AN: I will never be fully satisfied with this first chapter, so I ask that you bear with me until the Hogwarts express (halfway through the chapter) before you decide to click off.
(I have completely overhauled the beginning of this fic twice now since I first published it in 2021)
This story is a bit messy, but stick with it and it can be very entertaining
Theodore Willowbee smartly adjusted his bowtie, glancing at himself in the mirror. Today was his first day teaching at St Grogory's primary school, and he was so excited. At 24 years old, he was finally able to step fully into the educator role. No more interning, playing the assistant, or worrying about upcoming evaluations.
He grinned at himself in the mirror. Time to make some friends and inspire the next generation.
"Oh my god, why is that child on fire?" cried Mr. Willowbee
8-year-old Harry Potter jumped away from his cousin Dudley Dursley, who was currently testing the flammability of a classmate's jacket. From Dudley's perspective, the results were successful. To the poor kid, well, things were starting to heat up.
Harry gave his new teacher a tentative smile. "Um, hello sir–"
"This lump of maggots tried to steal my shredded cheese!" Dudley roared, spit flying as he tightened his hold on the third boy. "Then he tried to lie to me about it. Lie! To Me!"
The child lying pinned to the ground coughed up some shredded cheddar.
The poor man was rooted in place. "I don't know if I'm cut out for this career," he murmured to himself
Harry clasped his hands in front of him. He looked around at the empty schoolyard, quiet except for Dudley's wild rant. Neither cousin nor teacher noticed him begin to slowly edge away.
"So I said let's see about that old saying! If he wants my cheese, let's make him dance!"
Harry took off at a sprint across the gardens. If only he could escape punishment as easily as the madness behind him.
"SIR YOU CAN'T LET HIM GET AWAY WITH MY HECKING CHEESE! I WON'T STAND FOR THIS INJUSTICE!"
Theodore Willowbee sobbed loudly.
Just like most children, Dudley never had reason to doubt the mantra that his parents had taught him. There were many variations of praising him to be the best, but the Dursley's always hammered home one message above all, don't trust that freak of a cousin Harry. Dudley never cared to find out why his scrawny cousin was so horrible. Apart from the occasional Harry-hunting, the two boys largely ignored each other. After all, there was no reason to question what he'd always known.
Children tend to have blind faith in their parents' teachings, up until reality shatters their worldview. For Dudley Dursley, it was that fateful day at the park when reality strutted up and took a swing.
"Bye, Piers," Dudley waved to his friend. All of his other friends had already left, not that Dudley minded much. Piers Polkiss was fine, but he seemed to mostly enjoy making other people hurt. There was no depth or creativity, and after a while it got boring.
It was nearing the end of summer, and the park was crowded with families making the most of the fair weather. At age seven, Dudley was proud that his parents let him walk to and from the park all on his own. All the other boys his age were envious of the freedom that had been bestowed upon Dursley and Potter. Although in the case of "that scrawny weirdo," it seemed to be apathy on the part of Mr. and Mrs. Dursley.
Dudley kicked around some loose dirt, feeling that terrible boredom begin to creep in. Maybe it was time to find his cousin. Yes, a sneak attack, a tackle from behind, he'll never see it coming.
Harry Potter was sitting in the far corner of the large field that extended behind the playground. As Dudley approached, he saw the boy making gestures to the ground, as though he was having a conversation.
Dudley slowly crept closer, tip-toeing over the grass. He dove behind an ancient oak, about 10 metres back from his target. Peering around the trunk, Dudley finally realized just what his cousin was talking to.
Sitting cross-legged, Harry Potter was holding court over a handful of snakes. It was a small variety, but Dudley recognized the venomous adder that his mum had told him to stay away from. Frozen in shock, Dudley watched Harry casually reach over and stroke the viper, which was nearly a metre long.
Abort - Abort. Dudley cautiously backed away, putting as much distance between himself and his cousin. In his mind, he could hear his parents calling Harry "freak."
The snakes all bowed to Harry, then slithered off into the foliage, and Dudley shuddered horribly. Harry stood, brushing leaves off of his oversized trousers.
Dudley turned and ran. Unfortunately, he wasn't watching where he was going. The chubby 7 year old tripped over a squirrel and slams into an older boy. A wild wrestle ensued, and for a moment Dudley thoughthe might be able to hold his own against his larger foe. Then the other boy's friends noticed the fight, and another three ten-year-olds dove gleefully into the scrum. Crushed at the bottom of the pile, Dudley gave up, and after a few minutes of mocking laughter as he struggled to breathe, the other boys finally leave him alone.
Lying on the ground, Dudley watches his cousin head toward the park's gate, and idly wonders if snakes are really all that bad.
Then, from out of nowhere, a tabby cat rocketed into Harry. The crash throws the him sideways into a group of boys playing marbles. All the boys scattered in a crash reminiscent of bowling pins.
Yells of parental concern, were drowned out by the shrieking of children. Leaves rustled loudly as the wind began to pick up.
From the top of the play structure, a dog howls, and every canine ripps away from their owner's control, converging on the playground in a storm of screams and laughter. For no discernable reason, rubber balls were rocketing about and toppling anyone with a hint of maturity. A mole burst into the center of the sandpit, to shrieks and an eruption of sand. Obama was there, looking confused, standing next to a young dark-haired man with a fancy watch and the hilt of a sword peaking from behind a trench coat. Then in the blink of an eye, they were gone.
Tree branches were swaying, buffeted about by powerful gusts of wind. Leaves, dirt, pamphlets and small children were getting blown into the air. As Dudley tried to get to his feet, another boy fell on top of him, smashing his face back into the grass. The noise of the surrounding commotion grew. His lungs crushed, Dudley felt the world go fuzzy.
The pressure was lifted in an instant. As he lay in the grass, catching his breath, Dudley noticed how absurdly quiet the park had become. Clambering to his feet, he surveyed the now deserted park. If he didn't know better, Dudley would've thought a mild tornado had just made a visit.
Across the field, Harry Potter groaned. Dudley trotted over to the boy, who was laying unconscious at what seemed to be the eye of the storm of madness that had swept through.
With a cough, Harry woke up. Wearing his typical vacantly bewildered expression, he surveyed the carnage, before meeting his cousin's eyes. Dudley stared, mouth agape.
"Yes, Dudley?" Harry sighed.
"You– this," the large boy looked around in awe.
Harry furrowed his brow, feeling slightly apprehensive.
The boys locked gazes again.
That was the day the cousins became, not friends exactly, but allies in carnage/chaos. One boy who reveled in the madness, the other who was incapable of avoiding it. Dudley's trained opinion of Harry shattered that day. It was not a large change, but it was an important one. He's still often rude, especially to other children, but it is born out of impulsiveness and an apathy to consequences, instead of a want to hurt others. He still gleefully creates conflict, but more often than not, it is with the intention of fighting, not victimized torture.
Dudley Dursley, although he does not know it and certainly cannot put it into words, revels in the moments when the mundane is disrupted by the absurd. In his second year of schooling, after two failed attempts, he finally succeeded in starting a food fight that devolved into a two-hour calorie-fueled war. Complete with trench warfare, Guerrilla tactics, and a selective service training program for a special forces team. The epic battle (or, catastrophe, depending on who you ask) was only ended when the school administrative staff- the only people that had actually eaten- finally from the heavily drugged food that had been served (it was ketamine). (Dudley thought that this makes him a hero- not that he understands what drugs are (YET)- but the Headmistress still has him cleaning chalkboards after school for the rest of the week.)
That day at the park, Dudley Dursley's life took a different path, one that no one expected. His wasn't a big change, nor did he ever behave in any way resembling good, but he was the catalyst for much larger events that not even the battiest drugged-out Diviner could have predicted. Whether or not those changes were for the better, well that remains to be seen.
There were many things in Harry Potter's life that didn't make sense. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's incessant, irrational hatred didn't make sense. The somewhat frequent mishaps, often defying all reason and natural order. In fact, considering how his parents raised him, Dudley's treatment of Harry did make sense, up until it didn't. At some point in their childhood, Dudley decided that Harry had to be some sort of paragon of chaos, and switched from antagonising his cousin to encouraging the acts of impossible. Harry, who never really had any friends, was always somewhat conflicted over this. It made life outside of Number 4, Privet Drive considerably more enjoyable, but a good bit more confusing as well.
Harry Potter was a strange boy.
Somehow, one of the things that made the most sense in his bizarre life was the chaos currently unfolding in front of him, inside of a rickety old shack in the middle of a storm. It manifested in the form of a massive, wild-looking man named Hagrid who broke into that rickety old shack, not a minute after Harry turned eleven, gave Harry's Aunt horse hooves and his Uncle a pig snout, committed arson in the arson-box [read: fireplace] with an umbrella, and told Harry he was a wizard.
Harry Potter was, indeed, quite the unusual boy.
As Hagrid was making himself comfortable on the couch, he pulled out a slightly misshapen package and handed it to Harry with a "might 'ave sat on it at some poin', but shoul' taste good all th' same, eh Harry?"
Harry stared in awe at his very first birthday present. It did indeed appear to be slightly smashed, but a hesitantly tasted bite proved the cake to be delicious nonetheless. Dudley, being Dudley, had managed to sleep through Hagrid's cannon-like entrance and a literal gunshot, but woke up and trotted over to his cousin when the cake made its appearance. Anything for those sweet, succulent, calories. Neither of the boys had really anything to eat the night before, and in addition to an entire cake now being in the possession of one bespeckled boy, Hagrid was now cooking a handful of thick sausages over the blazing fire (arson!) as he muttered something about rock cakes.
Dudley gestured to the cake, "Do you mind, Harry?"
Harry, who still had not regained the power over speech, wordlessly handed his cousin the sugar-themed birthday present. As Dudley sat down, leaning against the unhappy couch, Harry continued to stare at the man that had just about turned his world upside down. His mouth opened and closed a few times, no sound escaping. Then, almost audibly, the gears finally began to turn in Harry's head.
"Wait, I'm a wot?"
This had undoubtedly been the best birthday in Harry's life. In all fairness, it had become the best birthday barely ten minutes after the clock struck midnight, what with Hagrid's dramatic entrance and revelations, completely overturning the Dursley family order.
Harry trailed after Hagrid, mouth agape as he stared at the beautiful disorder of Diagon Alley. A mother passed them in the opposite direction, tugging along her son by the foot as the boy floated and bounced a few feet above the crowds of the Alley. Harry stared wide-eyed at anything and everything as Hagrid led him into Gringotts. After a brief exchange with a goblin (a goblin?!) at the teller stand, the pair were led down a hall.
Hagrid, who appeared to be steeling himself for something, caught Harry's gaze on him. "Well, bes' be gettin' it on an' over with, eh Harry?" he muttered, waving the boy on.
Harry wondered what Hagrid looked so worried about and why it would be in a bank of all places. Oh well, it couldn't be anything that terrible, could it?
Overwhelmed by the adrenaline rush from the ride, Harry was barely able to process the piles of gold that somehow belonged to him. As it was, his knees were still wobbling slightly some twenty minutes later, as he made his way through the shops with Hagrid. Now that he was finally overcoming his awe-filled shock, Harry was alight with curiosity over this new world he had found himself in. As they collected his supplies like potion ingredients from the apothecary ("still smells better than that one time my uncle tried to cook") and textbooks ("I'm still not wholly convinced Dudley knows what these things are"), Harry was ablaze with questions with just about everything he saw. Hagrid had bought Harry a beautiful snowy white owl, which helped distract from the weird boy fervently muttering about hair products in Madam Malkin's.
There was only one stop left- to Ollivander's, for a wand. Harry was nearly clearing Hagrid's knees with his excited bouncing. This was it, everything else had been completely intoxicatingly bizarre, but the wand- the wand- Harry felt, was special.
Over thirty minutes later, the duo emerged from a slightly more run-down Ollivander's than they had entered. Ollivander, defying expectation and pretty much every norm Harry knew about adults, seemed to grow more and more delighted with each destructively failed wand that Harry touched. A match was finally found, however, and the wand in question seemed to deeply intrigue the eccentric man.
When queried, Ollivander's head snapped up from his mumblings. "Well, it's peculiar you see, Mr. Potter. The wand chooses the wizard, and it is very strange indeed that you would find yourself with that wand when it's brother…well it's brother gave you that scar. Took out many a good witch and wizard before it met its match in you." Ollivander's face darkened before he put on a brighter expression. "Yes, yes, the wand chooses the wizard, and you, my dear boy, feel free to choose Ollivander's the next time your wand-related needs arise! That shall be seven Galleons." And with payment in hand, Ollivander ushered the two out of his moderately scorched shop.
Out of the corner of his eye, through the storefront window, Harry noticed Ollivander trip and eat shit, accompanied by a small explosion of sparks erupting above the old wizard. However, Harry had more pressing matters to be concerned with. "Hagrid, who killed my parents?"
Hagrid did not appear pleased with this turn of conversation.
"Hey, Dud, guess what the core of my wand is made of?"
"A phoenix tail-feather."
A shrug, "Oh, alright then."
"No, you don't understand Dudley, phoenixes are immortal. Get this, they set themselves on fire every time they rebirth. That power is in my wand, Dudley."
Dudley's eyes lit up like demented birthday candles. "Arson…"
Harry Potter had never been to a train station before, but he had assumed that he wouldn't have an issue finding the Hogwarts Express. Harry was beginning to learn that assumptions can be dangerous and unhelpful. Not only did he have the heavy congestion of King's Cross to negotiate, Harry was also struggling to simply find the platform. Platforms 8, 9, 10, and 2 ½, the young wizard located easily, but platform 9 ¾ remained elusively nonexistent. In his haste and worry, Harry's search around the station became ever more elusive and frantic, pushing through the crowds as fast as he could. As he passed under the platform 9 sign for the fourth time in as many minutes, he stumbled and lost his grip on his trolley. The trolley skirted off, with Hedwig squawking indignantly.
"No!" Harry gasped, sprinting to catch his belongings. He reached the trolley, only to look up and realise his impending doom that was the next barrier dividing the platforms. Harry squeezed his eyes shut in anticipation of impact, but none came. Looking around, the Boy-Who-Lived let out a deep sigh in relief. He had found the train.
With the help of a couple of older boys, Harry got Hedwig and his trunk onto the express and set about finding a seat. In short order, he found an empty compartment, the train set off, and a red-headed, freckled face poked its way around the door
"Do you mind?" the boy gestured to the empty seats.
"Not at all," Harry replied.
The boy settled in, as Harry fed Hedwig an owl treat. The compartment door slid open again, revealing a kind-looking woman.
"Anything from the trolley dears?" she chuckled, waving to the aforementioned cart of sugary treats.
Harry looked back at his red-haired acquaintance. "D'you want some sweets?"
Thus began the legendary friendship of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.
As the two boys bonded over candy and imperfect family members, a number of people popped in and out of the compartment. The first was red-headed twins, who introduced themselves as Fred and George. They opened the door just as Harry was finishing a story about Dudley and a potato on top of the school building. Fred and George, upon hearing the end of Harry's misadventure, immediately proclaimed that they shared a bond. Ron shuddered at the manic look in his brothers' eyes.
Later, a short bushy-haired girl swept through the compartment, chattering about a missing toad, a boy named Neville, and about three different textbook readings she had done. Barely two seconds after she left, the window cracked open, and a small green blob landed on the window sill.
Harry and Ron stared.
The toad croaked.
"Should we, you know…" Harry trailed off.
Ron squinted up at the newest member of the compartment. It was wearing a bow tie. "Nah, I think he'll be fine. Look, he's just chillin'."
The toad, presumably Trevor, croaked again. He was, indeed, chilling.
Sometime later, the boys looked up at the sound of a small scuffle outside their compartment.
"...I swear to Merlin, you two...mess my hair up and I'll-"
The compartment door slid open again. A blond boy, sporting a head of heavily styled hair, was flanked by two much larger boys.
"So it's true then. Everyone has been saying up and down the train that Harry Potter has come to Hogwarts." The blond boy flicked an imaginary speck of dust off of his robes.
Harry didn't much care for how the boy had said his name. Play dumb, he thought. "What's a train?"
The blond boy looked as perplexed as Harry felt.
"You're a Malfoy, aren't you," Ron broke in.
"That I am," said Malfoy, throwing a glare at Ron, "and these are my friends, Crabbe and Goyle." The boys grunted for their respective names. Malfoy turned back to his original target. "Draco, Malfoy, pleased to make your acquaintance," he held out his hand to Harry, pointedly dismissing the presence of Harry's red-headed companion.
Ron narrowed his eyes. Harry hesitantly reached out, slapped his palm to Malfoy's, and dapped him up.
Malfoy appeared to be in shock.
"I have a rat. Grrr." Ron held up Scabbers, who was looking slightly, but really not at all yellow.
Goyle nudged his friend. "We're hungry, Draco."
Trevor croaked threateningly.
The other klunk of a child grunted and reached for the remaining pile of sweets.
Trevor launched off of the window sill like a bullet, pinballing off of the three intruding boys, and landing on Malfoy's head.
"MY HAIR!" He screeched.
Malfoy and his two midget grunts scrambled to get up and out of the compartment as quickly as possible. A few frantic gasps later, a boy with a scar, a boy with living parents, a toad in a bow tie, and what appeared to be a rat were all that remained in the compartment. The sound of footsteps racing away was quickly drowned out by the ambient noise of the train.
Trevor had somehow returned to his spot next to the window. He winked at Harry.
Ron's stomach rumbled. "Well, now I'm hungry," he complained.
Harry chucked a chocolate frog at him.
"What do you think McGonagall's deal is?" Ron muttered to Harry as they watched the aforementioned woman slap the raggedy Sorting Hat down on the next first year.
Deputy Headmistress Professor McGonagall was indeed in a mood. Something or other must have set her off, as she had wasted no time in herding the first years into the Great Hall. In fact, under her piercing stare, the sorting was being completed at record speeds. When it was Harry's sorting, he barely had time to realise what the hat was muttering ("Well it's gotta either be badgers or eagles. Oh, I don't know, eenie meenie miny moe, catch a ho-mo-phobe, by its throat. Hmm, snakes it is!") before the hat shouted "Gryffindor!" to the rambunctious cheering of the house of lions. After the final sorting, Ron into Gryffindor, Professor McGonagall raised a hand for silence.
There were laughs and a few whoops to her words, followed by gasps of awe and sighs of relief as the magical kitchen of Hogwarts finally served dinner.
Sometime later, after heaps of food and pudding, Harry deliriously watched Professor McGonagall rise again from the head table. She placed a hand on the shoulder of the wizened old man next to her who was sitting in what was clearly the Headmaster's throne- chair.
"The Forbidden Forest is as straightforward as it sounds- forbidden." She stated imperiously. "See your captains or head's of houses for information on quidditch tryouts. Do not go into the third-floor corridor unless you have a genuine death wish."
Fred and George looked deeply intrigued by this. McGonagall seemed to smell that reaction and whipped her gaze around to the twins. "That includes you, Mr. and Mr. Weasley. Now, goodnight to you all." She waved her hands, shooing the students out of the Great Hall.
~Ten minutes later~
Harry didn't know how he got to his dormitory. He doesn't know what the Gryffindor common room looks like, barely remembers the portrait that swung open to admit them, is unsure how he was able to navigate the many sets of stairs in this massive castle, and, in the back of his mind, Harry is in utter disbelief that he managed to get off of the bench at Gryffindor Table.
All he knows is that this thing, this bed, is the single most comfortable thing he has ever experienced or could possibly have hoped to encounter. Magic would have to wait, his body decided as it shut down like a computer being whacked with a cricket bat.
Harry Potter closed his eyes, happy.
AN: Feedback helps, both with the story and to keep me motivated. Hope you enjoyed!