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NaNoWriMo 2004:
Harry Potter and the Hillbilly Mafia

Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Cathedrals Cry Hosanna (1,442 words)
Chapter 2: Get Me Away from Here, I'm Dying (1,089 words)
Chapter 3: Paint Your Picture (1,423 words)
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13

Chapter 1
Cathedrals Cry Hosanna

Hogwarts. 22 July 1998.

The summer sun set in a fire of rosy pink over the lake. Severus Snape stood in a silent vigil over the unconscious body of one Harry Potter, wondering if the Boy-Who-Lived had bought the freedom of the wizarding world with his life. The Dark Lord was dead. And this holiest of righteous fights had left a trail of destruction in its wake. Severus wasn't sure if, upon waking, Potter might not just want to lie right back down and die.

After all, who did this so-called saviour have left? Hermione Granger had fallen just minutes into the battle, courtesy of a Killing Curse from Lucius Malfoy. Ron Weasley, like his entire family, had been Kissed by Dementors that had been under the Dark Lord's influence. Well, not his entire family, Severus amended. Severus himself had killed Ginny Weasley who, after having disappeared for six months, had re-emerged that morning among the ranks of the Death Eaters. Severus had seen the hatred, the death in her eyes, and he had not been the least bit sorry when he ended her life.

Dean Thomas had died bleeding from his eye sockets under the strength of seven Cruciatus curses. It had taken that many to break him. Severus could not besmirch Gryffindor bravery in the Thomas boy's case, no. Seamus Finnigan had been driven insane by the Imperius curse and had taken his own life. Lavender Brown was, perhaps, still alive, but the entirety of her essence was currently a vial of purple goo that no one, not even the Best Potions Master in Britain, knew how to restore to human form. The Patil twins had been blown to bits--there was not so much as a finger left of either of them. Neville Longbottom had merited death by the hand of the Dark Lord himself (by virtue of That Blasted Prophecy, Severus assumed)-- he'd been turned into a tree and burned before anyone had known what was happening.

No, Potter had no housemates to send him sweets and flowers during this stay in the Hospital Wing. No, among the living (and Severus felt inclined to use the term loosely), Potter had almost no one. Perhaps he could count Remus Lupin, who'd escaped the whole battle by virtue of the fact that the moon had been full. The Death Eaters had not succeeded in breaching the castle walls (for which Severus thanked his lucky stars), and so the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor was even now locked away in his office in wolf form, oblivious to the entire ordeal. Severus did not anticipate his reaction happily. Nymphadora Tonks, Severus knew, had been some kind of friend to Potter, but as she was currently in the process of having every bone in her body regrown in the next room, she was not expected to come out of it with her sanity. But the insufferable woman had defied ridiculous odds before, and Severus hoped (for myriad reasons) that this would be one of those times.

Severus was unsure if he could even number Draco Malfoy among the ranks of Potter's friends, but Slytherin's favourite son had accepted a reluctant truce from the Gryffindor Golden Boy earlier that fall. But Draco looked to be worse off than Potter. The boy had stuck to his ideals (who knew where on earth he'd got them?) and defied his father, who had rewarded him with a magical castration spell. Malfoy was in shock, and his present condition was uncertain at best.

Potter didn't even have Albus Dumbledore anymore. At least, Severus assumed he didn't. There'd been no body, but then, there were many bodies unaccounted for. Albus's demise had been different from all the others, though. There had been no great explosions or fires, no flashes of green light-- there had been nothing. The man had appeared simply to pop out of existence. Severus didn't quite understand it, but he knew that for all intents and purposes, Albus was well and truly gone. He'd have been back by now if not.

Lastly, Severus reluctantly counted himself. Less a friend than any of the others, but he realised grimly that he might be Potter's only hope. Not only was he conscious and (perhaps) sane, but he was also the reason Potter was currently in this bed. Potter, the idiot Gryffindor, had jumped between him and one of Lucius Malfoy's curses after the Dark Lord had fallen and all hell had broken loose. Severus sneered at the thought that now, he was not only indebted (likely now for all eternity) to Potter's insupportable father, but now to the insupportable Golden Boy himself. He wondered idly if one could be found in default on a Wizard's Debt.

Yes, Severus's relationship with Potter had certainly improved these past two years, but he did not flatter himself to call it friendship. Yesterday he'd not even have ventured to say that Potter liked him. But now, well…. No, he still didn't bloody well like Potter! He reminded himself not to confuse liking with owing, which was what had gotten him into more trouble than he'd ever bargained for with James Potter all those years ago. But no, he wouldn't think of that. It was gone, it was over and done. That chapter was closed, never to be opened again. And no matter what, he would never like Harry Potter. He'd truly have been quite content with the mutual animosity they had so carefully nurtured between them all these years, but Potter, unfortunately, had harboured opinions to the contrary.

Despite the terrible outcome of the previous efforts, Albus ordered Severus to resume Potter's Occlumency lessons at the beginning of the brat's sixth year. Severus had argued with him, but he knew from the beginning that any protest was futile-- he'd known that particular fact for many years now. It was merely his way to be contrary in the face of the ridiculous injustices Albus continually inflicted upon him. Of course, it hadn't worked, and Severus soon found himself locked in his office with Potter, the two of them stuck in an impasse of obstinate silence and glaring. It wasn't so much that Potter broke down under Severus's icy regard, no. Severus did not feel the smallest twinge of triumph at what the brat finally said-- more accurately, he felt some part of himself crumble.

"I don't hate you, you know," Potter said, barely above a whisper. His tone was neither plaintive nor challenging-- he seemed merely to be making a matter-of-fact statement.

Severus was tempted to roll his eyes heavenward and cast
Legilimens on the boy without another word, but instead he held Potter's gaze, which, unlike his tone, was challenging indeed. He sighed. "And what, Mr Potter, do you mean to gain with that particular statement?"

A quintessentially teenage shrugging of shoulders. "I just thought you should know."

Whatever insanity had momentarily possessed Severus passed, and he snapped back into himself. "Thank you for that, Mr Potter," he said shortly. "

No, of course the idiot boy wasn't prepared. Severus was thrown immediately into Potter's mind, and was astonished to find that he was looking at himself.
I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death, he was saying. Yes, he knew this well. Potter's first year. He felt his own glare upon him, felt fear and awe and suspicion and admiration all intermixed as his small, unpracticed hand scratched these words down on parchment, vaguely thinking poetry. And he felt his own anger, his scathing reprimand, and hurt and ridicule and…

…And Potter pushed back, throwing Severus out of his mind. They now stood at opposite ends of the room, having somehow moved, or having been thrown back by the force of the break of mental contact, both short of breath and still glaring. Looking into Potter's eyes now, Severus wondered if the boy had been quite prepared after all and had meant for him to see this.

Yes, things had changed after that. Slowly, but they had nonetheless changed. Potter, he'd found, had been an absolute mental and emotional wreck due to the death of his despicable godfather, despite the fact that the brat had had an entire summer to recover. He'd confided things to Severus that he'd certainly had no interest in knowing. But Severus had found himself … not quite caring, no, but empathising in spite of himself. If anyone knew pain, if anyone knew suffering and injustice and prejudice and fearing for one's life at every turn, it was Severus Snape.

Their similarities had terrified him, but Potter's power had frightened him even more.

Chapter 2
Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying
Hogwarts. 23 July 1998.

Harry awoke to an empty room. His head ached, his entire body ached. He stared at the stark walls of the Hospital Wing and spent a moment trying to remember what he was doing here this time. It all came flooding back to him in one nightmarish flash. The alarms sounding. The DA and the Order racing down to the gates to meet the Death Eaters. Hermione. Ron. Dumbledore. Seamus. Dean … everyone. Everyone. Oh, god.

But Voldemort was gone. Probably, anyway. No, he was gone this time. Harry had stood alongside Snape and Dumbledore and cast the final spell. He had to be gone. Voldemort couldn't still be alive, not at such an enormous cost. And here Harry lay, alive and well, surely being proclaimed throughout the wizarding world as a great hero. A saviour. He'd won the Light's battle. Harry Potter saves the world again. Boy-Who-Lived fulfils prophecy. He could just imagine the headlines.

Fuck salvation. As far as he knew, everyone he loved was dead. And it was his fault. This was no salvation, no victory. No one had won here. And he, Harry, knew he could have prevented it. He could have taken Voldemort down long ago. So many chances, and so many times he'd failed--no, not failed. Stopped himself. It could have been so easy. But he'd just had to let himself be led along by his heartstrings by Dumbledore and the Order, following their plans and schemes, rather than just stepping in despite their protests and killing the bastard. He shouldn't have listened to them, shouldn't have let himself believe that it was truly only all-out war that could prove the point. Damn Dumbledore and his politicking, his ideals, his righteous fucking puppet show. Dumbledore had known what Harry had been capable of, but the old fool had held him back. The rest of the Order must have known, too. How could they not have done? Secrets and unspoken words were nothing in the face of empirical proof. But they, too, had followed Dumbledore blindly, hanging on his every word and heeding his whims. No better than the Death Eaters. Fuck goodness and heroism and proving points. Fuck the Order. It was nothing but a mockery of goodness contrived to satisfy Albus Dumbledore's agenda, whatever that might have been.

Dumbledore was by no means dead, he knew. That was no death he'd witnessed … what, yesterday? The day before? What day was it? But that was no death. He didn't know what it was. It had almost looked like an Apparation-- Dumbledore's form had wavered for a moment, though, instead of merely popping out. He had disappeared as though he'd been a mere illusion all the time. No, that was like no death he'd ever seen, and he'd seen death. No one as powerful as Dumbledore would die so quietly. When Voldemort had died, there'd been a bile-green beam of light that reached to the heavens. The curse used didn't matter. The power had to have somewhere to go. Even Argus Filch, despite being a Squib, had had a light shoot up from him. The escape of Dumbledore's power should have levelled the castle. No, Albus Dumbledore was most definitely not dead. And Harry only wished he'd return so that he could slap the old man across the face. Otherwise, good riddance.

Good riddance to all of it. Good riddance to Harry Potter. He couldn't stay here, wouldn't stay here. He had to go and he knew it. He couldn't sit back and watch as the wizarding world shouted his name from the mountaintops like some latter-day Christ. The entire idea disgusted him. He had saved no one, done nothing. And he refused to stay and be told otherwise, because he knew no one would listen to him, no matter how many times he told them it was just another one of Dumbledore's publicity stunts. Britian was devoid of anything he needed or wanted or loved, and Europe wasn't nearly far enough.

Harry knew where he had to go. Remus had once told him that his mother had relatives in America. He had to find them, the only family he had left in the world. And none of this waiting to be released by Madam Pomfrey. He had to go, and he had to go now.

Harry felt like shit, but he eased himself painfully out of his bed and into the robes that were neatly folded on the chair in the corner. They'd clearly been cleaned and repaired. Up to Gryffindor Tower he went, stepping slowly and gingerly on a leg that he was almost positive was still broken. The Fat Lady had run for cover somewhere, and the portrait hole hung open. Harry stepped through, his footsteps echoing through the empty common room. The entire Tower was deserted. Books and parchments lay on the couches and tables in the common room, quills dropped in mid-sentence as the castle had been evacuated. The stairs to the girls' dormitory didn't even murmur in protest as he walked up them. On Hermione's bed was her diary, wide open, quill dropped alongside it, ink bottle overturned and spilling out onto the duvet. Tears welled in his eyes as he pocketed the journal and descended the stairs again to go to his own dormitory. It, too, seemed to have been frozen in time. He took Ron's broom from the foot of his bed and reduced it to fit in his pocket with Hermione's diary. These things, he would take with him. Nothing of his own, no matter how much it hurt him. Everything he left would surely be preserved and enshrined somewhere, he thought bitterly. He took his money bag and his Invisibility Cloak and walked out of the dormitory without a backward glance. He could come back for the rest later. This wasn't forever, he told himself. No matter how much he might want it to be forever, he knew it couldn't be.

Under the Cloak, he went straight to the library and did some research on Apparation laws in the United States, then bolted out of the castle before anyone could wonder why books were turning their own pages. Not that it would have been terribly irregular, and not that there was anyone there to see.

He walked over the bloodied grounds as quickly as his maimed leg would allow, out to the edge of the wards, and Apparated. His destination: 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. His cousin had something he needed.

Chapter 3
Paint Your Picture
22 July, 1998

Through the front window, Petunia Dursley could be seen in the living room, kettle in hand, most likely pouring water into two cups over a splosh of milk and a Tetleys bag. Harry knew from his uncle's habits that he wouldn't have to wait long. Once Vernon and Petunia had finished their tea and their television, Vernon would come out to get the evening paper, leaving the door wide open behind him for Harry to make his move into the house.

Harry glared into the window at his aunt and uncle, laughing and smiling with one another over whatever drivel they were watching tonight. He resented it, and at the same time felt it terribly strange to see such looks on these people's faces. It was certainly a side of them Harry had never been allowed to se. As much as he resented his treatment at their hands all these years, he was comforted to find two lives he hadn't managed to ruin. Inconvenienced, perhaps, but the perceived inconvenience had been one of Petunia and Vernon's own making. He'd have been a good nephew, a loving nephew, if they'd only shown him the same courtesy on their part. But he'd never received any more than the bare minimum of anything from them, and quite often had been given much less.

But he was glad they were well, happy, and seemingly unaffected. He wasn't sure if he could have lived with their ruin on his conscience as well, despite seventeen years of effort to break him. Harry reflexively lulled his mind into blankness and stood stock-still on the doorstep, waiting.

After a few minutes, true to routine, the latch clicked and Harry's mind snapped to attention. The door opened and he narrowly slid past his uncle's wide body. Vernon would merely think he had felt a breeze. By the time the door clicked shut again, Harry was up the stairs and at Dudley's bedroom door.

He knew his dear piglet of a cousin would be out terrorizing the neighbourhood with his mates, as this was the one hour of the day that Petunia and Vernon would not allow him dictatorship over the television. He had two sets of his own, of course, but he preferred to watch telly downstairs where mummy could wait on him hand and foot without the added delay in sandwich delivery that would have been caused by her having to climb the stairs.

Harry found what he was looking for in the top drawer of the desk: Dudley's passport. Harry didn't have one of his own, as Petunia and Vernon had refused to concede that their freakish nephew would ever have reason to leave the country. And up to now, they had been right. Strictly speaking, Harry didn't even need it now. All he actually had to do was request a Portkey from the Department of Travel and Tourism, along with a letter of credit from the Ministry. But things of such an official nature left records. And records meant someone would undoubtedly come to try and find him. Harry didn't want to be found. He only wanted to disappear into anonymity for a while.

He couldn't perform the spells he needed to, not here. The Ministry would pick up the activity in a split second and know something was amiss. Passport in hand, he slipped out the bedroom window and began to shimmy down the trellis. The flimsy wood couldn't hold his weight, though, and he fell to the ground, the trellis crashing down on top of him, flowers and all. Shit. He scrambled out from under the offending object and moved out of the way just in time to see Vernon kicking at the thing and yelling something incoherent about "blasted cats." Phew. Harry crossed out of the Anti-Apparition wards around the house and was soon safe in Diagon Alley. Well, relatively speaking, at least.

The wizarding world, fortunately, seemed still to be in shock, and were not yet celebrating. The few people on the street moved quickly, eyes to the ground. Didn't they know? Had they not heard? Harry was grateful, though, not to be stared at for once, so he pushed the thought from his mind as he walked up the steps of Gringotts. Inside the bank, it was business as usual. Grumblecrook or whatever the hell his name was squinted at Harry with no more than usual scrutiny as he led Harry down to Vault 687.

Once in the vault, Harry sighed. He hadn't the slightest idea of how much money to take out. Enough for a few weeks? A few months? A few years? He wouldn't take all of it, no. The last thing he wanted was for it to appear that he was running away. He just wanted to disappear for a while. Well, yes, all right, he was running away, he admitted it. But he preferred not to think of it that way. An unannounced holiday of sorts, perhaps, was a much more appealing term for what he was about to do. He finally settled on a thousand galleons, which he thought would sustain him for an at least acceptable reprieve period. If he needed more when that ran out, he'd get it somehow, even if it meant making an overseas bank draw. He knew, at least, that the Goblins would be the last of anyone to betray him. Not because of any loyalty they might have harboured, but because they simply couldn't be bothered about wizards. They bothered about the gold and their own affairs, yes, but nothing to do with wizards except on the most perfunctory level. Harry had often thought a Goblin actually giving a toss about something a wizard had done would be roughly equivalent to a wizard caring what garden gnomes did for entertainment when they weren't being twirled around and bunged over fences.

Now back under the cover of his cloak, Harry slipped into the Leaky Cauldron and through the door of the gents'. Harry had never been good at glamours, and he hadn't cast one in quite some time. He'd certainly never cast one that needed to hold for any respectable period of time. But this one would have to, as his other choice was shaving the head of some hapless Muggle and spending the next who-knew-how-long swilling Polyjuice Potion every hour. He'd take his chances with the glamour.

He did his best to remember all the things Tonks and Professor McGonagall had taught him. Despite the fact that it hadn't even been a year since, those lessons seemed like they were in another lifetime. In a way, he supposed, they were. This was life from day one, starting now.

He decided it was best not to change his features too drastically, just enough. He didn't want to run into the trouble of the glamour wearing off and not being able to re-create it. He made his nose a little shorter and thinner, and his jaw a little more angular. His eyes, he changed to blue. It took him a few tries to get an effect on his eyes that didn't look completely false. At last, after a good hard look at his own irises, he realised the problem: of course no one's eyes were all one colour. Once he noticed the colour differences, it was much easier, except that he ended up with a blasted speck of lavender of all things in his right eye, and any effort to get rid of it ruined everything else. He sighed and left it, hoping the flaw would make him seem more real. His hair was something he knew better than to contend with. He succeeded in making it longer, but anything else he'd have to do the Muggle way. At least it looked a bit tamer now. He was grateful that with Voldemort gone, his scar had faded to just the faintest hint of a line on his forehead. He'd tried to conceal the thing before and had nearly gone blind with the pain. What was left of it now could easily be hidden by his fringe until he could acquire some Muggle makeup to put over it. Looking in the mirror now at the whole picture, he was startled to see that he now bore a frightening similarity to a younger Sirius Black. He thought about doing something to further alter his appearance, but he couldn't quite bear to erase what he'd created. He left it as an homage.

~~to be continued~~

©2004 Deirdre Riordan. Email comments to deirdre.riordan @ (remove spaces)

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