Bane of My Existence
by Dream Howler
Author Notes: This story has undergone a major overhaul since the original Chapter 1. This means that there are events in this story that have changed. If you have read the first two chapters on other sites, please read them again before going on to chapter 3.
I want to thank my beta's who have helped me fix up this chapter, and make it much better than it was before. Much thanks to Keikokin, Drakeluvr, and Messiah.
Canon Notes: This story is Pre-HBP, and takes place in my version of Harry Potter's seventh year, based on the events of the first five books. Most of the content of this story will obviously be filled with different information because Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is out, and many things have changed that I will not be mentioning here. I will be taking some spells and some small events out of HBP, but the majority of this will make this an AU.
Copyright: This plot/story is ©2004 - 2005 by Dream Howler. This story is the sole property of its author, and may not be copied, in whole or in part, or posted on any other website without the written permission of the author. As for the Characters that are in this story, they are the property of J.K. Rowling, and are only being borrowed for my enjoyment. I am not receiving money for writing this story, and have no money for any lawyers to take should they decide to sue me.
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Harry sighed as he lay back on his bed, finally taking a break from his summer studies, and let his mind wander. He couldn't believe that so many people looked to him in the hope that he, Harry, just Harry, would save them from one of the darkest wizards of all time. When Harry was just a baby, he became the hero of the Wizarding World, and became famous for something he could barely remember, and wanted more than anything to forget. It had always bothered him that he became famous for something he had no control over.
Over the years, Harry had felt like an outsider, watching helplessly as his life spun out of control. He couldn't help feeling hurt, helpless, angry and used when he went from being a hero, to a liar; having never told a lie in his life; to crazy and then suddenly, back to being the Wizarding World hero once more, even though he hated it all.
Last year, he had narrowly escaped Voldemort's clutches again, and lived to tell the tale yet again, although it left him with several more nightmares, not the first being that he watched Sirius fall through the veil on a continuous loop, as though it were a broken record.
He was starting his Seventh year at Hogwarts at the end of the summer. There wasn't much for him to do other than study, and complete the work assigned for the break by his teachers. Some might call Harry a hero, but in reality, he was following his heart, and becoming an artist.
One day during his Fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry asked the Room of Requirement to provide something soothing to do after enduring a stressful day. Instead of what he expected, a bass guitar appeared, much to his surprise. Harry decided to try it and he quickly realized that he was what some would consider a natural at it, though it did take a lot of hard work to learn the proper chords. Arranging time to practice during the school year was hard to arrange, especially with Umbridge always looking for something to take from him, or get him in trouble. He managed it however, and after awhile, Harry realized that he could not only play well, but also did a good job at singing as well as writing music. No one really knew just how good he was, since he never allowed anyone to hear him. It was his private joy.
Halfway through his Fifth year, when Umbridge was at her worst, Professor Dumbledore had caught Harry using the Room of Requirement to practice his guitar. Thinking to encourage the boy, Dumbledore gave Harry a new place to practice his music, with the only rule being, to keep his grades up. The new location was an old music classroom that was no longer in use; and it was truly wonderful. It had the strongest silencing charms available, since it used to hide loud music. It had pleased him that he was able to continue practicing, making sure that no one found out. The rest of the world thought that Harry was just a liar at the time, and even Ron and Hermione didn't know he played. Harry was just the `Savior of the World' in their eyes, and that was all they needed to know.
Chapter 1 - The Mysterious Writer
Harry had survived his first week at the Dursley's, glad that the whole family was leaving him alone for the most part. Not really expecting anything in the way of mail, Harry was shocked to hear a tapping on his window. It wasn't the first letter he received that summer, but it took him a moment to realize that the letter wasn't from one of his friends. The beautiful tawny owl had flown in holding a rather plain looking envelope that didn't have much in the way of markings, except for his name. Turning it over, he saw that the envelope bore a silver seal with three stars and a wand. Not recalling ever having received a letter with that seal before, he was a bit hesitant to open it. However, after a week of boredom at the Dursley's, he figured it would be okay. It wasn't as if Voldemort would suddenly start sending him letters; right? Harry asked himself.
Cautiously, he opened the envelope, pulled out the letter, and began to read. The writing was in elegant script he didn't recognize, and he became even more curious than he was before.
It has been a week since I last saw you, and you don't know how much I wish I were with you. It's rather lonely in my home with only the silence for company, and of course, my music. Do you know that very few people even know that I play an instrument? Of course you don't, since you don't know who I am. Did you know it was once common to teach any child who had a musical gift, be it singing, or playing an instrument? It seems to me, that many parents are leaving behind the traditions of the past. I often wonder what will happen to me after I get out of school.
I am sure you are wondering why I wrote you this letter, but I guess I don't really know myself. Perhaps I won't even mail it, though I don't know... maybe I will. I have never been one to back down from something that I want, except one time. I regret that moment every day—the day I gave up, and let it walk away without even a backwards glance.
The main purpose of this correspondence is more of a wish than as a real letter. I wish I could tell you in person how sorry I am for the way I have treated you over the years, but for now, this is all I can do about it. In reality, I could probably never tell you to your face how sorry I am, and have you believe me. Until the day that I can get up enough courage to tell you who I am, I will remain your ever-apologizing subject.
P.S. My owl will stay with you until you reply. Please take good care of him. His name is Arrow.
Harry blinked as he finished reading the letter. The first thing Harry noticed was that this was definitely a male's handwriting, since a female's handwriting tended to be more curvy and loopy. He looked at the owl for a few moments and shrugged. 'What would writing back to him hurt? Although, it could be a trap, couldn't it? Perhaps it's a reporter taking a chance to get information out of me. Well, let's hope I am wrong, and that this person is okay,' Harry thought.
Harry sat back down at his tiny desk, took out a piece of parchment, ink, and quill, and tried to decide how to reply. When he had finally finished, he carefully folded the parchment and put it in an envelope. He wrote `Caesius' in a neat scrawling script, and carefully tied it to the owl's leg. "Okay, Arrow, take this letter back to your owner. I am sure he is eagerly awaiting it."
'Perhaps,' Harry thought, 'this summer might turn out interesting after all.'
Caesius paced nervously after he sent out his owl, Arrow. He was almost positive that Harry wouldn't write back, but he could hope, right? He sighed as he went to his closet, pulling out clothes for bed, while trying to forget the sounds of a nearly desolate house. Caesius' father was still in Azkaban, which he still had yet to thank Harry for. Caesius reasoned that for the most part, it kept his father out of harms way.
`Perhaps I can thank Harry once he forgives me,' Caesius thought. 'Well, if he does. At any rate, I bet he won't write me back. I'd wager
bet he has already figured out who I am, and will send my owl home.' Caesius sighed again as he got undressed, pulled on a pair of pajamas, and laid down to go to sleep. He would just have to wait and see if Harry would reply.
The next morning, Caesius awoke to a loud tapping on the window. Still groaning from being startled awake, he crawled to the window sluggishly. Attached to his owl's leg was a letter, and it took several moments for his sleepy mind to realize its significance. 'He wrote me back!!!' Caesius thought excitedly. Pulling open the letter, Caesius eagerly read the reply.
Well, since I don't know anyone by that name who has hurt me over the years; I assume it's a nickname. Did you choose it yourself, or did someone give it to you? Since you won't tell me who you are, I guess "Caesius" is what I will use. It is an interesting nickname actually.
I figured it wouldn't hurt to write you back. I mean; I doubt that you could be Voldemort, considering he would never apologize to me for anything. Of course, you could be one of his followers, or a reporter, so forgive me for being suspicious. On the other hand, I doubt Voldemort would have any of his followers write to me either; it doesn't seem to be his style. He seems to like doing things face-to face.
So, on that note, perhaps you could tell me what exactly you are apologizing for. Many people have hurt me over the years, so it's a rather long list to choose from. If you don't feel up to giving me specifics yet, then tell me something about you that I wouldn't know. Tell me about your music. I like all kinds of music myself.
I am kind of wondering about your previous statement, about you wanting to be with me. Are you saying that you just wish I were around, so you could apologize in person? Or do you really want to be with me—you know, as in more than just friends? On the other hand, perhaps I'm being silly, and you just miss me being around to argue with you.
Well, regardless of your reasoning, I guess the statement rather confused me. If Hermione was here, I am sure she would probably think I was crazy for writing someone who claims to know me. She, or Ron, Erm, maybe both, would probably accuse you of being a reporter for the Daily Prophet, or even one of Voldemort's followers. I don't really get that vibe from the letter you wrote me, but I am not going to totally trust you - just yet.
Anyway, since you made the first move here, is there anything about me you would like to know? I suppose the main purpose of sending these letters was to get to know me better, right? Regardless, I hope you are not disappointed by my reply.
Caesius was shocked. Harry had written a nice letter to him, and wanted to get to know him! Caesius was ecstatic. Perhaps, by the time the summer was over, he could reveal himself to Harry, and they could be friends, or maybe more. Caesius could dream, right?
Taking out a piece of parchment, he began to formulate his reply. It needed to be witty, so unlike what Harry knew him to be. He wanted to bare his soul, one not even his closet friends had seen before. An hour later, Caesius set down his quill. He decided to let Arrow rest, and have him deliver it in the morning. He gave his owl some treats and began preparing for the rest of the day. As he got dressed, Caesius hummed cheerfully as thoughts of Harry flashed through his mind, and he couldn't be happier.
The next morning, Caesius sent Arrow off with his reply, and watched from the window until the owl faded into the distance. He rang a bell for a house-elf, giving him his breakfast order when it appeared, before crawling back in bed with a new potions book his mother had gotten him. He sighed as he thought of her; the house wasn't the same when she was out visiting her friends. He was lonely, and wanted someone to talk to.
'At least I have Harry to write to,' he thought happily.
Harry eagerly waited for the return of Arrow. He knew that he shouldn't expect the bird back so soon, but Caesius did say he was lonely. Perhaps he would let his owl rest before giving him another letter.
'I doubt Caesius would like his owl to tire out, even if he is eager to write me.'
Harry was surprised that he was waiting anxiously for a return letter. Though, the main thing he was waiting for was his impending birthday. Once Harry's birthday rolled around, he would finally be free of the Dursleys forever. It was a moment that he had treasured in his heart for years: the day he could finally tell Uncle Vernon how he felt about him, if he got up enough courage to do so. Wondering what to do, he carefully let Hedwig out of her cage and slipped a little sack around the bird's leg. "Girl, could you take this to the Daily Prophet, and get me a paper?" Hedwig hooted softly, nibbled affectionately on his finger, and then flew out the window.
While waiting for his owl to come back with the day's paper, Arrow swooped in the open window with a loud hoot. Harry smiled. The owl was a beautiful creature, though not as beautiful as his Hedwig. He quickly fed the owl some treats, and sat down on his bed to read his new letter.
Thank you for returning my letter. I want to assure you that I wouldn't work for the Prophet for all the money in the Wizarding World. The only reason I read it most of the time, is because I am bored, and who wants to read the Quibbler? Well, perhaps Lovegood would, but she has an excuse, right? Her dad does own the paper, after all. Regardless, I was very happy to see Arrow had returned with a letter. As to your questions, well those are pretty easy and harmless
Caesius is of Latin origin. My mother gave me the nickname when I was little, though she hasn't used it in many years. It's actually more of a private name for me now, one that I use when I feel lonely, or lost. Yes, lost. It's amazing how often people will look at me, and never think that those words would ever apply to me. That feeling of loss definitely comes out in my music though. My best friend is always telling me how soulful my songs are, though if you knew my father the way I do, you would understand all of this better.
As for my comment about wanting to be with you, well - I guess you could say it's a bit of both of the ones you mentioned. I do owe you a more personal apology than the one I have offered you here, especially since you don't even know who is apologizing yet. However, I know that if I tell you who I am at this point, I will never receive another letter from you again. So, instead of telling you who I am, I will ask for your advance forgiveness for waiting so long.
Now, let's move on to more pleasant topics. My music is the only thing that keeps me sane these days. Though people look at me and think that I don't have any problems, they would be dead wrong. I am by no means stupid, far from it in fact. Not that I am trying to be arrogant or anything, but I work very hard to make the grades I do. Some wouldn't really agree with that statement, but it's true.
You aren't the only person that I owe apologies to, but those can wait for now. I know once you discover who I am, or I get the guts to tell you, you will realize that apologies don't really come easy to me. In fact, you are probably the first person I have ever sincerely wanted to apologize to in my life. All the other apologies I have made over the years, I never meant
it, or I felt forced to make them.
Since we are getting to know each other here, I have a question for you. Have you ever done something in your life that you regret? I mainly mean something like choices in friends, actions, et cetera. I know I have. One mistake I regret more than anything involves a choice in friends. Maybe one day I will be able to tell you just how that one error has affected my whole life.
Well, I suppose I should let you go and let you get some sleep.
Harry looked at the letter, silently wondering why he suddenly got the feeling that this was someone he knew very well. Harry shrugged, took out a piece of parchment, and penned a reply. After he was done, he smiled and wondered how long it would take this mystery boy to tell him who he was.
Caesius woke up the next morning slightly worried. He was hoping that he didn't give Harry enough information to give himself away too badly in the last letter he had written. Caesius hated to keep this a secret from him. However, he felt strongly that if Harry discovered his identity, he would never want to get to know him. Caesius was sure that he was the bane of Harry's existence; well, besides You-Know-Who, of course.
He doubted he could ever tell Harry how attractive he thought he was. Last year, he
had walked in on Harry in the Prefect's Bathroom, just as Harry was about to step into the bath, and Caesius saw Harry in all his glory. Caesius knew that Harry was Quidditch Captain, and there was a possibility that he would be there, but that definitely wasn't what he expected when he had opened the door.
Harry had decided to grow out his hair a bit more after his Fifth year. By the time he came back for Sixth year, he was the talk of Hogwarts. In fact, Caesius was pleased to note that Harry had finally gotten rid of the baggy clothes that he used to wear. Caesius was never quite sure who had helped him, but he looked good in all of his new clothes.
'Hmmm, that's something to ask him in the next letter,' Caesius mused.
Arrow swept into the room then, and landed, exhausted, on the bed. "Hello Arrow. You sure came back fast, you could have rested, you know," Caesius scolded the bird affectionately. Arrow hooted softly, grabbed an owl treat, and flew over to his perch for a nap. After he eagerly unrolled the parchment, Caesius read the new letter.
It's interesting to see that we have a few things in common. I was just thinking about music when your latest letter arrived. Do you write your own music? Do you ever listen to Muggle music? You would be amazed at the large variety of brilliant Muggle music out there.
As to your question, I regret many things in my life, unfortunately. If you know anything about me at all, and not the rumors that dang Rita woman publishes, then you will know most of my tragic details. Truthfully, I regret many things, though the largest, hands-down, was my Godfather's death. He was pretty much the only true family I had left, especially since the Muggles that I have lived with for the majority of the last 17 years, have never treated me like family.
I was just a freak to them, locked away in a cupboard under the stairs until I turned eleven. Then, I suddenly got a tiny, little bedroom, which is where I stay now. I got what seemed like thousands of Hogwarts letters, though if it hadn't been for Hagrid, who came to find me, I probably would have never made it to Hogwarts at all.
My Uncle definitely didn't want me to go to Hogwarts, and become even more of a "freak" than I already was. I think his main concern was that he was going to have to pay for it. Luckily, my parents left me a good sum of money in the family vault.
As far as friend choices, well... there was one that I've always had a "what if" thought about. I'm not sure if you really knew that about me. I was just an abused, scared eleven-year-old the day I met the person who would become one of my enemies. I didn't really know he would become one at the time though. Hagrid had just saved me from my horrible relatives and I was still in shock. I had just learned, by his arrival in fact, that I wasn't a `freak' as my Muggle relatives always said I was, but was in fact, a wizard. My head was still spinning from the news, and I wasn't all that aware of anything else going on around me. That day, my birthday in fact, and I finally found out what really happened to my parents; my relatives never told me the truth, they said that they had died in a car accident. In addition, I found out I was destined to be a "thumping good wizard," Hagrid informed me.
I met my soon-to-be enemy at my very first robe shop. He had this amazing blond hair, and these liquid sliver-blue eyes. Sometimes those eyes haunt me in my dreams. It was too bad that he reminded me too much of my mean cousin, Dudley. Dudley's favorite pastime was `Harry Hunting'—also known as beating me into a pulp. I was small growing up, and it didn't help that they barely fed me either. Dudley was more than four or five times my size in mass, and later became a boxing champion in school. Between the blond's talk of money, and trying to break school rules by smuggling in a broom, he didn't really impress me. Later he insulted Ron, the first boy my age that I made friends with in the new world I had entered, and by the time he told me to stay away from Ron, I decided I didn't like his attitude at all.
Sadly, the blond hated me after that. I think I wounded his pride. Guess he didn't realize at the time that insulting my new friend wasn't the wisest way to make a new friend, and that his name couldn't impress me, because I had no idea who he was. After being told that all Dark Wizards are sorted into Slytherin, and the fact that the blond was sorted there as well, I begged the hat to put me anywhere else.
If I hadn't been sorted into Gryffindor, there is no telling what might have happened between that blond and I. Maybe we might have become friends, but after his father's repeated attempts to hurt me over the years, I suppose it's just as well we didn't become friends. It would be nice to go back to school this year and have a worry free year where he is concerned. He did put a stop to some of his animosity towards my friends and I last year, though it wasn't enough. If he could just stop the mean, sarcastic comments all the time, he might be nice to hang out around. Perhaps I'll make it a birthday wish.
Anyway, I am probably boring you to tears with my life history. Of course, not many know that particular bit of information except he and I... well, and now you of course. Why don't you tell me something about your history? Maybe I can guess who you are without you having to tell me. Write me soon, but let the owl have a little rest, huh?
Caesius blinked. Like most of the Wizarding World, Caesius thought that the Boy-Who-Lived led a charmed life with the Muggle relatives he lived with. Finding out that not only was he abused, but degraded to the status of a house-elf for said Muggles, made him extremely mad. Caesius knew, however, that since Harry was almost 17, he could probably leave their house after school this year. Harry would probably be so happy to be coming back to school this year that Caesius decided to make sure that Harry's birthday wish came true.
As to the letter, Caesius had no idea how to respond. He was sure that Harry wouldn't want his pity. Caesius was actually surprised how open Harry was about the past 17 years of his life. Harry had probably figured out who he was, and decided to continue writing anyway, trying to clear the air between them. Caesius sighed with relief, and read the letter again.
Pulling out a quill and some parchment, he started to think of a reply. He started humming softly as he replied in his neat handwriting, choosing deep blue ink this time from his color-changing inkpot. Caesius loved that he didn't have to run around carrying tons of different colored inks to write letters. All he had to do was tap it with his quill, state the color he wanted, and it changed to that color.
Since it was rather late, Caesius decided to send off the letter in the morning, and tucked it in a safe place in case someone came in to check on him in the night. Normally it didn't happen, but life was unpredictable. He just hoped that Harry would be as oblivious as usual, and not notice who he was from his latest letter.
The next day, around noon, found Harry coming back from making lunch for his relatives. He was used to this by now, and it was easier to just do it than have them yell at him again. He was ever thankful that he had shot up to a respectable five foot, ten inches tall after his last growth spurt. He wasn't as tall as Ron was though, who topped the six-foot scale like the rest of his family, well, aside from Mrs. Weasley and Ginny, although Ginny was closer to her bothers' in height.
Harry felt blessed every day, knowing that he had the Weasleys. They gave him the love that he missed for the first 11 years of his life. Everyone in the family loved and supported him, but especially Ron. Harry still hadn't told Ron about his sexuality preferences yet, and that bothered him. He had almost told Ron on several occasions over the last year, but it seemed that every time he thought to bring it up, he would loose his nerve. He just didn't want to lose his best friend because he was gay.
Plopping down on the bed, Harry grabbed a book, and started doing the rest of his homework. Dudley always teased him about it, saying only freaks would assign school work over the summer holiday's, but Harry couldn't think of a better way to spend the time he was stuck with them, than doing something that reminded him of the world he really belonged to. He had just finished a History of Magic essay when he heard the telltale knocking of an owl on his window. He saw two owls this time, his own, and Arrow, which had Harry breaking out in a huge grin.
Closing his books, he walked over to the window. Hedwig was carrying the Daily Prophet, and Arrow was, of course, bearing his new letter from the anonymous apologist. Taking them from the birds, he quickly scanned the headlines of the Prophet to make sure that nothing important was there. Finding nothing major in his quick search, he smiled and settled down on his bed to read his new letter.
I don't know what to say after your last letter. I had no idea that you were so badly mistreated at home. If I could, I would make sure they paid for that. You are by no means, a freak like they claim. I can tell you are a very kind, caring, and loyal person—a true Gryffindor. What is most amazing though, is that if you have never had
the love at home, at least you have friends.
To your questions: yes, I do write my own music. I also play guitar and piano. I learned to play the piano first. But later, I decided to pick up the guitar, and I like it better, really. My best friend loves playing the piano, so we get together a lot to play. You have expressed an interest in music yourself. Do you play anything? Do you sing? If you don't feel like you can tell me, just let me know. It would be nice to have someone to discuss music with other than my friend.
The story about your known problems with Draco Malfoy is interesting. I doubt that he even knows that you feel that way. Yes, I figured out who the blond is in your story. It didn't take a genius to figure it out, everyone pretty much knows by now that you two have been at odds for years, and he is the only boy that fits the description you gave at our school. You didn't bore me with your story about Draco Malfoy, actually. In fact, it was interesting to hear it from your point of view.
Anyway, I do have a question that you might be able to help me with; it has caused me to wonder a lot. I noticed you came back last year better dressed, and, well, hot. I was wondering who helped you. I don't know if you noticed it or not, but the normal stares associated with you changed a lot last year. I have a feeling you didn't though, or you just weren't interested in who was staring at you. That does make me wonder about something, but I think it's a little early to ask you that question.
I hope that my previous question didn't offend you. I guess in a roundabout way, I was trying to pay you a compliment. I hope that you realize that, and don't think further ill of me. I am looking forward to your next letter.
Harry stared at the letter for a long time. 'This person is very observant. At least it doesn't seem to be Colin.' Harry shivered at the thought. Colin had begun taking pictures of Harry so much last year, that he had nearly smashed the boy's camera. Eventually, he had to get the Headmaster and Professor McGonagall to tell him to stop harassing him.
Harry then found out that someone had cast a spell on Colin, which made him sing out random thoughts for a day. After that, Colin was so embarrassed that he never bothered Harry with his camera again. No one knew who had cast the spell, but Harry had a sneaking suspicion that it was Hermione. 'Never cross her,' Harry thought. 'It is not a good idea.'
Time passed quickly for Harry. His seventeenth birthday came and went, and he was finally free of the Dursleys, which was one of the better presents he received. The letters continued on an almost daily basis, but Harry didn't tell anyone about them or from the mysterious Caesius. Caesius often teased and flirted with him in his letters, and they had become quite personal in nature. Harry wasn't comfortable letting anyone, not even Hermione, read them. He had asked Caesius several times who he was, but each time the boy told him that he would tell him when they got back to school, where he could apologize properly.
Each time the boy sent this as his response, Harry felt a little heartbroken. Over time, he had started to fall in love with the mysterious boy, and he didn't know what to do. Harry had finally told Ron, Hermione, and the rest of the Weasleys that he was gay, which they took pretty well, considering. Ron was a little flustered, and was mad at him for a while. However, as Harry later found out, he didn't like the fact that Harry had known for so long, and never told him. Out of all the Weasley clan, Ginny took Harry's news the hardest. Though she had claimed she had gotten over her crush on him, Harry could tell that she was completely heartbroken, but she seemed to have learned to accept it.
Harry sat down with his latest owl from Caesius in his room, and smiled, wondering what he would say this time.
Dearest Handsome Harry,
My, that does sound a bit corny, but I couldn't think of anything else right now. How are you today? I really enjoyed your last letter. It really brightened my day. I didn't really have a good day myself, though I don't really want to talk about it. Luckily, I turned 17 a couple of months ago, so I was able to make the problem go away legally.
Anyway, enough about the depressing topics, I am sure we can find something more interesting to talk about than my wretched day. I was happy when I received your last letter, and found out that you were finally rid of those Muggles who treated you so badly. I don't know how anyone could do that to such a kind-hearted, sweet guy, especially one who has the most amazing green eyes I have ever seen, and with a lithe body like a tiger. You will never know how many times I would follow you down the halls last year, just to watch your arse as you walked.
I know, I sound like a stalker or something, but it's true. The most amazing thing is, that you don't even see it yourself. I guess you could say it is one of your more endearing qualities. I could go on all day about that, but I certainly don't want to make you uncomfortable.
You mentioned in one of your letters, that you went to a Muggle salon to get your makeover, and I must say, that they did a good job. Really, you look much better with the longer hair; it makes your wild tousled look of seem much tamer in comparison to before. I have never had trouble with fashion myself, though it was nice to see you out of those rags, sorry, don't mean to offend you. I don't think I noticed how nice looking you were until you came back to school last year though. Of course, the added height did wonders for that as well. I am glad that you finally had a growth spurt.
As for your last letter, you mentioned the Weasleys; and the love that they share in abundance, and how that is better than all the money in the world. I can't say that I have ever had that kind of love. My parents' marriage was arranged at their birth, and I was just made to produce an heir for the family line to continue. They sleep in separate bedrooms, and lead different lives. I think it's funny really, since I happen to be gay. Maybe it's just fate's idea of a joke.
I am glad that your friends took your telling them that you're gay so well. In times of war, it is nice to know that you have loyal friends. Anyway, on this last thought, I will close this letter. I thought I would let you know that you have forced me to grow up a lot these last two years and for that I thank you. You don't know how much your letters have meant to me this summer, especially the trust you have given me, in sharing so much of your personal life with me, when I haven't even told you who I am.
Harry quickly penned a response back. He had gotten the feeling over the last two months that Caesius was rather rich. Not knowing the social status of anyone in the wizarding world, Caesius could be anyone by now. Though, by his comments on the arranged marriage of his parents, he narrowed his mysterious writer down to a pureblood. Harry didn't really care what kind of background Caesius had, he had never been one to take up pureblood prejudices since he wasn't one.
When he finished the letter, he attached it to Arrow, and watched as the bird took off. Hermione had noticed the owl over the summer, and had asked him several times, who the letters were from. He didn't really tell her much about Caesius, just that he was a friend that he had gotten to know over the summer. Hermione looked like she wanted to pry, but strangely didn't mention her suspicions to anyone, not even to Ron that Harry could tell. If Ron knew about a mysterious letter-writer, Harry doubted that he would have kept quiet about it.
Hermione watched Harry as he sent out another letter to the mysterious Caesius that he had been writing. When Harry was out of his room, Hermione even snuck in, and tried to find the letters that they had been writing back and forth. She knew that Harry kept them all in a box, but she had no idea where he might hide them. Hermione figured that perhaps this was Harry's boyfriend, but she wouldn't know for sure until they got to school.
Unfortunately, each time that Hermione tried to find the box, she suddenly remembered she had something to do somewhere else. After a while, it dawned on her that Harry had some sort of spell on his trunk that let no one open it, but him. She could of course, end the spell, but if she did, Harry would know that someone had been there. For now, Hermione would have to think of another way to get more information about this person. If Harry was writing someone he didn't know, he could be in danger. Harry did say that the guy was a friend, though she had never heard him mention a Caesius before the letters started arriving.
Hermione had actually checked the school records, and found no one with that name, which meant that it was a nickname of some sort. 'Perhaps Harry gave it to him,' Hermione thought.
The next morning, when Harry's copy of the Daily Prophet had arrived; his owl, Hedwig, who sat quietly while he fed her some bacon off his plate, momentarily distracted him from the paper. Hermione, eager to see what news was in the Prophet, excitedly untied it from Hedwig's leg, and began to scan the front page. The headline of the newspaper caused her to gasp, and blink several times before she spoke, startling the each of the table's occupants out of their own thoughts. "Lucius Malfoy is dead, "she said as she quickly read the article aloud to room.
MYSTERIOUS DEATHS AT AZKABAN!
A Daily Prophet – SPECIAL NEWS REPORT
By Rita Skeeter
August 21, 1997
Lucius Malfoy, among others, convicted of being Death Eaters in 1996 by the Ministry of Magic, died yesterday due to several dark, poisonous potions. The Ministry will not confirm anything at this time. There are those in the Ministry who think that either they committed suicide, or someone deliberately put the poison in their food.
An investigation is now being conducted, to determine the cause. Speculations are running wild within the Ministry of Magic, and some even attribute the deaths to You-Know-Who, to ensure that they could not tell any of his plans.
His wife, Narcissa, and their son, Draco, who incidentally, is now the sole heir to the Malfoy fortune, now survive Mr. Lucius Malfoy.
If Hermione expected a loud response to the article, she was sadly disappointed. It seemed that the whole table didn't know how to respond, though she did hear one or two mutterings about `deserving it' floating around the room that morning.
Finally, September first arrived, and the students in Harry's class were heading in for their final year at Hogwarts. None of them knew if they would make it to graduation, since the war was still going on. Everyone's futures felt clouded with a thick smoke, that didn't even let the students ponder very hard on what they would do after school.
The train ride was rather uneventful. Harry told his friends in no uncertain terms, that he would not fight with anyone but Voldemort and his Death Eaters from now on. Harry had to admit, Caesius was right. Draco Malfoy had changed somewhat, since their fifth year. It was gradual from what Harry could tell. Draco was still the self-proclaimed `Prince of Slytherin', but the house took on a new gleam over the last year. The sly, cunning Slytherins were now slowly becoming neutral in the war against Voldemort. They had finally stopped preaching the pureblood mantra, and actually seemed to be getting along with the other houses a little better, even the Gryffindors, to everyone's shock.
In Harry's compartment that year were Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Daphne Greengrass, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Neville, and Luna Lovegood. It was a little crowded, but the group didn't really care. Some sat on others' laps, while others sat on the floor, and it was quite enjoyable. All houses were represented in their compartment that September first.
Since Ron and Daphne were dating, she was perched on his lap, and cuddling while she talked. Ginny was flirting with Justin and Neville, who had finally lost some of the baby fat that he had been carrying around for years. Luna had her nose stuck in her father's paper, The Quibbler, as usual, and was spouting random facts from it.
Harry recalled how Ron had surprised him, most of all, when he announced he was dating a Slytherin. After all the years of preaching about how evil the Slytherins were, it made Harry laugh. Ron had grown up quite a bit, and had begun flirting with some of the Slytherin girls last year, and near the end of it, he had finally started dating Daphne. The houses were slowly becoming whole. Though the Slytherins insisted for the most part, in remaining neutral, because they didn't want to have to face their parents, and possibly kill them during the encounter, the other houses respected their wishes. Who knew that the Slytherins would be so loyal to their families?
After the sorting, Harry looked around to spot Draco Malfoy watching him. Instead of the usual sneer when he was caught staring at anyone, he actually smiled. Draco actually smiled a real smile—not a smirk, not a sneer, but an honest to Merlin, real, genuine smile—at Harry. Harry had to admit that he looked much nicer smiling than smirking or sneering.
The week slowly dragged on, and he continued getting his letters from his mysterious friend, telling him how nice he looked the day before, or sending a little complimentary gift, that had all the girls swooning at Harry's admirer. Harry was beyond flattered. He had never been wooed before, and it was an interesting experience.
The next morning at breakfast, he received a reply to his frustrated letter about Snape. Why the man decided to continue torturing him year after year was totally beyond him. Sure, Harry had looked in the man's Pensieve once, but that was no reason to continue to abuse him the way he had. In fact, Harry had apologized for that incident several times over, and even saved the man's life last year. Why he continued to be so bitter toward him, Harry wasn't sure.
This time, Harry noticed a little box was with the letter, and it appeared to be about the size of a ring. Harry swallowed nervously, hoping that it wasn't. He didn't even know the guy's real name, and a ring really wouldn't go over well with his friends. Shrugging, he placed the box in his robes, and proceeded to read his letter.
My, I am having troubles coming up with greetings, aren't I? It's so unlike me. I just don't like the mundane `Dear Harry' anymore. It sounds so impersonal. You looked very nice in Hogsmeade yesterday. I think that you look very nice in green and blue
I think, though the green brings out your eyes better. It's so nice to see you in clothes that actually fit you well. I know I should avoid the topic, but sometimes I can't help myself. I don't even think you see that half the stares that you get these days are lustful, and not the "Boy-Who-Lived" fame thing, that you're always whining about .
Have you ever thought of getting your eyes corrected? There are several spells that you could use to do so, you know. If you're afraid of not having the glasses, you could always fix your eyes, and then wear clear glass in place of your regular lenses. It might make for an interesting advantage when you meet You-Know-Who, if he thinks you're blind without them, and you're not. Just a suggestion for you, I'd hate it if you got hurt. If you want the spells, let me know.
I know you said in your last letter that Professor Snape gave you detention again, for something that you didn't do. He does target you a lot, doesn't he? I know you said it's more to do with your parents, and not yourself, but perhaps you're wrong. I mean, honestly, think about it. I personally think he targets you, so that you will be properly grounded. Isn't he the one person that reminds you that you're human, and not just the `Savior of the World,' and that it's not your job to save everyone? I think that he keeps reminding you of this, so that perhaps you'll realize that one day your "job" might get you killed if you get too reckless. I shudder to think of that day when you have to face You-Know-Who. I, for one, don't want you to die, Harry. Perhaps you should ease off of Professor Snape a bit, and maybe pay better attention in class? He is a great teacher you know, regardless of his prejudices.
With that said, I hope you enjoy the little gift I've enclosed. Feel free to have Ms. Granger check it out for you. I assure you though; it is safe and will keep you safe.
Harry pulled the box out of his robes, opened it, and saw it held a little platinum lion-headed necklace, with green gems for eyes. Harry had never really been one who thought much for jewelry, but it was nice, small, and easily hidden beneath his clothes. Of course, being that it was a present at breakfast, as usual Harry had to put up with the "Oooohs" and "Ahhhhhs" of the girls. It was really starting to bother him that they wouldn't mind their own business.
Harry looked quietly over to Hermione, as she looked at what was in his hands. She leaned over and whispered in his ear, "That's pretty, Harry. Did you get that from your friend?"
Harry nodded. "Could you, maybe, check it out for me? I don't know him extremely well, and I want to make sure it's not a Portkey or something."
Hermione smiled, as she laid a hand on his shoulder. "We can check it out after Charms if you like, since we both have a free period then."
Harry smiled back at her, feeling her hand squeeze his shoulder gently. "Thanks, Hermione. I have a feeling that it will be okay, but as everyone keeps telling me, I need to be careful."
Hermione agreed silently, while turning to look at Ron, who sat at the Slytherin table with his girlfriend. "I guess it's a good thing that it's Ron's turn to sit at Daphne's table, or he would have been going nuts over this."
Harry grinned. "Perhaps he knows? I have a feeling that my friend's in Slytherin. He could have talked to Daphne, and she mentioned it."
Hermione blinked. "You don't know who this guy is? Harry! You are going to tell me everything, right after class, and no getting out of it! And I want to see those letters you and he wrote."
Harry listened to her demands in silence. He knew that this would happen as soon as he asked her to check out the necklace. He was okay telling Hermione; Ron, on the other hand, was a different matter.
Harry looked slightly worried for a moment. "Hermione, how are we going to get rid of Ron? I'm not ready for him to know yet."
Hermione smiled. "He doesn't have a free period today, remember? He has an essay he didn't finish last night for History of Magic. We can go to the Room of Requirement, and talk after we get your letters from the dorm. Too bad you don't have a copy of the ones you sent."
Harry nodded. He could have used a duplication charm on them after his birthday, when he had turned 17, but he hadn't remembered the charm until he had got back to school. "I have the ones since I came back to school. I forgot about the duplication charm until we reviewed it in class."
Hermione smiled. "Well, that's good then. Let's get to class."
After Charms, Harry and Hermione went to the Room of Requirement, and Hermione cast all the spells she could think of on the necklace. She hummed softly to herself and smiled. "The only thing I see on this is at least five different protection charms, Harry. Didn't you say he sent you a letter that said he would be upset if anything were to happen to you?"
Harry nodded. "Yeah, in his latest letter in fact. I guess that is why he gave it to me, huh?"
Hermione nodded in agreement "Well, I assume its okay to put it on. I just hope I am right. Let me see those letters first, though."
Hermione poured over each letter, checking it for charms or spells. The only one she found was one to disguise handwriting, which was slightly suspicious, but considering the author didn't want Harry to know who he was yet, she supposed it was possible that the person was genuine." Well, other than a slightly suspicious spell to alter handwriting, they seem okay. He sure loves to flatter you, doesn't he? I think he really likes you, Harry. I think you are right about him being a Slytherin, he seems to know a lot about all three of us; he seems so familiar, though I can't think of who he reminds me of just now. Though I don't know many Slytherins that would want to apologize to a Gryffindor, unless..." Hermione shook her head. "No, that's impossible. Well, it looks like he's genuine, though I would still be careful. From now on, show me everything he sends you, so I can check it, all right?"
Harry nodded, loosened his tie, and carefully lifted the necklace out of the box, putting it on; he made sure to slip it under his robes so it wouldn't restrict his uniform. Pushing the knot of the tie back up in its proper place, he felt a warm glow on his chest as the necklace settled against his skin. It was a nice feeling, and he suddenly felt very safe.
"Well, I am still here, and I can feel the protection spells. Did you figure out which ones they were?" Harry asked curiously.
Hermione nodded. "Well, there is a spell to repel jinxes, another to repel hexes. Also, one seems to be some sort of spell bouncing charm, a shield charm, and a few others I would have to look up. I have an idea, but the magic needed for that would be in the Restricted Section."
Harry inclined his head slightly in understanding. "Well, I certainly feel the protection. I feel safe for a change. Well, considering my history with Voldemort, perhaps he put some sort of blocking spell on it?"
Hermione agreed. "I think that was one of them, though I would still suggest practicing Occlumency, just in case. It's a good thing that Professor Dumbledore helped you with it last year."
Harry shrugged. "I think he only did it because he felt guilty, but at least I learned from someone who didn't hate me." Harry looked around for a clock, and one suddenly appeared. "We'd better go. We have class in ten minutes."
Hermione nodded absently, her mind working furiously as they walked to their next class.
Classes went by quickly that day for Harry, which surprised him. That night, when he got back to his dorm, he sent Caesius a letter, thanking him for the necklace. All day, the constant warmth on his chest made him feel great. In fact, when a potion that someone had been brewing, exploded next to him, none of the hazardous contents even touched him. He just glowed for a moment, and then the glow simply faded when no more dangerous material was flying his way. Luckily, it seemed that no one noticed the momentary shield charm, or at least no one mentioned it.
In true Snape fashion, the man went on and on about how a N.E.W.T. level class should be able to brew the potion they had been working on, without difficulty, and took 20 points from Gryffindor. Dean looked like he was about to murder the Professor at that moment. Fortunately for Gryffindor, he didn't, and simply ignored him instead.
Caesius had been extremely happy all week long. Classes were going well, and things between him and Harry were going wonderfully too. He finally had concrete proof now that Harry trusted him. He had seen the necklace work that day in potions class, though he hadn't mentioned it to anyone. It was nice to know that his hard work in putting the amulet together had worked out so well. Though he decided that he might want to remind Harry to take it off in dueling class, or someone might become suspicious.
Pulling out that day's letter, Caesius began to read.
I wanted to thank you for the necklace you sent me. It really saved me from getting a nasty potion burn today, due to Dean's cauldron exploding. It wasn't really his fault, but of course, Snape just HAD to take 20 points away from Gryffindor because of it. He just wouldn't be Snape if he hadn't, I suppose.
You know, I think you were right about Snape though. He pulled me back after class yesterday, and asked why I was suddenly paying so much attention. I told him that a friend of mine suggested that it would probably help my grade, and perhaps I wouldn't get in so much trouble. At least, I was partially honest with him. I know he can tell lies when he hears them, there are several students that think he can read minds.
Oddly enough, he complimented me on my recent potion efforts, and told me that if I kept it up, I might actually pass his class. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I actually heard Snape say something NICE to me! I guess he has finally started to understand that he either owes me for saving his life at the end of last term, or that I am not my father. Of course, I doubt he is too happy with the feeling that he owes another Potter a debt. My father saved his life once long ago, and he never got a chance to pay that back from what I understand.
Anyway, I guess we should get off my stunned realizations, and on to other more pressing topics. First, could you send me those spells you mentioned to fix my eyes, and secondly, when are we going to meet Caesius? You promised once we got back to school that we could.
Caesius sighed and looked across the room to where Harry was sitting. `Soon, Harry. Soon, 'he thought with a smile.
Harry made his way down to the Great Hall the next morning, pushing his hair out of his eyes as he walked. Passing by the notice board, a colorful flyer on the board announcing something caught his attention, and he made a mental note to check it out later, before moving to his normal spot at the table.
Sitting down across from Ron and Hermione, he piled some food on his plate and began eating. Looking up, his eyes wandered around the room, letting his gaze wander to the far table for a brief moment. The room was alive with all sorts of loud conversations, and one that mentioned music, caught his attention.
"Did you hear? Draco Malfoy is starting a band!" Lavender whispered to Parvati. The pair then began to talk excitedly between themselves.
'He's starting a band? Mmmm, I could actually use my talent for something good, and I could be in a band with him. Draco has gotten so hot since fifth year.' Harry hummed to himself. 'Looks like my gifts with Charms and Transfiguration will be put to some use.'
Harry sat quietly, and pondered how he could change his appearance to fit the band. He doubted that Draco would allow him in the band in his current state, even if they were hardly ever fighting anymore. Finally, he decided that he could change his hair to a rocking color or two, dress in some different clothes, and change his appearance slightly.
"Yeah, he's holding auditions. Problem is... I think you have to be in Slytherin. It didn't say though, so you never know. And they 'have' been tolerating us since last year, even though we're in Gryffindor. Although, it's funny, Malfoy has been quite different since last year. I guess since his father died before school started, he can finally do what he wants. He is the sole heir of the Malfoy fortune now," whispered Parvati, who was met with an eager nod from Lavender.
Harry blinked after this statement, 'Wait, did she say that Draco's father died? Oh, that's right. I guess I must have forgotten about it. I wonder if he is okay. He has been a bit quiet lately.'
After eating breakfast, Harry got up, walked out the doors, and turned left to get to the notice board, near the entrance. Looking around, he saw that no one was in the hall, and quickly took one of the spare flyers with the information on it. Turning on his heel, he quickly rushed back up to the Gryffindor common room, to start planning his new look. He would need it by the weekend.
That afternoon, after he'd eaten a quick lunch, Harry went to Madam Pomfrey with the spells that Caesius had sent him. He found that she was quite willing to help correct his eyes for him, so that he wouldn't have to explain his reasons to Hermione, and was even happy to change his lenses to clear, non-prescription ones when he explained why he'd decided to have his vision corrected. She smiled at him a little too brightly when she told him what a clever idea it was, and how she thought it would give him an advantage later as well. At least one good thing about getting his eyes corrected was that it would make it harder to recognize him without his glasses, when he tried out for the band.
After lunch, he was still trying to find a way to change his appearance enough, that no one would recognize him as Harry Potter. He already had a way to cover his scar, thanks to the salon that he had visited in the previous year. Muggle cosmetics were a good way to disguise it. He had actually walked around Diagon Alley unrecognized after his makeover. It was a shame that he couldn't wear his nicer clothes anywhere, but school. However, if he had started wearing them at the Dursleys, they would have tried to find his trust fund. Harry finished eating quickly, and headed back to the common room, wanting to get his homework done as soon as possible, so he could go down to the library to do some research.
Just as Ron had joined him on the couch, Hermione stormed through the door, clutching a magazine in her hand. To say that Hermione was angry would be the biggest understatement of the century. She looked like she wanted to kill, and kill with an utter and utmost prejudice.
"Can you believe what that cow, Pansy Parkinson did?" Hermione screamed, waving a magazine in the air.
"Hey! How come you get to call her a cow, when I couldn't call her one last year?" Ron yelled.
"Because last year, she didn't look like one!" Hermione snapped, causing the whole common room to laugh.
"What did she do, 'Mione?" Ron asked. He had learned by now, to pick his battles, and he knew that when Hermione was in this state, it was best not to make her any madder.
"Pansy threw a copy of Witch Weekly at me, which had this huge section on beauty spells, and concealment charms to make yourself look different. She told me to take some tips out of it, to improve my appearance."
Hermione huffed, and threw the magazine across the room, which fell open near Harry. Intrigued, Harry discreetly picked up the magazine, and tucked it carefully in his book bag. 'Maybe I won't have to go to the Library after all,' he thought.
Later that afternoon, Harry slipped off to the music room, threw himself down on the couch, and started looking through the magazine. He had to find something perfect, something that made him look good, without over shadowing Draco too much. He didn't want to get in the band because he was better looking than the slightly vain boy, who was organizing it. As he thumbed through the pages, he found some new hair spells for wizards and grinned. Perfect! A moment later, his hair was a dirty blonde with black tips, and he now had deep blue-green eyes.
Walking over to the mirror, located in the corner of the room, he smiled. 'Yeah, this will do nicely. It's nice, but not too showy, and perfect for a band.' He charmed his hair, and it grew out a bit longer than his normal style, and shook his head. Perfect. After making several more adjustments, he grinned and quickly changed back to his normal look. He practiced his guitar for a while, and then disappeared into the secret passage, sneaking back up to the Tower. Once inside, he realized it must be dinnertime, because the common room, and most of the dorm, was empty. Heading upstairs, he walked over to his closet. Sifting through his wardrobe, he pulled out a pair of silver dragonhide trousers, along with a deep blue silk shirt, from the back and pulled them to one side, to prepare for his audition. Harry had secretly gotten himself some sexier clothes at the end of last year, before he went home. He hadn't really gotten a chance to wear them anywhere, and they would help with his new look. Turning to look in the mirror again, he grinned. 'Now, all I need is a good name. Hmmm, how about Blade? Nahh, no one would name their kid that. Hmmm. Let me think... well, could say it's a nickname... nahh... I'm not dangerous enough to pull off a nickname like that. Hmmm, what about - Anton Stryder? Sounds good enough to me...'
As Harry and Ron walking down toward the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning, they found a small, black and white cow milling around by the entrance, mooing loudly. Vaguely remembering yesterday's conversation, Harry started looking around for Hermione. He knew that she had to be behind this, especially since she had called Pansy a cow the night before. He wasn't even sure if anyone else even knew what a cow looked like, except perhaps some Muggle-born students. Looking around the room, Harry spotted Hermione, waving from down the hall. He noticed a group of Slytherins crowded around Professor Snape, complaining. It seemed that the cow was, indeed, Pansy Parkinson.
Hermione walked around the cow, which tried to bite her, only causing her to laugh. Leaning toward Harry and Ron, she whispered, "See, I told you she was a cow." She walked past Pansy the Cow, and headed into the Great Hall.
"Remind me never to get on her bad side," Ron muttered.
"Same here, mate. Same here," agreed Harry.
Author's Notes: Well, how did you like the first chapter? Who was this mysterious letter writer? Will Harry try out for the band and make it? Will Draco recognize Harry even with his change in appearance?