Welcome, readers, to Beauty on the Battlefield! Real quick, I just wanted to say there are a few direct J.K. Rowling quotes that I don't own, and that this may greatly resemble one of the DZ2's Twice Blessed Challenge responses but it is not. The nature of the story means there will probably be similarities, but I am at no point following the Challenge's guidelines (I'm not completely sure what they are to be honest). I hope you enjoy the chapter!


James and Lily Potter had all the hallmarks of a great love story. Boy meets girl, girl shuts boy down, boy persists to woo girl over several years with unwavering devotion, girl caves and they fall in love. Add in a war, magic, coming from two separate worlds and the fact that James and Lily were both attractive and Aphrodite couldn't be more pleased with this particular couple. The Potter's were on her top ten for Living British Lovers.

She had invested such effort into the pair; she was overjoyed to be getting the payoff. And the best part was she didn't know if it would end a fairytale or a tragedy. They were both frontline soldiers in a civil war, anything could happen. Maybe they'll die together defending innocent children, or even better, one might take a deadly curse for the other and die in their arms. She just couldn't wait!

She was musing on this particular couple when the echoing of whispered words reverberated through her head. She didn't get prayed to as much as she used to, not since the fall of Rome has she had a truly large, devout following. That isn't to say pleads and thanks didn't still come to her; there were still those that practiced the Old Ways after all, and her demigod children often sent words of gratitude, requests, and reminders of their admiration.

This particular prayer was different though, it wasn't a simple invocation of her name, it was a summons- a magic ritual long gone out of style. It was sent to any gods willing to listen, and that's one of the reasons it had been lost. It was foolish to summon just any deity, as there were many who liked to see mortals suffer by twisting requests to that end. Feeling curious about whoever had found the ritual and felt the need to complete it, Aphrodite rose from her luxurious divan in her temple on Mount Olympus and flashed to the ritual sight, keeping herself invisible to the mortal eye.

She was pretty surprised to see James and Lily, the very mortals she'd been thinking about; on their knees, naked, and in a ritual circle drawn from the blood of a ram. It only took a moment more to understand their reasoning, this ritual was often used as a plead by the infertile for a child back in Ancient Greece. Her divine eyes picked up the infertility curse infecting Lily's ovaries. Without help, the poor woman would never have a child of her own.

It wasn't a tough decision for Aphrodite, truly. These mortals were a pair of her favored, in beauty and love, and a child during wartime would only make their story more interesting. The only difficult part of the decision was how she'd grant their desperate request. She could simply heal Lily and let a conception come naturally after that, but there was something distinctly… dissatisfying with that option. There was certainly a level of instant gratification she'd miss out on that way, as it could take months or years for Lily to get pregnant on her own.

Aphrodite felt a sly smile come across her breathtaking face. There was always the option of possessing Lily. It would give all three of them a fun night, guarantee conception, and most importantly, combine her essence with Lily's at the time, granting Aphrodite another demigod child. The child would essentially have three parents, although Aphrodite would be a little more pronounced in the child's mannerisms than the other parents- such was the way in all demigod children: godly features tend to dominate.

Having made up her mind, Aphrodite gleefully let herself sink into the mortal vessel of Lily Potter. Muscles tensed in surprise and fear, but Aphrodite soothed those away easily.

Be calm, I'm here to help.


Ares felt himself perk up from where he was lounging invisibly at the back of a Death Eater meeting. As the God of War, it behooved him to drop in on war councils every now and again, and the civil war in Magical Britain was of particular interest to him. This Lord Voldemort character was an asshole, and eventually he'd have to be put down (probably around the time that Thanatos or his Uncle Hades realized they were calling their forces 'Death Eaters' and had a hissy fit) but for now he was incredibly entertaining, the way he swooped around torturing his own followers.

The more stringent part of Ares, the personification of War itself, was furious at the foolish tactic. Fear could be a powerful tool, but there was a limit to how much a man could stand before they seek refuge with your enemies just to get away from you, damn the consequences. The bored immortal part of Ares, however, could watch the wizards wage war for hours, making hilarious tactical mistakes and destabilizing their society that was never very resilient or well organized in the first place.

The force that stole Ares attention, however, had nothing to do with a failing Ministry of Magic. It was a prayer, close by and ritualistic in nature. It took him a moment to recognize it, but when he did, a nasty smirk spread across his face. Oh, some idiot wanted a child, did they? It could only be an idiot, as no smart person would leave such an open-ended request for any immortal to answer. Back in the day, this particular ritual had led to a handful of demi-monsters that horrified their mortal parents. He could still remember the time Alecto, one of the Furies, had answered just for kicks. Her half-blood son had been hilarious… and grotesque to look at.

Ares decided to check it out, and maybe even head off some other potential repliers. Thunder Beard would have his head if he learned that Ares was in a position to stop a baby Minotaur from being born, and didn't bother. A godly shift in location left him in a ritual room, with candles, blood sigils and two naked mortals right in the middle. His eyes trailed up the figure of the busty redhead, and he couldn't help but smirk. Aphrodite had been feeling blonde lately, and he could use some variety. With that in mind, Ares moved forward to possess the dark-haired man and get this show on the road. It would end in another demigod kid of his, but he was fine with that- his kids were awesome; these mortals should count themselves lucky.

It wasn't until the ritual was complete that Ares noticed the other divine presence in the room. He grimaced to himself, wondering if he'd just majorly screwed up, when the presence in question removed herself from the mortal woman's body, letting it slump gently to the ground in sleep. Ares would recognize that aura anywhere. He let his own meat suit go with a thump onto the stone floor.

"Aphrodite," he greeted, a smirk on his face.

"Ares," she returned, taking on the guise of the mortal she had just released, only ten times more beautiful. "What are you doing here?"

"Fulfilling my godly duty, of course. Answering prayers, helping mortals, all in a days work," he said sarcastically. Aphrodite rolled her eyes.

"I'm sure. You do realize that Twice-Blessed demigods rarely make it to full-term, right? We probably just crushed their dreams more than helped them," she sighed woefully. Ares shrugged indifferently.

"If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Can't say we didn't try."

"They're a pair of my favored mortals, though. A miscarriage could put a major strain on their relationship," she argued, pout firmly in place. Ares gave her a deadpan stare.

" 'Dite, you love that kind of stuff." A small upturning of her plump lips let him know she wasn't upset with him.

"True. Still, I was hoping to make this more of a war epic where they both barely make it out alive than let a bit of domestic trouble break them. Do you think Eileithyia would bless them if I asked?" she wondered.

"Can't hurt to try. It's my kid too; I don't want it to die. Besides, Twice-Blessed demigods tend to be pretty powerful. Be convenient to have one floating around, just in case," Ares said with a grin. The fact that he could rub it in the face of the other Olympians went without saying.

"Quite," Aphrodite agreed absently, still looking thoughtful about whether she could get the Goddess of Childbirth to do her a favor. With that, Aphrodite flashed from the room in brilliant golden light, probably returning to her temple to think.

Ares returned to the Death Eater meeting. Damn, it looked like someone had gotten fed to the snake and he'd missed it.


Nine months later, on July 31st, a beautiful baby girl was born. Her hair was black, darker than even James' dark brown, her skin a beautiful olive tone, and her eyes faded from undecided infant blue to Lily's brilliant emerald green, looking even more amazing in the child's cherub face.

They decided to name her Helen Euphemia Potter, Euphemia after James' late mother, and Helen after Helen of Troy- one of the most beautiful women to ever live according to legend. They opted for a name Greek in origin to honor the Greek ritual that allowed their precious daughter to be born.

Helen enchanted everyone she met. James, Sirius, and Remus were slaves to her little baby will, picking her up at the slightest noise, offering her toy upon toy, playing peek-a-boo for hours just to hear her giggle. Lily knew she'd have to curb that behavior if they didn't want a spoiled brat on their hands, but even Lily found it hard to deny those big innocent eyes everything the world had to offer on a silver platter.

It wasn't just her beauty that set the Potter baby apart, though. The baby seemed fascinated by pointy objects. Her first instance of accidental magic was summoning a kitchen knife to herself- and didn't that just nearly scare Lily to death- and if anything even similar like a pair of scissors or even a screwdriver was left out Helen would some how get her chubby little hands on it. She was also the only baby Lily had ever known that could glare at someone. Principally, she seemed to glare at Peter for some reason whenever he came for a visit. James kept insisting to the poor guy that it was just gas causing the little sneer on Helen's face, but Lily was starting to have doubts. Even with those peculiarities, Helen was still a much-loved child.

For fifteen months, the Potter's lived blissfully with their hard-won daughter. Even the revelation of the prophecy and having to go into hiding couldn't completely depress the Potters. It was worth it to have the child they were starting to doubt they'd ever get.

They were playing together as a family when their blissful happiness was shattered by the arrival of the Dark Lord Voldemort. Tall and inhuman with wicked red eyes and a malevolent aura that nearly choked you, Voldemort swept into the Potter home with deadly grace and speed.

"Lily! Take Helen and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off," James shouted, going forward to meet his fate determinately.

Despite the stinging betrayal in the back of his mind that whispered cruel words about Peter, and the hopelessness of his situation considering he'd left his wand in the other room, James marched up to the most terrifying Dark Lord in centuries with no fear. If he could just buy his daughter and wife enough time to escape, any curse would be worth it. James gave a valiant effort, dodging and exercising all of his limited wandless magic. He even turned into Prongs and nearly gored the sociopath to death before the magical prodigy forced him back into human form. A flash of green light would be the last thing James Potter ever saw alive.

Lily, meanwhile, had barricaded herself in her daughter's nursery. She heard the hissed Killing Curse and the accompanying thump signaling her husband's death, and let out a small sob of despair. The anti-apparition wards just wouldn't fall. She was quickly running out of options, especially when she heard the tell tale creak of the second to last stair. Voldemort was on his way up. She quickly stashed her wand away. There was really only one thing left to do, a final desperate gambit she'd read about in the same ancient tomb that she'd found the fertility ritual. Lily kneeled in front of the crib.

"Mummy loves you, baby, so much. I'm not going to let the bad man get you, okay? Mummy will protect you," she whispered, kissing her daughter's smooth forehead.

She stood to face the door, murmuring in Ancient Greek all the while. The spell didn't invoke the power of an outside force like the last one did, but instead used the power of a blood sacrifice as protection: Lily's sacrifice. There would be no fighting, no self-defense. Lily would sacrifice herself for her daughter, and then join James in the Underworld, and it would all be completely worth it. The door blew off its hinges.

"Not Helen, not Helen, please not Helen!"

"Stand aside, you silly girl . . . stand aside now."

"Not Helen, please no, take me, kill me instead-"

"This is my last warning-"

"Not Helen! Please . . . have mercy . . . have mercy . . . Not Helen! Not Helen! Please- I'll do anything-"

"Stand aside. Stand aside, girl!"

"No, Please…"

"Avada Kedavra!"

The body of Lily Potter hit the ground with a thump, leaving an eerie silence in its wake.


Thanatos was having a busy day. But then again, when wasn't he? Mortals dropped like flies. He was sweeping through England, guiding souls to DOA Recording Studios as he went, when he came upon a cottage in Godric's Hollow.

Thanatos would always remember Godric's Hollow as the home of three particular brothers- powerful necromancers whom he had admired, their skill on par with some of his weaker demigod children. He'd appreciated their cleverness so much, in fact, that he'd offered the three a gift each of their choosing if they'd go on a quest for him.

Typically, mortals weren't allowed quests, partially because they seldom believed and partially as it was seen as too interfering to involve mortals in the business of the gods. The Peverall brother's had been exceptions though- practitioners of the Old Ways and part of Hecate's magical community: they just barely counted. With that in mind, Thanatos sent the brothers to collect water from the River Styx. He'd be honest, he didn't need it for anything; he just wanted to see if they could do it.

When they returned victorious, Thanatos granted the promised gifts to the boys: an unbeatable wand, a focus to enhance necromancy: a stone, and a cloak that could turn one invisible. He'd kept his eyes on them after that; it wasn't uncommon for gods to favor certain mortals- ones that exemplified their domain. The eldest had fallen to his own hubris- sad, but not particularly surprising. The second had been driven mad by grief- again, not shocking. He'd seen plenty follow lost lovers into the Underworld. The youngest was special, though. Wiser than his brothers, he lived a long and happy life and accepted his death with an ease and grace Thanatos wished other mortals could try to match.

Thanatos had tried to keep an eye on their descendants, hoping for a reemergence of the brother's talents. The eldest, Antioch, had died childless, but the second, Cadmus, had had one child. The line continued to this day- each descendent getting more disappointing than the last. The only remaining descendent of Cadmus- Tom Riddle- was especially disappointing, being a despotic murderer and all. He did have the Peverell gift for necromancy, though. Figures it would reemerge in the craziest of the lot.

Ignotus' descendants had been much more pleasing. None had much ability in necromancy but they had been good people, powerful, and talented in various other magical arts. And if Thanatos wasn't mistaken, the cottage at the end of the road beckoning to him with the giant hole in the roof was their last known living residence.

Thanatos swept toward the structure, sensing three bodiless souls and one living. In the living room, looking as confused as anything was the immortal soul of James Potter. With a grimace of disappointment, Thanatos guided the rather accepting spirit to LA. A lot like his ancestor, that one. No screaming or fighting or insisting it was a mistake. Just cool acceptance.

Sweeping up the staircase, Thanatos entered the nursery to finish the job. He was a bit surprised-which is quite an achievement because he's seen just about everything- to find a mutilated wraith of a spirit escaping through the hole in the roof. If it was moving under it's own power it must be tethered to the living plane somehow. Maybe Horcruxes? Thanatos narrowed his eyes. No one escaped him. That disfigured spirit would suffer immensely in the Fields of Punishment for the insult. But first, the other soul pieces must be found. Already irritated by the prospect of extra work, Thanatos turned to the whole soul of a young woman who must be James' wife. She was staring intently into the crib, where Thanatos could sense the only living soul in the place.

"It worked," she breathed, staring at the unconscious infant girl. Thanatos stepped forward to gain her attention.

"It's time to move on. I'm sure your husband is waiting for you," Thanatos commanded, quiet yet stern. Mothers tended to be reluctant to leave young children, and Thanatos was not in the mood for an argument. Ignotus' descendent was murdered by an arrogant mortal trying to dodge his fate. He was quite short of patience at the moment.

"Of course," she murmured, still looking at the infant. She leaned down and gave the baby a final, insubstantial kiss on the cheek. "Be safe, Helen."

Thanatos held his hand out and she took it, allowing him to lead her to the entrance of the Underworld. Still in the cottage, Thanatos looked down on the infant in curiosity. He could sense… disruptions in the young soul. This girl, Helen, was the very last of Ignotus' family; she must be worth a closer look.

A thorough examination of her soul and a peculiar lightning bolt shaped cut (and wouldn't Zeus be displeased that a mortal dared to brand someone with his symbol) nearly sent him into a rage. Well, it looked like he had found one of the Horcruxes. He contemplated removing it right then and there, but hesitated. Having a piece of his soul could be useful one day, if the wraith ever opted to try and get revenge. It would recognize its brethren: the other soul pieces. It may work as a sort of warning system for the girl. Or even better, help her track the others down.

Thanatos felt a small, rarely used smile curl the very edges of his lips. It had been quite some time since he'd sent a Peverell on a quest. Perhaps it was time to have another go at it. And if he was reading it right, he wouldn't even have to bend the rules for the girl. She was far more than mortal: a demigoddess of considerable power. Decision made, Thanatos promised himself that he would keep an eye on the girl. He had a feeling she would do great things one day. The sound of a mortal entering the cottage echoed through the house, and Death let himself be carried away on any icy wind. He had more souls to reap this night.


The Dursley's of Number Four, Privet Drive valued normality above all else. They had no patience for oddities or freakishness. They thrived in their cookie-cutter neighborhood, with their company car and their precious son: Dudley. Life was good for Vernon and Petunia Dursley; or at least, it was, until the Potter girl showed up on their doorstep.

If Petunia had had it her way, the brat would have been in an orphanage so fast it would have made her head spin. She didn't want the spawn of her freaky sister infecting her perfect life: a constant reminder of her horrid sister and all the terrible emotions that came with. Unfortunately, she wanted her family killed by magical terrorists even less, so due to the blood protection, the brat had to stay. That wouldn't mean she'd treat the brat like her own though. She'd never let the girl forget how little she was wanted in their lives.

It was Vernon's idea that they keep her in the cupboard under the stairs, not wanting her near where they slept. Petunia more than agreed, also deciding they wouldn't buy the girl anything of her own. She didn't want to spend money on the little freak; hand-me-downs were more than good enough for a burden. They decided they would do everything they could to force the freakishness out of her, and they meant it. Maybe by the time they were done, she wouldn't be a witch anymore, just as common as anyone else.

Her plan wasn't nearly as successful as she'd hoped. The girl was uncommonly beautiful, even as a toddler. When they'd go to the park, it was the girl who other parents would come and compliment her on. They'd go on and on about how adorable she was and how proud Petunia should be. They never had anything to say about her Dudley, which proved just how poor of taste those infernal women were.

As she grew older, the girl seemed to decide that she could hate the Dursleys just as much as they hated her. She'd glare and sneer at them, make sarcastic comments, and taunt them on occasion, usually in the protection of their own home. Impertinent as the girl was, she understood the value of keeping up appearances. She even had the gall to get into physical altercations with Dudley! He'd come in bawling, claiming that Helen had shoved him or kicked him, or tripped him into the playground equipment. Her response was always the same, even though Petunia knew she must have been lying.

"He hit me first! Don't get snippy just because I finished what he started."

Lies, all poisonous lies! Her perfect Dudders wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone hit a girl, even though she did deserve it.

When they started school, the girl became even more intolerable. Notes were sent home, advising testing for dyslexia and ADHD. Petunia and Vernon were firm believers that those were just excuses for lazy or stupid people not to try. The little idiot was struggling to read, so what? They certainly weren't going to spend money on testing for the freak, let alone a special tutor. The part that really frustrated Petunia the most, however, was that despite her 'disabilities' the girl still got better grades than Dudley.

Parent teacher conferences just made her angry. The blasted girl was practically a hero to her foolish teachers for overcoming such 'obstacles.' She was apparently well liked by her classmates, especially the boys. The only good part was how they'd mention having to reprimand her often for not paying attention and a few subtle comments about her having a short temper, but even that was spoiled when they once again questioned Petunia about getting her ADHD discussed with a doctor.

The teachers had almost no good things to say about Dudley. Words like 'bully' and 'unfocused' and 'extra-help' were brought up more than once. Petunia just knew it had something to do with the freak girl, that she was poisoning the teachers against her precious son, who was the farthest thing from a bully imaginable.

Petunia punished the girl incessantly after that. The clothing she was given was more ragged; the chores list longer, the rations shorter. It only served to make the girl cuter though. She went from an adorable child who liked wearing boy's clothes, to a Cinderella figure in their community. An older neighbor of hers even had the audacity to ask if Vernon had lost his job, as if they couldn't afford to cloth a second child! Petunia insisted that the girl liked to dress like that, and Petunia just couldn't bear to deny her. The old woman looked skeptical, but let it go.

The worst thing of all though, was the magic. It didn't happen too often, but often enough to keep Petunia on her toes. There was the instance Dudley told her about: the girl teleporting on to the school roof. Petunia had lied to her darling son and insisted that she must have been caught by the wind. The girl was locked in her cupboard for two weeks after that.

Then there was the time with the sweater. It was brown with orange puffballs and the girl had blatantly refused to wear it, claiming it was so ugly it was insulting, the ungrateful brat. When Petunia had tried to force it on her, the thing had started shrinking until it was the size of a sock puppet. Petunia was so unnerved by seeing the magic actually happen that she didn't even punish the girl.

The most personal instance though was the hair. Petunia had heard one too many compliments about how beautiful her niece was. Petunia couldn't take it anymore; every time it was brought up it reminded her of her own childhood. How it felt to be the plain one, while Lily was the beautiful Evans daughter, the smart one that went to a private boarding school and married a handsome, rich husband. All that hurt and rage bubbled up, and she took a pair of scissors to her niece's cascade of beautiful, silky black curls. Let's see how pretty she is bald. It was one of the only times she'd managed to make the angry little brat cry, and the vindictive pleasure had been nearly overwhelming. Until the next morning, that was, when the demon child walked in to the kitchen with all of her long curls in place, a perfect wave flowing down her back.

The freaks rage had been… terrifying. The next morning she'd woken up to a pair of scissors lodged firmly into her bedroom door, keeping in place a family Christmas photo of her, Dudley and Vernon, the scissors stabbed right through her face. Petunia spent a week in abject terror, triple checking that the cupboard door was locked every night. The brat never did anything more in revenge, but the threat was clear- touch her hair again and suffer.

The children were ten and the brat still found new and innovative ways to enrage Petunia. Dudley often insisted that the brat was trying to steal his friends, as they all had little crushes on her. Petunia already knew the girl would be a whore when she got older; there was no way around it. She hoped that the freak didn't get pregnant; they were not raising another one in this house. She'd sooner see the girl in the streets, magical terrorists be damned.

If she wasn't stealing Dudley's friends, she was slacking on her chores. Petunia had to threaten long-term starvation to get the brat to weed the garden; she didn't like the dirt under her nails apparently. Then there were the more subtle slaps in the face, like at her and Dudley's class Halloween party. Petunia had gone out and bought Dudley a top-notch pirate costume, the best made and most expensive she could. She'd tossed an old sheet at the freak and told her to go as a ghost with a nasty smile on her face. The freak had looked from the sheet to Petunia a few times, lips pursed, before shrugging and walking away.

Petunia was positive she'd won that one until she showed up as a parent chaperone at the party. She'd expected to see a pathetic ghost in the corner, her beauty for once obscured by the sheet. Instead, she saw a Greek goddess in the middle of the room- the very life of the party. The sheet had been refashioned into a white chiton, her black curls were pinned elegantly, and she was carrying a little stuffed dove in her hand- perhaps one of the many stuffed animals lost to the void of Dudley's second bedroom; rejected for not being 'boyish' enough. When the girl noticed Petunia's arrival she smiled pleasantly in her aunt's direction, but Petunia could practically see the infernal child adding a point on a mental scoreboard, signaling that she'd won this round. Petunia hated her more than ever.

Now it was Dudley's eleventh birthday and Petunia swore she'd let nothing ruin it. The girl would be staying with Mrs. Figg down the road while Vernon and Petunia took their son to the zoo. They would enjoy a nice day as a family with no freak to drag them down.

If only it were that easy.


Helen Potter hated her relatives. Any one who shoved a kid in a closet for ten years deserved her malice, but this was personal because she was that kid. She'd put up with it of course, what choice did she have? As far as she knew she had no other family, being orphaned and all, and she really didn't want to live on the streets. She'd seen… strange things on the streets before. Demon dogs the size of compact cars digging through the trash and one-eyed men that no one else seemed to notice. She would rush home as soon as she spotted them, and they never seemed to be able to find her at the Dursley's, even if a few had tried to follow her home.

Strange street creatures aside, Helen still hated living with her relatives. Principally because they hated her and never let her forget it. When she had been younger she'd yearned for their approval, wanted them to love her. She'd figured out it wasn't going to happen pretty quick, though, and by the time she started school she hated them as much as they hated her. Maybe more, at least she had a reason to hate them, unlike their inexplicable hatred of an innocent child.

If they wanted a fight, she'd give them a fight. Maybe they could force her to do a ridiculous amount of housework, and wear ugly hand-me-downs that were out-of-fashion when they were still new, and lock her up and starve her. But that didn't mean she couldn't get them back in her own way. She considered herself to be in a constant state of war with the Dursleys and it was a war she would win.

Her greatest weapon was her looks. She knew she was pretty, and she ruthlessly took advantage of that fact. She'd charmed the neighborhood early on, and it wasn't hard when her competition was Dudley. She knew her clothes made her look like some sort of fairytale slave girl, and when the old lady up the street asked if she liked to dress like that, she'd given a polite 'no ma'am' and left it at that. The woman, Mrs. Geering, was quick to draw her own conclusions. Rumors of Vernon's termination at work flew for months and she did nothing to stop it.

Helen wasn't just a pretty face though, she was much more than that and resented that it was all some people saw in her. When school started and she realized reading would be hard for her, she was determined to overcome it. She read relentlessly at school, and practiced writing her letters whenever she could, as well as spelling. She'd never do as well as she could have without dyslexia, but she did much better than any of the teachers expected of her when her condition became common knowledge to them. Much better than Dudley, which was part of the point. She wanted to show the Dursley's how exceptional she was compared to them, how she could outshine their son even with a disability. She wasn't beaten down; they'd only made her stronger.

Then she focused on friends. She wasn't a monster and considered Dudley to be more of a spoiled idiot than an evil presence that must pay (like his parents) so she didn't try to isolate him socially and leave him with no friends. But she did reach out a bit to the friends he did have, building bridges to ensure they'd hesitate if Dudley ever tried to set them on her.

She'd made many 'friends' of her own too. A strong social circle could come in handy if Vernon and Petunia ever tried to turn the neighborhood against her (again). She had many acquaintances, but if she was honest, no close friends. How could she? It's not like she could take them home for a paly date. Where would they play? Her cupboard? No, she was different from the other children. Strange things happened around her, like the time she'd just appeared on the roof or shrunk Dudley's ugly sweater. It made it hard to get close to anyone.

The last front in her Dursley war was physical. If Dudley was going to start a fight she was going to end it. She was stronger than she looked, and more importantly, she could take a hit and keep going. Dudley was down after the first bruise and that was always her advantage. She was pretty quick too, running and dodging came naturally.

There were many other instances of civil disobedience but the point was she might go along with their rules and restrictions because she had no choice, but there was still fight in her.

It was Dudley's eleventh birthday, and it was just another battle to be fought. There was the Battle of the Stove, where she made them breakfast but managed to swipe a few pieces of bacon for herself. Then came the Battle of Basic Addition (which was really only a battle for Dudley) where Helen was at peace knowing that even though Dudley would get thirty-eight presents this year and she would get none for her birthday, at least she could count to thirty eight. The main event was to take place at the Battle of London Zoo.

Originally, Helen wasn't supposed to go with them to the zoo, and she was fine with that. Time away from the Dursley's was a blessing from the gods, even if it came at the cost of time with Mrs. Figg. Unfortunately, Mrs. Figg had broken her leg tripping over her small army of cats (and it truly was an army- Helen had once mobilized them to fight a neighborhood raccoon invasion, but that's another story) and couldn't take her for the day. With no options, and afraid to leave her home alone ever since the scissors-in-door incident (that's what you get for touching her precious hair), the Dursley's were forced to take her.

She sat in the back, smashed between Dudley and his best friend: Piers Polkiss. Piers was friendly with her, had been ever since she'd helped him pick up his homework in the crowded hallway after a rip in his backpack sent the contents scattering to the floor. Helen got the impression that he only hung out with Dudley for protection. He was the weedy sort- incredibly skinny and would have made an easy target for bullies if he hadn't gotten in good with the biggest one at school. Helen couldn't fault his self-preservation but he was becoming a bit of jerk hanging out with bullies all the time.

The ride to London was relatively violence free as they all listened to Uncle Vernon wax poetic about the things he hated. That list was long but he mostly kept it to Helen, motorcycles, Helen, facial piercings, Helen, some politician she'd never heard the name of, and Helen. Helen was fine with that as the hatred was mutual.

When they arrived at the zoo, the first thing they did was stop at an ice cream stand. Helen could tell Vernon and Petunia would try to avoid getting her anything, so she made sure to make eye contact with the vendor in order to get asked what she wanted. Helen got a lemon icy out of spite against her relatives more than love for ice cream. She saw the disgruntled expression on her aunt's face and counted it as a win. The icy tasted like victory.

They perused the zoo, and Helen made sure to stand a few paces behind them at all times as if it would disassociate her from their group. She could even pretend she was here with people she liked if she tried hard enough. They whipped through the large cats, the monkeys, the zebras, and the petting zoo. They had a few boars in the petting zoo, kept behind a fence, who she could have sworn were following her with their beady eyes. The feeling was repeated in the bird house, where a dove nearly smashed itself into the glass wall of its habitat trying to get a good look at her. Helen beat a hasty retreat.

After the bird house was lunch, where Helen had the pleasure of watching her obese cousin and uncle rip through hamburgers like they were going out of style. She was used to this show, but Piers seemed a little less resilient despite having been over for dinner a few times. He pushed his chicken fingers away only half finished and tried to avoid looking at his friend while he ate. Dudley ate the rest of his chicken fingers.

After lunch came the reptile house. Dudley must have been pretty excited for the reptiles because he was waddling along faster than normal. Helen kept her relaxed pace and entered after the rest. She was greeted with the site of Dudley banging on the window showing a large python that wasn't doing much. After a few futile minutes and some intense complaining at the lack of action, Dudley moved on to some of the other poor creatures. Helen strolled over to the python.

"Hello, there. I'm sorry about him. He doesn't understand what it's like to live in a cage," Helen murmured sympathetically. She felt a bit of kinship with the reptile. She was just as trapped as the snake, and had the same ugly people tapping her cupboard door as the snake had tapping its window. The only difference was Helen could tap back. And she intended too. The snake seemed to take her words to heart too, as its head rose up about level with hers, as if it was listening intently. Helen felt her eyes widen.

"Er, where are you from?" she blurted, not sure what to say to an uncommonly intelligent reptile. The snake's tail gestured toward a plaque beside its habitat. Helen's eyes widened further. It could actually understand her!

"Brazil? Oh, bred in captivity. Rotten luck," she mused, still stunned. The snake nodded its commiseration.

"Dudley! Mr. Dursley! Look what the snake's doing!" shouted Piers Polkiss. Helen had just enough time to grit her teeth in irritation at being interrupted in the only intelligent conversation she'd gotten all day, when an elbow to the ribs sent her to the floor, her cousins ugly mug now pressed up against the glass. Helen made to push herself up so she could beat the stuffing out of the brute she unwillingly called her cousin when she stopped in astonishment as the glass disappeared and Dudley went tumbling into the tank with a wail of fear.

Out slithered an eight-foot python. It gleefully made its way toward the door while the zoo patrons shrieked in fear. It looked back over at her for a moment, still splayed on the ground in surprise.

"Thanksss amiga."

And the snake was gone. A meaty hand dragged her up and she was staring into the purple face of her uncle while her aunt moaned in fear and Dudley spluttered in the tanks shallow pool.

"What did you do?" he barked, looking madder than she could remember him ever being at the moment.

"Nothing!" she replied, quick and to the point. What was she to say? She had no idea how the glass disappeared. She was forcibly pulled back to the car, and once more smashed between the two boys. The only difference was now Piers was babbling and Dudley was soaked. The ride home was tense and awkward and Helen knew she would be doing hard time in the cupboard for this, even though she had no idea what exactly happened.

She was tossed in to the cupboard by a rough hand as soon as they got home and it would be well in to summer vacation by the time she was freed. July that summer was hot, and the Dursleys made her do extra gardening because they're awful, or at least she was pretty sure that was their motivation. Helen kept her chin up though. It was nothing she couldn't handle; she always tanned well anyway, so who was really losing?

A week before her eleventh birthday, things were more or less the same. She had to make breakfast, stole some sausages without guilt, and was planning to escape to the park down the street before an unreasonable chore was stacked onto her thin shoulders. The only difference she could think of was that Dudley had received his uniform for the school he'd be attending in the fall: Smeltings. More than being just hideous (and oh was it hideous- from it's burnt orange color to it's old fashioned cut and awful hat) the uniform also included a stubby stick that the boys were supposed to hit each other with when teachers weren't looking- supposedly this would build character. The only character it's built in Dudley so far was that of fear.

He'd tried exactly one time to smack Helen with the Smeltings stick. She'd proceeded to dodge the blow, snatch the stick out of his hand, and smack him on the back of the head so hard with it that he'd collapsed in the park where they were having their little confrontation. She'd leveled the stick at his prone form and gave him the most menacing glare in her arsenal.

"Try that again, and next time I'll be aiming for your bits," she snarled, before dropping the stick next to his thick head. Needless to say, Dudley kept the Smeltings stick to himself after that. She must have scared him pretty badly, because he didn't even tell his parents that she'd hit him. Good. He should be scared. This fear happened to blow up in Helen's face that very morning when the post arrived.

"Dudley, get the mail," Vernon grunted into his coffee cup.

"Make Helen get it," he replied.

"Helen, get the mail," he repeated.

"Make Dudley get it," she mocked.

"Dudley, hit her with the stick," Vernon commanded. Helen could practically see the flash of indecision in her cousin's eyes. Very pointedly, she made eye contact before letting her eyes trail south. The terror on his face was hilarious.

"You know what, I think I'll get it myself," he stuttered out before fleeing the kitchen. Helen resisted the urge to smile, especially when she noticed Aunt Petunia's suspicious glare aimed at her.

"Oi! The freak's got a letter! Who'd be writing to you?" Dudley questioned, fear forgotten. Helen lifted a single eyebrow. Who would write to her? A friend from school, maybe? She'd gotten a few postcards from acquaintances gone on vacation somewhere interesting, but never a full-blown letter.

"Are you sure it's for her, Dudders?" Aunt Petunia asked, taking the letter from his hand. Helen went to go snatch the letter from her aunt, it was her mail after all, but was stopped by the biggest over-reaction in human history.

Aunt Petunia went very pale, and started clutching her throat convulsively. She was staring at the letter, which Helen noticed was oddly thick and yellowish in color, with absolute horror etched on her features.

"Vernon! It's… it's… them!" she choked in a raspy voice. Uncle Vernon went from normal to puce in no time flat.

"No, absolutely not. I'll not have one of them in the house!" he spluttered.

"One of what? Who sent that? I want to know, it's my letter," Helen demanded, patience gone. Vernon and Petunia whipped around like they'd just remembered Helen and Dudley were in the room.

"Get out!" Uncle Vernon thundered, making to grab Helen and Dudley. "Out of the kitchen! Now!" he barked.

"Not without my letter," Helen refuted, getting well and truly frustrated. Vernon seemed not to hear her.

"Out!" he shouted once more, throwing her bodily into the hallway. "Dudley, go to your room."

"But I want to see," Dudley whined as if he had any right.

"No, there's nothing to see, now go!" he commanded, surprising Helen and Dudley. It wasn't often he got told no. Dudley was pushed, rather gently, into the hall as well before the door was closed sharply.

Dudley stuck his ear to the keyhole while Helen listened through the crack at the bottom of the door.

"Vernon, what are we going to do?" Petunia fretted, sounding panicked.

"Nothing," he declared resolutely. "We'll do nothing. No reply. No acknowledgement. Nothing. The freaks will have to give up."

"I don't know if that'll work Vernon," Petunia said unsurely. Vernon chuckled nervously.

"Don't worry, Pet. These people aren't like us. They don't think the same way."

"I suppose you're right. But what if they're watching the house?"

Vernon seemed to contemplate that for a moment.

"You may be on to something. We'll just have to make sure they have no reason to act," he mumbled mostly to himself.

And with that, the conversation was over. Uncle Vernon ripped the letter into tiny pieces and Aunt Petunia began washing the dishes. Later that day, Vernon visited Helen in her cupboard for the first time in living memory.

"Helen, I was thinking, you really are getting too big for this, er, cupboard. Petunia and I discussed it, and we decided that from now on you can stay in Dudley's second bedroom," he managed to spit out.

Helen could feel the sneer taking over her face. Should she be grateful that after a decade of being shoved in a dark, dusty, spider infested closet they were more or less blackmailed by mysterious letter senders that may or may not be watching the house to give her the smallest bedroom filled with broken crap? She shared none of this though. This was an opportunity she wouldn't miss.

Dragging her stuff upstairs took all of one trip and they hadn't bothered to clean the room up for her. She spent the rest of the day trying to shove Dudley's stuff into inconspicuous places, taking what little still had value- like the working alarm clock she found under a pile of never-been-worn clothes. The clothes offered another opportunity. They were obviously boys clothes, but too small for Dudley. Probably gifts that didn't fit and got tossed in here in response. All of it was still too big for her, but better than what she was working with already. Looks like she'd gotten a new wardrobe too.

As it turns out, they'd failed to inform Dudley of what was going on until she was already moved in. The tantrum when he did discover it would go down in Privet Drive history. He cried, screamed, threw up, threw his pet turtle out the window, smashed a series of expensive electronics, and even smacked his mothers hand with the smelting stick (which had gotten him his first ever angry lecture from his father) and he still didn't have his room back. Helen couldn't stop herself from giving Dudley a smug smile the next morning at breakfast.

The mail came again, and it was Aunt Petunia who got to it first, so it was Aunt Petunia who proceeded to burn several yellowish letters in the fireplace and ignore Helen's demands that she hand one over. Things spiraled out of control after that.

Owls were stalking the house, letters were flying about constantly, Helen had been locked in her room to keep her from snatching one, and when they started shooting from the fireplace, well, that was the last straw. Uncle Vernon packed them all up in the car, barely giving Helen time to snatch up some of her 'new' clothes before they set off to the seaside. There were a lot of strange driving maneuvers, back tracking, traveling down unnecessary country roads, and the like, but eventually they were headed toward a small shack on a rocky island while Uncle Vernon cradled a long thin package in his arms.

"Daddy's gone mad, hasn't he?" Dudley whispered to his mother. Petunia hushed him, but she looked just as nervous of her husbands deteriorating mental state.

It was nearing midnight that night, and Helen was curled up on the freezing, damp ground, counting down the minutes until her birthday with Dudley's digital watch. It wasn't every day you turned eleven, now, was it? Thunder and lightning cracked through the sky, the storm having started a few hours ago. Helen thought it was an appropriately dreary backdrop to this dreary husk of a building. It added a little drama if nothing else.

As a crack of thunder shook the building, Dudley's watch signaled the arrival of her birthday, and the door to the shack went flying off its hinges.