Author's Note: Harry Potter was treated in ways that bordered on criminal neglect and possibly abuse for years. How come no one ever noticed? How come no one ever did anything? A.U. Someone did. This contains an Original Character as a main character. This is not meant to turn into a Mary Sue, and I personally doubt it will. If it does start leaning in that direction, please warn me, I'll try to adjust. I half wanted to call this Harry Potter and the Half-blood Kitsune, but that's too close to the sixth book.
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, I don't own it.
It had been approximately four years since the downfall of the Dark Lord at the 'hands' of an infant, and for the most part, people were concerned with getting on with their lives. Those who had lived in fear were no longer as afraid of course. Those who had followed him and managed to remain out of Azkaban were, unsurprisingly, looking for a new leader or attempting to become that new leader. Plius Govanty was one of the latter. A low ranking death eater during the reign of the Dark Lord, he had been considered too much of the bookish type to be thought a serious contender. No one had taken him seriously. Not the lower ranking death eaters, not the inner circle, and certainly not the Dark Lord himself. Even the ministry didn't take him seriously, though he had to admit to being grateful for that one.
But that would all be over soon. And it was all due to those books of his that everyone laughed at. Plius Govanty ran an arcane bookstore in Knockturn Alley. And in one of those books he found a ritual that would give him more power than even Voldemort had ever dreamed of. And then everyone would be begging to follow him. His small, round face contorted in malicious glee at the thought of Lucius Malfoy on his hands and knees, or better yet, face down in the dirt, begging for simply a scrap of power.
The ritual itself was almost unheard of, which was just as well for his purposes. It was very dark (which didn't bother him at all) and difficult (which did bother him a good deal). It also involved a lot of difficult to get a hold of ingredients, and that was even without mentioning the required ten fresh children's hearts. Yes, the last part did make him feel a bit squeamish, but for absolute power and immortality, he could get over it.
The main problem was that not all the things he needed were even available in England, and he had no desire or opportunity to leave his business to go traipsing around the world in search of what he needed. So over the years, he acquired the parts he needed from various sources. He was almost finished, and luck had smiled at him at last.
He only needed Kitsune blood and the children now. And one of his suppliers had informed him that he had a contact who could give him a supply of Kitsune blood. And that contact was due any minute now. After that, how hard could it be to snatch ten muggle brats? Maybe he should grab one or two extras, in case of mishaps.
A knock pulled him from his thoughts. Plius smiled nastily. The only one who would knock on a shop door would be a supplier. "Come in."
A young woman, short, with reddish hair, wearing a dark blue cloak came in. "You are Plius Govanty?"
"I am. You have what I ordered?" He didn't really care to hear the woman's name. It wasn't as if he had any need of her besides the supplies.
"I have." The woman came in, as Plius magiced the sign to 'Closed'. Kitsune blood was illegal after all. "I have more than you could ever need. You didn't say how much you wanted."
"I need at least twelve milliliters."
"Easily done. Though I must admit to curiosity. Kitsune blood is not used very often, maybe a handful of extremely complicated potions and a couple difficult rituals. You aren't a potions master, so what do you want it for?"
Plius frowned. Noisy woman. Didn't she know bad things happen to those who are too curious? "That is not your concern. All you need to do is supply the material. What does it matter to you what I do with it?"
The woman smiled. Plius relaxed instantly. She wasn't a threat. She was just a curious woman. Perhaps it might even be a good idea to tell her. "I would not dream of interfering. I merely like to know where my supplies go to. And after all, the few things that Kitsune blood is used in are so difficult and require such a powerful wizard…"
Plius' chest puffed up with pride. "And this one is more difficult than most. I am using it to perform the ritual of Black Night Ascension."
"Oh, my. But that is such an involved and complex ritual. Have you gotten the children yet?" Plius was pleased by the awe in her voice, and respect in her eyes.
"No, that is my next and final step before the ritual itself."
"Have you told anyone else about this?"
"No, you are the only one so far, dear lady."
"Good." And in that word, the trust and favor he had in and for that woman disappeared utterly. An extremely angry and vengeful-looking woman replaced the impressed, slightly girlish woman he thought was there. And she started to raise a jade fan.
For a moment Plius was confused. Then facts started to click together. Kitsune are a magical race that, much like Werewolves, could pass for human most of the time. Kitsune are generally fairly short. Kitsune, especially if they have some human in their background, often have similar coloration to foxes. Copper eyes, like this woman had, were not natural in humans but are in foxes. Kitsune have the natural ability to radiate trustworthiness much the way Veela radiate attractiveness. Kitsune, while they can learn magic, often do not use common or traditional forms. Fans are used in a rare form of Oriental magic. Kitsune get absolutely livid when anything threatens a child, of any kind. She said she had Kitsune blood, she just never mentioned that it was in her veins.
In a panic, Plius started to cast the first spell he could think of to stop her. "Avada Kedavra!" In this panic, Plius forgot quite possibly the most important fact and greatest benefit of Oriental magical fans.
The woman neither panicked nor dodged. She simply unfurled the fan and held it over her heart. Even though it was aimed slightly higher, the curse hit the fan and was absorbed by it. Plius didn't have more than a few seconds to stare in shock before she turned the fan and fanned in his direction, causing him to be hit with his own curse. The most important fact about Oriental magical fans is that they can absorb and reflect spells back without requiring any energy or words from the wielder. The spells can also be changed to a different one, but that requires energy either from the wielder or the spell. This woman had no problems with poetic justice.
Just to be safe, even though she saw the curse hit him, she double-checked to make sure he was dead. He was. And because she was a paranoid soul, even though it was difficult to lie to a Kitsune in full Trust Me mode, and almost impossible to lie to her without her knowing, she still checked to make sure that there was no one else in the building. There wasn't.
She did find the back room where he had enough forbidden supplies to make someone in the black market rich. He must have gotten three-quarters of the ritual's requirements without anyone realizing what he was up to. And once again, the world was saved from a threat it would never know existed. She scooped the supplies into a weightless bag. This being a bookstore, he had several of those.
She also took a look to see if any of the books were worth salvaging. She couldn't check as in-depth as she would like, but from what she saw, nothing was worth taking. Pity. From the ritual supplies, she pulled out a length of dried Devil's Snare and transfigured it into a candle, lit it, and 'accidentally' knocked it over onto the book on the desk, which 'coincidentally' was the one with the ritual in it. With a little luck, the whole store would go up in flames. As she left she cast one more spell. Had Plius been alive, he would not have recognized the incantation, not all the world uses Latin after all, but he certainly would have been familiar with the effects of the spell. It was much like a 'Notice Me Not' charm, set to last half an hour. By then, there should be nothing to find. One fire, caused by 'accident', one burned body. Case closed. If the magical world thought to do autopsies like the muggle one they would find there was no smoke in the lungs, and decide that the arson was a cover up for murder. But they didn't, so chances were no one would think twice about it. Even if they did, they would never be able to trace it to her. Now to deal with these supplies.
She did feel a twinge of regret as she left. More for the books than the man. The man had made his own choices and was now dealing with the consequences. Destroying books like that always made her a bit upset. However, from what she saw, the books were more or less ones that the world was better off without. And it took a lot for her to say that.
Charles Collex, apothecary specialist and occasional dealer in 'really rare items' (usually translated DARK), grabbed his wand as the side door opened. The only ones who used the side door were the ones who didn't want to be seen, and Charles did not want to be without a wand in any of those cases. He relaxed when he saw the small red-haired woman in a dark blue cloak.
"Liska, how are you? How did it go?"
"That depends on your definition. You were right, ritual of Black Night Ascension."
"I agree. I wish the vampires had never invented that, and I really wish they never wrote it down!"
"I do too. Had he gotten to the children yet?"
"No, thank everything that is holy! Though, due to the requirements, he would have had to keep them alive until just before the ritual."
"Still. He's dead now?"
"I thought you hated hearing about that part."
"I hate the thought of someone using my children or anyone else's to become evil incarnate more."
"The ritual doesn't work you know. But I agree, I don't even want it tried. Yes, he's no longer a threat. Here, Happy Christmas." Liska handed him a weightless bag.
Charles looked inside and whistled backwards. "He had all this? I mean, I know I supplied him with some of this, but I didn't realize how much else he had gotten."
"He wasn't an idiot; if he got everything from one source he risked someone getting suspicious. Not to mention, I can't think of a single source where he could have gotten all this."
"What do I owe you?"
"The usual. Free supplies when I want them, and information on who's buying things I need to look out for. If you hadn't informed me of this guy buying Chimera tails, Manticore horns, and Lethifold cloth, I may not have known to stop in time. And do let me know the instant anyone starts asking about Kitsune blood."
"Of course, but are you sure there's nothing more I can do? This stuff is worth almost a quarter of a million galleons. And the way you have tendency to bring things back so I can sell them again…" It was perhaps a very Slytherin way; to sell dark objects so that he knew who was buying, and could report threats.
"Did you pick up anything interesting since my last visit?"
Charles thought it over carefully. "I did pick up a book on Indian weather magic."
"American Indian or India Indian?"
"American. You interested?"
"I'll take a look." She browsed through the heavy leather-bound tome. "I doubt I could cast any of these, but I do like learning how others do magic. Alright, I'll take it. Oh, any chance I can have first pick of any other books on types of magic?"
"Not a problem. Anything you want me to keep an eye out for?"
"Just, anything interesting. I should get going. Things may be heating up soon."
"Alright. Stop by anytime. And do give your mother my regards."
"I will. Good day."
Liska detected barely a hint of smoke in the air as she left the alley. If she could hardly smell it, no one else should be able to notice it for another ten minutes. More than enough time for her to be gone. And she wanted to be gone. After dealing with a necessary but unpleasant part of her job, she wanted out of the confining city for a while to clear her head. Some place quiet, with nature, maybe a park. Yes, that would be nice. She closed her eyes and pictured what she wanted. Someplace with sun, and grass, maybe a few trees, somewhere where they had never heard of the ritual of Black Night Ascension, and had no idea that some people would sink that low. Once she had the picture in mind, Liska did something that no British Witch or Wizard would dare try. She apparated without knowing a specific destination. Having the Kitsune tie to earth, she did not have to worry about getting lost or splinched as long as both she and her destination were outside.
Sure enough, when she arrived, she knew exactly where she was in relation to where she had been, even if she didn't know the name of the town she was in. Liska was currently using another Kitsune trait, almost the opposite of 'Trust Me' vibes. Anyone currently there would ignore her unless she did something to really call attention. She took the opportunity to change her cloak into something a little less conspicuous before looking around.
She was in a muggle playground. Not quite what she expected, but it would do. And fortunately, there were not many people around, so it should be quiet. There were only two children, both boys, and one adult, a woman. None of them were threats. And that was probably the most aggravating part of her job. Liska could not go anywhere at all without sizing up people as to whether or not they were potential threats and how many safe exits there were and where they were.
Shaking her head, Liska relaxed the 'Ignore Me' vibes, so that she was unlikely to be approached, but it was possible, though anything moderately strange she did would probably be ignored. Taking a seat on a nearby bench, Liska observed the children.
They were probably about five. Just the age that Plius would have been looking for. Liska felt a pang but pushed it away. She had come to calm down, not think about some wannabe dark lordling. The children were safe for now.
Two less similar children would be hard to find. One was small and skinny, with dark hair and glasses. Liska might be completely colorblind but she could still distinguish light from dark. The other boy was much larger and one of the roundest kids that Liska had ever seen, and Liska had seen baby giants. He had lighter hair, and new looking clothes. New looking enough that it seemed silly to be playing in them. The first boy seemed to be wearing much older clothes that once belonged to the larger boy. They were certainly too large for him. Another fact of her life was that Liska would get suspicious hunches that something was wrong. Sometimes it took her a long time to figure out what triggered the hunch, sometimes she never could. But she always listened. It was talking to her now.
The adult with them was a bony looking woman who bore a close resemblance to the lighter haired boy. Probably his mother. She didn't look much like the other boy, so why was the little boy wearing the bigger boy's clothes? And why wasn't the bigger boy reprimanded for pushing down the littler one? That suspicious voice was getting stronger.
That was why Liska stayed instead of leaving when she realized that she was being watched by the bony woman. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the woman staring at her with pursed lips, obviously trying to figure out what to make of her. A gossip. Wonderful. Liska switched from 'Ignore me' to 'Trust me', though still lightly.
The boys started playing ball now. Though Liska wasn't sure if they were playing catch or two person dodge ball. The bigger boy would throw the ball hard at the little boy who would either try to catch or dodge, and was then expected to toss the ball back at a more gentle speed. The other woman did nothing to prevent this. At one point when the bigger boy was throwing the ball, Liska cast a subtle spell on it, causing it to fly over the bench she was sitting on.
As it had landed so close to her, she naturally got up to help find it. The little boy got there first because he was running and she was walking. When he got the ball he looked at her startled.
"Hello." He said quietly.
"Hello. What is your name?"
"Hello, Harry, I'm Anna." She was interrupted before she could think of anything else to ask.
"Harry! Stop bothering the lady." The woman screeched, grabbing the boy's arm harshly. Liska's anger rose as she saw the boy wince. "Sorry, I hope he wasn't bothering you."
"No, no trouble at all. He's very polite." Liska said coolly. The other woman didn't notice the inflections, and pushed the child past to 'go play'. It did not escape Liska's notice as the child was pushed past that he smelled magical. This could prove interesting indeed.
This time both women sat on the same bench. "Are they your sons?"
"No, the blond one, Dudley, is mine, the other is my nephew." Was it her imagination, or did this woman smell hostile when referring to Harry? Liska increased the power of her 'Trust Me' vibes.
"How nice to have cousins nearby. Do you baby-sit often?"
"My sister died about four years ago, he lives with us now."
Four years ago, and the child was magical. Wasn't it four years ago that England had some problems with a dark lord? This woman wasn't magical, and no, Liska was pretty sure she wasn't imagining hostility. Under the guise of fanning herself, she cast a very subtle truth spell. "That's terrible, what happened?"
"They were freaks, his parents. And some freak killed them. The brat got lucky."
There was definitely something wrong here. "Freaks?" Liska's inquiry was ignored as Harry, tired of being pushed down four times in a row, pushed back, and was soundly reprimanded. Liska's spine stiffened as the boy winced. This would not do.
"I'm sorry dear, what was that?"
"I was wondering if you could clarify what you meant about his parents."
The woman cringed, causing Liska to increase the amount of Trustworthiness she was exuding. This was obviously something she didn't want to admit to and it was going to take a lot to make her say anything. Liska also opened up her body language to appear open and friendly as she could. Finally the woman spoke. "They could do things. Things other people can't. They went to a special school to learn it."
"I see. Do not be alarmed, please, but did they use wands to do these strange things?"
The woman looked like she wanted to run.
"Please, remain calm. I merely ask because I have heard some about this. I am no wand user myself, but I have heard of those who do." Like my mother, and the only reason I don't is because I studied Oriental magic. But you don't want to know that. "I have studied some about them."
"You know about them?"
"So, perhaps you know, is the boy likely to become as big a freak as his parents?"
"I'm afraid that magic is generally a dominant trait. If both his parents were wand users, he almost certainly will be."
The woman moaned. "All we want is to be normal. We're a normal family! How are we supposed to deal with the freak?"
"I sympathize completely. What have you been doing so far?"
"The best we can to stomp out that nonsense. He sleeps in the cupboard under the stairs, does a lot of chores, I managed to get him working on cooking for the family. We punish him whenever he does something freaky. And we give him Dudley's old clothes, no need to spend money on a freak like him."
"I see." And she did. And it took a lot of energy to remain calm and friendly seeming. Though if she could pretend to admire someone willing to tear out children's hearts, she could pretend to be friendly to this woman. At least long enough to do something. "What do you mean you punish him?"
"No meals mostly. Keep him locked in the cupboard. Sometimes slap him around a little. You understand. What are we supposed to do? Normal people like us aren't prepared to deal with brats like him."
"I can see that, and quite frankly I want to know what anyone is thinking leaving him with you. Obviously, you don't have the slightest idea how to deal with a magical child." Or a regular one for that matter. "I have a possible idea, but I'm not sure if you would like it."
"I'm desperate; I'll listen to almost anything."
"I think that it was almost criminal to expect people like you to deal with a magical child like this. It might be best if he were in the care of someone who at least knows at least some about wand handlers. I would be willing to take him. I could send you reports as to his health and the like as frequently as you like." Liska had to stop there before she became absolutely disgusted by the look in the woman's eyes.
She was actually considering this. Some stranger was actually offering to take her nephew and she was considering it, pleasurably. "You would take legal responsibility for the boy?"
"I would insist upon it. We'd draw up a contract."
"I have to talk to Vernon."
"Yes. My word, is that the time? I have to get started on dinner. Please, come."
"I would be delighted." Actually I'd rather eat dinner in a snake pit, but if this is what it takes, than I'll do it. Though that implies that this isn't a snake pit. No, that wasn't quite fair. Snakes aren't that devious.
"Oh, I almost forgot. I'm Petunia Dursley."
"Dudley, Harry, come! It's time to go home!" Petunia called. When the boys came up, she took the larger boy's hand, and gave Harry sharp instructions to keep up.
"Here, I'll hold your hand." Anna offered. All three of the others stared at her like she was something from another planet. However, Harry slowly, hesitantly took hold of her hand. He was so afraid; Liska could feel her heart breaking. Right now, though, all she could do was smile reassuringly and try not to hex Petunia Dursley into oblivion. Children are not naturally this afraid of people. Not even shy ones.
When they got to the house, Anna offered to help with dinner, but was politely refused. Harry, on the other hand, was dragged into the kitchen immediately. Liska's sharp ears could hear Petunia's whispered demands.
A hippopotamus of a man arrived about ten minutes later. He was naturally a bit startled to see a stranger in his living room. Most people would be.
"You must be Vernon Dursley. Your lovely wife invited me over for dinner. I think I might be able to help you with something."
"What do mean by that?" The man asked gruffly.
"Perhaps we should talk after dinner." Liska could sense Petunia Dursley come up behind her and attempt some form of non-verbal communication with her husband. While she couldn't tell exactly what was being communicated, the man did seem slightly more favorably disposed to her. At least that's what she assumed him boring her practically to tears about his job with drill meant. In between stories, he actually remembered to ask what she did for a living. Which left her in a slight quandary. Usually, especially as 'Anna Andrews' she claimed to be an independent security consultant. Well, not only would he look down on her for that, as he was obviously a man who put a large importance on a person's job, but it would also contradict with her story of being a scholar.
"I'm a researcher."
"Many things. I'm sorry, I missed what you were saying about three centimeter drill bits." She hadn't, but no better way to get in good standing with a man like this was to act interested in his job, and it got her out of answering difficult questions. So Vernon Dursley didn't even get a chance to look down on her for her job before continuing to tell stories.
Dinner came eventually, much to Liska's relief. Anna was an okay persona, but it was so easily to slip and start channeling Liska while in it. And she didn't want to do that. At least not until they agreed to her plans.
Dinner just added more evidence that there was something wrong. Harry was seated as far from everyone else as possible. His Aunt nearly forgot to serve him half the time. His portions were small, and generally the less desirable parts of the food. His cousin had four times the amount of food, and always got the best portions, even though hospitality would normally dictate that the guest get that. Liska didn't particularly care what they gave her, Kitsune do not have the most developed taste buds, but she had been indoctrinated in the rules of hospitality and noticed lapses keenly.
She also noticed that Petunia cut Dudley's meat, but no one paid much attention to Harry, struggling with a tougher cut of meat. So, Anna moved over. Harry looked up in surprise. "Here, let me help."
He blinked at her. His reaction was perhaps the most mild. Liska couldn't help feeling that he was a bit afraid that she would take the food away. He did sit back though, and she cut the meat into more bite sized portions. She took the steak knife with her. Five was too young for a steak knife.
Anna moved back to her seat ignoring the round of stares she was getting.
"Why did you do that?" Asked Dudley.
"Why shouldn't I?" Anna shrugged.
"Because MMPH!" His mother covered his mouth before he could let something slip.
"Now, Dudley, just eat. You need your strength." The woman said sweetly.
Oh yes, it takes a lot of strength to move that much bulk around. "I must say, this is delicious, Petunia." Anna said, trying to move to a different topic of conversation. Besides, it was only polite to complement the cook.
Fortunately, this did lead to a different direction. Liska had to admit, this was one of the most strained meals she had eaten without someone who wanted to kill her. She had done that a few times too. Liska had been radiating Trust for over an hour now, which was more than usual, and slightly tiring, and she wanted away from these people. The adults obviously wanted dinner over too, Vernon, for curiosity's sake; Petunia, for obvious reasons. And the children had no idea what to make of her.
It seemed to be an eternity, but finally the dinner was over. Dudley was sent out to play, and Harry was ordered to do dishes. And the adults monopolized the living room. Dudley put up a bit of a fuss, wanting to watch television, but his mother distracted him, and convinced him to play outside.
In a few minutes, Anna explained everything that she had discussed with Petunia. Vernon, if possible, seemed even more eager to have Harry gone. But he was also a little more suspicious.
"You'll take the brat off our hands? Why? What do you get out of it?"
"A few things. First off, I get the knowledge that I've made several people happy." He snorted at that. "And I do like children. Who knows, perhaps when he's older, I'll take him on as an apprentice."
"He's not that bright." Vernon warned her.
Anna shrugged. "I would only do that if he were interested anyway. As I said, I would take legal responsibility. I'm sure you would be grieved to have your nephew elsewhere, but this would probably be best for everyone. I would send you frequent reports as to his health and the like."
"Don't bother. I want to forget I even have a nephew."
"I see. If that's what you both wish." Petunia nodded. "And you both wish to accept my offer? Very well, shall we draw up a contract?"
Drawing up the contract did not take long. Liska was not overly surprised that one clause the Dursleys insisted on was that it was Anna's responsibility to find someone to take care of Harry if anything happened to her, and it wasn't to be them. Just as well, if they hadn't suggested it, she would have. Basically, the Dursleys gave up all rights to their nephew whatsoever in exchange for being left alone. While making the contract did not take long, it did give Liska a chance to look around the room. There were lots of pictures. Most of them were of the scion of the house, with a few of the parents. Not a single one of the nephew. How did no one notice this?
Petunia had a few qualms she wanted straightened out before anyone signed however. "What do we tell the neighbors?"
Liska wanted to be ill. A complete stranger comes by and wants to take their nephew, and her biggest concern is what the neighbors would think. They didn't even know if she had given them her real name, which she hadn't. "Well, you could tell them that he's with another relative, or you could say that he needed more help than you could give him."
"That's true, the whole neighborhood thinks he's a freak, they wouldn't think much if we said he was at an institution. Now can we please sign, Petunia?"
"One more thing. This is important. When he ended up on our doorstep, there was a letter saying something about followers of the freak who killed his parents wanting to kill him, and that he'd be safe here because of his relationship to me."
"Blood wards? Interesting. Well that would complicate things a little, but I think I can manage to compensate for them. And have there been any problems so far?" So that's what she smelled when she walked in.
"Not that we know of."
"Then they are unlikely to try anything now. And I promise to keep him as safe as I possibly can."
"Doesn't matter to me if the boy dies." Vernon muttered. At least this time Petunia glared at him. Anna conveniently didn't hear him. Liska took a moment to imagine casting several very powerful hexes at him.
Finally they all signed the paper. Liska took special notice of the boy's name. Harry Potter. Where had she heard that before? "Well, that's all settled then. May I tell Harry?"
"Be my guest. Sooner that brat's gone the better." Petunia said.
Harry was just finishing up when Anna walked in. "Harry, may I talk to you?"
Harry just looked at her. She knelt down closer to his size. "I've been talking to your guardians. I know you don't know me, but how would you like to live with me instead?"
"Leave the Dursleys?"
His face lit with happiness and hope before darkening with doubt. Liska didn't blame him; it wasn't like he knew anything about her. Finally he said, "Alright."
"Great, let's get your things together."
She was dismayed, but not surprised to find that his 'things', not counting clothes, could fit in his hands. "Leave the clothes; I'm sure Dudley will be glad to have them back." She turned to the Dursleys. "If any of those kind come to ask questions, send them my way. Though you may want to consider moving, just in case. Come on, Harry, let's go." It was only then she remembered that she was currently staying in a hotel in London and hadn't come down in a vehicle. Oh well, she'd think of something.