Chapter 1: The Start of Great Things
Harry saw flashes of it still, even in the light of day. A slash of green, a fallen body, eyes wide and unblinking. The feelings were still the same. Disbelief, crushing sadness, pure rage. It was like Cedric was haunting him, punishing him for taking him along with the bloody portkey, doing nothing to protect him against the green spell. He hadn’t even avenged him. No, Harry had ran like a little kid afraid of the monsters under his bed. Except, well his monsters were real weren’t they? Voldemort and his Death Eaters were real, and they were back, not that anyone believed him. He’d seen the papers. He was crazy, delusional, an attention-seeking liar. Harry Potter. He wasn’t famous for anything good anymore, and wasn’t that a depressing thought? Everyone had loved him until they’d gotten to know him.
Well… maybe not everyone, but then again he’d gotten a total of nothing in terms of information from both Ron and Hermione this summer. Just short missives about nothing at all, promises that they’d see him soon, questions about his safety. No substance. No concern for his mental wellbeing. They didn’t get it. No one got it. Harry had never felt more alone in his entire life, and he’d spent the first eleven years of it trapped in a cupboard under the stairs.
“Aren’t you a depressing sight.”
Harry startled at the words, looking up find a group of five around him, nonthreatening. Or at least, less threatening than other things Harry had seen. Five teenagers didn’t quite spark the same fear after you’ve faced a Basilisk at age twelve.
The two girls, one blonde with blue ends and the other simply brunette, sat on the swing beside Harry, or rather the blonde sat on the swing and the brunette sat on her lap. They were looking at him with neutral expressions.
“Truly macabre,” the brunette said, her tone agreeing as she withdrew a cigarette from her pocket and lit it. After taking a puff, she handed it to the blonde girl.
“What’s with the frown?” Harry snapped his attention to the boy who’d spoken. His hair was sandy-blonde and curly, his eyes an expressive hazel. His face was set in a small frown of his own as he peered at Harry from his position, leaning against the post of the swing set.
“One my good friends died a few weeks ago,” Harry told them, lowering his eyes to the ground. He wouldn’t go into detail, they weren’t from Hogwarts and were most likely muggles. He’d learnt long ago to be short with muggles when they asked questions, people found silence rude, and Harry honestly just wanted these people to leave him alone to his admittedly depressing thoughts.
“You mean Diggory?” the boy asked, humming.
Confusion flooded Harry’s system before his brain finally caught up with the words he’d just spoken. He looked up at the boy, eyebrows furrowed, eyes blinking as if he didn’t quite believe he was seeing these people in front of him.
Harry swallowed, “Are you… Hogwarts students?”
He’d never seen them before, but they looked older, and they could be from different houses. Come to think of it, Harry hardly knew everyone in his own year, only those in his own year and on the Quidditch team and a few of Ginny’s friends. It was entirely possible these people attended Hogwarts and Harry was too caught up in his own problems to notice them around before.
“Nope,” the blonde girl said, arms resting comfortably around the brunette girl. “Atlas and I-” she pointed to the boy standing beside the blond boy, his hair was a light brown, his eyes a piercing blue, as he nodded at Harry.
“- go to Beauxbatons. We’re sixth years so couldn’t enter the tournament; hence our absence from Hogwarts last year. Holly and Jax-” She pointed to the brunette girl and blond boy. “Go to Ilvermorny in America. And Mason is our lone Durmstrang.” She motioned to the final boy who was stood behind Harry, his hair was as dark as Harry’s but better styled, his eyes equally as dark.
“Do you live here, in Little Whinging?” Harry asked. He’d never seen them around before, which once again didn’t mean much, Harry hadn’t exactly been allowed out of the house when he was younger, except for school and there were plenty of schools in Little Whinging.
“Yep,” Holly nodded, blowing out smoke. “Surprised we never realised we lived so close to the Great Harry Potter.”
Harry cringed at the title. Right. Of course they knew who he was if they were magical. They’d probably already read all those articles and were here to tell him to get a grip, or maybe tell the Dursleys to have him committed to a mental asylum.
“Please don’t call me that,” Harry sighed, feeling whatever hope had started to bloom in his chest at the prospect of making new friends, diminish.
“She doesn’t mean it, Wonder Boy,” Jax assured, sending a light glare to Holly. “Just teasing.” He paused, as if considering, then, “You look like you could use a drink.”
“I don’t drink,” Harry said, eyebrows furrowed. “I’m fourteen.”
“No time like the present to start,” the blonde girl reasoned. “I’m Jasmine, by the way.”
“Don’t pressure him,” Atlas sighed. “If he doesn’t want to drink, he doesn’t have to.” Harry gave Atlas a small smile. “You can hang out with us, though, if you want.”
“What do you do?” Harry asked, genuinely curious. All he knows is whatever he does at the Weasleys or during school, a lot of which is studying.
“We don’t mope around on swing sets,” Mason stated, his tone teasing. “So already an improvement.”
“We drink and smoke and talk. Listen to music. Normal teenage stuff,” Holly told him, a smile on her face. “You look like you could do with some normal teenage stuff.”
Harry bit his lip and thought about it.
He doesn’t think he’s ever done normal teenage stuff before. Any thoughts of rebelling against the Dursleys were squashed at the prospect of getting less food than he already received, threats of being locked in his cupboard, and of course, the threat of violence against his person. Whenever a single rebellious thought came to mind, Harry felt his back tingle with memory, and it’d die just as quick as it had appeared.
Even at the Weasleys a lot of his time was spent doing wizarding things like clearing gnomes from the garden, or playing chess, or doing the summer homework he couldn’t do at the Dursleys. He’s never had the opportunity to stay out past curfew, steal small things from shops, smoke a cigarette.
He really didn’t feel like moping anymore, anyway.
“Okay,” he agreed and stood up. Jasmine whooped and stood too, lifting Holly with her. The other girl clung to her neck with a laugh. Harry found their happiness infectious and any thoughts of Cedric were pushed far back into his mind.
“Come on,” Mason said, wrapping a leather glad arm around Harry’s shoulders. That’s when Harry noticed that all of them were wearing leather jackets. “We’ll go back to my place. My parents are away for the week. You can borrow one of my jackets. We’ll have to buy you one though, since you’re officially part of the gang.”
Harry chuckled, “Okay… sure.”
He was led back to Mason’s house three streets away from Privet Drive, listening as the group of friends joked with one another. Holly clung to Jasmine’s back, legs wrapped around her torso, enjoying the free ride. Atlas and Jax talked animatedly about Quidditch, and Mason started talking to Harry about his favourite bands.
“Queen is obviously, number one,” Mason was saying. “It has to be, if you want to be friends with us. But ACDC are up there, along with Bon Jovi, and of course ABBA. What music do you like, Harry?”
“I’ve never really listened to music before,” Harry admitted, a bit embarrassed. It was moments like these that he remembered just how sheltered his life was with the Dursleys, he’d never experienced the concept of fun until he started school and play time was a thing, and even that novelty lasted only the few short weeks it took for Dudley to turn everyone against Harry. Harry had never listened to music before, never gotten to know what he liked or didn’t like. He’d never had his own clothes, never owned a toy that was only his, he couldn’t even decorate his own bedroom, not that he'd want to at the Dursleys.
“That is a crime,” Jax declared behind them, sounding genuinely aghast. “We need to get you cultured, Harry, like immediately. Trust me, by the end of the day, you’ll be almost as much a lover of Queen as I am.”
Mason’s was a house bigger than the Dursleys but still modest. A nice house with manicured lawns and sparkling windows. Looking almost as sterile as the Dursleys, though that thought fled Harry the second he stepped foot inside the room. Right in the entry way was a poster of what Harry recognised to be some sort of ship from Star Wars, and a shoe-rack that was completely out of order. It gave the place personality, and Harry hadn’t realised how homey personality made homes until that moment.
They congregated in the living room where there were plenty of family photos, and Jax moved towards a record player in the corner of the room, flicking through records beside it. Mason shucked off his jacket and draped it across the back of an armchair before heading through a door that Harry assumed went to the kitchen. Jasmine and Holly settled next to each other on a loveseat, lighting another cigarette between them.
Harry felt out of place as he stood by the doorway, his hands feeling a little clammy with nerves.
A gentle hand came to his shoulder and Harry turned his head to see Atlas standing behind him with a gentle smile on his face. He squeezed Harry’s shoulder reassuringly.
“Just relax,” Atlas told him, guiding him further into the living room and onto a sofa where he took a seat beside Harry.. “We’re really chill, I promise. You don’t even have to speak if you don’t want to.”
Harry smiled back, finding that he liked Atlas, that his presence calmed his nerves. Jax stepped back from the record player with a satisfied grin.
“This, Harry, is music,” Jax said, turning to Harry just as the first chords of an electric guitar started. “Under Pressure by Queen. A masterpiece.” The blond moved over to Holly and Jasmine, taking the cigarette they’d been sharing and taking a drag before sitting by their feet.
Harry listened to the song playing, letting the beat wash over him in a rather satisfying way.
Mason returned a second later carrying five beers and a can of coke.
“Unless you do want to drink?” Mason asked, handing the coke to Harry. Harry took the can from the older boys hand with a small smile.
“Not today,” Harry said.
Mason shrugged, “Fine by me.”
He handed a beer to Atlas and the boy grinned before twisting the cap off with his hand, flexing his biceps. Harry only then noticed that Atlas had taken his jacket off and was now wearing only a grey shirt that seemed far too tight on him. He really was unfairly muscled for a sixteen-year-old. He was only a school year above Harry and yet he was built like a bouncer or something.
It was only when Atlas raised a questioning eyebrow that Harry realised he was practically ogling the older boy and turned away, cheeks warming with embarrassment.
“So, Harry,” Jax started, oblivious to Harry’s embarrassment. “Do you play Quidditch?”
That got Harry’s attention, and he forced his cheeks back to normal as he raised his head to look at Jax from across the room.
“Yeah,” Harry said. “I’m a seeker.”
“Hmm,” Jax nodded. “You seem the sort. I would’ve guessed. I’m a keeper for my house team, and Atlas plays Chaser. Mason is opposed to Quidditch, and the girls just like to watch. Who’s your favourite team?”
“The Chudley Cannons, though I suppose that’s mostly because it was the first team I was exposed to,” Harry said. “I do like Puddlemere, though.”
“One does not simply like Puddlemere, Harry, it is a spectacular team, best in the league, no questions allowed,” Atlas rebuffed, taking a sip of beer and shaking his head, almost like he was disappointed.
Mason shook his head and laughed a little, “You’re biased because your grandmother played for them in the 30s.”
“Really?” Harry asked, intrigued.
“Yep,” Atlas nodded. “Joscelind Wadcock.”
“She holds the record for most gaols scored in a Quidditch game in the League,” Harry said, knowing the knowledge from Quidditch Through the Ages.
Atlas grinned, lighting up his whole face in a way that Harry couldn’t help but associate with being attractive.
“She is,” Atlas took another sip of beer. “But that aside, Puddlemere really is the best team.”
“What subjects are you taking, Harry?” Jasmine asked, effectively shutting down the Quidditch discussion.
“Potions, Transfiguration, DADA, Charms, Herbology, History, Care of Magical Creatures, and Divination,” Harry told them.
“Divination is utter shit,” Mason said, passionately.
“I know,” Harry laughed. “My professor does nothing but predict my death.”
Holly rolled her eyes, “It shouldn’t be taught to people who aren’t already seers. What use is it to ordinary witches and wizards?”
“Preach it!” Jasmine expressed, taking another drag of their shared cigarette before putting it out in the ashtray by her side.
It was then that another Queen song came on and Holly’s eyes sparkled, “I love this song!”
She was up in seconds, dragging Jasmine to her feet and the two girls began to dance as Don’t Stop Me Now blared from the record player. Harry couldn’t help but laugh at their ridiculous dance moves, and Atlas chuckled beside him.
“They’re really something, aren’t they?” Atlas said fondly. It was the same expression he’d heard from all the Weasley brothers at times when talking about Ginny.
Harry hummed in agreement as they pulled Jax to his feet and forced him into their dance. Mason saved himself by ducking into the kitchen to grab another drink and Atlas merely shook his head.
“Come on, Harry!” Jasmine expressed, reaching for his hand.
“I don’t know how to dance,” Harry proclaimed.
“Neither do we!” Holly laughed joyously and helped Jasmine pull Harry to his feet. He sent a pleading look to Atlas, but the older boy only smirked in response. Traitor.
And so, Harry was forced to loosen up, the girls flailing his arms around, and soon enough his embarrassment melted away into joy as he went with it and started dancing with the others. He’d never felt so free in his whole life.
Chapter 2: Lakes and ABBA
When Harry was walked home that night by everyone except Mason, Harry honestly didn’t expect to see the five of them again. It’d been a fun time and Harry now had a new love for Queen, but the five of them had already established a dynamic years before and Harry couldn’t expect them to just open their arms and drag him into the fold after a single day of being with them.
He was in the Dursleys garden that morning, reading his herbology textbook disguised as a regular botanist book, a spell Dean Thomas had taught him in third year, expecting to spend the day there, alone and reading.
“What are you doing, Wonder Boy?”
Harry startled at the familiar voice and looked up to see Jax leaning over to look at him in his lying position. Harry blinked.
“Um… reading,” Harry said.
“Put the book back inside and change into some swim shorts. We’re going to the lake down past Sheridan Park,” Jax stated.
Harry blinked at him stupidly, “We are?”
“Of course we are,” Jax chuckled. Then he lightly kicked Harry’s shoulder until the younger boy sat up and looked at him properly. “We meant it, Harry. You’re part of the group.”
Harry felt something warm swell in his chest, and he nodded his head, rushing into the house and putting swim-trunks on under his jeans and a clean t-shirt to hide his back. He would swim, but he wouldn’t take his top off.
Jax was still outside when Harry returned.
“We’re all meeting at Holly’s first, come on.”
Harry followed Jax as they made their way to Holly’s house, the house closest to Sheridan Park, and they talked idly about Quidditch and a few classes.
“What’s it like at Ilvermorny?” Harry asked, curious about the other magical school.
“Not too different from Hogwarts, I imagine,” Jax said. “The founder of Ilvermorny was descended from Salazar Slytherin. There are houses and Quidditch and the usual lessons. Almost everyone has an American accent though. I still remember my first year, they all fawned over Holly and I for our accents. It’s why we’re so close, being the only Brits in a predominantly American school.”
Harry hummed, wishing he’d had that sort of kinship with someone at Hogwarts. The closest he’d gotten was Lockhart in second year and that went well, didn’t it?
“How come you two didn’t go to Hogwarts?”
“My dad’s American and I guess he wanted me to go to the same school he did growing up, especially since Mum’s a muggle and doesn’t know much about magical education,” Jax explained. “It’s nice. Getting to feel like both of my parents in different ways. In the summer, I’m the British boy of my mother, and at school I’m the American wizard of my father.”
“And Holly?” Harry asked.
“She wanted a change. Her whole family has gone to either Hogwarts or the school in Japan, I can never say the name, and she figured she’d break the cycle by going to America. She could’ve gone to Beauxbatons, but Holly says knowing two languages in exhausting enough already and she didn’t want to learn French,” Jax explained. Harry laughed.
They arrived at Holly’s moments later, the rest of their friends already standing outside drinking bottles of lemonade.
“Ah, you made it!” Jasmine grinned excitedly, bouncing forward and hugging Jax and Harry at the same time.
Harry huffed in shock and Jax rolled his eyes.
“Can we head to the lake now?” Jax asked. “This heat is oppressive.”
“Great idea,” Mason said, taking another sip of his lemonade.
“Lead the way, Hols,” Atlas said, and Holly took Jasmine’s hand as the girls led the four boys towards Sheridan Park. Atlas deposited a cooler into Jax’s hand along with an already open lemonade. Mason handed Harry a lemonade with a casual smirk.
“Ever been to the lake, Harry?” Mason asked. Harry shook his head and took a sip of his lemonade. It was the best thing he’d ever tasted, sour and sweet at the same time, just the right amount of bubbles.
“My Aunt and Uncle don’t let me out the house much,” Harry murmured.
“Why?” Jax asked, confusion causing his eyebrows to furrow.
“They didn’t like being associated with an Indian kid to begin with,” Harry shrugged. “They hated the thought of me causing trouble and it looking bad on them.”
“You lived with racists?” Atlas asked, sounding shocked.
“Yep,” Harry said. Then he shrugged. “It’s fine. They don’t bother me so much now that I’m older. They’re terrified of magic, so… they think if they hurt me I’ll just hex them or something, which I’m not allowed to do, but still.”
“They… use to hurt you?” Atlas asked slowly, catching Harry’s words.
Shit. Shouldn’t have phrased it like that.
“I’m fine,” Harry said. “Like I said, they leave me alone now.”
Atlas hummed unconvincingly and Harry didn’t miss the look the other three boys shared.
“You know how to swim though, right?” Mason asked.
“Had swimming lessons in year four,” Harry replied with a nod. “Last year, I had to swim to the bottom of a late to retrieve my best mate for the tournament.” He said it to convince them he could actually swim, and it worked. Sure, Harry wasn’t a very strong swimmer, but he wasn’t going to drown.
The rest of the conversations had were light and soon enough they reached the lake hidden behind a copse of trees.
Jasmine and Holly screamed in excitement as they stripped down to their bathing suits and rushed towards the water, diving beneath the surface before coming back up, hair wet, and relief on their faces.
“The waters great!” Jasmine called to them. Then Holly splashed Jasmine with water and the girls started a frenzied splash fight that had the four boys laughing as they set their things down. Six towels were laid out and so were two coolers, one for drinks, the other for food.
Jax shucked out of his jeans and t-shirt, revealing his broad shoulders. His lightly-tanned skin practically glistened in the sun as he made for the water and dived beneath the surface before emerging with Jasmine on his shoulders. Jasmine laughed in delight.
Atlas followed suit, and Harry couldn’t help but stare at his toned body. Honestly, it was unfair how attractive Atlas was with his broad shoulders, toned abs, and massive biceps. He was graceful as he dived into the depths of the water and emerged, his light-brown hair dark with water and falling into his face.
Mason took his jeans off but kept his top on, something Harry was thankful for, as he did the same and followed him to the water.
Soon enough, the six of them were locked in a battle of splashes and dunks as they relished in the cool water that stopped the uncomfortable burning of the too-hot sun. Harry relished in the play-fighting, laughing freely and feeling more alive than he could ever remember feeling.
When Jasmine called for lunch, everyone followed, sitting on their towels and each getting a wrap each, made by Mrs Nakayama. Each was filled with chicken, lettuce, cucumber, and a delightful source that Holly said was a family secret recipe when Harry asked.
“It’s burger sauce,” Jasmine revealed, taking another bite and practically moaning in delight at the taste.
Holly scowled at her, and Jasmine leaned forward, pecking her lips. It was effective. Holly smiled at Jasmine like she’d hung the sun in the sky and handed her another lemonade.
“Did you bring the boombox?” Jax asked a moment later. Jasmine’s eyes sparked and she reached for her discarded shorts before pulling out a miniature boombox. Jax smiled broadly and produced his wand, carefully casting an engorgio on it until it returned to it’s original size.
“I thought we weren’t allowed to cast outside of school,” Harry furrowed his eyebrows.
“I’m seventeen,” Jax explained. “And since there are no muggles around, it’s okay.” Then he reached for his jeans and pulled out a mix-tape. He put it in and a song unfamiliar to Harry started playing. Jax turned to Harry with a grin. “This, Harry, is your next lesson in music. ABBA, one of the greatest bands of the seventies and eighties. This song is what got them famous. Waterloo.”
Once again, Jasmine and Holly were on their feet, dancing about with each other to the song and this time belting out the words rather horrendously. Harry couldn’t help the grin that pulled at his mouth, watching them have such fun.
It was intoxicating, their happiness, contagious.
“Come on, Harry,” Jasmine said, reaching down and grasping his wrists. “The first rule of listening to ABBA is that you always dance to ABBA.”
Harry laughed and allowed himself to be pulled up by the girl, dancing around with Jasmine and Holly as Jax joined in, even with the singing, and then Mason, and eventually Atlas.
As Waterloo changed into Dancing Queen, everyone whooped and cheered as they danced with a greater ferocity, lyrics leaving their mouths in a bellow of joy.
They went in the water again after lunch and only when the sun had begun to set, did the six of them leave the lake and head back to Holly’s house, singing ABBA as they went. Jasmine and Holly did a sort of skip and step dance as they went, matching grins on their faces. Mason was receiving a piggy-back from Jax, and Atlas and Harry walked side by side, watching it all.
When they arrived at Holly’s, the two girls went inside with promises of more adventures tomorrow, and the four boys were alone.
“Come on, let’s get you home, Harry,” Atlas said with a smile. Harry nodded his head.
“Today has been one of the best in my life,” Harry admitted to them, staring at the dying sky.
“I’m glad,” Jax said, a smile in his voice. “We’re going bowling tomorrow. Have you ever been bowling, Harry?”
“No,” Harry shook his head, suddenly feeling a little nervous at the prospect.
“Don’t worry,” Atlas assured. “We’ll teach you.”
When they arrived at Privet Drive, Harry said goodnight to them and entered the house, going straight for the stairs and ignoring the indignant shouts of Vernon.
Chapter 3: Best Birthday Ever
For the next two weeks, Harry spent every moment with his new friends, feeling happier than he’d ever felt during the summer. They took him bowling and taught him how to do it, but still he was absolutely atrocious at it, which only made everyone laugh teasingly and gave them all an excuse to go back another time. Harry’s musical education was still ongoing, and he was coming to love the sound of music, because it brought to mind memories of dancing ridiculously with his friends whenever an especially good song came on. He, Jax, and Atlas talked at length about Quidditch and the Quidditch World Cup last year. He talked with Mason about magical creatures and found out Mason was fascinated by dragons, loving the story of Harry outflying one for the first task of the trial. The girls talked about anything and everything with Harry, both so carefree and unbothered by just about everything. Though Holly was especially enamoured by talk of flowers and Jasmine loved to talk about transfiguration, though specifically animagi.
“I’d just love to find out my animagus form,” Jasmine expressed one time while they were hanging out in a small clearing in a nearby forest. Jasmine and Harry sat up in a tree, talking, while Holly and Mason compared how atrocious their charms professors were and Atlas regaled Jax with his last Quidditch game. “How cool would it be? The lot of us running around as animals?”
“My dad and his friends were all animagi,” Harry told her, remembering Sirius and Remus with a pang of longing mixed with anger and a bitterness that seemed to always fester whenever he thought of people beyond his new friends. “They did it so they could be with their werewolf friend during a full-moon.”
It was perhaps the wrong thing to say.
“Let’s do it!”
Harry blinked, eyes darting up to Jasmine’s face. Her eyes were sparkling with an idea, a terrible, possibly fatal idea. “What?”
And now everyone was listening to them.
“Let’s all become animagi,” Jasmine said, her excitement reaching new heights as she practically bounced in her seat.
“Do you know how long that takes?” Jax asked, looking up at her. “We’d never be able to do it over the summer.”
“So, let’s start this summer and continue it in school. We’ll owl each other, will our progress,” Jasmine stated, the idea already taking the form of reality in her mind. Harry could tell.
Jax, Mason, and Atlas looked a little reluctant. Harry felt the reluctance. He knew becoming an animagi could be really dangerous. Like half-human, half-creature mutations with no known cure kind of dangerous. He’d talked about it with Sirius at length during one of those visits to Hogsmead.
“Okay!” Holly smiled, always the first to jump at Jasmine’s crazy plans. “Let’s do it.”
Mason, eyes resigned, as if he knew this was inevitably going to happen, sighed, “I suppose it’ll look good for potential jobs. As long as we agree that we all have to register.”
“Obviously,” Jasmine rolled her eyes, as if that was obvious.
It was something Harry had learnt about Mason. He was cool with drinking and drugs underage, maybe stealing something from a shop, muggle laws, but with magical laws, he followed them strictly.
“Okay,” Jax sighed, having obviously come to the same conclusion. “Let’s become animagi.”
Harry thought about it for a moment. His dad had done it at his age. Sirius too. He imagined his dad would be proud, his mum too since it was an impressive feat of magic, and well… maybe it’d make him feel closer to his parents.
“I’m in,” Harry decided, a smile forming on his lips.
There was a beat of silence and they all turned to Atlas. He met all of their eyes, lingering a little on Harry’s. Then he groaned.
“Fine. Fine. I’ll do it.”
Jasmine squealed in excitement and hugged Atlas tightly, as if his word were final.
“Let’s get started!”
“Right now?” Mason questioned, blinking in surprise.
But Jasmine was already dragging Holly out of the clearing and the boys had no choice but to follow behind them.
Naturally, Holly had six mandrake leaves in her house.
They waited two days until the full moon and then placed the leaves in their mouths where they’d stay for the next month.
Four days later was Harry’s birthday.
When the gifts arrived from Ron and Hermione, Harry wasn’t even surprised that it was just Honeydukes Chocolate. Honestly, he hadn’t sent them either of them a letter in… God knew how long and yet neither seemed too worried about the lack of communication. Harry looked down at the chocolate and felt bitterness course through his veins as he threw it all out in the bin the second he got to the kitchen. He was breathing heavily and felt like crying, which was ridiculous. But he hadn’t even gotten a gift from Hagrid or Sirius. It was like none of them even cared about him anymore. Not until he was useful to them. Not until-
A sharp knock on the front door had Harry turning towards it and walking forward, expecting it to be some kind of parcel for the Dursleys. It was eight in the morning. Who would make a house call at eight in the morning?
The last thing he expected was for the great shouts of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” that roared in his ears as soon as he opened the door wide enough to see out of it. Harry stared in shock at his friends. Holly and Jasmine were front and centre, holding a stack of pancakes with a candle in the top in their hands. Jax and Mason held a banner above their heads and Atlas had set off a confetti bomb.
Harry’s mouth hung open at the sight and felt actual tears prick his eyes. It was ridiculous. He shouldn’t cry over something like this, but he couldn’t help it as a tear escaped down his cheek. Jasmine was there in seconds, hugging him tightly, leaving Holly with the pancake stacks.
“Is it too much?” she asked, voice worried.
Harry shook his head, face in her shoulder, “It’s perfect.”
Jasmine leant back and grinned at him, “This is only the start of your day, Harry. Come on, we’re going to Mason’s. His parents agreed to host.”
“Host?” Harry questioned. All his friends merely smiled at him with mischief as Holly handed Harry a fork and encouraged him to take a bite of his breakfast.
The pancakes were heavenly. Soft and fluffy with the perfect amount of syrup on them.
“Can you eat and walk?” Jasmine asked, ignoring his question as she hooked her arm through Harry’s left elbow. Harry nodded and did just that as the six of them made their way to Mason’s house. Jasmine and Holly helped Harry finish the excessive pile of pancakes and they were finished by the time they reached Mason’s house.
Opening the door, Mason motioned them all in, Harry first.
“In the living room,” Atlas said. Harry nodded and walked into the room only to pause, staring at the excessive pile of presents before him.
“Happy Birthday Harry,” Atlas murmured, placing his hand on Harry’s shoulder and squeezing.
Harry felt the need to cry again but wouldn’t let it happen. He was allowed to cry only once on his birthday, and he’d used it this morning.
“I- you guys didn’t have to do all of this,” Harry murmurs, feeling as though he was in shock.
“Of course we did,” Jax said. “We do it for everyone. How many times do we have to say it, Harry? We’re friends.”
Harry swallowed around the lump in his throat, mindful of the leaf in his mouth.
“Go on then. Open them up,” Holly said, settling down on the loveseat, Jasmine as her side a moment later.
Harry wasn’t sure where to start. He’d never gotten so many gifts before, but still, he walked forward and sat, cross-legged on the floor in front of the pile. Then he started opening them up.
The first was a record player not unlike the one in Mason’s living room.
“For Hogwarts,” Jax explained. “Magic doesn’t interfere with record players, and we need to keep up that musical education.”
Harry smiled broadly, “Thanks Jax.” The blond shrugged even as a light blush coloured his cheeks.
The next were an abundance of records: Queen, ABBA, ACDC, and Bon Jovi. Also from Jax.
Then was the most beautiful necklace Harry had ever seen. It’s pendant was that of a lily flower and Harry felt his heart constrict as he gazed at the gilded metal.
“So you’re always close to your mum,” Holly explained, looking a little shy. Harry grinned broadly and got up to hug her fiercely. Holly hugged him right back before helping him put the necklace on, the pendant sitting between his shoulder blades.
Returning to the pile, Harry unwrapped a maroon woollen cardigan that was incredibly soft.
“It gets cold in Scotland,” Mason explained. “Besides, no offense Harry but you seriously need a whole new wardrobe.”
Harry chuckled. He couldn’t argue with him on that, and he folded the cardigan neatly and placed it beside him.
Next was a book on potions. A beginners guide to ingredient preparation and the effects of different cauldrons and stirring rods. Harry laughed, grinning brightly.
“Figured you could show your professor up by being good at potions next year,” Jasmine shrugged.
Harry smiled, wondering what Snape would do if Harry really did show up to potions and achieve higher than an A.
Then it was a Puddlemere scarf, poster, and book on complex seeker moves.
Harry grinned at Atlas who smiled right back, “Figured you’d need merchandise now that you’re officially a Puddlemere fan.”
“Ron’s gonna be so pissed,” Harry couldn’t keep the splitting grin off his face.
The next gift was a pencil eyeliner and Harry smiled even wider, if that was even possible. He knew it was Jasmine. A few days ago, he’d been in her room, looking through her makeup products when he’d seen the eyeliner.
“Jas?” Harry asked.
Jasmine looked up from her homework, “What can I do for ya, Harry dearest?”
“Could you um… teach me how to put eyeliner on?” Harry asked a little nervously.
Her eyes sparkled as she jumped up from her bed and slowly taught Harry how to apply black eyeliner. To his eyes.
“Oh my god!” Jasmine expressed in excitement. “Your eyes look amazing!”
And they had. The green had seemed more vibrant being ringed with black as they were.
Harry suddenly got an idea as he peered down at the eyeliner in his hands, his eyes glancing towards his nails.
“Hey, Jas,” Harry said.
Jasmine perked up, knowing the tone in his voice, “Yes?”
“Could you pain my nails?” Harry asked.
Jasmine actually squealed in excitement, “Yes! Oh my god, yes!”
“Later,” Holly said, grabbing her girlfriend’s hand and pulling her back down to a sitting position on the sofa. “Harry needs to open the rest of his presents and then we can think about nails before we go bowling.”
“We’re going bowling?” Harry asked, excitedly. He’d been getting progressively better with each time they went. Last time he’d even managed to beat Jax.
“Presents first,” Holly said, like a mother. Harry rolled his eyes but opened the last of his presents.
There were chocolates and sweets. Lots of chocolates and sweets. Muggle and magical. Finally, Harry opened the last gift and smiled down at the pair of gold antler earrings.
“It’s about time we pierced your ears like we always said,” Mason said.
“Yeah,” Harry smiled, then he turned to face them all. “Thank you, for everything. Really, it’s all perfect.”
They all smiled bright back at him before Jasmine and Holly tackled Harry to the floor in a fierce hug. Harry hugged them back.
“Okay! Okay!” Jax chuckled. “Let the boy breathe!”
The girls backed off and Jasmine had a huge grin plastered on her face, “Let’s get ready, shall we?”
Harry nodded and was confused when Jasmine led him upstairs, Holly following.
“We picked out a special birthday outfit,” Jasmine told him before shoving a bag of clothes into his arms and pushing him into a vacant bathroom.
Harry shook his head in amusement and dressed himself in the clothes provided. Jeans that were designed to be a little baggie, but fit his waist perfectly, a marron t-shirt that actually fit his torso, then a pair of new trainers, black converse. Harry smiled at himself in the mirror, for once feeling comfortable in the clothes he wore. They’d even gotten him socks that fit his feet.
When Harry left the bathroom, Holly and Jasmine grinned broadly before Jasmine grabbed his hand and pulled him into Mason’s room that had momentarily been made into a salon.
Holly set to painting Harry’s nails with black polish while Jasmine combed through Harry’s eyebrows and applied eyeliner around his eyes.
When the three of them arrived downstairs twenty minutes later, the boys were sat in the living room, all the wrapping paper gone and Harry’s presents in a bag in a corner of the room.
“Are you guys ready for the new and improved Harry James Potter?!” Jasmine announced. They turned around and Jax and Mason grinned broadly. Atlas, however, seemed a little… frozen. He stared at Harry, mouth parting a little in shock, piercing blue eyes darting from Harry’s eyes, down his body and then back up to his eyes.
“What do you think, Atlas?” Holly said, her voice teasing. Harry wasn’t sure why it was teasing, but it was.
“You look… great, Harry,” Atlas said at last, his voice so sincere Harry couldn’t help the grin that split his face. For a moment, all Harry could do was stare in Atlas’s eyes, and how the blue orbs softened impossibly around the edges.
Jax clapped his hands, effectively ruining the moment, “Right. We’ve got bowling in an hour. Let’s start walking, shall we?”
No one argued and soon the group of six were walking towards the main town, the same path they’d walked a hundred times before. Jasmine talked to Harry about makeup and how he should try mascara to enhance the eye look. Holly and Jax were talking about their shared herbology class, and Atlas and Mason were laughing about some joke.
Harry truly had never felt so much happiness before in his life and he thought his chest was bound to burst from his chest any moment.
They bowled for two hours, and Harry placed third and fifth respectively.
“Next stop,” Holly said when they’d left the bowling alley. “The opticians.”
“Huh?” Harry asked.
“The magical opticians,” Atlas corrected. “It’s another gift, getting your eyes fixed, or getting you new frames if you want to keep your glasses.”
Harry’s eyes widened, “Magic can fix my eyesight?”
“Of course,” Jax said. “Magic is amazing, Harry. So, do you want them fixed? Permanently?”
“Yes,” Harry said emphatically. “I’m sick of having to constantly fix them, and of not being able to see properly without them.”
Mason grinned, “Come on then. Your appointment is in an hour and a half. We can stop by Fortescue’s on the way.”
The teenagers walked back to Mason’s house where they flooed into the Leaky Cauldron. Harry was placed under a disillusionment charm by Jax so no one would see him in Diagon Alley, and they went to Fortescue’s to grab a mid-morning ice cream.
After, they walked around Diagon Alley for a spell before it was time for Harry’s appointment.
An hour later, Harry walked out of the surgery without his glasses and with a massive grin.
“Everything’s so clear,” Harry expressed.
They all grinned at him.
“What do you want to do now?” Mason asked.
Harry thought about it for a second.
“Pierce my ears and then… just watch films for the rest of the day,” Harry said truthfully.
“Done and done,” Jax stated.
Once back at Mason’s house, Atlas and Jax sat Harry down on a chair in the living room. Atlas sat directly in front of him, a needle in his hand as he peered at Harry.
“You do know I’m not a professional, right?” Atlas asked.
Harry smiled, “I trust you.”
Atlas smiled right back and did even dots on both his ears, getting it checked by Jax and Jasmine twice each before it was confirmed they were even dots.
“Freezing charm,” Atlas instructed and Jax cast the mild charm on Harry’s ears, numbing them to pain. Then Atlas took the needle and pierced right through the dots.
Harry didn’t feel a thing and then Atlas was putting the stab earrings in Harry’s ears, a soft smile on his face.
“There,” he murmured. Harry smiled at him, equally as soft. Atlas swallowed and pushed back a lock of Harry’s hair from his face. “You’re eyes look beautiful without your glasses, you know.”
Harry felt his stomach turn to lava at the words and his heart rate picked up until it was erratic.
“T- thanks,” Harry said, barely above a whisper.
Atlas smiled brighter and turned away.
Mason put E.T on the T.V and they all settled down in the living room, curtains closed and lights off, as they watched the telly.
When Jasmine went to pass her cigarette to Jax, Harry, on impulse, plucked it from her fingers and took a drag just like he’d seen them all do before. As the smoke filled his lungs, Harry coughed violently, and Jasmine smiled.
“You’ll get used to it,” she assured him. Harry handed it back to her and continued to watch the movie.
They ordered Pizza later that night and when ten o’clock hit, Atlas volunteered to take Harry home.
The two boys walked side by side carrying Harry’s many presents in their hands as they made their way towards Privet Drive.
“Did you have a good day, Harry?” Atlas asked, his voice loud in the quiet of night.
“This is the best birthday I’ve ever had, and I’m not just saying that,” Harry stated. Then he frowned. “My friends… my other friends, from Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione… they got me chocolate for my birthday. That’s it. All I’ve wanted from then is information about what is going on. They’ve been short in their letters this summer, like they forgot I existed or… forgot to care. It hurts, you know? We’ve been friends since we were eleven and… they get me chocolate, I’ve known you guys less than a month and… and you take me bowling and get my eyes fixed and get me amazing gifts. My godfather didn’t even write me today, and it hurts.”
Harry didn’t realise he’d started crying until Atlas pulled him into a tight hug, one hand resting on his head, the other around his shoulders. Harry hugged him back, arms tight around his middle.
“I’m so sorry, Harry,” Atlas murmured. “You deserve better than that. You deserve the world.”
Harry allowed himself to be comforted by Atlas until the tears subsided even if the pain didn’t quite recede. Atlas pulled back and cupped Harry’s face in his hands.
“You remember that, okay? You deserve the world, Harry. Nothing less.”
Chapter 4: The Dementor Attack
Two days later, Dementors attacked Harry and his friends.
The gang were walking Harry home, like they always did since he was the youngest and newest to group; they also knew that his cousin and his friends loved to torment Harry except when he was with his new friends. They were in the underpass between the park and a street not far from Privet Drive when everything went cold and dark.
Harry felt an oppressive sadness wash over him, jolting his body into fear.
“What the hell,” Holly said, teeth shattering.
“Dementors,” Jax quickly identified and shivered violently.
“Fucking hell,” Mason murmured. “I’m freezing.”
“Does anyone know the patronus charm?” Jasmine asked desperately, her voice shaking with fear.
“Yeah,” Harry and Atlas chorused.
“The bloody well cast it,” Mason stated.
Harry swallowed reflexively, making sure to not swallow the mandrake leaf, and raised his wand. He was hearing the screams and a cruel high-pitched voice and ‘Kill the spare’. His heart was beating erratically, his nerves on edge. Happy thoughts. Harry thoughts. He thought of Ron and Hermione and their smiling faces.
“Expecto Patronum.” It was merely a wisp.
He changed his thought process. Sitting in Mason’s living room that first day, being pulled in a dance by Holly and Jasmine. Jax’s disarming smile, and Atlas’s mischievous smirk.
“Let’s become animagi!”
“Roses are my favourite flower, I don’t care if they’re basic, they’re gorgeous.”
“The Cannons can’t even compare, Harry, don’t even try it.”
“That’s really impressive, outflying a Hungarian Horntail?”
“Krum really is an impressive seeker, isn’t he? I’m just glad he didn’t try to long out the match, sure Quidditch is fun, but not games that last longer than four hours.”
Bowling and swimming in the lake. Queen and ABBA and dancing with huge grins. Lyrics belted out.
“You deserve the world, Harry. Nothing less.”
Prongs sprang forth from his wand, spreading light over Harry and his friends, galloping around the group protectively. The dementors backed away but didn’t leave.
“Expecto Patronum!” he heard Atlas say, and then a majestic eagle shot forth alongside Prongs, the both of them swirling around the group before charging the two dementors, forcing them to fly away.
The group took a second to catch their breaths as Prongs and Atlas’s eagle dissipated.
“What the hell are dementors doing here?” Mason asked, teeth still shattering.
“I have no idea,” Atlas murmured. Then he turned to Harry, “That’s an impressive patronus, Harry.”
Harry felt his heart race at the praise. He’d long ago accepted that he found Atlas attractive in a way that was decided more than just friendly.
“Thanks,” Harry said. “You too.”
Atlas smiled and then frowned a little, “Let’s get you home, okay? I don’t like the fact that Dementors were here.”
Harry nodded, feeling suddenly unsafe out in the open.
Atlas turned to the others. Holly and Jasmine were gripping each other’s hands tightly. Mason looked shaken to his core, and Jax was pale.
“You guys go home. I’ve got Harry from here,” Atlas told them, placing a hand on Harry’s shoulder and squeezing.
“You sure?” Jasmine asked, voice uncomfortably dull.
Atlas smiled at her softly, “Yeah. You guys get home.”
With furtive glances and promises to be at Atlas’s tomorrow, the others left Atlas and Harry alone in the alleyway.
“Are you okay?” Atlas asked him, expression serious.
Harry nodded, turning his head to look at Atlas where he stood behind him almost protectively.
Harry swallowed, “I guess. It’s just a bit… terrifying. Why would dementors be in Little Whining?”
“My guess,” Atlas started slowly, carefully, like he was afraid how Harry would react, or maybe even afraid of what he was about to suggest. “Is that it wasn’t an accident they were here.”
Harry swallowed at the implications.
“Let’s get you home, okay?”
Harry nodded and they continued towards Privet Drive. They were outside when the letter came flying down from an owl above. Both boys stopped when they saw the official ministry seal on the front and Harry felt fear bloom in his chest as he opened it with shaking hands. He was glad for Atlas’s presence by his side.
Dear Mr Potter,
We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past nine this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area.
The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling to your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand.
As you have already received an official warning for a previous offence under Section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic at 9 a.m. on the twelfth of August.
Hoping you are well,
Improper Use of Magic Office
Ministry of Magic
Harry felt sick as he read the letter twice through. Expelled from Hogwarts. What was he supposed to do? He was fifteen. He has a primary school education. And his getting snapped? That was… terrifying. How was he supposed to defend himself against Voldemort without a wand?
“They can’t do that,” Atlas said, his voice angry and determined. “It’s not how the law works. There was a reason you cast the spell; it was in self-defence. I cast the same spell, for gods’ sake!”
Harry had never heard anger in Atlas’s voice. Annoyance and irritation, definitely. But never anger. Harry felt honoured that his friend was so peeved by this injustice.
“I… I can’t not go back to Hogwarts,” Harry said, a little desperately. He felt like his world was collapsing in on him. “What do I do, Atlas? I can’t not go back to Hogwarts. Hogwarts is my home!”
Atlas placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder, looked him dead in his eyes. His blue gaze was intense and made Harry’s stomach flip in an unhelpful way.
“We’ll set this right, Harry. They can’t legally do this. There has to be an investigation for something like this. That’s part of the law,” Atlas assured him. “I’ll stay with you, okay? They said they’d send people. I’ll be here and I’ll tell them they can’t do this because they really cannot.”
“You’d do that?” Harry asked, a little breathless.
“Of course,” Atlas said. “You don’t deserve this, Harry. I’ll protect you however I can, like I do all my friends.”
Harry nodded, feeling immense relief at his words. Until a second owl arrived carrying a letter not from the Ministry. Harry furrowed his eyebrows and took the letter, opening it.
Dumbledore’s just arrived at the ministry and he’s trying to sort it all out. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR AUNT AND UNCLE’S HOUSE. DO NOT DO ANY MORE MAGIC. DO NOT SURRENDER YOUR WAND.
Harry sighed a little in relief.
“Dumbledore’s trying to sort it out,” Harry murmured. Atlas squeezed Harry’s shoulder and went to let go. Harry grabbed his wrist. “I don’t want to be alone. Mr Weasley said to stay here but… but my relatives don’t like me, and they really hate Owls in the house and I just… I don’t want to go in there.”
Atlas’s eyes softened impossibly, and he slid his wrist up so his hand was gripping Harry’s.
“You can stay at mine,” Atlas told him. “My parents won’t mind. Let’s grab your stuff and you can stay the rest of the summer if you want.”
“Really?” Harry asked.
“Really,” Atlas nodded.
Harry sighed in relief, “You’re a really great friend, Atlas.”
“So I’ve been told,” he smiled with not a small amount of amusement.
The boys approached the Dursley’s house and Atlas knocked on the door politely. Petunia opened the door, her eyes narrowing when she saw Harry and Atlas standing out there.
“We’re here for Harry’s things. He’s staying with me for the rest of the summer,” Atlas said. It wasn’t a question.
Petunia sniffed in distaste, “Fine.”
Harry was honestly surprised she didn’t put up much more of a fight, but figured she’d just be glad to be rid of Harry earlier than it took for the Weasleys to take him to the Burrow. Atlas entered and Harry directed him to the cupboard under the stairs for his trunk and broom while Harry went upstairs to get Hedwig, some clothes, and all his presents.
It wasn’t long at all before Harry and Atlas were on their way to Atlas’s house four streets over. When they arrived, Atlas’s mother was in the living room.
“Mum?” Atlas called out.
“Atlas! You’re home,” she expressed, coming out into the hallway with a broad grin. “And you’ve brought a friend.” She sounded delighted.
“Harry’s going to be staying here the rest of the summer if that’s okay,” Atlas said. “His relatives aren’t very kind and well, we’ve become good friends over the summer.”
His mother grinned, “Is this a new boyfriend, Atlas?”
Harry felt a thrill run through his veins as his cheeks burned. One look at Atlas showed his face was flaming.
“No, Mum, Harry’s a friend with shitty relatives,” Atlas said.
Her smile went from enthusiastic to understanding, “Sorry. Of course Harry can stay the rest of summer. He’s more than welcome. Dinner will be ready in about half an hour.”
“Thanks, Mum,” Atlas said, before guiding Harry upstairs and to a decently sized bedroom. He had a double bed and a decent TV, video games, comic books, actual books, a record player, and a bloody couch in his bedroom. It was heaven.
“Sorry for the mess,” Atlas stated, kicking a pair of socks under his bed before sitting atop the mattress.
“It’s fine. This place is awesome,” Harry said, looking around in wonder. Atlas’s house was the only one Harry hadn’t been to this summer and he supposed it was before his mum was always around and he didn’t want to bother her.
Atlas nodded, “I’m an only child. My parents spoil me.”
Harry knew about that from watching Dudley get everything he ever wanted from his parents.
“Your Mum seems nice.”
“She’s a good mum,” Atlas agreed. “You can sleep on the sofa; it turns into a bed.”
Harry smiled, feeling gratitude swell in his heart., “Thanks for this Atlas, really.”
He shrugged, “It’s no problem, Harry. I don’t know why I didn’t think of offering sooner when you mentioned them being shitty. I guess our friendship was just too fresh and then… well I got distracted by all the fun.”
Before Harry could reply, another owl arrived with another letter from the Ministry. The boys looked at each other before Harry opened it up and read it aloud.
“ Dear Mr Potter,
Further to our letter of approximately thirty-eight minutes ago, the Ministry of Magic has revised its decision to destroy your wand forthwith. You may retain your wand until your disciplinary hearing on the twelfth of August, at which time an official decision will be taken.
Following discussions with the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Ministry has agreed that the question of your expulsion will also be determined at that time. You should therefore consider yourself suspended from school pending further enquiries.”
Harry slumped in relief and Atlas smiled, “I told you they couldn’t expel you.”
“Yeah,” Harry smiled. “This is… good. Not great, but… better.”
“Better.” Atlas agreed.
Harry sat down on Atlas’s sofa feeling exhausted from the events of the evening, “Do you reckon I could try that drinking thing now?”
Atlas barked a laugh and stood up, choosing instead to take a seat next to Harry. “Maybe after dinner. I reckon this night is a valid excuse to get drunk, especially for the first time.”
Harry nodded, and a silence fell between them. Harry felt a little nervous. But his curiosity had always been his fatal flaw, and right now he was beyond curious about this whole boyfriend thing.
“You never mentioned you were gay,” Harry said, voice merely curious as he leant his head back against the sofa and peered up at Atlas. The boy merely shrugged.
“I didn’t think it’d matter.”
“It doesn’t,” Harry assured. “I’m not against it and of course it’s your thing to tell whoever you want or don’t want… I just… I don’t know. I don’t think I’d have ever picked up on it if your mum hadn’t said anything.”
“The joys of having gay-positive parents,” Atlas chuckled. “I would’ve told you eventually, or you’d have noticed me with a boy in a rather intimate way, I guess I just didn’t want to risk scaring you off.”
“You could never scare me off, Atlas,” Harry laughed a little self-deprecatingly. “It’d be pretty hypocritical of me.”
Atlas raised an eyebrow, turning his head to better see the younger boy, “Are you coming out to me, Harry?”
Harry cringed a little, “Yeah. I’ve never told anyone that before. That I like guys.”
Atlas smiled, soft as always, “I’m glad you told me.”
“Yeah?” Harry asked. Atlas nodded his head and frowned a little as he reached up and tucked a piece of Harry’s hair behind his ear.
Harry felt his heartrate increase, and his eyes flicked down to Atlas’s lips which pulled into a small smirk.
“Do you want to kiss me, Harry?” Atlas asked, barely above a whisper, leaning just a little bit closer.
It was like he’d been hit by a stunner. He swallowed reflexively.
“Yes,” Harry whispered, breathless. Atlas leant closer, so close Harry could feel his breath on his skin.
Atlas paused and a small sigh escaped him. He looked into Harry’s eyes, intense blue on beautiful green, “We’ll revisit this conversation later.”
Then he leant back and stood up, extending a hand to Harry. Harry took his hand, trying to catch his breath as Atlas hauled him to his feet and guided him back downstairs and into the kitchen.
Spaghetti bolognaise sat on the table; four places set. Atlas motioned to the one beside his own seat and Harry sat just as the floo flared in the other room and a man walked into the kitchen. He wore professional, dark robes and a hat on top of his shoulder-length hair. His beard was well-trimmed, and he hand a wand in his hand, a grin on his face.
“How is my beautiful family?” he asked, shucking out of his robes and revealing white shirt and black slacks beneath. He put the robes on the back of his chair and his hat on the table beside himself.
“We’re splendid, dear,” Atlas’s mother smiled broadly. “This is Atlas’s friend, Harry. He’ll be staying with us the rest of the summer.”
The man looked at Harry and his eyes clocked the scar almost immediately, “Harry Potter I presume?”
“Yes, sir,” Harry said, feeling apprehensive. He knew what the prophet had been saying about him. Knew what the majority of the wizarding world thought of him.
He held out his hand with a pleasant smile, “I’m Gary Colt, nice to meet another friend of Atlas’s.”
Harry shook his hand and returned the smile, relief flowing through his body, “Thank you for allowing me into your home.”
“It’s our pleasure,” Mrs Colt smiled widely.
“How was work, Dad?” Atlas asked his father, tucking into his dinner. Harry followed his lead and almost melted at how delicious the food was. Who knew bolognaise could taste so divine?
“Great as always,” Mr Colt expressed. “Not that I can tell you about it.” He tapped his nose conspiratorially. Harry furrowed his eyebrows.
“Dad’s an unspeakable at the Ministry,” Atlas explained to Harry. “He can’t tell us anything he does at work, which is a little annoying, but it can’t be helped. Harry’s a Puddlemere fan, Dad.”
And that was it. The rest of dinner was filled with Quidditch talk that even Mrs Colt joined in on. It was a nice dinner, one of the best he’d had in a long time, and when the meal finished Harry volunteered to clean the dishes since they were allowing him into their home. The Colts didn’t argue, and Atlas helped him by drying and putting the dishes away.
Harry had just pulled the plug in the sink when an owl came flying through the open kitchen window, landing in front of Harry.
He thought he was done with owls this evening. He couldn’t help but sigh as he took the note from the owl, and it flew away. He was half expecting it to be from Dumbledore with some sort of explanation of what exactly was going on, but no, it was from Sirius.
Arthur has just told us what’s happened. Don’t leave the house again, whatever you do.
It was such a short missive that Harry felt disappointed but also not surprised. It’s all he’d been receiving for so long, short, blunt messages with no real substance. Then the words settled in, and he supposed now would be a good time to tell them he wasn’t at the Dursleys and didn’t intend to return there.
“Everything okay?” Atlas asked.
“I probably need to tell someone I’m not with my aunt and uncle,” Harry said. Atlas nodded.
“We should’ve thought of that. Come on, I’ve got parchment and ink in my room.”
Harry sat at Atlas’s desk, quickly writing a note to Sirius that he sent with Hedwig.
I’m not at the Dursleys but I’m safe at a friend’s house. He then wrote down Atlas’s address with his permission.
With that done, Harry felt more tired than he’d ever been in his life and felt like falling asleep right there at the desk.
Atlas must’ve seen the exhaustion in his face before he took his arm and dragged him to his feet, “You’ll hurt your back sleeping at a desk.” Harry felt the plush sofa bed beneath him as Atlas removed his shoes and tucked him into the sheets.
“What happened to revisiting that conversation?” Harry asked around a yawn. Atlas smiled at him fondly.
“Later,” Atlas murmured. “Get some sleep, Harry.” He felt soft lips graze his forehead as he fell into blissful nothingness.
Chapter 5: A Trip into Knockturn Alley
Harry sat at the Colt’s dining room table more well rested than he’d been in a very long time. For the first time in what felt like forever he wasn’t plague by nightmares of Cedric and Voldemort, or the screams of his mother, nor any other terrifying event in his life, which was reaching a stupid number at this point.
Mrs Colt had prepared a wonderful full-English that morning and Harry ate like a starving man as the family around him conversed about nothing in particular. Truthfully, Harry wasn’t concentrating on their conversation until he heard his name mentioned.
“- can’t expel Harry for something like that, can they?” Atlas asked, looking at his father almost earnestly, waiting for him to either confirm or deny his words.
Mr Colt looked troubled as he peered at his son before his eyes drifted towards Harry.
“It is rather unorthodox,” Mr Colt agreed. “A disciplinary hearing for underage magic isn’t common. Usually there’s a small investigation, a conversation had where it can be determined if the minor was in immediate danger or not, and even then, it’s uncommon for a wand to be destroyed. It’s dangerous to leave a magical child without a wand after they begin to harness their power. It can lead to higher outbursts of accidental magic that have at times proven to be devastating.”
“So, when Harry tells them about the dementors, they can’t snap his wand or anything like that?” Atlas said, his tone hopeful.
“Underaged sorcery is allowed if one is in immediate danger. So yes, when Harry tells them about the dementors, they can’t snap his wand or expel him. I rather imagine they’ll drop the charges completely,” Mr Colt explained. Atlas seemed to deflate in relief and Harry felt a huge weight lift off his shoulders. “But-” Harry tensed a little. “we have to ask the question of why the dementors were there in the first place. The most logical answer is that they were rogue, working for someone outside the Ministry, like the Dark Lord, or… well, the Ministry have full control over the dementors, it’s entirely possible someone sent them after Harry so that this hearing could take place and Harry would be silenced.”
Harry’s eyes widened in disbelief, “Hang on. So… so this could’ve been the Ministry’s doing?”
Mr Colt hummed, looking as disturbed as Harry felt, “I’ll look into it at work. As an Unspeakable, people don’t tend to question what it is I do, so it’ll be easy. In the meantime, I’d advise you to remain in the muggle world. I imagine the magical world is rather… prejudiced against the name Harry Potter for the moment.”
Harry winced a little.
A heavy silence permeated the air the idea of the Ministry trying to silence Harry filling them all with a feeling of dread.
Mrs Colt cleared her throat, “How about you and your friends go to London? Get your school things? Dad and I will give you some money for transportation, get yourselves out of Little Whinging for a day.”
Atlas looked at his mother with a kind smile, “Yeah, Mum, that’d be great… thanks.”
“Of course dear,” Mrs Colt smiled blindingly. At least Harry now knew where Atlas’s smile came from. She turned to Harry then. “Do you have money, Harry dear? If not we’d be happy to give you some.”
“That’s very kind, Mrs Colt,” Harry said with a smile of his own. “But I’ve got money, you don’t need to worry.”
“Alright then,” Mrs Colt nodded before brushing invisible crumbs from her hands and standing, grabbing their four plates. “You two go get ready, and I’ll get you that money, Atlas.”
She disappeared into the kitchen, humming a song Harry didn’t recognise, and Mr Colt stood, grabbing his robes from the back of his chair.
“Well, I’ll be off to work, boys,” Mr Colt announced, shrugging into his robes and accioing his hat from somewhere in the house. “I’ll look into this Dementor business when I get the chance Harry.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Harry said sincerely.
Mr Colt nodded and followed after his wife into the kitchen.
“Come on,” Atlas said, also standing and motioning for Harry to follow him up the stairs.
The others arrived at the house at ten o’clock and Atlas told them of the plan to head into London.
“That’s good,” Jax hummed. “I need to pick me my schoolbooks. We can go into Knockturn Alley; they’re less likely to make a fuss over Harry.”
Harry couldn’t help the furrow that formed between his eyebrows as they headed out of the house and towards the train station.
“I thought we weren’t supposed to go into Knockturn Alley,” Harry said. “That it was a place for dark wizards to go.”
It was what he’d always been told. By Hagrid and the Weasleys. He thought it was just common knowledge. Hell even the name sounded sketchy when compared to Diagon.
“I mean, sure, it’s not as nice as Diagon,” Mason conceded. “But it’s not like only for dark things. You can get all the same things you can get from Diagon, and well… more illegal things I suppose. But it wasn’t designed for only dark wizards.”
Harry frowned. So he’d been lied to about it. Or maybe there was just some sort of misconception? He mentally shook his head. He didn’t want to start thinking about things like that. In his brain, the topic of the Weasleys was one that drug up bitterness at the moment and he didn’t want to feel bitter when he was around his new friends.
The trip to Kings Cross was uneventful, but once they were in London, Jasmine and Holly were desperate to buy Harry new clothes.
“Come on, Harry, please? No offence but you’re in desperate need of a full makeover,” Holly practically begged.
“We already got you into eyeliner and nail polish, not to mention the lack of glasses,” Jasmine pointed out. “You deserve clothes that weren’t hand-me-downs from your over-stuffed cousin.”
Harry cringed and sent pleading looks to the guys. Mason raised an amused eyebrow, his eyes crossed. Jax looked about ready to laugh. Atlas was the only one who wore a vague expression of sympathy, but even then all he said was, “You encouraged this, Harry. We can’t help you.”
Harry sighed, relenting, “Fine. But I’m paying for everything.”
“Looks out our first stop in Gringotts then,” Jax decided, already leading them to the underground so they could get to Charing Cross. “Then Knockturn and after we’ll look about London.”
Harry was shocked when they didn’t go to the Leaky Cauldron for access into Diagon Alley, but instead went to an equally run-down looking inn, at least on the outside, by the name of the Wailing Witch.
“It’s the entrance directly into Knockturn,” Jasmine explained upon seeing Harry’s confused expression. The younger boy had merely nodded, continuing to stare at the sign as they approached and went inside.
Unlike the Leaky Cauldron, which was a dingy pub with peeling wallpaper and an almost permanent smell of wet, the Wailing Witch was almost lavish in its decoration. It was more a hotel than an inn. The floors were polished hardwood, the walls a neutral wallpaper with rich wood trimmings. To the right of Harry was a bar area where high-class witches and wizards sat enjoying glasses of wine despite the early hour, or cups of coffee. The bar was actually sparkling due to its cleanliness, and each glass seemed to be made of crystal. To the left of Harry was an obvious lounge with deep purple sofas and loveseats, desks with fancy chairs, a fireplace, and gorgeous paintings on the walls.
“Holy shit,” Harry couldn’t help but breathe in blatant awe. In all his five years in the wizarding world Harry had never seen a nicer building in his life.
“Nice, isn’t it?” Jax chuckled.
“My parents love it here,” Jasmine stated. “The wine is to die for, and the rooms aren’t even that expensive despite how nice they are.”
“Why doesn’t the rest of the wizarding world look like this?” Harry asked, staring around at the high ceilings and archways leading to different sections of the gargantuan room. Was that a grand piano?
Atlas put a hand on Harry’s shoulder, “The Wailing Witch was renovated about a decade ago. I suppose before it looked like this it was as medieval as the rest of the Wizarding World.”
“Come on. Let’s make this Gringotts trip quick. We need all the time we can to get Harry a whole new wardrobe,” Holly said enthusiastically.
Instead of having to tap out a pattern on a brick wall, to enter Knockturn Alley from the Wailing Witch all you had to do was walk out the door. It had never been totally clear to Harry as to why exactly one had to get past the brick wall outside the Leaky Cauldron, it wasn’t like there were muggles who strolled into the dingy inn due to the notice-me-not wards placed upon the building.
Knockturn Alley didn’t seem so daunting at fifteen with friends than when he was twelve and alone. Sure, it was still a dark alley with strange witches and wizards selling questionable things, but it definitely wasn’t scary.
Mason was in the lead this time as they passed by Jenkin’s Tombs and Ahern’s Wizardwear. There was only one way into Gringotts so, as they moved into Diagon Alley, the group stood on all sides of Harry in the hopes of disguising him as just a normal teenager instead of the Boy-Who-Lived. It was easier than it might’ve been a few weeks ago; Harry didn’t exactly look like himself without his glasses and the baggy clothes, and no one gave the group of teens a second glance as they went about their own business.
Once inside Gringotts, they located the closest free teller and converged towards to Goblin who sat counting galleons while a quill covered at his ear.
“Can I help you?” the Goblin asked, voice monotonous and yet still somehow vicious.
“I’d like to get some money out of my vault,” Harry asked.
The Goblin glanced up, expression bored, “Name?”
The Goblin hummed in his gravelly voice, “Identification?”
Harry handed over his wand and with a quick check, the Goblin nodded, satisfied, before directing the teens to a nearby Goblin standing by the door that lead to the roller-coaster ride that got you to the vaults.
“Thank you,” Harry said politely before walking towards the Goblins, only Atlas and Jasmine followed, the others staying in the lobby of the bank. He turned back to them. “How much do you think I’ll need to get out?”
“However much you want,” Jasmine shrugged. “Aren’t the Potters like stupid rich?”
Harry furrowed his eyebrows, “I mean. I have money in my trust vault, quite a bit, but that’s it, isn’t it?”
Jasmine stopped dead in her approach of the Goblin by the door to the vaults, staring at Harry like he was insane. Harry and Atlas both turned to her, thoroughly confused.
“What?” Harry asked.
“You only have access to your Trust Vault?”
Harry blinked, “Well… yeah. It’s the money my parents left me.”
“It’s the money your parents put aside for school, Harry,” Jasmine corrected. “The rest of your money in probably in other vaults.”
Now Harry was very confused, because what? He had more money that wasn’t in his trust vault?
“I have more money?” Harry asked her.
Jasmine gawked at him, “Of course! The Potters were purebloods, Harry, old purebloods. They had loads of money, and a family manor, and probably businesses. They made charity donations; they were that rich.”
“A family manor?”
“Where do you think your dad grew up, Harry?” Jasmine asked.
Harry shrugged, “I don’t know. I never really thought about it. Not all purebloods are rich, like the Weasleys.”
“Trust me, Harry, the Potters were very rich,” Jasmine stated.
“How do you know?”
“I come from a pureblood family, Harry,” Jasmine sighed. “My mum’s a Bones. My dad’s muggleborn and that’s why we live in the muggle world. Pureblood families know other pureblood families and my mum grew up with your dad, Harry. Trust me, James Potter was a privileged, rich kid.”
“I- I never knew,” Harry murmured.
“No kidding,” Jasmine said, then a determined look crossed her face. “Come on. I’ll show you.”
She then marched up to the Goblin waiting patiently by the door to the vaults forcing Harry and Atlas to speed up to catch up to her. Jasmine pushed Harry forward a little.
“Harry wants to visit his main vault, please,” Jasmine stated.
The Goblin raised an eyebrow, “I’ll need blood verification.”
Jasmine was already nodding her head, grabbing Harry’s wrist and lifting his hand towards the Goblin. He looked at Jasmine like he thought her to be strange before withdrawing a thin dagger and lightly stabbing the pad of Harry’s index finger, causing a drop of blood to appear. With a click of his fingers, the Goblin produced a blank piece of parchment.
Jasmine guided finger to the parchment, pressing it onto the page until a red fingerprint was left behind. The Goblin murmured a spell and instantly the blood disappeared into the parchment before words appeared in ordinary ink.
The Goblin nodded in satisfaction, “Vault 75 or 102, Mr Potter?”
Harry blinked. He had two more vaults?
“Oh… um… Vault 102?” Harry suggested.
Without further delay, the Goblin led the three teens to the cart, and they travelled into the bowels of the bank, past stalagmites and stalactites, and around so many bends that Harry lost count until they came to an abrupt halt at a vault that looked older than Harry’s trust vault, like it had been beneath the ground for much longer.
This vault didn’t require a key, but instead a drop of Harry’s blood, which he gave easily just as the Goblin directed, a single drop on the ruby gem in the centre of the door.
Instantly, the door loosened and swung inside, revealing a cavern full of gold, books, jewellery, portraits, and other valuables.
Harry gawked at the sight of it all and the Goblin waited outside the door while the teenagers explored Harry’s wealth.
“This is… insane,” Harry murmured. “Why did no one tell me this sooner?”
“Maybe they assumed you already knew?” Atlas suggested. “From what I remember, all books mentioning the name Harry Potter suggested you had a great childhood. Obviously, they were fabrications for money.”
Harry felt a little indignant at that but pushed it aside to focus instead on the cavern of jewels before him.
“Right. Let’s grab some galleons and then get back to the others. We’ll come back to explore these vaults later,” Atlas suggested, grabbing a coin purse from a nearby side table and handing it to Harry.
“Yeah… okay,” Harry nodded, filling the bag with galleons and sickles before turning to the Goblin outside the vault. “Um… could I exchange some galleons for muggle pounds?”
“At a teller’s desk,” the Goblin told him, and Harry nodded before grabbing a few more coins and a book from a nearby pile. He glanced at the title and felt a thrill go through him. A Very Potter History by Fleamont Potter cert. 1972
Once back on the ground level, Harry exchange galleons into £700 before they finally left the bank.
“What took so long?” Holly asked, taking Jasmine’s hand.
“Harry didn’t know he had more than just a Trust Vault. Safe to say our dear, Wonder Boy is very rich indeed,” Jasmine explained.
“Really? You didn’t know you were rich?” Mason asked. “But you’re a Potter.”
“Remember that conversation we had about my shitty relatives?”
No more questions were asked as they re-entered Knockturn Alley and made their way in Jenkin’s Tombs for their schoolbooks. Except for Harry who hadn’t yet been given his book list for the year.
That didn’t stop Harry from buying other books, specifically on animagi forms, potions, and a very interesting find about snakes, magical and ordinary.
“A book on snakes?” Holly asked, peering at Harry’s find. “I didn’t know you were a fan. Aren’t Gryffindors and Slytherins supposed to hate each other?”
“Trust me, we do,” Harry laughed. “I’m just interested in snakes since I’m a parcelmouth.”
Holly blinked at him stupidly for a second, “Excuse me?”
Harry furrowed his eyebrows, “What?”
“You’re a parcelmouth?”
“Right… okay… guess you learn something new every day,” Holly said, looking genuinely bamboozled.
After Jenkin’s Tombs, they went to Ahern’s Wizardwear so they could all get new school robes that would be delivered to their houses at a later date. Holly insisted on Harry also getting a new uniform, as well as some ordinary wizards robes.
By 1 o’clock the teens were getting hungry and travelled back through the Wailing Witch and out to the muggle world, finding a nearby Wetherspoons where they ordered a nice lunch.
The next three hours were spent in London, Holly and Jasmine dragging the boys along as they shopped for clothes for Harry, forcing the boy to try on different items in each and every shop, and then forcing the bags into the arms of Jax, Atlas, and Mason. By the time they arrived back in Surrey, they were all exhausted as they hauled the many… many shopping bags back to Atlas’s house.
“I suggest a beer and a movie to finish the day,” Mason said exhaustedly as he slumped onto the sofa.
“Agreed,” Jax sat beside him, equally tired.
Atlas hummed his agreement before heading to the kitchen and grabbing six beers. They’d slowly started easing Harry into beer drinking and he normally only had one with them while the others had two or three, or in Mason’s case five.
Harry went about turning the T.V on and flicking through the films until he found a title that caught his attention. Back to the Future. He’d heard Dudley talk about the film before and had always wanted to watch it.
He placed the film into the DVR, and it started playing just as Atlas return to the room. Harry remained on the floor, back against the arm of the sofa Jax and Mason had claimed. Jasmine and Holly were on the loveseat and Atlas settled into the armchair.
Harry took a drag of the cigarette Jasmine passed him and felt, once again, truly safe and loved in the presence of the friends he’d made less than a month ago.
Chapter 6: Harry's Choice
Everyone had eventually left Atlas’s house by 10 p.m. after pizza for dinner and two other films watched. Now, after a warm shower, Harry was dressed in a new pair of pyjamas bought by Jasmine and Holly that day, resting on the sofa bed, duvet pulled over his body with a book propped open on his chest, eyes scanning the pages. Or rather, the page.
He'd been looking over the first page of A Very Potter History for the past half an hour, his eyes travelling across the intricate family tree of Potters past. It was obviously a magical family tree considering Harry’s name was right at the bottom, a branch from his dad and mum, despite the book being written in 1972, eight years before Harry’s birth.
He traced the branches up and down, left and right, memorising each name, each date. He had relatives who’d lived for over a hundred years and others who’d passed as teenagers. The very first name on the tree was Linfred of Stinchcombe who’d lived during the 12th century, and from him came generations upon generations of Potters up until it all boiled down to Harry. The last Potter alive. It was crazy to him, that a family who’d lived for so long could suddenly become eradicated down to a single boy who was constantly trying to be murdered.
I’m gonna live.
Harry decided it in that moment. He was going to live. He was going to beat Voldemort and live and have children, multiple children, and continue the name of Potter, not just for himself, but for his ancestors. For his dad and grandfather and for Linfred of Stinchcombe. For his family.
He didn’t notice Atlas’s arrival until after the boy sat on the edge of the sofa bed causing it to dip a little. Harry looked up from the tree and directly into the piercing blue of Atlas’s eyes. His eyelashes glistened with residual water from his shower, making those eyes impossibly brighter.
“What are you reading?” Atlas asked curiously, voice quiet and soft.
Harry sat up and handed him the book. Atlas took it with care, running his fingers delicately across the title.
“The only thing I know about my family is that my parents were war heroes, I look like my dad, and I have my mum’s eyes,” Harry told Atlas. The older boy lifted his eyes, making sure Harry knew he was listening. “I saw it in my vault before we left and figured I’d read up on my family. We’ve been around for ages, Atlas. Since the 12th century.”
Atlas smiled at the wonder in Harry’s voice.
“It’s good that you’ll finally get to know where you truly came from,” Atlas murmured. “It’s the least you deserve.”
You deserve the world, Harry.
It occurred to Harry then that they hadn’t actually revisited that conversation from the night before. He was a little nervous to bring it up again. What if Atlas wasn’t actually interested? What if he realised he didn’t like Harry in that way and just wanted to be friends? What if-
“I can hear you thinking, Harry,” Atlas said, interrupting Harry’s rampart thoughts. “What is it?”
Harry swallowed, feeling his palms begin to sweat and heat rise in his cheeks.
“We um… haven’t talked about last night,” Harry said, forcing calmness into his voice even though his nerves were on edge. “About the um…” Harry couldn’t say it. He swallowed again and looked down at his hands.
“The almost kiss?” Atlas finished, gently placing the book in his hands aside.
Harry felt his heart stutter as Atlas moved closer, no longer sitting on the edge of the sofa bed, but instead quite a bit closer to Harry.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Harry worried his lower lip. “Yes?”
“Is that a question or an answer?”
Harry looked up with a small scowl, “Don’t be a dick.”
Atlas chuckled, the sound deeper than normal. He was very close. So close that Harry could see the darker flecks of blue in his eyes.
God, he’s gorgeous.
Harry blushed harder at his own thoughts and worried his lip again.
Atlas reached forward, his hand cupping Harry’s cheek as his thumb ran from Harry’s jaw to his chin and up to his lips. He gently removed Harry’s lower lip from the abuse of his teeth and leaned even closer, their breaths mingling.
“Are you sure this is what you want?” Atlas asked.
“Yes,” Harry breathed.
Slowly, so slowly Harry very nearly died of impatience, Atlas lowered his head until his lips brushed gently against Harry’s. That was the end of Harry’s patience as he surged forward, kissing Atlas more solidly on the lips, stealing both their breaths.
It was a kiss that lasted maybe five seconds, but it was perfect. Harry had never believed in all those fireworks and sparks business, but Harry felt it as his spine tingled and he felt contented bliss course through his veins.
Atlas pulled away, just a little. Harry caught his breath.
“Eager, are we?” Atlas teased.
“Shut up,” Harry tried for a scowl, but the expression was filled with so much fondness it lost its effect.
Atlas grinned and pushed forward again, capturing Harry’s lip in a much longer kiss that rapidly turned into a battle of tongues before Harry allowed Atlas to take control.
After a while, Atlas broke away again, much to Harry’s disappointment, and sat back on the sofa bed.
“We should get some sleep,” Atlas said. He moved to get up, but Harry caught his wrist, keeping him sitting.
He almost lost his nerve, but really Harry was sorted into Gryffindor right?
Because you refused to be a Slytherin, the unhelpful part of his brain said. Harry ignored it.
“What does this mean?” Harry asked.
Atlas raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean?”
Harry closed his eyes a little in frustration, “I mean does this make us a couple? Boyfriends?”
Atlas looked at Harry with so much fondness Harry damn near melted into a puddle on the bed, “Are you asking me out, Wonder Boy?”
Harry rolled his eyes, “Yes. Atlas Colt, will you be my boyfriend?”
Atlas grinned at Harry beautifully, “Of course I will, Harry.”
Harry couldn’t help the grin that split his face as he surged forward to capture Atlas’s lips again. He had a boyfriend. Atlas Colt is my boyfriend.
Five minutes later, Atlas went to his own bed, leaving Harry to lay back down on the sofa bed, happier than he’d been in a very long time.
The next three days were spent as usual. The group of friends watches films and listened to music and went for walks on days when the weather was especially unbearably hot. They went bowling and smoked and drank and spent the days getting to know each other better. Harry returned to Gringotts with Atlas and Jasmine, looking through ancient texts, some written by Potter ancestors, others with small annotations in the margins. There was an abundance of jewellery and fascinating trinkets like the music box that was enchanted to put anyone who wasn’t keyed into it to sleep. Then there were the documents of Potter properties and Harry found out he owned houses in France, West Bengal, Cuba, and Spain. Not to mention the three houses in Britain. It was abundantly clear that Harry was stupidly rich, and it pissed him off to have grown up without a single shred of it. The Dursleys had always said Harry was a burden, he cost them money, and he should be grateful that even took him in. Harry shouldn’t have grown up in a cupboard under the stairs or been move to the smallest bedroom mostly filled by Dudley’s old toys, not when he was this goddamn rich.
It pissed him off even more that this wealth had continued to be kept from him even after his introduction to the wizarding world and the revealing of truths. It seemed this particular truth had been carefully concealed, but why? Why would anyone hide this wealth from Harry? What did it gain?
Harry and Atlas didn’t attempt to hide the shift in their relationship as they openly held hands and stood closer than usual. During film days, they sat side by side, Harry more often than not leaning against Atlas with his arm around Harry almost protectively. It was most often at night when their light affection turned into passionate snogging sessions that Harry enjoyed more than he’d like to admit.
For the first time in… ever Harry felt truly loved, and not just by Atlas. It was in the way Jasmine painted his nails and Holly taught him about flowers. How Mason stood like a bodyguard whenever Dudley and his gang even attempted to get close to them. And how Jax taught him all there was about music and teasing him fondly for his status as the Boy-Who-Lived.
It was why he stayed with his friends when the Advance Guard came to transport him somewhere ‘safe’.
It was a normal evening. Harry and Atlas on the sofa, Holly and Jasmine on the loveseat, Mason on the armchair, and Jax on the floor as they watched Top Gun, a true masterpiece of cinema. A cigarette was being passed around and they all had beers in hand. It was a peaceful evening, the Colts out for date night, leaving the teenagers to have free reign over the house, not that they did much. There were still three slices of pizza forgotten in the box resting on the coffee table.
That’s when a sharp knock sounded on the front door. At first, they all thought it was a figment of their imagination until it sounded again, this time harder. Mason paused the T.V, all of them suddenly on edge. Atlas pulled Harry closer before untangling himself from the younger boy and standing, wand appearing in his hand a second later.
“We’re not expecting anyone, are we?” Holly asked, also standing with her wand at the ready.
“Nope,” Mason said, and then they were all on their feet, wands drawn. They probably look very threatening, six teenagers in their pyjamas holding wands. But they were capable wizards, the lot of them, and they’d do everything to protect each other.
Atlas turned to Harry, “Stay behind me, okay?”
There was a serious edge in his voice and, despite his want to do the contrary, Harry nodded his head, taking a handful of the back of Atlas’s t-shirt as they moved from the living room into the hallway, slowly approaching the front door.
“Everyone ready?” Atlas asked softly. There were five nods of assent and slowly Atlas reached for the lock on the door, swiftly undoing it before pulling down sharply on the door handle and swinging the door open, wand pointing at the group of intruders.
Harry blinked, staring at the face of his third-year defence Professor, Remus Lupin, and his fourth-year defence professor, or well… not technically, but that was still too confusing and complicated. Moody was as stoic and terrifying as ever. Remus calmer. With them were three unfamiliar faces. A woman with purple hair who seemed about ready to jump out of her boots, she was practically vibrating; a dark-skinned man dressed in robes that rivalled Dumbledore in obnoxiousness; and an older gentleman who looked vaguely familiar, but Harry couldn’t place a name to the face.
“Professor Lupin?” Harry asked, wand dropping a little. “What are you doing here?”
“You know these people?” Jax questioned, eyes still narrowed even as his wand also fell a fraction.
“Well… I know two of them,” Harry said. “Remus and Moody were both my defence Professors. Or well… Moody wasn’t technically my professor, just someone pretending to be him, but that’s besides the point.”
Atlas hadn’t lowered his wand even a fraction, his eyes set in a hard glare, “What are you doing here?”
“We’re here to collect Harry,” Remus said. “To take him to a safe place for the remainder of the summer.”
“He’s safe here,” Jasmine said immediately, putting a protective hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“He’ll be safer with us,” the woman chimed in.
“And you are?” Mason asked testily, gripping his wand tighter.
“Tonks. I’m an Auror,” she stated.
“Right,” Holly said slowly. “The point still stands that Harry is perfectly safe here.”
Remus looked at Harry, “You’ll be safe with us. We can’t disclose where we’ll be taking you until we’re there due to safety procedures, but the Weasleys and Hermione are there, and so is Padfoot.”
Harry blinked. Ron and Hermione were together? In the same place? How long had they been there without him while he was suffering at the Dursleys? While he was getting attacked by dementors?
“I’m safe here.”
“You were attacked by dementors, Harry,” Remus reminds him. “We don’t know why that happened, but we suspect it has something to do with either Voldemort or the ministry. Little Whinging isn’t safe.”
Harry raised an eyebrow, “Right… Little Whinging isn’t safe, except it’s apparently always been safe, which is why I have to come back here every summer. So was that bullshit, or was Dumbledore wrong about something?”
“Harry, you know why Dumbledore urges you to stay with your aunt and uncle,” Remus sighed.
“More like demands me to stay with the Dursleys due to some kind of blood ward that is actually null and void now considering Voldemort used my blood to resurrect himself. Or did you forget that part of the story I was forced to retell minutes after I experienced it. Did you know no one asked if I was okay? I’d just witnessed another student, a friend, be murdered by the man who got my parents killed, and then duelled Voldemort where I was subjected to two unforgivable curses while the third was thrown at me repeated, all while grown men laughed at me behind their masks. All Dumbledore, or anyone, wanted to know was what happened, exactly what happened. Not if I was okay.”
There was a beat of silence.
“It’s not up for discussion, Kid,” Moody stated. “We’re taking you to the place you’ll be safest. With the ministry on your back and Voldemort back from the dead, you’ll be safest with us.”
“Don’t you want to see your friends, Harry?” Remus asked softly. “Padfoot misses you.”
“Funny way of showing it,” Harry said, not meaning to sound as bitter as he did. “I’ve gotten barely any letters from him and those were all short and practically meaningless. I haven’t spoken to Ron or Hermione in weeks, and even before that they only ever told me a grand total of nothing. How is that fair? I’m being shut out and ignored by everyone even though I was the one who faced Voldemort last year, watched his resurrection and duelled him.”
Remus was as patient as ever when he explained, “Harry, there are some things that you won’t understand yet. We keep certain things from you for your own safety. You’re still a child and-”
“A child who’s beaten Voldemort four times in my life?” Harry challenged. “A child who defeated two dementors mere days ago. A child who watched a friend die before my eyes and then proceeded to get ghosted by my only support in the world while I struggled to deal with the survivor’s guilt and trauma of witnessing death at age fourteen?”
Remus seemed stunned by the words and the accompanied bitterness in Harry’s tone. Atlas reached back with his free hand and gripped Harry’s wrist in support.
“I think you should leave,” Atlas stated.
“We’re not leaving this house unless Harry comes with us. We’ve got a mission kid,” Moody scowled. “I won’t be questioned by some teenager who knows nothing about anything.”
“I know Harry feels safer with us that he does with the lot of you,” Atlas scowled. “I know that Harry was really struggling until we helped him. Tell me, Lupin was it? What did Harry’s godfather get him for his birthday? What about his supposed best friends? What did they get him? What did everyone say to Harry when he defeated two dementors? No one asked if he was okay. Hell, no one’s asked if Harry was okay since before he watched Diggory die. Do you know how traumatic that is for someone to witness at such a young age, or any age for that matter? If you’re so concerned about Harry’s safety then you’ll respect Harry’s wishes to stay where he feels safe rather than where you tell him he’ll be safe.”
“You listen here, kid,” the older gentleman started. “Albus Dumbledore has-”
“Dumbledore?” Atlas questioned. “What’s Dumbledore got to do with anything?”
Remus answered, but he was talking to Harry, “I know it may feel like you’ve been neglected by your friends and godfather, Harry, but Dumbledore made it clear they weren’t to tell you anything because it’s not-”
“The last time I checked,” Holly interrupted. “Dumbledore was the Headmaster of a school, not someone with the legal power to decided what students correspond about beyond the grounds of his school, nor to decide where a child should or should not go.”
The older gentleman bristled indignantly, “Albus Dumbledore is one of the greatest wizards to ever live.”
“That doesn’t give him the right to decide where a child outside of his jurisdiction can go or not go during their summer break,” Atlas stated. “Dumbledore isn’t God. He doesn’t get to decide where Harry goes or when he deems it safe for Harry to leave Little Whinging, or that Harry simply has to stay with his aunt and uncle for the summer for god knows what reason.”
“There are blood wards that protect Harry from You-Know-Who with Harry’s au-” the dark-skinned man tries to explain.
“Blood wards that are now null and void since Voldemort used my blood to resurrect himself," Harry pointed out. “How does that make me safe? Or does Dumbledore simply want me somewhere where he can control and monitor me?”
A pregnant silence followed Harry’s words.
Remus cleared his throat, “Harry. Do you want to stay here or come with us?”
“It isn’t a choice the boy can make, Re-” Moody growled.
“Harry’s fifteen. He can make his own choices,” Remus interrupted.
“I think you should go, Remus,” Harry said. “I’m safe here. I’m happy here. Atlas’s dad is an unspeakable, no one comes in this house unbidden without getting hexed into the next century.”
Remus swallowed and nodded his head, “Okay… I’m sorry you don’t feel safe with us Harry, but I understand.”
He looked to the others, “Let’s go.”
“Dumbledore said-” Moody started.
And Moody crumbled as the five wizards left the doorstep, heading into the streets before mounting brooms and speeding off into the night.
Atlas closed the front door and sighed, looking at Harry, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said-”
Harry surged forward and hugged him tightly.
“You’re right,” Harry murmured into his chest. “Dumbledore isn’t God.”
Remus was positively fuming by the time they arrived back at Headquarters.
Molly was the first to greet them, “You’re back. Where’s Harry?” She looked confused as she looked between the adults, as if she expected Harry to suddenly appear out of thin air.
“He’s not here, Molly,” Remus said shortly.
Molly’s eyes widened with worry, “Why? Is he okay? What happened?”
Remus sighed, “He’s safe and he’s happy. He’s just not here.”
The Weasley matriarch looked uncomprehending at the words spoken, “Why wouldn’t he be here? Doesn’t he want to see Ron and Hermione? They were so excited to see him again.”
“Let’s have this conversation with everyone,” Remus suggested, “I don’t fancy repeating myself.”
And so the six of them made their way to the dining room of Grimmauld Place, ready to deliver the bad news.
All eyes turned to them when they entered the room, expectant.
“How did it go, Remus?” Dumbledore asked, eyes genuinely curious.
“Horribly,” Tonks replied. “We don’t have him.”
The sparkle in Dumbledore’s eyes dimmed somewhat, “Was there a problem? Did he send the wrong address?”
“We saw him,” Remus said. “And spoke to him. He didn’t want to come.”
“Didn’t want to- what… why wouldn’t he want to come here?” Bill Weasley asked, looking genuinely confused.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because he feels neglected by his friends and godfather,” Remus snapped. He set Dumbledore with a hard glare. “Were you aware that Harry was subjected to the imperious and cruciartus curse in the graveyard?”
Dumbledore blinked, “I… wasn’t.”
“Because you didn’t bother to ask if Harry was okay,” Remus spat. “All you cared about was the information he could give you about that fucking graveyard and Voldemort’s return. You didn’t ask if he was okay after witnessing the death of a fellow student, didn’t offer him support or comfort, instead you made him relive an awful experience an hour after he’d experienced it with no regard for him mental health! Then you sent him away to a place he hates because of blood wards that doesn’t even work anymore! Not only that but you restricted Harry’s contact with his two best friends and his godfather, his only support, forcing him to cope with his trauma alone.”
Dumbledore took a calming breath in the face of the accusations, “If Harry truly felt unsafe where he was, if he truly hated Little Whinging, why would he voluntarily stay there?”
“He’s with friends,” Remus said. “New friends that he made over the summer. Friends who seem pretty hell bent on making sure Harry is protected, not just physically but emotionally as well.”
Dumbledore sighed, “I thought you were better than to be one-upped by a bunch of teenagers, Remus.”
Remus scoffed, “I wasn’t one-upped by a bunch of teenagers, Dumbledore. I respected Harry’s decision to stay where he feels safe. If that’s with a group of people he’s known for a month over those he’s known for year, then that’s on us not him. Harry’s old enough to make his own decisions. I wasn’t about to drag him kicking and screaming from a house where he feels protected, from friends who make him feel safe. The thing is Albus, you aren’t God. You don’t get to decide where Harry is because it’s convenient for you. He isn’t a tool for you to use, he’s a human being, a young child who’s faced more trauma than most of us standing in this bloody room. Leave the boy be, Albus. He’s safe and he’s happy. That’s all that matters.”
With that, Remus stormed out of the room leaving the Order with quite a bit to ponder over. Sirius in particular was wondering where it’d all gone wrong with Harry. Hell, he’d been unable to send the kid a birthday present because Dumbledore wouldn’t let him out of the house and restricted his correspondence with the boy. It wasn’t fair. Harry deserved to feel safe and loved and while it hurt that he felt that with people he’d known for a month over those he’d known for years, the boy couldn’t exactly be blamed.
Sirius stood and walked from the room, following Remus up the stairs and to his childhood bedroom.
“I fucked up, didn’t I?” Sirius asked quietly. Remus looked up at Sirius, tears brightening his coffee irises. The animagus approached and sat beside Remus, putting an arm around his last best friend. Remus leant his head against his shoulder with a sigh.
“We both did,” Remus murmured. “We failed James and Lily, Pads. He feels safer with strangers than he does us. What does that say about us?”
Sirius rested his head against Remus’s and pulled him closer, “I wish I hadn’t gone after Pettigrew. If I hadn’t been imprisoned then… then we could’ve raised him right, Moony. We could’ve… could’ve made him feel loved and cherished, like James and Lily always did. They loved that little boy so goddamn much.”
“Maybe it’s not too late,” Remus said, sniffing and lifting his head so he could look at Sirius head on. “We don’t have to listen to Dumbledore. We should talk to him more. Send him gifts and tell him more stories about James and Lily.”
“You don’t think we’re too late?” Sirius asked.
“It’s worth a try, right?”
“Well… I was never one to say no to a challenge.” Sirius’s grin was bigger than it’d been since he’d escaped Azkaban.
Chapter 7: The Hearing
Not overly pleased with this chapter but it needed to be written, so here it is. I'm thinking of doing one more chapter of Harry's summer before he returns to Hogwarts.
Thank you all so much for the Kudos, it really motivates me to write more xoxo
Atlas Colt lay in bed wide awake despite the early hour of the morning. His brain was working too hard, going over every little thing he knew about Harry, for him to even contemplate trying to sleep again. He rolled his side and turned his gaze to the boy sleeping on the sofa bed, face remarkably peaceful. Atlas had noticed early on that Harry almost always seemed at least partially tense, as if he was afraid something or someone was going to jump out at him and slash his throat, and honestly it was a valid concern. The boy had duelled He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named mere months ago and he’d been attacked by dementors days ago. Harry wasn’t safe, ever, not truly, and that terrified Atlas.
In the few weeks since meeting Harry, the boy had somehow wormed his way straight into Atlas’s heart and honestly, Atlas was glad. Harry was kind down to his very core despite all that he’s been put through. A weaker person would’ve turned into a bitter, spiteful person, angry at the world for their struggles. But not Harry. Harry was strong, far stronger than anyone seemed to give him credit for, and he hadn’t turned into a spiteful person for it. Harry didn’t have an evil bone in his body, of that Atlas was sure.
He let his eyes travel across Harry’s face as he slept, his eyes drawn to the lightening scar across his forehead that was so stark against his tanned complexion. His entire life had been determined by that scar, and how fucked up was that? Harry was an orphan who’d grown up in an abusive household (Atlas didn’t need to ask Harry about the abuse, the evidence of it ran in thick ropey scars across the boys back), he’d been kept from his wealth, kept from his family legacy, and had been told by the Headmaster of a school what he could and couldn’t do.
Just thinking about Albus Dumbledore made Atlas’s blood boil.
Who was he to say that Harry had to remain with those disgusting muggles?
Who was he to say when and where Harry could spend his time beyond Hogwarts?
He couldn’t imagine how he controlled Harry within the school if that was how he treated the boy outside. It made Atlas almost fear the end of summer and the start of school. France was a long way from Scotland, how was Atlas supposed to protect Harry if he was so far away?
Atlas blinked. The solution was simple, actually. He only had two years left at school, and study for his NEWTs in the same school for both years wouldn’t be so bad. Besides, his mum always complained about how far he went for school, so it’d be easy to convince her, and then she’d work her charm on Dad, like she always did, and Atlas could protect Harry.
He sat up in bed, eyes looking from the brightening sky outside to the clock on the bedside table. 6:00 a.m.
It was a Monday which meant his dad would be going to work earlier than normal, so he’ll get getting up at around-
Atlas’s head snapped to his door when he heard a light thud downstairs. A small smile crawled onto his face as he stood and crept from the room, ensuring to not disturb Harry. Once in the hallway, he moved downstairs and into the kitchen where his dad was waving his wand to turn the coffee machine on.
“Dad,” Atlas said. The older wizard startled, almost dropping his toast on the floor.
He sent his son a small scowl before placing his plate on the kitchen counter, “What are you doing awake, Atlas?”
“I couldn’t sleep,” Atlas admitted, then he moved forward, leaning back on the counter opposite his dad. “I wanted to talk to you. About Harry.”
His father raised an eyebrow, “Go on.”
“People came yesterday to take Harry somewhere ‘safe’ on the orders of Dumbledore,” Atlas told his dad. His parents had gotten in so late last night that Harry and Atlas had already been asleep by the time they arrived home.
“People? Who?” his father demanded, standing to full attention knowing that strangers had been at the house while him and his wife were out.
“Harry knew two of them. Lupin and Moody. They were Defence Professors at Hogwarts during his third and fourth year,” Atlas explained. “When Harry refused to go with them, they left, but… it was pretty clear they’d wanted Harry to go with them. Like I said, they were working on Dumbledore’s orders.”
He hummed, seemingly deep in thought, “You know how I said I’d look into the Ministry records about the dementor attack?”
“Did you find something?” Atlas guessed.
“The attack was ordered by a ministry staff member,” his dad told him, face a little grave. “I don’t know who, but I won’t stop searching until I find a name. I suspect Dumbledore wants Harry close now because he knows the boy isn’t truly safe, but also he doesn’t want Harry to get in more trouble that could lead to his expulsion from Hogwarts.”
Atlas couldn’t help the suspicious expression that appeared upon his face, “Dumbledore seems far too interested in Harry for it to be concern for a student.”
His dad nodded, “I agree. I’m honestly worried about the boy.”
It was the opening Atlas needed, “I think he needs to be protected.”
There was a hum of agreement, followed quickly by a resigned sigh, “You want to transfer to Hogwarts, don't you?"
"It wouldn’t disrupt my schooling too much,” Atlas pointed out. “I’d be doing my NEWT years in the same school, and if anyone asks the reason I transferred I can just claim I liked the curriculum format better at Hogwarts than at Beauxbatons. It’d make Mum happy; you know she hates how far away I am for school.”
“We’ve already bought your things for Beauxbatons,” his dad tried.
“Easily returnable,” Atlas shrugged.
“Fine. I’ll think about it.”
August 12th arrived almost too soon.
The day before, the group of friends had agreed to spend the night at Atlas’s house so they could all arrive at the Ministry together in an attempt to ensure no one was late. The six friends and Atlas’s parents sat around the dining table that morning eating a full English prepared by Mrs Colt, the lot of them dressed smartly for the occasion. Harry was suddenly glad Holly and Jasmine had insisted on getting him a new wardrobe. The only smart robes he’d had before were the ones he’d worn at the Yule Ball last year.
“It’ll all be very straightforward, Harry,” Mr Colt was saying. “Fudge has made himself an interrogator for your case, so you can imagine that he’s going to ask questions and not let you give expanded answers. You reply with yes or no to his questions, even if it seems to be making you look guilty. As your defence, I’ll bring up the dementors then bring everyone else in for their witness statements. No one can exactly dismiss this as false if six teenagers all claim the same thing. Then we’ll mention Atlas also casting a patronus. There’s absolutely no chance of you failing this hearing, Harry. Now the time and location has changed, which is ridiculous, and the hearing is now being held in one of the official courtrooms at 8 a.m. meaning we should get going soon.”
One glance at the clock told Harry it was 7:30 a.m.
The teens finished eating and as Mrs Colt took the plates out to the kitchen, Mr Colt led them all to the living room where they proceeded to floo directly into the Ministry.
The Ministry of Magic looked as grand as one would expect from such an important magical building, the centre of government and where most people were expecting to get jobs after they graduated Hogwarts. The floor and walls were dark and gleaming, like they were always freshly cleaned to keep up a certain appearance. Harry couldn’t but to stare around in awe, it was truly impressive.
“Never been in the Ministry, have you?” Jasmine asked, a certain level of amusement in her voice as she watched Harry gaze shift from walls to ceiling and to the fountain that stood in the middle of the atrium.
“No,” Harry said. “Have you guys?”
“Loads of times,” Atlas said, taking a hold of Harry’s hands as they were herded by Mr Colt towards a pair of golden gates. “When I was younger, Dad use to bring me here when Mum was sick or had plans for the day. Mind, he never let me into the Department of Mysteries, where we works, but he left me with co-workers, like Amelia Bones. She’ll be a part of your hearing since she’s the Head of the DMLE.”
“Bones?” Harry asked, looking to Jasmine. “You’re related to her?”
“She’s my aunt,” Jasmine nodded. “It’s how Atlas and I became friends. Before she was Head of the DMLE, Aunt Mia was an auror, and she loved to watch us the time she had paperwork to do. Said it made the tedious work fun.”
Before Harry could ask more questions, they arrived at the golden gates and Harry saw a man sitting in a booth with the label security on it. He put down his copy of the Daily Prophet at the sight of six teenagers.
“I’m here to escort these six to the disciplinary hearing of Harry Potter,” Mr Colt said formally as he placed a gentle hand on Harry’s shoulder.
The man grunted before taking out a long golden rod that he passed up and down each teens front and back.
One by one, he asked for their wands and dropped them into an odd brass instrument which replayed all their properties.
“Ash, dragon heartstring, ten inches, been in use for six years, is that right?”
Jax nodded his head.
And so on.
The wands were returned, and they had ten minutes left to get down to the Courtrooms below the Department of Mysteries. Once again, Harry was fascinated by the lifts in the Ministry with the memos flying around in the form of paper planes and the various witches and wizards entering and exiting the lift when they arrived at their floor, most of them giving the gaggle of teenagers odd looks.
When the lift stopped at last on the right floor, Mr Colt guided them all down a long, dark hallway until they reached a door with the sign Courtroom Ten on the outside.
It was 7:57 a.m.
“Right,” Mr Colt said. “You five are going to stay out here until you’re called in for your statements. Don’t leave this area, and do not cause any trouble. You’re here for Harry.”
“We understand, Dad,” Atlas said, getting four nods in agreement.
“Good. Good,” Mr Colt said. “Come on, Harry. Punctuality is always a good trait.”
Before Harry could follow Mr Colt, Atlas squeezed his hand tightly and pulled him close.
“You’ve nothing to worry about,” Atlas said. “You’ll be going back to Hogwarts in a few weeks, and this will all be forgotten.”
Harry smiled, “Yeah… okay.”
“You’ll do great,” Atlas assured before kissing him gently. Harry melted at the kiss before pulling away and with a broad smile.
“See you in a few minutes.”
It was a shock entering the courtroom and finding it so jarringly familiar. It was the same one he’d seen in Dumbledore’s pensieve memory last year. This is where Death Eaters were questioned.
That sent a chill down his spine.
“You got our message then?” Minister Fudge said, not sounding all that pleased as his voice echoed around the room.
“Indeed,” Mr Colt answered. Then he motioned for Harry to sit in the chair at the centre of the room. It was daunting, sitting in the same seat a dozen Death Eaters had probably sat in before and it became very apparent to Harry that Fudge viewed him in the same light as he did those Death Eaters.
It made Harry feel irrationally angry at the implications, and he fought hard to keep his face blank.
“Since everyone is present,” Fudge said, once again with a level of contempt in his tone. “Shall we begin? Are you ready?”
“Yes, sir,” an eager voice said, drawing Harry’s attention. He was a little shocked to see Percy Weasley sitting at the end of the front bench quill and parchment in hand. He hadn’t seen any of the Weasleys since the end of fourth year and it was honestly slightly jarring to see that shock of red hair again, but also oddly comforting.
“Disciplinary hearing of the twelfth of August,” said Fudge in a voice that carried around the entire room. “into offences committed under the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery and the International Statute of Secrecy by Harry James Potter, resident at number four, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
“Interrogators: Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister for Magic; Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister. Court scribe, Percy Ignatius Weasley. Witness for the defence, Gary William Colt.”
And so it began. Just as Mr Colt predicted, Fudge asked questions that he knew would incriminate Harry.
“You received an official warning from the Ministry for using illegal magic three years ago, did you not?”
“Yes.” Harry didn’t even try to argue, despite how it made him look. He trusted Mr Colt to get this all sorted out.
“And yet you conjured a Patronus on the night of the second of August?”
“Knowing that you are not permitted to use magic outside school while you are under the age of seventeen?”
“Knowing that you were in an area full of muggles?”
Fudge paused, “Little Whinging is a muggle residency, is it not?”
“Therefore, you did magic in an area full of muggles.”
“No muggle were present when I cast the spell,” Harry argued.
“Regardless of if you saw any muggles, there could’ve been some around.”
Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes, “Fine.”
“You produced a fully-fledged patronus?” a witch with a monocle asked. One look at her told Harry she was Amelia Bones. She had the same nose as Jasmine, and the same eye-colour.
“Yes,” Harry said, confused as the relevance since he’d already stated he’d produced a patronus.
“A corporeal patronus?”
“A- what?” Harry furrowed his eyebrows.
“Your patronus had a clearly defined form? I mean to say, it was more than vapour or smoke?”
“Yes,” said Harry, still a little confused as to the relevance. “It’s a stag. It’s always been a stag.”
“Always?” Madam Bones looked genuinely shocked. “You have produced a patronus before now?”
“Yes, I’ve been doing it for over a year.”
“And you’re fifteen years old?”
“You learned this is school?”
“Yes, Professor Lupin taught me in my third year.”
“Impressive,” Madam Bones said, staring down at him. “a true patronus at his age… very impressive indeed.”
It was then that Harry noticed witches and wizards around the room nodding in agreement. Though some of them were also frowning and shaking their heads, which was confusing. Honestly, this whole interaction was confusing.
“It is not a question of how impressive the magic was,” said Fudge in a testy voice, “in fact, the more impressive the worse it is.”
“Minister,” Mr Colt said. “Surely there should be a question as to why Harry cast his patronus?”
Fudge blinked, like it occurred to him to ask for any sort of explanation from Harry. He looked about ready to refuse when Madam Bones spoke up again.
“Of course, that is a rather important question,” she hummed. “Mr Potter, why exactly did you cast a patronus charm on the second of August despite knowing you were not permitted to do so.”
“Because Dementors were attacking me and my friends,” Harry said.
The Wizengamot went absolutely silent.
“Dementors?” Madam Bones questioned. “In Little Whinging?”
“Ah, yes,” Fudge said, smirking unpleasantly. “I thought we’d be hearing something like this.”
“I don’t understand,” Madam Bones said.
“Don’t you, Amelia?” Fudge asked. “Let me explain. He’s been thinking it through and decided Dementors would make a very nice little cover story, very nice indeed. Muggles can’t see Dementors can they, boy? Highly convenient, highly convenient… so it’s just your word and no witnesses.”
“Actually,” Mr Colt said, calmly. “Harry explicitly stated he and his friends were attacked by Dementors.”
Fudge looked a little stumped, like he hadn’t actually been listening to Harry at all and hadn’t considered that Harry may have wizard friends outside of Hogwarts.
“There are five witnesses of this attack,” Mr Colt stated. “Atlas Gregory Colt. Jaxson Kilian Campbell. Holly Mei Nakayama. Jasmine Willow Laurent. And Mason Lukas Miller.”
The five teenagers entered the room and Mr Colt conjured five chairs for them.
“Well… this changes things,” Madam Bones stated. She smiled slightly at Atlas and Jasmine before her professional mask fell back into place.
“The boy still did Underage magic!” Fudge said, desperately.
“Because his life was in danger,” Mr Colt stated.
“Is that true? Were there Dementors at Little Whinging?”
“Yes,” Atlas answered. “If Harry hadn’t cast his patronus, one or all of us could’ve been kissed. He saved our lives.”
Each of them were asked questions separately and they all came to the same conclusion. Harry cast a patronus in self defence and the defence of himself against Dementors, something that was very much legal.
“All in favour of expelling the accused from Hogwarts and destroying his wand?” Madam Bones asked finally, when the questions came to an end.
About four hands raised, one of which being Fudge’s.
“All in favour of clearing the accused of all charges?” Madam Bones asked.
The rest of the Wizengamot raised their hands and the gavel was hit hard.
“The Accused is hereby cleared of all charges. Dismissed,” Fudge said, like it pained him.
Mr Colt herded the teenagers out of the room and once they were out of view of the Ministry officials, they celebrated with a series of high-fives and cheers.
“I told you there was nothing to worry about,” Atlas smirked. Harry grinned and hugged him fiercely.
“I can go back to Hogwarts,” Harry said happily. “I get to keep my wand.”
Atlas smiled down at the younger boy and pressed a brief kiss to his mess of curls.
“Come on,” Mr Colt said. “I’ll take you all home where you can celebrate properly, and then I’ve got work to do.”
They made it to the atrium without incident.
Harry paused at the familiar voice and turned to see Mr Weasley walking quickly over to them, a smile on his face. It dimmed a little, when he really saw Harry, no glasses, expensive robes, ears pierced. But then it came back, full force.
“Harry,” Mr Weasley smiled when he was closer. “I heard your trial went well.”
“Yeah. It was good,” Harry said politely.
“I’m glad. We were all worried about you,” Mr Weasley said. “You’re looking well, Harry. I’m sorry you couldn’t join us for the summer, but I’m glad you made some new friends. You look happier, Son.”
Harry couldn’t help the smile from appearing on his face, “Thank you, Mr Weasley. I am happy. Tell Ron and Hermione I miss them, please? And that I’ll see them in September.”
“Of course. Of course,” Mr Weasley said, a gentle smile on his face. He looked to Harry’s friends behind him, and his smile grew. “Thank you, for looking out for him.”
“It’s our pleasure,” Jasmine said easily, wrapping an arm around Harry.
“Right… well I should get back to work,” Mr Weasley stated. “Have a good rest of the summer, Harry.”
“You too, Mr Weasley,” Harry smiled.
Mr Weasley gave him one last smile before turning and heading for the lifts.
“He seems nice,” Mason said.
“He’s Ron’s dad,” Harry said. “He’s a good dad.”
“Come on,” Mr Colt said. “Sally will be anxious to hear what happened.”
Harry followed behind his friends, unable to get Mr Weasley from his mind. The man really was amazingly kind and understanding. He hadn’t berated Harry for not going with Remus, and he’d even thanked his friends for looking out for him. He felt a little guilty then for not contacting Ron and Hermione, but then he remembered their lack of communication for the past month and the guilt dissipates into mild disappointment. He wasn’t angry at them anymore, just sad. Why would they cut him off like that? Because Dumbledore said so? Since when did they listen to the rules?
One thing was for sure, the three of them would need to have a long conversation before Harry started considering forgiving them for their silence.
They arrived at the Colt residence where Mrs Colt waited anxiously. Upon seeing their smiles, she grinned broadly and pulled Harry into a warm, maternal embrace.
“Oh, I’m so glad, Harry,” she expressed. “This calls for a celebration!”
Each teen got a beer as music was played in the living room. Queen washing over them, encouraging dancing and off-key singing. Mr Colt left for work once again, but Mrs Colt celebrated with them well into the afternoon.
Chapter 8: A Date
Thought it was time for some Atlas and Harry fluff. Hope you enjoy xoxo
The school year was fast approaching, and Harry was equal parts excited and saddened at the prospect of returning to school. For starters, Harry knew there would be some people who, like the Prophet, didn’t believe him that Voldemort was back and probably thought him to be crazy. He was honestly expecting a lot of glares from Hufflepuffs in particular. Also, returning to Hogwarts meant facing Ron and Hermione again, which was sort of terrifying since he wasn’t exactly sure how’d he’d react to seeing them again, not when he felt so much sadness and disappointment towards them. Not only that, but it also meant leaving his new friends behind. Leaving his boyfriend behind. He hadn’t spent a day without Atlas in a month and the thought of not seeing those gorgeous eyes, that mischievous smirk, was daunting.
A week before school started, and the day after they started phase two of the animagus transformation, Harry was relaxing on the sofa bed in Atlas’s room, reading A Very Potter History, on the last few pages that were about his father’s childhood up until the book was released. Hearing about the way James was raised, made Harry feel a new sort of empty and longing, but also a sort of love and appreciation. He was so happy to get a better understanding of who his dad was just by the way he’d grown up in the loving care of Fleamont and Euphemia Potter, but it also made him so very sad that he hadn’t been able to experience a similar childhood because of some madman.
“Hey,” Atlas’s voice interrupted his voice, an edge of concern in his tone as he sat down beside Harry. “What’s with the frown?”
Harry smiled self-deprecatingly, “Just wishing I wasn’t an orphan.”
Atlas raised an eyebrow in unasked question.
Harry sighed, “I’m reading about my dad’s childhood. It was his dad who wrote this book and… I just wish I’d have gotten to experience the same kind of childhood as my dad. He was so loved and spoilt by his parents.”
Atlas smiled at Harry, a level of sympathy in those blue eyes, “You deserved better. I’m sorry you didn’t get to have a good childhood, Harry. But I promise. You never have to go back to those Dursleys again.”
“Yeah,” Atlas’s expression was soft and filled with promise. He leant forward and kissed Harry softly, taking his time. Then he moved back and resting his forehead against the younger boys. “We’re going out today?”
“Yeah? Who’s house we going to?” Harry asked.
“No ones,” Atlas said. “It’s just you and me today, Harry.”
Harry blinked, “Just us?”
“A date,” Atlas said plainly.
Harry felt his heart stutter a little. He and Atlas had never spent an entire day alone. Sure, they had nights just the two of them, mornings where no one wanted to get up early. But never a whole day. Never a date.
“What are we going to do?” Harry asked.
“You’ll see,” Atlas said, leaning back and winking. “Get dressed. Mum’s made breakfast.”
After the usual English breakfast made by Mrs Colt, Atlas and Harry left the house and walked towards the main town.
“Are you really not going to tell me what we’re doing today?” Harry asked, hand firmly in Atlas’s as they walked down the street, uncaring of any who saw them despite the side-way looks and shakes of heads.
“Nope,” Atlas grinned. “That would ruin the surprise wouldn’t it?”
“I hate surprises,” Harry said unconvincingly.
“You love surprises,” Atlas corrected. “Now hush up and come on.”
Harry gave a put-upon long-suffering sigh, but happily complied as he walked beside Atlas, warmth spreading through his body.
“Are you excited to go back to school?” Harry asked Atlas as she got closer to the main town.
“Hmm,” Atlas hummed noncommittedly. “Beauxbatons is okay, but I’d rather be closer to you. The distance between France and Scotland is rather long.”
“We’ll make it work,” Harry shrugged. “I’m not worried.” Then Harry blinked, feeling unsure. “Unless, you’re worried. Are you worried? We aren’t like, going to break up because of it are we?”
Atlas looked at Harry with fond amusement, “Slow down there, Wonder Boy. Of course we’re not going to break up, not if I can help it at least. Like you said, we’ll make it work.”
Harry narrowed his eyes at the amused tone of voice, like Atlas wasn’t telling him something, “Are you keeping something from me?”
Atlas gasped in fake outrage, hand clutching his heart, “You wound me. I would never keep anything from you, Harry.”
Harry wasn’t convinced, “Is it another one of the surprises you seem to love?”
“Look at that, there is a brain in there,” Atlas teased.
Harry rolled his eyes, but smiled, nonetheless. He really wasn’t so opposed to surprises; they often held good outcomes for him, especially when Atlas was involved.
It wasn’t long at all before the boys arrived at the train station that would take them out of Little Whinging.
“We’re leaving Little Whinging?” Harry asked curiously as Atlas bought them both tickets.
“We’re leaving Surrey,” Atlas corrected.
Harry merely raised an eyebrow.
It wasn’t long until they arrived at Kings Cross and Atlas took them to Covent Garden via the underground. It was packed, as it almost always was, and Harry gripped Atlas’s hand tightly so as not to get lost in the vast city of London. Once in Covent Garden, Atlas and Harry walked until they came upon a building.
“What is this?” Harry asked, peering up at the rather large building, people going in and out of the front doors with happy smiles on their faces.
“We’re going to roller skate,” Atlas told Harry with a blinding smile.
“Roller skate?” Harry questioned. “I- I don’t know how to roller skate.”
“It’s easy, and I’m an excellent teacher,” Atlas smiled at him. He took Harry’s hand and squeezed. “Do you trust me?”
Harry swallowed. It was hard to trust anyone when the people who were supposed to take care of you hurt you. Harry’s back tingled at the reminder of what trust got him when he was young and naïve. Even in recent times trust was hard. He’d trusted Dumbledore but the man had forced Harry back to the Dursleys and… well Harry was pretty convinced Dumbledore knew exactly why Harry didn’t want to go back. Then there were some of his professors. Snape, for one. Harry was supposed to trust his teachers to educate him, yet all Snape did was bully him. Lockhart had tried to obliviate Harry and Ron. Quirrell had literally tried to kill Harry when he was eleven. Crouch Jr had posed as a professor who cared for Harry’s welfare in the tournament, but he’d just been a Death Eater in the end.
Then there was Ron and Hermione. His best friends who he trusted more than anyone and they’d ghosted him the entire summer when he needed them most.
Harry wasn’t sure who he trusted anymore.
He looked to Atlas, into those piercing blue eyes, at that dazzling smile, brightening Harry’s entire world.
You deserve the world, Harry.
“Yeah,” Harry decided, a small smile creeping onto his face. “I trust you, Atlas.”
The older boy only smiled wider and pulled Harry into the building.
Getting the skates and putting them on was the easy part.
Harry took a single step onto the slippery wood of the skating rink and very nearly face-planted. He took a hold of one of the bars for support and caught his breath after the brief panic.
Atlas had no such problems. He stepped flawlessly from carpet to wood and glided across the rink with the grace of a swan on water. He smiled at Harry, skating backwards, and made a single turn on the rink before returning to Harry.
“Okay,” Atlas said over the music. “Take my hands.”
Harry swallowed, reluctant to let go of the wall that was doing a very good job at supporting Harry, before taking hold of both of Atlas’s hands.
“Good,” Atlas praised. “Now I want you to push your left leg forward slowly.”
Harry did so and almost fell again, as unsteady as he was, he felt like a new-born giraffe. Atlas gripped his hands, keeping him upright and gave an encouraging smile.
“You’re fine. I’m not gonna let you fall,” Atlas said, promise in his tone.
Harry nodded his head and forced himself to calm down. It wouldn’t even hurt if he did fall. He was just being stupid.
“Push your right leg forward, but slowly, really slowly,” Atlas instructed, and Harry did so. This time, he didn’t almost fall, but instead his leg went forward smoothly. “That’s it. Now your left leg.” Harry pushed his left leg forward and then his right and again, until he was about two feet away from where he’d been gripping his wall.
“You’re doing great, Harry,” Atlas smiled, still holding his hands. “How about we try going a little faster, and then we’ll work on your balance?”
Harry fell six times when trying to balance on wheels. Atlas laughed good-naturedly every time until Harry had enough and pulled him to the ground by his hand. They stayed for two hours and by the end, Harry was by no means good at roller skating, but he wasn’t hugging the wall either. Baby steps.
They left the skating rink laughing as they made their way back out into Covent Garden.
“Are we heading home, now?” Harry asked.
“Nope,” Atlas said. “This date is a day-long affair, Harry. Now, come on.”
And once again Harry was dragged through the busy streets of Covent Garden by the hand until they arrived at a small restaurant with a name Harry couldn’t even pretend to know how to pronounce.
“What is this place?” Harry asked as they entered.
“Mum and I love to come here,” Atlas told Harry. “They serve the best French food in London.”
The boys stood by the door until a waitress came over with a smile, “How can I help you?”
“I made a reservation, under Colt,” Atlas said. The girl, who looked to be only a few years older than them, looked through a book before nodding her head with a smile.
“Ah, yes, table for two upstairs,” she stated. “Follow me.”
The upstairs of the restaurant was quieter than the downstairs with fewer tables and quieter music. The waitress sat them down beside a window that had a view of sprawling gardens behind the restaurant. Harry was fascinated by the sight, tracing the lines of ivy on trees that had flowers bursting from them, dotting the green with white. It was a controlled sort of chaos and Harry related so intimately with the garden that he found a smile curving his lips.
“Can you two some drinks to start?” the waitress asked.
Harry turned from the window to the waitress, “Just a coke, please.”
She nodded and turned to Atlas, “A sprite for me.”
She left them and Harry looked over at Atlas.
“This place is beautiful,” Harry said, his eyes turning back to the gardens out the window.
“I thought you’d like it,” Atlas smiled. “You’ve always had a sort of… fascination with nature. You always get stuck into those conversations about Herbology with Holly.”
Harry shrugged, “I think I’m just starting to appreciate the world outside of the Dursleys. I mean, I use to do Petunia’s garden, and I loved watching the buds bloom into pretty flowers in the spring, but there’s just something so… magical about the natural chaos of plants.”
When Harry turned back to Atlas, there was a sort of fondness mixed with admiration shining in those blue eyes that made Harry feel warm inside as butterflies rampaged in his stomach.
“What?” Harry asked. Atlas furrowed his eyebrows, like he didn’t understand the question. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“If you didn’t know it already, Harry,” Atlas began. “I’m rather fond of you. And hearing you talk about plants? It’s positively adorable.”
“You’re insane,” Harry chuckled.
Atlas shrugged, “Maybe. But who wouldn’t be a bit insane to date a boy who’s almost died so many times he really should be six feet under already.”
Harry snorted, “Can’t argue with that.”
The waitress arrived with their drinks.
“Have you decided on what you want to eat?” she asked.
Atlas hummed. Harry shrugged.
He looked to Atlas, “Get me something you think I’ll like. I don’t know anything about French food.”
Atlas’s eyes sparkled at the opportunity. “In that case. He’ll have Salade périgourdine and I’ll have the Ratatouille.”
The waitress wrote down the orders and nodded her head, “They’ll be ready shortly.”
And then they were alone again.
“I’ve never eaten in a restaurant before,” Harry mused, eyes once again studying the garden.
“You haven’t done a lot of things, have you?” Atlas asked, no judgement in his tone.
Harry shook his head a little sadly, “I’ve always wanted to go to the cinema. Or a waterpark. Or an amusement park. Or a circus. I’ve never been to a museum. I’ve never left Britain. And before I went to Hogwarts I’d never left England. You know, sometimes I forget how shit my childhood was, locked in a cupboard under the stairs, let out for chores.”
“We’re going to do all of those things,” Atlas vowed, reaching over and taking Harry’s hand. Harry looked to his boyfriend, and he saw it in his eyes. The promise. “We’ll visit your houses outside of Britain first, and then go to places with historical value, like Greece and Italy. We’ll watch a million films in the cinema and visit all the waterparks and amusement parks. Every circus and funfair. And we’ll go to museums. All of it.”
Harry felt tears prick the corner of his eyes, “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Atlas said with conviction. “You deserve the world, Harry. I intend to get it for you.”
After lunch, in which Harry devoured his food like a starving man because apparently France made absolutely amazing food, Atlas and Harry took the underground to Charring Cross where they entered the Wailing Witch and arrived in Knockturn Alley.
Atlas then took Harry to Quality Quidditch Supplies where the boys spent the next hour and half looking at all the brooms and equipment. It was fun, talking Quidditch with someone other than Ron. Atlas provided more insight into the game than Ron ever did, and he told Harry stories of his grandmother’s greatest games as Puddlemere Chaser. Harry told Atlas his first ever Quidditch game where he’d won by almost swallowing the snitch, and then every game after. Atlas listened with rapt attention and grimaced at all the right times.
After that, the boys ventured into Flourish and Blotts, Atlas wanting to get a few books on ancient runes and arithmancy while Harry browsed some texts on magical creatures and herbology.
It was there that Harry bumped into Remus.
“Harry,” Remus said with a pleasantly surprised smile on his face. He was holding a book on werewolves which Harry thought to be pretty ironic.
“Why are you reading about werewolves?” Harry couldn’t help but ask. “I mean, don’t you know all about them?”
Remus grimaced a little, “Dumbledore wants me to… try and get the werewolves on his side rather than You-Know-Who’s.” He said this quietly, ensuring no one could understand.
Harry nodded his head in understanding, “Do you want to be doing that?”
Remus blinked, “I… well not really, but I’m the only werewolf Dumbledore knows and so-”
“If you don’t want to do it, Remus, you don’t have to,” Harry said. “Dumbledore doesn’t get to control us, you know that, right?”
Remus looked at Harry with a mixture of sadness and pride, “Of course you’re right, Harry. But Albus has done a lot for me and…”
“That doesn’t mean you owe him your life, Remus,” Harry said seriously. “You deserve happiness too.”
Remus blinked at the young boy, wondering when he’d grown quite so much. And really, it wasn’t just an internal change. Harry looked older without his glasses and with his ears pierced. He looked healthier too, which Remus was supremely glad for. Harry really did deserve better than he’d gotten so far, and it seemed those friends were already improving his life.
“How have you been, Harry?” Remus asked kindly. “Arthur told us your trial went well, I’m glad to hear.”
“Yeah… it was all Mr Colt, he’s looking into the incident, actually,” Harry told him. “Trying to figure out why Dementors were in Little Whinging in the first place. How have you been, Remus?"
"I've been good, Harry, thank you for asking,” Remus smiled a little. “Have you been having a good summer?”
“Yeah,” Harry smiled brightly. “It’s been the best summer of my life. I went roller skating today, have you ever been roller skating?”
“I have,” Remus said.
“It’s really difficult, but Atlas is a good teacher,” Harry said. “Then we went to French restaurant. French food is delicious, Remus, like so good, you wouldn’t believe it.”
Remus laughed a little, “You sound just like Padfoot. He loves French food.”
Harry’s eyes sparkled, “Do you think we could go to France? Padfoot and I, when he’s cleared, and all this Dark Lord business is over and done with?”
Remus’s eyes brightened, “I think Padfoot would enjoy that very much, Harry.” He looked down at the books in Harry’s hands. “Getting your course books?”
“Oh… no I got them a couple weeks ago,” Harry said. He held up the book on magical flowers and the one about creatures beyond Europe. “These are for fun.”
“Your mother loved Herbology,” Remus told him. Harry’s eyes sparked in interest. “Her best subject was charms, but she always had a passion for magical plants. Your dad use to tease it was because her name was Lily, and she felt a connection between herself and the plants. It was ludicrous, but we all teased her about it.”
“What was Dad’s favourite subject?”
“Quidditch,” Remus said with a small chuckle. Harry grinned. “He was best at transfiguration. Minerva always enjoyed marking his essays since he didn’t just copy out of the book and instead gave his own opinions on the topic.”
Before Harry could respond, he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see a slightly concerned Atlas looking at Remus.
“Everything okay, Harry?”
“It’s fine, Atlas,” Harry said with a smile, not at all minding the protectiveness.
“I’m not trying to convince him to come with me,” Remus assured him. “I’m glad Harry chose to stay with his friends. He seems happier.”
“I am happier,” Harry confirmed. Then something occurred to him. “Maybe you two should have a better introduction.” Then he cleared his throat. “Atlas, this is Remus Lupin. He was good friends with my parents in school and was the best defence professor I’ve ever had. Remus, this is Atlas Colt, my boyfriend.”
Remus blinked a little in shock before a warm smile spread across his face, “Well, I’m honoured to meet you, Atlas.”
“You too, Mr Lupin,” Atlas said, relaxing a little.
“You can call me Remus,” the werewolf insisted. “So… when did the pair of you start dating?”
“Um… a few weeks ago,” Harry said. “You don’t have like… a problem with it, do you?”
“Of course not, Harry, as long as you’re happy,” Remus said sincerely.
“I am happy,” Harry said firmly, smiling back at Atlas who looked at him with fondness.
“Well then, that’s good. I’ve got to get going, so I’ll leave the two of you,” Remus said, then he turned to look directly at Harry. “I’ll write to you soon, okay? We can talk more about your parents, or whatever you want to talk about. I’m always here for you Harry.”
Harry nodded his head, “Thanks Remus.”
The werewolf gave a nod to Atlas before heading for the front of the store, book on werewolves still in hand.
The teens bought the books they wanted and then heading back into muggle London where they got a train back to Little Whinging.
Once back at Atlas’s house, Harry took their books up to Atlas’s room before arriving in the kitchen, only to find Atlas cutting up vegetables.
“What are you doing?” Harry asked.
“Cooking,” Atlas said.
“Cooking?” Harry questioned.
“My parents are out on another date night,” Atlas explained. “And I thought I’d cook for you.”
“What are you making?”
“Spaghetti bolognaise,” Atlas said. “It’s the only thing I know how to make.”
He went to cut the pepper again, but Harry reached forward and stopped him, “You’re cutting it wrong.”
Atlas furrowed his eyebrows, “I don’t think you can cut peppers wrong, Harry.”
“You haven’t been cooking since you were six, Atlas, trust me, you’re cutting them wrong,” Harry said seriously and then pushed Atlas out of the way while taking the knife.
“You aren’t supposed to help,” Atlas bemoaned. “I’m meant to be cooking you dinner.”
“We’re making dinner together,” Harry insisted. “Now put a pan with olive oil on the hob before putting the mince in it.”
“Bossy,” Atlas grumbled, though it was filled with fond amusement as he did as Harry said.
Forty minutes later, dinner was served without incident, and they enjoyed the mean over talk about their first years at school. Atlas looked absolutely horrified about some of the adventures Harry had in school, adventures that nearly got him killed, and some of which were illegal. Harry listened to Atlas’s life at Beauxbatons with wonder as the older boy described the school and the classes and talked about his friends, and especially Quidditch.
They washed up together and then retired to Atlas’s bedroom where they listened to quiet music and talked into the small hours of the morning, stopping to snog a few times.
All in all, it was an amazing first date in Harry’s books.
Chapter 9: Welcome to Hogwarts
September 1st arrived quickly after that.
They had French Toast for breakfast that morning and Harry was already starting to feel sadness creep into him at the prospect of leaving this summer behind, leaving his friends for the majority of the year and returning to a school filled with people who’d either ignored him all summer, or were going to sneer and spit at him.
“What’s with the glum look?” Atlas asked. “No one ever wears a frown like that while eating Mum’s French Toast.” Atlas wore a smile on his face, the same beautiful smile that he always wore.
“I’m just sad to be leaving the summer behind,” Harry admitted. “I mean, you’re going back to Beauxbatons, and it won’t be the same, not having you and the others around.”
Harry was too busy staring down at his plate to notice the amused expressions on the Colts faces, but they quickly schooled them.
“It’ll be fine, Harry,” Atlas assured. “Absolutely fine.”
He glanced up at the clock, “You’ve got half an hour to get ready before we leave for Kings Cross. Mum and Dad are dropping you off.”
Harry nodded his head and took two final bites of the delectable breakfast before scurrying upstairs and changing into the outfit he’d already set out for Hogwarts.
Usually, when he went to Kings Cross, he was either already in his school robes, or wearing the least degrading of Dudley’s clothes. But now? Harry had a whole wardrobe at his disposal filled with clothes that fit him. He’d chosen to wear a pair of light blue jeans, a white t-shirt, and the marron cardigan Mason had gotten him for his birthday. Despite the summer only just ending, the air was already chillier, and Harry knew it’d only be worse in Scotland.
He changed swiftly before shoving his feet into his black converse and triple checking he had everything he needed for school. Mr Colt had cast an extension charm on his trunk so Harry could actually fit all his clothes into it, along with his school supplies.
Hedwig was sleeping soundly in her cage, more content than ever. For most of the summer, with Harry not needing to send letters, she’d been doing her own thing, hunting whenever she wanted and enjoying the freedom from the Dursleys just as much as Harry did.
He smiled at his beautiful owl and gently lifted her cage so as not to disturb her before returning downstairs, ready to go to Kings Cross.
Atlas, who’d dressed before breakfast, was lounging in the living room, reading a book while softly bobbing his head in time with the music coming from the corner of the room.
Mr Colt was stood by the floor, Daily Prophet in his hands while Mrs Colt was zipping up her boots in preparation to leave.
“Are you ready?” Mrs Colt asked, spotting Harry standing at the base of the stairs with his stuff.
“Yeah,” Harry said.
She straightened with a smile, “Come along then. The train leaves in half an hour and I imagine you want a good compartment?”
Harry nodded his head and Atlas stood from his place on the sofa, tucking his book beneath his arm as Mr Colt carelessly waved a hand, stopping the music.
“Everyone ready?” Mr Colt asked. He got three nods of assent and he smiled. “Off we go then.” He turned to Harry. “Just ask for Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.”
Harry nodded, not knowing the platform was connected to the floor system before realising it made sense. Not everyone would use the muggle entrance, would they?
Mr Colt went first with Mrs Colt before Atlas motioned Harry through. The younger boy threw the powder beneath his feet and called out, “Platform Nine and Three-Quarters!” before he was engulfed by emerald flames and found himself stumbling out of a fireplace on the platform, his arm caught by Mr Colt who looked vaguely amused.
“Sorry,” Harry said sheepishly. “I’ve never been too great at floor travel.”
“Not to worry,” Mr Colt smiled.
It was second later that Atlas arrived with a trunk of his own. Harry assumed the Colts would be taking Atlas straight to Beauxbatons after seeing Harry off.
As usual, the Platform was packed full of witches and wizards seeing their children off to Hogwarts with hugs, warm words, and kisses on foreheads.
Harry felt anticipation rise inside him at the sight of the Scarlet Stream Engine, his excitement at returning home to Hogwarts building even as the crushing reality of leaving his friends stampeded across his heart.
Harry blinked, turning slightly to left and seeing Jasmine and Mason approaching quickly, grins on their faces. They also had trunks. Harry furrowed his eyebrows as they got closer.
“What are you guys doing here?” Harry asked.
Jasmine raised an eyebrow at Harry before looking to Atlas, “You didn’t tell him?”
“Well, it was meant to be a surprise,” Atlas said.
“A surprise?” Harry asked. “What surprise? I’m confused.”
He heard Atlas chuckle behind him before a hand came to rest gently on his lower back.
“We transferred to Hogwarts,” Atlas told Harry.
Harry paused. He blinked three times. Frowned. Bit his lip. Furrowed his eyebrows.
Jasmine, Mason, and Atlas laughed.
“We’re coming to Hogwarts with you, Harry.” Jasmine stated.
“You’re… coming to Hogwarts… as students?”
“No, as professors,” Mason’s voice was laced heavily with sarcasm and Harry couldn’t resist rolling his eyes.
“No need to be a prick about it,” Harry muttered. “I’m just… confused. Why?”
“You don’t want us there?” Atlas asked, a real edge of worry in his tone, like he thought he might’ve over-stepped.
Harry quickly shook his head, turning to his boyfriend, “What? No. Of course I want you there. I just… I thought you were happy at Beauxbatons?”
Atlas gave him a soft smile, “I’m happy wherever you are, Harry.” His piercing eyes were so full of affection that Harry damn near melted into a puddle on the floor.
“I’m here because Durmstrang has fallen apart since… you know… He came back. Karkaroff is a bit off his rocker,” Mason shrugged.
“I’m here for shits and giggles,” Jasmine grinned.
“What about Holly and Jax?” Harry asked.
“Jax only has a year left of school and can’t take the Mind Arts at Hogwarts,” Atlas explained.
“And Holly didn’t want to leave him behind,” Jasmine said. “Damn saint, she is. And her parents basically refused. They spent a lot of money on her new course books and well… they weren’t about to pay out more money for the Hogwarts books.”
“But you three are coming with me?” Harry asked.
“Yeah,” Atlas smiled. “Now we can snog in broom closets and sneak into each other’s dorms.” He winked at him, and Harry felt his cheeks heat up.
Jasmine groaned, “I can’t believe I have to do another year of long-distance while also witnessing your flirting.”
“Get use to it, Jas,” Atlas grinned, wrapping his arm around Harry’s waist and pulling him closer.
Jasmine scowled, but it lacked any venom.
“We should get on the train,” Mason suggested. “Compartments apparently fill up like mad and I’d quite like somewhere quiet I can finish my Charms book. It’s the only one I haven’t finished yet.”
“Yeah, let me just say goodbye to my parents,” Atlas said and turned around, walking a few paces to where Mr and Mrs Colt were conversing quietly, smiles on their faces. Harry followed.
“Right well… we’re off,” Atlas said.
He was tugged into a tight hug by his mother before she kissed his cheek, “I don’t want you getting into too much trouble, okay?”
Atlas nodded, “When have I ever gotten in trouble?”
Mr Colt gave him a ‘really?’ look, “You remember in your third year when we got that letter about-”
“Okay! Okay! Point taken,” Atlas rolled his eyes. He hugged him dad briefly. “I’ll see you guys at Christmas.”
They nodded, “We’ll miss you.” Mrs Colt said. And then she looked at Harry. “You too, Harry. We’ll miss you.”
Harry smiled, “Thank you for having me.”
“It’s a pleasure,” Mr Colt insisted. “Now off you two go. The train leaves in fifteen minutes.”
Both boys nodded as they returned to Mason and Jasmine before all four boarded the train together.
Finding an empty compartment was difficult and an achievement not accomplished until they reached the very back of the train.
“Aha!” Mason expressed before pulling the door open and claiming a window seat for himself. Atlas and Harry sat opposite Mason, while Jasmine sat next to him, the four of them relaxing in the quiet of the compartment compared to the chattering of the hallway.
“So… are you guys getting sorted tonight?” Harry asked curiously as he settled himself against Atlas. The older boy resting an arm around Harry, his elbow softly on his shoulder while his fingers carded through Harry’s mop of raven curls.
Atlas hummed, “Before the first years arrive. We have to go to the front of room while everyone gets seated at their tables and then we’ll be sorted.”
“What houses are you guys expecting?” Harry questioned next, relaxing more fully with every brush of Atlas’s fingernails against his scalp. It was heavenly.
“Ravenclaw,” Mason said instantly. “I’ve been the top of all of my classes.”
Harry hummed; he could see that. Mason reminded him a lot of Hermione, just without the know-it-all attitude. Mason didn’t belittle people, intentionally or accidentally like Hermione sometimes did.
“My whole family have been Hufflepuffs,” Jasmine said. “My cousin Susan is in your year, actually. But I don’t know. Maybe Gryffindor.”
“I think the twins would like you,” Harry said thoughtfully. “Fred and George Weasley. They’ve got big personalities, like you.”
Jasmine smiled at the compliment.
“If you’re in Gryffindor, we’ll share a common room,” Harry said. “I really hope you’re in Gryffindor.”
“What about you Atlas?” Mason asked.
Atlas shrugged his shoulders, before he turned to his boyfriend, “What do you think Harry? Based on what you know about me and the houses, what house would I be in?”
Harry considered it, looking at Atlas, like his face would reveal all the answers. He thought back to the summer he’d had with Atlas.
“Well… you’re smart, like Ravenclaws, but you’re not a swot, and there are plenty of smart people in other houses,” Harry hummed. “So maybe not there. Hufflepuff is out of the question. You’re loyal, but Puffs tend to be overly nice and well… you’re not overly nice, which is a good thing. It means you’re not a push-over, like some Hufflepuffs are. Maybe Gryffindor. You’ve got the bravery for it. But then you’re also ambitious and… well you remind me a bit of some Slytherins sometimes. Quiet when you’re thinking, always secretive until you want someone to find out something… So really, I think it’s between Gryffindor and Slytherin.”
Atlas listened to Harry talk and smiled down at his boyfriend serenely, “I hope I’m in Gryffindor so we’re together.”
Harry smiled right back and leant up, gently kissing him.
Fake gagging from Jasmine was cut off by the sound of the compartment door opening. The four teens turned to see a younger blonde girl standing there, a serene air surrounding her.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” she said, voice almost breezy. “But I can’t seem to find anywhere else to sit that’s so without Wrackspurts. May I sit in this compartment?”
Harry blinked at the girl, confused by her words. But then Jasmine was grinning brightly, “Of course you can. I’m Jasmine Laurent.” She end out her hand and the girl blinked at her owlishly before taking a seat beside Jasmine, completely ignoring her hand.
“I’m Luna. Luna Lovegood,” the girl smiled a little.
“These are my friends,” Jasmine said, completely unperturbed that Luna had just rejected her handshake. “Atlas Colt. Mason Miller. And Harry Potter.”
Luna tilted her head to the side, her gaze on Harry, “You’re head isn’t filled with Wrackspurts anymore, Harry. That’s fortunate.”
Harry furrowed his eyebrows, “What are Wrackspurts?”
“They fly into your ears and make your brain confused,” Luna explained calmly. Then she pulled a magazine from her robes and started reading it upside down.
Harry blinked in confusion.
“Anyway,” Mason said, turning from staring at Luna to Atlas and Harry. “What are lessons like at Hogwarts? Are the professors good?”
“Mostly,” Harry said. “Snape, who does potions, is a bully to Gryffindors… and well most students who aren’t good at potions. Binns, he teaches History of Magic, is a ghost and dead boring. Trelawney is the Divination professor who always predicts my death. And I haven’t a clue about the Defence Professor, there’s a new one every year, and it’s sort of a hit or miss situation, but other than that the rest of them are pretty good.”
Mason nodded his head, seemingly taking mental notes of what Harry said.
“Trying to figure out how to become all of their favourite student?” Jasmine teased.
Mason rolled his eyes, “Just because I value my education, doesn’t mean I want to be teachers pet.”
Jasmine scoffed, “Sure thing, Mace.”
Mason sent her a small glare before pulling out his charms book and opening it to the page he’d left off on. He was about half-way through.
It was then that the train’s whistle blew, and they were suddenly in motion, starting the journey to Hogwarts.
“Fancy some chess?” Jasmine asked Harry.
Harry nodded, sitting up so he wasn’t leaning on Atlas as Jasmine got out the board. Atlas pulled out the book he’d been reading back at his house and settled into reading.
He and Jasmine played three games of chess, Jasmine winning all of them because no matter who tried to teach chess to Harry, he was always shit at it.
“How someone can be so astronomically bad at chess, I will never understand,” Jasmine said with a teasing smile as she packed the chess set away. Harry rolled his eyes.
The girl smirked at him before turning to Luna.
“So, Luna, what’s your favourite part about the Quibbler?”
Harry turned to his trunk, removing one of the many potions books he’d gotten over the summer, this one a beginners guide to ingredient preparation before resting against Atlas who automatically slung an arm around Harry, hand resting comfortably on his abdomen as they both read their books.
Harry wasn’t sure how much time passed in those moments as he relaxed fully against his boyfriend, his mind taking in the differences between slicing and dicing and chopping, and why some ingredients needed to be prepared in very specific ways while others could be added in whatever way wanted. All he knew, was that he was distracted by his reading when the compartment door opened again, drawing the occupant’s attention away from their respective reading, Jasmine having gotten a copy of the Quibbler from Luna.
Harry felt a small amount of panic when he recognised the faces of Ron and Hermione stood in the hallway, looking at Harry in confusion. Or rather, looking at Atlas holding Harry in confusion.
Harry didn’t move. He wasn’t going to be embarrassed or ashamed about his relationship, not with them, not with anyone. Eventually, their eyes went to Harry directly and Hermione smiled.
“Hi, Harry,” she said, kindly, like nothing had changed. And maybe it hadn’t in her eyes. But Harry certainly wasn’t the same person he was last year, not fully. He’d felt the shift early on in his friendship with the group. He was more confident now, more relaxed, less inclined to risk his life, and a tad bit more rebellious.
“Hi, Hermione,” Harry said, a little stilted.
“How was your summer?” she asked casually.
“Good,” Harry said, then frowned. “Better than good. It was the best summer I’ve had.”
They both looked at him a little oddly.
“Hey, mate, wanna head to our compartment?” Ron asked. “We can catch up and play some exploding snap and-”
“Thanks for the offer, but I’m happy here,” Harry said, rather pointedly.
Ron blinked, “Mate, we haven’t seen you all summer.”
Harry felt some of that old rage begin to simmer, “And who’s fault is that?”
Ron looked confused, “Look, I know we didn’t send as many letters, but that’s only because Dumbledore told us it’d be for the best before you were able to come be with us.”
“Dumbledore doesn’t get to decide over the communication of students outside of Hogwarts,” Harry said, echoing Atlas’s words. Atlas had subtly held Harry tighter, giving him comfort. Jasmine’s eyes were narrowed, and Mason’s expression was suspiciously vacant. Luna was still reading.
“You know it’s more complicated than that, Harry,” Hermione started.
“It shouldn’t be,” Harry said. “I’m a student at Hogwarts, nothing else, not when it comes to Dumbledore.”
“Harry,” Hermione sighed, like he was being difficult. “You’re the Boy-Who-Lived. Things have always been a bit different.”
“But they shouldn’t be,” Harry argued, he was feeling irritated now. “We can talk about this later, for now I’d like to enjoy the train ride with my friends.”
They both looked a little shocked and hurt at that.
“We’re your friends, Harry,” Hermione said.
“I know,” Harry said. “But I’m just not… too happy with either of you right now and I don’t want to snap. So please just… leave.”
They stood there for another beat.
“He asked you to leave,” Jasmine said. “It’s rude to not accept people’s wishes.”
Hermione and Ron looked at Harry with almost imploring expressions before relenting and leaving their compartment. As soon as the door slid shut, Harry, who’d gotten progressively tenser as the interaction continued, relaxed against Atlas again.
“Are you okay?” Atlas asked quietly, lips pressed to the crown of Harry’s head.
“I really do miss them,” Harry sighed. “It’s just… too fresh. And it’s like they don’t understand my point of view. It’s annoying.”
“Take all the time you need,” Atlas said. “They’re come around, I know they will.”
Harry hummed, “You’re probably right. It just hurts that they can act like nothing’s changed at all even though they practically ignored me all summer.”
“I know,” Atlas murmured. “You guys will figure it out.”
Harry yawned, feeling suddenly exhausted.
“Sleep,” Atlas advised. “I’ll wake you before the train arrives at the station to change.”
Harry nodded his head, placing his book back in his trunk before shifting down so he could lay his head in Atlas’s head. The older boy thread his fingers through Harry’s hair, coaxing him to sleep. It wasn’t long before Harry drifted off into a blissful slumber.
When Atlas shook Harry awake, it was dark outside the train window and everyone else was already dressed in Hogwarts robes. Atlas, Mason, and Jasmine wore black robes that were charmed to change to the colour of their house once they were sorted. Harry swiftly changed into his Gryffindor robes and not long after the train came to a halt.
As always, they left their belongings inside their compartment before exiting the train and heading for the carriages. Harry paused in the middle of the path, however, when his eyes caught sight of the creatures stood in front of the carriages. They looked like horses, kind off, but with bat-like wings, a bony figure, and leathery skin. He swallowed.
“Can you see the things pulling the carriages?” Harry whispered, eyes darting to Atlas who was next to him.
Atlas furrowed his eyebrows, “No.”
“It’s okay, Harry,” Mason said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “They’re just Thestrals. They aren’t dangerous.”
“Why can’t Atlas see them?” Harry asked.
Mason smiled a little sympathetically, “Atlas hasn’t seen death. You watched Cedric die last year and… well Thestrals are only visible to those who’ve seen death.”
Harry swallowed around the lump that had formed at the reminder of Cedric and his death.
Mason squeezed his shoulder, “It’s okay.”
Harry nodded his head, breathing in deeply, before continuing towards one of the carriages.
The ride up the Hogwarts was short and soon enough Harry was once again in the halls of the first place that had felt like home to him.
As they entered the Great Hall to the usual buzz of chatter, Harry paused to squeeze Atlas’s hand and smile at his three friends.
“Good luck with the sorting,” Harry said.
They all smiled at him, and Atlas squeezed his hand back before letting go. Harry made his way over to the Gryffindor table, spotting the Weasley twins sitting with Lee Jordan and the others on the Quidditch Team. He saw Ron and Hermione sitting a few seats down but couldn’t bring himself to sit with them and have that conversation yet, so he sat opposite the twins and between Angelina and an empty seat.
“Hiya, Harry,” Katie Bell smiled at him. “Why aren’t you with your usual friends? Not that I don’t mind you being here.”
“We um… had a bit of a falling out over the summer,” Harry murmured, cringing a little. Fred and George exchanged a look but didn’t say anything.
“Did you have a good summer, Harry?” Fred asked.
Harry nodded his head, smiling, “Yeah… it was really good.”
“Where are your glasses, Harrikins?” George suddenly asked, looking a little confused.
“Oh,” Harry said, having almost forgotten he use to wear glasses. “I got my eyes healed. I don’t need them anymore.”
Angelina nodded in approval, “It’ll make Quidditch easier when it’s raining.”
“Yeah,” Harry said. “That’s one of the reasons I did it. Besides, I hated how I literally couldn’t see without them.”
“It looks good,” Alicia said. “You can really see just how green your eyes are.”
There were nods of agreement.
“Thanks,” Harry smiled.
Before another word could be said, Dumbledore cleared his throat at the front of the room, and the chatter died down before all eyes turned to him. It was a little strange, normally everyone only quieted once McGonagall arrived with the First Years.
“Welcome back, Students,” Dumbledore said, jovial as ever. Harry felt a spark of anger towards the man, but suppressed it, instead focusing his gaze on Atlas, Mason, and Jasmine at the front. “Now, before the first years arrive to be sorted. We’ve got three transfer students joining our sixth-year students who need to be sorted into their houses.”
A wave of murmurs started up around the hall, students craning their heads to get a better look at the three students stood at the front of the room.
“I’ve never seen a transfer student get sorted before,” Angelina said, getting a better look. “I wonder why they transferred.”
“And where from,” Katie added. “Did you the one with the blue eyes? He’s a looker.”
Alicia snickered, “Damn right he is.”
Harry felt his cheeks burn a little, “He’s gay.”
They all looked to Harry, a furrow in their eyebrows.
“How’d you know?” Lee asked.
Harry swallowed, feeling a little out of sorts. Why did he say that? Why did he put himself in this situation? Then he remembered the promise he’d made to himself. No feeling embarrassed. Not to anyone.
“He’s my boyfriend,” Harry said firmly.
Their eyes widened in a bit of shock.
“Really?” Katie asked. “I didn’t know you were gay.”
Harry shrugged, “I didn’t really, advertise it.”
“Fair enough,” Angelina said. “So, what’s his name?”
Harry opened his mouth to answer but then Dumbledore was talking again.
“Colt, Atlas,” He said. Their eyes turned back to the front where Dumbledore now stood with the sorting hat and a small piece of parchment, just like McGonagall would at the start of each year.
Atlas walked forward; his expression bored as the hat was placed on his head. Harry waited with bated breath, concentrating hard on Atlas’s face like it would reveal any indication of which house he’d be sorted into.
“SLYTHERIN!” the hat shouted, and Harry found himself smirking. He’d known he would go to the snakes or the lions. There was a little disappointment that Atlas wouldn’t be with him, but it couldn’t be helped.
The Great Hall applauded, and Atlas’s robes changed from black to green and silver as he walked towards the table of snakes, finding a seat among the other sixth years.
“Laurent, Jasmine!” Dumbledore called next and Jasmine practically bounced into the seat with her excitement, the hat being placed upon her head.
Once again, the hat took about a minute before deciding which house Jasmine would be sorted into.
Harry clapped perhaps the loudest as Jasmine removed the hat and walked over to the lions, a grin plastered across her pretty face. Her eyes scanned the table, before finding Harry. She bounded over as calmly as possible and sat down on the vacant seat next to Harry just as her robes finished transforming to red and gold.
“Told you I’d be a Gryffindor,” Jasmine smirked at Harry, slinging an arm over his shoulders.
“Well, you are incredibly reckless,” Harry allowed. “You jumped from that tree into the lake because Jax claimed you couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to accept any dare.”
Jasmine shrugged, “I love pricing Jax wrong. Now hung, Mason’s being sorted.”
Harry smiled, but obediently looked to the front of the room.
Mason’s sorting was much quicker than Atlas’s and Jasmine’s and within second the brim was opening and shouting out:
He smirked and made his way over to the Ravenclaw table just as McGonagall arrived with the first years. Dumbledore took his seat and the Gryffindors stayed quiet until all students had been sorted and the feast appeared in front of them.
Instantly, almost every eye was on Jasmine as she filled up her plate, seemingly oblivious to the attention.
“So,” Lee started. “What school did you attend before?”
Jasmine looked up, “Beauxbatons.”
“You don’t sound French,” Katie commented.
Jasmine raised an eyebrow, “I’m half-French. My dad went to Beauxbatons and wanted me to attend. I live in Surrey though.”
“Is that how you know Harry?” George asked, remembering where Harry lived.
“Yep,” Jasmine nodded. “We found him moping on a swing.”
“I wasn’t moping,” Harry huffed.
“You were moping,” Jasmine grinned. “We practically adopted him into our group, and we fit in just perfectly.”
Harry rolled his eyes.
“Are Atlas and Mason also part of this group?” Angelina asked curiously.
Jasmine hummed her agreement, “Atlas also went to Beauxbatons, and Mason went to Durmstrang. We have two other friends, Holy and Jax, they attend Ilvermorny.”
“Why’d you transfer to Hogwarts?” Fred asked curiously.
Jasmine looked at Harry, “For Harry. He’s got half the world against him and figured he could use a few more friends at school.”
Harry felt his cheeks flush a little.
Then Jasmine smirked, “Besides, Atlas couldn’t hardly be without Harry.”
Now Harry flushed a lot as he punched Jasmine in the arm.
“You’re just bitter Holly couldn’t come with,” Harry grumbled.
Jasmine scowled, “Don’t remind me. Another year of long-distance while watching you and Atlas fawn over each other like love-sick puppies.”
“We do not fawn over each other,” Harry narrowed his eyes.
“Oh, so you didn’t cuddle him the entire train ride?” Jasmine asked.
Harry glared at her. Jasmine smirked right back.
“So,” Katie said, moving the conversation on. “What subjects are you taking?”
“Potions, Transfiguration, Arithmancy, and Defence.”
“Potions is hell,” Katie groaned. “I swear Snape has a vendetta against anything Gryffindor.”
The rest of the meal was filled with conversation about how awful Snape was, and Quidditch. Angelina had apparently spent most of the summer revising strategies so that Gryffindor was sure to win the cup this year since it was Angelina only chance to win the cup as captain.
Once the desserts had cleared from the table, Dumbledore did his customary speech, except he was interrupted after introducing the new Defence Teacher, Professor Umbridge.
“Isn’t she that bitch from your trial?” Jasmine asked, eyes narrowed.
“Yeah,” Harry said. “She works for Fudge.”
As the woman gave her speech, Harry ignored the words she said, his eyes travelling across the Great Hall before he met eyes with Atlas. His boyfriend looked a little concerned and Harry knew they’d need to talk about what Umbridge’s presence at Hogwarts meant later.
After that, they were all released to their dorms.
Harry walked with Jasmine and the Quidditch bunch up to Gryffindor, their earlier conversations continuing in the common room where they found spots around the fireplace before they each retreated to their dorms.
Dean and Seamus were already in the dorm, putting up their customary posters.
“Hi,” Harry said, moving over to his own trunk. He opened his own trunk and pulled out posters of his own. One of Puddlemere, and one of Queen. He smiled down at them before moving the stick them around his bed.
“Hey, Harry,” Dean said, putting on his West Ham pyjamas. “Good holiday?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, a pleased smile on his face as he stepped back to look at his handiwork. “You?”
“Yeah, it was okay,” chuckled Dean. “Better than Seamus’s, anyway, he was just telling me.”
“Why, what happened, Seamus?” Neville asked, putting some sort of magical plant gently on his bedside table. Harry pulled out a framed photo of his parents from his trunk as well as one of him and his friends taken by Mrs Colt the day of Harry’s trial. A cigarette hung from Holly’s fingers, a beer in all of their hands. Atlas had his arm around Harry’s shoulders while Harry leant into him, his hand around the older boy’s waist. Jasmine was perched on Jax’s shoulders, grinning the brightest of them all, as Mason stood on Atlas’s other side, arm slung casually over Holly’s shoulders. It was a good picture. One of Harry’s favourites.
“Me mam didn’t want me to come back,” Seamus said, and Harry remembered what they’d been talking about.
“What?” Harry said, turning around to the other boys after putting both pictures on his beside table.
“She didn’t want me to come back to Hogwarts.”
Seamus turned away from his poster and pulled his own pyjamas out of his trunk, not looking at Harry.
“But- why?” Harry asked, genuinely confused.
Seamus didn’t answer until he’d finished buttoning up his pyjamas.
“Well,” he said in a measured voice, “I suppose… because of you.”
“What d’you mean?” said Harry quickly.
He heart rate had picked up. He’d sort of been expecting this but… but not from those in his dorm. Not those he shared a bloody room with.
“Well,” Seamus said again, still avoiding Harry’s eye, “she… er… well, it’s not just you it’s Dumbledore, too…”
Harry swallowed and sat down on his bed, pulling out a comfortable pair of joggers and one of Atlas’s t-shirts from his trunk as pyjamas, “So, she’s read the Prophet then? She thinks I’m a liar and Dumbledore’s an old fool?”
“Yeah, something like that,” Seamus said, eyes finally falling on Harry.
Harry didn’t speak. He cast an almost silent glamour before changing into his pyjamas, desperately clinging to calmness. He didn’t want to snap, it’d only make things worse, and honestly Harry didn’t exactly have to say anything. People could think what they wanted, they could hate Harry all they wanted, call him a liar and crazy, and when people started dying he’d simply say I told you so, while they expected him to save them all. He felt that familiar bitterness grip his heart and Harry tried to shake it off. Holly always said the Prophet was garbage, Ministry propaganda. Mason often said the Wizarding population were mostly idiots who did as they were told, unoriginal robots, all acting as if under an imperious by the Ministry to follow their opinions because it was easier. Seamus’s mum could think what she wanted. In the end, Harry would be the one laughing. Besides, he deserved better than this. Better than being called a liar.
You deserve the world, Harry
“Okay,” Harry said simply, his eyes lifting to fix on the image of him and his friends. He didn’t need everyone to believe him, just his friends. Just the people that mattered to him. “Night, guys.”
Then he closed his curtains and slid under the covers. Sleep didn’t come, though. He stayed awake for hours that night, trying to get the bitterness of the truth to go away.
They hate me now, but when people start dying they’ll expect me to save them all.
Chapter 10: First Day
I sincerely apologise for such the long wait. School's been hectic and I'd only planned up to the sorting. I'll try to update more frequently. Thank you all for the Kudos and the Comments, they pushed me to get this chapter out as quick as possible. xoxo
The next morning, Harry woke up before the sun and simply stared at the top of his four-poster bed, feeling out of sorts.
He’d known this year would be different. The Prophet had been slandering his name all summer with no let up, and no one was quite ready to believe that Voldemort was back, that Cedric had been murdered by him. But still… it felt almost wrong for his own dormitory to feel like unsafe territory. Like he’d have no place to get away from the stares.
It was worse that he hadn’t spoken to Ron or Hermione since the train, the thought of having that conversation, made his stomach tie into knots with anxiety. He didn’t want their friendship to be ruined forever, but he wasn’t going to roll over and pretend like nothing had changed, because it had… he had. Harry wasn’t the same person he’d been at the end of Fourth Year and honestly… he wasn’t going to apologise for the person he’d become, because he was happier than he could ever remember being.
Taking a deep breath, he resolved to not let this whole mess bother him and to instead focus on getting through a conversation with Ron and Hermione, trying to start the mending of their friendship. He also planned on enjoying what life would be like now that Atlas, Jasmine, and Mason were here at Hogwarts.
Then he picked up his wand, placed it over his heard and murmured, “Amato Animo Animato Animagus.”
He got out of bed, the first to wake up, as he’d suspected, and quickly changed into his school robes, the new ones with charms to modify the temperature depending on how warm or cold he was feeling so he’d almost constantly be at a suitable temperature. Then he went into the bathroom, brushed his teeth, and applied kohl liner around his eyes, just a little of it to make his green eyes pop. He smiled at his reflection and returned to the dorms, finding Neville, Dean, and Seamus getting dressed for the day. Harry avoided Seamus’s eye as he shoved his feet into his new shoes and packed his bag with quills and parchment, he’d have to come back up for his course books since he didn’t yet have his timetable.
Looking at Ron’s bed, he realised someone would have to wake the redhead and figured everyone was expecting Harry to do it anyway, it’d been his job for the last four years and he supposed they didn’t suspect anything had changed. So, with little reluctance, he reached out and shook Ron’s shoulder.
“Get up Ron, you’ll miss breakfast,” Harry said, just like normal.
Ron grumbled to his sleep, turned over.
Harry sighed, shook him again, harder, “Wake up!”
Ron opened his eyes blearily, “What time is it?”
“Almost breakfast,” Harry told him. “Get up.”
Then he turned and left the room. He’d said he would focus on starting to patch things up with Ron and Hermione, he hadn’t meant right now.
When he arrived in the common room, he found Jasmine talking animatedly with Alicia and Katie, a smile bright on her face.
“- so amazing, it’s honestly unhuman how brilliant she is,” Jasmine was saying, wonder in her voice. The other girls looked at Jasmine with amused expressions.
“Talking about Holly?” Harry guessed, sidling up next to them.
“She has been for the past ten minutes,” Alicia confirmed.
“She’ll keep going until someone mentions cigarettes or animagi,” Harry stated.
“That’s… oddly specific,” Katie murmured.
“Do either of you smoke?” Jasmine asked curiously.
“I don’t think smoking is allowed at Hogwarts,” Alicia pointed out.
Jasmine shrugged like it was a non-problem, “Harry breaks loads of rules and he’s still here.”
Harry snorted, unable to argue since it was true. The amount of house points he’d gained for breaking the rules was probably a world record.
“Are we going down to breakfast then?” Harry asked. “I really fancy some French toast. Does Hogwarts do French toast?”
“Hogwarts makes whatever food you want,” Alicia said, making her way towards the common room door. Harry’s eyes caught onto the notice board and couldn’t help but smirk. Galleons of Galleons!
He was really looking forward to the day Fred and George opened up their joke shop.
Harry, Jasmine, Alicia, and Katie walked to the Great Hall talking about animagi without once mentioning that Jasmine and Harry had their potions tucked away in hidden compartment of their trunks, put there by Mr Colt, which held their animagi potions. Once in the Great Hall, where the Weasley twins, Lee and Angelina were already sitting at the Gryffindor table, Harry found that French toast was sat upon the table near where he’d sat last night. He grinned brightly and took two pieces as Jasmine prepared him a cup of tea.
Just like everything at Hogwarts, the French toast was divine, and Harry happily ate at it, waiting for McGonagall to arrive with his timetable.
“It’s strange having non-French food at school,” Jasmine commented, eyeing her plate of an English Breakfast.
“You only have French food at Beauxbatons?” Lee asked curiously, leaning forward.
Jasmine hummed, “Most of the students who attend are French, we have crepes and croissants and panne chocolates in the morning, not full-English.”
“That sounds very… French,” Fred commented. Jasmine raised an unimpressed eyebrow. “Anyway, Jasmine, do you play Quidditch?”
“Nope,” Jasmine said, popping the P, before stuffing her face with eggs and bacon.
Angelina sighed, “I need to find a new Keeper as soon as possible what with Oliver gone and this being my only year to win the cup as Quidditch Captain.”
“When are you going to do try-outs?” Harry asked curiously.
“As soon as possible,” Angelina said determinedly.
Just then, Ron and Hermione arrived, sitting beside Harry.
“Hey, Mate. How come you didn’t wait for us?” Ron asked.
Harry stared at him blankly. He felt a hand rest subtly on his back, Jasmine.
“Ron…” Harry sighed. “I told you on the train, I’m not best pleased with either of you at the moment.”
“We told you, Harry,” Hermione said, a sigh in her voice, like she was talking to a child. “Dumbledore said-”
“I don’t care what Dumbledore said,” Harry snapped, voice raising a tiny bit. All except Jasmine looked at him with a little shock. “I was left alone at the Dursleys directly after watching Cedric die. I don’t care if Dumbledore said it’d be for my protection, I don’t care if he didn’t want to compromise his plans, or whatever… I was hurting and I was alone.”
Hermione looked properly chastened. Ron looked a little pale, like he wasn’t so use to Harry snapping at him.
“I’m- sorry, Harry. I didn’t realise…” Hermione looked down at the table, obviously feeling guilty. “It’s just… Dumbledore said you’d be okay and I- well I suppose I believed him. I understand. I’d be pretty pissed off if you two left me out of something because the Headmaster told you to.”
That’s all Harry wanted for now… understanding.
“Thanks Hermione,” Harry murmured.
“Yeah, Mate,” Ron sighed, looking rightly ashamed. “Even if Dumbledore didn’t want us talking to you much, we could’ve talked about other things.”
Harry nodded his head, “I just need a little time, okay? I’m not gonna stay mad at you forever, but… I don’t want to be a push-over, not anymore. I changed this summer, for the better I reckon.”
“Okay, Harry,” Hermione said softly, placing her hand briefly on top of his. “I really am sorry.”
“I know you are Hermione,” Harry murmured. She smiled a little before standing, pulling Ron with her.
“Yeah, Mate. I’m sorry too… we shouldn’t have done whatever Dumbledore said.”
Harry nodded with a small smile and they both went down the table, sitting closer to Neville.
Harry let out a breath of relief. Jasmine moved her hand to his shoulder, squeezed it.
“That’s a start,” Jasmine murmured.
Harry nodded his head, “Baby steps.”
It was then that McGonagall came down the table, handing them all their timetables. Harry peered down at his resisting the urge to groan at what was in store for him that day: History of Magic, double Potions, Divination, and double Defence Against the Dark Arts.
The worst teachers, all in a single day.
“This day is going to be awful,” Harry groaned, showing his timetable to Jasmine.
Jasmine, who was in sixth year, had a much nicer schedule with Herbology, double Charms, a free period, and then double Potions.
“At least you’ll get to show Snape up,” Jasmine said, trying for the positives. “I have no doubt that you’ll positively give him an aneurism now that you’re basically a professional at potions.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “I only read a few extra books. I’m hardly a professional. Though, I do feel a little more confident.”
“Just remember what Atlas said,” Jasmine said with a small quirk of her lips.
“Don’t antagonise teachers,” Harry sighed. “Do you know how hard that’s going to be?”
Jasmine grinned at him, “At least try.”
“Fine,” Harry murmured. The conversation turned to what everyone else had. Jasmine would be with Katie for most of the day while the twins had more free time than lessons.
After breakfast, Harry, Jasmine, and Katie left the seventh years, all of whom had a free period this morning, heading for the doors of the Great Hall.
Harry almost jumped out of his skin, when a pair of steady arms wrapped around him from behind. Then he smelt the familiar scent of cedar and cinnamon, his stomach rampaging with butterflies as a smile spread across his face.
“Good morning,” Atlas murmured, pressing his lips to the back of Harry’s neck.
Harry laughed, “Why are being so affectionate this morning?”
Atlas hummed, “This is the first morning in weeks that I haven’t had breakfast with you, Potter, forgive me for missing you.”
Harry grinned and turned in Atlas’s arm until he was facing his boyfriend.
“You two are sickening,” Jasmine declared.
They didn’t bother looking at her. Atlas pressed a soft kiss on Harry’s lips, making the younger boy smile into it.
A pair of Hufflepuff’s walked past them, whispering and giggling, eyes blatantly staring at them.
Harry pulled away and looked into Atlas’s piercing blue eyes. Merlin, I love his eyes.
“What lesson do you have first?” Harry asked.
“Arithmancy,” Atlas said. “What about you?”
“History,” Harry groaned. “I’m going to die of boredom.”
Atlas frowned, though his eyes belied his amusement, “Don’t go dying on my, Wonder Boy. I don’t think I’d handle it.”
Harry sighed with false dramatics, “Be sure to cry loads at my funeral.”
Atlas grinned down at him being pressing a filthy kiss upon his lips, leaving Harry breathless.
“I’ll see you at break, Harry,” Atlas murmured before disappearing around a corner, following behind a group of Slytherins Harry didn’t quite remember, no doubt to Arithmancy.
Harry was left feeling a little breathless.
“You two really are disgusting,” Jasmine said, though her voice merely sounded wistful.
“You’re just jealous,” Harry murmured, knowing it was true. Jasmine wanted to do that to Holly, he knew. “Anyway, I’ll see you later.”
“Bye, Lover Boy,” Jasmine chuckled, ruffling his hair as Katie guided her towards the entrance doors, out towards the greenhouses.
Harry turned and started to his ascent of the stairs.
“What was that about, Potter?” an unfamiliar voice said. Harry furrowed his eyebrows and turned to see two Ravenclaws in his year, looking at him oddly. It took him a secret before he placed their names, Terry Boot and Lisa Turpin.
“What was what about?” Harry asked, genuinely confused.
“You just snogged a Slytherin,” Boot pointed out, coming closer. “The new Slytherin Sixth Year.”
“Oh,” Harry said, mildly embarrassed that these two had seen that. He’d sort of forgotten how public they’d been, too engrossed in Atlas and his lips and his eyes. “That’s Atlas… my boyfriend. We met over the summer.”
The two stared at him, “Your boyfriend?” Lisa looked positively jealous. Harry furrowed his eyebrows, still very confused. “He’s gorgeous, you’re so lucky! Why is it always the best ones who are gay?”
Terry laughed, it was a pleasant sound, “Is this about Anthony again?”
“Of course it is,” Lisa grumbled. “It’s hardly fair, first Anthony, then Harry Potter, and now one of the fit new boys?”
Harry was a little shocked, “Did you just- I mean I’m not-”
“If you even try to claim you’re not fit, Potter, don’t bother,” Terry rolled his eyes. “I’m straight as they come, but I can still see why girls are always talking about you.”
Harry felt his cheeks burn a little.
“What lesson do you have?” Lisa asked.
Harry blinked at the subject change, “History.”
“So do we,” Terry said, sidling up beside him. “We noticed you’re not with Weasley and Granger. They do something?”
Harry hummed noncommittedly, “You could say that.”
“You can sit with us,” Lisa decided with a kind smile. “How good are you at drawing?”
Harry ended up playing Pictionary with Terry and Lisa during History. It was fun, the three of them trying, and failing, to stifle their laughter as Lisa drew terribly horrific drawings, with no artistic ability whatsoever. Terry was brilliant at drawing, not at good at Dean, but still brilliant. Harry had always been mediocre at drawing, but at least people could tell what he was drawing, for the most part anyway.
Binns, who’d always been oblivious to everything, didn’t even notice as they’d sat at the back of the class and by the time it’d ended, Terry handed Harry a set of notes.
“When did you- who made- huh?” Harry blinked.
Terry grinned, “Multi-tasking. I’m really good at listening with half an ear and making notes while drawing.”
“That’s brilliant,” Harry declared.
Terry smiled, a little smug, “I’m a Ravenclaw.”
“What do you guys have after break?” Harry asked, walking with them towards the courtyard.
“Double Transfiguration,” Lisa said.
Harry sighed, “Lucky. I’m stuck in double Potions.”
Both Ravenclaw’s winced, “That’s unfortunate.”
Harry nodded his head.
They made it to the courtyard, the day rather depressing, and his instantly found Atlas, Jasmine, and Mason.
“I’ll see you guys later,” Harry said with a real smile. They waved and Harry made his way over to his friends.
He practically fell into Atlas’s awaiting lap. The older boy began gently combing his fingers through Harry’s hair.
“How was History?” Atlas asked, his back leaning against a wall of the castle. Mason was reading over his charms book, which Harry knew he’d finished on the train. Jasmine was talking to Mason about Herbology, a light in her eyes as she expressed how Holly would’ve loved the lesson. Mason hummed and nodded at all the right intervals.
“It was good actually,” Harry said. “I ended up playing Pictionary with two Ravenclaws. Terry and Lisa.”
Atlas smiled softly, “I’m glad it was so awful.”
“How was Arithmancy?” Harry asked, looking up at Atlas.
“Good,” Atlas said. “Professor Vector went through all the topics we’d be going over this year. I’m feeling pretty confident.”
“Made any new friends yet?” Harry questioned next, genuinely curious. I didn’t know many Slytherins beyond his year, aside from those on the Quidditch team.
“Two,” Atlas stated. “Adrian Pucey and Cassius Warrington. They aren’t half-bad, if a little dickish to Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors.”
“That’s to be expected,” Harry hummed. “Slytherins hate Gryffindors. And the feeling’s mutual.”
Atlas smiled down at Harry, “Well. I certainly don’t hate all Gryffindors.”
Harry smiled right back, “And I don’t hate all Slytherins.”
“Get a room,” Mason grumbled, still furiously reading his charms book.
“Didn’t you finish that on the train?” Harry questioned, turning to him.
Mason scoffed, “One can never be too prepared for a lesson.”
“Sure they can,” Harry said. “You’re gonna hurt yourself or something with how much you’re studying. It’s the first day, Mace, calm down.”
Mason rolled his eyes, “This is why you weren’t sorted Ravenclaw, Harry.”
Harry scowled, “I’m serious, Mason, Flitwick is a good professor, he’s not going to penalise you for not memorising the entire charms book.”
“You are being a little excessive, Mason,” Jasmine hummed thoughtfully.
Mason sighed, putting the book down, “Fine… fine. I suppose I have read it enough.”
Harry smiled, “What did you have first, Mason?”
“Arithmancy,” Mason said. “With Atlas. Professor Vector is a competent professor.”
“Hermione says that all the time,” Harry hummed. “Sometimes I regret taking Divination.”
“It was a very poor choice,” Jasmine nodded her head. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times-”
“- Divination is absolute rubbish.”
Jasmine looked at the three of them.
“You have said it a thousand times,” Atlas shrugged. “You’re getting predictable, Jasmine.”
The blonde narrowed her eyes, opened her mouth to retort.
The bell sounded, signifying the end of break.
Harry couldn’t help but groan.
Atlas kissed him lightly on the forehead, “Cheer up, Wonder Boy. You’ll be fine in potions. Just remember to read all the instructions.”
Harry sighed, getting to his feet. He reached down to help Atlas up. The older boy took his hand and stood.
“Snape is awful. He hates me. Even if I get it right, he’ll find a way to punish me,” Harry groaned.
“And if he does, we’ll release a niffler into his office,” Jasmine shrugged, casual as ever.
They were on their way back into the castle.
“Where, exactly, are you going to find a niffler?” Mason asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jasmine side-eyed them, “I have my ways.”
Then she smiled brightly, as if it were completely forgotten, and bounded towards the stairs, “I’ll see you guys at lunch!”
Then she was gone.
“Has she always been this strange?” Harry asked curiously.
“Yep,” Atlas said, turning to Harry and pressing a soft kiss on his forehead. “Are we allowed to sit at other houses tables during meals?”
Harry furrowed his eyebrows, “Huh… I don’t know. I’ve never had friends in other houses. I guess it should be okay.”
“Guess we’ll find out,” Atlas smirked. He placed a final, lingering, kiss to Harry’s lips and then walked up the stairs, Mason on his heels.
Harry turned for the dungeons, feeling dread begin to seep into his bones as he trudged down the stairs and towards the potions classroom. As always, the Slytherins were already standing outside, surrounding Draco Malfoy and laughing quietly. Ron and Hermione stood against a wall, waiting for the door to open. Harry found himself beside Neville.
“Hey, Nev,” Harry murmured.
“Hiya, Harry,” Neville said, sounding even less joyous as Harry felt.
“Ready for torture?” Harry asked curiously.
Neville cringed a little, “Yeah. I suppose. I really hate potions.”
“Same here, Mate,” Harry murmured.
Snape opened the classroom door, and everyone shuffled in. Harry watched as Ron and Hermione took their usual seats. Harry sat in the row in front of them, beside Neville. He didn’t miss the sad look Hermione sent him. He felt a little bad, they’d apologised, said they understood, but Harry wasn’t going to roll over and forget how abandoned he’d felt after a simple utterance of sorry. No. Those days were over. Harry wasn’t the same boy desperate for friends, desperate to please.
Harry hardly listened to Snape’s expectations of everyone getting at least an A in their potions OWLs, talking about his high expectations and looking Harry directly in his eyes when he mentioned people leaving his lesson behind next year. Harry felt equal parts angry and relieved. It’d be amazing to get out of potions next year, he’d get two years of bliss without Snape down his throat about ruddy potions. But he knew he could be good at potions. He was amazing at cooking, had had to be if he didn’t want to get a lashing from Vernon Dursley. Potion preparation was essentially the same thing, and Harry suspects he would’ve been better at the subject if Snape wasn’t such a colossus dick. He still remembers his first ever lesson, getting asked questions he didn’t know the answers to, and feeling utterly humiliated.
Not this year. Harry was going to prove Snape wrong.
“Today we will be mixing a potion that often comes up at Ordinary Wizarding Level: the Draught of Peace, a potion to calm anxiety and soothe agitation. Be warned: If you are too heavy-handed with the ingredients you will put the drinker into a heavy and sometimes irreversible sleep, so you will need to pay close attention to what you are doing.”
The instructions appeared on the blackboard at the front of the class and the store cupboard opened. Harry stayed seated, reading the instructions thoroughly, three times, and then wrote them down, word for word, on a piece of parchment. It was only then that he moved towards the store cupboard and got out each ingredient, checking them over twice to ensure it was all right before returning to his seat and starting brewing.
He was careful and precise with his preparation, checking his own notes and then the ones at the front of the room after he’d completed every instruction, stirring the right amount of time, with the correct stirring rob, being as gentle as possible.
“A light silver vapor should now be rising from your potion,” called Snape, with ten minutes left to go.
Harry smiled, finding his potion did in fact have a light silver vapor rising from it. He’d followed the instructions, double, tripled, quadruple checked every step, and for the first time in his Hogwarts career, he felt vindication at the sight of his potion.
Snape sneered down at Harry, but didn’t make a comment, he couldn’t because the potion was close to perfection.
He verbally lashed out at Neville, removing ten points and vanishing the poor boy’s entire potion. Neville sighed as Harry poured some of his potion into a flagon and labelling it clearly with his name.
He quickly wrote down the instructions of the homework and then packed up his bag, leaving the classroom before Ron or Hermione could even think about talking to him.
When he arrived alone to the Great Hall, he saw Jasmine already sitting at the Gryffindor table locked in a heated debate with Alicia. As he approached he couldn’t help but grin in amusement at their words.
“- the best band in the history of music,” Jasmine finished passionately, looking justifiably fiery.
Alicia rolled her eyes, “I mean, they’re okay, but I just feel like Queen is so overrated, I mean, sure as far as eighties music goes it’s good, but there’s been so much since then and I honestly think people need to stop glorifying a band that’s mediocre at best.”
Harry was genuinely shocked at her words, “You don’t like Queen?”
Harry now understood Jasmine’s passion, “How can you not like Queen? That has to be a crime, surely?”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Jasmine nodded her head. “I think Hogwarts should have a muggle music class because honestly this is blasphemous.”
“Don’t tell me you’re a Weird Sisters Fan,” Harry wrinkled his nose at Alicia, taking his seat beside Jasmine.
“They’re a really good band,” Alicia stated. “They came here for Yule. That was huge.”
“Sure… but they’re not nearly as iconic and phenomenal as Queen. Queen is like… perfection. I’m telling you; it has to be a crime to not like them, and to call them mediocre? I think you need a hearing test, Alicia,” Harry declared.
“You’re both so dramatic,” Alicia sighed. “I’m not winning this argument am I?”
“No… because you’re wrong,” Jasmine stated. She turned to Harry. “Can you imagine if Jax was hearing this?”
Harry snorted, “I think he’d try to get you sent to Azkaban, or at least St Mungos.”
“Who’s being sent to St Mungos?” Atlas’s voice interrupted whatever Alicia was about to retort. He sat on Harry’s other side, pulling the smaller boy just a little closer. Harry smiled a little.
“Alicia,” Jasmine declared. “She doesn’t like Queen, Atlas.”
Atlas’s eyes opened wide in shock, “What?! No wonder they need to go to St Mungos.”
Alicia sighed, “Fine. Fine. Let’s change topic before the lot of you give me a headache. Atlas, right?”
Atlas nodded his head, still looking suitable horrified at Alicia’s words against Queen.
“Do you play quidditch?” Alicia asked.
Atlas’s eyes sparked, the horror forgotten, “I’m only the best chaser Beauxbatons ever saw.”
“Really?” Alicia questioned.
“You know Joscelind Wadcock?” Atlas asked.
“Everyone knows Joscelind Wadcock,” Katie scoffed, coming to sit beside Alicia. The twins, Lee, and Angelina also arrived.
“She’s my grandmother,” Atlas said smugly.
The lot of them gaped at him, “What?!”
Harry smiled up at him, leaning closer to him.
“Are you going to try out for the Slytherin team?” George asked curiously.
“Of course,” Atlas nodded. “I can hardly go a whole year without playing Quidditch, besides, it’d be a crime to put my talents to waste.”
“No one likes a cocky Atlas,” Mason murmured, showing up and sitting on Jasmine’s other side.
“Everyone likes a cocky Atlas,” Atlas rebuffed. “Ain’t that right, Harry?”
Harry grinned broadly, “Oh yeah, cocky Atlas is a hot Atlas.”
Atlas kissed him for his troubles.
“See?” Atlas said after he’d pulled back.
“Harry’s biased,” Mason declared. “He’d say anything just to get you to kiss him.”
“That’s not true,” Atlas rebuffed.
“That’s one hundred percent true,” Harry agreed with Mason.
Atlas scowled at him, but a single, innocent smile from Harry, had the older boy smiling right back and leaning down to kiss him breathless once again.
Jasmine groaned, “Stop with the PDA. You guys make me miss Holly more than I already do.”
Harry pulled back and grinned at Jasmine, “Green isn’t your colour, Jazzy.”
She scowled at him, and Harry grinned right back, snuggling even closer to Atlas.
“You two are adorable,” Katie declared.
“Thank you,” Atlas grinned as Harry felt his cheeks heat a little.
Fred and George suddenly got rather serious.
“If you hurt, Harry,” Fred said, a threatening edge in his tone.
“We will not hesitate to beat you into the ground,” George finished.
Atlas couldn’t help the small smile that appeared on his face, “It’s nice to know more people care about Harry.”
Harry smiled too, “Thanks guys.”
“You’re practically our little brother, Harry,” Fred declared.
“No one hurts our little siblings,” George nodded.
“Trust me,” Atlas said. “I have absolutely no intentions of hurting Harry in any way. Ever.”
Harry looked at Atlas, hearing the sincerity of those words in his bones.
You deserve the world, Harry.
Harry leant up and gently kissed his cheek. A sweet kiss. Atlas positively melted and Harry felt pleased he had that kind of effect on his boyfriend.