said you loved to read at some point. Didn't you?" Damn but he sounded nervous. He had not sounded nervous in ninety years. Hell, with the war raging had not been nervous for that long.
"No Harry, I was too busy beating you at Exploding Snap." Hermione said with a slight grin, though she did not stop staring at Harry. She paused briefly to listen to McGonagall give her speech about the houses and what not. Having heard it before Harry easily tuned it out and frantically tried to think of an excuse while raining in his nerves. No one could know what was really going on with him. "Now, how did you know I like to read?"
"I," Harry said, asserting his will and keeping his voice perfectly level. "Made an educated guess. Your muggleborn but you were talking about Hogwarts as if you were a pureblood that grew up with stories of the castle and its houses. It made sense that you had read all, or most of the history text, which would imply that you enjoyed reading."
"Convincing Harry," Hermione said with a nod as she looked to the boy next to her as she followed the crowed into the Great Hall. "I almost believed that. Now, tell me the truth. How did you know?"
Damn, Harry thought in frustration. I never could lie to her very well. Even when we were older than Dumbledore and well and truly battle hardened I still couldn't lie to her. Hmmm... His thoughts paused as an idea popped into his head. I almost wonder if she has a magical ability to tell truth from lies. I'll have to look into that. Though how I have no idea.
"Granger, Hermione!" McGonagall's voice called over the hall sometime after the hat's song and in just enough time to save Harry from having to answer her question.
"This isn't over," Hermione hissed quietly as she moved forward. Harry audibly gulped. Even at this age the witch could be quite imposing.
"GRYFFINDOR!" the hat shouted after a few minutes of sitting on Hermione's head. Harry smiled. Some things just would not change. The girl had bravery that would fill Godric with pride to have her in his house.
"Potter, Harry!" McGonagall called some students later. The hall burst out into whispers and everyone locked eyes onto him as he made his way forward.
"Well, well, welcome to Hogwarts young Potter," The Sorting Hat said in Harry's head. "I... well now, those are some strong shields you have their. Don't think I've ever seen such shields before. You'll have to lower them a bit if you want to be sorted."
You won't like what you find. Harry said even as he adjusted his shields slightly. I trust you will keep what you find to yourself and no one else.
"Of course, of course, I never..." The hat trailed off as he started rooting about in Harry's head. "I-I-I... HOW? How are you like this? By Merlin himself this should not be possible!"
You're telling me! I still have no idea how this happened. Harry grumbled in annoyance. Just sort me please. Your delay is drawing attention.
"But you're a MAN!" The hat said, nearly shouting it to the rest of the hall. "You don't belong here! I can't sort you. I refuse."
Hat! Harry growled dangerously. Sort me or so help me I will hex you back to your maker!
"I am protected by the magic of the founders! You cannot... oh. Well I suppose you can." The hat's protests had been cut short when Harry shoved a memory of some very esoteric spells that Harry had discovered during the war, along with the knowledge of his magical sight that allowed him to pick apart spells. "SLYTHERIN!" the hat called to the hall, though Harry heard a distinctive squeak to the hat's voice, evidence of its nervousness. "Now go away and don't bother me again." was the last thing Harry heard before the hat was taken off his head and he left the stool.
Harry smirked as he made his way across the silent hall to sit down at the Slytherin table, which was just as shocked and silent as the rest of the hall. No one moved, they barely breathed. The Slytherins all around him stared at him in open shock, something that was not like them. A swift look with a raised eyebrow had them all turning their gazes away in embarrassment. Harry returned his attention back to the front of the hall, where the entire staff was staring at him. He locked eyes with McGonagall and raised his eyebrow once again, a look that clearly said he thought they were all being rude and should continue with the sorting. McGonagall seemed to start before she continued with the sorting.
"For someone raised with muggles who disliked magic, you certainly seem to have mastered the pureblood art of controlling people with a look." Draco commented from next to Harry, the only one who dared to speak to the raven haired boy. The rest of the Slytherins were still in a state of shock and were watching Harry from the corner of their eyes.
"I said they liked to pretend it didn't exist, not that they didn't like it." Harry corrected as he watched the last student be sorted into Ravenclaw. Surprisingly, Dumbledore did not do his customary start of term statement of random words. He just waved his hand and the feast started. A little disconcerted, Harry began to fill his plate with food.
"What eleven-year-old eats like that?" Draco questioned as he stared at the food on Harry's plate. It was filled with stuffing, grilled chicken, casserole, a bowl of salad off to the side and a bowl of fruit. "You eat like an old man concerned for his health."
"This eleven-year-old and what's your point?" Harry said as he smiled slightly when Hedwig alighted upon his shoulder. She had taken off when they had departed the train and had headed straight for the castle. A few other Slytherins noted the owl but none of them commented. "So I eat healthy. Big deal."
"My point is that I have only ever seen a child eat like that when their parents are hovering over their shoulders." Draco said as he took a bite of his fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
"Well I haven't got any of those now do I?" Harry retorted with a snort and a sideways glance at the blond.
He scowled as he felt something brush up against his Occlumency shields. He looked up towards the Head Table where he could feel the probe coming from. He saw both Dumbledore and Snape staring at him. Knowing that Snape would never delve into a defenseless child's mind, Harry discretely reached up a hand behind the backs of the students around him so no one would notice and gripped the air, actually gripping the mental probe with a little magic laced in his hands. Without warning and without anyone noticing, surprisingly, Harry yanked his arm downwards and quickly returned to his meal.
Like a marionette, Dumbledore had followed Harry's quick movement and ended up face planting into his food with a great deal of force. Dishes scattered as the entire table jumped. Food went flying in all directions, causing Snape's already foul glare to worsen. Dumbledore, who had moved on to dessert, was now wearing his slice of cream pie all over his face, with the cherry sitting perfectly in his right eye. The man was quite obviously stunned and shocked, not to mention probably suffering a concussion given how hard he had hit the table, and the entire hall stared in confused shock as the aged Headmaster swayed in his seat and attempted to regain his bearings. Madam Pomfrey, who was a few seats down, got up and immediately started casting spells while McGonagall peppered him with questions.
"What on earth just happened?" Draco questioned as he stared up at the Head Table like everyone else in the hall.
"Haven't the foggiest," Harry said in an almost too innocent voice as he finished off his meal and down the last of his water. "Never met the man before so I can't vouch for his behavior."
Draco stared at him in suspicion, obviously not believing Harry's lie, but did not comment. For all intents and purposes, Harry appeared to be an aloof Slytherin that was completely unconcerned with the happenings around him, much to the blond's surprise. Harry was quickly becoming an enigma to the rich and spoiled pureblood, one he intended to figure out. However, Harry was quite skilled at keeping people from noticing things he did not want people to notice and it was going to be one major struggle for the blond to get any answers to his already long list of questions.
When everyone had finished their deserts and were all quickly becoming drowsy from the food coma that Hogwarts food had a tendency to inspire, the prefects of all the houses began leading the students, mainly the first years, out of the hall and towards their perspective dorms. The prefect, one Gemma Farley, led the way down into the dungeons and through the maze of corridors that guarded the dorms from the rest of the castle. Making note of the password, Harry proceeded to dutifully listen to her speech about house unity outside the walls of the common room before following her orders to go pick out a bedroom, since Slytherin students were provided individual bedrooms as opposed to the other houses that all shared dorms together.
"At least I won't have to listen to Weasley's prattle this time," Harry mumbled under his breath as he quickly stalked down the hall for the boy's dorms and quickly picked out an empty room, Hedwig still on his shoulder preening her own feathers this time instead of his hair. "And it will be so much more private. Perfect for me don't you think girl?" He got a hoot in response.
Taking out his shrunken trunk from his pocket, Harry set it at the foot of his bed and quickly set about making the room much cozier. Having been vacated for a few years, the room was barren and had only a bed, desk, wardrobe, and bedside table, all of which looked rickety and run down at best. A flick of his wand had the fire tuned up a notch (dungeons were anything but warm) and he set about transfiguring the bed and other furniture. The bed was quickly turned into a king size four poster with thick comforters with warming charms, all coverings black and silver, with designs all over the wood, which had become ebony oak. If anyone had taken a closer look to the carvings, they would have noticed runes and other various markings mingled into the look, all of which invoked spells of protections, safety, and a three foot perimeter of warning.
The desk, bedside table, and wardrobe all followed the bed in terms of looks and stability. The wardrobe Harry cast an undetectable expansion charm on as he had quite a bit of clothing now, having done more clothing shopping later in the summer after acquiring his flat. He also enlarged the desk slightly so he had a little more room to work with. Harry also conjured a book case and filled it with most of the books he had brought with him, though he left the darker books hidden securely in his well warded trunk.
When he had the room the way he wanted it, Harry turned towards the door and pointed his wand at the frame. His mouth formed soft words as he spoke the incantations to a spell only he knew in this time. More carvings started etching themselves into the stone and wood around the actual door. These were different from the ones on the bed though. The runes and other archaic markings were not just for protection. They were keyed to intent, specific people, magical signatures, and other various things Harry placed into the markings. They would ward the rooms against anyone or anything he did not approve, even house elves, though they would have access to a point.
Knowing his time was short, he knew Snape was about to come down for his start of the year speech any minute, Harry turned and started the last touches of his room. Severus had gotten drunk one night late into the war when his position as a spy had been discovered and told him about how he managed Slytherin House when Harry had asked. Every year the man came to the common room to give the new years a speech about how things worked at Hogwarts and how the other houses were stacked against their house by virtue of being Slytherins and how they needed to provide a unified front to the rest of the school, no matter if they personally disliked someone else in their house.
Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Harry went to the corner nearest him and chanted a long, complex spell that caused a little ball of light no bigger than a galleon to appear inches from the ground. Harry repeated this process in the other three corners of the room. When that was complete, he stood in the center of the room with his wand raised in the air. He closed his eyes and started chanting in a cross between ancient Greek and a druid language he had spent months attempting to crack before finally succeeding when he found a scroll that crossed the language into Egyptian.
On the last word, Harry brought his wand down in a sharp motion, providing a central point in the room for the four nodes of light to connect with. The four nodes shot out, creating a complex series of patterns that looked like they came from ancient times and belonged in an alchemist's work shop. The symbols were strange and appeared as nothing more than strange doodles, but every one of them had a meaning, a purpose, and a function. It was a ritualistic spell he had used numerous times before. What it did was create an aura of peace and tranquility, making all that entered instantly relaxed and calm, though it would fail if an argument broke out inside the room and escalated into shouts. It had come in right handy during some of the darker points of the war. The giant pattern flared white before it lowered and carved itself into the stone and faded from existence. Smiling happily, Harry slid his wand up his sleeve into his holster and left his room.
Severus had just entered the common room when Harry came out of the hallway that led to the boy's dorms. Harry moved over to the fireplace where the other first years were gathered, along with a few older years.
"What took you so long?" Draco questioned as Harry came up and leaned back against the edge of the fireplace, enjoying the warmth it gave off.
"I was setting up my room," Harry said with a shrug as he watched the lanky, pale, and younger Severus Snape stalk towards them and start talking. Harry quirked an eyebrow when the man said that all the first years would be going through a private medical exam with him in a few minutes. Severus had neglected that little fact when he had informed Harry of his duties.
"For an entire hour?" Draco questioned in disbelief. Harry frowned and looked down at his watch. His eyebrows rose into his hairline when he saw that Draco was right. Dinner had ended at about eight and it was now nearing nine fifteen. He shrugged and went back to listening to Severus explain some finer details about being in Slytherin house and how he would be available for two hours every other evening in the common room for help with homework or anything else. "You're a first year. What could you possibly have to set up that would take an entire hour?"
Draco's voice had risen a little too high as he finished that sentence and everyone fell quiet to stare at him. The blond's cheeks flared even as he attempted to try and maintain a cool composure. Severus stared at Draco and Harry with a blank expression, though his eyes were narrowed. Neither of them spoke again after that, not daring to draw the attention of their tetchy head of house. Harry prayed that Draco would forget his inquiries among Severus' speech, which bordered on ranting, that way he would not have to bother trying to dodge the other boy's suspicions.
"So?" Draco said when Severus had at last finished his speech and had moved to his office, which was behind a painting near the entrance to the dorms, to perform the medical exams he had promised. Harry sighed quietly and kept his eyes on the book he was reading, waiting for Draco to actually ask a question. "What did you have to set up?"
"See for yourself," Harry said with a shrug as he pointed towards the bedrooms. "Second door from the far end on the left."
"Can't you just tell me?" Draco practically whined. Harry looked up to make sure he was still speaking with Draco Malfoy. He had never heard the other boy whine before.
"I could," Harry said, smirking at the way Draco seemed to beam at getting his way. That is until Harry continued speaking. "But you wouldn't believe me if I told you all I did was set up my books on the bookshelf, place a few writing implements in my desk, and make sure I had everything ready for tomorrow morning."
"All that took you a full hour?" Draco questioned in disbelief, looking remarkably like his older self with one eyebrow raised and a haughty look on his face.
"Apparently, though I had no idea I took that long." Harry said with a shrug and gestured again towards the hall. "Go on and check if you don't believe me."
"Potter," a fifth year student, not a prefect, said as he came up to the couch, drawing their attention. "It's your turn with Professor Snape."
Harry nodded and stood up, pocketing his muggle novel as he moved towards the painting and stepped inside. The office Harry entered was actually very different from the one Harry had been in several times for detentions over the course of his first round of Hogwarts education and it made Harry wonder if the man had more than one office; one for his snakes and one for the rest of the school. Either way, the warm tones of the office gave off a soft comforting feel and inspired a sense of trust and relaxation. Harry nodded absently. If his suspicions were right then this office would be perfect for what Severus was using it for.
"Potter," the familiar drawl and bite to his name caused Harry to smile briefly before he controlled his features and schooled them into a look of an awed and slightly frightened first year student as he turned around.
"Professor," Harry said respectfully, attempting to waylay some of the man's ire towards him.
"Sit," Severus gestured towards the chair in front of the fire. Harry made a show of looking at it nervously before hesitantly moving forward and sitting down. The next words out of Severus' mouth sounded as if they burned the man's tongue. "This may be a bit startling but it will not hurt you."
"Okay Professor," Harry said, doing his best to mimic a child's voice when they sounded slightly nervous or scared.
It helped that he was, mildly nervous. The spell Severus was casting was a general diagnostic scan that had a bit more of an edge to it and Harry knew exactly what it would find. One of the first things Harry did over the summer was assess and tend to his body's physical condition. He bought or brewed several potions and cast dozens of spells, all designed to try and repair the damage he knew lingered in his system from the abuse he had suffered the past ten years before he 'woke up' as he liked to call it. Unfortunately, he could not do anything about the scars that riddled his back no matter how hard he tried and his internal damage was still healing. Harry was not sure how he felt about Severus, or anyone really, knowing about what had happened to him at the hands of people who were supposed to care for him.
"Mr. Potter," Severus voice was much softer and kinder than Harry had ever heard it before and it caused him to look at the man out of the corner of his eye. Severus had drawn up a chair and was sitting in it with a particularly odd expression on his face. It almost looked like concern. "Your injuries show signs of medical treatment. Have you been to a healer?"
"Not exactly Professor," Harry said in a calm voice, deciding to maintain eye contact with the fire flickering in the fireplace. "It's a bit complicated and I can't tell you everything but I have been receiving a facsimile of professional medical treatment over the past few months. I have a stock of potions I'm supposed to take daily to help with the internal damage." It was true. He had stocked up on those potions since he knew the internal damage could be dangerous in the long run.
"Was it your relatives who caused these injuries?" Severus really did not need to finish that sentence. The second the words 'your relatives' left his mouth Harry's control over his features snapped briefly and the most vile of sneers crossed his face, causing the Potion Master's blood to freeze in his veins. As Harry's features returned to normal, Severus could not help but wonder at the depth of abuse that sat before him. "You may go Mr. Potter but I wish to have a list of the potions you are supposed to take just to ensure that they are the best for you."
"Yes Professor," Harry said as he stood and made for the door. "I'll get it to you as soon as possible."
With that, Harry left the room, leaving behind a stunned and rather pissed Potions Master.