Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, I'm just playing with the characters.
He was walking up the stairs to the room he shared with Darius’ friends. He couldn’t really call them his friends—not after the past few nights. Kris and Randy had seemed to get along with him until a few days ago when Kris had stopped including him in the conversation or ignoring Harry when he tried to involve himself in the game. Randy had picked up on this behavior and copied it. They hadn’t outright told him that he couldn’t join them in the evenings, but to Harry’s eyes it was just a matter of time.
Harry had noticed that Darius had been distancing himself from his friends and defending Harry from them, trying to overwhelm their attempts to exclude him. Harry was appreciative to his effort and had been happy that for once he had a friend that wouldn’t be chased away by a Dudley-impersonator. He had been surprised and a tad worried when Darius had told him that he wouldn’t be coming with him to the library today, but it had been nice of Darius to see him off.
The door to his room was open but he stopped in the doorway. Kris and Randy looked to be in a foul mood, frowns on their faces with angry eyes. Harry didn’t see Darius in the room, which puzzled him. Darius had said that he would be spending the day with his friends. Perhaps something had happened.
Harry wasn’t keen on making his presence known to the two boys, so he walked back down the hall and stairs and into the rec room. The rec room was in its usual sad state Harry observed as he looked around the room. Harry noticed the layers of dust on the pool table—obviously pool wasn’t a popular game at the moment. The rec room was almost deserted, except for a small group of people huddled in a corner and the familiar brown mop of hair on the couch. Harry eagerly sat down next to him.
Darius had been having a bad day. Once his roommates and ex-friends had shaken him awake, they proceeded to question his friendship with Harry. They were insulting and rude and had even gone so far as to ask if Harry had ulterior motives to this friendship! Hah! His response to that was a quick “What gain could he get out of a friendship with me?” which had shut them up on that route of questioning. The interrogation had finally ended when Darius had blown up at his friends, yelling that it “wasn’t any of their bloody business.” He had stormed down the stairs and had been sitting on this couch ever since, staring into space.
Harry just sat there beside Darius. Darius looked to be deep in thought and Harry didn’t want to disturb him. He nestled himself into the couch and stared up at the ceiling, thinking about the book he had read today. It told the story of a land faraway, with elves and dwarves and the strong bond between two cousins who grew up as brothers, surviving together after they were orphaned. It was a fantastical tale that Harry thoroughly enjoyed. The love displayed between the cousins was unfamiliar to Harry, which made it seem all the more powerful. Harry hoped that one day he would have the same fraternal love with someone.
Harry shifted his body, alerting Darius to his presence. Darius shook his head as if coming out of a dream, then turned his dark eyes to face Harry. Harry noticed the residual anger in his gaze, and seriously hoped that it wasn’t directed at him.
“How was your day?” Darius asked. He hoped that Harry had had a much better day than he had.
“It was okay.” Harry was a bit uncertain of his answer. No one had ever asked him that question before. No one had ever cared before.
“Good… good,” Darius was a little preoccupied, debating whether he should tell Harry about his fight or not. Harry would surely sense the tension in the room and the gulf between Darius and his old friends once they went back upstairs.
Harry sensed that something was wrong with his friend, but he didn’t know how to ask him about it. He had never dealt with this situation before. Eventually his concern for his friend overcame his apprehension. “Um… are you alright? Did something happen today?”
Darius gave Harry a small smile. “Nothing major… I just had a fight with my friends. I’m sure it’ll all blow over soon.”
Harry shifted his position on the couch. “If you say so…” He wasn’t yet comfortable enough to push the matter with Darius. Silence created an invisible barrier between the two of them until Darius decided to break it.
“What book did you read today?” Over the past few weeks Darius had noticed that if there was one thing that Harry enjoyed talking about, it was the characters in the books he read. Harry loved to discuss the relationships between characters and the ‘whys’ behind their actions. Now Darius often made a point of asking Harry because Harry wasn’t comfortable talking freely about many subjects.
Darius had hit on just the right thing to say so that they could get past this uncomfortable silence. Harry’s eyes seemed to shine with passion. “Oh it was just great!” Darius smiled. He had noticed that Harry seemed to actually feel the emotions of the characters, especially the lighter emotions. “This book—I can’t exactly remember the title—had two cousins surviving with just each other for support and friendship! They lived in another world with all sorts of magical creatures. The two cousins were brothers in all but blood and they believed in each other no matter what! Can you imagine? They had this one scene where the older boy was accused of stealing and put in jail and the younger boy just marched right into the prison and told off the jailer. The thing was he was usually so shy, but he just really wanted to rescue his cousin. Another time…” Darius continued to listen to Harry’s monologue until it was time for dinner. His mood was greatly improved from earlier, thanks to Harry. Sometimes having a friend like Harry just be there was enough to lift his spirits. He barely noticed Kris and Randy’s glares throughout dinner and fell asleep easily that night, prepared to visit the library with Harry the next day.
Mr. Benoglio had called him down to his office and Harry didn’t know what for. Harry had just returned from the library, laughing with Darius, when he’d stepped out of his office and requested that Harry meet him in his office before dinner. As dinner was in less than an hour, Harry had immediately followed Mr. Benoglio into the office after waving goodbye to Darius.
Harry knew that the fight between Darius and his friends hadn’t been resolved as of yet and it didn’t look as though it would be resolved any time soon. He didn’t know what the fight had been about, but knew it had been serious to divide them such. Kris and Randy had staked out their room, leaving only for meals—an immature display for territory and dominance. Darius was spending all his time now with Harry, which had only strengthened the bond between them. He knew that Darius wouldn’t be heading up to their room now, but going instead to the rec room.
Mr. Benoglio motioned for Harry to take a seat and opened a file on the desk. He looked at Harry with sympathetic eyes before beginning to talk. “Mr. Potter, when you were here earlier this month, you informed us-“ he used the plural term even though Harry had only seen him around the shelter “-that your caregivers, that is to say your aunt and uncle, live in Number 4, Privet Drive. We have since contacted them about your whereabouts and requested that they come and retrieve you. However, they denied knowing you and refuse to come pick you up. We cannot force you upon them.” Harry sighed. He had expected something like this to occur. “Welfare is now searching for a temporary home for you.” Harry looked up, shocked. He hadn’t expected that. He didn’t want to go to another home. Realistically, he knew that he couldn’t stay in the shelter forever, but he also knew that if he left, Darius likely couldn’t come with him. He was certain, deep down, that he couldn’t leave his best friend, his only friend, behind.
Seeing his panic, Mr. Benoglio continued. “It will take time for Welfare to place you in a home, and until such time you are to remain here. There is also another matter. Because of your age, the law requires that you attend school.” He held up a hand to prevent any protests from Harry, but none were forthcoming. “We have arranged for you to attend a local middle school just a few blocks away from here—Benford. You are in your seventh year, correct?” He didn’t pause for confirmation because he had already researched Harry’s academic background. “You will start attending class this coming Monday.” He handed Harry his timetable and leaned back in his chair with a self-satisfied air. “Any questions?”
Harry didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t expected to be enrolled in a school. But, he didn’t want to anger this adult and he wasn’t opposed to more schooling so he simply shook his head and grabbed the timetable. He needed to discuss this development with Darius. He saw Mr. Benoglio look at the clock on the wall. “All right. I see that it’s almost time for dinner. Off you go.” Harry stood up and walked to the rec room. He was in a bit of a daze.
He stumbled into the rec room and fell onto the couch beside Darius. Darius looked at him and then around the room. “Harry, are you alright?” Harry looked as though he was about to cry. He didn’t respond to Darius’ question, and his head fell into his hands. “Harry, are you alright?” Darius repeated. He placed the tip of his finger under Harry’s chin and raised his head so that their eyes could meet. “Harry, what happened?” Harry shook his head slightly, a movement so minute that unless Darius hadn’t been touching his head he wouldn’t have noticed it. “Come on Harry, I know something’s bothering you.”
But Harry didn’t want to answer. He wanted to bury his issues with his aunt and uncle so deeply that it would never come out. He didn’t want to share his thoughts. He didn’t want to share his emotions. He just wanted to ignore them. But Harry couldn’t ignore the fact that for the first time, someone wanted to hear them.
Finally Harry broke. “I knew it would happen. I knew they wouldn’t come from the moment it was mentioned. It wasn’t a shock.” Darius, although he was confused, knew that Harry was talking now, that he would tell him what was wrong. He knew that Harry would eventually tell him enough so that he could make sense of it. “But it hurts. It hurts to know that the people I lived with don’t care. Don’t care at all about me.” A tear rolled down his cheek and Harry fiercely wiped it away. “I won’t cry. It’s not as though they care about me. But then, why am I crying? Why does it hurt?”
Darius pieced it together. Mr. Benoglio must have informed Harry that his aunt and uncle wouldn’t be coming for him. He hugged Harry and felt Harry tense, then relax, into the hug. “It’s alright,” he whispered, “My mom did the same to me. It hurts because you’ve finally realized how they feel about you, beyond any doubt. It hurts to know that you don’t have a proper family.” He felt the eleven year old nod into his chest. He kept up the steady stream of comforting words. “But Harry, we can make our own family.”
Harry pulled away from him and looked into his eyes. His eyes were shimmering and bright with hope. “What do you mean?”
“We both don’t have any real families to speak of…” Darius had never been one to mince words and decided to just plunge in, “Harry, I think of you like you’re my brother.”
Harry looked dazed. Again. “You mean it? You really mean it?”
“Yes,” Darius said with as much sincerity as he could. Harry couldn’t answer. His brain—his heart—was too busy processing this information. His relatives had told him that no one could care for a freak like him, but here was someone saying that they did! But wait—could this all be a joke, a hoax? One more thing to get his hopes up, then dash them? He sneaked a look at Darius, who was still steadily gazing at him. He looked sincere. His voice had sounded sincere. And he had voluntarily spent time with him over the past few weeks. He had defended him from his friends. His heart was crying out for him to accept Darius’ offer, but his brain was asking if Harry could stand another dashed hope.
Finally he decided. His heart had won. “You’re my brother too.” His voice was scarcely more than a whisper, but Darius heard. His eyes showed relief and he patted Harry on the back. When it had taken Harry so long to answer, he’d begun to worry that Harry would reject his offer. If he had, outwardly he wouldn’t have shown any emotion, but inwardly… Darius was strong. He had had to be, and it was habit now. However strong he was, he couldn’t avoid the sigh of relief that escaped and the wide grin the spread across his face.
He looked Harry in the eyes and said cheerfully, “Now let’s go to dinner.”
It was midnight and the room was pitch black. Harry stared up at the wooden boards above him, though he couldn’t see them. He couldn’t fall asleep—his mind was wide awake and processing the events of the day. Did he want to go to school? He had never done well in school—he’d been a horrible student. He often couldn’t complete assignments for the teachers and try as he may, he couldn’t keep his mind focused on the teacher while Dudley and his gang poked him and whispered threats. It hadn’t been his fault; he had just been more concerned about his safety. This was a chance to start anew; to actually learn and enjoy school.
What would Darius think? The thought struck him and he started to worry. How would he react? He almost got up to wake Darius, but then thought better of it. There was no reason that both of them had to be awake, that this couldn’t be discussed in the morning.
Harry continued to stare at nothing. His thoughts plagued him, like incessant mosquitoes that wouldn’t leave him alone. He tried to swat them away for he was tired and wanted to sleep, but nothing was working. Then he remembered his vow. The vow he’d made to become a great muggle and forget about the magical world. He realized that this school was another step to succeeding in his vow and a step away from the magical world.
He fell asleep imagining the many possibilities that the future offered him.
Peter Pettigrew’s ear twitched. The past ten years had been easy on him: a never-ending supply of food and sleep. He’d grown fat—fatter than he had been as a teenager. Percy had been a good keeper for he hadn’t expected much of Peter, except to listen to his constant stream of complaints about the twins, who always seemed to be pranking him (Just like James and Sirius, Peter thought, but then pushed it away—it brought too many painful memories to mind), and his numerous ambitions. At Hogwarts, Percy had for the majority of the time left him to sleep on his pillow, an arrangement that suited Peter just fine. But now his ownership had been transferred to Ron, the youngest of the Weasley boys.
Ron was very unlike his older brother in many ways. For one thing, he often brought Peter down into the common room to hold while he discussed Quidditch and other serious matters with his friends, Seamus, Dean and Neville.
Peter had been in Ron’s pocket during the Sorting ceremony and had been surprised when Harry’s name had not been called. No one else in the vicinity seemed to notice the famous name that was missing from the list, and in the weeks that followed Peter had heard no mention of Harry Potter’s name. Peter had concluded that Harry hadn’t come to Hogwarts for some odd reason, but what that was he was having no luck figuring out. Remus had always been the logical one who could find the answer to any question.
Currently Ron had set Peter down on the chair beside him, completely involved in a heated discussion about the best Quidditch team with Neville. Peter was very bored and curious, a combination that had led to many of the pranks during the Marauder’s school years. He slid off the chair to the floor, landing on the carpet with a slight thump. He looked around, but Ron hadn’t heard a thing. He waddled across the Gryffindor common room and out the portrait hole that had opened to let a group of giggling girls inside.
He wandered through the halls. Hogwarts looked very different from the perspective of a rat and it wasn’t long before he was lost. It was near to curfew and the torches illuminating the halls cast long shadows. Peter was careful to stay out of sight of any person in the halls because he was aware that not many of the population of Hogwarts liked rats. He also wasn’t keen to alert Mrs Norris to his presence. He didn’t think he had it in him to outrun the cat and he didn’t want to leave it to chance.
Peter hadn’t truly exercised himself in a long time, so he soon tired. He was about to turn around and try to return to the Gryffindor common room when he heard a voice coming from a nearby classroom. Instinct remaining from his Marauder days told him to investigate and he obeyed.
The door to the room was only open a crack, but it was large enough for the rat to slip through. Once inside, Peter realized that he was in the DADA room, though the decorations had changed since he was a student. The voice he had heard belonged to a man wearing a large turban, but it wasn’t the man himself who now fascinated him. It was his conversation.
The man appeared to be very nervous and his voice shook. Then, though there was no one else in the room, Peter heard another voice. A high, cruel voice that sent shivers down his spine; the voice that uttered the curse that sent his friend and his wife to the grave.
“Have you found where Dumbledore keeps the stone?” the voice of Lord Voldemort asked in a condescending voice.
“Y-y-yes, my L-lord. It is hidden on the third f-floor, b-behind a l-locked door.” Professor Quirrell’s voice trembled.
Peter Pettigrew was astonished. Here was his master! Here was the only one who could protect him from the anger of the wizarding world, should Dumbledore ever find out the truth of Peter’s loyalties. Peter didn’t want to remain a rat forever, but he couldn’t show his face in the wizarding world as he was supposed to be dead. His decision was made for him when the cold voice announced that there was another presence in the room. Peter quickly transformed back into a human, but still could not find his master. Professor Quirrell started at the sudden appearance of another man.
“Let me see who joins us. Let me speak to him face to face,*” Lord Voldemort commanded.
“M-master, you are not st-strong enough!**” Professor Quirrell protested.
“I am strong enough for this***!” With his proclamation, Professor Quirrell reached his hand to his turban and began to unwind it. In a few short moments, Peter Pettigrew was once again speaking to Lord Voldemort.
He bowed long and low and spoke, “Master, I am at your service.”
A/N: I would really appreciate it some feedback on my writing and story line so far.
*, **, *** quotes from page 212 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone