The Dursleys were, if you had asked anyone on Privet Drive, very, very normal. There was Mr Dursley, a whale of a man with a non-existent neck; his wife, Mrs Dursley, who reminded many of a horse; and Dudley Dursley, their son, who took very much after his father, and there wasn't much good to inherit.
But the Dursleys, as normal as they were, had a secret. Petunia Dursley, specifically, had a secret, and that secret was her sister, Lily, brought into the family by her step-father. Lily was quickly found to be a witch and enrolled in only the best of schools, while Petunia survived a childhood so completely average that it wasn't even worth mentioning. Petunia, for this reason, harbored negative feelings for her half-sister; the thought that they would ever want anything to do with Lily again was enough to get the Dursleys shuddering in disgust.
So when they found Harry on their doorstep, they were horrified. How could they be normal with such a child? They would be a laughingstock! Unfortunately, the had no choice. If they left the child to die, the wizarding world would be breaking down their doors, Petunia knew, and so she instead took up the child and worked with her family to make him into a normal, workable boy, who could at least do something for their family.
July 31st, 1985.
Harry's birthday was today. He didn't know how he knew, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had never told him that; it merely was. He stretched out as much as he could in his cupboard and waited.
Today, as well, was the third time this week that Harry was left alone in the house. The Dursleys were in a good mood at the moment; Uncle Vernon had been doing well at Grunnings, so the family had taken a vacation for the weekend. Not that they hadn't been taking Dudley around places a lot recently either, but it was soothing for Harry, so he didn't complain.
He teased open the cupboard door - he'd been locked in with a sandwich and told to wait - by focusing very much on wanting to get out. It wasn't very hard; he desperately wanted out. How it worked he wasn't sure, but a faint glow emerged at his fingertips, and a few moments later the cupboard door swung open silently, letting Harry crawl out and stretch properly, and then leave the house to walk around.
He rattled the doorknob in frustration, but nothing worked, so he tried again with the glow. Thinking carefully, he repeated, in his head, that he wanted out. He wanted out. He. wanted. OUT.
The door swung open willingly, and he stepped out into the open, letting it swing shut again behind him.
He walked for a long time, until finally, something caught his attention. He'd been passing by when a gasp went up in a nearby crowd, and he turned his head to look.
In among the crowd was a man who was holding up his wrist for a crow. The crow chirped proudly and nudged the man on the cheek, eliciting an amused giggle from the man in question.
Now Harry was interested. He walked over and watched, too, as the man directed the crow around the crowd and had it do dips and dives and twirls in the air.
How was the man getting the bird to do his will? It didn't make sense. Why was the bird listening? It could be free, fly in the air, have fun and eat what it wanted instead of working itself to exhaustion each day. Harry found it a mockery of what birds were supposed to be; a symbol of freedom.
He walked away. He couldn't watch any more; the bird wasn't doing that because it wanted to, and he didn't really think that was right.
Harry was alone in the park. He took a deep breath and stepped into the grass, a bit scared of it but nonetheless excited. He'd only ever touched the flowers in Petunia's garden; he'd never felt grass before.
It was springy and green. He loved it; it made him feel giddy inside. Almost as if he could fly...
He was suddenly reminded of the crow. It was a beautiful creature; it reminded him of freedom and flight, the air against your cheek. It was a wonderful thing, and he wondered if, like with the lock, he could will it to happen. Maybe, if he tried, he could fly.
He willed his body to do his bidding. He'd need feathers, surely; wasn't that unique to flying creatures? So he gave himself feathers, lots of feathers, and to his positive glee he found that they grew near instantly. He'd need to be smaller, too, smaller than he was... he'd need wings, wings instead of arms...
He looked at himself, and saw the grass was bigger, up to his chest. He hopped off of the ground and took wing, flapping hard, taking steady breaths to keep up, and he found himself rising, getting better...
Harry flew home.
When the Dursleys returned from their weekend trip, the family found the cupboard locked and Harry sleeping peacefully in it. Dudley punched him until he dashed off, and Petunia threw her coat at him, which he automatically placed on the rack.
"No, boy, on the top rack!" She seethed, turning on him. He found himself on his tippy-toes, but even then he couldn't reach; with a frown, he remembered how his willpower had gotten him through yesterday.
With focus, he willed the coat to leave his hands and hook itself on the top of the rack. Very, very slowly, it reached it, and through the blood in his one functioning eye he saw it fall onto the hook. A smile of satisfaction, and he was rushing to the kitchen, but it was too good to be true.
Uncle Dursley grabbed him and threw him.
"NO! WE WILL NOT TOLERATE... WEIRDNESS! IN! THIS! HOUSE!" He screeched, Petunia gasping lightly behind him. Dudley immediately began crying. Harry feared for his life.
There was a rush of pain in his side as the first punch was delivered to his ribs, and he heard a violent crack go with it. Grabbing Harry, he pushed him into the cupboard, locked it, and wiped off his bloodied hands in disgust.
"He'll stay there a week," Uncle Dursley announced, "see how he likes that." And with that, he walked away, to wash his hands, Petunia quickly rushing to clean the blood off the floor.
Harry gasped for breath and willed himself to live.
A day later, he felt his body healing. He hadn't eaten at all, damn and blast his aunt and uncle, curse his cousin for what they did. He shakily got up and willed himself to open the lock, as quietly as he could.
There was a very quiet click, and Harry smiled for the first time in hours.
He willed himself into a small form. He was back to the crow by the time he finished; this way, he didn't need his battered legs to move.
Crow-Harry peered out the door into the midnight darkness, then flew out and landed in the kitchen. He looked around, saw some leftovers on the table, and gobbled them down. Now was no time to enjoy his food, or at least what food he could get.
July 31st, 1989.
Harry stretched at five in the morning, feeling pretty good about himself. He had healed nicely from the beating the previous day at summer school; Dudley was getting worse, but his healing skills were much better. A good night's sleep was all he needed.
He grew out his hair a bit again, knowing it would irk Petunia, but was no longer something she could complain about; if she punched him, he took it, whatever. He'd gotten good at taking a hit.
Then there was a crack, and all hopes of a good day went down the drain.
He rushed out, one hand protecting his face as he peered at the man, if it could be called that, in the kitchen. He looked around, its wrinkled face peering over circular spectacles like his own. It laid eyes on him, and gasped.
"Gesdlk! Harry!" He called, grabbing the boy's shoulder. "Feddr dkll?"
Harry shook his head. "I don't understand, sir, I'm sorry." He didn't dare ask him to speak English. He would probably get hit.
The stout man, as Harry decided it, adjusted his glasses and snapped. Harry jolted; he felt every inch of his body fill with a spectacular feeling of euphoria, and another snap later he could see perfectly.
He smiled at the man and bowed thankfully. "I... is there anything I can do for you, Mister...?"
His voice sounded detached. Right, he'd been banned from speaking outside of 'yes, aunt Petunia' and 'no, Uncle Dursley, sir'. Using other words was... hard.
The man shook his head sadly, and reached out. Harry flinched, expecting pain, but only got clawed nails holding him gently. He began hyperventilating as the man scratched at Harry's skin gently.
Where was the pain? When was it coming?
Would he die?
The man noticed this and sighed sadly. "You will be fine, Mr Potter," he said firmly.
"Mister... Potter?" Harry repeated fearfully. "I... I'm Harry, sir. I'm sorry, but-"
"No buts," and Harry flinched. He continued somberly, "I need a small blood sample to test your lineage, Harry, so please stay still and silent."
Harry drew in his breath and squeezed his eyes shut, letting the sharp nail take a small bit of blood from his arm, which felt like a strand of spaghetti in the man's hands. There was a hissing sound, and Harry opened one eye, watching as the man muttered hushed words over the vial, which was glowing a strange set of colours.
"Yes, yes, that's... well." he downed a sole drop of the potion and paused, frowning, then letting his eyes go wide. He turned to Harry, and much to Harry's surprise, he bowed.
Harry bowed back, a bit confused, and let the man take his hands.
"My name is Galldaxe," he said, "and I, Harry, am a goblin of the bank Gringotts. I came here to alert you of someone intercepting the payments for your care-"
"I... get paid?" Harry said, confused. "For what?"
"No, the Dursleys do," he said with a hint of distaste. Harry decided that any man who hated the Dursleys was his friend. "for taking care of you. Someone has been intercepting them."
"So that's why they say I cost them so much money," Harry awed. "thank you, Mister Galldaxe. I'll tell my aunt and uncle when they wake up."
Galldaxe shook his head, amused. "No, no, Harry, don't bother. This is between you and me. I have blocked all money coming out of your bank account, so there will no longer be payments, to avoid this. I needed your blood to put an extra protection spell on it."
Harry hummed. "Okay. Thank you, Mister Galldaxe. I'll keep it secret."
Galldaxe finally let go of Harry's hands. "It is alright, Harry. And, since you are likely to meet more Goblins like myself, the proper title is Hald Galldaxe. I appreciate, however, your politeness. It is nice to see in one so young." He smiled softly.
Harry gasped lightly, horrified. "Oh, sorry, sir, er, I mean Hald Galldaxe, I didn't mean to-"
"Calm yourself," Galldaxe advised. "Harry, it is alright. Few even bother to learn; your apologetic face is enough to know."
Harry nodded numbly. "Um, sir?"
"Yes, Harry?" Galldaxe turned, awaiting the question.
"What was the language you were speaking before?" He asked shyly, holding up his hands protectively. Maybe, just maybe, he would be answered, since this man was so different and kind compared to his aunt and uncle.
"Gobbledegook," Galldaxe supplied. With an eager glint in his eye, he continued, "you aren't, perhaps, hoping to learn?"
Harry nodded hopefully. Learning sounded fun; school was fun, because he didn't get hit by the teachers and he was once praised for a '100' on a test.
Galldaxe turned fully to Harry and hugged him. "I will teach you," he said simply, and Harry felt something warm in his core.
July 31st, 1991.
"Make a wish, Harry," Harry muttered in Gobbledegook with a grin on his face. The dust-traced cake was blown away, and he gasped suddenly when he felt a magical presence apparate on the shore near the house.
He rushed behind the fireplace and willed himself into hiding. Unfortunately, Galldaxe hadn't been able to teach him much more beyond Gobbledegook, but he had encouraged Harry to continue training his 'magic'. Harry had been told many times by the Dursleys - frauds and cheats, the lot of them, he refused to call them family - that magic wasn't real, and many other false truths. Galldaxe had been far more relenting; he explained that dangerous things were going on where his mother and father had lived, and that he was placed with the Dursleys, them being the logically safest option. He scrunched up his nose. Galldaxe had expressed how his death would have been inevitable otherwise; he was basically the equivalent of royalty, proven by a list of names Galldaxe had told him.
Potter was only one of them; among them were Gryffindor, Jaldax, and Hufflepuff from his father's side, and Ravenclaw, Gellerson, and Durst from his mother's. Apparently, the families were known as 'pureblood' families; he'd get to know about them when he was older.
Maybe the time was now.
In walked the largest man Harry had ever seen. From the looks of it, he had giant blood in him; Galldaxe had taken it upon himself to teach Harry a few things about the more incredible things in the world. The man looked around and caught sight of a terrified Dudley.
"Well, Harry," he said, "I must admit, you're a lot bigger since I've last seen yeh," he laughed good-naturedly, "especially around the middle!"
Harry laughed as he stepped out. That was priceless.
The two Dursleys raced down the stairs of the rickety shack. "I demand you leave immediately!" Uncle Dursley cried, holding out a gun. "You are breaking and entering!"
The giant set fire to the fireplace, marched up to Uncle Dursley, and stated, "Dry up, Dursley, you great prune."
There was a crack that rang throughout history as Hagrid bent the gun with one firm hand.
A/N: We'll be going year-by-year for a bit after this, be warned. Enjoy.
This, and the next two chapters, are prologues.