Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. All recognisable characters, content or locations belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.
Summary: One does not walk from a near death experience unchanged. It's no wonder, then, when after two action packed years, it's a very different Harry Potter who arrives for his third year at Hogwarts School. new classes, new friends and a very new outlook on life, the Boy Who Lived was always meant for greatness. PoA AU. OOC.
Rating: T for mild language and violence, and eventual adult themes.
Chapter One: The Ugly Wench
August 17th - 18th, 1993
It was with a sigh of almost-relief that Harry Potter walked out of number 4, Privet Drive, determined not to look upon his relatives' ugly mugs ever again. He'd never gotten along with them, and although the onus of their poor relationship could be laid at the feet of Petunia and Vernon, a part of Harry wondered if there was anything he could have done to make things better.
He squashed that part of himself without remorse.
Much like the year prior, it had been hard to return at the end of the school year. With the knowledge that he would have nothing but two months of chores, isolation, and his relatives' abject hatred for company, why would he have wanted to?
Normally, Harry could suck it up and deal, but with his friends out of reach, and his nights haunted by the Chamber of Secrets, Marge Dursley's presence was the straw that had broken the camel's back.
There was only so much degradation a bloke could take, after all. Thus, Harry had made the executive decision to leave Privet Drive. He did so without regrets.
In his wake, he left an inflated Marge and the house's three permanent residents in a panic, but as he trekked down the street, with his faithful trunk (an heirloom) trotting along beside him, Harry couldn't find it in him to care. The woman had brought it on herself, and if it taught her some respect for the dead, than all the better.
Maybe Petunia, Vernon or Dudley could learn something, too, but Harry wasn't holding his breath. They were loathsome, distasteful individuals, and Harry had frequently wondered how in Godric's name he could ever be related to them, but he supposed one couldn't choose their family.
All the same, he had far greater concerns than the chaos he'd left behind, and the perpetual question of his relation to the odious Dursleys, and so Harry settled himself at the bus stop on Magnolia Crescent, carted a hand through sable coloured hair and thought over his options.
Suffice to say, they were fairly bleak at this time of night. He'd just been kicked out of Privet Drive, and he'd left without looking back, but that particular decision left some gaping issues that needed to be addressed immediately, chief among them the issue of where he would stay until September.
It was a midsummer night, the air was warm, and the streets were quiet. Nothing ever happened at Privet Drive, excepting Dudley and his idiot gang, so Harry had no particular qualms about relaxing as best as possible on the uncomfortable bench, with only a flickering lamppost and a bedraggled, miserable looking stray for company.
It seemed oddly fitting that he would end up in the presence of a creature that, like Harry himself, had nowhere to go. He wondered idly if the dog had once had a home, a family that had loved him, or if he, too, had run away from people who hadn't wanted him, but he pulled himself back to the matter at hand, stopped searching for symbolism where there wasn't any, and began to brainstorm instead.
As Harry contemplated his next course of action, however, and the stray dog watched him from across the street, a conversation he'd heard the year before between Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan, two boys in his dorm, came to mind, of a form of magical transport that required only a wand and some sickles to utilise. Harry, fortunately, was resourceful enough to always carry a small supply of muggle and magical cash and coin on him no matter the occasion, so without ado, he got to his feet, withdrew his wand and summoned the Knight Bus to his current location with a pleased, fleeting grin.
The Knight Bus appeared with a thunderous crack akin to the sound of a car backfiring, an obnoxiously purple, triple-decker monstrosity that Harry could only stare at in shock, awe and a little bit of horror. He was, however, interrupted in his gawking by the presence of the bus conductor, a pimply faced boy just barely out of his teens, dressed in a purple velvet suit that looked like it had just stepped out of the seventies, flared trousers, platform shoes, rhinestones and all. His eyes reminded Harry of a raccoon's, his skin was sallow and it looked as though the bloke hadn't seen the sun in years, but he withdrew some palm cards from an inner pocket and began to recite a greeting, entirely monotone for all the lack of enthusiasm put into the task.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. my name is Stan Shunpike, and I will be your conductor this evening."
"Hullo," Harry greeted, "I have to get to Diagon Alley, but I don't want to go through the Leaky Cauldron. Do you have any solutions?"
Harry had established it was his best bet at staying under the radar. Adults in the muggle world would question the presence of a minor without any guardians, but as Harry had observed in his two years exposed to the place, children in the magical world were treated something like those in the muggle industrial era, workplace issues and all. If he managed to successfully pull off the ruse of a nameless, faceless orphan until September,than all the better for him. Unfortunately, Tom, the innkeeper at the Leaky Cauldron knew his face, so taking that entry was simply out of the question. It was entirely predictable as well, and no way did Harry want to deal with any questionably-intended adults tonight - or ever, come to think of it.
"Alrigh," Stan agreed, "It'll be 'leven sickles though, thirteen if you want a toothbrush an' a 'ot chocolate."
Harry forked over eleven sickles, stepped onto the bus and ensured his enchanted trunk followed him on, with only a glimpse behind him at the dog that had disappeared out of sight. He settled onto the bed offered to him, took hold of the bedpost and wasn't particularly surprised when the health and safety hazard took off with a wrench of dislocated air and an accompanying, preposterously loud, 'boom'. He muttered an inaudible oath under his breath, clutched onto the bedpost for dear life and thanked all the Gods he knew and didn't believe in when he arrived at his destination alive and in one piece.
"That was a bloody nightmare," harry muttered to himself, when the Knight Bus was well and truly out of sight, but didn't dwell on the experience. instead, he entered the seedy looking pub the bus had deposited him in front of - The Ugly Wench - and approached the bartender whom, impossibly, looked even older, and even more cantankerous, than Tom. Harry's trunk trailed along behind him, but as the boy wizard came to a stop by the grubby looking bar, he focused his attention on the grizzled old wizard behind it.
"Excuse me, sir, I was hoping to rent a room until September. Do you have any available?"
The wizard scrutinised Harry for a moment, nodded with a grunt and opened up the booking ledger. He penned Harry's details without question, false name and all, handed over a heavy brass key and directed the teen to a stairway in the back of the pub. Harry nodded his thanks, headed upstairs and was not surprised to find that the upper part of the inn was as grimy as the bar and common area. After two years of exposure to the magical world, it was almost expected by that point, but as Harry reached his room, stepped inside and looked around, he couldn't bring himself to care. It was as unlike Privet Drive as humanly possible, and for that, Harry was almost of the opinion that it was the best thing since sliced bread.
Harry's temporary room was comfortably sized, with a twin sized four poster, aged mahogany furnishings and an attached bathroom. It had a view over Leicester Square, but Harry didn't have much of a fascination for London's city lights, and so he readied himself for bed, clambered beneath the bedcovers and threw an arm over his eyes with a weary groan. He'd plan out everything in the morning, but for the moment, harry was tired, it had been a long day and he was ready for some well-deserved rest that he'd, typically, not received at home.
Harry gave a derisive scoff at the thought that he would ever consider Privet Drive home, rolled over in his bed and not for the first time, thought over everything he knew about his own history. it was a pitiful amount, but it was something, and it would become more - Harry would make sure of it.
Fact One: He was a wizard, with parents who were a wizard and a witch respectively. His paternal grandparents had been too and presumably, their parents had been as well, so on and so on. His maternal grandparents had been muggles and aside from his mother, all of his relations on his mother's side were similarly non-magical, thus making Harry himself a 'halfblood'.
Fact Two: His parents had left him a trust fund. Since it was only a trust fund, Harry could assume that there was more of an inheritance awaiting him for when he came of age or some such, but he would have to make contact with the goblins at Gringott's to really be certain about that.
Fact Three: They'd been targeted by Voldemort in 1981, had been betrayed and consequently murdered, which somehow resulted in Voldemort's destruction and Harry's survival. Harry didn't know why they had been targeted, but he was aware that his parents had been aware of it, given the fact that they'd been in hiding since shortly after his birth.
Harry sighed to himself, rolled over in his bed once more and stared up at the velvet canopy overhead. He'd shut his bed hangings earlier, and they successfully muffled the sounds of London's nightlife from down in the street, but lost in his thoughts, Harry hardly noticed. He thought about his parents, whom he'd only had fifteen measly months with, thought about what they'd been like as individuals and as a pair, and longed for a life in which Voldemort had never come to his home that Halloween night.
Harry closed his eyes with a huff of silent, bitter laughter, and quietly murmured, "Can anybody find me… somebody to love?"
Then he shook himself, thought about his coming year at Hogwarts and fell asleep, certain to put his orphan-esque angst behind him. His parents were dead, he'd never be able to change that, and there was no use crying over spilt milk. And so Harry dreamt of a normal school year, and when he woke, he silently prayed that such a dream could come to pass. With his luck, however, or alleged lack thereof, it wasn't likely.
Peace, it seemed, was simply a commodity he would never know. He didn't have much of a choice, really, because Voldemort was determined to cling onto whatever dregs of life and power he could maintain. As long as they both still lived, Harry was almost certain that Voldemort would not stop hunting Harry until he was killed, and Voldemort was victorious.
At 12 years old, the revelation had been grounding.
It had come to him at the end of his last school year, while recovering from his near fatal encounter with Slytherin's basilisk and the shade of a young (and relatively sane) Tom Riddle. The experience had hit him harder than the Philosopher's Stone incident of the year prior, but Harry couldn't fathom why. Maybe because he was older, or because he could remember almost dying, or maybe because magic had no longer seemed so fanciful, but either way, Harry had thought he'd never be the same again.
He'd since resolved to be as prepared for his next encounter with Voldemort, but in order for that to be accomplished, Harry had a lot to do and not enough time to do it in. Tom Riddle had an unknown amount of money, servants, 'allies' and magic at his disposal, not to mention over fifty years of experience, and Harry had only two years of magical learning under his belt and the measly promise of a few more. Thus far, his survival had hinged on a great deal of luck, Voldemort's arrogance, and the timely arrival of Dumbledore, or his phoenix, and That needed to change, among other things. .
All he needed was time, and unfortunately, Harry didn't think he had enough to spare.
Author's Note: I'm a blind author, so I apologise in advance for any incorrect homophones or Potterisms. Hope you enjoy the rewrite.
ps. In the index, chapters with titles have already been revised.