DISCLAIMER THE FIRST: It is by JKR's writing alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the grace of coffee that thoughts acquire speed, the back acquires strains, the strains become a warning. The warning is that I make no money from this. It is by JKR's writing alone I set my mind in motion.
PITHY STATEMENT RELATING TO THIS CHAPTER: "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail." Heraclitus of Ephesus – Greek philosopher – 535-475 BCE
Last Updated: 03-14-2014
CHAPTER ONE – UNEXPECTED POST
#4 PRIVET DRIVE, LITTLE WHINGING – JULY 30th 1998 – AFTERNOON
Harry rinsed his hair and then turned the water from warm to hot. Even though he knew the chance of any of the Dursleys taking a shower later was low, heaven forbid he used up much hot water. Still, he always splurged a bit right before getting out of the shower.
The heat helped to loosen the tension in his shoulders. It had been a busy day at the Sainsbury Superstore and he still had a shift later that evening at the Egham Gas Works. The double-shifts at both his jobs was tough but he had been working feverishly for the last few years to build up a nest egg for the day he both dreaded and looked forward to.
That day was tomorrow. The day he turned eighteen. The day Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had long told him they would finally be shot of him even if they had grudgingly said he could stay till the first of September. Even so, Harry wasn't taking any chances so all his plans had centered more on his birthday rather than the first of September.
Harry shut off the water and grabbed a towel and began to dry himself off. As he did so, for the millionth time wondered why his relatives had taken him in at all. Certainly Uncle Vernon had threatened him plenty of times with being dropped of at an orphanage. He'd even talked to Father Gordon at St. John of Rochester quite a few times about seeing if somehow the Church could take Harry off their hands.
Harry looked at the blurry image of himself in the foggy mirror. The image smirked back at him as he thought how Father Gordon probably didn't want to inflect Harry upon his Church given how much the man loathed him. Like his Uncle Vernon, Harry wasn't sure where the hatred came from other than it was there.
Harry finished up in the bathroom, careful to make sure it was as tidy as it had been when he entered. If he didn't, he might find himself locked out of the house again. While he had a key to the front door, Uncle Vernon had installed a second key lock so he could lock Harry out if he was angry at him for some slight or another.
After toughing out a few cold nights, Harry had finagled some padding and an old Army salvage sleeping bag he stashed in the tool shed. Since none of his relatives ever went in there (the gardening chores being his after all) all his emergency gear had gone unnoticed. However he'd rather not have to sleep in the drafty and cold shed if he could avoid it.
Harry made his way down the stairs to make a small dinner for himself. In doing so he had to smile at the thought of his Aunt Petunia having to deal with the kitchen without his help. For so many years he had been her kitchen servant, practically a maid, to do her cleaning and even most of the cooking when he had gotten older.
This changed somewhat when he went to Stonewall because Dudley had had followed in his father's footsteps to go to Smeltings. This meant he no longer had to dumb himself down in regards to his grades compared to Dudley's. So Harry couldn't afford to slack off on his schoolwork. Indeed he threw himself into it. Sitting up in his room was quite a few copies of packages he had sent off for grants and scholarships. His teachers all told him he'd certainly qualify for something. Even so, Harry had started working after school to start preparing himself financially for the future.
If he didn't manage to win any school money, Harry fully intended to join the British Army. There was no way he was going to end up a homeless bum on the dole like his Uncle said he would! Besides while he had a few friends he'd miss (like his co-worker Mike at Egham's) he had little tying him to the area.
His off-and-on-again girlfriend Mary was currently in the off mode after she'd gotten angry he wouldn't skive off work to go to a concert with her. While she rarely held it against him, Harry knew Mary's well-off upbringing made it hard for her to understand his drive. Unlike her, who had parents paying her way to Uni, Harry couldn't afford a pink slip.
Of course all of this hard work had cut into his chore time, especially in the kitchen since he often got home very late. This had set in motion the one and only fight Harry had picked with his relatives and surprisingly he had won. After years of the subtle abuse, the harsh punishments and the snide comments, Harry knew this was a fight he had to win.
That his aunt and uncle had backed down in the face of him angrily threatening them about how they had treated him over the years still amazed him. One moment they were yelling back and forth, Petunia with her shrill, biting tone and Vernon with his face flush red and the veins in his forehead throbbing and the next both seemed frightened of him. The argument quickly ended with Harry being allowed to continue working and saving all his wages.
To add to the oddity of the event was an off-hand comment from Dudley about how 'wicked cool' he thought Harry's eyes had looked. Supposedly Harry's eyes had seemed to glow in his anger during the argument. Harry had scoffed at this but his cousin had only shrugged and said nothing else about it. While he had been a terror to him while he was younger, after Smeltings, Dudders had other things to do than hang around and terrorize Harry.
For some reason Dudley's comments had never sat well with Harry. His entire life had been filled with little oddities and this was just one in a long line of them. Like how had he gotten on top of the roof when being chased by Dudley and his gang when he was eight? How did that nasty teacher's hair turn blue? Why was there always things breaking or chipping when he was angry or being punished? Dudley wasn't one to make weird comments so if he said Harry's eyes were glowing, Harry had to admit that to Dudley they must have.
Harry looked down an was surprised to find his plate almost empty. In all his musings, he had managed to make himself dinner and eat most of it without realizing it! The teen smiled to himself. The foreman at Egham's often said Harry was lost in the clouds more often than not.
Harry's smile turned to a frown. His imagination was about the only thing which had kept him going during the dark years before Stonewall. This was especially true when he was young and had yet to outgrow the cupboard under the stairs. His flights of fancy was all he had since any toys he had were scrounged from Dudley's cast-offs.
It was in the darkness of that cupboard that Harry felt his passion for drawing had been born. His mind had created all sorts of things and through drawing these flights of fancy became real on the paper. Out of these early drawings would come an idea of what he wanted to do for a living. Harry hoped to become an architect. His friends at Stonewall thought this an odd choice given how most of them thought he'd go into graphic or commercial art. But Harry had a burning desire to build new things, new habitats where things made sense and there was harmony.
A place different from the sterile sameness of the houses along Privet Drive where the banality of suburbia covered many sins.
Before Harry's musings could go down a dark road of bad memories of the past, a tapping at the window startled him.
Harry was even more startled to see what was making the tapping in the first place. A rather large owl was glaring at him through the glass before tapping impatiently on the glass again. Harry goggled at this for a bit when he realized the bird had a piece of rolled up paper of all things tied to it's leg.
"Did the Post go on strike?" Harry said with a shake of his head as he got up from the kitchen table and opened the window. He was sure his friend and Egham co-worker Mike was having him on in some form of pre-birthday prank. Yet what sort of joke started with an note tied to an owl of all things?
The moment the window opened, the owl quickly flew inside and landed on the table, eyeing the remains of Harry's dinner. But just as Harry rushed over to shoo it away, the owl surprised him by balancing on one leg while thrusting the other leg with the paper on it towards him. Harry eyed the bird who simply glared back. Finally carefully reached out and untied the parchment. He backed away from the owl who had immediately ignored him as it attacked the remnants of his dinner.
Harry frowned at the owl. The idea that this wasn't some prank was starting to tip-toe into his brain. Where would any of his friends get such a well trained owl? Harry looked out the windows but didn't see anything. Was it possible he was being set up by some TV comedy show?
Shaking his head at that thought, Harry looked at the parchment in his hands. It was closed with a wax stamp of all things. Harry couldn't make out the symbol embossed in the wax very well other than it was a shield with four different characters on it.
Harry broke the seal and unrolled the parchment to find it had a smaller note stuck to it. There was a second parchment which looked like a map on it. Additionally there was a small piece of blank paper which felt odd to Harry's touch. What struck him almost immediately was the writing seemed to have been done by hand with a calligraphy pen of all things!
To Harry James Potter
#4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging
From the office of Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Scotland.
Harry blinked at this. Perhaps this was a prank after all.
Congratulations! You have been selected for matriculation at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the upcoming 1998-1999 term. While at Hogwarts, Europe's premier school of magic, you will learn the theoretical underpinnings of magic, practical applications of magic, the culture of Magical Britain, the delicate art of potion making and the care and use of magical flora and fauna. Your Hogwarts education will enable you to fully integrate into society as befitting one who can wield magic.
This will no doubt come as a shock to you as you have lived you life among the non-magicals or Muggles as they are called. Therefore it is expected for you to dismiss this as some form of joke. Rest assured that your acceptance into Hogwarts is no prank and magic is very real.
In the past, Muggleborn or Muggle-raised have been visited by one of our faculty to explain to the family the ins-and-outs of the magical world. However due to advances in Muggle surveillance technology, the Ministry of Magic has decried that all Muggleborn or Muggle-raised to London for the initial orientation to help keep the Statue of Secrecy intact.
We at Hogwarts understand this is a lot to take in without proof. Attached to this message is a small piece of paper. This paper has been pre-enchanted to react to a person's magical signature. Hold the paper in your subordinate hand and tap it with your dominant hand's index finger and say the phrase Initia Incantio. This will begin the spell to prove magic is quite real by transforming the paper into wood. Tapping this wood with your finger again will cause it to catch fire so be sure it is in a safe area before activating the spell.
Because your are Muggleborn/Muggle-raised, this will set off an alarm to the Ministry of Magic. Normally this would be a warning against using magic outside designated safe areas. However in this case you will be sent a record of all instances of accidental magic done by the student. Magic manifest quite often during a child's development and during times of stress it can cause unexplained things. This record should go a long way to further prove magic's existence.
Harry looked at the second piece of paper. His mind was abuzz with the implications! It would make sense to dismiss this out of hand but too many odd things had happened to him or others around him growing up. Why hadn't he just been thinking about some of those bizarre things in his life not 5 minutes ago?
Harry rushed outside and pushed some of the lawn furniture away on the cement patio deck. He looked at the parchment again to be sure he would say the 'spell' correctly. For the first time, Harry was glad for the Latin lessons he had complained about back at school. He at least had a good idea of what he was saying. With a deep breath, Harry touched the paper and said firmly, "Initia Incantio!"
A cry of wonder and joy burst forth from Harry as the paper in his hand suddenly turned into wood. Harry began to laugh as he laid the piece of wood on the ground and tapped it again with his finger. After a brief pause, the wood was engulfed in a fierce blue-white flame which burnt it to ash in seconds.
Harry looked at the small pile of ash in amazement. He had just seen honest to God magic! Yet a life at the Dursleys had made him wary of his relatives so he quickly went and grabbed a dust pan and cleaned up the ash and returning the patio furniture to its rightful place. He also grabbed a piece of ham from the refrigerator when the owl hooted at him from the table. The owl greedily chowed down on this offering.
Harry had just finished moving the last piece of patio furniture back into place when a piercing owl hoot caught his attention. Harry looked up and sure enough another owl was winging its way towards him. It landed on the back of one of the chairs and quickly thrust out its leg like the first owl had.
Harry hurried to untie the note. Unlike the first owl, however, this owl took to the skies immediately after the note was removed. Harry noted it too was sealed by wax but this time the seal looked far more official. Harry broke the seal and began to read.
Even though it was done in ink like the first, Harry felt an immediate sense that this was a sort of form letter. The language was very terse in informing him that an incident of magic had been detected at his location but it fit the parameters of a Hogwarts acceptance letter. This was followed by a passage talking about the dangers of doing magic outside safe zones. Finally there was a list of previous magic instances which he had presumably done without realizing it.
Harry looked the list over and began nodding to himself. While he didn't understand all the terminology (what did obliviation mean?) Harry recognize almost every instance of something weird happening to him. About the only item which he didn't that caught his eye was something about a use of a banishing charm at the Surrey zoo. Harry remembered reading something about a problem in the Reptile exhibit a few years ago which coincided with a visit by him and the Dursleys. However all he could remember was a boa constrictor had briefly managed to escape. Now he had to wonder what really had happened given how now that he thought on it, Harry couldn't remember anything about that trip.
Harry carefully rolled the paper up and went back into the kitchen and unrolled the first parchment and began to read again.
Obviously even with this demonstration of magic, you and your family (Harry snorted at this; like he was going to tell his Uncle and Aunt about this!) will have many questions. These questions will be answered in a class to be held in London on August 1st. Then on August 15th there will be another class which will allow students to be walked through buying their school supplies for the coming year. Term begins on September 1st.
Harry's eyes narrowed at this. September 1st was the date Harry had been given as the day Uncle Vernon had told him he'd absolutely be kicked out by. Given that he was of age with his birthday tomorrow, this again got Harry wondering why the Dursleys would put up with him for another month. Did his relatives know about this Hogwarts and that he might be going there when September of his 18th year had come?
Harry bit his lip. It might explain why the Dursleys had kept him all these years even when they didn't like him. Perhaps they knew about this magical school and had been told to care for him after his parents died.
Harry suddenly wondered if perhaps his parents hadn't died in a car crash after all. If he was a wizard then perhaps one or both of his parents might have been as well? Harry looked over at a small family portrait (which he wasn't in of course) which Petunia was fond of and kept on the windowsill of the kitchen. Maybe his father had been a wizard! Given all the times Petunia had made snide comments about his dad, Harry had to wonder if it was because he was a wizard and took his mother off to these so called 'safe zones' for magic?
Harry thought about this for a moment before turning back to the parchment.
Initial Hogwarts orientation will begin at 10 o-clock sharp the morning of August 1st and continue till the dinner meal. The location of the class will be in the conference room at the Leaky Cauldron Pub. Directions and other related information can be found on the attached map. Please note, any non-magical family members will not be able to see the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron unless physically touching a Magical.
Lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages will be provided. Please refrain from bringing any cameras or electronics as magic has a way of bollixing up such devices. The Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts will not be liable for any such damages if this warning is not heeded.
The orientation will explain all the benefits of a Hogwarts education, payment options, legacy students, Hogwarts houses and much, much more. We ask you only bring patience and an open mind. Magical society has been hidden for centuries and many of our ways will seem odd. Rest assured Muggleborns/Muggle-raised have a place in our society!
If, however, for whatever reason you refuse this orientation, please check the box below stating "I will not be attending Hogwarts" otherwise please check the box "I will be attending" and return this parchment to the delivery owl.
Till August 1st,
Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagall
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, Scotland - Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus
Harry couldn't help but snort at the last. What sort of university had such a motto? Even for a magical school it seemed a bit fanciful. Harry reread the entire paper again to make sure he hadn't missed anything. After reading the note from the Ministry of Magic, Harry could sense that this was also a form letter. This was even more obvious due to the small note attached to the bottom written in a much less neat, even hand. That and the ink had a reddish tint.
I taught your parents as well as being something of a mentor to them both. I realize this comes as a shock and I wish circumstances allowed me to physically meet you prior to the meeting. Alas I have not been able to do meet-and-greets in person since 1982.
While you will only be one of the many Muggleborn/Muggle-raised students, your case is very special. More I cannot say but there are security questions involved. I doubt the Dursleys have told you much of your parents given the animosity I witnessed by Petunia Evans when I visited your mother when giving her her Hogwarts letter. Suffice to say your parents died under dire circumstances which still affect Magical Britain to this day. So while I do not expect any problems, I want you to keep this note with you when you journey to the Leaky Cauldron.
If at any time you feel threatened or in danger, grasp the note and say, "Godric" and you will be magically transported to a safe place. Again while I do not believe there will be a problem, please do this favor for an old woman who saw far too many of her friends go on to the next great adventure before their time.
While the Headmaster wants to ease you into things slowly, I have battled with him regarding you since the day you were placed with your Aunt and Uncle. I owe it to your parents not to have you kept in the dark when, as you will find out, you are considered quite famous in our world. Do not be shocked when you are treated like a celebrity. Again I wish I could say more but till we can talk privately at the Leaky Cauldron, just keep your cool and be brave. All your questions will be answered.
Professor of Transfigurations & Head of House Gryffindor
Harry grabbed a pen from a holder near the phone on the kitchen counter and checked the box stating his intention to attend the orientation. Nothing was going to stop him from finding out more! The personal note from this McGonagall opened up lots and lots of questions even as it sort of answered some already.
It was obvious now that both his parents were magical. He wondered if his father had been born into the magical world or was a "Muggleborn" like his mother appeared to be. He assumed he was one of the "Muggle-raised" given how both of his parents were magical. Harry wished he could quiz Petunia about things but as the note said, it was obvious that Petunia had not taken well that her sister had been a witch.
Harry looked up at the wall and swore. He'd have to hustle to get to work on time. He carefully folded up the note McGonagall had sent and put it in his wallet. He then tied the official parchment back onto the waiting owl. It hooted loudly as it flew out the window which Harry closed after it. He watch it fly away and then quickly cleaned up before rushing up stairs to grab his work badge.
Regardless of how much his life had changed, Harry wasn't going to miss work over it. There still was the odd chance this was some sort of elaborate charade. He doubted it but he wasn't going to queer up his job which was part of his ticket to a life after the Dursleys.
Chapter Two Preview: Harry's off to London for the orientation and meets a future classmate on the way!
A/N: Given the response to this and the fact I can't get it out of my head, I figured I'd give in and post this. I'm going to try for small chapters and post when I can between chapters of my other fics like Rejected Path and Paging Dr. Bell. If anything, this fic will allow me to look at other characters (like Mandy Brocklehurst or Sophia Roper) before they show up in Paging Dr. Bell.
Canon? What is this canon you speak of? Frankly I think most canon is going right out the window in this fic. Too much of canon just won't work with characters with half-a brain. As it has been said many times before, much of Harry Potter only works if every character has access at one time or another to the "Idiot Ball" which saps their ability to make logical choices.
Ships: Not even sure who Harry will end up with in this fic. I've got an idea but I'm just going to let the story develop and see what happens. I can say it won't be Ginny nor Luna. I think I'm going to try to do something different with Luna since I get enough accusations of Mary Sue Luna as it is. Plus one factor in this fic is mixing up the characters so not to constantly use the same ones over and over again.
Feedback: This is a fic I definitely will be taking a lot of suggestions on. Already got a great one regarding this being a fic where Harry might reasonably have taken some form of martial arts or boxing. Given how he was bullied early in life, I can see Harry doing this. So how prevalent is boxing classes or martial arts classes in the UK back in the 90's? Would it be something Harry could afford on his own?