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PRESENT HARRY: All the other Gryffindors hated me. I lost loads of house points... I sometimes woke everyone up screaming in the middle of the night, without knowing why.

Past Harry sits up in a four-poster bed, screaming, the picture's outlines glaring bright orange to represent zir mental/emotional state. Ron Weasley and two other students are awake, with a mix of groggyness and anger directed at Harry. Harry is fat in this moment.


PRESENT HARRY: Hufflepuff won the House Cup that year. We were in last place by more than a hundred points, even with your last-minute heroics.

Granger stands and smiles while a bunch of other people celebrate Granger by shooting off magical fireworks around zem. Nearby, two Slytherin students, Blaise Zabini and Draco Malfoy, are watching. The Slytherins speak in a curvy but fairly formal style; Draco speaks in grey and Zabini in pale orange.

ZABINI: It's that same Mudblood who got on the front page of the Prophet {the Daily Prophet, a wizarding newspaper} last fall for getting lucky and beating a troll. Someone should teach her a lesson.

DRACO: Zabini, that's Hermione Granger! You can't fight her – she'll turn us all into chinchillas and report us straight to the Headmaster!

PRESENT HARRY: It was almost a relief to go back to the Dursleys for the summer.

Harry – now fat and with wild hair – grinning savagely as zir adoptive family, the Dursleys, face in the other direction. Vernon Dursley and Petunia Dursley are wearing stiff business suits and ties; Dudley Dursley, their child, is in a wheelchair. All of them are looking down and have grim expressions. Vernon and Dudley have relatively light skin and hair, while Petunia is slightly darker, like Harry (after all, Petunia is Harry's closest genetic relation in the family).

PRESENT HARRY: They knew there were rules against me using magic, but they knew I didn't follow rules very much when I was angry. It was the first time other people were afraid of me. It felt good.

(hide transcript)

You will see more of Blaise Zabini. Ze's not a main character, but ze will be important.

In the books, Zabini's gender wasn't revealed until the sixth book, so fan-fiction versions of zem have a variety of genders. In this story, I'm going to ignore zir belated canon gender and simply choose not to reveal zir gender at all. (Technically speaking, I haven't revealed the genders of any of my characters, but with Zabini, I'm not even going to reveal what gender other characters think ze is.) I'm constructing a fairly gender-egalitarian world here, so it won't cause any trouble for understanding the plot – and I really dislike picking genders for characters in the role Zabini will play. I invite you to imagine Zabini as male, and imagine Zabini as female, and examine whether you feel differently about the story based on that.

Actually, I invite you to do that with every character. And in every story you read, not just Voldemort's Children.

On another note, I'd originally been planning to make the Slytherins' lettering (Zabini is in Slytherin) use a small-caps style with lots of serifs like the one McGonagall uses, but I decided against it. That style is both tiring to write and hard to read, and I needed to put a bunch of text in a small area on this page. I'm pretty happy with the style I settled on. To me, at least, it's very readable, and it still has a certain amount of formality and elegance to it, without taking lots of extra effort to draw.

Approximate readability: 9.29 (1153 characters, 264 words, 13 sentences, 4.37 characters per word, 20.31 words per sentence)