Disclaimer: Anything related to the Harry Potter series is the legal property of J.K.Rowling. Original Characters are mine and mine alone.
Summary: How different would Harry have been had he grown up in a different enviroment and how will the Wizarding World deal with their "Hero", raised as heir to a city that covets darkness.
Authors Note: The story is rated M as it will contain graphic violence and scenes of torure. You have been warned.
Pairings: Set during Harry's first year, so none this time around.
Notes: This story is set during Harry's first year and will carry on to cover all of his seven years at Hogwarts (In seven separate fics). The stories will be completely different because Harry is a completely different character and canon events will change in accordance to him.
Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived
It was the night of Halloween and across the country people were preparing bowls of sweets and crisps for the children who would no doubt come to their doors. Proud parents were dressing their children up in their old clothes, painting their faces with wax paints and listening as their little devils, angels, pirates and witches rehearsed their poems for the fifteenth time before finally leaving the house. It was not long before the streets were swarming with mythical creatures and fairy-tale characters, all laughing as they ran from house to house with their precious bags of collected candies.
On one street, completely unnoticed and ignored, a man in a long, black robe strode calmly through the festivities. The few adults that did notice him smiled and nodded towards him, whilst their children laughed at his impressive costume. He did not smile, nor show any sign that he noticed these people at all. He continued walking, past every house on the street and then every one on the street after that. When he arrived at his destination - a two-story cottage in a small, quiet area of the village - he proceeded to the front door, allowing the gate to bang shut behind him. At the door he paused, making no move to knock upon it, or to open it. Instead he reached into his robes, removing from within them a long, dark and slender piece of wood, aware of the tingle that passed through his fingers as they met the cold surface of the wood, as though the wand itself anticipated the events that would transpire once the door was unlocked. With a single flick of the wand, the man pointed it towards the door.
The word was hissed into the night, seemingly carried upon the wind in a constant echo. Within seconds of the lock clicking the door flew open at incredible speed, slamming loudly against the wall.
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's Him!" Shouted a man's voice from the first door in the hall.
Walking towards the door the robed man brandished his wand again, and with a whispered word brought it down in a graceful arc towards the door from behind which the voice was coming. In a blast of red light the door shattered into splinters of wood and showered the room in dust. The man caught a glance of someone disappearing up a flight of stairs before his attention was drawn to the dishevelled man in the centre of the room. He was tall in height, his messy black hair strewn with pieces of the door that had been blown in only a few seconds before, as were his clothes. In his shaking hand he held a wand, and on his face he wore a look of mingled revulsion, contempt and fear.
"Voldemort." He hissed through his teeth, the grip upon his wand increasing to the extent that his knuckles seemed translucent.
Slamming the door behind her with a locking spell, Lily Potter quickly covered Harry with his blanket, as if hoping that the flimsy, powder blue material would protect him more than she could herself. She was trapped now, desperately hoping that help would come even though she knew in her heart that none would in time. The house was warded with the Fidelus Charm, anti-apparition wards and silencing charms for complete protection. Somehow Voldemort had slipped past the Fidelus Charm - through betrayal or dark magic - and had not breached any of the other wards. To the outside world the house was invisible, silent and inaccessible.
Pacing around the room she could hear things breaking and glass shattering, and she flinched every time as though each thing were hitting her. The feeling was horrible; waiting for her own death to come. She knew the prophecy as well as James; none of them were under the delusions that they had the power or abilities needed to defeat Voldemort.
As if to reflect her thoughts a scream sounded from downstairs followed by an all-consuming silence. She would recognise the voice anywhere, even in the form of a pain-filled scream. James had lost.
Moving to the door, she pressed her ear against it, listening for any movement outside it. Before long she heard a "Thump" of someone coming up the stairs.
Lily and James had gone into hiding exactly two months ago - ninety-two days spent in the same house.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Lily had walked up those stairs a thousand times.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Every time Harry had cried or she had gone to bed.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
This house had been her prison for ninety-two days.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
She knew every detail there was to know about it.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
There were sixteen stairs in the staircase from the living room. He was at the top.
She had jumped backwards only a few seconds before her locking spell crumbled; the door was thrown wide open and smashed violently into the wall. She drew back her wand, ready to fight, but when she went to cast a spell she found it wasn't in her hand at all.
"Looking for this?" The robed figure of Lord Voldemort hissed from beneath the cloak, holding her wand up in front of her before throwing it through the window behind her.
"Now, stand aside girl."
"My Lord, we have foreseen the rising of a great power; a child at a crossroads in his own destiny. Should he carry on down the path the he shall soon be set upon, he will become a figurehead for the light. The dark will fall at his feet, and he will leave none standing, not even Karthul. However, should he be taken from this path, he could become a practitioner for the dark, more powerful than any that have come before him. If you should take him as your heir, Karthul shall prosper; his goals would be more ambitious than any of your ancestors, even greater than your own. The decision rests in your hands."
There were only a few moments of silence as the man considered the seer's words, weighing the options presented to him. Their wisdom was great, but not once in the history of the city had one predicted an enemy strong enough to destroy it. He had little choice.
"Where can I find this child?"
In the early hours of the morning on the second of August, a man apparated onto the corner of Privet Drive.
Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man's name was Albus Dumbledore.
Albus Dumbledore didn't seem to realize that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome. He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realize he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, "I should have known."
He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with a little pop. He clicked it again -- the next lamp flickered into darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn't be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement. Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn't look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
"Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall."
He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
"How did you know it was me?" she asked.
"My dear Professor, I 've never seen a cat sit so stiffly."
"You'd be stiff if you'd been sitting on a brick wall all day," said Professor McGonagall.
"All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here."
Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.
"Oh yes, everyone's celebrating, all right," she said impatiently. "You'd think they'd be a bit more careful, but no -- even the Muggles have noticed something's going on. It was on their news." She jerked her head back at the Dursleys' dark living-room window. "I heard it. Flocks of owls... shooting stars... Well, they're not completely stupid. They were bound to notice something. Shooting stars down in Kent -- I'll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense."
"You can't blame them," said Dumbledore gently. "We've had precious little to celebrate for eleven years."
"I know that," said Professor McGonagall irritably. "But that's no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumours."
She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn't, so she went on. "A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?"
"It certainly seems so," said Dumbledore. "We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a lemon drop?"
"A lemon drop. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of"
"No, thank you," said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn't think this was the moment for lemon drops. "As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone -"
"My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name? All this 'You- Know-Who' nonsense -- for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort." Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice. "It all gets so confusing if we keep saying 'You-Know-Who.' I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort's name.
"I know you haven 't, said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring. "But you're different. Everyone knows you're the only one You-Know- oh, all right, Voldemort, was frightened of."
"You flatter me," said Dumbledore calmly. "Voldemort had powers I will never have."
"Only because you're too -- well -- noble to use them."
"It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs."
Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said, "The owls are nothing next to the rumours that are flying around. You know what everyone's saying? About why he's disappeared? About what finally stopped him?"
It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she was most anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been waiting on a cold, hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did now. It was plain that whatever "everyone" was saying, she was not going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true. Dumbledore, however, was choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.
"What they're saying," she pressed on, "is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric's Hollow. He went to find the Potters. The rumour is that Lily and James Potter are -- are -- that they're -- dead. "
Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
"Lily and James... I can't believe it... I didn't want to believe it... Oh, Albus..."
Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder. "I know... I know..." he said heavily.
Professor McGonagall's voice trembled as she went on. "That's not all. They're saying he tried to kill the Potter's son, Harry. But -- he couldn't. He couldn't kill that little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they're saying that when he couldn't kill Harry Potter, Voldemort's power somehow broke -- and that's why he's gone.
Dumbledore nodded glumly.
"It's -- it's true?" faltered Professor McGonagall. "After all he's done... all the people he's killed... he couldn't kill a little boy? It's just astounding... of all the things to stop him... but how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?"
"We can only guess," said Dumbledore. "We may never know."
Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a great sniff as he took a golden watch from his pocket and examined it. It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge. It must have made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his pocket and said, "Hagrid's late. I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here, by the way?"
"Yes," said Professor McGonagall. "And I don't suppose you're going to tell me why you're here, of all places?"
"I've come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They're the only family he has left now."
"You don't mean -- you can't mean the people who live here?" cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four. "Dumbledore -- you can't. I've been watching them all day. You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son -- I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!"
"It's the best place for him," said Dumbledore firmly. "His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he's older. I've written them a letter."
"A letter?" repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. "Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He'll be famous -- a legend -- I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future -- there will be books written about Harry -- every child in our world will know his name!"
"Exactly," said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses. "It would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won't even remember! Can't you see how much better off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he's ready to take it?"
Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind, swallowed, and then said, "Yes -- yes, you're right, of course. But how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?" She eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry underneath it.
"Hagrid's bringing him."
"You think it -- wise -- to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?"
I would trust Hagrid with my life," said Dumbledore.
"I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place," said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, "but you can't pretend he's not careless. He does tend to -- what was that?"
A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky -- and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them.
If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild - long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins. In his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets.
"Hagrid," said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. "At last. And where did you get that motorcycle?"
"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir," said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got him, sir."
"No problems, were there?"
"No, sir -- house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin' around. He fell asleep as we was flyin' over Bristol."
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of blankets. Inside, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
"Is that where -?" whispered Professor McGonagall.
"Yes," said Dumbledore. "He'll have that scar forever."
"Couldn't you do something about it, Dumbledore?"
"Even if I could, I wouldn't. Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground. Well -- give him here, Hagrid -- we'd better get this over with."
Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned toward the Dursleys' house.
"Could I -- could I say good-bye to him, sir?" asked Hagrid. He bent his great, shaggy head over Harry and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss. Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.
"Shhh!" hissed Professor McGonagall, "you'll wake the Muggles!"
"S-s-sorry," sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it. "But I c-c-can't stand it -- Lily an' James dead -- an' poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles -"
"Yes, yes, it's all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we'll be found," Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry's blankets, and then came back to the other two. For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid's shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore's eyes seemed to have gone out.
"Well," said Dumbledore finally, "that's that. We've no business staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations."
"Yeah," said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, "I'll be takin' Sirius his bike back. G'night, Professor McGonagall -- Professor Dumbledore, sir."
Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.
"I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall," said Dumbledore, nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.
Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once, and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.
"Good luck, Harry," he murmured. He turned on his heel, and with a swish of his cloak he was gone.
A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up, one small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on. From the shadows cast by the streetlights a man appeared, glancing around to make sure the three people were really gone. Convinced he bent down, scooping the child in his arms and placing the letter in his pocket. With a final glance at Privet Drive the man was gone, taking Harry Potter with him.
Inside number four Privet Drive Vernon and Petunia Dursley slept soundly, whilst all over the country people were meeting in secret, holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter -- the boy who lived!"
None of them would discover that Harry Potter had disappeared until almost three years later.
A/N: A slightly revised version of the Prologue. Please note that the section beginning "In the early hours of…" onwards is for the great majority entirely quoted from "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". I did want to rewrite it, but every time I tried it came out very crappy, and since the AU technically only starts when Harry is taken there didn't seem any sense changing it in the end. So, the drivel surrounding it is all mine, but the big chunk of really good writing belongs to JK and sadly not me.