TITLE: Events of Misfortune
SUMMARY: When the Dursleys are lost in a terrible accident, Harry is taken in by the most unusual person.
CHARACTERS: Harry, Lucius, Draco, Narcissa.
TIMELIME: Pre-PS/SS (c.1986-91) AU
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Harry Potter and all its related merchandise. I make no profit from this venture and mean no offence. Don't sue.
Chapter 1: Crash
It was a pleasant spring day. The Easter holidays were upon the citizens of England, and the Dursleys had decided to visit a theme park. Unfortunately for them, Dudley's choice was near Leicester in the Midlands, and it would take a good hour and a half to get there. Of course, that was the time it usually took to get to their destination; on their chosen day of travel, the M1 was heaving with cars and lorries alike.
"It's abnormal to have so many coaches travelling on a Monday," Uncle Vernon grumbled, face a cherry red colour even with the air conditioning on. Aunt Petunia murmured in agreement, matching his glare at the driver of an HGV from Hungary. A National Express coach to Newcastle was the next victim of their angry look. Dudley's ice cream slopped down his front.
A thump followed by a hiss of pain sounded from the boot. Aunt Petunia's long neck swivelled round so she could glower ineffectively at the empty seat. Dudley glanced over his shoulder, losing the rest of his liquefied ice cream as a messy stain on his trousers.
"Quiet, boy!" Uncle Vernon shouted, loud enough to attract unwanted attention from the cars crawling past him. He smiled pleasantly at the drivers that stared until they moved on.
While the Dursleys sat in relative comfort in the air conditioned car, put out only by the creeping traffic and the ever-persistent sunshine, one Harry Potter lay curled in the suffocating darkness of the boot. His head throbbed where he had hit it on the side, and his breath came in shallow gasps. Sweat trickled down his neck and tingled along his back. Had there been light to see by, his face would have been shocking pink. A migraine pulsed within his skull. Young Harry could fit in the boot for the simple reason that he was an undernourished six-year-old, and used to cramped and stuffy spaces because he lived in a cupboard under the stairs at the Dursley household.
"It's such a shame we couldn't leave him with Mrs Figg," Aunt Petunia lamented. "If only her cat -" and she said the word with particular distaste, "- hadn't caught that dreadful disease." Uncle Vernon nodded, no small amount of relief coursing through him as they passed the hold-up – two written-off cars in the outside lane – and he could put his foot down.
Harry was knocked about more violently as the car sped up. Even though he always travelled in the boot when he was allowed in the vehicle, the event itself was irregular enough for him not to be used to it. He much preferred to walk. When he walked he could see where he was going, and any movement was entirely controlled by him. He heard the Dursleys laugh at some shared joke, obviously happier now that they were moving at a significant speed. Harry began to hum to himself, a little song he made up as he went, quiet enough for it not to be heard over the roaring of the tyres. The Dursleys laughed again, a nauseating sound when Dudley squealed like a pig. Aunt Petunia cooed at him, and the car swerved to the right. Uncle Vernon was a terrible weaver when he was on the motorway, though he would never admit it himself. In fact he cursed anybody that cut him up on the road, even if he had done the same action not a minute before.
Swerving back into the middle lane, talking animatedly, Uncle Vernon did not notice the hold-up in front of him. It was too late when he spotted the non-moving cars, the red lights, and he slammed his foot to the brake harder than he ever had in his life. The wheels screeched against the tarmac, rubber burning as they skidded persistently forward. Harry slammed into the back of the seats, knocking his head again. The sound of metal being crushed seemed to echo in his ears, along with the high squealing of Dudley and Aunt Petunia. Uncle Vernon roared.
The car stopped moving finally, but there was no time for anyone to recover. More screaming tyres neared him. Harry stared in terror at the lock of the boot. Another car ploughed into them, twisting the metal that encased him. A leg was caught in the mangled mess, and he screamed with pain. Tears streamed down his face as the injured limb was jarred over and over as car after car slammed into theirs. His agonised yells were drowned out first by the Dursleys, and then by something much louder. The brakes shrieked in an ear-piercing tone, a great tremor rumbled through Harry's bones. Smoke and steam pulsed into the air about his head, stinging his eyes as his ears rung with the terrible vibration. The Dursleys kept on yelling. Suddenly the screeching brakes stopped, but the moment was not a relief. Protesting iron groaned above him. Harry squinted fearfully through a small gap that had been forced in the boot lid. His mouth opened in a silent scream as a huge lorry toppled onto the car. It seemed to happen in slow motion, yet it happened too fast for him. In a very final crash the roof collapsed on Harry, crushing him under a mountain of warped steel. For a moment all he felt was blinding pain, and then he passed out.
Lucius Malfoy never usually went into his study during the week. More often than not he was busy causing trouble in and for the Ministry of Magic, but today was a national wizarding holiday. Having finished breakfast and with no pressing matters to attend to, he had retired to the less-than-occupied room, intent on dealing with some more personal matters that needed his attention. It was by pure chance that he came across the old glass ornament under a mountain of paperwork in one of his many drawers. Pulling it out, he tapped it with his wand, whispering a quiet word under his breath. The glass began to colour, and he watched in fascination and some amount of shock as the usual transparent appearance turned to a very definite ivory.
The Potter brat was vulnerable.
After the fall of Lord Voldemort, Lucius had blamed his actions on the Imperius Curse. With his money and influence, he had escaped any trial with ease. But, as few doubted, he had been entirely conscious of his activities. Hidden in the depths of Malfoy Manor, he had used some of his darker knowledge to construct the ornament now held in his hand, though in all honesty it was no ornament. The instrument was attuned to the protection on Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, the infernal child who had somehow managed to put Lucius' honour into question. He had vowed to avenge both himself and his master that day, promising to hurt the wizarding world at large. That had been five years ago.
Now, it seemed his chance had come. With a sneer he whirled out of his study, cloak billowing about him in a threatening veil of forest green. He strode purposely to the ground floor, and Apparated as soon as he was beyond the first garden.
The glass ornament guided his Apparation much as the Dark Mark had done those many years ago, and he appeared in a great huddle of chaotic Muggles. He watched from the shadows for a few moments, analysing the situation. Those dratted contraptions of theirs – cars – had amassed in a great quantity, shapes contorted from the norm. 'Ambulances' and 'Fire Engines', as the labels read, were parked around the edges of the road. People rushed back and forth, some giving orders, some begging for information, some taking pictures, some helping the wounded. The smell of blood and pain in the air brought back old memories for Lucius, but he pushed them aside. He had a mission to complete, and no time for nostalgia.
Using a simple charm he located the whereabouts of his goal, and headed immediately towards him. He was led to the front rows of the damaged vehicles, more particularly to an overturned lorry. The ripped material that usually protected the sides stated that the goods contained therein had travelled from Budapest. Lucius ignored this in favour of inspecting the ruins beneath the gigantic contraption. Having repeated the charm several times, he came to a family car that was crushed and twisted beyond recognition. He suddenly doubted that anyone could survive the destruction that had been wrought, but the glass instrument hadn't blanked yet. Weaving an illusion charm on the area, so that the Muggles could not see the magic he was going to cast, he lifted the lorry onto invisible stilts and eased the crushed car from beneath it.
Blood dripped onto the tarmac, and a podgy hand hung out of the smashed glass of one of the back windows. The image inside was not pretty. Three bodies, two grossly overweight, were strapped into their seats. Blood and guts had splattered out across the empty seat, the dashboard, the steering wheel, and the cracked glass. Any other person would have been forgiven for throwing up or fainting, but Lucius had been the cause of such injuries in his time and had no trouble inspecting the car for any sign of his quarry. By the size of the two men he didn't expect it to be difficult, but the insolent child was nowhere in sight. Growling in annoyance, he cast the searching charm again. It guided him to what was once the rear of the car. It was less damaged than the rest, but still warped into new and interesting shapes. From a hole in the bottom more blood dripped onto the tarmac. Suppressing a smirk of satisfaction, Lucius spelled the boot open, lifting the top clean off to access the treasures within.
A child lay inside. His black hair was wet with blood; his skin was stained in the substance. It dribbled down his arms, and discoloured his overlarge clothes. Large pools of it had soaked into the carpeting. His right leg was bent at an odd angle, nearly torn off by the ordeal. His breathing was shallow. Had Lucius been a man with a heart he would have felt great pity for the boy, and whisked him off for a better life. As it was, the lightning-shaped scar on the child's forehead drew his eyes like a beacon, and he scowled. Roughly he magicked the boy out, only checking his anger when the leg that was so badly wounded nearly ripped off completely. Pulling off one of the boy's shoes, he turned it into a Portkey – illegal, but still effective – and held onto the brat as the tug behind his navel signalled their departure.
The surrounding people jumped when the lorry towards the centre of the pile-up crashed down again. It rocked to and fro for a moment, and faintly a small trickle of liquid could be heard. In a millisecond a huge explosion erupted, billowing black smoke into the sky from the engine of the lorry. The people gasped as the flames spread quickly, starting huge fireballs in the engines closest to it. The rescue-teams redoubled their efforts to save those who were still alive, but for those such as the Dursleys it was already too late.
Boot the rear compartment of a car. Also known as a 'trunk'.
Lorry Heavy Goods Vehicle, 'truck'.