Summary: Magically talented, Slytherin fem!Harry. This fic covers years 1-3 of Victoria Potter's adventures at Hogwarts, with a strong focus on magic, friendship, and boarding school life. Mostly canonical world but avoids rehash of canon plotlines. No bashing, no kid politicians, no 11-year-old romances.
Resources: Check my AO3 profile for various additional resources relating to the story, including a Hogwarts map, Victoria's timetable and a spreadsheet keeping track of her finances. FFN profile links no longer work, unfortunately.
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Newcomb, Lindsey, Sesc, Blorcyn and Selethe for their detailed feedback and input on the development of the story.
Part One: First Year
Chapter One: Number 4 Privet Drive
Number Four, Privet Drive had changed very little in the ten years since Victoria Potter had appeared on the doorstep. Family photographs which once depicted a chubby baby boy were now home to a rather spherical ten-year-old, often squeezed between two proud parents. Those parents, Vernon and Petunia Dursley, were showing the first signs of age: Vernon had grown larger still, with a correspondingly thicker moustache, while Petunia now dyed her hair to hide the faint beginnings of grey. In almost every other respect, the house was as it had always been: clean, ordered, and utterly lacking in character.
Out of all the photographs on display, only one revealed that there was a fourth occupant of the house. That picture was to be found in the downstairs bathroom, hanging on the back of the door, and it showed a young girl with long black hair and bright green eyes. She was standing between Vernon and Petunia, both of them wearing rather fixed smiles, with Petunia's hand hovering above Victoria's shoulder in an incomplete embrace.
Aside from the hidden photograph, you would have to go to Victoria's bedroom to know she existed. It was the smallest bedroom and sparsely furnished. There was no carpet covering the worn wooden floor, nor pictures on the light pink walls. The bed was creaky, the wardrobe second-hand, and the desk wobbled. The sole decoration was a long mirror leaning against a wall, any intention of hanging it up long since abandoned.
Victoria looked around her domain in satisfaction. As spartan as it was, her bedroom was her haven. So long as she was in her bedroom, Dudley and his friends wouldn't bother her. It was the only place in the world, save perhaps the library at school, where she was free from his pestering.
"Girl, we're leaving in ten minutes!" Vernon shouted up the stairs. "You better be ready!"
Victoria jumped in surprise. She hadn't realised it was so late. It was summer, and though it was close to eight o'clock it was still light outside. She quickly opened her wardrobe and pulled out her best dress. It was green, to match her eyes. Like all her clothes, it was second-hand. That wasn't to say the Dursleys were poor—a shiny new car in the driveway was testament to that—but they had always made it clear to Victoria that she was not really part of their family. As such she did not deserve proper presents.
Victoria didn't mind much. You could find some pretty good clothes in charity shops if you looked hard enough.
"ARE YOU COMING OR NOT?" shouted Vernon, his patience wearing thin.
Any other girl would have had a mother to help with her hair before going out, but Victoria was used to doing it on her own. She scrunched up her nose and pushed, as if to pop her ears. Suddenly her hair was alive: it straightened with a wiggle, and then began to braid itself into two fine Dutch braids, which tied around the back of her head like a circlet. It would have taken anyone else at least fifteen minutes and a lot of practice to put their hair into such a complicated style. She did it in fifteen seconds.
It was her secret. Her talent. She had first discovered it when she was seven-years-old, after returning from the hairdresser with a terrible haircut. In a moment of extreme regret her hair had restored itself to its previous style. She was stunned; the Dursleys tried to pretend it never happened, as they did every time something strange happened around her. But Victoria didn't forget. She knew what she had seen. Most children stop believing in magic by the age of seven, but since that day Victoria had been convinced of its existence. She knew it because she could use it.
Changing her appearance was easiest, with her abilities appearing to grow as she did. By the time she was nine, she could change almost anything about how she looked on the surface. That was why her hair grew straight without her needing to brush it, and it was why her skin had a healthy glow to it throughout the winter. She'd even made her nose cuter, making it narrower and giving it a slight upturn at the end. Deeper changes, however, were much more difficult. Try as she might, she still couldn't make herself taller. In fact, it had taken all her concentration and effort just to remove an ugly scar from her forehead.
She could do other things as well, though they were much harder. If she clapped her hands and stamped her feet, she could light a small fire. She'd learnt that objects would float if she stuck a feather on them and threw them into the air. And one time, when she'd been having a staring match with Dudley and focused hard on his pupils, she'd actually seen flashes of what he had been thinking.
Victoria shuddered at the memory. She hadn't tried that one again - Dudley's mind was not somewhere she wanted to be.
She slipped her pumps on and hurried downstairs. The Dursleys were all waiting by the door. Petunia sniffed haughtily, her eyes lingering on Victoria's hair. Victoria rolled her eyes: that was about as close to approval she ever got.
"Took your time, didn't you?" said Vernon, but he wasn't showing any signs of exploding. This was just his normal level of grumbling.
They took the new car to the concert, which was being held at a local church. None of them actually enjoyed classical music, of course. Vernon thought it was "uppity nonsense" and Petunia wouldn't know culture if it was sunbathing nude in next door's garden. As for Dudley, he spent most of the car ride talking about the television he was missing.
Unfortunately for the Dursleys, being upstanding members of the local community came with certain obligations, one of which was attendance at Stonewall's junior concert.
Victoria was indifferent about the whole affair. Classical music wasn't her thing either, preferring Madonna and Michael Jackson, but it wasn't as if there'd be much to do at home. She'd already finished what little homework she had, Dudley always had control of the TV, and the Dursleys strictly controlled what books she was allowed to read. They didn't want her getting any "dangerous ideas", after all. The concert, therefore, was a welcome break from boredom.
As soon as they arrived they began to mingle, an activity which Victoria felt adults enjoyed far too much.
"Vernon, Petunia, it's so good to see you!" said Mrs Williams, the woman who had invited them. Her eleven-year-old son was in the choir.
"Oh Carol, of course we wouldn't miss it," replied Petunia, greeting her by kissing the air next to her cheek.
"And this must be Dudley," Mrs. Williams continued, taking in Victoria's cousin. She seemed to be struggling to find something positive to say, so eventually settled on a complete lie. "You'll be a lady killer in a few years, I bet."
Victoria struggled to contain a laugh while her aunt and uncle puffed up in pride.
It was then Victoria's turn to be examined.
"And who's this?"
"Victoria, ma'am," she said. Unlike Dudley, Victoria had always been punished unless she was excessively polite. By now it was second nature.
"Well, you are a pretty one, aren't you?" said Mrs Williams. Victoria couldn't help but smile. There were some benefits to mingling, she supposed. She never received such praise from the Dursleys, and the scowl on Vernon's face took the cake. "I never knew you had a daughter, Petunia! Where have you been hiding her?"
"Oh, she's not our daughter!" Petunia said, extremely quickly. Victoria's smile died.
"Petunia's niece, you know, " said Vernon, trying to pass it off casually.
"Oh, I see! Visiting your aunt and uncle? I'm not sure if Little Whinging has much to offer a girl your age, but it's always good to see family..."
Victoria swallowed. She'd never found a good way to explain that she was an orphan. Dudley came to her rescue. "Her parents are dead. Got drunk and crashed their car, didn't they?"
Victoria scowled at him and Mrs Williams looked shocked. "Why, young man, that was not sensitive! You should apologise to your cousin." The Dursleys looked like they were sucking lemons, forced to watch as their perfect child was told off.
"Sorry," mumbled Dudley. It was music to Victoria's ears, undoubtedly finer than anything Mrs Williams' son was about to produce. It occurred to Victoria that she should attend these events more often. When they were in public, the Dursleys had to behave.
Mrs Williams soon moved on to mingle with Mrs Figg, the strange cat lady who lived a couple streets across from Privet Drive.
"Well I never!" said Petunia, once she was out of earshot. "Telling Dudley off like that! The nerve of some people... we don't tell her how to raise her son, do we?"
"What do I always say, Pet? The country's—"
"—going to the dogs," completed Victoria. Her uncle said it several times a week. Vernon turned a beady eye on her.
"That's enough out of you for one night, I think," he said. "You've done enough damage already."
Victoria was fuming as they took their seats. She had done enough damage? She'd done nothing! It wasn't her fault that Dudley was rude, and it certainly wasn't her fault that her parents were dead. But that had never mattered to the Dursleys.
The concert started not long after. The music was predictably boring, the seats uncomfortable, and the church far too hot. Victoria desperately needed something to drink. To make everything worse, Dudley spent most of the concert kicking Victoria whenever he thought none of the adults were looking. She was certain her shins would be black and blue the next day.
"Knock it off!" she whispered after a particularly hard kick.
"Shhh!" hissed Petunia, giving Victoria a sharp look. Dudley smirked at her.
The intermission was a welcome relief. After gulping down three glasses of orange squash, Victoria excused herself to go to toilet, hoping to escape all the grown-up small talk as they downed as much free wine as they could during the short break. But avoiding the adults turned out to be a mistake, for Dudley was waiting for her as soon as she left the loo.
"Icky Vicky, Icky Vicky," he chanted in a sing-song voice, using his favourite name for her. "I'm gonna get you tomorrow. First break."
Victoria clenched her fists. Every so often Dudley would "get her" at school, and it was never pleasant. Sometimes he'd stick her head through the gap in the barbed wire fence and hold her close to the spikes. Another favourite was to spill milk on her.
"Oh yeah?" she said, bolder than she felt. "Well, maybe I'll get you. You're so fat, it can't be hard."
"I'm not fat!" he said—too loudly. Some nearby adults turned to look at him and he scowled.
Victoria stuck her tongue out at him. "Fattie fattie Duddikins! I bet you can't even see your toes!"
Victoria gasped, stunned, and brought a hand up to her stinging face. She wasn't the only one: all the grown-ups around them gasped too. "You... you hit me," she said. Against her will, tears began to form in the corners of her eyes.
"Dudley Dursley!" a man said. He was tall, with black hair going silver, and he did not look happy. Dudley gulped audibly: the man was Mr Stevens, their headmaster. "What on earth do you think you're doing?"
"She—" Dudley began, but Mr Stevens interrupted.
"I'm not interested," he said, "you never hit girls, do you understand me? Never."
"Yes, sir," Dudley said to his shoes.
"Look at me," said Mr Stevens. Dudley looked up, his face completely red from his public humiliation. Everyone was watching.
"We'll discuss this tomorrow morning, in my office," he said. "Vernon, Petunia, I would like you to come too." They nodded in agreement, not willing to speak, apparently sufficiently embarrassed by what was happening.
They didn't stay for the second half of the concert, leaving as inconspicuously as they could, and drove home in silence. It was not to last. As soon as they got into the kitchen, Vernon turned on Victoria.
"You!" he cried, waving a fat finger at her. "To your room, now! And you can forget about any more concerts!" Victoria hurried upstairs, hardly daring to believe her luck. No chores, and no mention of losing her pocket money. She'd got away practically scot-free. But would Dudley? She paused on the upstairs landing to eavesdrop.
"Not you," she heard Vernon say, "we're going to have a talk about your behaviour."
Dudley muttered something unintelligible, and then—
"It doesn't matter what she said!" Vernon bellowed. "You don't embarrass us in public! I thought we had raised you better than that!"
"No buts! No television for a week! And you have to be in bed by eight o'clock, every day!"
"Dad!" Dudley said, completely shocked. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before.
"Maybe you'll remember this, next time you think to use your fists in front of everyone!"
Dudley came stomping out of the kitchen; Victoria wasn't able to get to her room fast enough. Dudley saw her there, listening in at the top of the stairs, and he gave her a look of genuine hate.
They stared at each other for a moment. Then, unable to stop herself, Victoria whispered down the stairs. "Fattie fattie Duddikins!"
She ran to her room before she could see the result.
Dudley never did follow through on his threat to punish Victoria at school the next day. She supposed that he'd been sufficiently cowed by his long sequence of punishments. As it turned out, a week without television was just the start of it.
The day after the concert all three Dursleys had spent a long time in Mr Stevens' office. Dudley had been forced to apologise to her in front of the whole school and had to spend his breaks in the library for a week. Those five days were pure bliss, with Victoria actually being able to play tag without being tripped over by Dudley every time she turned her back to him.
It took a few weeks for things to return to normal, and by then the end of term was approaching. Sports day had come and gone (Victoria had managed to win the 800 metre race), and the swimming gala was coming up. That was rather less exciting than sports day, as swimming had never been Victoria's forte, but nonetheless she was taking the opportunity to go to the pool whenever she could. Anything to get away from the Dursleys.
She was just finishing a length when she saw Annabelle, her current best friend, climbing up the ladder to leave the water. "You're going already?" Victoria called out, holding onto the side to steady herself.
"Gotta go," Annabelle said, pointing through a large window to the figure of her father loitering in the lobby. "You wanna come? You could stay for dinner."
Victoria was sorely tempted, but didn't want to push things with the Dursleys. "Can't. Vernon said I had to be back by seven." Annabelle didn't look surprised by this—Victoria was never allowed to go round her friends' houses. What Annabelle didn't know was that the Dursleys forbade it. After all, if Victoria spent too much time with her friends, they might realise she was a freak.
"All right," Annabelle said. "Don't stay too long, you'll go all wrinkly. See you tomorrow!"
Victoria stayed as long as she could, well past the point of wrinkles, but eventually she had to get out lest she risk Vernon's wrath. She walked home with the summer sun low in the sky, her wet hair drying in its dying warmth, and was so distracted by the beautiful evening that it took her a surprisingly long time to notice the sound of hooting.
Victoria paused and looked around. To her great surprise, an owl was perched on a parked car nearby.
"Weird," she said, taking a good look, for she had never seen a live owl before. It stuck out its leg, to which an envelope was attached by a piece of string. How had she not noticed that before? She took a step forward, curious, but paused at the sight of the owl's talons. They looked very sharp. "Also on the news tonight: ten-year-old girl has her eyes clawed out by a crazy owl," she muttered, turning away. "No thank you."
She got another minute down the road before she heard the hooting again. She spun around, and there the owl was, not five metres away, perched on someone's garden fence.
"You're not going to leave me alone, are you?" she said with a sigh. She shuffled closer to it, ready to run at the first sign of an attack, and the bird stuck its leg out again. Victoria reached forward, trying to keep her body as far away as possible. The moment she touched the envelope, the string attaching it to the owl's leg fell away and, with an impatient hoot, the bird launched itself into the air. Victoria shrieked and fell to the floor, covering her head with her arms, and when she looked up the owl was nowhere to be seen. The envelope, made of thick paper, sat on the ground next to her. On it someone had handwritten an address:
Miss Victoria Potter
The Smallest Bedroom
Number Four, Privet Drive
There was no postcode, she noted, but then she supposed owls didn't have any use for them. She giggled to herself at the ridiculousness of it all. It was amazing though; she wondered who had gone to all this trouble. And for her, of all people. She opened the letter and pulled out several sheets made of the same thick paper. Her eyes widened as she took in the front page.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmaster: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
(Order of Merlin, First Class; Chief Warlock; Supreme Mugwump, Int. Confed. Wizds.)
Dear Miss Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on 1st September 1991. As you reside in a non-magical household, a representative from the school will visit your home on 29th June to assist in your preparations for the school year.
Victoria's first instinct was disbelief, but that was quickly followed by the excitement of dawning realisation. Of course the letter was real! It explained so much! She had been right: it was magic, what she could do, and not only that—there were other people like her out there. And she could go to a school to learn more! She wondered if her parents had been magical too. It would certainly explain the Dursleys' fear of allowing her near anything too fantastical, or their unexplained insistence that she was a freak.
Victoria scoured the letter like Dudley would a free buffet. Was Merlin real, then? Did that mean King Arthur was too? What on Earth was a Supreme Mugwump? The letter threw up far more questions than it answered. Eager for more information, she turned to the lists attached.
One cauldron, pewter, standard size two.
One set of brewer's knives
One set of scales, brass.
One set of stirrers.
One set glass vials.
One black winter outer-robe (open style).
Five winter inner robes, white.
Five summer dress robes, white, checkered with House colour.
Five plain tights, dark.
One winter cloak, black, silver fastenings.
One set flying robes.
One pair dragon hide (or similar) gloves.
Black shoes, leather, with a heel of no more than one inch.
Underwear and other clothing suitable for leisure time.
All clothing should be clearly labelled with the student's name.
The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
Students are permitted an owl OR cat OR toad. Should any other pets be brought, they shall be handed over to the Gamekeeper.
Victoria's amazement grew as she read down the list. She had no idea where you'd buy any of it—except maybe brass scales—but she couldn't wait to read the books. She'd smuggled The Hobbit out of the school library last year and loved it. But here was a real magical world, with real dragons, and she would get to know everything about it.
She walked the remaining distance home with her nose buried in the letter. It said someone would be coming to visit on June 29th... that was just a few days away. Would there be a test? Annabelle had needed to pass a test for the fancy private school she was starting next year.
Victoria considered herself intelligent, even if sometimes her school reports didn't show it. After all, it wasn't her fault that Mr Bradley, her maths teacher, couldn't understand that the numbers seven and eleven didn't like each other. Nor could she be blamed for Miss Grimshaw's failure to realise that singing to plants would make them grow better.
Yet somehow she doubted that a magic school would be interested in her marks in maths or science. She'd never read any books on magic before… what if they asked her things she'd never even heard of? Maybe she could show them the trick with her hair?
She returned home to find the Dursleys watching the television in the living room. It almost looked like they were hypnotised, the way they all sat there in silence, staring at the glowing screen. None of them greeted Victoria as she walked past the door, probably not even noticing that she was there. A plate of food waited for her on the kitchen table; the Dursleys had already eaten. She put the slice of pie into the new microwave and watched hungrily through the window as it rotated.
She would have to spend the next few days practising her magic. Hopefully it would be enough to impress the person from Hogwarts. She giggled: it was such a silly name! But there was something so unDursleyish about it that Victoria already loved it.
The microwave finished with a ping and Victoria wolfed down her pie, not even caring that it was still cold in the middle. She had other business to attend to.
She ran up to her room and began to practise her magic. She started by sitting in front of her mirror, changing how she looked. It was by far the easiest part of magic: it took only a moment of really wanting it, and her hair rippled from black to red to purple to black again. Her eyes were more difficult, but at least it didn't hurt like it used to. Squinting, she shifted them to blue, to brown, and then to red. Victoria shuddered. She always thought there was something unsettling about red eyes, so she quickly returned them to their vivid green.
After her eyes, she moved onto more advanced changes. She extended her fingernails, gave herself a light tan, and, wanting to see how far she could push herself, tried to lengthen her fingers. She winced as a series of quite disconcerting cracking sounds followed as her bones rearranged themselves. That was not comfortable.
She stared at her left hand and wiggled her fingers. She'd never done anything involving her bones before. They still seemed to work okay, but the hand looked unnatural, almost skeletal. With another wince, her fingers returned to their previous length—or at least, what Victoria hoped was their previous length. She was never quite sure. The longer she kept a change, the harder it was to go back.
She spent several hours practising, trying to make her hands look just like Petunia's, and when she next looked out her window the world had gone dark.
When had it got so late? Normal children would have been put to bed by their parents long ago, but the Dursleys never tucked Victoria in. So long as she was in her room, they didn't care if she was asleep or not. She quickly brushed her teeth before returning to her room and getting into her creaky bed. She would practise what little other magic she could do tomorrow. She had the whole day to prepare. In the meantime, she'd read the letter one last time…
She was asleep before she finished.