Harry Potter was a rather lonely soon-to-be-seventh-year. Since he could recall, he'd had it rough. From the tender age of one, fate and destiny had burdened young Harry with many of life's injustices. The most lamentable injustice would be known as Daniel Potter.
Daniel was Harry's twin brother and was hailed as the Boy-Who-Lived by the wizarding world. Being slightly better than an above average wizard, Daniel Potter was also Gryffindor's, Hogwarts', and Dumbledore's golden boy. It was as if sunshine blew out his arse.
And if that wasn't enough, there were Harry's parents. One would think two wonderful people such as Lily and James Potter, would never let the fame of one son overshadow the other, but unfortunately they did. It was Daniel Potter who was the apple of his parents' eye.
Harry didn't blame them most days, after all his parents had barely been grownups before they married and had him and his brother. Other days though, that didn't stop him from feeling overwhelming bitterness and resentment, despite having accepted the facts that were his life.
1. Everybody loved and adored Daniel Potter.
2. Nobody loved or noticed Harry Potter.
It was especially hard on Harry when his brother got credit for the things Harry had done. For example, in first year when he had fought with Professor Quirrell for the Sorcerer's Stone or the amazing defeat of a eighty foot basilisk in second year. It didn't stop there. The recapture of Peter Pettigrew in third and figuring out Professor Moody was being impersonated in year four were attributed to Daniel Potter as well.
What was worse, and perhaps most unforgivable of all was Daniel never saying otherwise. He never dissuaded anyone of their notions and lorded it over Harry in private. What could Harry do about it?
Well, one thing was for sure, Harry was doing something about it. At the end of every school year, Harry would sneak into the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts' school library and steal a few books for summer reading. Having done this since first year, Harry was quite knowledgeable about many things which he shouldn't be. Things that would make Hermione Granger, Ravenclaw's queen know-it-all, green with envy if he were to ever flaunt it.
As Ravenclaw's unofficial king know-it-all, Harry was at the top of his classes and his year, not that his mum and dad noticed. He was a decent Quidditch player too. A seeker to be exact and had in fact never missed the snitch when he got a chance to play.
However, nobody ever slapped him on the back in congratulations at the end of the match or came up to discuss with him to discuss the amazing Wronski Feint he'd performed. But seeing as he wasn't a drop-dead gorgeous Chinese girl or his brother, who played the most scoring chaser in the history of the school, Harry wasn't sure he blamed them. Who would care about the twin who only sometimes played?
That would change this year, though, now that he wasn't playing second string to Cho Chang. If he wasn't back up maybe they would notice him. They might even like him if Ravenclaw won the Quidditch Cup this year.
In all his years at Hogwarts, Harry had never made a friend. He'd tried in the beginning, but they would lose interest after seeing that he was the twin with the lightning bolt scar, not the twin with the 'S' shaped scar on his head. It had hurt, Harry wouldn't deny that. He had thought that at least one person would want to be his friend at Hogwarts, but not even Hagrid, the most tenderhearted man in the world would give him the time of day if he said hello.
Sometimes, Harry wondered if he was invisible. When he got into that particular funk, Professor Snape would quickly disabuse him of that sentiment by giving him detention for something his brother did or a passing Slytherin had done. In first and second year, Harry had tried to get out of the unfair punishments but to no avail.
Nobody believed Harry Potter's side of things so he stopped trying to explain it.
When attention, however unlikely, was drawn his way the gossip mill would run around saying it was because he was trying to steal his brother's glory. Eventually, Harry had grown numb to the treatment he received for one thing or another and had learned to keep doing his own thing regardless of public opinion.
Fifth year had seen Daniel as the perfect Prefect, though he'd probably been the most undeserving candidate. Professor Flitwick, Ravenclaw's head of house, had calmly explained to Harry that he couldn't be one himself was because nobody at the school knew him and to give authority to an unknown would just be asking for trouble. After that particular conversation, Harry had blown a lot of shit up in private. Surprisingly, Peeves had been blamed and no repercussions had come his way.
A month ago had seen the Potter twins turn seventeen and become legal adult wizards. Except they still couldn't drink firewhiskey. Only Harry had taken advantage of the change in their station and gone to acquire an Apparition, Side-Along Apparition, Portkey Creation/Removal, and Spell Creation license from the Ministry of Magic. While he was at it, Harry had also gone and bought a Floo Network Express Lane Pass. He'd paid for the licenses and the pass with the pocket money he'd been able to scrounge up for the last few years. His parents never gave him any galleons of his own.
He'd never have to deal with another situation like what happened at the end of year four. Never again would he have to resort to hitchhiking to get to one place or another with his two Apparition licenses. And as an extra precaution, he had prepaid his Floo Pass should the need arise. It was the only license he would have to renew.
Harry had even had a chance to talk to some Aurors about getting into the Auror Program. To be fair maybe Daniel had forgotten about such things because he'd been under a mound of birthday presents, assaulted by tons of owls bearing gifts, and surrounded by a few dozen of the well-wishers at his annual birthday bash.
Two days ago, Daniel and Harry's Hogwarts letters had come in the mail. Daniel had gotten the Headboy badge, just like Harry knew he would, and Lily had gotten all weepy. James had been immeasurably proud and had immediately called his Uncles Sirius and Remus to share the glorious news. Daniel was without a doubt their favorite 'nephew,' though Harry doubted they knew that they had a second one.
As a reward for being Headboy, Daniel had gotten a new state of the art broomstick. A shiny red Firebolt 4003, purchased together by both James and Sirius so that they could afford it. Harry would have liked a new broom himself. He had gotten twelve O.W.L.S. to Daniel's six, and hoped it would be enough of a reason for his mum and dad to sit up and take notice. But alas he was still playing on one of the school's Cleansweap 7s and not one measly, "Good job, son," had ever been sent his way.
Ronald Weasley, Daniel's best mate came over later that day and the two boys had gone outside onto the Potter's Quidditch pitch to try the broom out. Inside, the afternoon had been passed with the male adults exaggerating all of Daniel's old games. Harry was sure that every spectacular throw, catch, pass, and score had been remarked upon once, if not twice.
While the adults were downstairs discussing Daniel's chances at making Professional Quidditch and playing for a League, Harry was upstairs in his small bedroom reading in the bay window. From his spot on the second floor of the Potter residence, Harry could see his brother and friend zipping across the pitch like lightning on the new broom.
Sighing mournfully that such a glorious broom would ever be wasted on his brother, Harry glanced around his room and was reminded of just how little he owned.
Everything he had was a secondhand castoff from his twin brother, including his tad too short robes and slightly off prescription spectacles. His school trunk was battered and had seen one too many repairos. Covering his walls were old torn Quidditch posters that his brother hadn't wanted anymore and his shelves were filled with a few broken childhood toys that had seen better days.
Even his wand was a hand-me-down of Daniel's. It had been purchased from Mr. Ollivander when he and Daniel were two years old. The day Daniel turned eleven, James and Lily had brought it out and said it was a very special wand for a very special eleven year old. Unfortunately, it didn't work well in his twin brother's hands and they had reluctantly given it to Harry when he showed an aptitude with the eleven inch holly and phoenix feather wand.
Harry also had an owl that had been Daniel's in much the same way as his wand had been. The owl was his only because of Daniel refused to own an ordinary bird when he wanted an extraordinary one of a kind bird, not unlike Dumbledore's phoenix. It was no surprise to Harry to see that Daniel never got that phoenix he had wanted so badly.
Hedwig, Daniel's ex-owl, was a snowy white beauty who was more than just a mail carrier or a pet to Harry; she was his best friend and something of a mother hen. She would on many memorable occasions bring him dead mice when she thought he looked too thin. She was also the only guiding figure in his life. She would be the one to praise him for his accomplishments and the one to scold him when he was being bad. Without her, Harry knew he'd be lost.
Wrinkling his brow Harry peeked up over his textbook to see his brother flying. He focused as he slowly molded and pushed his magic to do what he wanted and got to watch with enormous satisfaction as his brother fell off his new broom onto the grassy floor below when his silent accio had snatched the Firebolt right out from under the Gryffindork.
Hedwig hooted reproachfully from her perch on the top of his wobbly dresser but Harry just flashed her a smug grin.
"What? You know I have to practice if I want to get better at combining wandless and soundless magic."
Hedwig hooted more forcibly than before and Harry ducked his head, cheeks reddening as he focused once more on his book on animagi. He was hoping to become an animagus before the end of the year. If he could show the N.E.W.T. transfiguration examiner his animal form he'd be sure to get an Outstanding.
Wouldn't Professor McGonagall be shocked out of her stripes? She'd probably demand that Daniel, her star Gryffindor, prove that he too had an animal and Harry would be giddy with delight when Daniel turned out to be ignorant. He was hoping to become a magical beast of some sort even though it was infinitely less likely and much harder to actually obtain a magical animal form if he had the potential.
Harry, if nothing else, loved a challenge.
"What do you think, Hedwig?" Harry asked, angling the large tome in her direction and pointing to an image of a woman turning into a Norwegian Ridgeback. "Think I can turn into a dragon?"
Hedwig hooted disdainfully and Harry laughed at her before flipping the book back around to study the detailed chart.
"I don't think it will be too difficult. I think I'd fancy being a Hungarian Horntail or something equally wicked."
A quiet ruffling of feathers answered him and Harry nodded thoughtfully. In quiet contemplation Harry flipped the pages and read on about other magical animagi. He'd already finished the book on regular animagus forms, like the house cat Professor McGonagall could become at whim. Harry was pretty sure too, that despite the similar appearance to the grim, Snuffles, Sirius' name in dog form, was just a dog. Harry knew his dad was a stag, the corporeal form of his Patronus.
Harry thought his Patronus was one of his greatest accomplishments; he looked at it with no small amount of pride. He had been able to cast one since he was 13 years old; the same time Peter Pettigrew had escaped from Azkaban, the wizarding prison, in Harry and Daniel's third year. It was assumed that Peter would travel to Hogwarts and try to harm Daniel so the Ministry had sent Dementors to guard the school and Dumbledore had hired Remus to be that year's Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Both Harry and Daniel had had adverse side effects from being near the Dementors and would frequently pass if they got too close. Not only that but their energy was waned and their performance in classes dropped considerably. Special notice was given to Daniel and Professor Lupin had taken his twin aside to teach him how to defend himself against the dark creatures.
When Harry found out he had not been invited to these after class meetings, he was furious. He then snuck in under a disillusionment charm and learned everything within weeks that Professor Lupin had been trying to pass on to Daniel for four months.
His first attempts with a Bogart in an abandoned classroom had rendered him passed out; when he woke up he was, cold and shivering with nausea. Stolen chocolate bars from the Hogwarts kitchens kept his energy and body temperature up and eventually he had produced a golden mist. From mist he'd created the stag and armed with the fully functional Patronus, Harry had no longer been bothered by the Dementors surrounding the school.
Yet, despite this amazing feat produced by a thirteen year old wizard, another thirteen year old received far more praise for slightly worse results. Daniel had somehow, after six months of trying, produced enough golden mist to block the Dementors and he no longer fainted. Deemed so impressive, he'd been told he didn't need to practice anymore unless he wanted to and, unsurprisingly, he hadn't.
§What are you reading?§ came a soft hissing voice.
Harry gave a start and looked over with a laugh at the green garden snake perched quite contentedly in the sun outside his window.
§You little wretch, Serion, how the hell did you get up here?§ Harry hissed back, setting aside his book and opening the window to pick the small snake up gently by it's coils.
Serion angled his head to the side and stuck his tongue out smugly. He wound himself around Harry's wrist to steal the warmth that pulsed there. When he was settled, Serion replied, §There's a drain pipe on the other side that ends in the shrubbery. Wasn't all that hard once I found it.§
§I think so,§ Serion returned resting his head on the back of Harry's hand.
Hedwig hooted shrilly in annoyance and turned her back on them. Harry's parseltongue abilities always disconcerted her because she thought it highly unfair that any snake could communicate clearly with her owner. Her relationship with him was far more unique. At least that was what she thought.
Harry clucked at Hedwig's abrupt turn of face and opened a battered drawer on his desk that stuck a little and pulled out an owl treat. Hedwig cooed and took the treat, nibbling on Harry's fingers affectionately before flying to his bed and perching herself on one the headboard.
"That's my girl, Hedwig," Harry said happily before turning his attention back to Serion. §I'm learning on how to change my body into an animal, but I want to learn everything about the process before attempting it even once.§
§Is that why you're reading a book that's at least a hundred pounds?§ Serion hissed amusedly.
§Hmm… laugh now,§ Harry said pushing up his spectacles before finishing off with a strong douse of
determination, §--but I'm going to be the best animagus to come around in centuries.§
Serion slithered up Harry's arm and curled around his neck. §But you have to have the ability before you develop it do you not?§ he observed quietly, his tongue tickling Harry's collarbone.
§I know I have the potential.§
§So confident,§ Serion hissed, §but I know you haven't found the ritual rites in a book to figure that out for sure.§
§It's in one of these books,§ Harry said dismissively. §Don't ask me how I know I am going to be an animagus--I just know!§
§But you still have to be sure before you proceed.§
§Know-it-all-reptile,§ Harry groused.
Serion uncoiled himself from around Harry's neck and slid haughtily off of the wizard, his snout stuck in the air as he slithered back to the open window. §If you're going to be an arse, I'm not going to stick around.§
§Don't be like that, Serion,§ Harry wheedled, following just behind the indignant little snake.
Serion snaked out the window and was already traveling along the narrow ledge back towards the house-pipe on the other side. §I'll stick around when you've got better manners,§ was all he said.
Harry shook his head and picked up his book again. "Talk about mental. I just called him a reptile, which of course he is, because he is a snake."
Hedwig agreed with a low hoot. Happy to see Serion leave, she flew over and let Harry pet her. Harry was hers and she wasn't going to share him, especially not with a green ground worm. She watched interested as Harry propped the book up against his knees and once more sank into it's depths. Occasionally he would turn it around and point to something as he explained his ideas about this and that, and Hedwig would hoot encouragingly when appropriate.
When it got around to suppertime, Harry shut the book and hid it beneath his short stack of clothes inside his school trunk. Calmly walking toward the door, Harry gave Hedwig a little wave and exited. When he was sure Hedwig wouldn't be able to hear him, Harry sprinted off down the corridor and skidded to a halt in front of a small little wall mirror.
Quickly he tidied himself up. First he tugged on his sleeves to make them longer and not appear quite so short. Then he waved his hand down at his robes and concentrated until he heard the soft whirring of them cleaning and the brisk wiping motion against his body of an invisible lint roller. Frantically he tried to make his hair lie flat but failing that he brushed his hair down over his lightning bolt shape scar.
Hedwig never approved of this little routine of trying to be mistaken for his brother by his parents or his uncles. So he did it now, hopefully out of her sight. Hedwig would think it demeaning to his character and hoot indigently on his behalf, but there were some things that Harry just could not give up hope on. He wanted to be part of his family, not just a bystander looking in on them.
If he was lucky Lily would hug him tightly and call him Daniel before realizing she had the wrong twin and awkwardly step away from him. Maybe his dad would even ask about his Quidditch playing and he'd be able to sneak in a tale about one of his seeker moves against the Slytherins before being shut off with a distracted nod. Careful to not trip on the second stair with the crooked board just below the landing, Harry made his way down to the dining hall.
When he reached the first floor landing, his shoulders slumped in defeat when he saw Daniel there already basking in both of their parents' attentions. Harry stood still for a moment and surveyed the scene. The table had been elongated to sit Ron, Sirius, and Remus, all of whom were already seated and engaged in a lively discussion over which Quidditch team in the British League was best. Arguing was as much a sport for them as the game itself and the heightened red color in Ron's face said quite plainly that his beloved Chudley Canons were being isolated out and ruthlessly annihilated by the others.
Walking away from the stairwell into the dining room Harry looked around the table and realized with some disgruntlement that there wasn't a chair for him. Sighing swished his hand inconspicuously at the potted palm in the corner, transfiguring it into a matching chair. Briskly walking toward the chair, he plucked it up out of the corner and sat it at the end of the table about ten feet to the right of everybody else.
Quietly and unobtrusively, Harry took his seat and conjured up a place setting. Biting his lip in dejection, he unfolded his napkin deftly and proceeded to fill up his plate with the food his mum had cooked for the others. He methodically ate at his plate and listened to the banter going on between Sirius and his father. He watched with a guarded expression as Lily placed third helpings on both Ron's and Daniel's plates but didn't grace him with seconds before she sat down.
Looking down hurriedly, lest the others see his expression, Harry wondered mirthlessly why he kept doing this to himself. He could easily sneak food from the kitchens when everyone was asleep and not have to put up with being outright ignored. But Harry just couldn't give up the hope that maybe, someday, they'd take notice of him again like they did before that October 31st.
An intense burning seared across his scar and Harry gasped, bending over his plate and rubbing it hard trying to alleviate the pain. The others continued to be oblivious to his pain and downright odd behavior. Discussion had changed to remarking upon changes and the lack thereof within Fudge's office as Minister of Magic.
Absolutely no one cared.
Harry dropped his silverware with a clatter and fought back a wave of nausea. It only intensified. Unable to stand it any longer, Harry gritted his teeth and staggered to his feet. As he attempted to retain his balance, he cast two finites at the objects he had wrought forth.Then he hurried out of the dining room and into the bathroom down to the left of the hall to throw up the food he just ate.
Wiping his mouth clean, Harry rested his forehead against the toilet seat. He laughed weakly after a moment had passed. Nobody was coming to see him to see what was wrong. Nobody had even noticed he'd been at the table.
"They'll probably wonder why the potted plant had been moved," he said under his breath, flushing the toilet and standing up to rinse out his mouth. "So much for dinner. Damn Voldemort."
The Dark Lord Voldemort, was the most feared Dark Lord to ever rise in the wizarding world. People were so terrified of him, they dared not speak his name and referred to him as "You-Know-Who." Nobody besides him and Dumbledore, not even his brother, said "Voldemort" out loud. Really it was just a name, hell, it wasn't even the git's real name. It's simply an anagram for Tom Marvolo Riddle, the thing who claimed to be the heir of Slytherin.
Harry learned of Voldemort's true name in second year and it was this guy's supposed death at the hands of a one year old baby boy that had heralded fame and glory of the Boy-Who-Lived. In truth, Harry couldn't say if it was Daniel or himself that had cast the Dark Lord out of his body for fourteen years, but it seemed awfully suspicious to him that he had the talents of this crazy bugger and his brother did not. Plus, Daniel never received any sensation in his scar, not like he did.
Two years ago, Voldemort had regained his body by kidnapping Daniel and stealing his blood. Daniel's escape from the graveyard wasn't nearly as extraordinarily heroic as many have been led to believe. True, wandless magic had been performed, as was the gossip, but it hadn't been Daniel who'd done it.
Unknown to either parties, Harry had somehow performed his first ever Apparition trying to get to Daniel when his scar had flared up. Disillusioning himself, Harry had surveyed the scene and from a distance away from the Death Eaters, he cast a spell to cut away his brother's ropes. Once free, Daniel had run like the dickens and headed towards the only escape route available… the same object that had delivered him to Voldemort.
When Daniel had tripped over his feet, he began crawling towards it and flung his hand out desperately in the direction of the Quidditch Cup that'd been turned into a Portkey by Barty Crouch Jr., who'd been Mad-Eye Moody's polyjuice imposture. Thinking quickly, Harry waved his wand and whispered a banishing charm that made it look like Daniel had summoned the cup wandlessly. Catching the cup, like the Chaser he was born to be, Daniel was whisked away from the graveyard leaving Harry to hear the chilling yell of rage from Voldemort.
The summoned Death Eaters had quailed and begged and crawled on their bellies to the demented wizard. Several crucios and a set of instructions later, Voldemort Apparated away. Soon after, the graveyard had cleared of Death Eaters and Harry had been left all alone, and Harry realized with a start that he didn't have a clue on how to get back or even where he was.
It turned out that he had been in Wales near Cardiff. It had taken Harry four days of walking and hitchhiking before getting to an area more like a small wizarding village than a town. It had taken some begging to obtain the use of the Floo Network at the only pub there before he finally managed to get back to Scotland and Hogwarts.
When Harry got back to Hogwarts, Daniel was being lauded as the returning hero once again and it was soon after his arrival and subsequent detentions from Professor Snape that Harry had discovered Barty's treachery. Unfortunately, Daniel had also been serving detention with him in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom at the time and had gotten all the credit. Again.
Now, as Harry looked up into the bathroom mirror at his pale and shaky form, he wondered what it was exactly that Voldemort was up to because he was unbelievably happy. And Voldemort being happy, unbelievably or not, was never a good thing.