The Butterfly Effect.
Before you begin, I should warn you that I actually quite like the Weasleys, don't hate Dumbledore (although I think he's often misguided), and am rather fond of Snape. I like slash, but I won't twist canon and make a straight character gay unless I can prove there's strong canon evidence they might have been.
This story is a reaction against the following clichés, and therefore won't include any of them:
Harry is Lord of everything-you-can-possibly-imagine.
Harry's vault is only a trust vault and actually he's even richer.
Harry finds his true love age eleven, and is engaged by Christmas.
Dumbledore is an evil manipulative bastard, and so are the Weasleys.
If you think this doesn't sound like the kind of story you'd like to read, no problem. There's 700,000 other stories on this site so I'm sure there's something out there for you. Happy reading!
Sometimes the slightest things change the direction of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swivelled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.
- Bruce Courtenay, The Power Of One
""I met him!" growled Hagrid. "I musta bin the last ter see him before he killed all them people! It was me what rescued Harry from Lily an' James's house after they was killed! Jus' got him outta the ruins, poor little thing, with a great slash across his forehead, an' his parents dead … an' Sirius Black turns up, on that flyin' motorbike he used ter ride. Never occurred ter me what he was doin' there. I didn' know he'd bin Lily an' James's Secret-Keeper. Thought he'd jus' heard the news o' You-Know-Who's attack an' come ter see what he could do. White an' shakin', he was. An' yeh know what I did? I COMFORTED THE MURDERIN' TRAITOR!" Hagrid roared."Hagrid, please!" said Professor McGonagall. "Keep your voice down!""How was I ter know he wasn' upset abou' Lily an' James? It was You-Know-Who he cared abou'! An' then he says, 'Give Harry ter me, Hagrid, I'm his godfather, I'll look after him —' Ha! But I'd had me orders from Dumbledore, an' I told Black no, Dumbledore said Harry was ter go ter his aunt an' uncle's. Black argued, but in the end he gave in. Told me ter take his motorbike ter get Harry there. 'I won't need it anymore,' he says."I shoulda known there was somethin' fishy goin' on then. He loved that motorbike, what was he givin' it ter me for? Why wouldn' he need it anymore? Fact was, it was too easy ter trace. Dumbledore knew he'd bin the Potters' Secret-Keeper. Black knew he was goin' ter have ter run fer it that night, knew it was a matter o' hours before the Ministry was after him."
The flames were beginning to flicker and grow.
The house lay in ruins; a giant crater in the center of the chaos. Some sections had collapsed, and others were groaning under their own weight. On the second floor, a large hole had been blasted out of the side of the house, and chunks of rubble littered the garden below. This had once been a large, pleasant house with a sizeable garden, but little remained of that now.
The large man stumped quickly up the road, brushing past a few muggles craning their necks trying to get a good look. Sirens began to wail in the distance, and he hurried his pace as more muggles appeared from the direction of the village. There were magical folk here too, but he wasn't expecting help from them. Not with the whole wizarding world too scared to even open a window, in case you-know-who flew inside their kitchen.
As he reached the garden gate, a cat sprinted past him with a hiss, and disappeared across the road. The man looked up at the great ruin. He knew he would need to move quickly to avoid the flickers of fire that were beginning, and not for the first time he regretted the incompetence that had lead to him never attain a new wand or finish his magical training. A little magic might have helped, if he was to try and save the last of the Potters. Moving as quickly as his large size allowed, he entered the smoking ruin, barely squeezing through the doorway.
The body of James Potter lay in the hallway. The man cursed, as his hopes of finding the others alive plummeted. James Potter could have been sleeping, except for the unmistakable pallor of his skin, his glasses askew on his face. His eyes were wide open, staring up at the ceiling as though in disbelief. The large man paused to close the lids gently, then moved further inside. He could do no more when the house threatened collapse at any moment.
From upstairs, he heard a faint sound.
Lily Potter was the first thing he saw when he entered the little nursery at the top of the stairs. She lay where she had fallen, between the doorway and the cot. Her red hair fanned out across the floor, and her arms outstretched as though to stop a foe who had long departed. Behind her, a large section of the wall had been blasted away, and the chill from the night crept into the room. She too, was quite dead. The giant wept as he saw the body. Again, he paused to close the eyes.
In the cot, lay Harry Potter.
The baby was awake, staring upwards with startling green eyes and making small noises of distress. As the man leaned over him, the infant whimpered and began to cry. There was little remarkable about him. Nothing that suggested he was anything special or different from any other child. He showed all the signs of being a healthy, well-cared for one year old. All except for the wound across his forehead.
The giant began to weep in earnest as he scooped up the child.
"Poor little Harry, that bastard got 'em in the end didn' he?" The man whispered, more to himself than the child. "An' Lily an' James got like that, leavin' the poor little tyke an orphan an' all"
Outside the house, more onlookers had gathered and they observed the man leaving the house with undisguised interest. The large man glared at them, and tucked the baby away more securely. He was preparing to depart when a noise broke through the excited muttering.
A low rumbling sound broke the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they looked up at the sky - and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them. The man astride it looked hardly old enough to ride such a shining monster. He wore no protective clothing, and was bare-headed with long black hair and handsome features. His face twisted with horror as he took in the scene in front of him.
"No..." He whispered.
The muggles scattered in astonishment, and the stranger flicked his wand at them. "Obliviate" he murmured distractedly, sliding from the seat to the ground.
"Ah Sirius, I'm sorry." The giant said gently.
"Hagrid?" The man called Sirius said urgently, catching sight of the baby. "Harry's alright?" Relief in his voice replaced panic, but his eyes darted towards the house as though he was considering running inside.
"I don' know abou' alright" Hagrid rumbled. "Lil an' James are gone."
Sirius turned white. "No," he said again, shaking his head in denial. "No."
"I'm sorry lad." Hagrid said gently, resting a massive hand on the younger man's shoulder. "They was gone when I got here. Looks like the killin' curse, they didn' have a mark on 'em"
"And its true?" Sirius asked, ignoring the statement. "Harry...killed you-know-who? He's really gone?"
Hagrid straightened his shoulders. "Aye. This tiny lad managed what all them aurors an' a whole ministry couldn' do. He's gone alright." Both of them gazed at the baby in Hagrid's arms for a long moment. He was still awake, blinking sleepily up at them. A tiny frown appeared on his face as he realised these faces weren't those of his parents.
"Give Harry to me Hagrid, I'm his godfather, I'll look after him" Sirius said urgently.
Hagrid shook his head. "No can do Sirius. I'm workin' on orders from Dumbledore, the lad's gotta go to his aunt an' uncle."
"Lilys sister? Petunia? She hated Lily!" Sirius exclaimed. "She won't want Harry. Let me have him, it's what Lily and James would have wanted."
Hagrid was immovable. "I'm sorry Sirius, but I gotta follow me orders."
Sirius gazed at the baby in abject despair. "Take my motorbike then Hagrid, to get him there faster. I won't be needing it anymore," he said distractedly, looking back at the house.
"Don' go doin' anythin' stupid now" Hagrid warned warily.
"I won't. But take it, please" Sirius repeated.
"Alrigh', thank you." Hagrid said, and tucked Harry securely into his coat, before mounting the enormous bike. "I better get wee Harry to his aunt an' uncle now. But I'll be seein' you around, I'm sure. An' Sirius, I'm real sorry abou' Lily an' James."
Sirius fixed Hagrid with an intense stare. "Promise me something Hagrid, for the sake of Lily and James."
"Promise me you won't leave him there alone with those muggles, without going back to check on him. Dumbledore is a great man and I'm sure he has his reasons, but he doesn't know those muggles like Lily did, and she told me. Promise me Hagrid, that you'll go back to make sure he's alright."
Hagrid was shaken by the intensity in the young mans face. "Ah, I promise" he agreed. "Canna see it doin' any harm to check up on him."
Sirius sagged with relief. "Thank you" he murmured. "Goodbye Hagrid. Goodbye...Harry." The great black motorcycle rose into the air with a roar as Hagrid gripped the handlebars securely, and set off in the direction of Little Whinging. The promise he'd made, still ringing in his head. Sirius Black took one last grim look at the building, and disappeared with a crack.
In their wake, several muggles milled around in confusion, trying to remember what they were doing there.
Two days later
Vernon Dursley was having a very bad day.
In fact, now he thought about it, the entire week had gone badly from beginning to end. The sinking feeling in the pit of his considerable stomach showed no sign of diminishing as he shovelled down copious amounts of bacon and eggs at the kitchen table, and it was a sign of how upset he was that he couldn't even focus on his morning newspaper.
Had he been able to concentrate, the headlines would not have improved his mood. Strange happenings, owl sightings, mysterious strangers and shooting stars all day long. Vernon Dursley hated anything abnormal, and this week had been nothing but a series of increasingly unpleasant abnormal happenings.
The most particular source of his displeasure was at this moment sleeping upstairs in the spare room, in Dudley's old cot while they decided what to do with him.
It appeared that Petunia's thoughts were occupied in a similar direction, for her thin lips pursed with disapproval even as she wrestled their fat screaming toddler Dudley into his highchair, an activity she usually undertook with great enjoyment. However, knowing their was another child in their household, one of unquestionable freakishness, would dim even the strongest enthusiasm.
Their peaceful existence had been rudely interrupted the moment the Potter child was left on their doorstep yesterday morning, and Vernon was struggling to think of a way out of their predicament. He was not accustomed to thinking so hard, and it was giving him a headache. One thing he knew for sure: They did not want the boy. And they would take any chance to be rid of him, regardless of whatever nonsense that crackpot old fool Dumble-whatsit had written in the letter to Petunia.
Petunia placed Vernon's second helping of breakfast in front of him with a sniff, and as he looked up to grunt his appreciation, he looked out of the window and froze. Walking up the garden path was the largest man he had ever seen. And absolutely everything about him screamed abnormal. He was several times the size of a normal man, with a wild mane of hair and appeared to be wearing an unusual selection of dead animals draped across his massive form.
"Pe-Petunia" Vernon hissed. Petunia looked out of the window, and screamed. Dudley, startled by the noise, also started to howl and kick his feet against the table. From upstairs, a second infant voice joined the cacophony. Amidst the noise, there came a loud, unmistakable knocking on the door.
Vernon answered, his face already composed into a scowl. "Yes?" He grunted, glaring at the stranger. It had to be admitted that a great deal of his ire came from the fact that here was a man he would be unable to intimidate with his imposing size.
The man smiled genially at Vernon. "Mornin' Dursley. Hope yeh don' mind, I've come ter see how young Harry's gettin' along."
Vernon turned purple. "You! It was you that left him here!" He turned to the kitchen. "Petunia!"
The giant shuffled his feet nervously. "Aye, ah may have brought him the other night, on Professor Dumbledore orders mind."
Vernon swelled with fury at the audacity of the giant. "How dare you! How dare you people attempt to place him with us!" He growled. "We don't want his unnatural ways in our family, tainting our Dudley. And who the bloody hell thinks it's acceptable to dump a child on someone's doorstep anyway?"
Petunia was at his shoulder, looking nervously up and down the road to check the neighbours weren't watching. "We don't want him," she agreed, sounding far more composed. "We don't want the boy, and your people will have to take him back."
The giant took a step back. "Yeh...yeh don' want Harry? Yer own flesh an' blood?"
"He's no family of ours," Petunia said shrilly, her voice going up an octave.
She disappeared from his side, but Vernon was occupied glaring at the giant. "And who," he muttered, "the hell are you?"
"Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys at Hogwarts" the giant said, peering over Vernon's shoulder as if hoping to catch a glimpse of Harry. "An' you shouldn' be talkin' that way 'bout young Harry. I know it were a shock an' all, Lily an' James passin' away but its no reason teh talk hasty now."
Vernon was spared answering by the reappearance of Petunia. In her arms the black-haired baby boy was bundled up in blankets. Hagrid looked horrified. Petunia thrust the baby at him, and Hagrid took him reflexively. The toddler looked like a newborn in the arms of the giant. As the cries died away, Hagrid looked up at the Dursleys. "I can' take him," he said, looking bemused. "Dumbledore said he's teh stay with yeh now."
"You can and you will" hissed Petunia. "We won't have him. Decent people like us don't deserve this. Your kind will simply have to look after him yourself." And with that, she closed the door firmly in his face, and turned the lock.
Vernon had never admired his wife quite so much before as in that moment.
They peered out the window to see the giant staring at the door for a moment, before tucking the baby securely inside his enormous coat, and walking slowly away.
Petunia turned to her husband in satisfaction. "I expect that's the last we shall hear from them," she said, sounding relieved.
"I expect so too," Vernon replied happily, and tucked into his breakfast with renewed vigour.
Hagrid looked at the baby in his arms with a worried frown. He'd really done it this time, really messed it up. Big blundering Hagrid, can't even deliver a baby to his relatives without something going wrong. Dumbledore would be furious, be so disappointed in him after everything he'd trusted him with. That was what upset Hagrid the most. Nobody trusted him with anything, yet Dumbledore had placed his faith in him for this most important mission of all, and he had failed.
How could the relatives not want Harry? That was what Hagrid was having most trouble comprehending. How could they possibly turn away an innocent baby, the last surviving member of Petunia's family no less. Hagrid's frown grew more pronounced as he considered this. Hagrid's own giantess mother hadn't wanted him, and he knew how it felt to be rejected by a parental figure. The sting never really faded. He didn't want the boy in his arms to end up with the same fate.
But what to do with him? Hagrid couldn't very well turn around and demand the Dursleys take him back. He could only imagine the kind of upbringing Harry would have in that household. Dumbledore must not have known. Couldn't have known, or he would never have left him there. Dumbledore was a great man, but must have simply not have been aware of the kind of people Harry was going to.
Dumbledore would know what to do. Hagrid ought to take the baby straight to Dumbledore.
Even as the thought entered his mind, another surpassed it. An image of Dumbledore's lined face, creased with disappointment as he realised Hagrid had potentially ruined the chance of a successful placement for Harry. Realised that his faith in Hagrid had been misplaced, and Hagrid was not, in fact, to be trusted with such things after all - member of the Order of the Phoenix or not. Dumbledore telling Hagrid that he shouldn't have gone back. Dumbledore never trusting Hagrid again, and Hagrid being relegated to a mere groundskeeper forever.
Perhaps it would be best to try and rectify the situation first. Find someone else willing to take in the boy before he presented the idea to Dumbledore. Then he could explain that the muggles had refused to take the baby, but he, Hagrid, had solved the problem. In fact, Hagrid knew of the perfect person.
A trustworthy member of the Order, rich enough to support a child, close friend of the Lily and James, certainly capable of protecting Harry. And hadn't he volunteered to take Harry already? Perhaps his choice would even tell Dumbledore how clever Hagrid had been to think of him.
Hagrid brightened, and looked down at Harry. "Looks like its you an' me again eh Harry?" He smiled gruffly, and set off in the direction of London, in search of a certain Sirius Black.
It was an open and shut case to start with, there was no doubt of that. Man turns out to be a spy, and causes the death of two friends leaving their son an orphan. When cornered, he then stands in the middle of the street, blows up thirteen people and allows himself be taken away by law enforcement officers immediately afterwards. Open and shut case, no further evidence needed or required. Wouldn't even need a trial really, but that depended on Bartemius Crouch and whether or not he was in quite the mood for allowing a confirmed serial killer to have the opportunity for an audience to gloat to - namely a court of law whose members included close friends of the deceased. Not to mention, he'd heard it was supposed to be awfully busy in court that week.
Alastor Moody grunted to himself with satisfaction, as he mentally reviewed all the convictions he expected to oversee that week. All the murderous death-eater bastards were fleeing like rats on a sinking ship in the wake of their master's demise, and he was the rat catcher. There was nothing in the world Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody liked more than a healthy sample of death-eater scum running scared.
That was why it particularly rankled that on this most special day - possibly the most glorious day for death-eater catching in history - when he could practically feel the heat from the trail the members of Lord Voldemort's inner circle were leaving behind them... he was required to assist a junior auror in the stripping of Sirius Black's house. Just in case they could find anything else to charge him with. Admittedly Grimmauld Place was a dangerous house, and not the sort of place you'd want a junior auror alone. But still, the injustice of having rank pulled on him irritated Moody, and he was in a black mood at all the possible lost chases.
The junior auror was quite aware of his senior officers mood, but not the type to mind particularly. He was a calm, reasonable man. Slow to anger, fast with a wand. He went about his work slowly and methodically, examining room after room of dark artifacts. Grimmauld Place was one of the darkest houses he'd ever encountered, in the three short years he'd been an auror. It seemed like every room had a nasty surprise waiting, and he kept his wits about him.
When the alarm went off signalling someone magical was approaching the house, the junior auror was so focussed on his work that he jumped, startled. "Constant vigilance" Moody hissed, stumping past him quickly, wand in his hand. "Were we expecting anyone, Shacklebolt?"
The junior auror named Kingsley Shacklebolt shook his head. "No one, unless it's one of Black's death eater pals."
Moody's smile became positively feral, leaving no doubt that he would like nothing more than for this to be one of Blacks death eater pals.
They approached the front door treading softly, wands aloft at the ready. Moody glanced towards Kingsley. "On three" he murmured. "One..two...THREE!"
The door blasted open, but before even trigger happy Moody could shoot off any spells, they had both recognised the enormous form of the Hogwarts groundskeeper. "Hagrid?" Kingsley said disbelievingly. He'd left Hogwarts only a few years ago, and had been friendly with the lonely giant.
"Hagrid" stated Moody sceptically. As Hagrid blinked in shock and moved to step forwards, Moody poked him in the chest with his wand. "What was the topic of conversation the last time we both met with Dumbledore" He demanded, keeping a wary eye on the street beyond the doorway.
Hagrid looked bewildered, and scratched his head. "The las' time yeh...Oh, tha' was when we was talkin' about you-know-who tryin' to get the giants, weren' it?" He said uncertainly. Moody paused for a moment, then lowered his wand grudgingly.
"Polyjuice doesn't normally work on part humans, but you never know what Snape's come up with" Moody muttered, sounding exceedingly disappointed. "Hagrid, what are you doing here?"
The half giant squeezed through the doorway. Although it was hard to tell as he was blocking all the light, Kingsley thought he looked rather sheepish. "Er...I were jus' lookin' for Sirius like," he said evasively, scratching his massive head. "What are you two doin' here an all?" Kingsley couldn't help but notice he seemed to be clutching something beneath his coat.
"Looking for Sirius?" Kingsley couldn't help but ask with dismay. Hagrid nodded, peering around hopefully. "You haven't...heard?"
"He's in Azkaban Hagrid," Moody barked. "For the betrayal leading to the death of Lily and James Potter, and the murder of Peter Pettigrew and thirteen muggles." Suddenly Moody's eyes began to whizz, and focussed on the lump under Hagrid's coat. "What," he said, clearly enunciating every word, "is that you have there."
Hagrid turned ashen, and swayed on the spot. "Sirius... Murder..." He seemed to be having difficulty getting the words out. Moody wasn't listening, he was approaching Hagrid with suspicion. Suddenly he flicked his wand at Hagrid. The moleskin coat was yanked back, revealing tucked into the crook of Hagrid's arm, a slumbering baby. But not any baby. A boy with unmistakable jet black hair and an angry slash of red across his forehead.
A boy who was quite clearly Harry Potter.
Moody raised his wand until it was pointing directly at Hagrid's face. "You," he said slowly. "Have quite some explaining to do."
It was hard to believe the story, Kingsley admitted to himself. Sirius's apparent concern, Hagrid's promise, relatives that didn't want their orphaned nephew. Hagrid appeared to have gone into shock. They had retired to the kitchen, where he had slumped over the table, still clutching Harry and painstakingly repeated his story, the guilt in his eyes provoking sympathy from Kingsley, and further suspicion from Moody.
Kingsley had been tasked with keeping an eye on Hagrid and Harry, while Moody made some enquiries. Just how the information would be extracted, was not something Kingsley wanted to ask. Best not to know when it came to Moody. As far as he could tell, the senior auror intended to visit the Dursleys to confirm Hagrid's tale, and possibly Dumbledore. Possibly not. Also best not to know.
What it really boiled down to, is what on earth they were supposed to do with the boy.
When Moody returned, the pair were still sitting in silence. Kingsley, because he couldn't think of a thing to say. Hagrid, because he appeared too horrified to speak, except to further apologise and self-castigate.
Baby Harry was still asleep, which left Kingsley more time to think than he cared for. Try as he might, he couldn't stop the comparisons. Kingsley's own young son and baby daughter had been murdered around the same age last year, in a death eater attack that had also claimed his wife. A private grief that the young man rarely spoke of. Although he didn't like to think of the painful past, he was acutely reminded of it by little Harry.
A door banging signalled the return of Moody, and jolted Kingsley from his thoughts.
"Right." Moody grunted, marching to the head of the table. "I went to Dumbledore, asked him his plans for the boy. Seems there's some kind of blood protection on the muggles house, keeps death eaters out. Metaphysical death eater repellant. Only functional when the Dursleys allow Potter to call it home. Now null and void of course, though I didn't tell Dumbledore that." Hagrid had sat up, and appeared to be listening closely.
"The way I see it, the dark lord isn't gone." At this, Hagrid gave a low moan. Moody continued as though he hadn't heard. "He'll be back, and when he does, what use is a lad raised in a muggles house going to be? He'd be slaughtered. Dumbledore is insistent that the boy is the only one who can kill the dark lord -" Here Moody snorted, as though to show what he thought of that idea "- and fat lot of use he'll be if he gets himself killed the first time he sets foot in the wizarding world, because he doesn't know which end of a wand to point."
Kingsley listened with interest. This was practically blasphemy coming from a member of the order. "So," Moody continued, a slightly manic glint coming into his eye. "I propose we take a different tack. For the greater good."
"I suggest we place the boy with a guardian. Someone who can train him in defence from an early age. Someone with an impeccable history of loyalty to the order, the means to hide him with, and the ability to train him with. In short, a mentor, trainer and father all in one." Moody concluded, looking pleased with himself.
Kingsley could see one massive flaw in that plan, and it seemed Hagrid saw it too, for he raised his head to look at Moody. "Dumbledore would never allow it" he said mournfully, stroking Harry's hair with one enormous finger.
"Aha!" If anything, Moody looked even more pleased. "That's the crux of the matter. We don't tell him."
Silence fell. Hagrid looked as though Moody had just proclaimed allegiance to Lord Voldemort and death to all muggles.
"And who," said Kingsley quietly, "were you proposing this mysterious benefactor be? I can't think of a single person I could trust with such a long term mission."
Moody raised a grizzled eyebrow, as though waiting for the younger man to do the maths. "I can think of just one. You, Shacklebolt. You."
Ignoring them sounds of disbelief coming from Hagrid and Kingsley, Moody continued. "I'll have you transferred to an auror division in a different area. Maybe overseas. Harry can't pass as your son of course, unless you say adopted. We'll work out the details soon. You have no ties, you're used to looking after children, you're loyal to the order, but most of all you're a capable auror. If anyone can teach this boy to survive, you can."
Kingsley felt as though his head was going to explode. Hide Harry Potter from Dumbledore and the world? Train him to fight Voldemort? Leave London? Was this what his life has been building up to? It was a crazy idea. Insane. Completely impossible.
"Oh and one last thing." Moody said, turning to Hagrid who was still mouthing silent denials.
"Trustworthy, but talks too much after a drink and far too loyal to Dumbledore" Moody growled, stowing his wand and stumping forward to rescue Harry from the bleary eyed giant, looking around in confusion.
"Let's move Shacklebolt." Moody barked. "We've got work to do."
Thanks for reading. Next chapter is already written, will be up in a day or so.