Merry Christmas to all of you. I'm happy that I managed to get my annual Christmas Story ready for posting, despite my illness. Thanks to everybody that wished me well, I really appreciate that.
As usual, I own nothing of the Harry Potter universe, JKR does.
Now happy reading.
A Different Start
James and Lily Potter stormed back into their house in Godric's Hollow. The alarms had gone off when they had been at St. Mungo's, fighting Death Eaters that had attacked the hospital around eight at this Hallowe'en. They were scared out of their wits for their two sons, Harry and Aaron. Harry was just four and Aaron one year old. Harry had been born just after they had finished their sixth year at Hogwarts. They had been careless in a passionate night after a Quidditch match victory party in the Gryffindor common room and Harry had been the result. He had been born 31st July 1977. They had been really grateful that James' parents and Dumbledore were so cooperative. Dumbledore had equipped them both with a portkey so that they could return to Potter Manor each day to be with Harry after school. At least for the months till May when they had been too busy with NEWT preparations.
Lily had felt like a horrible mother, but Dorea Potter had calmed her future daughter-in-law down and assured her that Harry was well-cared for with his grandparents and they came to the manor each weekend. James and Lily had married just a week after graduating with Sirius Black, James best friend, being James' best man and Mary McDonald being Lily's bridesmaid. Ironically also at the end of July, barely on 30th July 1980, ten seconds later and he would have shared his birthday with his older brother, Aaron Potter had been born. But the life of their family was overshadowed by a prophecy that could mean both of their sons or Neville Longbottom, the son of dear friends of them.
Tonight, during an Order meeting, they had got a call that St. Mungo's was attacked. Thinking that their sons were safe with Dorea and Charlus Potter at the cottage, which was under the fidelius charm, James and Lily had gone with the other Order members to protect the people at the hospital. Really, for the Death Eaters to sink that low was a new devastating hit in this terrible war. But when the alarm that James and Lily always carried with them went off, they knew that their sons were in danger.
Now they entered the nursery where they found Harry lying on the ground, next to Dorea. They feared the worst after already having found Charlus dead downstairs, the signs of a hard fight everywhere. Despite being over eighty years old, Charlus Potter wasn't an opponent which you underestimated in a duel. He had been a top notch hit wizard when he had been younger. James frantically checked his mother, only to find her having been killed by the killing curse. Aaron was wailing and Lily went to calm him down. James checked Harry and was never as relieved as when he found that while his son was currently weak, he was breathing. Lily cleaned Aaron's forehead from the blood that she found there and was greeted by the sight of a lightning bolt shaped wound.
James held his older son while weeping over the loss of his parents. Lily could only try to console him, with tears also running down her cheeks.
Soon after them Dumbledore appeared. He looked over the scene and found a pile of robes together with Voldemort's wand. When he looked at Aaron, he noticed the wound and a calculating smile came to his face. He did a few charms to check the magical residue in the room.
"James, Lily, it seems as if Aaron has defeated Voldemort," Dumbledore told them.
"What?" James asked holding Harry in his arms.
"Over there is Voldemort's wand and his robes. But I fear, as there is no body, he will return. But Aaron has been marked by Voldemort, just as the prophecy said. He is the Boy-Who-Lived," Dumbledore announced.
"What do you mean, he isn't dead? How can you cheat death?" James wanted to know.
"The result of my investigative charms told me that two killing curses were fired in this room and the cut on Aaron's head shows that he has been hit by one of them, but that it was deflected somehow. I think it could have happened that Dorea had something to do with it. There also are traces of a sacrificing ritual," Dumbledore explained, "We need to make sure that Aaron will be ready when Voldemort comes back."
"What do you suggest, Albus?" Lily asked, scared for her baby.
"As soon as Aaron is old enough, you should start training him. Perhaps you should also keep him out of the public. As soon as people find out that Aaron defeated Voldemort, they will worship him," The old headmaster advised.
"And Harry?" James asked.
"Well, with as much training as Aaron will need, you will probably be too busy to properly take care of him. Perhaps your sister, Lily," Dumbledore suggested, only to be interrupted by the furious mother.
"Are you out of your mind, Albus? Petunia hates magic! I will never let my son live with her and her bigoted husband. Forget it! And why wouldn't we be able to properly take care of both of our sons? We have managed well enough so far. We will simply train both and any children we might have in the future to be ready. And Harry has always looked out for Aaron!" She yelled at Dumbledore.
"Lily is absolutely right, Albus. I won't send my son away, who incidentally is also my heir, just because it might be a bit inconvenient for us; especially not to those despicable people. They would abuse him for being a wizard. No, I will take my family back to Potter Manor, activate the oldest wards we have there and teach my sons how to properly defend themselves as soon as I think that they are old enough!" James stated fiercely, "Any ideas how long Voldemort could need to get a body back if you say he isn't dead?"
"It's impossible to say. It could be a few months; it could also be many years. We have information that he told his followers that he had found a way to become immortal. As we don't have a body to show, I think it is possible that his boasts stemmed from the truth," Dumbledore commented, frowning that his ideas were smashed down by the Potters.
"Well, then we will see how long we have. I will do my best to ensure that all the Death Eaters are rounded up by the Ministry. I can return to my position with the aurors in a week or so," James declared, "I first need to organize my parents' funeral and the move to the manor."
Dumbledore had no other choice than nodding. At the moment, neither Potter would be swayed to follow his plans. Well, he had a minister to inform of the defeat of Voldemort at the hands of Aaron Potter. He would find a way to turn this to his advantage. James and Lily were currently stricken with grief and naturally wanted to keep their family close. Once the immediate grief was dealt with they would see things his way he was sure. He should have probably considered that when he made his suggestions. And once the two Potters would have calmed down and saw reason, Aaron Potter would be trained the way he, Albus Dumbledore favoured. What consequence had Harry Potter in the plans for the Greater Good?
Time Skip 1988
The Potter family was currently doing their shopping in Diagon Alley. Since their son Aaron had become the Boy-Who-Lived nearly seven years ago, life for them had changed. They had moved from their cottage in Godric's Hollow to Potter Manor in Ceredigion. The Ancient manor had some of the best wards there were in the wizarding world. Charlus and Dorea Potter had been buried at the family graveyard on the grounds like all the other members of the Potter family before them. The Potters counted six heads now. Harry, the oldest son, was eleven and would start Hogwarts this year. It was the reason for this trip. They were getting his school supplies. Aaron, the second oldest, was eight and admired his big brother greatly.
Whenever Aaron needed help, for which he didn't want to ask his parents, he went to Harry. And Harry would be there and help Aaron. As he would for the youngest two, the twins Jasmine and Dahlia Potter. The two girls were nearly six years old and mischievous like their father. Harry was more like his mother with his father's talent and love for playing Quidditch, even if Harry preferred playing seeker over being chaser. That was more Aaron's position. Harry looked like his father, but had his mother's eyes. Aaron too had his father's hair and his mother's eyes, but his face looked more like his mother's. Jasmine and Dahlia had their mother's red hair and her eyes, but the hair was typical Potter messy. Their faces resembled more their father's. All Potter children were grateful to not have inherited their father's bad sight. Perhaps it had something to do with them all getting their eyes from their mother.
The press had tried to follow the Potter family, attempting to get some good shots of the Boy-Who-Lived, but James had managed to get rid of them by threatening to call the aurors for harassment of his family. After the numerous law cases, which the Potters had all won, on the matter, no reporter that wanted to keep his job would dare to go against James Potter after he had given a warning. Those that had been lucky enough to get a shot would use it to write a small article about the Potters going school shopping. Nothing really interesting, but the population of wizarding Britain seemed to have nothing better to talk about than Aaron Potter.
Just that Aaron Potter didn't like the press at all and found all the reporters more than scary. He normally hid behind Harry when he felt them closing in on him. And Harry had perfected the Lily Potter glare. Those that knew what was good for them backed away if they saw either Harry or his mother glare like that.
Lily Potter had gained a fearsome reputation. When the Ministry had rounded up the remaining Death Eaters, she had single-handedly defeated Voldemort's best lieutenant Bellatrix Lestrange, when Bellatrix, her husband, his brother and Barty Crouch junior had tried to get information on Voldemort's whereabouts from Alice and Frank Longbottom. Well, the attempt had failed, as the Lestranges and Crouch hadn't expected more people than the Longbottoms when they had attacked. With one-on-one situations, they were overpowered and three of them now sat at Azkaban.
Bellatrix hadn't survived her injuries long enough despite treatment. While the Ministry hadn't been happy about giving the high reward for her capture to a muggleborn witch, they didn't have a choice. Lily had invested that money well, next to also taking care of making sure that the rest of the Potter fortune multiplied over the years. And anybody who posed a threat to her children learned to fear for his life. Lily Potter was a legend by now for her fiery temperament and her skill. And Harry was his mother's son from his character. He always looked out for others, but he could explode badly if he was wronged or his friends hurt.
With all the attention that Aaron got, some might now think that the other Potter children might be neglected over the famous member of their family, but neither Lily nor James wanted anything to do with the circus that was made around Aaron. When James had been younger, he might have wanted the attention, but the price, at which this fame for his family had come, had been much too high. One of his best friends, Peter Pettigrew, had sold them out to Voldemort, causing the death of his parents. James had had a really hard year after his parents had died. He had to simultaneously deal with taking over as Earl of Ceredigion for his father in the Wizengamot, making sure that the Wizengamot didn't let the Death Eaters get away through bribery and the Imperius defence and raise two sons. Lily had decided to postpone her masteries in Potions and Charms to let James first get his part organized. She stayed at home and took care of the boys and the family finances. James simply didn't have the time.
James had quit his job with the aurors in 1986 when nearly all Death Eaters had been arrested, interrogated and imprisoned. His best friend Sirius Black though had stayed at the auror office and was right now the head auror, despite his young age. He had been chosen over Rufus Scrimgeour when the former head auror Amelia Bones had been promoted to the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Sirius simply had the better reputation and success rate than the older Scrimgeour. On top, he was more popular with the other aurors.
By now James had masteries in Transfiguration and Ancient Runes, both talents that ran in the Potter family, while Lily had finished her masteries in Charms and Potions from home. Her two masters had been very understanding over her situation and given her the chance to do her apprenticeship part-time from 1982 on. She had finished in 1985, thanks to a lot of friends babysitting when it was necessary. James had started a small company with Lily that offered several things. Wards, potions, charmed items to ease everyday life, all tested in the Potter and Black families before putting them up for sale, and runic engravings for several things.
The company was doing well and the Potter parents could produce the things they sold from their home. It had the useful side effect that by now Harry Potter had a better understanding of Potions and Runes than most fourth-year students at Hogwarts. Aaron had only been allowed in his mother's laboratory one month ago. The twins were forbidden anywhere near the lab. Harry was also well-versed in Defence Against the Dark Arts. While he had only been given a training wand last summer, he could already use some easy spells to unsettle an opponent to get away. He had started his education in magic when he was eight years old, just like Aaron was now. James and Lily didn't want to overdo things too early on, so the children had only learned theoretical skills about magical subjects and practiced writing with a quill.
The children regularly met with the Black and Longbottom kids. Sirius Black had married in 1984 and by now had two children. A son called Aries who was six and would be in the same year as the twins, and a daughter called Juno who was three. His wife Claire, a witch he had met on a holiday in France and fallen hard for, was currently pregnant with their third child. Frank and Alice Longbottom had two sons and a daughter, Neville was born on the same day as Aaron, they had had many joined birthday parties over the years, switching from Potter Manor to Longbottom Manor over the years, Jason was seven and Stephanie was four. Harry meanwhile had often played with Cedric Diggory, whose mother had been friends with Lily during their Hogwarts years. Chiana Diggory didn't think too highly of the parenting style of Molly Weasley, thus, despite the Diggorys living in the same village as the Weasleys, and Percy and the twins Fred and George only being a year older or younger than Cedric respectively, Cedric had flooed over to the Potters more often than meeting his village neighbours.
Harry was really excited. His letter had arrived a week before his birthday and of course he had written back that he accepted his place at Hogwarts. His parents had been really proud of him and Lily had cooked his favourite food that evening before promising that they would go shopping for his school things the day after his birthday. Convincing the elves to let her cook had been difficult, but, by promising them to not cook until Christmas, she got the kitchen for herself. House elves were very protective over their jobs. She had had to learn that, while the bond was similar to a slave bond if the elf was mistreated, the elves got their magic from the family they were bonded to. So she, albeit grudgingly, accepted it. It didn't stop her from trying to get laws passed that forbid elf abuse.
Until now, they had gone to Gringotts to get money for shopping from the family vault, got his cauldron and potion ingredients and bought a telescope. Next on their list were school robes. At Madam Malkin's Lily left with the younger kids to go and get ice-cream, while Harry was fitted with James waiting for him. They joked around what kind of great pranks Harry could pull once at Hogwarts and how he would break the record for becoming the youngest player to get onto a house team.
After that they went to meet the rest of the family at the bookstore, where Harry got the set of books he needed plus some others that interested him. While Potter Manor had a great library, James and Lily also used the opportunity to see if there was something new that would make a good addition to the library. But besides a new book of that fool Lockhart and a Potions book that Lily herself had authored, there was nothing that had come in since their last visit.
Finally, they went to Ollivander's to get Harry's wand. Harry was really excited to finally get his own first wand.
"Ah, Mr Potter, I expected to see you soon. James Potter, Mahogany, thirteen and a half inches, stiff, good for Transfiguration and Lily Potter, willow, ten and three quarter inches, reasonably swishy, great for Charms," Mr Ollivander greeted the family.
"Hello, Mr Ollivander," James greeted, grinning at the man.
"I trust your wands are still working fine," Ollivander mentioned, addressing the parents and got two nods.
"Then let's see what we can do four young Mr Potter. Which arm is your wand arm?" Ollivander asked.
"My right," Harry answered.
Ollivander started to let a tape measure fly around Harry, which took measures of basically everything. His arm, his height, his shoulders and even his nostrils.
"That will be enough," Ollivander told the tape which fell to the ground, "Now, try this one Mr Potter, birchwood with dragon heartstring," Harry was handed a wand and swished it, only to have a window break. "A definite no," Ollivander said, snatching the wand out of Harry's hand and handing him the next one, "Ebony with unicorn hair, ten inches, flexible," Ollivander continued, but snatched the wand out of Harry's hand before he had even swished it.
The searching went on and on for over two hours and Harry felt like testing every single wand in the shop. Even the curious combination of Holly and phoenix feather didn't seem to like him. Finally, after Ollivander had disappeared deep into his storage, he came back with a dusty box.
"Let's see if this one might work. I never found a match for it, for all the sixty years that I have had it. It is one of my earliest works," Ollivander informed them, "I never again used that kind of combination; it's too difficult to match such a pesky core, no matter how powerful this wand is."
James and Lily raised their eyebrows hearing that. Harry took the wand and felt himself connecting with it immediately. He waved the wand and a shower of silver sparks came out of it.
"Oh, bravo, I didn't think to ever match this wand!" Ollivander exclaimed happily, "White ash with a feather of a moon owl, eleven inches, slightly flexible. How really curious. I think we can expect great things from you, Mr Potter. A moon owl is one of the rarest magical creatures there is and I was very lucky to be granted this particular feather. A being determined to not let darkness rule and always mysterious. I had wondered why a moon owl would donate a feather, but probably it was meant to become the core of your wand."
Harry happily held his wand and his father bought him a wand holster to safely store the wand. Being an ex-auror he knew how important proper wand-safety was. They paid eight galleons and thirteen sickles for the wand and left the shop. Last on their list was Eeylops Owl Emporium to get Harry an owl as he had chosen that as his pet. Inside the shop, they walked through the rows with different kinds of owls on each side. Harry was like in trance. He seemed to know exactly which owl was meant to be his. In the end, he came to a stop in front of a beautiful white snowy owl with amber eyes.
"This is the one," He declared. He could feel a bond with this owl.
Ignoring the warning that this particular owl was incredibly picky and had never accepted any of the ones that wanted to buy her, Harry held his hand into the cage and to the astonishment of the shop assistant she only gently nibbled on Harry's finger. So, Harry got his owl, a perch and owl treats for her.
Harry was excited about his first trip to Hogwarts. He had arranged with Cedric to meet him at the platform to look for a compartment together. They also wanted to see if they could meet some other first-years during the ride. Harry had some games packed in his backpack that his father had created for the family business. So, the last night Harry hadn't slept that much. In the morning, he ate breakfast and stored the lunch packet that Tobi, the chef of the kitchen, had prepared for him to eat during the journey. The family flooed to King's Cross station, there was an area for the arrival, as many families chose to travel here by floo, you simply had to get a time when you could floo, as organizing that many families was a highly strenuous affair for the Ministry every year.
Thankfully there were ten fireplaces, so the arrivals didn't cause a chaos. The Potters walked through the barrier, why they couldn't integrate the floos on the inside of the platform nobody really understood, but the Ministry had declared it couldn't be done otherwise. Hence why there was a warded area for the floo arrivals and the families then had to make the way to the platform. On the platform, the Diggorys were already waiting, as were Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, James' best friends, to wish their godson and pseudo nephew the best for his first ride on the Hogwarts Express.
Once they had exchanged greetings with each other, James and Amos helped Harry and Cedric to get their trunks onto the train. Despite featherlight charms on the trunks, they were still unhandy, especially for eleven-year-old children. They put the trunks into an empty compartment and then went back outside to say goodbye to their family. While Lily told Harry to pay attention in his classes and be nice to the other children, the three marauders told Harry and Cedric to have fun and play some awesome pranks when they thought that Lily didn't hear them. None of them wanted to earn Lily's ire. It normally was unhealthy.
Harry and Cedric grinned at each other. While they weren't big on playing pranks, they both were more interested in playing Quidditch, they promised to have more than enough fun. Soon the whistle blew, telling the families that it was time for the students to board the train. Last good-byes were exchanged and Harry promised Aaron, Jasmine and Dahlia to write regularly.
Cedric and Harry were walking, Harry in front of Cedric, down the way from the door of the chamber they had waited in towards the head table. Over them were hundreds of floating candles spending light to the Great Hall. Both were a bit nervous. Harry wanted to make his family proud by being sorted into Gryffindor, like his father and mother before him. Cedric just wanted to avoid Slytherin at all cost. Finally, when all the first-years were at the front, the Sorting Hat started singing a song describing the values of each of the four houses. The older students clapped and cheered for the Hat when it finished and then the sorting started. Cedric was one of the first new students to be sorted. Harry noticed that there weren't many students this year. Only about thirty. He had known that many families didn't want to have children during the war, but he hadn't realized what that meant for Hogwarts.
Cedric was sorted into Hufflepuff after a few seconds. Harry thought that it fit his best friend perfectly. You couldn't find a more loyal friend than Cedric Diggory. Harry was called and some whispered about him being the brother to the Boy-Who-Lived. Harry could only roll his eyes. Wizards were really stupid. As if Aaron alone would have been able to defeat Voldemort. No, he had seen that something had happened when his granny had stood between Voldemort, Harry and Aaron that night. He couldn't remember it well, but there was something like a light that had flown into them and before Voldemort had come into Aaron's room granny had performed a spell on both of them, using some runes drawn with her wand. He didn't really know what it was and neither did his parents when he told them, after he had woken up again.
Harry sat down on the stool and Professor McGonagall put the hat on his head.
"Ah, the first of the new Potter batch. Let me see, a good mind, great ambition, but my, you have courage in spades. Yes, you will do perfectly in GRYFFINDOR!" The Hat yelled the last part and Harry went over to the table under the red and gold banners.
He looked forward to writing home tomorrow to tell his family where he had been sorted.
And this was the start of the story. Until tomorrow.