Ninth in the Enchantment Series
Title: Llyr: Call of the Sea
Pairing: Harry/Original Male Merman
Summary: Harry/Merman. The night he turned eleven, the sea and the waves called to Harry, and he found himself in the arms of the only person to ever love him. Although Hagrid dragged him away, his heart remained with the sea, and he’d do anything to get back to it.
Factoid: origin of the name “Llyr” can be found at behindthename.com
Warnings: Slash, Interspecies Relations, Underage Relationship, Prejudice, Transformation/Metamorphosis
There was a call from the sea, from the crashing waves that wept as the storm continued outside the little hut. Harry sat in the darkness, listening to his cousin’s snores, forgetting that it was his eleventh birthday, his eyes closed as he listened to a wail he couldn’t quite hear. His knees were drawn up to his chest and he held them tightly, tears streaming down his face at the sound of longing that pierced his chest. Warily, he glanced at Dudley’s form. He was uncertain how anyone could sleep through the tempest outside that called, called, called—
Carefully, Harry got to his feet, his overlarge pajamas pooling around his ankles, and he slipped into overlarge trainers, knowing that they wouldn’t keep out the rain. He wasn’t thinking about the letters that had yet to follow him out to the sea, or the strange owls that hovered around Privet Drive before they left. All he felt was a yearning, knowing he had to go outside, to dry the tears of the storm from cold cheeks—
He shook himself out of his thoughts, hovering near the door.
The slap of waves pressed against his senses, and he shivered at the thought of not going out into the cold. “Go,” he murmured to himself, and the sound of the storm swallowed his one word, urging him forward. “Go.” He glanced behind him again, pushing his taped glasses up his small nose, and saw that Dudley was still sleeping, his massive chest heaving and his blond hair stirring ever so slightly with each successive snore.
Bringing up his hand to the old, wooden door, Harry pulled at the lock that was rusted with sea water, pulling it loose with a loud screech that only his ears and the storm could hear. He took a deep breath as the door began to rattle at the tempest winds from the outside sea, and then carefully opened the latch.
The door blew open, letting in seawater and rain, and Harry closed his eyes against it. “Go,” he willed himself, stepping out into the rain. He didn’t notice when the door somehow swung shut behind him, leaving the Dursleys unaware of his departure.
Harry squinted against the rain, tripping over the rocky path as he pushed forward toward the sea, feeling the call to come closer—closer—so close—
A light on the sea caught Harry’s attention and he paused, squinting, only to make out a little boat somewhere along the waves, but he disregarded it.
His glasses were nearly useless and he pushed them up his nose again, seeing nothing but raindrops and darkness through them, but he continued forward, toward the rocks that jutted out of the sea, toward the call that made his heart ache and yearn. “I’m coming,” he whispered to the wind, and for a moment the call paused, as if listening, before beginning to sing again—lighter, calmer, full of promise and hope—and Harry wanted to answer it.
Stumbling over the rocks, he came to the sea’s edge, looking down at the drop into the harsh waves that christened the rock in the sea. He waited, uncertain what to do, not wanting to die as he surely would if he jumped, but wanting to get closer, nearer to the call that was musical and yet not, without words but full of meaning, drifting on the air and yet utterly silent.
The light came closer to the island, stopping several meters to the right, and Harry squinted at it as he watched the pale pink glow go out. A heave of darkness moved forward, rocks crackling under its weight, but Harry ignored it, knowing it was not the source of the call, not what he wanted, not what he was waiting for. Harry remained quiet, crouching close to the stone ledge, not wanting the moving darkness to see him, and trailed it with his eyes as it moved forward toward the shack on the sea. He breathed in relief when it moved over a crest in the hill and then looked back down to the crashing waves.
“Hello?” he called, uncertain what to do. His pajamas were soaked through and he began to shiver slightly, yet still he kept his eyes trained on the dark, black waves.
The call paused and Harry tensed, listening for any sound other than the wind beating against him or the splash of the uproarious sea.
“Hello?” he called again, wanting to hear the sound, needing it—
He leaned over the edge, his glasses falling forward on his nose, and he was unaware that tears formed in his eyes as he looked into the various shades of darkness.
A hand pushed against his shoulder and Harry stiffened, looking into the darkness and seeing only the waves and a hovering cloud before him, and he sighed when the soft call began again, soothing, comforting. Sighing in relief, Harry let himself be pushed back against the ledge until he was lying on his back, looking up at the starless sky. Cold hands came up to cup his wet cheeks and Harry’s breath caught in his throat. Long fingers stroked the sides of his eyes, taking away the tears and the rain, and Harry felt strands of damp hair tickle his lips as someone leaned over him.
The glint of dark eyes caught his attention, and Harry held the unearthly gaze, feeling contentment as he was drawn into strong arms, pressed against a firm chest that although cold seemed to warm him from his very core.
A crash sounded through the rain, but Harry didn’t mind, as a soft voice was singing in his ear, the same call yet with less longing, full of contentment and hope for a future Harry didn’t understand.
“Who are you?” Harry asked, his voice little more than a whisper in the storm. A cold hand came up to his face and pressed lightly against his mouth, and Harry became silent, pressing closer to the cold warmth and the strong arms. He wrapped his pajama soaked legs around the body and thought he sensed scales along the strong leg, but his mind was tired and he was happy, as the song continued to lull him into relaxation.
Another boom floated toward Harry, but he almost didn’t hear it as the long, cold fingers began to stroke through his hair and a gentle kiss was placed on his forehead, on his scar. A shiver ran through Harry and he keened forward, the strong arms holding him tightly against the cold chest. Carefully, Harry reached up with one hand and brushed it against wet hair, over pearls and seashells and then across a high cheekbone and soft lips that kissed his fingers as they hovered above the stranger’s mouth.
“’Arry!” a voice called across the wind, gruff with worry, and Harry shivered.
The strong arms brought him closer, the call sung gently in his ear without words, whispering of love and a lifetime beneath the waves.
“Who are you?” Harry whispered as the gruff voice called his name again and again and strange lights began to float about in the sky above them.
A cast of light fell across them and Harry saw a flash of green-white skin, dark eyes, and green-black hair entwined with even blacker pearls. Scales glinted dark green and blue, causing Harry to shiver, but he nuzzled closer into the strong arms, breathing in the scent of seawater and fresh rain, not wanting the call to end, the song to stop. He reached up again and curled his fingers into the black hair, the pad of his thumb brushing just behind an ear, at the hard skin that broke into slits that moved as if the stranger were breathing through them, almost like a fish.
The globes of light, pink and pale blue, danced about the sky above them, and Harry caught the stranger’s glance again, rose-tinted darkness, and sighed in happiness at the strange emotions shining out of them.
Lips brushed against his ear, carefully forming words in a half-breath, slowly and carefully. Arrae Potr.
A shiver ran through Harry, as if he were suddenly claimed, and he arched into the stranger again, uncertain as to why, sighing when cold lips gently brushed his as the rain continued to fall down from the heavens.
Arrae Potr, the lips whispered again against his, and Harry smiled, his eyes closed, pressing toward the cold chest, his grasp tightening in the black hair. Arrae Potr.
The strong arms pulled him closer away from the rain, and the call began again against his ear, and Harry shivered, pressing closer, never wanting to let go. As the song lulled him into comfort, sounds began to form, the same one over and over again, a chant, a call, a claiming, a name—Llyr—a slight rasping at the beginning.
“Llyr?” he murmured against a shoulder and the arms stiffened for a moment before pulling him closer again, kisses laid against his ear as long fingers played with the scruff of wet hair against his neck. “Llyr,” he sighed, pressing closer into the shoulder. “Llyr.”
Stones scrunched near them and the light orbs danced in the storm-torn sky. Cold lips pressed against Harry’s once again, harder, with more longing, and the call stopped as strong arms untangled themselves from around him. “Llyr,” Harry cried out, frightened, and a cold hand pressed itself lovingly against his cheek. “Llyr,” he sighed.
His hand loosened in the pearl-strewn hair and a moment later, he was alone on the cold rocks, the sound of waves splashing against the small island filling his senses.
Harry barely noticed when strong arms picked him up or he was laid on the couch Dudley previously occupied. A strange, large man gave him a cake, wishing him a happy birthday, but all Harry wanted was the sea, was Llyr—kisses that were dry and moist despite the rain—a song in his ear as strong arms held him safely—
He had tasted it briefly and then it had been taken away from him again, and he hated the large man for it.
At first Harry didn’t bother to open his letter, not caring what it said. The large man—Hagrid—wrapped him up in his moleskin coat and Harry drifted in and out of sleep, the sound of the storm simultaneously comforting and torturing him. When he dreamed he dreamt of Llyr, swimming among the waves, his hair glistening in the twilight, catching on the black pearls and the ivory seashells. He woke up alone and cold and far too dry.
The gentle lapping of the calm sea at least brought a small smile to his face as somehow he knew that it cradled Llyr in his slumber.
When he learned he was a wizard, Harry at first didn’t care, but then his mind flitted back to Llyr, to the strange tint to the skin, to the scales around his bare thigh. He only agreed to go to Hogwarts to escape the Dursleys, wondering if magic could offer him the answer to Llyr, to what he was, of how to find him.
Hagrid hurried him into a little boat and Harry leaned over toward the waves, letting his hand skim beneath the water as the boat pushed through the waves at the commands of Hagrid’s strange pink umbrella. He smiled when he felt long, cold fingers tangle in his own, and had to be dragged from the boat when they finally made it back to the shore. “I want to stay,” he murmured, but Hagrid only chuckled, making Harry hate him even more.
Harry hurried about his shopping as if he were in a trance, uncaring when he was fitted for his robes or that enthralled when Ollivander told him that he would one day be great with a wand like that. It was only when he came to Flourish and Blotts that he hesitated, that he purposefully lost Hagrid in the crowd, and perused the books.
“Can I help you, young man?” a saleswitch asked, and Harry looked at her suspiciously. “Hogwarts?”
“Yes,” Harry agreed, “but I’m also looking for books on – humans that live in the sea.”
The girl’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and she nodded, gesturing him toward another section. “There are several types of creatures that meet that description. Selkies, merpeople, tritons, sirens.”
Harry looked at her blankly.
She sighed. “Male or female?”
“Male,” Harry answered quickly, remembering the smooth, firm chest. “He had greenish skin and he—sang.”
The witch paused and looked at Harry in confusion. “Did he heal you?” she murmured, wonder glinting through her watery blue eyes.
“Heal?” Harry questioned, slightly taken aback.
“Yes,” she agreed solemnly, pulling up a stool and folding herself into it. She had rather long legs for someone her height, Harry realized. “I love magical creatures. The reason I took this summer job was so I could read up on them for free. You’ve obviously encountered one and I’m just trying to decide if it was a merman or a triton. Did he heal you?”
“I don’t think I was injured,” Harry answered carefully, brushing his fringe out of his eyes, revealing his forehead.
She huffed. “You don’t need to be injured for you to be healed. Did this—did he—kiss anything that might have been injured once? Obviously not your eyes, you’re still using glasses, but a scar perhaps or a bone that had once been broken.”
Harry swallowed, his mind flittering to the night before, when Llyr had kissed the scar on his forehead. “Er—do you have a mirror?”
The witch grinned conspiratorially at him. With a flick of her wand, a mirror was conjured before him and held out. He took it with shaking fingers and held it up to his face and, after a second, stared at his smooth forehead.
“It’s gone,” he murmured in shock, and the witch caught the mirror just as it fell from his limp fingers.
“Healing powers,” she stated authoritatively, and with another flick of her wand, the mirror was gone. “Not a Merrow, then, but you never said this male sea-being was ugly.” She turned to the bookshelf and ran a finger along a row of books. “Tritons, tritons,” she murmured under her breath before stopping at a particularly large book and grinning to herself. She pulled it out and set it aside before continuing her search and choosing a small manual. “How’s your Latin?” she asked, catching Harry by surprise who was staring at the cover of the first book—Songs beneath the Waves.
“Er—“ he began, and she sighed.
“You haven’t been sorted yet, have you?” she asked kindly and in confusion, Harry shook his head. She looked at him up and down for several long moments. “Is this a passing fancy or are you—?”
“No,” Harry protested. “I need to know everything.”
A grin lit her plain face. “A Ravenclaw then if I ever saw one,” she mused aloud, pulling out a medium sized book that was, as Harry saw, in Latin. “This is the best source, by Homer himself if rumor is to be believed—although the original Greek was lost. I’d start with the other two while learning Latin and then go on to this one.” She picked up the other two books that Harry was staring at hungrily, and pulled him into another section. “You’re going to pick up basic Latin anyway what with learning spells,” she told Harry kindly. “Learning Latin will only expand your horizons and make you better at spellwork, which you’ll definitely want if you’ve had contact with a triton. You’ll need it to be his equal.” She turned and her eyes glistened knowingly at him. “You’ve been singled out, young man, for some reason—and from the look about you, you want it to happen again. So you’ll need to prove yourself equal to this triton—and tritons, well, they’re sea-gods, so you’ve got a lot to make up for.”
“How do you?” Harry asked, and she grinned at him.
“Ravenclaw, through and through,” she informed him. “I’m a Magical Creatures nut. Tritons, though, are beings, but they’re no less fascinating. I envy you. Who are you, by the way?” she inquired as she stopped by another shelf and pulled out a dictionary (“It holds more than it seems to. You won’t believe the wonders of magic”) and grammar (“This is what I was taught from. Some of the traditionalists don’t like it, but it’s far easier for the beginner”).
“Harry,” he answered succinctly.
The girl paused and turned to him, reaching out and brushing away the fringe from his forehead. Her eyes widened. “He healed your scar,” she whispered in realization. “You were looking at your forehead.” She shook herself. “I’m giving you an employee discount,” she stated, grabbing a few more books and checking them against a list on the wall. Harry realized they were his Hogwarts books and smiled at her thoughtfulness. She rang him up immediately and smiled at him when he handed over several gold galleons.
“Who are you?” Harry asked and she nodded in approval.
“Penelope Clearwater. Ravenclaw prefect. I expect you in my house come September, and for you to have gotten through the first five chapters of the Latin grammar. I have to owl Professor Flitwick and tell him all about you,” she said excitedly.
Hagrid managed to find Harry then and pulled him out of the shop, eyeing his overly large bags suspiciously. On the train back to Surrey that evening, Harry opened up the first of the books, Songs beneath the Waves, and flipped to the section on Tritons, enthralled at a moving sketch of a man with white-green skin, dark green hair with strings of pearls running through it, and scaled thighs that became knitted together above the knees to form a fish’s tale. He traced the face of the drawing longingly, remembering the sound of the chant-song in his ear, the name repeated again and again and sighed in contentment and yearning, wishing to be near the waves again, to feel rain water on his skin.
The Dursleys, strangely, were frightened of him when he arrived, his aunt staring in enthralled horror at his smooth forehead, even going so far as to touch it to see if it was really gone.
“Did those freaks do it?” she asked Harry, and he shook his head.
“They seemed to want to see the scar,” he answered truthfully, remembering all the people who shook his hand in the Leaky Cauldron as soon as Hagrid had intentionally let his name slip. It was another reason for Harry to dislike him so much.
He spent the next month hidden away in his new bedroom, pouring over the books that his aunt had grudgingly let him keep when he stared at her for long enough. Later he heard her whisper that his eyes had changed, that they were more frightening, and when he looked in the mirror, he saw they were now a sea blue and almost glowed in the darkness. The second book, The Sons of Triton, hinted at a transformation after “the healing kiss” but said nothing else. He needed to learn Latin quickly, he decided, staring at the final tome. Perhaps Hogwarts would have a library with even more information.
On some days he would leave his Latin grammar and wander out toward the small brook on the other side of the park, leaning against a tree and just listening to its babble, wishing it were the slap of ocean waves. “Llyr,” he whispered although no one could hear him. “Llyr.”
The creek seemed to gurgle back in answer, bringing a smile to Harry’s lips.
When he arrived at Hogwarts, Harry was herded into a small boat, and ran his hand under the water as he and the other first years crossed the Black Lake. No fingers came up to intertwine with his, but he leaned down anyway, whispering against the surface, “Llyr, Llyr,” again and again, until the boat finally docked and Hagrid dragged him away from the water once again.
“What is it with ya and the water, ‘Arry?” Hagrid asked good naturedly, but Harry didn’t answer, instead staring into the dark depths, wondering if it was his imagination when he saw something move beneath the surface.
He smiled. Something lived beneath the waves—not Llyr, perhaps—but something that recognized the name and came to answer Harry’s call.
Diggory had given him the password to the Prefect’s bathroom, and Harry wondered a little why. They were stuck in the same blasted tournament together—but Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors constantly spat in Harry’s face. The Slytherins, for some reason, seemed to hold a grudging respect for him, while the Ravenclaws believed that Harry was simply the cleverest student in the school to get past the age line around the Goblet of Fire.
It was a little pointless. The first attempt he had made with the egg was to put it under water—the musical notes were harsh and grating, but somehow reminded him of Llyr. Still, the thought of sliding into warm water in the middle of winter was too good to pass up. He was still trying to work out a way to breathe under water without a time limit. He didn’t want to resort to some enchantment and was hoping to find a potion of some kind. If Polyjuice existed to turn you into another person, there must be one to turn him into a merman—hopefully permanently.
He sighed at the thoughts, his mind turning to Llyr, who he hadn’t seen in three years. Still, the waves called to him, and all of Ravenclaw house knew that on a fine Autumn or Spring afternoon, he could be found with a pile of books out near the lake, his feet submerged in the water.
“He’s a strange one,” Hermione Granger, the resident Gryffindor know-it-all who viewed herself as Harry’s chief competition for grades (although Draco Malfoy gave them both a run for their money), had said during their second year to her best friend, a small girl with ginger hair and large brown eyes.
“But he’s Harry Potter,” the small girl had whispered.
Hermione had only snorted. “So everyone says,” she admitted, a slight tinge of condescension in her voice. “In The Rise and Fall of the Dark Lord and every other book I’ve read about him, he has a lightning bolt scar on his forehead—and that doesn’t even touch the fact that he’s supposed to have green eyes, like his mother. Even Professor McGonagall told me when I asked that she didn’t know of any blue eyes in the Potter family.”
Harry had snorted at the exchange, causing the ginger-haired girl to blush. He was rather afraid that she had been the one to send him a singing Valentine that year, but he couldn’t remember her name for the life of him.
He padded through the hallways, wearing his father’s Invisibility Cloak, and came to the fourth door past the statue of Boris the Bewildered and whispered the password under his breath.
The room was large and he noticed that a sunken in tub took up most of the floor, but what really caught his attention was a stained glass window, depicting a mermaid with flowing gold hair. “Hello,” he murmured, and her fins flicked, their eyes meeting.
She titled her head to the side and opened her mouth, a quiet wail escaping it.
“I don’t speak Mermish,” he sighed sadly, and then he grimaced. “I really should learn—for Llyr.”
He turned on the taps and watched as bubbles floated through the air, his eyes following them in fascination. When the pool was finally filled, he removed his clothing and slipped in, sinking to the bottom and sitting, feeling the water move about him, sifting through his hair. When his lungs began to burn, he floated to the surface and, while barely breaking the surface except with the tip of his nose and his lips, he opened his mouth to suck in lungs full of air before sinking back down to the bottom.
Llyr, he sighed in his mind. This was the closest he could come to him, submerged in water, wishing to feel long fingers entwined with his, soft strokes pressed to his face as he clung to the strange triton who had captured his heart when he was a boy. At the beginning of his third year he had immediately signed up for Care of Magical Creatures as well as Arithmancy, before dropping it again as soon as he learned that the giant was teaching it. The oaf had invited him to tea the first few weekends of his first year, but Harry hadn’t accepted the invitations, and they had become less and less frequent, until he and the gamekeeper had nothing in common. He didn’t regret it, remembering how the man had frightened away Llyr and had pulled him from the ocean on his eleventh birthday.
He’d replaced Creatures with Ancient Runes and had been happy with his choice, although he had to grit his teeth at being in yet another class with Hermione Granger, who plagued him in Transfiguration and Astronomy. She always was the first to put her hand up, spitting out the answers as if she were clever and had thought of them herself instead of reading them in a book. During Herbology, Harry and Draco Malfoy would occasionally share “Granger Stories” as they called them, and Draco was rather good at imitating her.
They had struck up a rather unlikely friendship early in their first year when Draco had come across Harry in the library, laboriously translating Homer’s account of people in the sea with a pencil. Draco had paused and asked him why he would use a Muggle device, when Harry had showed him that he needed to erase words and rearrange them.
The following week his new friend had given him an ink eraser that he had special ordered from Diagon Alley, and they had studied with each other and shared stories ever since.
His lungs burned again, crying out for air, and Harry swam toward the surface, his heart breaking as he climbed out of the water, wondering how he could possibly transform enough to live beneath the waves as he wanted to.
The next day he checked out the only book on Mermish in the entire library, Madam Pince looking at her over her spectacles in confusion. “No one’s taken this out since the Headmaster was a lad,” she informed him, and the book looked like it hadn’t been touched in over a century.
The days had turned short and cold, but Harry didn’t care, taking his book on Mermish out to the lake and slipping his feet into the chilling water, calling out basic words that he was reasonably certain he could pronounce—“Hello”—“Friend”—“Triton”—and the same word over and over again, Llyr.
He was startled when, in early February, thin fingers caressed his ankle when he repeated the phrase “Llyr is my friend” over and over, hoping that someone would hear, would understand. He stilled for several long moments as nails lightly scratched against his heel, and he set aside the book, looking down into the black water of the lake.
Llyr, his heart cried as after several long strokes, the hand finally clamped around his ankle and pulled him down into the water. His glasses fell from his nose and plopped beneath the surface, Harry following several moments after, his nose tilted up to take his last breath of air.
Calm settled around him as Harry was enveloped in darkness, water caressing his cheeks sweetly in a lover’s kiss. His eyes opened to see strange yellow eyes looking back at him from a pointed, gray face. He waited for several moments as he and the merman looked at each other for several long moments, before Harry gurgled “Llyr” desperately.
The merman looked at him for several long moments and when Harry’s lungs began to burn, reached out and touched his forehead where the scar had once marred it.
“Llyr,” the merman repeated, his eyes narrowed in concentration and Harry nodded vigorously.
He began to kick out of the stronghold of the hand that was still clutched around his ankle, and looked up toward the surface, his lips opening and closing in a silent attempt to breathe. The hand pushed him up and he broke the surface, breathing in desperately for a moment before the hand pulled him back down into the dark waters. He looked down and saw a small selkie-child grinning up at him. She was holding a leash in the other hand and he noticed a grindylow at the end of it.
Cold hands came up to cup his cheek, and Harry’s attention was brought back to the merman, who had several seashells entwined in his hair, almost like a headdress or a crown.
“Murcus,” he proclaimed, tapping his chest once, and Harry nodded in understanding.
“Arrae Potr,” he whispered, remembering Llyr’s pronunciation of his name, and the merman nodded in understanding.
The hands came around his face again, and Murcus drew Harry closer, staring into his eyes, searching for something. The water lulled around them and Harry felt himself pulled into a trance by the bright yellow eyes, uncaring and unknowing whether he needed air. He gasped when he felt the rough edge of a seashell pressed behind his ear and pulled across the skin to create a deep cut.
He looked at Murcus in confusion and fear, but the merman just shook his head, his wild red-green-yellow hair swirling about him as a second gash and then a third was made.
A harsh sound came out of his mouth and the selkie-child pushed Harry up to the surface again, and he drank in the air, his eyes watering and his shoulders shivering slightly in cold. The cuts flapped behind his ear, almost as if they were trying to breathe but unable to, and Harry stilled, remembering the wet night years ago when he lay in Llyr’s arms, feeling the strange flaps—gils—behind his ears. He smiled and then was pulled under the black velvet waves again.
Lips pressed against his in a chaste kiss and then pulled away, the yellow eyes of Murcus looking at him steadily before turning his head to the side, pressing his lips against the cuts behind his ear. They flapped in the water, and Harry drew in a huge breath, feeling his lungs somehow fill with oxygen although his mouth only filled with water. His head was turned the other way and he felt the seashell cutting behind his second ear before Murcus kissed his lips chastely again and then the new cuts.
His lungs filled again with oxygen and Harry sighed, pressing his fingers against his lips. “Magic,” he murmured in realization, but Murcus just stared at him without comprehension. “Thank you.”
A harsh cry came from Murcus and he placed his hand before his mouth, pushing it out toward Harry as the strange, unfathomable words continued. He wanted Harry to learn the language, Harry realized, and he nodded in agreement.
“Thank you,” he whispered again, and Murcus nodded, his yellow eyes flashing brightly and, with a commanding cry at the selkie-child, Harry was pushed up to the surface again, the flaps of his gills breathing uselessly as he spit the water from his mouth. He couldn’t stop smiling at the thought of being closer to Llyr—somehow, someday—and he regretfully pulled himself back onto the shore, letting his fingers rest in the water as he lay on the rocky beach, dreaming of the future.
“You’re bleeding,” Terry Boot said in horror at breakfast the next morning, and Harry looked at him, confused. “Your neck—it’s—oh my god, what are those?”
He was rushed to the hospital wing, protesting all the way, but stilled as the matron examined him although he nearly snapped her wand in half when she began to insist on trying to heal the gills shut. “No,” he said firmly. “They stay.”
“They’re not—natural,” she tried to argue, but Harry folded his arms, shaking his head.
She had sighed in the end, calling his Head of House and the Headmaster, who both examined his gills, murmuring between themselves.
“They’re certainly gills,” Dumbledore had sighed at last. “Inflicted gills. Who did this to you, Mr. Potter?”
Harry hadn’t answered, instead looking at Flitwick for support.
In the end, when they had tried to insist on repairing him completely, Harry had demanded that they get his guardians’ consent, knowing they were still afraid of him and would never sign anything without checking with him first. The gills had been covered in gauze pads and he had been permitted to leave, Dumbledore looking sadly after him.
He had never quite understood the Headmaster, and he wasn’t certain he really wanted to.
Every afternoon he sat by the lake, a notebook on his lap as he learned Mermish. He would call out greetings and simple sentences, and would grin when the flash of a fin tipped above the surface in response.
“What are you doing?” Hermione asked him one afternoon when she found him there. She was wrapped up in several scarves and surprisingly alone, the ginger-haired girl nowhere to be seen, though come to think of it, Harry hadn’t seen her since maybe his second year, not that he had thought much about it. That year had been more interesting with the Heir of Slytherin supposedly walking among them and some student winding up in a coma that she was never going to wake up from.
“Reading,” he responded, before whispering I love you in Mermish, trying to get his tongue to wrap around the sounds.
“I can see that,” she responded pompously, sitting down cautiously next to him. She eyed his feet that were splashing the surface of the lake in disdain. “What, pray tell, are you reading?”
I love you, he repeated, looking out over the black lake toward the Durmstrang ship, where Krum was just about to dive off into the lake. All the power to him, Harry thought. He never went very deep and kept close to the surface. “You’re dating Krum, aren’t you?” he asked. “You went with him to the ball, if I remember. He might see this as trading secrets or something,” he finished lamely, shrugging disinterestedly.
“Viktor wouldn’t think that,” Hermione informed him, although a slight frown marred her lips. “We don’t speak about the tasks. He’s very dedicated to good sportsmanship.”
“All right then,” Harry agreed, turning back to his book. I love you.
Hermione remained quiet for several long moments. “You keep on repeating the same thing. What language is it?”
“Not a human one,” he answered carefully, turning away from her.
She sniffed at him. “Everyone’s been talking about your gills,” she responded. “They say you aren’t fully human and if you aren’t, well—“
“—then I’m not really Harry Potter?” he answered for her, his blue-green gaze meeting her dark brown one. “Did it ever occur to you, Granger, that sometimes books are wrong? I don’t need a scar or green eyes to be Harry Potter.”
“That’s ridiculous. Everyone knows—“
“Yes, yes, I know. However, Granger, have you ever taken into account that scars heal over time and eyes can change color as you grow up? Many babies have blue eyes and blond hair that darken over the next year. Use some common sense.”
She gaped at him unbecomingly, causing Harry to grin at her before turning back to his book. He barely kept himself from laughing, erupting as soon as she left and made it over the hill toward the castle, certain that she could hear him, but not caring at that moment.
The morning of the second task dawned, and Harry let his housemates lead him as an honor guard down to the Great Hall and then, after breakfast, to the Black Lake. Harry felt the pull of the waves and a lingering haunting lull of the far off sea, and he turned his eyes to the Scottish hills, toward the call, his soul crying back, wanting Llyr, begging him to come and find him and take him away from the land-walking peoples.
When the whistle sounded, he stripped down completely, not caring at the stares of the judges as the students as he tossed away his boxers, diving into the water after casting a temporary sight correction charm on his eyes. The feeling of water against his bare legs and stomach made pleasure course through him, and he stilled for a long moment, reveling in the feeling of the deep against his skin.
He followed the haunting song toward the center of the lake, through seaweed and across jagged rocks, his soul calling to Llyr, although he didn’t come. It was foolish to think he could, Harry reminded himself. He lived in the English Channel, not an inland lake in Scotland. Hoping that it was different was nothing more than fairy stories that could be broken. I’m coming, his soul promised as he swam forward. I’m coming, Llyr. Wait for me.
The black water whispered back at him, seaweed brushing against his groin like a lover’s caress, almost as if Llyr had heard him and was answering in any way he could. A shiver swept across Harry as he continued to swim.
He stared when he passed Fleur Delacour who was waylaid by grindylows, a strange bubble over her head. She managed to shoot red sparks upward and a moment later, he could hear the waves moan as someone entered the lake to come and bring her back to the land beyond the surface.
Harry took in a breath of air, his gills flapping contentedly. When he finally came to the village of the Merpeople, he saw the same selkie-child sitting outside of a rock-hut, the grindylow in her arms. She smiled at him, and he bowed to her, whispering, “Hello, fair child,” and she smiled at his strange, accented greeting.
“Greetings, earth-walker,” she responded, her voice light and scratchy. It was not as smooth as Llyr’s, his heart sighed, but Harry smiled at her before continuing on.
Water ran through his hair and he sighed, closing his eyes momentarily. He came to the center of the rock-hut village, and saw four hostages tied to the base of a large, crude statue of a triton. “Llyr,” he whispered, swimming forward and caressing the rock fin, wishing he were really his beloved. “Llyr,” he whispered again.
“Triton,” a voice corrected, and he turned to see Murcus floating before him, several strands of pebbles and shell shards in his hand. “The father.”
“Father of Llyr,” Harry repeated, turning carefully and bowing to the statue.
“You learn well, man-child,” Murcus complimented. “Llyr will be proud when he takes you to mate.”
“When?” Harry breathed, a smile crossing his face.
Murcus sighed, bubbles escaping his blue-gray lips. “When you grow, man-child. You are not man.” He reached forward and turned Harry’s head, carefully caressing the healed gills. Setting the strands down, he took another seashell and took Harry’s naked leg in his hand. “Do not let them heal this,” he commanded, and Harry looked at him in confusion as a large gash was made on his inner calf, from his knee, past his ankle, down his toe. “No heal,” Murcus repeated carefully.
“No heal,” Harry gasped as his second leg was cut open. “No heal.”
The shell was pressed in the top of the wound and Harry cried out as it was made deeper and wider on one leg and then another, cutting into his muscle. No heal, he reminded himself. This couldn’t be healed. He could only watch as the water around them became darker, stained with his blood. He watched as first Diggory and then Krum came to release their hostages, each one staring at him in fright before the mermen guarding the statue shoved stone-hewn spears toward them in warning. Harry couldn’t meet their eyes, instead floating there, grasping the base of the statue as mud from the bottom of the lake was rubbed around the edges of the long legs.
He barely noticed when someone swam up behind him and began threading the strands of shells and pebbles through his short hair, strange words whispered in his ears that seemed to be spells that fused them to his head as if they were part of his hair. His legs throbbed and finally he was released from Murcus’s grasp. Looking down, he cried out when he saw that the wounds had sealed partially over with a thin mucus substance and that his knees and below were covered in gray-blue scales, the beginnings of fins sprouting from the outer side of each of his feet. A chaste kiss was pressed against his lips and strong arms came around him, swimming toward the surface. He noticed with detachment that a sleeping Draco was being pushed up along with him and then they were each let go, shoved upward, Harry’s mouth opening as his lungs sucked in a breath, the screaming crowd erupting from the far shore.
The rain poured down from the heavens, soothing Harry as he stood at the edge of the black lake, staring at the churning depths. His gills flapped against the wetness and when he inhaled he felt the rain seeping into his lungs comfortingly. “Llyr,” he murmured desperately. “Llyr.”
It had been over five years since he had first—and last—seen Llyr. Two years since the Triwizard Tournament, which he had somehow won. Voldemort had abducted him, but Wormtail had taken one look at him before declaring firmly that he couldn’t be Harry Potter, looking at the scales that were visible through the slits in his trousers and the greenish white gills behind his ears. He’d barely made it out alive and had spent two weeks living in a river near Little Hangleton before wizards, thinking he was a selkie that was trapped, had come and found him.
Harry had spent a full month locked up at some magical beast preserve. The wizards knew he wasn’t a known type of merperson, but wouldn’t believe that he was human. Without his scar, Harry was also unrecognizable by sight. Finally, Dumbledore had caught wind of the “discovery” and had come and taken him to his new prison—Grimmauld Place. Officially, Harry had been kidnapped and forced to undergo some ritual that had changed him. Dumbledore and the Ministry had tried to get answers from him and begged him to try to let them heal him, but Harry had adamantly refused. Even Sirius’s tears, when he had first seen Harry, hadn’t moved him.
He’d spent the rest of the summer trapped in the rickety house, avoiding Ron Weasley and his older brothers (it turned out they were in the same year at Hogwarts and it had been his sister who was in a coma for the rest of her life). He’d tried to go to a river a few times, but was stopped every time, and Harry finally resigned himself to spending long afternoons languishing in a bathtub, whispering Mermish words of love into the water, hoping somehow that Llyr could hear him.
Now here he was, in the middle of his sixth year, standing in the rain, letting it wash over him like a lover’s caress. “Llyr,” he whispered again to the rain and then jumped, letting the water cover him up, water searing his lungs as he swallowed some of the dark liquid before the blessed sensation of oxygen filled him. His fins by the side of his feet flapped lightly, helping him move, and he sighed as the water ran against his still open wounds on his legs.
“My Llyr, I want Llyr,” he called desperately, kicking off his robes and letting the water caress him, the cold infecting his lungs. He allowed himself to float deeper and deeper beneath the waves, seaweed brushing against the back of his scarred hand. He wanted it to be Llyr’s touch, he wanted to find his way back to the open sea—but he couldn’t. He was blocked at almost every turn. The previous summer he had been locked away at Privet Drive for a short fortnight, his only comfort the babbling brook that he would whisper his secrets to, before he was taken to the Weasleys. He told his abductors ‘no’, thrashed against them, firing spells from his wand, only to be overcome by two aurors, another witch going off to alter Ministry records about his use of underage magic.
It had been so dry at the Burrow, the sound of the rain his only source of solace as he was locked away in a spare bedroom of the shambles of a house, ginger heads peering in at him at strange times of the day, one of the two twins going so far as to try to clip his scales off of his legs while he was asleep for “development,” whatever that meant.
“Llyr,” Harry whimpered, his feet sinking into the black mud at the bottom of the lake. He curled up in a circle, his fins flapping in the undercurrents, and he closed his eyes, dreaming of Llyr, of his touch, of the sound of his name from his strange inhuman lips, knowing that the morning call from the selkie village nearby would wake him in time for classes, where he would be pointed at and stared at for his gills and his fins. Many whispered behind their hands saying it was a curse, that whatever had occurred his fourth year had tried to transform him permanently into a fish so that he couldn’t be a symbol to wizards in the dark times that were approaching now that Voldemort was back. Draco and Harry agreed that everyone at Hogwarts was idiotic, as they had seen the fins on him when he was pulled from the Black Lake in the middle of their fourth year—and yet chose to forget about it.
The morning was warm and dry, and Harry trudged up to the castle, knowing that someone would have gotten dry robes for him and his books. It was an unspoken pact he had with the rest of his house. He was not only a prefect, but had the highest grades in the entire year, his essays on various types of merpeople and beasts of the sea having been published in various wizarding publications since the beginning of his fifth year. Hermione Granger had been upset, huffing once or twice about how her own essays were just as noteworthy, although Harry noticed that they were never published although he was certain that she sent them to editors. Ravenclaw accepted his eccentricities, believing that he was communing with water for more insight.
He was surprised when a half-frightened second or third year approached him at breakfast when he was donning a dry cloak—he’d have to summon the one he had lost in the lake later that day; he really should remember to remove his clothes before sinking into the darkest depths—and handed him a rolled up note to visit the Headmaster directly after breakfast. “This can’t be good,” Harry murmured, and Cho Chang looked over his shoulder.
“You’ll probably receive a commendation,” she remarked. “Hasn’t your latest article on Siren song been decreed as groundbreaking?”
Harry shrugged, not quite believing the reasoning, but letting everyone else believe that that might be the reason Dumbledore wanted to see him.
He didn’t trust the old man for taking away the water. He had been contented at the bottom of the river after his fourth year, slowly healing and determined to swim through riverbeds until he reached the English Channel. Harry’s heart had called for Llyr, and the waves had whispered his response before he was found. Even the nature preserve was preferable to walking once again among earth-dwellers.
“Maybe they’ve found a cure,” Entwhistle suggested happily, looking cautiously at Harry, who frowned at him.
“There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“No, no, of course not,” Entwhistle backtracked, looking around for someone to support him, but everyone in hearing range was looking pointedly away from him. “I only meant—you could be human again.”
Harry tilted his head to the side, brushing his hand through his hair, feeling the messy-long ends that came past his chin now, the strands of pebbles and seashells having magically grown with it. “Are you suggesting that I’m not human, Entwhistle?” he asked calmly, his heart bleeding, wishing that he was no longer human, that he was a triton—a selkie—a merrow—one that was meant to swim beneath the waves and never walk upon the land.
Entwhistle blanched, his freckles standing out in stark contrast on his small nose.
“Ten points from Ravenclaw for lack of knowledge of your own species,” Harry droned, his blue eyes flashing.
Harry turned back to his breakfast, fish that the elves specially provided for him along with various types of seafood and seaweed which he had developed a taste and craving for during his fourth year. Llyr, his heart wept, but he ignored it. His soul was always crying out for Llyr, and sometimes the waves would bring him a response, an answering call, but he could never go to the sea—not yet—soon. Soon, he promised himself, knowing that his soul was slowly crumbling from the long absence. He was writing his final essay for publication. He already had an understanding with the goblins at Gringotts; it would only be released to his publishers once he disappeared into the sea. It was on the mating call of Tritons and the relationship they shared with a chosen human. Such a connection had only ever been rumored before, humans believing that Tritons were too proud as sea gods to choose a mere land dweller, but Harry had actual evidence from his own experiences that this wasn’t the case. He had been blessed the night he turned eleven, lying in Llyr’s arms as he was loved for the first and only time in his life.
As breakfast concluded, Harry got up from his seat and made his way to the Headmaster’s office, walking through the gargoyle guard and up the spiraling staircase, feeling trapped in the stone.
The old man was sitting behind his desk, and Harry was forced to listen as he offered him lessons on Voldemort—or Tom Riddle as the Dumbledore called him. When he finished speaking, Dumbledore sat expectantly behind his desk, his eyes sparkling behind his half-moon spectacles, his hands folded, one charred and decaying from some strange enchantment that Harry surprisingly didn’t recognize.
Harry took a deep breath. “Tom Riddle was Head Boy,” he finally offered.
“Yes,” Dumbledore agreed. “He was, and the Slytherin Prefect.”
“He’s said to be the brightest and most promising student that ever walked these halls. I’ve been compared to him quite often by various professors,” he mused, looking out the window, toward the Black Lake. He sighed, knowing that Dumbledore wanted more of an answer than that. “My academic interests do not turn toward biography or Dark Lords and their magic, Professor,” he declined politely.
“Harry,” Dumbledore said sadly. “Your destiny is intertwined with his. It’s imperative that you know how to defend yourself from him.”
“In Arithmancy you learn that numbers, astronomy, and even divination cannot fully predict the future. There is no destiny, except what we create,” he murmured, thinking of Llyr and their future reunion. “You should not address me so informally, Headmaster. I do not appreciate it and it is expressly against the Hogwarts Charter as I have not given you permission to use my name.” His blue-green eyes flashed at Dumbledore, daring him to contradict him when they both knew he was right.
“Forgive me, Mr. Potter,” Dumbledore quickly apologized. “I did not mean to offend you. I simply wish to protect you.”
“The Dark Lord has attacked me exactly once in my life,” Harry lied smoothly, never having spoken to a living soul about the graveyard, of his escape, saying only when questioned that the Triwizard Cup was a portkey that had taken him somewhere and that he had soon lost his wand when he almost fell over a cliff. The investigative board had ruled the incident an assassination attempt especially given the changes in Harry’s physiology, which Dumbledore had guided them to. Medical experts claimed that he must have lost his memory of the event because of the traumatic and dark nature of it.
“I must insist—he has torn his soul asunder,” Dumbledore whispered into the silence between them. “You need to be prepared. I have already found and destroyed two. One was the diary that possessed poor Ginny Weasley during your second year.”
Harry’s interest was piqued for a moment. “The other?”
“A ring,” Dumbledore answered. “It is destroyed.”
The matter was soon concluded and Harry left, plotting on how exactly to block these extra lessons that Dumbledore wanted to give him, not caring about a Dark Lord that walked the land, his heart crying for sea waves and kisses beneath the water.
Dumbledore came a dark night near the end of his year, a stern look on his face, two brooms in his hand. “It is time,” he stated imperiously, and he hurried Harry along, ignoring the protests that fell from his lips. The old man’s charred hand was clenched dangerously around his wand and for the first time in years, Harry felt a sliver of fear race through him, understanding why Voldemort was afraid of Dumbledore and why he was so well respected.
“I’m not your plaything,” Harry hissed at him, his gills flapping as rain began to fall from the heavens. Dumbledore pulled him into his grip and a moment later Harry felt himself being smashed into a small space, his feet slamming against jagged rocks a moment later. Nausea overwhelmed him and he fell to his knees, vomiting, the smell of his sick and the sea overwhelming his senses. “The sea,” he murmured, looking out of the cave where they had Apparated, which was slashing against the rocks, calling to him, murmuring, loving, full of passion and unbridled lust. “Llyr,” he wept, tears forming in his eyes and mixing with rainwater.
Dumbledore looked at him in confusion, and Harry reached out toward the waves, uncaring that his stomach was still churning from the land magic.
“Llyr, my love,” Harry called out, and a moment later a hand grabbed the scruff of his neck and pulled him away from the dark waves. Harry turned to meet steel blue eyes that stared right through him.
“You speak Mermish,” he accused, and then held his wand under Harry’s jaw line, turning his head to the side and examining the gills with understanding. “You’ve been marked.”
“Let me go,” Harry demanded, his fingers closing reflexively around his wand in the rain, although he couldn’t aim it at Dumbledore without fear of being cursed somehow.
“Who are you?” Dumbledore whispered, confusing Harry. The tip of his wand slowly slid between two of Harry’s gills and he gasped at the pain, feeling a flicker of magic ricochet off of his scales.
Harry’s soul cried out in fear and pain as he looked out toward the rolling waves, lightning shooting across the sky and reflecting off the water, giving it an unearthly greenish glint. Llyr, his soul begged. Llyr, save me.
“Who are you?” Dumbledore demanded again as he removed his wand from Harry’s gills, letting it rest once again beneath his jaw. “You speak Mermish.”
“Of course I do,” Harry spat back. “The second task, remember? The clue was ridiculously simple, and of course Merpeople would be singing. How else would I be able to communicate to negotiate the return of what I would sorely miss?” It was a clever lie; it showed how a Ravenclaw would think.
Dumbledore’s eyes glinted for a long, menacing moment, before he released Harry, pushing him further into the cave at wand point. “As you say, Mr. Potter.”
Harry glanced over his shoulder at the old man, confused at his cruelty. “Let me go,” he half-begged, feeling the call of the sea.
“You need to learn,” Dumbledore disagreed, reaching out with his hand toward the cave wall. “Tom Riddle brought two children here when he lived at an orphanage and recounted horrors that were so unspeakable…” he began to explain, but Harry turned away, not listening, uncaring, feeling the wind whisper to him through the rain, the same two words repeated again and again. Arrae Potr.
A sad smile curled at the ends of his lips, knowing that Llyr was close, was waiting, was calling. He began to inch away from a still speaking Dumbledore, when the tip of the wand was pushed against his shoulder. Llyr, his heart wailed, and lightning arched across the sky, thunder rumbling in answer in anger. The sea swept up against the opening of the cave, drenching their ankles and splashing the backs of their legs.
“The sea,” Dumbledore murmured and then cut his hand against the rock wall. “It moves against us. Another of Tom’s enchantments.”
Harry would have laughed at his mistaken impression, but his thoughts were on Llyr. His wand was summoned out of his hand when he tried to turn and run before he was forced to walk through a passageway that had opened with the sacrifice of blood. Seawater flowed after them, swishing around their feet, caressing Harry’s finned ankles in pleasure while hissing at Dumbledore’s slippered feet. Arrae Potr. Arrae Potr.
“Llyr,” Harry whimpered as the rock wall shut behind them, and he saw that they were standing at the edge of a lake, full of dead and unnatural water that made him want to recoil away from it. He was shoved into a small boat that had magically appeared and huddled in the center of it, away from the stagnant water that was full of dark, land dweller magic. Dumbledore looked at him imperiously.
“You have nothing to fear.”
Harry glared at him reproachfully. “This is kidnapping.”
Dumbledore smiled sadly at him and looked away.
When they came to a rock protruding from the death-water, Harry scrabbled onto it, looking for some escape from the strange cavern. He barely paid attention when Dumbledore told him to feed him the strange potion in a bowl, even when he begged to stop, impressing on him the importance of it.
“I want to leave,” Harry answered.
“You can leave when I’ve had the potion,” Dumbledore answered, tucking their wands away in his sleeve. “Do not think you can take your wand and escape from here without it, Mr. Potter.”
Harry shot him a look of pure loathing before going to the bowl and scooping up the first of the potion, feeding it to Dumbledore, who soon turned into a driveling child. The great man sputtered like an infant and when the bowl of potion was only half consumed, Harry threw the shell that served as a spoon away, hearing its clash against the dry rock echo about the large cavern.
“No, no, please. Ariana,” Dumbledore babbled, and Harry pushed him down, snaking his hand up his sleeve and grabbing both wands. Dumbledore’s felt strange and unnatural in his hand, and he threw it onto the ground, stepping over the groveling man who now had tears streaming down his face. Harry slipped into the boat, propelling it forward with magic, staying in the center in fear of the water. He could hear Dumbledore’s sobs resonate across the still surface, and the pitiful sound grated at him. The only thought in his mind was of the sea, of escaping finally. He rushed onto the opposite shore, glancing back to see a broken Dumbledore crawling toward the lake, cries of “water” coming from his lips, and he rushed through the passageway toward the sea and the crying heavens.
“Llyr,” he murmured as he came to the mouth of the cave, unbuttoning his trousers and kicking off his trainers. A splash just out to sea caught his eye, a tail peaking out above the waves, and the whisper of a name, Arrae Potr, reaching his ears.
“Llyr, my love, my Llyr,” he called again, dropping his wizard wand and pulling his shirt hastily over his head before diving beneath the waves. His glasses fell uselessly from his nose, sinking down into the deep and he swam forward, hearing the sea-call from his childhood, the same word as a mantra, again and again, lulling him with love and promises of the future.
The gleam of a string of pearls caught his eye and then he was in strong arms, tinted green and covered in small scales. He looked up into Llyr’s beautiful face, saw the strong jaw, the dark eyes, the full gray lips that then claimed his in a sultry kiss. He let himself be drawn further beneath the waves as those lips kissed his again and again, hands fluttering down his back and pulling him closer. The swish of a tail against his feet made him smile into the kiss, opening his mouth, only to have his mouth fully claimed.
He moaned when Llyr pulled away, their eyes meeting. “Arrae Potr,” he whispered, his hand reaching down and caressing the wound on his inner leg that had somehow come up around his waist without Harry quite realizing it. “You came.”
“I was always coming,” Harry replied carefully, reaching forward and kissing Llyr softly. “Always.”