[identity profile] dr-who-dre.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux
Title: The Upper Deep (Looking Through a Glass Onion)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] neko_chelle
Summary: Lily always suspected that her son was special. It's all there, in his head.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Character(s): Lily, Harry, James, and others
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns these characters.
Original story: The Upper Deep by Atrata
Notes: I must thank Atrata for the compelling original (which inspired my newbie Remix muse), and my friends for encouragement and hand-holding when all seemed darkest. :)

"Mrs. Potter?"


"If you'd like, we can start on the interview now."

"Er, alright?"

"Mrs. Potter, you sound a bit apprehensive about this. We could continue it another time if you're --"

"No. No, I've nothing to hide."

"I'm not trying to accuse you of anything, Mrs. Potter. I'm just interested in your son's rather unique malady, and I'd like to gather as many details about him as possible."

"I know. I - I wouldn't have consented to this if I didn't wish to do it."

"Right, then. Please state your full name."

"Lily Alice Potter. Used to be Longbottom before I married James."

"And your son's?"

"Harry James Potter."


James and I, we'd wanted a big family, so you can imagine how thrilled we were when the doctor said twins. Twins! We'd gone through so much trying to conceive -- ticking the days off calendars, keeping track of my basal temperature, the whole bit. And just like that, two sons! We'd named them after their grandfathers, you know; Neville after my dad and Harold after James'.

But James always insisted on calling our younger one Harry, just Harry.

I'm quite certain that no one remembers this now, but their birth made a bit of a splash in the papers that July. It was rather unusual -- Neville came into the world a few moments before midnight, and Harry arrived afterwards. Twins with different birthdays, one right after the other. Suppose it's not as exciting as twins born on one side of the year and the other, but --

Identical? No, they weren't. You've seen Harry already. He's the spitting image of his father: dark hair, glasses, a bit scrawny about the arms and legs. And Neville, he was sandy-haired and chubby-faced like my mum. Of course, we'd lost Neville when he was only eleven.

We'd nearly lost Harry that day as well.

Some days I think we never really got him back.



His voice is no longer the boyish treble I remember, but he looks like Harry and he smells like Harry, and when I hold him in my arms he feels like Harry. Time insists that my son is twenty-three, but his body is hospital-weak, his frame oddly frail. I think the restraints the doctors insist on latching his limbs into have stunted him.

"Yes, Harry, I'm here." I need to ground him, keep him lucid and aware of this reality. "It's all right." He hasn't snapped out of his dream world for years, always muttering things about 'Hog Warts and 'Griffin Door' and God knows what else. Such a brilliant, creative mind, and Harry trapped himself in it for over a decade. He pictures himself the hero of a world at war, because he could not save his twin brother.

James rushes out of the hospital room, intent on fetching Doctor Pomfrey. I give in and bury my face in Harry's hair. It smells of substandard shampoo and his sweat, and I realize no one's given him his daily bath. The scent ought to send me retching and clamoring for a place to throw up in, but I'm clamped into his hug. His grip is strong, and his fingers savagely dig and claw at my arms. He's angry at me for living.

"Am I - am I dead?"

"Oh, no, Harry, no." He needs his mum to tell him everything is fine. I stiffen my hug, proving I'm real. His fingernails rake against my skin, drawing blood.

I bleed.

I am alive.

And he is too.

"But Voldemort --"

"Don't." I choke back tears. That name, that godforsaken name. The doctors say it's an external manifestation of Harry's deepest fears. This bogeyman 'killed' James and 'killed' me, and he separated Harry from the real world. I loathe that name. "Please don't talk about it."

He withdraws from me, his hold on me easing. He gazes at me, studies me, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion. No, not confusion. Suspicion. The constant hallucinating of his magical world has made him distrustful of me. For all he knows, I shouldn't be alive. For all he knows, I'm a fake concocted out of magic by his enemy.

"Why not?" he barks. He's livid. None of the doctors had mentioned how confrontational he'd be once he woke. Shouldn't he be happy? After all, this is his real world. "Voldemort murdered you!"

I shut my eyes and force the tears down my cheeks. He's muttering again, spouting out insane babble, but to me, he's not just a fascinating medical case. To me, he's still Harry, still my son. And I'd do anything to see him cured. In the edges of my mind, I imagine him as before: a child, a baby.

My eyelids open.

He's staring at me, and his eyes are nearly like mine.

Except something lurks behind his intense gaze.

Something that scares me witless.


Do we really need to discuss this? I would've imagined that police and hospital reports had all the details already.


It was late August, 1981, and we'd taken the boys on their very first outing. It might've been to the zoo or something just as normal. The park, perhaps. But it must've been quite far since we'd needed to drive there. Harry sat in my lap, and we'd strapped Neville's basket into the rear seat. Those rear-facing baby seats weren't available back then. Of course, we'd secured them as best we could. What else could James and I have done? In those days, you were lucky if you'd remembered to wear your seat belts. There weren't any laws insisting that you do.

I remember James singing a song for the boys, and I joined in. It's the song that goes "I know a fat old policeman..." D'you remember that one? You've got to laugh during that song, on certain bits. James started on that, and I held Harry's tiny wrists in my hands and made him clap to the beat.

He's too kind for a policeman
He's never known to frown
And everybody says
he is the happiest man in town

I'd been watching James laughing, and I saw the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. And then his eyes completely shut, but only for a moment.

You'd be surprised how awfully long a moment can take.

The only thing that flashed through my head was protecting Harry. It didn't matter if I died like that; I'd just wanted my boy to be safe, so I wrapped my arms around his body and held onto him for dear life.

We'd hit a man on a motorcycle. Ask James now, and he will say the motorbike came out of nowhere and sped across the intersection without stopping first, but we can't be sure, really. James couldn't see the road with his eyes closed, and I was watching him and not the windscreen.

Suppose the only person who actually knew what went on during the incident is the motorcyclist.

And he's in no condition to speak.

The car's bonnet crumpled from the force of hitting the bike, and we'd all received bumps and bruises from the impact. Harry got the worst of it, I think. His forehead smacked against the dashboard, and that left a huge gash. I couldn't stop the wound from bleeding, it was so deep, and when it finally healed, it left a scar.

I suppose if you squinted, it might look like a bolt of lightning.


James and I have started taking turns so that at least one parent is with Harry around the clock. This wasn't as difficult when Harry was still in his near-catatonic state, but --

I've arrived for my shift, though I've barely slept. The hospital staff greets me with nods and tight smiles. I know they don't mean to mock, but it's difficult to shake the feeling of pity emanating from those cheery grins.

Those grins fill me with false hope.

The doctors have placed so much faith on a new experimental treatment. I don't doubt it's effective. It's snapped Harry out of his trance for the first time in years, but even now -- when Harry's lucid -- I'm never sure if he's speaking to me or at me. Or if he's speaking to someone else entirely.

I rush, nearly tripping on a slick puddle of something on the floor. I reach Harry's room, and James informs me that our son's had a rough night. He's gone catatonic again, his eyes dull and unfocused.

"-- never gone anywhere?" says Harry vaguely. "I've always been right here?"

"Harry, your mother's already answered that question." James has much less patience for this task than I do. I can sense the irritability in his voice. He hasn't slept much, either. "You're not going anywhere."

"That's not what I meant!" Harry is defensive, unruly. "I thought you were going to give me medicine." He's desperate and casting his gaze around for someone else, perhaps one of his imagined friends: wizards and giants and elves.

"We have been," I explain as I take his hand in mine. He flinches at my touch, at his mother's touch! What has being in that imagined world done to him, if his first reaction to anything is immediate distrust? "It's helping, a bit. But you're not helping yourself. You slip back and forth all the time. You need to fight it, Harry. Please."

I grip his hand, making sure he knows I'm here and that I'm not about to leave. He still thinks his parents abandoned him, still thinks I'm not real. He still thinks he's alone, and it rends my insides to see him this way.

"All right," he says finally. My heart lifts at the news, but I can tell Harry's not thrilled.

I know he thinks he's abandoned his friends and loved ones to the war in his wizarding world.


Harry and Neville, they were inseparable from the moment they were born. It's special with twins, you know? I'd made them promise that they'd look after each other, no matter what.

Really, it was my fault, wasn't it? I'd forced them to do everything together. If I'd allowed them to go off separately, just once --

And Harry was so protective of Neville, even though Neville was the older of the two. Oh, but Neville was the brave one. You wouldn't think it from the looks of him, but he had the heart of a lion. I just think his shyness got in the way of a lot of things.

Our old home was extremely tiny. My friends used to call it Lily's Twee Cottage, and they'd tease me for starting a family in the same flat James had lived in since he graduated university. So with a bit of luck -- a lot of luck, actually -- we'd finally moved into a proper home. You know the one; it's in Godric's Hollow.

We'd heard such good things about the village. Quaint, quiet, extremely safe. It was the perfect area to raise our boys. They'd ride about on the bicycles we'd given them for their eleventh birthday and encouraged them to explore the village, get themselves acquainted with the place.

I'd never imagined --

I suppose no one could ever imagine --

No parent wants a call from Casualty.

I'd started worrying the moment they didn't return home before dark. That wasn't like them at all, and at the very least, they'd ring the house and say they'd be late. Or at least Harry would. Neville was always a bit flighty when it came to responsibility.

I don't remember sleeping a wink that first night.

The hours without them stretched to days without them. Then, weeks. They'd even missed the start of school. Half the village actively searched for the boys, and the other half decided instead to gather at the local pub and gossip over them, over us.

How the Potters had no idea how to raise a family.

I - I hadn't known that someone snatched them both. Usually you'd get a random note or a call or something, don't you? But with the boys? Nothing. When they took my sons, it was as if they'd wanted to keep them.

The police pieced together what had happened from eyewitnesses and from an accomplice's account. Harry, he - he wasn't interrogated. Harry had already gone beyond anyone's reach.

Two men took them. Just blocked their path with a car and took them, bicycles and all. I don't want to imagine why they'd been chosen. They locked the boys up, refused to let them see sunlight. They barely fed them. Just enough to keep them alive, but weak.

From what I've heard, Harry and Neville had somehow planned an escape. Harry was the slimmer of the two, and he, as malnourished as he was, managed to wiggle himself through a partly-open window. He'd promised Neville he'd come back with help.

Neville stayed behind.

He - they'd said - they'd said he'd had e-eleven stab wounds when - when he was eventually found.

I don't know where Harry'd been hiding all this time, but he was already catatonic. I went to the hospital and - and he didn't resemble the same boy I'd seen off a few weeks before. Harry was always thin, but at that moment, in the glow of florescent lights, he looked just about ready to die.


I pass his room, and he's pouring over notes strewn about his desk. It's like he's studying for an exam; he's checking details again and again, trying to piece odd clues together. I'm not sure he knows that I can sense his interest in them, but he's been at it for weeks.

Even if he's an adult, I'm still aware when he's hiding something from me. He has the same shift in his shoulders, the same tone of voice as when he was eight years old and broke my favorite glass bauble. But this time, he's not desperately attempting to glue a shattered owl back whole.

He's set worn pieces of paper within the pages of books and beneath his pillow, and when he's off at therapy or with his tutors, I tidy up his room. And I read. The notes are extraordinary, all of them personal messages from a person who's in the same plight as Harry: imagining themselves in two separate worlds and not knowing which one is real.

Perhaps Harry's making these notes up himself. The handwriting's completely different, scribbled with haste and certainty and desperation, but if my son has created a personality separate from his own, then he hasn't been cured and --

I can't lose him, not again.

"Harry, did you want some lunch?" I ask, tugging him back into some semblance of a normal life. "You haven't eaten breakfast yet, and it's past noon already."

No answer.

"Harry, aren't you hungry at all?"



He trembles at the sound of my voice. It's not like him to ignore me, not in the years since his discharge from the hospital. I fear the worst. I fear him slipping away from me. I fear his relapse into that terrible and violent world. I fear the late nights spent in freezing hospital rooms praying for a twitch of recognition in his rigid face.

"Yeah?" He's blinking rapidly, as if he's shocked to see me.

"Harry, what's wrong? You haven't been yourself lately."

"Myself?" He laughs, but there's no mirth behind it. It's as if he's disgusted with having to slog through his life. "I don't even know who I am. I had a whole life and that's gone, and I don't remember anything of this one."

That same discussion again. When will he understand that it doesn't matter if he remembers this world, when it's the only real reality he's got? "But, Harry," I plead. "That life you had -- it wasn't real. And it's not as if you were happy there, either. Can't we just concentrate on getting you better?"

"Why? So I can... what? I'm never going to be able to get a job or live on my own. What's the point?"

"I know it seems futile now, Harry, but it's really not. Your tutors say you're doing well, or you were until a few weeks ago. And you've not had any lapses since you've been home. There's no reason you're going to be stuck here forever."

It would be wonderful to have Harry here with me, forever, but that's not possible. He is a grown man. And yet, everything he's gone through from age 11 to age 23 was a fabrication of his mind. He'd lost me, and now - now he doesn't think he needs me. "Although you know we'd be happy to have you."

He admits to feeling penned in, and if his father hurries with the driving lessons, then my son might be able to travel elsewhere besides the therapist's office.

"Of course," I say, forcing a smile to spread on my face. He's eager to abandon me again; he's just angling towards that goal a different way. A young man wanting a car so he can escape his home. That's normal, isn't it? Doesn't it sound more common than slipping into an imaginary world? "That sounds brilliant. Remind him at dinner, and I'm sure he'll be glad to take you out."

I've got to remind him. Just in case he's forgotten. "I love you, Harry. We both do."

"I know, Mum," he says. "Love you, too."

I realize now that he never meant it.


He'd met someone.

That's the only explanation for what happened, isn't it? He'd met someone, and he'd fabricated this story about needing to see an exhibition at the V&A in London. We'd thought he was better. That was the only reason we allowed him to go on that trip. If it weren't --

Well, how could it be love if he'd never set eyes on this other person before? How could it be attraction if I didn't find any trace of conversation between Harry and his -- I don't know how else to describe it -- his lover? He'd set off on his own without telling anyone about his real plans.

After our conversation about the driving lessons, I'd started to think that he'd stopped keeping secrets from me, that he was willing to place his trust in me, no matter what problems he faced. I'd wanted to be a good mother, I truly did. You can't doubt that James and I had done everything we could to show how much we cared for our son. Gave him the best care possible in hospital, found him the most progressive therapies and treatments, and when one didn't work, we gave our permission to start others.

I'm not even sure Harry actually had any inkling of just how much we loved him.

Maybe Harry owned such a warped view of love that he couldn't.

The doctors had mentioned that in Harry's delusions, he was in a relationship with someone. This someone, this - this man, Harry was attracted to him despite constant mistreatment. It all made sense, of course. My son created a companion for himself out of his own self-loathing as punishment for his countless sins. Yet in those early days, Harry constantly spoke about him as if he were real, and that he'd been poisoned to believe that this world -- his true reality -- was the dream world.

I cannot believe my own son would fabricate something so cruel.

And yet --

It was foolish, allowing him to head off to London alone. I know any of his tutors would've been more than willing to chaperone him.

Tutors. God, how could we have known? He didn't need tutors or parents; he needed friends, but he was in such a delicate state then. He'd never fit in with anyone. A structured learning environment was out of the question. What if he'd gone catatonic at university? We'd sheltered him for his own good.

It's no wonder he rebelled. Any sane person would.

Nearly a week passed before we found out what happened to him.

He'd taken another train, to a place called Berry Brow. I'll never forget the name of that town because of the way the police constable said it over the telephone. He spoke it very fast, like he wanted to get that detail out of the way before moving on. A group of boys went out exploring an old abandoned building and found him hiding at the top floor. Laid out on a musty bed, wretchedly hanging onto the old mattress as if curling up next to his beloved. And the boys said he was mumbling something about home. He wanted to be taken home.

The hospital readmitted him a few days later.

He doesn't speak of Hogwarts or magic any more, and he's regressed further in a single week than he'd progressed in all the years since he'd been discharged. What could have made him retreat so thoroughly? What had he encountered in that desolate room that chased him back to the wizarding world?

I just hope that wherever he thinks he is, he's happy.


"And that's it. That's the entire story. Everything else, you can go and research in public archives."

"I see. Well, I certainly hope this is sufficient enough to help me finish my book, Mrs. Potter. Are you sure that your husband is still reluctant to speak to me about your son?"

"Yes, James dislikes publicity."

"And as for monetary compensation --"

"No, thank you. It's payment enough to have Harry's life preserved somewhere other than the rare newspaper article."

"I will send you an advance copy of course."

"That won't be necessary."

"Oh, Mrs. Potter. I insist. This interview will be extremely useful."

"I'm glad. Thank you so much, Mr. Riddle."

"Much obliged, Mrs. Potter."

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-25 06:47 pm (UTC)
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (Lily)
From: [personal profile] such_heights
Oh, gosh. This is wonderful! If entirely heart-breaking. I love Lily's voice in this, she's so motherly and sad and human. And the structure, the plotting, you really had me reading along quickly, I couldn't wait to find out what was going on!

And ooh, the last two lines. *shudders*

Very affecting indeed! A great fic.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-06-10 11:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atrata.livejournal.com

First, my most sincere apologies for taking so long to comment; I've been away from fandom and only just now saw this. (And only because I'm a narcissist and did a search for my name on ljseek.) But man, I love it. I love that it's Riddle doing the interview; that just fits in SO WELL, and I love Lily's voice and just. Yes. I think it complements the original very well. Thank you so much! <3


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