Harry Potter and the, ah man, ANOTHER trans Harry fic? Really?

One Long Morning

Chapter Fourteen

One Long Morning

Big trigger warning for Slurs, dysphoria, cussing, and bad dreams.

~ Harry jerked awake in the very early morning hours of September 1st. She'd gone to sleep the night before cuddling her little Constantine. At first Ron teased her mercilessly for cuddling the plush little demiguise that Ginny had given her, but surprisingly Ron dropped it as soon as Harry shyly admitted she'd never had one before. She was still pretty foggy, not quite all the way back to awake, and in her panic, she fell out of the cot. Luckily Ron was a light sleeper, also luckily, the cot didn't set up very high. She had been having yet another nightmare, though this one began with the last Quidditch match of the year. In the dream, she comes out of a steep dive, long hair streaking in the wind, to make a spectacular catch, narrowly beating Malfoy and winning the Quidditch cup for Gryffindor! The team came together in a crash of bodies, the twins were laughing and shouting, as were Angelina and Katie, Oliver was crying tears of relief and joy, and of course that caused Alicia and Harry to start crying too. As they were half dragged, half carried back to the castle, Harry realised something was off. She watched from above and the first thing she noticed was her hair, it was almost halfway down her back. His hair hadn't even been close to that long before! That realization led her to notice that she was wearing a girls uniform. Even stranger though was the fact that this image of herself struck Harry as just… being right, no one seemed to notice or care that 'the-child-who-lived' was wearing a skirt. Just as she'd begun to settle back down, Malfoy's sneering self made an appearance, yelling about how the Gryffindor's had cheated, how 'Trannies' and 'Poofs' weren't allowed to play. Then Snape showed up, roughly snatching the cup out of Oliver's hands and giving it to Malfoy, before gleefully crowing that he'd always known Harry was a little 'Queer', and that 'his' parents would be ashamed. Harry had flinched so hard at that, it was like Snape had reached right through her small chest to crush her heart. She'd backed up, straight into a wall of students, all of them glaring at her hatefully. Oliver stood at the center, and he shoved Harry to the ground before shouting at him, it was all Harry's fault they'd lost the cup. Harry was just a freak and a loser and how he didn't want some stupid 'Tranny' on his team.

Harry tried to run, pushing past the onlookers, but suddenly she fell down a trapdoor and into the chamber of secrets, where Tom Riddle casually leaned against a pillar, twirling Harry's wand while chatting amicably with Professor Quirrel, who still had half his face burned away, though he showed no sign of caring. Great, the two wizards who had thus far tried to kill Harry, in the same room, when she was already hurt and crying. They turned when she tried to scramble back to her feet, but all they did was scoff.

Tom just shook his head, "You really are pathetic aren't you Potter. I mean really, a girl? You?"

Quirrel helpfully chipped in, "More like a freak I think. Just like the Dursley's always said."

As Harry finally got to her feet, running the other way. Tom called out, "You really aren't even worth bothering with are you, Harry?" before calling on the basilisk.

Harry stopped dead as the enormous snake dropped from the ceiling directly in front of her, and pierced Harry in place with its cold, cruel stare.

Harry curled in on herself as the dream replayed in her mind. She hadn't cried out when she had first awoken, that instinct had long since faded. Why cry out for help, when all you'd get is shouting about waking "decent" people up. She could feel the tears coming though, and the instinct to hide that vulnerability had very much flourished under the Dursley's tender care.

She grabbed her cuddly and silently crept down the stairs and out of the house. She'd learned where all the creaky floorboards were on her first visit to the Burrow last year, force of habit, and so she made it outside without anyone being the wiser. She crept around the side of the house until she came to a wall with no windows on the first floor, and sat down against the wall, her knees coming up to her chest, sometimes it felt like that was the only position she ever used when alone, the minor feeling of protection that position offered contributing to how just often she used it. She had come outside wearing just her pants (British term for underwear) and one of the few oversized tee's of Dudleys she'd kept for pajamas, hugging her cuddly for all it was worth as the tears finally cascaded.

~ Charlie Weasley had taken to always sleeping with the window open. After a couple years of sleeping outdoors, in hammocks, tents, and when the weather permitted, simply on the ground under the stars, the burly, young man couldn't sleep all that well indoors. The sounds of the outdoors, and fresh air drifting in helped him settle, but instead of putting him to sleep, something about the sounds tonight slowly coaxed him back to wakefulness. He lay in bed for a few minutes before he finally caught it, just barely loud enough to be heard, was the occasional sniffle, and the hitch of a strangled sob. Ginny must have woken up from another nightmare. She'd been having them off and on all summer. That had actually been part of the reason he'd wanted to stay at the burrow for the last few days of summer. His room was closest to Ginny's. He'd made it all the way to the door when he realised, he wasn't hearing the crying from the next room over, it was coming from outside?

He lowered himself down from the second floor window, before dropping the last six feet or so to land relatively quietly near the small kid who'd nestled in tight against the wall. Looking down from above, Charlie first thought it was Ginny, but then a much bleaker thought occurred to him. Harry was much of a size to Ginny, he'd been through nearly the same trauma last year, and if he had figured right from some of the things he'd overheard, the muggle relatives Harry had been staying with weren't very likely to offer comfort to their nephew, regardless of how bad the nightmares got.

Sure enough, "Hey there little guy, mind if I scooch on in beside you here?" He asked softly, weary of spooking the poor kid more than necessary.

Harry gasped and tried to stand up too quickly. Since he was tucked in so tightly against the house, he unintentionally pushed off of the wall and pitched forward off balance. Thanks to Charlie's reflexes, honed by six years of seeker training, and another couple of years playing with dragons of all things, he easily caught Harry, pulling him into a hug. Harry went totally rigid, not even daring to breathe.

"It's alright, Harry. You're safe okay. I've got ya buddy, you're safe…"

Charlie wasn't sure what he had expected, but it hadn't been this. Harry's reaction was almost like he was scared to be held. Charlie was debating if he should let go, or if it was better to continue his clumsy attempt at consoling the poor kid, meanwhile he'd automatically fallen back on his wild animal handling experience, and tried to talk Harry down using the soothing tones more than the words, trying to impart the feeling of safety. It seemed to be working, Harry was slowly loosening up. Then, as if a Dam suddenly burst, Harry sucked in a deep ragged breath and burrowed deeper into Charlie's arms as his body was racked by near silent sobbing. Charlie held him, still trying to offer consolation, more by the tone than the words, until Harry finally cried himself out.

Charlie was doing his best not to show it, but he was very troubled by the way Harry clung to him, even harder than his sister would after one of her bad dreams… Either Harry had woken from a truly, deeply troubling nightmare, or he'd been right about his guess earlier, and Harry hadn't had anyone offer him comfort like that, at least not an adult, in a really long time.

As Harry calmed down enough to realize what he'd just done, he tried to pull away, obviously beyond embarrassed. Charlie let the poor kid slide off his lap (he'd sat them both down at some point while still holding Harry. Ginny and him were both still so small, he could easily hold them, but sitting was more comfortable). Spotting the little cuddly beside them, he plucked it up before brushing it off and handing it to Harry. The poor kid hugged it to himself like a lifeline. They both settled back against the wall, Harry unconsciously mirroring Charlie's position so that they were both sitting cross-legged, Harry's knee brushing against Charlie's leg. Charlie understood the feelings of isolation well enough to guess that that little bit of contact was possibly the only thing keeping Harry from feeling completely alone. Charlie's self imposed isolation had been from living in a closet, refusing to tell anyone he was gay. While he had his suspicions that Harry might just be shut in that same closet, some of his mannerisms and personality were decidedly on the feminine end of the spectrum after all, but he also had to deal with the fame he didn't seem to want, the loss of his parents, and growing up with relatives that didn't seem to want him.

"Bad dream?" Charlie finally asked. At Harry's nod he continued, "I don't suppose Ginnys told you that she's been having nightmares all summer too?"

Harry abruptly looked up, meeting Charlie's eye, in those shockingly green eyes, Charlie could see sorrow, concern, and possibly even guilt.

"It's nothing for you to worry about, okay Harry. She's alright, Ginny's a tough cookie. I only mentioned it so you'd know you weren't alone."

Harry looked back down at the little demiguise, "I should have figured it out sooner, then maybe she wouldn't have been hurt. He was just using her because she knew me, so it's my fault."

Charlie was beyond dismayed, "Harry, no. Hey, listen to me," Charlie reached over and gently steered Harry's face back to meet his own, "You were not in any way responsible for what happened last year, and it was most definitely not your responsibility to fix it!"

Harry looked away, not really able to meet Charlie's gaze. After a few moments of silence, Charlie reached over to wave one of the cuddlies arms, asking Harry, "Isn't this little guy one of Ginny's old cuddlies?

"Yeah. She gave Constantine to me when I, er… that is, umm when I told her I'd never had one before."

"You never had a cuddly growing up?" Asked Charlie. Harry only shook his head no. "Aww, I'm sorry, that kinda sucks, bud. She gave him to you on Sunday, right?"

"Yeah."

Charlie still remembered Harry's red eyes, the blotchy skin from when he eventually came down to play Quidditch with them. Sheesh, poor kid, he thought. Breaks down twice, in front of two different Weasley's, in less than a week. He looked at Harry again, and something finally occurred to him.

"Uhh, Harry, why does it look like your hair is longer?"

"What?" Harry reached up and pulled his hair down. His hair was always so wild that it was sometimes hard to tell, but yeah, it was all the way down to his chin again. "Ahh, well uh, ever since Aunt Petunia buzzed all my hair off, e-except for my bangs, if I get really upset it uh, it grows back long overnight."

"Really, wow! That's a really unusual manifestation of accidental magic…" Charlie's mind wandered back to a school age friend of his, a certain klutz of a metamorphmagus.

Charlie brought his focus back to Harry, "Would you like to tell me about your bad dream kiddo? I can say from personal experience, talking it out can really help sometimes."

Harry's head was already shaking no, but he stopped, considering it for a second. In a tiny voice he asked, "You mean, you have nightmares too?"

"Of course bud, I think everyone has nightmares. But yeah, I guess I've probably had more than my fair share. Between being afraid to come out of the closet, to some of the awful things I've seen dragons do... Plenty of nightmare fuel."

He noticed Harry cringe a little when he mentioned the dragons, but then he looked at Charlie sideways, expression finally opening up some.

"Why were you scared of a closet? Mr and Mrs Weasley are nice, not like them. They wouldn't lock you in a cupboard."

Charlie grinned, thinking Harry was taking the Mickey on him, "it's just an expression Harry. When an lgbt person 'comes out of the closet', it means they have finally admitted to someone that they are gay… or bi or whatever…" Charlie trailed off, because as he explained, he'd noticed Harry's expression had gone from hopeful, too seemingly all alone again. Somehow that clued him in, not like them. He knew Harry's guardians weren't exactly loving, possibly, hell probably, even going so far as to let their son bully Harry, but what if they were more than just neglectful?! Was Harry freaking Potter, one of the sweetest kids he'd had the good fortune to know, being locked in a cupboard, was he being abused!?

"Harry, look at me please." Harry did, "When you said, 'not like them' were you talking about your aunt and uncle?" Aw shit, he's looking away again.

"Harry, please don't close down like that just yet okay, I need to know. Did you mean that they lock you in a cupboard?" Damn it! As he watched, Harry tucked his knees back under his chin, refusing to look in Charlie's directly. But oh Goddess, this explains so much, thought Charlie.

A pitifully small voice announced, "No… I sleep in Dud- uh, the second bedroom."

"Harry, you know I just want to help you right? Do… do your relatives abuse you, Harry?"

Harry answered in a completely monotone voice, "I'm cold, I think it's time to head back inside."

And with that he stood, walking around the corner and back inside. Charlie heard the door, but he couldn't move, mind going a thousand miles an hour, and yet without forming a single coherent thought. He looked around, it was getting chilly, the summer dew had begun to settle on the grass. His best guess was that it was maybe 4 or thereabouts? After a bit, his mind settled on one course of action, fuck going through Dumbledore, he had an old school mate that should be finishing up Aurora training any time now. After he helped escort them to the train today, he thought it high time he paid Tonks a visit.

~ As Harry passed the doorway to the kitchen, he overheard subdued arguing. Grateful for a distraction from the maelstrom that was his (or maybe her?) thoughts. They padded over to the door, and shamelessly eavesdropped on Mr and Mrs Weasley. Maybe it would stop her brain's shouting that they were the ones locking themselves in a closet now, instead of a cupboard.

#". . . makes no sense not to tell him," Mr. Weasley was saying heatedly. "Harry's got a right to know. I've tried to tell Fudge, but he insists on treating Harry like a child. He's thirteen years old and —"

"Arthur, the truth would terrify him!" said Mrs. Weasley shrilly. "Do you really want to send Harry back to school with that hanging over him? For heaven's sake, he's happy not knowing!"

"I don't want to make him miserable, I want to put him on his guard!" retorted Mr. Weasley. "You know what Harry and Ron are like, wandering off by themselves — they've even ended up in the Forbidden Forest! But Harry mustn't do that this year! When I think what could have happened to him that night he ran away from home! If he hadn't been clever enough to fly himself to the Leaky Cauldron, I'm prepared to bet he would have been dead before the Ministry found him."

"But he's not dead, he's fine, so what's the point —"

"Molly, they say Sirius Black's mad, and maybe he is, but he was clever enough to escape from Azkaban, and that's supposed to be impossible. It's been a month, and no one's seen hide nor hair of him, and I don't care what Fudge keeps telling the Daily Prophet, we're no nearer catching Black than inventing self-spelling wands. The only thing we know for sure is what Black's after —"

"But Harry will be perfectly safe at Hogwarts."

"We thought Azkaban was perfectly safe. If Black can break out of Azkaban, he can break into Hogwarts."

"But no one's really sure that Black's after Harry —"

There was a thud on wood, and Harry was sure Mr. Weasley had banged his fist on the table. "Molly, how many times do I have to tell you? They didn't report it in the press because Fudge wanted it kept quiet, but Fudge went out to Azkaban the night Black escaped. The guards told Fudge that Black's been talking in his sleep for a while now. Always the same words: 'He's at Hogwarts . . . he's at Hogwarts.' Black is deranged, Molly, and he wants Harry dead. If you ask me, he thinks murdering Harry will bring You-Know-Who back to power. Black lost everything the night Harry stopped You-Know-Who, and he's had twelve years alone in Azkaban to brood on that. . . ."

There was a silence. Harry leaned still closer to the door, desperate to hear more.

"Well, Arthur, you must do what you think is right. But you're forgetting Albus Dumbledore. I don't think anything could hurt Harry at Hogwarts while Dumbledore's headmaster. I suppose he knows about all this?"

"Of course he knows. We had to ask him if he minds the Azkaban guards stationing themselves around the entrances to the school grounds. He wasn't happy about it, but he agreed."#

"Well, I suppose I can understand not wanting those creatures around a school, but if they save Harry."

"I certainly hope they do." Mr Weasley let out a protracted sigh, before continuing, "You had better get breakfast on dear, I'll wake the kids in a few. It's early still, but I don't want another episode like last year when the ministry drivers get here."

Harry hurried back to bed before Mr Weasley could catch them. She didn't want to admit it, but she was a little scared. After all, how many dark wizards could one kid escape before their luck ran out?

~ Harry came down to breakfast wearing his beanie. Hermione knew he liked to use it to disguise himself, but since they weren't leaving for a couple hours yet, she leaned in to quietly ask him about it. Harry just said later, and went back to moving the food on his plate around, something he only ever did when he was worrying over something. And was it just her imagination, or were his eyes redder than normal… After breakfast, it was utter bedlam for most of the Weasley's. Hermione and Harry were both finished with putting the last of their things away in mere minutes, having made sure most everything but their toiletries were prepacked. Hermione was happy to see Harry finally getting organized. He'd done better last year, but that wasn't saying a whole lot considering how terrible both he and Ron had been in their first year at Hogwarts. Harry had admitted once that he had been rebelling against the iron rigidity that his aunt usually imposed. However it looked like this year he was off to a better start, unlike Ron. Ron was running around his room like mad, chucking things pell-mell into his trunk, Ginny had apparently misplaced a couple of her school books, nobody was sure if the twins were actually tracking down the last of their things, very loudly, or if they were just enjoying making a fuss, and Percy, who usually had everything packed and ready to go three days early, was slowing down everyone else, bemoaning the loss of his Headboy Badge. He'd hardly taken it off the entire time they'd been at the Burrow. She was very happy for him, Percy obviously put a lot of effort into attaining the coveted position, but even she had to admit that Percy had been considerably more pompous than usual about it. After twenty minutes, or roundabouts, of this madness, Harry snagged Hermione's hand and pulled her downstairs, grabbed her trunk from her bag, enlarged it, and then they both climbed down into the library, and closed the lid behind them. Hermione was very thrilled to get away from all the noise. Harry laid down on the couch and tried to catch a few more minutes of sleep, he looked so worn out, she didn't have the heart to ask him what had been bothering him this morning, so she settled in at her desk to read.

Harry woke up to Hermione's hand on his shoulder. "Sorry Harry, but it's almost time to go."

As he sat up, he seemed surprised to find a warm quilt tucked over him and Hermione's cozy Bluebell fire crackling merrily in the fireplace.

He stretched, yawning, "Thanks for the blanket 'mione. It's warm. This is the one your mum made for you last Christmas, right?"

"Aww, I'm surprised you remembered!"

Harry rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly as he stood up. "I uh, maybe might have been just a tiny bit, umm… jealous," he admitted with a wistful grin. "Sometimes wish I had something like this, from my mum."

Hermione smiled back at her best friend, both saddened, yet again by his circumstance, and filled with admiration for his resilience. She pulled him into a warm hug.

"I'll see if I can get mum to make you one too. I know it's not the same, but well, you know…"

he nodded, hugging her back. "Love you, Harry."

"Love you back, 'Mi."

This was the Harry she loved the most, the one he didn't really let anyone else see. The vulnerability he'd only started showing after she'd been unpetrified last year. As far as she could tell, it was a side to him that he even kept mostly hidden from Ron.

~ When the ministry drivers dropped them off at King's Cross, Hermione, Ron and the twins went to fetch trolleys, while the ministry drivers, Charlie, and Percy unloaded the cars. Even with three less trunks, they still had quite a lot of luggage between them all. Harry held Crookshanks for Hermione, he hadn't seen the cat much during their stay as Hermione kept him mostly locked in Ginny's room due to Scabbers, three owls, plus who knew what other creatures might live in a magical home. Hermione helped Ginny load her trunk onto a trolley, and Harry handed her back the basket with Crookshanks. Percy had mercifully informed Harry that his owl, Hedwig, would likely be much happier making the trip on her own, just as Hermes, Percy's owl did. Before bed last night, Harry had opened the window, and asked Hedwig if she wanted to be cooped up in her cage for the ride to Hogwarts, or if she'd prefer to meet him there. She gave a hoot that Harry really tried not to interpret as, 'finally someone with some sense' before giving Harry a loving nip and flying off.

They made their way through the station, three adults, three nearly adults, two betweens, and two nearly's, (or at least that's what it would look like to an outsider) pushing four trolleys, and a cat. Well, not exactly subtle, but still it was better than last year when all the kids had trolleys and Harry had a white Snowy owl of all things. When they reached the divider between 9 and 10, Mr Weasley sent everyone else through except Harry, himself, and Charlie. Mr Weasley stood guard as Charlie knelt in front of Harry.

"I asked dad to give us a minute. I wanted a chance to tell you that I really enjoyed meeting you, shrimp," he told Harry with his mischievous grin back again. "I also wanted you to know, well, it's not exactly the same, but I understand what it's like to be different, and even though I get how hard it can be to try talking to an adult, to ask for help from anyone really, but I want you to know, if you ever ever ever need someone to talk to about scary things, you send Hedwig on out okay, bud?"

Harry was shocked by Charlie's admission, his throat felt too tight to answer. As he stared into Charlie's eyes, he couldn't detect any of the disgust he'd secretly been afraid of finding there. Charlie knew. Harry might not have admitted it, but Charlie still had a pretty good idea of what Harry's home life had been like, of how much of a freak Harry was, and he was reaching out anyway. He bit his lower lip to keep it from trembling, and tentatively half raised his arms. He almost pulled back right away, thinking there was no way Charlie would know what he was trying to ask for, without actually asking, but he was wrong, because Charlie swooped in and picked Harry up and into his arms. He easily spun Harry around, the undersized boy wrapping his legs around Charlie's waist and burying his face into the young man's shoulder, and if Charlie's shirt was a little damp when he set Harry down a few moments later, neither of them mentioned it.

Arthur glanced at his watch, and then it was his turn to kneel before the child who had, by some miracle, rescued one of his own children.

"I'm sorry Harry, but we only have a few minutes before the train will be ready to leave, and I have something rather unpleasant I need to tell you. Something most would rather I didn't."

Harry interrupted, "it's okay Mr Weasley, I uh, I kinda already know."

At Mr Weasley's dubious look, he continued, "Sorry, I was umm, I was walking past the kitchen this morning and heard my name and, well… umm…" Harry couldn't really suppress the guilt he was suddenly struck with.

Mr Weasley sighed, "That's not the way I'd have chosen to tell you Harry, but at least you are forewarned. I need you to promise me, promise me that you will be mindful of the threat…" Harry nodded, "and that no matter what you hear… Harry, I need you to promise me that you won't go trying to find Black."

"Wha… w-why would I ever go looking for a nutter that wants to kill me!?"

Mr Weasley sighed again, before finally admitting, "The thing is Harry, Black was instrumental in a lot of the terrible things you-know-who and his followers committed. My understanding is that, Black had been acting as a spy for the dark side for at least a year, perhaps more. He betrayed a lot of good people, Harry. People he was supposedly allies with…"

Harry looked incredibly small at that moment, so Charlie picked him up and set him on his hip. Harry almost grinned, he leaned heavily into Charlie's shoulder in a way most kids would have outgrown by now, not that Harry had ever really gotten that chance.

In a very small voice, Harry asked, "People like my parents?"

"I'm afraid so, Harry. I know I'm saddling you with an awful burden. Knowledge, is not always kind… but still, I needed you to know, Harry. I felt it better for you to hear it from me than one of the kids at school… And now, please promise me. You three must not play auror's this term, Harry. It's much too dangerous."

"What's an Auror?" Harry asked.

"Magical Polizia, kiddo," Charlie added.

"We call them police in this country, Mr, uh, lives-in-another-country, umm, dragon rider guy," Harry finished lamely. He wasn't really in the mood to tease Charlie, but he needed to pretend that he was okay.

"Oh, well excuse me, Mr knows-proper-muggle-terms, guy," Charlie teased back lightly.

Harry stuck his tongue out at Charlie, who laughed, while hiding the small twinge at the honorific. No one had ever called them 'Mr' before, and Harry definitely didn't like it.

Turning back to Mr Wesley, Harry promised. Charlie set Harry back down, and the three crossed through the barrier. Harry ran to join her friends, who all waved goodbye when the train departed. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione found the most empty carriage they could, meanwhile Mrs Weasley apparate home to fuss, Mr Weasley clapped his son on the back before they both apparated to the ministry, Arthur to work, and Charlie to see his old friend.

Authors Notes

The # Means from the books.

Okay, that was a pretty long one! I was originally intending it to include the train ride, but it was already getting on in length, and transferring it from Google docs to the site never goes smoothly.

I want to apologize about the dream. In my opinion, that was pretty rough, (though I'm a Disney not a horror movie kinda girl so what do I know) but that's what felt the most authentic given my representation of Harry.

As much as I'm tempted to leave it as a cliffhanger, I'll be nice. No, that wasn't a romantic, I Love You, earlier. It's purely platonic… for now. I feel like Hermione is smart enough to realize that Harry would really need to hear the L-word, even if all she knew was that the Dursley's didn't love Harry. That's something I really think J.K. missed out on.

As a child I had a lot of third party dreams. As in, I wasn't in them, but whoever the main character at the time was, that's who I was seeing as myself, at least until the next character took over, at which point for lack of a better term, I was them. I would also occasionally have dreams as a girl, or be getting turned into a girl, mostly against my will. No, not as a kink. As, if it isn't my fault, I'm not the one doing something wrong.

Otay, that's all for today. Thank you!