It was a perfectly ordinary night when everything changed.
Erika Potter, the Girl-Who-Lived, had just gone to sleep when Vernon, dead drunk and more than a little incoherent, walked into her room quieter than she ever would have believed possible...and took a pillow to her face.
Erika woke up with a start. Fighting like a mad woman to get free of the smothering hands, but the last thing she would remember of that night was the sight of the clock on her dresser...it read ten minutes to midnight.
Erika didn't know where she was, only that for the first time in her life she felt...safe. Wanted. Loved.
"Oh my poor baby. How could he had left you there when we specifically stated not to do so under pain of death!" said a woman. She sounded very upset. Erika blinked. She had only heard that voice once, and it had been screaming at the time.
"When that bastard dies I am so going to make him suffer for leaving you with them," said another rather venomously. Again, she only vaguely recognized the voice.
Erika leaned back from the embrace and her eyes bulged.
"Mum? Dad?" she whispered in shock.
Lily was hugging her daughter rather tightly. Erika could feel the tears on her clothes.
"Hey sweetie. I'm so sorry we weren't able to protect you from all that. If only we'd chosen Sirius, or Remus..." said James Potter. He ruffled her hair affectionately.
"But... how is this possible?"
"That fat pig Vernon, may he rot in the pit for eternity, killed you," explained Lily.
"So that wasn't a dream. I really died?" said Erika. For someone who crossed over she was surprisingly calm.
"I'm afraid so sweetie. On the plus side, you'll never have to deal with a Malfoy again!" said James with false cheer.
"And we can finally see you perform instead of having to watch it second hand," said Lily.
Out of all the things Petunia had taught her daughter, she had been surprised then happy that her sister had at least bonded with Erika over ballet. Lily had never cared for it, but the mere fact that Petunia had taken Erika to lessons had made things just a little more tolerable than it could have been for her daughter.
It was one of the few things that could get Petunia's approval, and she had been quite disappointed when Erika had forgone the lessons in favor of magic.
Erika felt like she was finally home in that brief moment with her parents. James and Lily were absolutely furious with Dumbledore for his inability to keep her even remotely safe while she tried to learn magic...and when Erika expressed a desire to go muggle and abandon her schooling at Hogwarts altogether, she was surprised her father agreed that it would have been better for her.
Lily wanted her to retake dance lessons. There was no reason to let such talent go to waste, and Erika had the talent (and the flexibility) for it.
Erika wished it could be like this forever. She never wanted to go back to her life again... her life was full of nothing but pain, and this was the best she had ever felt.
But the universe was a cruel bitch who loved to screw with her.
Erika was forcefully taken from her parents, who looked very angry at the intrusion...before she saw a spark of fear in their eyes when they realized who it was.
She saw a glimpse of wings and realized it had to be an angel.
"I don't know how you managed to slip up here, but you're going back whether you like it or not! I am not allowing some slip of a human ruin my day just because you didn't like the prophecy!" said the angel annoyed.
Erika saw golden gates, and realized with horror that she was being thrown out of heaven. She fought like mad to avoid being kicked out, but the angel had a stronger grip than she thought. She caught a glimpse of cold, cruel eyes before she felt herself fall. She heard the angel tell the gate keeper that until she killed the warlock she wasn't allowed back in.
And it was thanks to the gate keeper's reply that she knew the name of the angel who had cast her out.
It was midnight when Erika took that first gasp of air since the attack, and the first thing she did was curl up her knees and cry.
She had found peace. She had been with her parents and she no longer had to fight and that damn angel had taken it all away. All because of some prophecy he claimed she needed to complete?
The next morning, Vernon's eyes almost did a double take when she left the room, but he clearly believed that the 'death' of his unwanted houseguest had been a drunken hallucination. They didn't speak a word, but Erika would later jam the door with some old nails that night just in case he tried to repeat it.
A few days later she found that his actions had an unexpected side effect...her scar, which had plagued her for years, was an angry red color and actually looked like it was healing over. Closer inspection of the pillow Vernon had smothered her with revealed a foul black sludge that refused to come out.
So his actions had removed whatever connection she had to Voldemort? Erika didn't know whether to be relieved or horrified.
She settled on indifference, though for the next two days she refused to leave the house, despite the A/C being broken.
Erika thought long and hard about what her life had been like and came to an uncomfortable conclusion.
Magic had screwed her life up. Badly. It simply wasn't worth learning how to use her magical core if all it gave her was pain and sorrow. Unfortunately she couldn't leave Privet Drive that easily. She had noticed the watchers yesterday and suddenly all those invites for tea became very suspicious indeed from the seemingly innocent Mrs. Figg.
Besides, it would take too long for her to reach London and to her Trust Vault from Surrey. Better to wait for a chance to catch the Knight Bus without anyone being suspicious from the Weasly house than trying to do so when everyone was watching her.
A few days later Dudley had a run-in with a couple of dementors and only barely managed to get away thanks to the fact her watchers actually got off their asses and saved him. Her uncle couldn't blame this on her, because she had been staying in her room quietly making a list of things she could and couldn't do once she had access to her converted vault contents and what she would need in order to live on her own until she was old enough to leave the country without suspicion. Outside of making sure Hedwig knew the general plan (which was to wait with Luna Lovegood, a fourth year Ravenclaw she had chatted to once before the Yule ball last year) until she had found a place or someone who could keep the wizards off her ass until Voldemort was no longer her problem to deal with.
She didn't know what prophecy that angel had mentioned was, but she could guess. She was not going to give him the satisfaction of acting as his pawn when she had her own life to live, heaven be damned!
So she prepared...and in the meantime she got back into her old stretching exercises from ballet.
Petunia caught her at it once, but when she went to tell Petunia what she was doing her aunt didn't say a word as she closed the door.
However Erika noticed that her aunt actually left her more food than usual and even allowed her longer shower times. Dudley never came in to drag her out again.
Erika hated Grimmauld Place more than Privet Drive, as bizarre as it seemed. She had at least made a strong enough impression with her 'rescuers' when she nearly brained Moody with the baseball bat left over from Dudley's ill-fated attempts to try his luck at the sport.
The fact she had brought it with her as incentive to leave her the hell alone, more so. Three seconds of Erika's scathing tongue lashing for her now-former friends and the fact she seemed far too happy to hit them with the metal bat had been the best way to secure her own room...one which to her delight had a window that lead into the back yard.
She used that as a way out of the house one night to see how far it was to London.
The answer? Less than two hours walk, according to the Google Earth map she used. Less than that, if she ran.
Sirius seemed to be the only one who knew what was going on with her. That she planned to run away and not come back.
He recognized the signs pretty fast, considering he had the same ones when he was sixteen. He said nothing, but if Erika found an obscure book to summon beasts most people would consider evil under her pillow one night, she kept her mouth shut.
Because of her new anti-social outlook (she blamed Cedric's death, so the 'adults', barring Sirius of course, didn't question it) everyone more or less kept their distance.
Everyone except Fred and George.
"So little sister..." started Fred.
"When are you planning your big escape?" asked George.
Erika's eyes grew guarded. But her posture was relaxed. The twins had cornered her in a secluded portion of the Black Family Library, far away from any prying ears and after they had cast several charms against the adults hearing them. Not that they could, considering they were in a meeting at the moment. The fact she hadn't reached for her now ever-present bat spoke volumes about how she felt about them.
"What makes you think I'm leaving?"
"Dear little sister..."
"Did you think Sirius was the only who recognized the signs of teenaged rebellion?" finished George with a grin.
"So when were you planning to go?" continued Fred.
"We can help with the distraction," offered George.
"As glad as I am to hear that, the last thing I need is for the adults to realize that you helped me. And the less you know about where I'm heading or plan to hide, the better."
"Can we at least get a hint?"
"Let's just say I plan to get back into a hobby that I was forced to go to the wayside because I thought magic would actually make my life better, instead of making it worse."
Seeing their surprised faces, it was clear they didn't know she had a hobby before Hogwarts.
"But... what I could use is some help with keeping people from finding me once I'm out of here. And getting a passport, one for the muggle world."
"We might know a few people who can get a passport..." said Fred.
"But how are you planning to leave England?" asked George.
"Fly of course. Shouldn't be too difficult."
Of course things weren't as easy as she would have thought. Getting a passport took the better part of a week, and even then she had difficulty hiding what she had planned from the increasingly nosy Molly Weasley.
Fortunately there was an easy way to hide it. She used it as a bookmark in something muggle that Hermione wouldn't touch out of principle.
Erika had learned rather fast that Hermione hated fantasy novels, especially once she found out that most of the genre couldn't be applied to her new found magical powers.
She however liked it because it was something she wasn't allowed to read at home. A forbidden pleasure as it were. And she loved Lord of the Rings.
Some rather dense relative had given Dudley the entire set, all first editions. He hadn't even opened them once. So she had confiscated them herself. Not like Petunia ever noticed they were missing.
Erika had her chance during the last Order meeting shortly before the lists were sent out.
Erika locked the door, jammed it with a nail and had another argument with her former friends loud enough to be heard downstairs by the adults. After slamming the door, no one wanted to bother her for a few hours, not that they would after she nearly bashed someone's head in.
Remus, bless his nose, said that it wasn't the best time of the month to be around her when she was in a bad mood.
Everyone wisely didn't ask what he meant.
It took little doing to open the window. She kept it open most nights so Hedwig could hunt.
Hedwig was already flying to Luna's house until Erika found a way to keep the idiots in the magical society from bothering her ever again.
She deftly dropped to the ground with her expanded bag and made sure no one was watching. Her cloak was useful, there was no doubt of that, but with Dumbledore and Moody, it was useless. Luckily Sirius knew she was planning to leave soon, so when he heard the thump outside (he was the closest to the outside wall, strangely enough) he covered her exit.
If anyone noticed he talked a little too loud while in an argument with Snape, no one said anything. The twins grinned upstairs as they heard some of the insults he hurled at their potionsmaster.
The moment she entered Gringotts, she knew she was going to have a really, really bad day.
Malfoy was there.
There were ways around him though.
She waited patiently in line until the goblin was free, and asked to be taken to her vault. From there she emptied out her entire trust vault, and asked where she could convert it all into muggle pounds.
"Convert? Are you insane woman? Goblins don't keep muggle money on hand like that! We barely have use for the paper the muggleborns bring in every year!"
"So what happens to the cash the muggleborns trade in every year?"
"We use it as kindling."
Erika thought fast.
"Fifty galleons and you funnel it all to my wallet each year," she said immediately.
"All of it? What in the Goblin King's name would you need all that paper for?"
"You mean you don't want fifty gold coins just to get rid of it?" asked Erika.
"I never said that, just curious why you would want it," said the goblin quickly.
"It's easier to carry. Coins are heavy," said Erika with a straight face.
The goblin took her up to a higher office, where she paid them the fifty coins in exchange for them sending all the 'muggle' currency the got each year to her wallet.