The Dursleys were an ordinary family. They lived in a perfectly ordinary neighbourhood and led a perfectly ordinary lifestyle. They did not, for the second time in their lifetime, receive a baby on their doorstep.
This time it was not Petunia Dursley who found the baby. This time the baby was not peacefully asleep but crying in a much smaller bundle than Harry. Instead of a neatly written letter there was a scrunched up note ripped from a common note pad. Duddley Dursley opened the door at midnight with the full intention of sneaking off to meet his friends for a night of classic teenage binge drinking.
He had to blink twice to process the crying infant he almost crushed with his massive boot. He had the good sense of reading the messy note instead of picking up child from the frigid floor. The words filled him with relief and horror at the same time.
"Mum!" He shrieked, forgetting the main reason he was trying to sneak out in the first place.
Harry was used to being greeted harshly by his uncle every time he arrived from Hogwarts. However, his aunt had long since stopped coming, Duddley always stayed home nowadays, and there was never, ever, a baby in Petunia Dursley's impatient arms. The thing was tiny and Harry guessed it wasn't older than a month or two at best. It was beginning to fuss and Harry felt a twinge of pity for the baby as his aunt simply seemed to ignore it, keeping her arms still and not looking down to try and soothe the little thing.
"What… is going on?" Harry found himself asking as he reached them. To his shock his uncle took Harry's luggage, Duddley took Hedwig and Petunia thrust the baby into his arms.
"This is the fruit of your blatant irresponsibility." She hissed with as much hate as a person could muster. Vernon looked as purple as a beet and Harry's ears began to dull the sound of his aunt's words and focus on the sound of his pounding heart.
All he could process all the way to the car was how soft the baby blanket was, how sweet the baby cooed and how heavy even such a tinny baby could become after carrying it for a while.
"Buckle it up boy!" Vernon spat. Harry noticed Dudley's old baby carrier, still mildly dusty from being in storage for so long, strapped in the centre of the back seats. Dudley sat on one side and Harry slid in the other. He put the little thing into the carrier, his fingers trembling as he fiddled with securing the child in for the ride. At some point he managed it, and once he was buckled in himself Vernon drove off. The car ride was quiet, except for the random cooing of the baby. Everyone else ignored it. Harry just kept looking at the child as the baby cooed at him. It had dark blue eyes, but Harry assumed they might change.
"…Aunt Petunia… where did the baby come from?" Harry finally managed to ask.
"It's yours you twit." Duddley replied, not even looking at him. At the red traffic light Vernon turned and threw a paper ball at Harry which bounced off his chest and hit the baby's head. It couldn't have hurt, but the baby was still shocked and with wide tearful eyes began to shriek. Harry couldn't control his shaking hands as he hurried to open the ball.
'Harry, this is Mags, she was born on the 5th of June. As we both probably barely remember, she was a mistake. I can't take care of her any longer. You live at a nice enough place and she hardly takes up any space. Good luck. Silvia.'
Mags. That was the worst name ever. He couldn't even remember the face of this Silvia. It had been nearing the end of the summer, just before the dementor attack in Little Whinging. He was haunted by Cedric's death and Voldemort's resurrection nightly so when that night Vernon and Petunia demanded him to get up in the middle of the night he was only too relieved. Duddley had sneaked off to a party and Harry was to call him to come back home. When he got there he didn't know what came over him. The atmosphere, the darkness in his heart… he just grabbed from the many drinks available and joined in. He didn't hear until the next day that Dudley had returned home little after he'd left. He couldn't remember the girl he'd met very well, but he knew she was a friend of one of Dudley's friends. He just let his curiosity and the alcohol drive him and well…
"Shut it up boy! I can't drive like this!" Harry let go of the note and turned to look at the crying baby. Oh god. What was he supposed to do?
"Shh, shh. Hey, hey, Lily… don't cry Lily." He said softly. His aunt gave a small gasp and Harry looked up, figuring it was the cyclist that just swerved too close to the car. The baby whimpered and began sucking on her little fist, whimpering and giving little sobs as she stared at him. Harry gently pet her soft hair. What about Voldemort?
"Dudley… why… where's Silvia? I can't do this… I…"
"Mom already asked me that. My friend doesn't know either, their family just moved away."
"I can't go to school with a baby!" Harry exclaimed.
"Oh, I don't care what your freakish friends do with you, but you are leaving our house!" Vernon yelled. "We've already sent a letter to your headmaster!"
Harry's eyes widened. "Y-you can't be serious…" The baby cooed faintly, kicking her legs gently.
"I had enough being forced to raise a freakish boy like you. I will not be saddled with another one." Petunia spat out.
Harry looked at the baby. Such a small and gentle thing. Would he ever be able to treat such an innocent child the way his aunt and uncle treated him?
He pet the baby's cheek with the back of his finger and the baby offered him a toothless smile and a kick of her legs.
"Petunia be reasonable, you know he must stay long enough to protect him the rest of the year." Harry heard Dumbledore's voice from the living room. Harry was currently in the dining room, holding a sleepy baby in his arms, a bottle of baby formula in his hand. The Dursleys had done a partition between both rooms at some point in the last year which meant he couldn't see their faces. He could hear them just fine though.
"I will not have him in my house any longer! Not with that bastard child!" Vernon yelled.
Harry flinched. He'd learned to ignore the harsh words they ever spoke about him. He'd learned not to care. Suddenly, however, as his only living relatives spat hateful words about the baby in his arms he couldn't help the ache in his heart and the sting in his eyes.
"Surely you know the dangers Petunia, the child needs to be as far away from the wizarding world as possible. If Voldemort discovers that Harry had a child…"
There was a pause and Harry tried to control his breathing. He looked at the little thing that fed from the bottle and kept her eyes intently on him.
"Very well… we will take care of the infant. But that boy will get it as soon as our protections no longer serve him." Petunia said. Harry put the empty bottle down and stood, ignoring Duddley who sat quietly at the bottom of the stairs.
Vernon's face was red as ever as it saw Harry barge in. "Professor Dumbledore, if you think that for one second I will be leaving my child in the hands of these people… you are dreaming." Harry had never heard such hate come from his own voice. He must have learned it from those who raised him in disdain and threw such a tone at him at every turn.
He didn't know what Dumbledore's expression would be when he finally saw him, but the headmaster looked infinitely more disappointed in him than he'd ever seen Mrs. Weasley when her sons had crossed the line. He found himself having to look down at the sleeping baby. Seeing the vulnerable little thing he knew he could never leave him with the people that mistreated him so.
"You ungrateful little freak." Vernon hissed. "Are you saying we weren't good enough? Look at you! You irresponsible sack of worthlessness! You ended up saddling this child with a worthless father who's been abandoned by its mother. What will you tell it when it asks?! How will you teach that thing responsibility?!"
Harry turned to Professor Dumbledore and shook his head. "I refuse. I won't leave her here! Not knowing how they are!" He repeated. The little baby's eyes were wide open as the adults around her yelled and soon whimpered and began to wail. Harry looked down at her, trying to soothe her but it was hard with the Dursleys yelling defensively and the Professor studying them intently.
"Come Harry." Dumbledore finally said, arms stretched out. Harry slowly stepped to sit next to him, passing him the child awkwardly, still not knowing how to hold such a small thing. The professor was the opposite. His arms seemed to hold the baby perfectly and the soft rocking motion of his arms seemed to calm her. He moved his fingers over her, creating beautiful colours and lights. Harry noticed his darkened fingers and wondered when he'd gotten that. "What's her name?" He asked.
Harry looked at his hands taking a deep breath. "Lily." He said. That would be her name.
"Hello Lily." The professor's voice was gentle. Lily gave a little sob and brought her fist to her mouth as she looked at the colourful lights. "Harry, I was wondering if you would like to come with me to visit an old friend of mine." Dumbledore said to him, passing the baby back to him.
"Uh… sure… sir." He said softly, trying to mimic the way the other was holding the baby.
"So what has been decided?" Petunia demanded as the Professor stood.
"Seeing the unusual circumstances, I will arrange alternative accommodation for Harry. I will have someone come and collect his things." He said and patted Harry's shoulder, leading him out of the house.
Recruiting professor Slughorn had been an interesting turn of events with the returning professor even wondering if he could get to 'collect the set' of Potters when he noticed the little baby.
Entering the burrow… now that was another matter.
"Harry!" Ginny smiled, coming up to greet him with a smile. Harry already felt his face heating up. He had hoped that Dumbledore would have explained to the Weasleys what was going on if he was going to just stay unannounced. Ginny's smile quickly dropped and was replaced with shock as the baby in his arms whimpered and began to wail.
"Oh, my word. Who's baby is that Harry?" Mrs. Weasley said.
"Professor Dumbledore doesn't have you babysitting does he?" Mr. Weasley asked in amusement.
"Harry!" Hermione was also here. Great.
"Uh… this… is Lily… she's my… daughter… I guess…" Harry mumbled and insulted himself mentally for sounding so immature. The deafening silence that followed made him nervous and he simply focused on trying to soothe the baby. It was hard, his arms already felt like lead from carrying her.