A/N: While knowledge of Pokémon will definitely enhance your enjoyment of this fic, you don't need to know much about it at all to follow along with the story, as it's set in the Harry Potter world.
This fic was inspired by two challenge prompts by Crystal M. Key on fanfiction dot net; firstly that belief makes anything possible, and another where Harry has a life goal of becoming a Pokémon Master. She also kindly served as beta for the draft of the first three chapters (I wanted to surprise her with the ending to the fic).
This story is completed and is eight chapters long, and will update with a new chapter each Friday morning (Australian time). It is rated for a teenage audience due to non-explicit het romantic content. (That said, I was comfortable letting my own almost 10yr old daughter read it - I prefer to be over cautious with my ratings.)
The Pokémon franchise first reached the UK in 1999, while Harry started Hogwarts in 1991. That's not the biggest suspension of disbelief you'll need to employ in this fic though, what with wizards and magic being real, so just go with it and enjoy the story. :)
Harry Potter was glued to the television screen. Oh, he had to be careful about it, because he technically wasn't allowed to watch television at all, and certainly never had the privilege of picking what channel to watch. Dudley could spend as long as he wanted watching television in the mornings, getting toast crumbs all over the sofa while he lounged around and enjoyed a second breakfast like an overweight hobbit. Harry on the other hand could only watch it covertly, so he tidied and dusted the lounge room extra slowly when the "Pokémon" cartoon was on in the mornings.
Harry wanted a Pikachu of his own for a pet. He knew they weren't real – he wasn't an idiot. They were just little make-believe cartoon creatures. But he so wished it all was real. He would have a little friend with him always, to cuddle and care for. It would be ready to fight to protect him when Dudley and his friends started bullying him at school or chasing him on the way home. And if he needed to hide it, he could tucked it safely away inside a Pokéball. He thought he might quite like a toasty warm Charmander with a flame on its tail for those cold winter nights shivering on the camp bed in his cupboard, with the horrible thin blanket that never kept him warm enough. Or perhaps a Squirtle to make water for him when he was thirsty, like when he got locked up for two whole days after the "incident" where he somehow ended up on the roof of the school kitchens. He honestly thought he was going to die of thirst, with nothing but a lone hidden orange and two cached water crackers to sustain him for both food and drink the whole time.
Most of all though, he wanted a Pikachu, just like the trainer Ash had. It couldn't warm him, or make water just like magic. But it would cuddle and love him, and he could cuddle and love it. And it would care for him, and protect him. Like no-one in his life ever protected him. It would attack those who tried to hurt him – and they would never dare to try and punish him ever again. With a Pikachu riding about on his shoulder he wouldn't have to ever be afraid or alone any more.
The day Harry learned that magic was real was a revelation. And Hagrid was completely sympathetic to Harry's wish to have a pet like a large yellow mouse that could shoot lightning, or a tame fire-breathing dragon all his very own. Sadly, Harry had to make do with an owl, which was at least a very intelligent owl that would sit on his shoulder. Hagrid promised he could visit his hut any time to meet some "int'restin' creatures", which was very kind of him. The joy of learning that magic was real and he could leave the Dursleys' to go to a school for wizards was eclipsed only by the moment when he realised that magic could do anything.
It took Harry a while to refine his ideas about magic, but the initial moment of revelation came in Flying class with his fellow Gryffindors, and the Slytherins. Harry's broom jumped immediately into his hand, but a lot of the other students' brooms didn't. He saw Hermione's broom roll over uncooperatively as she eyed it dubiously, and Neville's terrified face matched his totally unresponsive broom. Madam Hooch gave a pep talk about how you had to be firm with your broom, and as Harry looked around the class he realised that the people with brooms in hand were the ones who looked keen to fly, while those who were uncertain (or like Neville, terrified) were the ones with the most uncooperative brooms. That couldn't be a coincidence. In that moment Harry realised that magic was all about how much you wanted things to happen. It was just like when he'd wanted to be away from those bullies in primary school with all his heart, and ended up on the school roof. Or when he wanted, more than anything, not to have to wear that disgusting old brown jumper of Dudley's with orange bobbles on it, and it had shrunk so small a doll couldn't wear it. Harry stood there in Flying class, and realised that he hadn't needed special words or gestures to cast spells in the past, and you just as obviously didn't even need to be holding a wand to do magic.
Draco tried to cause trouble with Neville's Remembrall, but Harry told Ron to just ignore him.
"Neville doesn't like that Remembrall anyway," he shrugged. "Draco would be doing him a favour if he smashed it, and earn himself a detention." It took the wind right out of Draco's sails, and he scowled and just tossed it onto the grass at their feet, where it landed without damage on the soft turf.
Harry asked around, but the universal opinion seemed to be that incantations and wand gestures were essential for spellcasting for all but the most powerful and experienced wizards and witches.
"Accidental magic is different," they insisted, but couldn't explain how or why. Nor could they explain why it was that you could break some laws of physics, but not all of them.
"But why can I turn a matchstick into a needle, but not into a miniature breadstick?" he persisted.
Professor McGonagall's explanation about the "five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration" and how you couldn't transfigure things into edible food was interesting, but still didn't answer his questions. Because apparently you could make water, wine, and other liquids out of thin air – even sauces! You could make drinkable liquids but not edible solids, and you could expand food in size but not create it from scratch – it just didn't make sense.
Harry thought that perhaps people just didn't want to totally ruin the economy. Odds were that the people who convinced everyone these "laws" were true, and probably banned all food-creating spells, had some kind of agenda. The Dursleys had told him all sorts of stupid lies simply to make their own lives easier – adults lied all the time.
In the musty stacks of the Hogwarts library Harry spent hours digging through dusty old tomes, looking up the wizard who'd first come up with the "Five Principal Exceptions" centuries ago. It turned out he'd been the pure-blood owner of extensive farms and also three restaurants in the wizarding districts, and he was a former Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. He and other "magical theorists" had convinced society so well that food created by magic would be non-nutritious and harmful to you, and that the spells to do so went dangerously wrong far too often, that everyone started believing them. Wizards and witches stopped casting the spells to make food, or when they did, the results were flawed or unimpressive. Without belief and a drive to succeed, magic didn't work so well.
It took Harry a couple of weeks to magic his first apple into existence, but he managed it. It wasn't easy, that first conjuration of food. He needed the push of hunger to trigger it – he voluntarily went for two days without food to get the appropriate level of sheer need to trigger his so-called "accidental" magic into working for him. Night after night, after everyone else in his dorm was asleep, Harry sat cross-legged on his bed, concentrating fiercely with his eyes screwed up tight, remembering far too many days and nights locked into his cupboard with no dinner that night due to "ingratitude". He visualised an apple – over and over. A perfect, green Granny Smith apple. The cool feel of its smooth skin, the crisp smell, the crunch and the sweet juice when you bit into it, the pattern of the seeds in the core. Not an apple fetched from anywhere – just one appearing. Late one night it finally happened, and he let out a fierce cry of triumph that woke his dorm mates from their slumber with startled cries and grumbled complaints.
"Merlin's beard, it's the middle of the night, Harry!" complained Seamus.
"Did you have a bad dream?" yawned Ron.
"I made an apple!" he said excitedly, holding it up for all to see, awaiting the expected chorus of amazed gasps and gushing praise, because this was world-changing.
But no-one cared. None of them had even heard of Gamp's Laws, let alone their exceptions. And when he explained it to them, they just shrugged and assumed his apple must be no good, then. He tried talking to the theory-loving Hermione Granger the next day, but he couldn't convince her either. At least she listened to his ramblings with more interest than most, and said it'd helped her a bit in Charms to focus her intent more. Professor McGonagall said it would fade within an hour or two, or be non-nutritious, but it was an excellent try. She didn't believe him in the slightest that it had been made without his wand.
Harry waited to see if anything would happen to it, but his apple was still there the next afternoon and looked perfectly fine, so he ate it. It was delicious.
It was also a breakthrough. In Charms the following morning he levitated his feather with a swish and flick of his wand, without any incantation at all.
That year Harry began to be hailed as a child prodigy for his mastery of wordless magic, but for Harry it was just the start.
No-one noticed his increasingly casual approach to potion brewing except Neville, whom he voluntarily paired up with. Regardless of the types or quantities of ingredients that the pair chucked in their cauldron, their potions grew steadily better. For Harry concentrated on staring and willing their potion into submission while silently pointing his wand at the cauldron, while Neville did whatever he wanted with the stirring. Green potions turned closer to the desired effervescent blue in response to his emphatic visualisations. Snape unbent far enough to call them "not totally incompetent", but was too busy monitoring the rest of the classroom to pay attention to their odd technique. Harry was useless at theory, however, since he considered it pointless. So he ended the year with an A in Potions, despite his perfect brewing in the practical.
While Harry had bonded with Ron on the train to Hogwarts, Hermione wasn't exactly what he'd call a friend. More just someone he studied in the library with. But they bonded more after he rescued her from a troll, all on his own. He made its club catch on fire with an emphatically pointed wand and the Pokémon-inspired incantation of "Flamethrower", an improvisation which intrigued and impressed Professor Flitwick.
As the year drew to a close, however, Ron and Hermione were panicking about someone up to no good trying to steal the stone, so he promised to help. Harry never did quite understand why the Philosopher's Stone was such a big deal. Why, they learnt how to turn wood into metal in their very first Transfigurations class! Turning something into gold shouldn't be especially harder than that. He was no economics expert, but surely simply being able to turn wood into metal could earn you all the money you'd ever dreamed of, in the Muggle world. Money might not grow on trees, but wood did. And wood could be turned into silver by any first year wizard or witch.
Immortality sounded cool, however. He wondered how that even worked. Could you wish yourself into not aging? He'd settle for taller, at the moment. He didn't worry about it too much, being intensely focused on improving his control of his magic, and trying to understand the real underlying principles of magic.
Ron was right in the end about someone trying to steal the hidden Philosopher's Stone, but it turned out not to be Ron's prime suspect of Professor Snape, but the mild mannered Professor Quirrell, aka Voldemort! Finding out he could burn someone with his bare hands showed Harry the Dark Side of his wish-magic. He vowed to be responsible with it, and not teach his techniques to any undeserving apprentices.