Author's Note: Had to make a little edit - it was Charlus Potter who rebuilt Potter Manor, not Fleamont.
Glass from the windows of Wen’s Potion Shop imploded inside, along with the signs, ingredients, and bottles from their front displays, scattering across the floor. The table in the middle of the room filled with wares flew up, depositing its contents messily against the back wall, cracking drawers and doors that spilled out their precious cargo. The register counter was flung back, causing Ping to slam into the side wall and coins to pour into the corner.
Remus hit the back wall first, crashing into the labelled boxes and sliding down to the ground. Rose was thrust to the ground, sliding into the man’s legs and hitting the debris with a yell. Draco landed on Remus’ lap, protecting him from the brunt of the blast.
Harry saw all of these movements, even felt the force of the blast. He heard Rose’s yell and Draco’s groan. He heard the shattering and cracking and breaking. He smelled the ingredients and potions and herbs mixing on the floor. And something in his blood was freezing cold as all of it completely avoided him, leaving him unharmed in the middle of the room. The glass and signs that had flung toward him seemed to have been rebounded by an invisible barrier, giving him the freedom to look out past the chaos to the street.
Green eyes locked onto brown ones as patient steps crossed the threshold in an orchestra of panic. Pointed teeth showed through a grin as a pale head tilted in curiosity.
“Well, well, little Potter. Seems all that chatter about the Boy Who Lived really does have some backing.”
“Rosier,” Harry greeted simply, his pulse calm, his voice steady.
“Oh, not just me, love,” Rosier said, waving over his shoulder. A crowd of figures in dark cloaks and silver masks came into view. “We’ve all come to see the infamous Boy Who Lived in action. Come now, Potter, tell us all – how did you manage to fight the Dark Lord? Maybe you can show us some of those incredible powers, eh? Show the whole world the might of the decaying Potter line, eh?”
Harry chuckled, putting his hands in his pockets. “Do you think I’m an idiot?” he asked simply. “Do you think I’m so ignorant that I don’t know you poisoned me?”
Rosier’s grin slipped, and he blinked at the teen, glancing him up and down.
“I understood why you attacked on the bridge,” Harry explained, walking over to the blasted windows to look at the crowd glaring at him hatefully. “You were trying to use your last chance to take me. You had planned to do it at the party, but you couldn’t find me. Sean said someone came downstairs to report Marge running out. That was you, I take it?”
“Aye,” Rosier said, not turning away from Remus, Rose, and Draco.
“You posed as the doctor to confirm my identity, to reveal my mark. You posed as the stoker and drew me to you on the ship, as well, right?”
“Clever brat, aren’t you?”
“It must take a lot of power to disappear and reappear. Amelia Bones called it Apparition, said usually you have to be a grown up and trained mage to pull it off – and yet you made me, a teenager with no training at all – do it just to get me away from the Dursleys.”
“Would have worked, too, but for a certain puppy getting in my way,” Rosier growled.
“So much work, so much effort, so much planning,” Harry commented. “But there was one part of your plan that I didn’t understand.”
“Oh? I’ve stumped the great Harry Potter, did I?”
Harry scoffed and turned, leaning against the wooden window frame. Rosier turned to him as well, looking arrogant and haughty. “I said ‘didn’t’,” Harry clarified. “You see, all of those moves made sense. But the one that didn’t was the silver nitrate. You posed as a chimney sweep to cover the entry in silver nitrate so that the Dursleys would send me – the lowest ranking footman – out to get the police. It was a perfect opportunity to kidnap me. You even presented yourself to me on the street on the way to the police station. We were alone for plenty long enough for you to grab me and go. And yet…you didn’t.”
Rosier looked less sure of himself as he swallowed, fingering his pocket where Harry assumed he’d hidden his wand for the assault.
“You made sure that I went back to the house and that I touched the silver nitrate. You’re the one who pulled the music box out of the chimney and got it to me so that I would have that silver nitrate all over my hands. At first, I thought that you might have been planning to kidnap me when I was unconscious and were waylaid, but it seems not – which means that your purpose was to get me to touch that black powder, to get it into my system. Now that doesn’t make much sense, does it? Silver nitrate is dangerous, but once it clears the system, it’s harmless – which means there was something else in it.”
The Death Eater’s smiled fell entirely now, and he grit his jaw, his nose twitching angrily. Harry smirked.
“From there, we can extrapolate the symptoms of the poison,” Harry continued as the other Death Eaters began to approach the destroyed shop. “Four days after the entry attack, you lured me to the ship using a massive burst of magic, more than I’ve used since I killed your beloved master.” Rosier hissed in fury. “I slept hard that night after watching you muck up your best chance to get me alone by stupidly picking the wrong ship. Then you came for me at the house, going for this—”
Harry showed off the scar, making sure the other beasts could see it, too: the mark of the downfall of their darling leader, and a warning of Harry's power.
“And then I started having these dreams, these strange dreams. I didn’t understand them at first, but I’ve pieced it together now – passive magic. Marge broke my ribs, but they’ve healed in two days – passive magic again. I went from an ugly duckling to a swan – more passive magic. And just now, you blasted this shop and here I stand, not a hair out of place. I’m haemorrhaging the stuff, and you want me to attack now – you and all your girlfriends. You’re trying to exhaust me because you infected my magic so that I would use it all up and be defenceless and near dead: easy pickings for your Voldie Fan Club.”
“How dare you—”
“We’ve been chatting for – what – five minutes already? No Aurors? You broke into Gringotts so that they would all be down in the tunnels, leaving your baby birds an opening to come for me. What’s wrong, Rosier? Am I really that terrifying? Scared of the big bad Harry Potter that much, are you?”
Harry dived out of the way as a jar of powder was thrown over Rosier’s shoulder out the window to smoke the attackers. Remus grabbed Rosier by his wand arm, robe gone for freedom of movement that he used to spin Rosier and fling him out the door into his cohorts. Remus grabbed the narrow vertical support beam of the window that had held glass and thew his weight around it to kick the Death Eaters crawling into the shop, yanking the beam with him as he landed in the street outside.
The beam became his quarterstaff as he used it to smack another two, pulling back to hit a third behind him, then twirling it like a tomahawk to smack the last three. Harry, meanwhile, skid behind the broken table to Draco and Rose, checking on them and ensuring that they were okay. Rose was unconscious, but Draco was just wincing from a bad shoulder.
Outside, wands were up, and Remus dropped his weight, swinging the staff around to hit sensitive kneecaps while curses fired at friendlies. He yanked the staff up right between the legs of one of them, downing him with a yelp. The staff struck the ground on his other side, giving him the inertia to jump and kick three of the men trying aim in their chests, sending them rolling backward, tangled in their robes.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? GET HIM!” Rosier screeched in panic.
Remus yanked a wand right out of a startled wizard’s hand and spun quickly to stab it into the eye of his partner, then stabbed the staff into the first’s neck, downing him with a wet cry of pain. The staff hit the ground again, and Remus flung himself feet-first onto the chest of a wizard, spinning on his torso to smack Rosier across the face off the steps and into the street.
The steward darted toward two of the attackers, smacking them both in the face as he passed. The others pursued, chasing him toward the brick wall across from the shop. Remus ran up the wall, flipping off and over their heads, finally withdrawing his wand. In a single flourish, all of the Death Eaters were thrust into the wall as if a great wave had crashed into them, the bricks snatching at their limbs to detain them.
“I’LL KILL YOU!” Rosier threatened, the only one not caught in the trap, running toward Remus. But Remus held a hand out toward the reporters snapping photographs. One of their cameras flew into his hand by the strap, and he swung it around, smacking Rosier in the face and opening the back panel.
Crouching toward the Death Eaters, he gripped the camera by the lens and blew a great breath out, causing a cloud of black dust to burst from the camera and coat the Death Eaters. A puff of it sought out Rosier, choking him on the ground, making him spit and cough.
“Silver nitrate,” Remus commented, standing up patiently. “It’s a bitch, isn’t it?”
Draco chuckled in awe and looked at Harry, who smiled and laughed as well, but a cough caught in his throat, and he covered his mouth, only to find blood in his palm.
“Harry?” Remus called, hurrying back into the shop as Aurors finally arrived on the scene. “Are you okay?”
“Rose,” Harry immediately said meekly. Remus dutifully knelt down to her but nodded.
“She’ll be fine. How do you feel?”
“Dizzy,” Harry admitted. Draco leaned closer to him, putting his arm around the brunette, who leaned in return automatically, resting his pounding head on the blonde’s good shoulder.
The blonde looked up and sighed in relief. “Uncle Sev!”
Harry looked up at the man that his friend so admired. He was about Remus’ age, with a lithe build and longish curly black hair with a thin beard and stormy blue eyes. He was handsome, but Harry felt instinctually that there was something artificial about how smooth his skin was and how straight his nose was. It reminded Harry of how he looked when he gazed at his strange pretty face in a mirror – as though there were some imperceivable mask hiding his true appearance.
“Severus Snape,” Remus greeted as the man knelt beside Rose to check on her. The fact that Remus let him assured Harry that he could be trusted. However, the look on Snape’s face as he looked at the unconscious Rose was a pale trepidation, somewhere between fear and guilt. The impression was gone as soon as Harry had perceived it, and the potioneer looked at his adopted nephew with a raised eyebrow before noticing the blood in Harry's palm.
“Who is this?” he asked, checking Rose’s pulse.
“Rose Evans,” Remus said, his voice a little nervous. “She’s Petunia’s daughter.”
“She has magic?” Snape asked.
“Transference from Harry. She’s inherited Lily’s powers.”
If Harry hadn’t still been staring at the man’s strange face, he wouldn’t have noticed the flicker, the flinch, the tiny flitter across his stormy eyes, the way that his lips parted then came back together at the mention of Lily Evans.
“Please, Harry's poisoned,” Remus explained. “You were always better than me in potions.”
“What’s the poison?” Snape asked quickly.
“I don’t know – something draining his magic, haemorrhaging it, really. It was hidden in silver nitrate that Harry touched a fortnight past.”
Snape moved to Harry's side, taking the teen by the wrist and feeling his pulse while examining the blood that he’d coughed up. Harry kept his head on Draco’s shoulder while looking at the man’s strange face.
A man and woman ran into the shop, glancing at Lao Ping being helped up by a man in a white robe. They saw Snape and looked over the fallen table at the group. The man was blonde with hair bound up in a simple rolled knot with a silver comb. The woman’s hair was black and curled down to her chest. Both of them were dressed in the height of fashion. She wore a white summer lawn dress with green satin ribbons tying the blouse at the front and the thin bustle at the back. His vest suit had small hints of wealth in the fasted buttons, engraved cufflinks, delicate pocket watch chain, and pearl tie pin in the cravat. Like Draco, both had pierced ears as well.
“Draco, are you injured?” the woman asked frantically.
“I’m fine, mother,” Draco insisted. “Harry, these are my parents, Master Lucius Malfoy and Lady Narcissa Black. No – don’t get up. You’re hurt.”
“I’m okay,” Harry insisted, sitting up in embarrassment.
“You’re not,” Snape said. “The poisons fully opened your meridians. Your magic is feely flowing, and it’s nearly expired itself. At this rate, your organs will begin to shut down over the weekend, and you’ll be dead by Monday night.”
“Your accent,” Harry noticed, switching to Gaelic. <Are you from Eire?>
“I’m from Ireland, yes,” he said, “but I don’t know Gaelic. This looks to be Hu Li Jing Poison. The treatment takes time, but if you start with a strong tonic tonight, it’ll stop further damage, giving you time for the rest of the treatment. Lady Shizumi can concoct it for you. She’ll know it as Kitsune Poison, it’s Japanese name. He’s already so drained. Has he been to Ollivander’s yet?” Remus shook his head. “He won’t be able to go for a while – a fortnight at least.”
“I’ll bring him for his birthday,” Remus decided, picking Rose up. “Is Rose okay?”
“She’ll be fine,” Snape said quietly, brushing her hair out of her face. “She’ll wake up within the hour with a headache. Her magic is already mending her – nothing to worry over.”
“What about Draco?” Harry asked.
“Eh?” Draco frowned. “What about me?”
“You hit the wall. I saw you.”
“I’m fine,” he said shyly.
“Is your back okay? Did you bruise it? Move your arm—”
“Awe, Harry,” Draco grinned, “you’re so cute when you worry over me.”
“I just feel guilty,” Harry blushed. “It’s my fault you were hurt. They were after me.”
“I chose to be here,” Draco said seriously. “I’m not stupid, Harry. I know there are people who want you dead – idiotic, ignorant people who think that they can change the world by being annoying enough.” He subtly glanced at his father as he turned his eyes down to Harry's hand in his own. “Someone hurting you isn’t your fault, nor is it your fault is someone else gets hurt – it’s the attacker’s fault only.”
“Well said,” Remus said appreciatively.
“Perhaps we should have a healer look at you regardless,” Lady Black said as Malfoy looked out toward the street with a complicated expression.
“I agree,” Harry said. “Go – get checked out.”
“You can go and see them before we leave tonight,” Lady Black assured her son, pulling him away from Harry and around the fallen table.
“I’ll see you later,” Harry nodded as Draco tried to protest, but the blonde gave in and went with his parents, giving Harry a worried look over his shoulder.
Once he was out of the shop, Harry let out a sigh and leaned against the wall of drawers in exhaustion. “You did that on purpose,” Snape said. “Trying to get rid of him?”
“If he stayed, I would have needed to rely on him to get to the bathhouse,” Harry said hoarsely, leaning his head back against the wall. “The photographers are still out there. They would have interpreted it a certain way that I don’t care to deal with.”
“This isn’t the Muggle world,” Snape scoffed. “Relations between men are not looked down upon here.”
“I’m aware of that,” Harry nodded with his eyes closed. “That’s the problem. In the Muggle world, they wouldn’t even suspect that. Here, they would because that’s accepted of. Draco’s my friend. I don’t want anyone thinking there’s anything more than that going on and harassing him, or worse, endangering him to get to me. The farther he stays from me, the safer he’ll be.”
“Harry, you don’t need to isolate yourself like that,” Remus said. “I know what you mean, and I understand your intention, but there’s no need for that.”
“Rose is unconscious in your arms because of me,” Harry said, looking at her. “I don’t want that to be Draco next or you or anyone else.”
“Too late,” Snape said.
“He has a point. Anyone he affiliates with is inherently in danger.”
“Rosier and his crew have been arrested,” Remus argued, adjusting his hold of Rose. “Anyone else that tries to come after you is going to learn from their mistake and target you when you’re alone. You’re making it easier for them by isolating yourself. James was just like you when he was younger – he kept away from everyone in our first year, made no friends for months. That made it even easier for him to be targeted and attacked, so by the end of the year, he was surrounded by people all the time and it was harder to get to him that way. Having friends is a strength, not a weakness – it gives you cover.”
“Only if you’re willing to sacrifice everyone around you,” Snape said coldly. “Using people for cover is the same as using them as human shields when a Death Eater is after you.”
“Death Eaters won’t be able to touch him at Potter Manor, nor will they be able to get close to him at Hogwarts. Today was their last chance to hurt him. They failed. There’s no reason for him to push Draco away now.”
“Have you forgotten that Fleamont Potter and Ann Wen died at Potter Manor?” Snape reminded him. “It’s not an impenetrable fortress—”
“Rose!” Harry jumped. She was very comfortably lounging in Remus’ arms, and he gently put her down, but held her steady. “Rose, are you okay?”
“I’d be better if these two would stop arguing about stupid things,” she said, rubbing her head. “There’s no such thing as safety in the world. Nowhere is impenetrable. Harry will always be in danger. And you—”
“Ah!” Harry yelped as she punched him in the shoulder.
“—you don’t get to decide who stays with you. Draco’s good. He stays because I say so. Get over it.”
“I will tell those reporters that you and Draco met naked in the baths—”
“AH! No, no, no – okay – you win!” Harry flustered shaking his hands at her.
“Good, now why is there blood on your hand?”
“On your hand!”
“Are you sure she’s Petunia’s daughter?” Snape whispered to Remus.
“Well….” Remus said, tilting his head. “I mean, she wasn’t at Godric’s Hollow that night – she was already with Petunia, so there’s that, I suppose.”
“Maybe she’s adopted.”
“Maybe you’re adopted, you dandy wanker!” she snapped at him, making him startle backward. “Who are you anyway?”
“He’s Draco’s Uncle Sev,” Harry said.
“Oh, you’re Uncle Sev?” Rose asked.
“Don’t call me that – I don’t even like when he calls me that! I’m Professor—”
“You’re Uncle Sev, and you’ll learn to like it,” Rose decided forcefully.
“Rose, you can’t call him Uncle Sev at Hogwarts,” Remus giggled.
“Fine, Professor Sev—”
“THAT’S WORSE!” Snape yelled in horror, but Harry noticed with amusement that his ears were red.
“STOP YELLING!” Rose barked at him. “I was just knocked unconscious, and you’re yelling at me! I ought to kick you in the balls, you inconsiderate crone! Be happy that I’m even calling you something nice because there’s a hundred mean things that I could call you!”
“YOU—” but he stopped, apparently too overwhelmed to speak, growling loudly before storming out of the shop, Remus and Harry breaking into laughter as he left.
“Inconsiderate crone?” Draco cackled at the dinner table of the Potter suite that night. “You actually called him that and he didn’t curse you!?”
“He wouldn’t dare,” Rose said arrogantly.
“How does he…?” Harry asked Remus. “I mean how is he connected--?”
“Oh, he was in our year at Hogwarts,” Remus explained. “We weren’t friends, but it is a boarding school. You get to know everyone. He was top of the year in Potions, even better than James and Lily.”
“He’s the youngest mage to ever pass the Potions Mastery Exam,” Draco gloated. “He did it when he was only 20, right after graduating. When the previous Potions Master at Hogwarts retired, Uncle Sev took over. He’s been there ever since. A lot of students have crushes on him, but he’s the hardest teacher there, so people give him a wide berth.”
“I would have thought Potions would be dad’s best subject,” Harry said.
“No – Transfigurations, actually,” Remus said. “And Lily’s was Charms. Mine was History of Magic.”
“Transfigurations,” Harry repeated. “Charms. Potions. History of Magic – all these subjects. I wonder if I’ll be any good at any of them.”
“You could always practice over the summer,” Draco said. “I am. I want to be the best in the year.”
“You’ll need to finish your shopping first, then,” Remus pointed out. “You’re still missing some of your school things as well.”
“We have to go back tonight because dad has work, but we’ll get the rest in Wales,” Draco shrugged. “We only came up here for clothes since the clothes in Cardiff are old-fashioned and low quality. Better books, though. And the Edin Bathhouse is quite glorious.”
They turned to find a tall woman stepping out of her slippers into the sitting room. She was adorned in a spectacular lavender kimono with plum mountains on the lower half and maple leaves of red, green, and gold descending from the shoulders down the draping sleeves. Her torso was tightly wrapped in an extraordinary wide white belt embroidered with matching maple leaves, a cord through the centre of it with a red maple buckle in the middle. Her black hair was bound up with silver maple leaf tassels draping down the sides, and her face was painted white with red lips and red powder ghosting the sides of her eyes.
“Lady Shizumi,” Remus greeted with a respectful bow. “Thank you for coming.”
“Your message was rather concerning,” she said elegantly. “I prepared the remedy for Kitsune Poison. Severus’ suggestion of a heavier treatment for today is very wise. As is my specialty, I prepared it as a bath salt. For maximum effectiveness, I suggest opening a meridian path along the conception vessel.”
She held out a silk bag and Harry gently accepted it. “Where’s the conception vessel?”
“She means cutting you on your stomach – don’t worry,” Remus assured him. “Just a small cut will do. Nothing life-threatening.”
“I should warn you,” Lady Shizumi said seriously. “This cure will result in your beautification diminishing. It will take time, but over the course of a fortnight, your appearance will become more sedate.”
“Like it was before?” Harry asked.
“Not as dirty, but yes,” Remus nodded.
“The rest of the remedy will need longer to prepare. I will send it along with Ah Rong tomorrow. Shall I prepare you some beautification potions to offset the effects?”
“No, thank you,” Harry said. “This…I’m quite happy to go back to the way I looked before.”
Lady Shizumi tutted and cupped Harry's cheek, looking down at him. “You mustn’t be so harsh about beautification potions, Wen-chan. All they do is accentuate your natural grace. This face is your own – simply amplified and smoothed. Beautification potions alone cannot change one’s appearance too drastically. Afterall, they beautify, not transmogrify.”
Harry looked down. “I barely even know what I look like not covered in grease and filth, ma’am. I think it's for the best that I learn to like my own skin before worrying about perfecting it.”
She looked sad, suddenly. “Sometimes seeing the perfected version of yourself is the only one that you can like. The boy you are underneath could be the one you despise most.”
Harry frowned at her as she left just as mysteriously and gracefully as she’d appeared. He turned to Remus, who watched her leave fondly. “What does that mean?”
“Magic is capable of many wonderful things, Harry. It can bring out the best and worst in people. Lady Shizumi moved here to Edinburgh from Japan to escape her life there. She hated her boyhood self.”
“She was a boy?” Rose asked in shock.
“She was born with a manly origin, yes,” Remus nodded. “However, she felt that it was incorrect, an error of nature, and sought to correct it. The former owner of this bathhouse had a similar experience and took her in, teaching her to love her true self that she was able to see with the help of beautification potions. Eventually, she underwent a treatment to shed her manly origins, and is now just as female as you, Rose.”
“More so,” Rose said in awe. “She’s so elegant and beautiful.”
“Sev thinks so too,” Draco smirked. “He comes here every month for her company, has done for two years now. I keep wondering if he’s going to make it official and court her properly, but nothing so far.”
“Does he hesitate because…because of her treatment?” Harry asked tactfully.
“Oh, no. He’s the one who brewed her potions for it. No, it’s not her. He’s what she calls a tsudere – someone who is hard on the outside and soft on the inside. It took dad years to earn Sev’s trust. He’s just a very closed-off person. Mum told me that his last girlfriend died during the war. I think he’s traumatized.”
“Probably,” Remus said. “He’s been through a lot, and I don’t even know what he’s been doing these past ten years. I know that he’s changed a lot, to be sure. He didn’t use to look like that.”
“Dad would never tell me – what did he look like before he used beautification potions.”
“Bloody hell – does everyone use them?” Harry asked.
“They’re very popular,” Draco defended. “I even had a small treatment that I use.”
“Severus was certainly not handsome back in school,” Remus said. “He had a large nose and pasty skin and greasy hair. He was teased for it all the time. He started using beautification potions in our sixth year but tried to hide it and pass it off as growing out of his old looks. James defended him, though, since he used them as well to control his hair and cover his naturally rosy cheeks. They became very popular after that and people left him alone about it.”
“You should use them for your hair,” Rose suggested. “I’ve seen what it does when it’s short and if it’s going to go back to being short when you use that bath salt, you’ll need something. It sticks up everywhere. And you get those little red spots all over you.”
“Petechia,” Harry nodded.
“That means that you bruise easily,” Remus said. “Your mother had it too. Rose is right – we should get you a few minor treatments.”
“What about my eyesight?” Harry asked. “Will it get worse again?”
“Probably,” Remus nodded. “Not as bad as before, but a bit worse. Why don’t you stay here while I go pick you up some reading glasses and a few things from Diagon Alley?”
“I should go as well,” Draco said reluctantly.
“So soon?” Harry asked before blushing and looking away.
“Oh?” Draco smiled. “Missing me already?”
“Shove off,” Harry scoffed. “Who would miss you? You’re only after my books.”
“Perhaps at first,” Draco admitted, lifting Harry's face by the chin, “but I’ve certainly elevated by aims now. Won’t you give me a goodbye kiss?”
“I’ll give you a goodbye beating, you dandy wanker,” Harry hissed, kicking at the boy, who laughed and stepped away out of his range.
“I suppose this is a good time to bid you adieu,” Draco said, bowing formally to the three travellers. “I’ll write to you at Potter Manor. Do give my regards to Madam Bones, Mr. Figg, and Miss Marie.”
“Thank you,” Harry said seriously, “for all of your help this weekend.”
“Take care,” Rose said as Remus nodded.
“I’ll see you at school if not before, Harry,” Draco said, taking his hand. But instead of shaking it, he kissed Harry's knuckles with a flirtatious wink before darting off, leaving a flushed Harry behind, wiping his hand off in embarrassment while Rose and Remus giggled in amusement.
The bath salt worked marvellously, and Harry slept deeper that night than he had even after the kidnapping incident with Rosier. He awoke to the familiar sound of Sean tapping on the wall and smiled at the man as he came into the room. “Did you have fun yesterday?” Harry asked him, sitting up and yawning.
“Lots. Marie and I had a right proper date.” He knelt down and touched Harry's hair, and the teen noticed that it was shorter again, like it had been before Dudley’s birthday, just grazing his armpits. It was still inky black, and a look in the mirror told him that otherwise, nothing had changed, but it was a start to getting back to normal, at least.
“I still don’t understand why my magic did this,” Harry said, touching his skin that didn’t feel as unnaturally smooth anymore. “Why make me pretty?”
“To draw people in,” Remus said, coming up the stairs with a large trunk that apparently weighed nothing as he set it down by the banister. “You were worried about how people would perceive you, so your magic made you irresistible, more in line with what they would want.”
“But I didn’t—”
“You didn’t have to,” Remus assured him. “Passive magic operates mostly unconsciously. The more powerful the passive magic, the more extraordinary the effect can be. Add to that the fact that your magic was amplified by the poison and you get fairy-like beauty, rapid healing, and impenetrable defences. If that shield that you had when Rosier attacked is anything like what happened the night Voldemort killed your parents, then it’s no wonder he couldn’t hurt you.”
“Rosier’s in prison,” Remus said, waving a hand, “but you have a good point. Harry's magic is very weak right now. If we were attacked now, he would be practically defenceless.”
“Then…can you teach me your fighting skills?” Harry asked. “You were amazing yesterday.”
“Good idea,” Remus nodded. “I’ll teach you at the Manor. I’ve bought you a trunk. It’ll fit everything – Undetectable Expansion Charms and all – so just pack it all up. We’ll be leaving in about an hour.”
“Are we flying again?” Sean asked wearily.
“It’s too clear a day,” Remus said, nodding to the blue skies. “We’ll be taking a train instead. I’ve already sent the carriage ahead. We’ll pick it up in Aviemore.”
Harry had never ridden a train before. He was nervous as they made their way out of the bathhouse and down the hill toward the road. An open carriage picked them up to take them to Waverly Station. The wrought-iron skylights amazed Harry so much that Rose had to hold his hand to keep him from running into people as he gawked at them.
The platform was noisy with passengers bustling between trains, dragging their luggage to the porters and following their masters and mistresses to their departure car. The doors to the compartments were on the outside of the train, so once they found their compartment, they boarded directly and took their seats on plush first-class benches, settling in for the long journey north.
The train passed west first, as a bridge across the Firth of Forth had yet to be constructed and turned north at Stirling toward Perth. Marie had packed a picnic for them, and they ate it while observing the beautiful Scottish countryside that looked both similar to and different from Ireland – just as wild, but rougher and hardier. In the afternoon, the train passed along the edge of the Cairngorms, climbing the mountains toward the lochs and crags of the highlands through a valley toward the northern coastline.
They disembarked at Aviemore in the shadow of Ben Macdui Mountain at nearly five in the afternoon, taking tea at an inn where the carriage and winged horses were waiting for them.
“May I ride?” Rose asked Remus as they finished strapping down the luggage at the back of the carriage.
“That’ll be quite nice,” Remus smiled. “You’re trained, aren’t you?” She nodded happily. “You can take my horse, then. Harry, come here.” Harry frowned by went to the man, who picked him up and situated him onto the lead carriage horse. “There you are. You can get used to the feeling, at least, since you haven’t had lessons yet. I’ll teach you to ride before you go off to school. Sean, I’ll take the reins. Why don’t you and Marie enjoy the carriage?”
“Oh, I couldn’t—”
“Nonsense,” Remus waved. “We’re all friends here. No ranks necessary.”
Marie blushed, but looked very touched as she climbed into the comfort of the carriage. Sean looked a bit proud of himself as he took his place next to her, closing the doors before them and dropping the window to enjoy the mountain air. Remus climbed into the driver’s seat and nodded to Rose, who had expertly mounted Remus’ mare and led the way down the south road along the tracks to the crossing under the rail and over River Spey to a tree-lined path into the Cairngorms.
The trees were not too high as they traversed the wooded path, and but Harry was still amazed by them, having grown up entirely in the city of Belfast. However, there was something eerily familiar about being surrounded by woods, and the more that he tried to figure out when he’d ever been in such a place, the more he felt that now-familiar shiver of cold running through his veins.
“The rabbits have gotten quite confident recently,” Fleamont Potter explained. “I’ve had to buy some foxes to release just to keep their numbers down, which has got the stoats in a twist – they’ve started thieving from the village, the wee devils. But they’re better than the badgers – those mean beasties are worse than the grice this time of year.”
He laughed, looking over, but found that James was not sharing his amusement, riding beside him mutely, his posture effortlessly regal. The youth stopped suddenly, tilting his head, and Fleamont looked ahead to see a large, fan-tailed bird crossing the path.
“Ah, a capercaillie. You haven’t seen one of those in China, have you?”
“No,” James admitted.
“He speaks!” Fleamont celebrated, adjusting his kilt proudly. “Lo and behold, my unfilial son finally loosens his tongue to me after neigh eight hours.”
“I’m not unfilial!” James argued angrily. “I just don’t care about your catalogue of the flora and fauna of Caledonia. Is it really so terrible for me to miss home?”
Fleamont sighed, looking down at his hands. “This is your home,” he said pointedly. “You were just visiting China. This is where you were born, where—”
“Where I’ll die?” James asked. “What a beautiful tomb it makes. Home isn’t a name on a birth record. Home is the place that shapes who you are, what you believe in. It’s the place that most defines your values, the place that brings you peace to the core of your being. You sent me to Shangqing for that purpose. You’re surprised that I value it more?”
Surprised, Fleamont exhaled softly and looked up at the sky. “You’ve a point.…I expected that you would come back, bright eyed, and want lamb and to breathe the cool mountain air. Instead, you’ve been cold and sullen since you got off the boat. The only time you’ve warmed was when that girl fell on you in the bookshop.”
A vermillion streak crossed his face from ear to ear across his nose and under his eyes, and he looked away suddenly terribly nervous. “S-she – that’s – I was just – she was—”
Fleamont burst into laughter at his son’s embarrassment. “Ho-ho! Seems the little Irish fae made an impression on you, did she!?”
“Fae?” James asked. “She wasn’t a fairy – more like a Hu Ji Ling – a fox demon! Aye – she’s a fox demon! She’s come to seduce men and swallow their essence. I won’t fall for her trick!”
“Jamie, my boy,” Fleamont chuckled, “she’s just a girl. Weren’t there girls at Shangqing?”
“Girls in China are different!” James insisted. “They’re more – more – they keep their hands to themselves!”
“Oh, so it was the handshake that’s gotten your wand in a twist?” Fleamont asked, grinning, leaning forward on his saddle, crossing his forearms over the reins. “Well, you’ll have to be ready for another. Irish girls tend to be very affectionate. What was her name again?”
“Evans,” James mumbled. “Lily Evans.”
“AHA!” Fleamont yelped, causing James to jump and his horse to stamp in place. “We met two dozen people yesterday and you couldn’t remember a one of their names, but this girl you remember. I dare say we’ll have an Evans in the family tree soon.”
He let out a bark of laughter as he rode off and James went even darker pink as he chased after his father.
“What’s so funny?” Rose asked.
Harry opened his eyes with a gasp and looked at her in surprise. “Oh—um…nothing. Just thinking of something Draco said yesterday.”
“That boy,” Rose smiled, shaking her head. “She’s quite the looker and he knows it, surely. Charms to kill, he's got. Don’t you fall for him, though! You’ve got a responsibility to carry on the family line.”
“I wouldn’t fall for a boy!” Harry scoffed.
“How do you know?” Rose asked. “Have you ever fallen for a girl? How do you know you wouldn’t love a boy just the same if not more?”
“Because…because…look!” Harry distracted her, pointing out a large fan-feathered bird in the woods nearby. “A capercaillie!”
“How do you know what it’s called?” Rose asked, staring at the bird.
“Oh, um…we saw one at the Belfast zoo, remember?” he lied.
“No,” she admitted, shaking her head.
“There are no capercaillie at the Belfast Zoo,” Remus said firmly. He’d stopped the carriage, and Harry and Rose turned to look up at him. He was staring at Harry with a highly suspicious look. “How do you really know that word, Harry?”
“I…” Harry stammered.
“No, enough,” Remus said firmly. “I let you skirt around this in Edinburgh because we had bigger worries and limited time, but that’s quite enough of that. How did you know James’ name, his wealth, his school, and how do you know the word capercaillie? No one told you – that much I know. They’re native to Scotland. Do you remember your parents? Do you actually remember when they died?”
“I don’t!” Harry insisted.
“Then how do you know?” Rose asked in confusion.
Harry scratched the side of his neck nervously before wringing his fingers. “I…I’ve been having these…these strange dreams.”
“Dreams?” Remus asked softly.
“Well…they’re not always at night. Sometimes, I have them in the day, like that morning in the Leaky Cauldron and…and just now.”
“How do you see them?” Remus asked, then corrected himself, “I mean, are you seeing through the eyes of your father? Or is it from afar?”
“Through his eyes,” Harry said. “I dreamed of mum, too, when she was young, growing up with Petunia.”
“You see both of them?” Remus clarified. Harry nodded. “Then it’s not transference. You wouldn’t see Lily if it was transference.”
“Transference?” Sean repeated from inside the carriage.
“It’s the way that Harry was saved that night in Godric’s Hollow,” Remus explained. “James and Lily both transferred their magic to him before they died, flooding him with power and that rebounded Voldemort. But after that, Lily’s magic went into Rose, so Harry wouldn’t be having transferred memories of her. Rose would. The fact that he sees both…. It must be the Eye.”
“What eye?” Marie asked, looking at Harry from the carriage window.
“Ann Wen was known for her alchemy skills, but she was also a talented diviner. She could predict the future. This talent runs in the Wen Clan and is one of the reasons why the Prince that they serve back in China prizes them so much. The Seer’s Eye is rare. Only a handful of magical families have it, and it slips in and out of strength, usually skipping generations. No one was surprised that James didn’t have it, but James told me once that he felt like you might have it. He couldn’t tell. You were too young. Precognition is the most coveted form of the Seer’s Eye, but it’s not the only form. There are Seers who can see the present, seeing things as they happen, and those who can see the past. Post-cognitive Seers begin only being able to see the pasts of their direct blood relatives. They have to train that ability to see beyond that.”
“So…these dreams…they really did happen?” Harry asked in awe.
“You probably had a lot of them recently because of the poison. Now that you’re being cured, they’ll be less frequent. We need to be careful, though. The more powerful the Seer, the more likely that they have other related abilities. Pre-cognitive Seers can also tell prophecies. Ante-cognitive Seers can develop telepathy – the ability to hear the thoughts of those around them. Post-cognitive Seers can develop empathic abilities – the ability to feel the emotions of other people. These additional gifts usually come from Seers training their abilities as sort of stepping-stones out of their natural aptitudes. Empathy can be debilitating in crowded places like Hogwarts. It’s best we not try to train you until you’re graduated, or at least in your last two years.”
“What do we do until then?” Rose asked.
“They’re not hurting him,” Remus assured her. “If anything, they’re giving him a way to get to know his parents, and considering his limited options for doing that, I’d call that a blessing. What’s important is that no one know about it. Otherwise, people will push Harry to train his Eye so that they can use it as they want – get him to find lost loved ones or lost treasures. Post-cognitive Seers are often targeted by treasure-hunters who want them to use their abilities for personal gain.”
“Well, mystery solved,” Marie clapped. “Shall we keep going? It’s nearly sunset.”
“Aye,” Remus said, urging the horses along again. “We’re nearly at the village outside the Manor now. We’ll stay there tonight and go see what state the Manor is in tomorrow.”
“Ooh, I bet it’s beautiful,” Rose squealed. “When was it built? Is it a castle?”
“It’s not a castle,” Remus chuckled. “Charlus built it, so it’s quite recent.”
“My great-uncle built the Manor?” Harry asked in confusion. “Wait, but I thought—”
“The house before that was destroyed,” Remus said. “Fleamont’s father, Henry, was a politician who made some dangerous enemies. One of them attacked the Manor – destroyed the whole village, actually. It used to be called Druid’s Cove. Henry died trying to put out the fire. Charlus extended the blood charms to the village when he rebuilt Potter Manor further away in case anyone attacked it again. Mostly, it’s Asian magical immigrants that live in the village on account of your grandmother Ann. Since there was nothing left, they built the whole village in their own style.”
“So, it’s an Oriental village?” Rose asked in awe.
“It’s called Shéhú, meaning Snake Lake, because Loch Morlich has lots of snakes around it. Which reminds me that I’ll need to teach you Irish darlings how to handle snakes.” He sighed. “Another thing to the list.”
Harry smiled. “That must have made dad happy – like a little bit of home again.”
“He certainly loved that village,” Remus smiled. “We might stay there for a while until we get our bearings around the Manor. Having been empty for nearly fifteen years, the Manor’s going to need mending and cleaning. We can’t stay there immediately.”
“Ugh,” Rose grimaced. “And I suppose the household’s all gone now.”
“Yep,” Remus said.
“Lots of work for us to handle then. Good thing I’m a right proper lady and know how to handle this.”
“What would we do without you, Miss Rose?” Sean chuckled.
“Lucky you don’t have to find out!” she said proudly, making them all laugh.
Author's Note: I've been doing a lot of work on the articles lately. There's still a lot of work to be done on them, so look forward to more updates to those soon. We'll be checking out Potter Manor and Shéhú next time, and then it's off to Hogwarts.