“The Many Faces of Adira Potter: Chapter 6”
By = Fayanora
Chapter Six: Snakes and other slithering things
Note: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.
In all the chaos, Mrs. Weasley had forgotten to be uncomfortable with a girl sleeping in one of her boy's rooms, but when Iliana came downstairs that morning for breakfast, her appearance seemed to remind the Weasley matriarch of it.
“Iliana, dear, are you sure you're comfortable sleeping in the same room as a boy?”
“It's fine, Mrs. Weasley. Ron is a gentleman, despite all evidence to the contrary at times. Dumbledore was uncomfortable with me being in a boy's dormitory too, at first, but like I told him, I can take care of myself. Any boy tries anything they shouldn't, I'll hex their heads on backwards. Or I would, if I knew that particular hex.”
“Well if you insist, dear.”
Aqua slithered out of Iliana's school robes and onto the table, sniffing around for something she could eat. When she found nothing, she said, 'Going out to hunt,' and slithered off.
“Why are you wearing your school uniform, dear?”
“Oh, uh... our normal daywear was Dudley's old clothes, which fit even Al like a circus tent. Harry threw them away in the fire in a fit of pique. Dumbledore gave Harry a T-shirt and jeans to wear, but they're in the wash at present. And though we got my nightgowns from an owl order service, we didn't think to get any other clothes.”
“Well when is your appointment? Maybe we can squeeze in a store run before or after.”
“I dunno, Mrs. Weasley... do we have time to go all the way to Diagon Alley? I'd have to get some more gold out of our vault for that.”
“Ah, excellent point, dearie. Well, we can do that tomorrow, since the day after tomorrow is your birthday. We need to get everyone's school things, and school owls should be coming in today.”
“Sounds good. By the way, the appointment is at 1pm today, and he'll be coming here with Dumbledore, so the letter said.”
Mrs. Weasley nodded, almost finished with making breakfast. She was about to respond when the rest of the Weasley kids came down for breakfast. Iliana noted that Ginny sat down right next to her without reacting at all. She supposed that Ginny only fancied Harry, not her. Iliana decided not to tell Ginny that Harry was just as present as he would be in his own form of the body, though in the background of their shared brain at present.
“Hey there Il,” Ginny said.
Iliana grimaced. “Please don't call me that. Or Illy, or Liana. I'm Iliana.”
Ginny blushed. “Sorry.”
“Don't worry about it. Just wanted to nip that in the bud, was all.” Her grimace became a smile, and Ginny relaxed. “Though I suppose if you want to call me a nickname, I wouldn't mind 'Lee.'”
“Ah,” said Fred, leaning in her direction, “let me just move Leeward, in that case.”
She blushed, and pushed him away from her. When that didn't work, she took a page from Zoey's book and punched him in the arm.
“Alright, alright, I know when I'm defeated,” he said, holding his hands up placatingly.
As Mrs. Weasley had predicted, the school owls came that day with their booklists, which meant a trip to Diagon Alley would be imminent; pretty much perfect timing, that. Iliana wondered if Dumbledore had timed it that way on purpose.
It was tense, waiting for the mind healer to arrive. Iliana barely ate anything for breakfast or lunch, and couldn't focus on anything, so she ended up just laying down on the bed in Ron's room that she slept on, trying to distract herself from the appointment that day by wondering how long it would be before Mrs. Weasley tried to convince her to kip on a camp bed in the living room. Time seemed to both creep by like a snail, and zip along like Roadrunner simultaneously, somehow.
At last, Mrs. Weasley called her down, for Dumbledore and Healer Young had arrived. With a sensation in her stomach like something wriggly trying to free itself, she went down to face her doom.
“Ah, Iliana, long time no see my dear,” Dumbledore said fondly. “I would like to introduce you to Healer Young. Iliana, Healer Yonas Young. Healer Young, Iliana Evanna Potter.”
Healer Young was... old. He looked about 60 years old, though she wasn't sure how old he really was; wizards and witches seemed to be a lot longer lived than Muggles, and tended to look younger. She'd heard things that suggested Dumbledore was over 100 years old, but despite looking like the very stereotype of a wizard, he also seemed no older to her than his mid to late 70's.
She took in the rest of Healer Young's appearance. His long white hair was pulled back in a ponytail, his white mustache was curly almost like a handlebar mustache. He had a kind face, too, and kind eyes, which were a dark blue. Next to Dumbledore's canary yellow robes with bright blue stars, his own magenta robes looked mild.
Iliana felt Alastair looking into the man's eyes. She knew what he was doing; none of them had ever mentioned it before, but Al could see things in people's eyes that they tried to hide. It wasn't like mind-reading, more like heart-reading; he could tell if they meant Harry and company harm or not. He didn't always trust it, especially as it had never really worked with Dumbledore for some reason (nor with Quirrell or Snape), but it was a good starting point. Al seemed to like what he saw in the man, for he retreated to the background of their shared brain with satisfaction.
Healer Young held out his hand for her, and she shook it.
“Nice to meet you, Iliana.”
“Hi,” she said without enthusiasm.
You know, Dumbledore never really explained this whole “mind healer” thing, Al pointed out to her.
“So whatis a mind healer, anyway? Is that like a psychiatrist or psychologist?”
“If I understand the Muggle terms properly – which I assure you I do,” Healer Young said jovially, “more like a psychiatrist than a psychologist, insofar as I have a Healer's certification and work at St. Mungo's in the Mind Healing ward. It includes everything from spell damage that causes mental injury, to non-magical complaints of the mind. I personally specialize in helping with post traumatic stress, as well as having an interest in... well, unusual psychology. What is normally referred to as abnormal psychology, but I don't like that term.”
“Oh,” she said, unsure what to think of that.
Healer Young turned to Dumbledore. “Were they given Calming Draught after the incident?”
“They were out cold for several days after the incident, but when Iliana awoke screaming and crying, Madam Pomfrey gave her both a Calming Draught and a Dreamless Sleep.”
Iliana felt her face go hot as they discussed her like this.
“Well that's good. That will help. Calming Draught delivered in a timely fashion tends to minimize the chance of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
“That sounds like a Muggle term,” Iliana said. “Did you study Muggle psychology?”
“Yes. A lot of Healers don't, as wizards have been doing Mind Healing for centuries and Muggle psychology and psychiatry are very new in comparison, but I do. The Muggles may have been late to the game, but they've made amazing discoveries in a short span of time.
“Anyway,” he continued, “I'm sorry it took so long for us to meet, but I was on vacation until recently, and Professor Dumbledore wasn't satisfied with any other Mind Healer. They all either felt unqualified to help someone with your unique condition, or they had preconceived notions about your condition. I have worked with people with various forms of Multiplicity before. Some collectives are unhealthy, but others function quite well and may even function better than if they were singletons. And since I oppose integration as the murder of a sentient being, you need not worry about that. But if you ever feel you wish to go that direction, I would be willing to refer you to professionals who could help with that.”
“Integration? Does that mean... what does that mean?”
“Come, let's find somewhere private. These sessions are meant to be confidential, after all.”
Soon, they were sitting in the Weasley's living room, Healer Young having cast more privacy spells than any of the Potter collective knew existed, Dumbledore having gone off to speak with Mrs. Weasley about something.
“There, now we won't be overheard or spied upon, even unintentionally. So, to answer your question, having multiple sentient minds in the same body is not common. It isn't nearly as rare as many people think, since most Multiples have learned very quickly to hide their condition, even before they know what's going on. If it hadn't been for your transformations, in fact, I doubt you'd even be aware of being any different from others.”
“Yeah. Harry used to think me and Al were just different aspects of his personality. He thought everyone thought like that. The apparent mood swings resulting from our different reactions to the same stimuli, depending on who was at the front... that confused him a lot, though. But we have a common memory, so before the transformations, he just thought it was him all the time, even when he would feel like a powerless observer of his body's actions.”
“I don't doubt it. Your form of the condition is interesting. I've seen the like before, though there isn't a term for it yet, as far as I know. But it is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between full MPD and single-mindedness.”
She stared at him, not really knowing what to say.
“But of course, fascinating as all that is, it's not what we're here for. Feel free to ask questions about it, though, if you want. I don't mind going off on a tangent, when it's educational, or if you're feeling overwhelmed by other things.”
The rest of the appointment wasn't nearly as interesting. Healer Young spent most of it getting to know her, or trying to. She wasn't feeling especially talkative. But the man appeared to be satisfied with their progress nonetheless, once they were done. She supposed a necessary part of therapy might be getting comfortable with the therapist, so that made sense to her. Still, she was exhausted by the end of it, and when he and Dumbledore left at last, she went back upstairs and went to bed.
Next week, she thought as she lay there trying to sleep, remembering something Healer Young had said before going. Another appointment next week. Ugh.
Shrugging internally, she rolled over and let her exhaustion take her into sleep.
Iliana had been too preoccupied the day before to really read her school letter, but now that she did, as she was eating breakfast, she was astonished at its contents. There were eight new books on the list, and seven of them were Gilderoy Lockhart books. Apparently they were on everyone else's lists, too.
“Sure are a lot of Gilderoy Lockhart books here,” she commented.
“New DADA teacher must be a witch,” Fred said. “Or a pouf guy, not that I'm judging.”
“Yeah, that lot won't come cheap,” said George, eyeing his parents. “Lockhart's books are expensive.”
“Mrs. Weasley, let me buy everyone's Lockhart books, please?” Iliana pleaded. “My parents left me so much money, that lot's nothing to me, and I don't care about money.”
“No no, dear, that's all your savings, you need to save up for when you're out of school.”
“Mrs. Weasley, you weren't there when I opened my vault last year. I don't know what the exchange rate is between galleons and pounds, but there were at least a million galleons in that vault, and probably just as many sickles, so I very much doubt a few dozen books is going to make much of a dent in that.”
“No really, dear,” Mrs. Weasley tried to protest, turning red. “We'll manage some--”
“Seven books for five people, that's 35 books. Fred said they're not cheap. Assuming they cost as much as a wand – 7 galleons – that's 245 galleons. If we assume a knut is like a penny, and it's...” she paused, thinking, before continuing, “493 knuts to a galleon, that's about 5 pounds to a galleon, sounds like. So if the books are 7 galleons each, that's 35 pounds per book, or over 1200 pounds for the lot. I think even the Dursleys would balk at that price, and they buy Dudley over 30 expensive gifts every year on his birthday and again on Christmas. I don't pretend to know how much you have in your vaults, Mrs. Weasley, but from what Ron's said and from the evidence of my own eyes, I'm going to have to pull an Al here and insist you shove your pride and let me get the Lockhart books for you. You can get the rest of everyone's school things.”
“I know you didn't take me in expecting anything in return, but honestly, I think Dumbledore must be mad to let them put this many expensive books on the school booklist. Since I can't go back in time and slap some sense into him before the lists go out, I'm going to insist on paying for these books for you. Two or three hundred galleons is, I assure you, a drop in the bucket compared to what my parents left me. And I know what it's like to be poor; my aunt and uncle never gave me any pocket money, and they barely fed me (well, Harry rather), so I rather like being able to share.”
Mrs. Weasley wrung her hands, her face red, but looked like she was considering it, if very reluctantly.
“If it helps, consider it an early – or a late – Christmas present from me.”
The Weasley matriarch sighed resignedly. “I suppose, if you insist. Just... don't tell Arthur, please? He'll be even harder to convince than me.”
Discomfited, Mrs. Weasley left the room, pretending to dust. Iliana turned to see the other Weasley kids staring at her, red-faced – except Percy, who was paying a bit too much attention to his bacon and eggs.
“I'm serious, Ron. I know how much poverty sucks. Worse, I know how it feels to be poor while others are flaunting their wealth in front of you. If I didn't do this, I'd feel as bad as the Dursleys. I'll try not to make a habit of it, for all your family's pride, but if you think I'm going to let someone I care about struggle to pay such a ridiculous amount for something they have no choice about getting, you're mad. Now if you don't mind, I don't want to hear any more protests. I'm doing it, and that's final. Learn to live with it.”
Ron nodded, gravely, and went back to his food.
As she shoved some of her own eggs into her mouth with such ferocity that you'd think the eggs had insulted her parents, Fred leaned toward her and whispered, “Thanks, mate. Not all of us are as proud as our parents. Mind you, we'd still have put up a fight if it was us, but we're thankful all the same.”
She didn't tell them that there was more to it. That would have been enough, of course, but ever since Quirrell... well, she felt like doing this would be a drop in the bucket towards atoning for her sins. But she was so angry with Dumbledore right now for this, that when she finished her meal, she spent an hour writing an angry letter to the headmaster berating him, as politely as she could manage, for letting this travesty happen.
She was just sending Hedwig off to deliver the letter when Ron came in to tell her they were going to be going to Diagon Alley soon.
About half an hour later, they were all standing around the fireplace. For all that she knew about the Floo, Iliana and company had never actually used one, so she regarded it with some apprehension.
“Um... Mrs. Weasley?”
“I've never used the Floo before.”
“Oh well, it's simple enough.” She tossed some green powder on the flames, turning the flames green. “You walk into the green flames here, then you clearly state your destination, and it whisks you there. By the way, Arthur, we're almost out of Floo powder, we'll have to buy some more while we're there.”
“Sure thing, dear.”
“Anyway, Iliana, let me show you,” Fred said. He walked into the already ready flames, said “Diagon Alley!” and disappeared. George followed, taking a pinch of Floo powder to re-ready the flames before he, too, vanished.
“You must speak clearly, dear,” Mrs. Weasley told her. “And be sure to get out at the right grate. …”
“The right what?” said Iliana nervously as the fire roared and whipped George out of sight, too.
“Well, there are an awful lot of wizard fires to choose from, you know, but as long as you’ve spoken clearly —”
“She’ll be fine, Molly, don’t fuss,” said Mr. Weasley, helping himself to Floo powder, too.
They gave her further instructions – tuck in your elbows, shut your eyes, don't fidget. It was a lot to remember, and when she got into the green flames (which felt like a warm breeze), she opened her mouth, inhaled hot ash, which made her say “D-Dia-gon Alley.”
It felt as though she were being sucked down a giant drain. She seemed to be spinning very fast — the roaring in her ears was deafening — she tried to keep her eyes open but the whirl of green flames made her feel sick — something hard knocked her elbow and she tucked it in tightly, still spinning and spinning — now it felt as though cold hands were slapping her face — squinting at a blurred stream of fireplaces and snatched glimpses of the rooms beyond — her breakfast was churning inside her — she closed her eyes again wishing it would stop, and then —
She fell, face forward, onto cold stone, getting a bloody nose. Dizzy, she took in her surroundings. It was some kind of store with all kinds of nasty looking things in it, like a shriveled hand on a cushion, evil looking masks, human bones, and instruments of torture. What was worse, when they looked out the window, they saw they were clearly not in Diagon Alley.
The sooner they got out, the better. Iliana began to head for the door, but she saw two people coming into the store, so she bolted for cover, hiding in a cabinet. And not a moment too soon, for through a small crack in the cabinet's doorway, she saw Draco Malfoy and a man who – judging by his having the same white blond hair – was Draco's father. They were the last people Iliana wanted to meet when she was lost, covered in soot, and bleeding.
Mr. Malfoy crossed the shop, looking lazily at the items on display, and rang a bell on the counter before turning to his son and saying, “Touch nothing, Draco.”
Malfoy, who had reached for the glass eye, said, “I thought you were going to buy me a present.”
“I said I would buy you a racing broom,” said his father, drumming his fingers on the counter.
“What’s the good of that if I’m not on the House team?” said Malfoy, looking sulky and bad-tempered. “the Potter freaks got a Nimbus Two Thousand last year. Special permission from Dumbledore so Iliana could play for Gryffindor. She’s not even that good, it’s just because they're famous … famous for having a stupid scar on their forehead. …”
Malfoy bent down to examine a shelf full of skulls, then went on raving about Iliana, in a way that sounded almost like he had a crush on her. She felt disgusted by the thought. Malfoy having a crush on her wasn't quite as bad as if Dudley had done, but the idea was similar to her mind.
I don't much fancy that thought either, Harry said internally.
Iliana and the others watched in apprehension, listening as Mr. Malfoy made plans with the store owner to sell some things, dark items, that he kept in a secret room in his mansion. Well that would make a nice tidbit to tell Mr. Weasley, if they lived to tell the tale.
It seemed to take an age for them to finish, and as it was, Iliana was ready to hex Draco as he got closer and closer to her hiding spot. But finally they left, and the store owner went away as well. Iliana waited a moment, then bolted out of there. But she took one look at the outside and worried. They were so young, and the place looked so sketchy.
Before she knew it, they were glowing and growing, and Alastair stood there, looking 14 years old, which was an improvement. He kept their wand out, his long hair hiding their scar. This worked surprisingly well, as the few people they ran into in the narrow and dark alley jumped back at the sight of him and gave him a wide berth. It was a little confusing, but useful, so he didn't question it.
Then he ran into Hagrid, who shouted, turned to look at him, and said, “Sir---er, Alastair. What're yeh doin in Knockturn Alley, of all the dodgy places?”
“Is that where we are? I got lost in the Floo and ended up in a place called Borgin & Burke's. Can you get me back to the Weasleys?”
“Sure, Al, leh's go, shall we?”
Relaxing now that they were leaving, and Hagrid was with them, Al got his thoughts together enough to notice something.
“Hey,” he said. “What were you doing back there, if it's dodgy?”
“Jes getting some flesh eating slug repellent.”
“Does that repel flesh eating slugs, or is it a slug repellent that eats flesh?”
“The firs' one, Al.”
“I don't know whether to be relieved or terrified by that.”
When they got to Gringotts, they saw Hermione on the steps with her parents.
“Damn!” they said, Al shifting back into Harry. “I forgot I wanted to check a price at Flourish and Blotts. Oh well.”
“Harry!” Hermione said, running to meet her. “Hi Hagrid! You coming into Gringott's, Harry?”
“Odd,” Harry said, feeling his nose. “When we fell into Borgin and Burke's, Iliana got a bloody nose. But neither me nor Al show any sign of that.”
“Hey Harry, 'ere come the Weasleys,” Hagrid said, gesturing.
Sure enough, a large chunk of the Weasley family came sprinting up after them.
“Harry,” Mr. Weasley panted. “We hoped you’d only gone one grate too far. …” He mopped his glistening bald patch. “Molly’s frantic — she’s coming now —”
“Where did you come out?” Ron asked.
“Knockturn Alley,” said Hagrid grimly.
“Excellent!” said Fred and George together.
“We’ve never been allowed in,” said Ron enviously.
“I should ruddy well think not,” growled Hagrid.
Mrs. Weasley now came galloping into view, her handbag swinging wildly in one hand, Ginny just clinging onto the other.
“Oh, Harry — oh, my dear — you could have been anywhere — But you didn't even get dirty, it seems.”
“Iliana did. She was covered in soot, and had a bloody nose. It must've gone away when we shifted to Al, then to me.”
On their way into the bank, Harry regaled them with the tale of what happened in Borgin and Burke's. Right enough, Mr. Weasley was very interested in the secret room in the Malfoy manor, under the drawing room. Hagrid said his goodbyes, though, apparently going off somewhere else.
Mr. Weasley got rather distracted by the Grangers, them being Muggles and all, but they finally got in. When Harry got to one of the goblins, he asked the goblin very politely if they did checks or money orders. They did indeed have something like a check, so he ordered one for the amount of 350 galleons, bought a book of extras in case he needed them for something later, got an exact count of his money from the goblins (over 3 million galleons in his trust vault, another 10 million in a vault he'd get access to at 17, and both earning money from various stocks and bonds, much to his amazement) then went down to his vault to fill his money bags with gold for the year, and got some of it exchanged for British pounds.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger and Hermione took Harry into Muggle London to shop for clothing, and they all agreed to meet at Flourish and Blotts in a couple hours, which should be enough time to go clothes shopping, then return to Diagon Alley for all his other school supplies.
Harry followed Hermione around the store, going into the girl's section with her. Hermione might've been embarrassed, if not for the fact that Iliana shared a body with Harry. Harry, for his part, seemed to forget where he was, and picked up a few things for himself without realizing.
“Hermione,” Harry asked as he noticed the Grangers coming back toward them. “How much have you told your parents about me?”
“Oh. Well, it was difficult, but I figured I should tell the truth, as weird as it is. Oddly, they accepted it almost as easily as they accepted magic being real. More easily, even.”
He laughed. “Well I guess that once you accept magic as real, it opens your mind.”
“Harry,” she said, noticing the things he was wanting to try on. “I don't think those would look very good on Iliana. Her coloring is much different from you.”
“What? No, these are for me.”
“We're in the girl's section, Harry.”
“Are we?” he shrugged. “Well, I don't care. I'm a girl more than I'm a boy.”
Hermione looked at him thoughtfully. He stared back at her.
“Okay then. But you'll have to go to the boy's dressing rooms.”
He nodded, and went to find them.
Later, when he had a bunch of things picked out for him, mostly rather unisex looking blouses and comfortable girl's slacks, as well as a couple packages of underpants from the boy's section, even though he'd been eyeing some of the girl's panties, he knew Iliana would need to shop as well, so he called Zoey, knowing she had the power to force switches. He decided they should change in the boy's changing room, so that's where he was when he talked to her.
Zoey, we need to be Iliana now.
Righty-oh, Harry, she said. Then, Oh wow! I can talk with you all now! That's new.
With a glow, they shrunk but then shot up again, Iliana appearing. She came out, startling Hermione's parents.
“Ah, you must be, er... Iliana,” Mrs. Granger said. “Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Iliana said, smiling.
And so they started over again, Iliana wandering the store with Hermione, getting things specifically for her. Luckily, they didn't appear to need anything for the others; Zoey and Al both manifested their own clothes. Sure, so did Harry and Iliana to a point, but they were Iliana or Harry so often that some of Harry's clothes ended up permanently transformed, since the clothes only transformed if they were being worn during a transformation.
Neither of the Grangers seemed terribly comfortable with them, though, after transforming. They were clearly trying, but still, Iliana was glad when they were done buying their things and rejoining the Weasleys at Flourish and Blotts.
When they got there, the place was packed. Apparently, Gilderoy Lockhart was handing out signed copies of his autobiography. Why he needed an autobiography, when his other books appeared to be tales from his adventures, Iliana didn't know. But it made getting their books very difficult. Iliana went to the bloke at the desk and ordered all the copies of the Lockhart books for herself and the Weasleys, told him to hold them there at the front while she got the rest of her books. Before she took off, though, she made sure he would take a check for it, which he said he gladly would.
Even with all the other people, it wasn't too hard to find her other book, The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2. She spent the rest of the time looking around at the other books. Al and Harry put in suggestions for books, too. She got a few Defense Against the Dark Arts books that weren't on the list, a book of hexes for Al, a wizarding novel just to see what their writing was like, and even though Care of Magical Creatures wasn't til next year, she got a copy of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by Newt Scamander, as well as a small book on the care and feeding of grass snakes. She felt Aqua shift against her arm, under her robes.
She met up with Hermione again, who had so many books with her that she had grabbed what looked like a wooden wheelbarrow to carry them all. Most of them were Lockhart books, but of course Hermione had also bought a bunch of books that weren't on the curriculum, too.
“Where do you find those barrows? I could really use one.”
“Sure. Oooh, what did you get?” Hermione looked eagerly, tearing herself away just long enough to grab a barrow for Iliana. “Iliana, do you really think you should be getting a book of hexes?”
“Seeing as we've got an evil dark wizard after our blood, we need all the fighting edge we can get. And anyway, this isn't even the one Al really wanted, but the section he wanted to check is off limits to anyone under 17.”
“Oh, did I tell you about my new pet?”
“A grass snake that Zoey found at Hogwarts. Which is useful, because then if snakes aren't allowed, we can just let her go on the grounds. But I've seen animals other than cats, owls, and toads there, so it shouldn't be a problem.” She smiled and looked around, deciding it was safe.
'Aqua,' she whispered in Parseltongue, 'come on out.'
Hermione's eyes went wide at the barely audible hissing and spitting sound, then again at the sight of the grass snake.
“You weren't speaking English there. I don't know what you were doing.”
“Dumbledore says it's called Parseltongue. Shoot, I forgot it's a secret. But I trust you, Hermione.”
“Why is it a secret?”
“It's a rare gift, one associated with dark wizards. You-Know-Who can do it too.”
At this, Iliana's brow furrowed in thought. Well that's an odd coincidence.
I doubt it's a coincidence. This is Significant, I know it. I don't know how, but it is, Al said.
“Don't worry, I'll keep it a secret. What's her name?”
“Her name is Aqua. And just to be plain, Aqua isn't a secret, just the fact I can speak with her. Honestly, I'm glad Dumbledore told me. I was confused when we couldn't do the same with other animals, I thought speaking with animals was just a thing wizards could do, like maybe Dr. Doolittle had been a real person, a wizard or witch. But apparently not.”
A few minutes later, they found Mrs. Weasley again, in line to meet Lockhart. She seemed a little too excited to meet him, for a woman who was happily married, but Iliana said nothing.
Lockhart came into view, then, looking like a male model with supernaturally shiny teeth and robes of forget-me-not blue that exactly matched his eyes. Iliana felt herself get very hot in the face and wriggly in the tummy as she looked at him. Apparently it wasn't all blond-haired, blue eyed men she had a problem with, just ones that were horrible people. She glanced over to Hermione, who looked to be feeling the same. She felt Al and Harry roll their eyes from within, and ignored them.
To her horror, Lockhart noticed her scar. He leapt to his feet and practically shouted, “It can't be the famous Potter, er... girl, can it? Sorry dear, what's your name? I only know Harry Potter's name."
“Um... Iliana Potter.”
“Iliana Potter, yes.”
The crowd was excitedly jostling around them as he pulled her forward into view. Harry screamed inside her head to get away, but she couldn't move, she was like a deer in headlights.
“Great big smile, Iliana,” his own teeth gleaming enough for the both of them. “Together, you and I are worth the front page.”
When he let her go at last, she tried to get away back to the Weasleys, but the man put his arm around her in a very familiar gesture, trapping her there.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said loudly, waving for quiet. “What an extraordinary moment this is! The perfect moment for me to make a little announcement I’ve been sitting on for some time!
“When young Iliana here stepped into Flourish and Blotts today, she only wanted to buy my autobiography — which I shall be happy to present her now, free of charge —” The crowd applauded again. “She had no idea,” Lockhart continued, giving her a little shake that made glare at him, “that she would shortly be getting much, much more than my book, Magical Me. She and her schoolmates will, in fact, be getting the real magical me. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have great pleasure and pride in announcing that this September, I will be taking up the post of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!”
Lovely. This guy is such a ponce. Al grumbled to her. She grimaced, and tried harder to get away.
The crowd cheered, and she found herself being presented with Lockhart's entire collected works, which she put in her wheelbarrow with a mental note to give this set to Ginny and take the extra set off her order. In fact, when she finally got away, she dumped them in Ginny's cauldron.
“Here you go, I don't want this set.”
“Bet you loved that, didn’t you, Potter?” said a voice Iliana had no trouble recognizing. She straightened up and found herself face-to-face with Draco Malfoy, who was wearing his usual sneer.
“Famous Harry Potter and company,” said Malfoy. “Can’t even go into a bookshop without making the front page.”
Iliana's face contorted with rage and embarrassment. Al was pissed too, but Iliana was angrier, so she continued controlling the body. “Buzz off, Malfoy, you great albino git,” she snarled.
“Such language for a girl, I wonder if that's one of the boys talking. Hey Harry, Al, what's it like having nothing between your legs?”
“Keep talking, Malfoy, and you'll soon find out for yourself.”
She was glad to see him turn paler than usual.
“Why see here, you little--” he stopped, as someone approached.
Ron and Hermione fought their way over, both clutching stacks of Lockhart’s books.
“Oh, it’s you,” said Ron, looking at Malfoy as if he were something unpleasant on the sole of his shoe. “Bet you’re surprised to see Iliana here, eh?”
“Not as surprised as I am to see you in a shop, Weasley,” retorted Malfoy. “I suppose your parents will go hungry for a month to pay for all those.”
“You may have loads of money, Malfoy, but the Weasleys are richer than you'll ever be, because they love one another. I'm sorry your daddy never tells you he loves you, that he tries to buy your love with material possessions, but just because you're jealous doesn't mean you have the right to bully people.”
Now Malfoy was turning red, his own face contorting in rage.
“Don't you dare talk that way about my family, Potter. Just because I find it amusing to point out how you're rooting around in this Weasley garbage doesn't mean--"
He stopped in panic as Ron, who had gone beet red, dropped his books into Ginny's cauldron, too, and started toward Malfoy, but Iliana and Hermione grabbed the back of his jacket before he could pound Malfoy into hamburger.
“Ron!” said Mr. Weasley, struggling over with Fred and George. “What are you doing? It’s too crowded in here, let’s go outside.”
“He called us garbage, Dad!”
He glared at Malfoy. He looked like he wanted to say something scathing, but was too polite to do so. And then the elder Mr. Malfoy appeared, giving Mr. Weasley another reason to look scathing.
“Well, well, well — Arthur Weasley.”
“Lucius Malfoy,” Mr. Weasley said coldly.
“Busy time at the Ministry, I hear,” said Mr. Malfoy. “All those raids … I hope they’re paying you overtime?”
He reached into Ginny’s cauldron and extracted, from amid the glossy Lockhart books, a very old, very battered copy of A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration.
“Obviously not,” Mr. Malfoy said. “Dear me, what’s the use of being a disgrace to the name of wizard if they don’t even pay you well for it?”
Mr. Weasley flushed darker than Ron.
“We have a very different idea of what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy,” he said.
“Clearly,” said Mr. Malfoy, his pale eyes straying to Mr. and Mrs. Granger, who were watching apprehensively. “The company you keep, Weasley … and I thought your family could sink no lower —”
There was a thud of metal as Ginny’s cauldron went flying; Mr. Weasley had thrown himself at Mr. Malfoy, knocking him backward into a bookshelf. Dozens of heavy spellbooks came thundering down on all their heads; there was a yell of, “Get him, Dad!” from Fred or George; Mrs. Weasley was shrieking, “No, Arthur, no!”; the crowd stampeded backward, knocking more shelves over; “Gentlemen, please — please!” cried the assistant.
But it wasn't the assistant that managed to break up the fight. Iliana was so furious at Mr. Malfoy, that her magic exploded out of her and sent both men flying backwards away from each other. Then, louder than anyone else in the room---
“Break it up, there, gents, break it up —”
Hagrid was wading toward them through the sea of books. In an instant he had pulled Mr. Weasley up to his feet, almost tearing his arm out of its socket by accident as he did. “No more fightin, now, please,” Hagrid said, attempting to help Mr. Malfoy up as well and getting a death glare for his trouble. Mr. Weasley had a cut lip and Mr. Malfoy had been hit in the eye by an Encyclopedia of Toadstools. He was still holding Ginny’s old Transfiguration book. He thrust it at her, his eyes glittering with malice.
“Here, girl — take your book — it’s the best your father can give you —” Pulling himself together, he beckoned to Draco and swept from the shop.
“Yeh should’ve ignored him, Arthur,” said Hagrid, almost lifting Mr. Weasley off his feet as he straightened his robes. “Rotten ter the core, the whole family, everyone knows that — no Malfoy’s worth listenin’ ter — bad blood, that’s what it is — come on now — let’s get outta here.”
The assistant looked as though he wanted to stop them from leaving, but he barely came up to Hagrid’s waist and seemed to think better of it. They hurried up the street, the Grangers shaking with fright and Mrs. Weasley beside herself with fury.
“A fine example to set for your children … brawling in public … what Gilderoy Lockhart must’ve thought —”
“He was pleased,” said Fred. “Didn’t you hear him as we were leaving? He was asking that bloke from the Daily Prophet if he’d be able to work the fight into his report — said it was all publicity —”
Still, they were all subdued as Iliana filled out the Gringott's check for the Weasley's books – one of which was now hers, since Ginny had the ones he'd given Iliana for free. This may have been for the best, as Mr. Weasley didn't seem to be paying enough attention to realize what she was doing, and thus didn't try to object. She also paid for the rest of her books, with gold from her bags.
They were still subdued when they got to the Leaky Cauldron, though Iliana – getting a prompt from Harry – spoke with the Grangers and the Weasleys about getting Harry new glasses to replace the ugly ones that had been broken many times, that their aunt had paid a pittance for at some place with bargain basement prices. This took their minds off the fight for a little while as they talked it out, finally deciding to go back into Diagon Alley and find the wizarding optometrist's shop.
Hermione and her parents were fascinated by the place, when they got there. So was Iliana, though she didn't stay long, having Zoey help them pull Harry out all the way, since it was he who needed glasses. The glow of their transformation lit the poorly lit shop enough to get the attention of a portly old man who looked like Benjamin Franklin with a ponytail and bangs.
“Hello there, he—oh my! Good gods, my dear child, where ever did you get those horrendous glasses?”
“At some very cheap Muggle shop,” Harry answered. “My aunt purposefully picked out the ugliest pair she could, that didn't cost too much. I won't need my prescription from there, will I?”
“Oh heavens no, I--” the clerk noticed Harry's scar. “Ah, you're the famous Potter boy, are you? Very good, very good. This way, the Vis-o-matic is over here.”
The Vis-o-matic turned out to be a wizarding device that he looked into, got his eyes flashed with purple light, and it spit out a prescription. The clerk grinned at this.
“Take a look around, Mr. Potter, pick out something you like.”
With the help of the Weasleys and Grangers, he spent nearly an hour looking at the different wizarding glasses. Almost all of them were guaranteed unbreakable by most usual means. Others had charms cast on them that would keep them stuck to your face until you or someone else took them off deliberately, and there was even a pair that had a button letting you see behind you. Harry and Al both thought this was so useful they decided to get it, even though it was the most expensive variety. Harry picked out a slender set of frames with oval lenses, the frames a violet color that looked surprisingly good on his face, made his eyes pop, and made his face look better than the ugly old set had.
The clerk took the set he chose and took them in the back to transfigure the lenses. When he came back, he had Harry try them on.
“Wow, I can see even better with these than with my current set.”
“Yes, the Vis-o-matic is superior to Muggle optometry. Cost a hefty sum, but I wouldn't want to be without it. Well, Mr. Potter, I'll give you a discount if you tell people you got your glasses here at Wally Gorey's Wizarding Eyeglasses and Monacles, okay?”
“Um, okay. How much?”
“That'll be fifteen galleons, Mr. Potter.”
“Fifteen galleons?” Ron said incredulously.
“Down from our usual 20 for that pair.”
“Well Ron,” Harry said, “To be fair, there is this button here on the side that lets me see out the back of my head. That alone makes it worth it. Then he said they're unbreakable and stuff, too.”
“Yes indeed. Certified unbreakable or twice your money back. Nothing short of a basilisk fang would break them, and there aren't many of those banging about. And of course the Stay-On charm, so they won't fall off by accident and get lost.”
Harry handed over the gold gladly, ignoring Ron's stares of incredulity.
As they walked back to the Leaky Cauldron to say their goodbyes to the Grangers, Ron kept looking sullen.
“Sorry. I'm not like, meaning to flaunt my wealth or anything, it's just I get so tired of looking like the scruffy nerf-herder my aunt and uncle think I am, that it feels good to get some nice stuff for myself. In fact, HA! I can just imagine what they'd look like if they saw me now.”
“What? Oh, no worries, mate. I'm just a little jealous.”
“There's no need for that. If you want anything, I love sharing. I love having stuff to share with friends.”
Ron turned red. “I won't be a moocher.”
“Ron, I don't mind, really. You heard what that goblin said. Three million galleons, more when I turn 17. I--”
“No. Birthdays and, and Christmas gifts are fine. But only those.”
Harry shrugged. “Okay, if you insist. But if some emergency comes up, I may well insist helping out.”
“Like with the Lockhart books?”
“Or something more dire. I can't think of an example, though. But like, if your wand broke, I'd replace it for you.”
“Yeah, I can see that counting as an emergency. It's a deal; birthdays, Christmas, and emergencies.”
Even with them being unbreakable and charmed to stay on his face, Harry was tempted to stow his new glasses in his trousers before Flooing back to the Burrow, but he didn't. He didn't like the Floo, and hoped there were other, less horrible means of magical travel. But for now, he just walked into the green flames.
Even with Iliana's appointments every week, the summer still went by faster than they would have liked. Harry spent most of the time Out, mostly only switching to Iliana for her appointments. But she tended to hang around after, come early, or both, and spent a lot of that time talking with Ginny, and hanging out in Ginny's room. Ginny would blush like mad and go silent when Harry was around, but around Iliana she was comfortable. They still hadn't informed Ginny of the fact that Harry could hear everything they talked about, but so far they hadn't discussed anything that would embarrass Ginny, and Iliana intended to keep it that way, steering the conversation away from certain topics if she had to, which wasn't often. If Ginny ever insisted on pursuing those topics, Iliana vowed to stop her and explain before the other girl could blunder on.
But for all her crush on Harry, Ginny didn't seem to want to discuss it. Thinking about Harry seemed to be like gum in the gears, freezing her mind in place, and Iliana couldn't decide if that was a relief or not. Especially since something about the nature of their conversations had changed after the trip to Diagon Alley. Ginny had seemed comfortable and open around Iliana, but after the Diagon Alley trip, she got harder to talk with, and was in her room a lot more. Iliana was a little sad, but knew it was the nature of young people like themselves to get moody. Puberty came for people at different ages depending on lots of different factors, including caloric intake, and considering how well the Weasleys always ate (despite their poverty), it was likely Ginny would be hitting puberty earlier than the Potter collective, with their history of malnutrition.
The day they went back to Hogwarts was chaos, everyone running around pell-mell, and several times they had to go back for things, including Ginny's diary. They were running so late that when they finally got to King's Cross, they had to dash like mad to platform 9 and 3/4ths.
Ron and Harry – as Iliana hadn't had an appointment for days – were the last two to go through the barrier. They both went ahead together, running at the barrier in their hurry---
BANG! They smashed into a solid wall and everything went flying.
Ignoring the dark mutters and strange looks from the Muggles around them, they struggled to get their stuff together, giving the flimsy excuse that they'd lost control of their trolleys.
“Why can't we get through to the platform?” asked Ron.
“I don't know,” admitted Harry.
How much you wanna bet this has something to do with Dobby? He was pretty insistent we should stay away from Hogwarts.
“Oh right,” Harry said aloud. “I'll bet Dobby is doing this.”
“We're going to miss the train!”
Harry looked at the clock. Sure enough, the seconds til the train left ran out before his eyes.
“It’s gone,” said Ron, sounding stunned. “The train’s left. What if Mum and Dad can’t get back through to us? Have you got any Muggle money?”
Harry checked his bags. “Yeah, there's still some left from my clothes shopping. Enough to get us some food if we needed, anyway. But that won't help us get to school, and I don't know how to get to the Leaky Cauldron from here.”
“Why would we need to go there?”
“Well we could use the Floo to go to somewhere in Hogsmeade.”
Ron visibly relaxed at this. “Yeah. Yeah, we have options.”
“For now, though, we should probably wait by the car in case your parents can get through.”
“Harry!” said Ron, his eyes gleaming. “The car!”
“What about it?”
“We can fly the car to Hogwarts!”
If Al rolled Harry's eyes any harder at this, they would have pulled a muscle.
“Oh yeah, fly an illegal flying car to school,” Harry heard Al say with his voice, “when we don't even know where school is from here, thus breaking the statute of secrecy; what a brilliant plan! Or we could just, you know, wait for your parents to get back. Or, if all else fails, send Hedwig to let the headmaster know where we are.”
“They don't need the car,” Ron said. “They can Apparate. And the car has an invisibility booster.”
“Oh yeah, it won't bother them at ALL that the car is suddenly missing. They won't assume some Muggle stole it and now has access to the magic of a world they're not supposed to know about. Honestly, Ron...”
“Okay, okay, so it's a stupid idea. Sorry for suggesting it.”
They went back to the car to wait for the Weasleys. In the meantime, Harry wrote out a letter to Dumbledore explaining what was going on, just in case they didn't get back.
Sure enough, the Weasleys turned up.
“Ronald Billius Weasley,” Mrs. Weasley snapped as they approached. “Why aren't you and Harry on the train?”
“Don't blame him, Mrs. Weasley. The barrier sealed against us. We suspect Dobby's the cause.”
“Well,” Mr. Weasley said, “house elf magic is quite different from our own. If Dobby was sent by his masters to stop you, there's not much that could prevent him from managing it. A house elf's highest law is obeying orders.”
“What about the Floo?”
Mrs. Weasley looked unsure. “Well normally, yes, we could Floo to Hogsmeade, but with this Dobby business, and your previous experience getting lost...”
“So one of you could go ahead, then the other come on after me.”
“No dear, that won't be needed. We'll just use the Knight Bus.”
“The... what now?”
“Arthur, dear, you drive the car home, since I don't know how to do it. I'll take Ron and Harry to school.”
“Sure thing, Molly dear.”
Mrs. Weasley took Ron, Harry, and their things to the nearest road and demonstrated by holding her wand arm out over the road, with her wand in her hand. With a BANG a violently purple triple-decker bus appeared, nearly hitting a fire hydrant that leaped out of the way of the bus.
A pimply-faced young wizard stepped out and announced, “Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board--”
“Yes, yes, I know that already.”
“Hey, ent you 'arry--”
“HUSH you, just help us get our stuff onboard.”
The pimply wizard rolled his eyes. “Alright, alright, keep yer 'ead on, lady.”
Once their things were aboard, Harry paid for the ride before Mrs. Weasley could protest.
“Now Ron, Harry, you'll have to hang on. It's a very bumpy ride.”
The doors shut. Harry sat down in an armchair that was loose.
“'ogsmeade? Wot, like 'ogwarts? Why dinnit you use the train?”
“Missed the train through no fault of our own. Now would you go already?”
“Sure thing. Ern?”
“This thing would fail every single Muggle safety regulation on the books,” Harry said, not entirely sure which one of them was actually speaking.
When the thing took off, he found out how right he was. The furniture slid around like mad whenever they started or stopped, as the bus shot forward unnaturally fast and stopped with equal quickness. It was a wonder the chairs stayed on the floor at all, in fact. Probably more magic. Though why they couldn't have used magic to just bolt the chairs into place, he didn't know.
Every time they took off, they would suddenly be somewhere completely different; the bus appeared to be able to do something similar to Apparating, though instead of going straight to its destination, it went somewhere close and sped through the intervening space barely paying attention to where the road was. It was all such a jostling ride that it was no wonder everyone on board looked ill. He wasn't surprised that so many people lost their breakfast on the ground when they stepped off at their destination.
It must have taken over an hour for them to finally get to Hogsmeade. But finally the pimply wizard – whose name he found was Stan Shunpike – announced they were there, and helped Ron and Harry get their things out. They got out finding themselves facing Hagrid checking the hitches on the thestrals pulling the school carriages.
“Harry? Ron? What're you lot doin here already? Oh, hey Molly.”
“We missed the train, Hagrid! The barrier closed against us. Harry reckons... well, it'd be too difficult to explain now.”
“Don't worry, I told him about Dobby in a letter.”
“Barrier sealed against yeh? An yeh reckon Dobby did it?”
“Yes. He was very keen on us not going. He had a full blown hysterical fit when he found out we weren't staying at the Dursleys at all anymore.”
“Well let me get yer things to the castle. Elves?” he said with authority, but politely. A pair of house elves, looking very different from Dobby – better fed and clean, for instance – appeared.
“Sir is requesting help?”
“Yeah. Can yeh take these things up ter the Griffindor boy's dorm for them? They ran into a bit o trouble and had ter come up a different way.”
The two elves saluted him. “Yes sir, we is getting your things, sirs!”
“Hold on a moment, we need our school robes,” Harry pointed out.
They pulled their school robes on over their Muggle attire, then closed their trunks.
“There you go, guys.”
“Thank you, sirs!”
With a CRACK, the elves and all their school things vanished.
“So how are the thestrals, Hagrid?”
“Thestrals?” Ron asked.
“The school carriages are pulled by winged horse-like things that people can only see if they've seen death,” Harry explained. “And I – we – can see them.”
Ron stretched out a hand and felt leathery hide. “Wicked!” he said.
“Now boys, enough of that. You should get on up into the castle where it's safe.”
Molly seemed relieved that Hagrid was there to guide them up to the castle. They said their goodbyes to Mrs. Weasley, who Disapparated as the carriages trundled up to the castle.
It was weird being in the Great Hall with nobody else there but Sir Nicolas. None of the teachers were even there, so they had an idle conversation with the Griffindor ghost, mostly consisting of them explaining why they were early.
When the teachers finally came in, Snape looked like he wanted to swoop down on them like an angry bat, but McGonagall glared at him before striding over.
“Hagrid told me what happened with the barrier, but I don't understand.”
“Well I wrote a letter to Dumbledore in case the Weasleys couldn't get back. It might explain things, Professor.” Harry said, handing her the letter.
She read it with a stern scowl, then nodded. “I shall inform the headmaster. Thank you for this excellent explanation, Potter.”
“You're welcome, Professor.”
So they waited, Ron's stomach growling louder and louder the longer it took. But finally, a mass of students began streaming in, giving the two of them odd looks. But they didn't speak until the twins, Hermione, Neville, Dean, and Seamus arrived. Harry retold the story, and – as he was getting tired of telling it already – asked them to explain for him if anyone else asked.
Harry was pleased to witness a Sorting that wasn't his own. It was a lot of fun cheering for Ginny and the other new Griffindors. Al and Iliana both bristled in anger when the first two new Slytherins to be Sorted were booed, and after that Harry began cheering for everyone, including new Slytherins, which got him a lot of weird looks from his fellow Griffindors, and even some of the people from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.
As the feast began, Fred and George nodded at Harry to get his attention.
“Why'd you cheer the Slytherins, mate?”
“Because they're only kids. Eleven year old kids who have done nothing wrong, and are being booed only because they got sorted into an unpopular House. Anyone who boos them should feel ashamed of themselves for bullying little kids.”
The twins both did, at least, have the decency to look ashamed, as did everyone else in earshot. The subject got quickly changed, though.
“You have new glasses, Harry,” Dean noted.
“Yeah. I hated the ugly ones my aunt and uncle got me. I also got new Muggle clothes; burned all the old stuff handed down to me from Dudley. Oh, I'm supposed to say I got them from Wally Gorey's Wizarding Eyeglasses and Monacles.”
“Good for you, mate. I never understood why you wore that stuff.”
“It was all I had. And it took me a whole year to realize I have enough money now to replace it all.”
“How's Iliana been?” asked George.
“She seems to be getting better. Still doesn't come out a lot anymore, though now it's mainly because I decided I wanted to be Out more than I was. I feel like I'd been hiding all last year. And given that I suddenly went from the hated scum of the earth to world famous overnight, I guess I just wanted to get away from the stress of it. But am I a Griffindor, or not? So I've decided to stop hiding.”
“Good on you, mate. Iliana's fun and all, but I've been wondering about you for a long time. Glad to hear it.”
Throughout the rest of the feast, whenever he wasn't eating, Harry would demonstrate the new glasses, including the see-behind-you feature, to great effect.
So it was that Harry was happy enough, when he fell asleep that night, to not have any nightmares for once.
End note one: I came up with Healer Young's name interestingly. The surname I got from Carl Jung's surname (Jung being normally pronounced “Young), and “Yonas” I came up on my own by doing the same J-as-Y thing as Jung's name, on the name Jonas. Only when I had the thought to Google “Yonas” did I discover it was already a name, meaning “Dove.” I think it fits him perfectly. (Apparently the Jonas spelling means the same thing, as well.)
End note two: There is, of course, now a term for the Potter's version of Multiplicity: mid-continuum multiplicity. But I don't know how far back in time the online Multiplicity community goes, or when the term was coined, so I'm assuming that in the early 1990's it either hadn't been coined, or it wasn't well known enough for Healer Young to know of it. Also, back in the early 90's, they were still using the term Multiple Personality Disorder. It wasn't changed to DID until after 2005, I think, which is when our own collective started to join the online Multiplicity community. We personally prefer a term from the book Blindsight by Peter Watts, though: “Multiple Consciousness Complex.”
End note three: Yes, I know Iliana's estimate of pounds to galleons is incorrect, but I'm assuming she doesn't know the actual exchange rate, and is guessing.
End note four: In a review on FF.net, a guest asked me where the Stone goes when Zoey is out but didn't bring the Stone with her. Admittedly, I did not answer that then. The answer is based on something in the Djao'Mor'Terra collective (my collective) called the Cellar. Our shared mindspace has two areas: the Living Room and the Cellar. The Living Room is where all conscious activity happens, where we all live and watch through the senses and argue and stuff. The Cellar is where one or more of us goes to hide, sometimes. We have no idea what goes on inside the Cellar, because we can't see into it when we're in the Living Room and we don't remember anything we did in the Cellar when we come out from there. But things can be down there indefinitely, and it's possible that there are secret Others down there, because every now and then stuff floats up from there, like entire completed poems.
Zoey's personal internal space is loosely based on the Cellar, in that she can stick stuff in there or pull it out as she pleases. The Stone is in their version of the Cellar whenever she's in or out and only leaves that area when she wills it. The camera she manifested in an earlier chapter is in there, too.
End note five/last: A reviewer at FF.net mentioned that this story "blots over all the bad parts that could have caused [the multiplicity].” I would like to point out here, as I did to them, that this is because I do not believe multiplicity is caused by trauma. If it were, there'd be so many multiples that nobody would doubt they exist, as there would be probably several hundred million individual human bodies (or more) with the condition if trauma/abuse caused it.
I believe people who are multiples are just born with an inclination towards multiplicity, and trauma might drive wedges between the different people, the multiplicity being latched onto as an escape/coping mechanism that makes the different people lose awareness of each other, but that they might have become a Multiple even without the trauma.
I say these things because of my own experience of being a multiple. This story is a thinly veiled tale of my own experiences. The most trauma I've had in my early life was being bullied, and I've never heard of bullying being sufficient trauma to cause DID/MPD. There's a whole litany of data recovered from my memories over the years, too, that has led me to the conclusion that I just was always inclined to become a multiple, and for mysterious reasons it just happened. I admit the bullying may have exacerbated things a little, but all of us can communicate with one another and always could. Just like Harry in this fic, I just thought I was ridiculously moody or something until something that is a very long story happened to introduce me into taking the multiplicity idea as a serious consideration for ourselves. I hadn't, before, despite having read Sybil, because the popular depictions of MPD/DID are - when not laughably inaccurate - very far removed from our own experience of multiplicity.
We also do not consider being a Multiple to be inherently a mental illness. True, there are many whose experience of DID/MPD is one of mental illness. Our collective, however, functions - if anything - better than I (Tempest) did when I thought I was a singleton, the others beginning to join me in here starting in my teen years to help me function in a world I was not doing well in before, and in order for something to be a mental illness, it has to 1. Impair functioning and/or 2. Be distressing to the person who has it. Neither of these is true for us, and therefore we prefer a term for it that we found in Blindsight by Peter Watts: “Multiple Consciousness Complex.”
So this fanfic is our attempt at portraying a healthy Multiple collective that, while they have had a tough life, are not a trauma-created collective.
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