Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I never did, and I have not managed to acquire the legal rights since. I need a better lawyer…
A/N: This is my second attempt at this story. The plot will basically be the same, but events will change a little, maybe a lot. I am going to warn new and old readers alike, you will be shocked and dismayed when the twist to "The 'Boy' Who Lived" comes. Some of you might not like it, I know quite a few didn't. But others, who actually persevered by reading on, have told me this is one of the best examples of girl-Harry they have ever read.
Warnings: There will be NO slash or het in this story. Possibly a little violence later on and some mild cursing, but nothing you need to worry about. I also doubt the rating will ever go higher than T, I just can't write like that.
2nd Warning: Any flames will be disregarded as the nonsensical ramblings of a complete idiot.
Albus Dumbledore groaned as he stood up, a sound not usually heard from the ever-cheerful Headmaster. He had just spent the past thirty minutes interviewing a Ms. Sibyll Trelawney for the Divination post. It was bad enough that he had to find a new Defense professor every year, but finding someone gifted with the sight was becoming increasingly difficult. Sometimes he wished he could just follow his Deputy Headmistress's advice and drop the subject, but the Board of Governors wouldn't hear of it.
He had agreed to meet with Ms. Trelawney in the Hogshead, a rather seedy pub in Hogsmead. She had shown off her obviously lacking skills in divination as she read his palm. According to her, the aging Headmaster had only a matter of weeks to live before he choked on a lemon drop. Personally, he was glad she was such an obvious fraud.
Dumbledore had politely informed her he would owl her if she got the job, and was gathering his cloak to leave when it happened. Just as he turned his back, a dry, whispery voice started to speak…
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him… born as the seventh month dies…"
In the dark recesses of the pub, a thin figure sat hunched over a sizzling Fire Whiskey. Handfuls of lank, greasy hair slipped from beneath the hood pulled over their face, and they sipped with an air of despondence. Hearing only the start of the prophetic rambling from the Witch, their entire demeanor changed. They inhaled in shock and sat up, accidentally knocking over the mug. The alcohol seeped across the table, staining the wooden surface, and the old bartender scowled at him, heading over with a filthy rag. The figure stood abruptly. Pulling their cloak tighter about them, they strode out of the Hogshead and disapparated…
"…the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal… and either must die at the hand of the other… for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born as the seventh month dies…"
Sibyll Trelawney gasped like a dying fish one more time, her magnified eyes rolling behind the thick spectacles. Suddenly, she slumped forward, dead silent. Twitching, she snorted, and peered up as though just waking.
"Oh, my," she yawned, ruining the misty quality of her voice, "I'm afraid I must have dozed off, Headmaster. What were we speaking of?"
Albus Dumbledore took only a moment to collect himself, and then he sat back down. Regaining his composure, Dumbledore felt the familiar twinkle in his blue eyes grow with a new intensity, and he smiled at the woman. "Yes, I was just about to congratulate you, Ms. Trelawney. You're hired."
It was the 31st of October, better know as Halloween, and a day when anything was deemed possible. On that particular Halloween, events would take place that bordered on the impossible, even by magical standards. In the quiet and homely village that was Godric's Hollow, a small cottage stood slightly isolated from the others. Of course, to most, it would seem as though no house existed. Only a select few knew of its location, and more importantly, of the Wizarding family within.
The surrounding neighborhood was nearly deserted as lights went off, curtains were drawn, and doors were locked for the night. At nearly twelve p.m., the majority of the small village was sound asleep. Not even a gust of wind disturbed the silence that night. Overall, it was what some would call an almost unnatural quiet.
Inside the cottage was another story. Just beyond the sitting room, a man with dark untidy hair lay in a crumpled heap, the eyes behind his horn-rimmed glasses wide and glassy. A slim piece of wood still rested in his palm, and not even death could erase the defiant twist of his lips. Further up the stairs, a single door was left open, leading to a small nursery. The bright, cheerful atmosphere of painted unicorns and enchanted toys clashed violently with the macabre scene inside. A young woman lay sprawled beside the white crib, her dark red hair pooling on the floor like blood. Once-bright emerald eyes stared lifelessly at the ceiling, a single tear still present on her icy cheek.
With the main inhabits of the cottage long departed, nothing else in the house made a sound except for the steady tick of an old grandfather clock. The lone wizard standing in the nursery was silent as he studied his own handiwork with a dispassionate gaze. Growing impatient, the imposing man stepped carelessly across the body, his heeled boots clicking softly against the plush carpet. Long, bone-white fingers clutched his yew wand as the stranger leaned over the crib.
Ruby red eyes narrowed at the tiny form inside. A baby, barely a year old, blinked back innocently. The round emeralds, still vibrant with life, were a perfect match to the woman's. The child only watched its mother's killer with a small frown.
The man, if you could call him that, reached up to lower the hood of his robes, revealing the face of a pale, almost handsome middle-aged wizard. He could almost pass for any other human, if not for the unnatural contracting of his reptilian pupils and the sinister smile that spread across his lips. Lord Voldemort scrutinized the child with no little amusement. He began to speak in a cold, hissing voice.
"So, you are the one who shall be my downfall? The one with the 'power to vanquish' the Great Lord Voldemort, a feat not even that old meddler has ever accomplished?"
He sneered when the baby seemed much more enthralled in sucking its thumb than listening to him pontificate. He did not appreciate being ignored, and continued in an acidic tone that he supposed would frighten anyone else. "Oh, yes, your parents were quite powerful, but even they did not last very long against the Dark Lord. What makes you so special, little Potter?"
Voldemort paused as though waiting for the answer to his question. The baby was oblivious, now trying to swallow the rest of its fist whole. "Maybe when you grow older you will be more of a match for me. You might even last longer than most of my victims. But I do not have the patience to find out. Your mother and father paid for trying foolishly to resist me, and you shall be no different…" He lifted the wand, feeling his power gather at the tip as he pointed toward the child. "Let this be a lesson to those Muggle-loving fools. No one can defeat Lord Voldemort… Avada Kedavra!"
The bright, neon green light of the killing curse erupted from his wand, striking the baby's forehead. The child gave an agonized wail. Voldemort began to smirk, satisfied that his job was done, only to find his face twisting into an expression of horror. His own spell, the unforgivable, irreversible one he had used on countless others, was not working the way it was supposed to. Instead, the beam of magic that was still connected to his wand seemed to rebound off of his victim… and rush directly back to the caster. Before Voldemort could even protest at his misfortune, the curse collided with his chest, and pain like he had never known, worse than a hundred Crucios, slammed through him. He let loose a piercing scream that echoed into the night as his very essence was torn apart, his body becoming a mere shell that crumbled to ashes as his soul was ripped away brutally.
The backlash of magic assaulted the walls of the cottage, and all of Godric's Hollow could surely feel the wave of excess energy. The supposedly fireproof home began to burn, as though nature herself was determined to erase any trace of the impossible events. Far away, a blaring alarm went off in the office of Albus Dumbledore, and the twinkle died from his eyes as his scarlet phoenix gave a mournful trill. He leapt up from his desk with more agility than a man his age should have, and nearly threw an entire pot of glittering powder into his fireplace. With a shouted destination and a roar of flames, he was gone.
Back inside the empty nursery, the baby sobbed as blood leaked from the new cut on its forehead, one shaped like a bolt of lightning.
All over Europe, the magical community was celebrating the destruction of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Flocks of owls soared across the day sky as the good news was spread. Wizards and witches abandoned all propriety as they ordered extra rounds at the Leaky Cauldron and danced drunkenly around a neighbor's bonfire. A cheerful, and slightly intoxicated, Dedalus Diggle completely forgot, or rather ignored, the Muggle Secrecy Act when he set off a hundred of Filibuster's Fireworks in plain sight. England, in particular, hadn't seen so much activity in decades. The reign of terror was over! They were saved thanks to little Harry James Potter, whom they dubbed 'The Boy Who Lived.' For years, they would tell his tale to their children, books would be published about his life, songs written about his heroic deed… and Harry would become a legend.
Meanwhile, Rubeus Hagrid had arrived at 4 Privet Drive, where he met up with Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall. He touched down on the freshly-cut lawn and turned off the noisy motorbike. A tiny bundle was clutched protectively in his large hands, the baby miraculously asleep after the roaring flight. With some reluctance, he handed the child over to the ancient wizard.
"Albus, are you sure about this?" McGonagall repeated as she walked a step behind her colleague. She didn't bother to hold back an expression of distaste as they crossed the immaculate hedges and white picket fence on their way up to the doorstep.
"I've watched these people all day, and they're the worst sort of Muggles! That woman's incessant screeching almost rendered me deaf, and that oaf of a husband… I don't know how he could fit into his car this morning without an enlargement charm! And their son! The little brat threw a tantrum when his mother wouldn't buy him some candy, and he kicked her! Of all the places to leave Harry Potter-"
Dumbledore interrupted wearily, "You know I don't have much of a choice, Minerva."
"But, Albus," she protested, "you know as well as I do that just about anyone would jump at the chance to adopt James and Lily Potter's son-"
"Exactly. The last thing we need is for a death eater to apply for guardianship. Merlin forbid if someone like the Malfoys were to gain custody. You know how much sway Lucius holds over our minister, regardless of his brief stint under the Imperius." McGonagall's snort of disgust showed just how much she believed that.
"But why can't we take 'im, sir?" Hagrid implored, his stomach wringing with guilt at the thought of leaving the baby. Lily and James would never forgive him for placing the little tyke with those Muggles. He started to wonder if Sirius Black might have been the better choice…
"He would be perfectly safe at Hogwarts," McGonagall pointed out.
"Alas, even Hogwarts is not impenetrable. No, I have already set down my own wards around the property, but they rely on blood magic, and I am afraid that Petunia Dursley is the only remaining blood relative on either side of the family. It would also be better if the child did not grow up in the spot light," Dumbledore replied, though he had an unreadable look in his eyes as he stared at the baby with the tender mark on its head.
McGonagall followed his gaze to the fresh scar, barely hidden beneath a tuft of black hair. "Is that where…?"
Dumbledore nodded solemnly.
"But how? I mean, no else has ever survived… not even James or Lily…"
"I do not think any of us will ever know the answer to that, Minerva." Crouching down, he placed the sleeping child on the cold doorstep, sending out a discreet warming charm as well. Dumbledore pulled out a thick envelope, tucking it safely into the blanket. He hoped it would explain everything to Petunia, and that she would honor her sister's memory. Straightening up slowly, he turned away, beckoning them to follow.
"Poor lil 'Arry!" Hagrid blubbered as they rounded the garden wall.
"Hagrid, get a hold of yourself! You'll wake the Muggles up!" McGonagall reprimanded him, even though her own eyes were suspiciously moist.
With a heavy heart, Dumbledore pulled out his silver instrument and gave it a click, watching as the street lamps were relit. Hagrid climbed back onto the motorcycle, revving up the engine as he lifted off the ground. Where McGonagall once stood, a graying tabby cat padded off into the night. Dumbledore himself could not resist turning back one last time. The white bundle on the doorstep was just barely visible.
Dumbledore thought mournfully over the loss of two of his closest allies, former students, and two truly good people. No one ever expected this to happen, least of all him. He had thought they would be safe after seeing the child… But when his new spy came to inform him that Voldemort had learned the first two lines of the prophecy, it was as though the bottom had dropped out of his stomach.
The trouble wasn't over yet, not by a long shot. The secrets he was forced to keep weighed down his tired soul, but Dumbledore knew it was all for the best. It pained him to lie to Minerva and Hagrid, two of his most trusted friends, not to mention all the others in the Order who depended on his decisions. Nevertheless, it would be easier to keep the baby hidden from any remaining Death Eaters if no one knew the truth. Someday, he knew, it would come out to the public, but until then, let the Wizarding World celebrate their 'Boy Who Lived.' There was one detail that no one had ever known beside Dumbledore, and one that the Potters had taken to their graves on his advice. Harry Potter was not the same child that everyone believed him to be. In fact, Lily Potter had given birth to a girl, and her name was Hallie Potter.
Dumbledore shook his head and sighed. He just knew this particularly lie was going to come back to haunt him someday. With a last, lingering look at the infant whose entire fate hinged on a prophecy, Albus Dumbledore popped a lemon drop into his mouth, turned on his heel with a swish of starlit robes, and vanished from Privet Drive.
(drops dead from relief) I have finally corrected this chapter! YES! Missing words and spelling mistakes make me cringe…