Hogwarts wasn't the only school of magic.
Harry Potter stared at the man in front of him, sitting on his bed in a daze. Hagrid's presence was something he could live with, now. He had come to accept the presence of magic, of men who were easily two times the size of a normal man. The extraordinary was commonplace now, with him.
But what he hadn't been prepared for, was a choice. He had a choice. It was a novel idea, after a lifetime of decisions being made for him, or being told what he could and could not do, and when it was appropriate to do those things that were allowed. When to eat, when to cook, when to clean, when he could look through Dudley's old toys and see if he could salvage something useful. He had certainly never been given a choice, and certainly not one that would affect his future.
This man was from Durmstrang, standing near his window with one foot set back against the wall. His dark eyes stared intently at Harry, for glanced away a smaller, less prestigious Wizarding School, it's location hidden from even the other schools. But the man wasn't here just to entice him to attend Durmstrang.
"Hogwarts is not all that they claim it t'be, Harry. Albus Dumbledore, he has made many enemies through the years, and those enemies, they've been known t' use the students t' get to him. Those students rarely make it out of these encounters alive."
Harry started at the sound of the man's voice, which had been silent for some time now as he thought of the proposition laid out before him.
"I would love to see you come to Durmstrang, Harry." Here the man knelt beside Harry's bed, one hand on the thread-bare blanket upon which he sat, and the other resting on the boy's knee. "But right now, my biggest concern is that you not attend Hogwarts. I don't want you gettin' hurt like other children. Do y' understand?"
Harry nodded slowly, blinking owlishly at the other man as he fought to understand his accent. He'd never actually heard such a think accent before, other than on Dudley's telly as he cleaned in the hall outside his cousin's room.
"It's just ..." Harry paused, biting down on his lower lip and staring down at the floor. "How am I supposed to know about the other schools? It's not like I have a lot of time to visit Daigon Alley or anything. Is there anybody I could ... talk to?"
"Tell you what, why don't we take a visit to the book store today? I'll talk to your relatives for you, alright?" Harry slowly nodded, smiling slightly as he accepted the man's hand to pull him to his feet – after the man had climbed to his feet himself, of course.
"Oh! My name is Aaron." The man – Aaron – grinned down at him, and Harry smiled tentatively back, still slightly surprised when he wasn't yelled at or taunted for showing happiness. Usually, his happiness was cause for his relatives to set him to more work, or banish him to his room.
They made their way down the stairs together, Harry trailing slightly behind the older man, as if Aaron could somehow protect him from the uproar that was sure to ensue from a wizard's presence in the Dursley household.
Vernon was the first to notice them, as the presence of a tall, foreboding stranger in his house was hard to miss. The sight of his nephew hiding behind him just added to his anger, as he rose from his chair, face beet red and pudgy hands balled into fists. "Who the bloody hell are you?"
Aaron winced slightly at the sight of the larger man, sending a pitying glance down at his young companion. Now he understood the boy's reluctance to let him come down here. Now he understood why he cowered in fear behind his only current protection from his uncle's wrath.
"Mr. Dursley, my name is Aaron Vineer, a consultant at the wizarding school of Durmstrang. With your leave, I'll be taking your nephew int' the city for the day. I wished only t' inform you of this change o' plans."
"He's not going anywhere." This came from the small, horse-like woman sitting at the table, as he rose to her feet and came to stand beside her husband. "Harry has yet to complete any of his chores, and besides, that horrid giant of a man has already taken the boy shopping for his freakish school supplies."
Aaron frowned at that, turning his head to stare down at the boy, who merely gave a wry twist of his lips in a parody of a smile as he shrugged his shoulders. Freakish?
"Mrs. Dursley, I'm sure Harry will return in plenty o' time t' complete any chores you have for him. And whoever Mr. Dumbledore may have sent to help Harry with his school shopping – a practice I've never even 'eard of, to be honest – well, I am not from Hogwarts. I am from Durmstrang, a school we hope to entice Harry int' commin' to instead."
Petunia only stared at him dumbly for a moment, mouth open in shock. "Wait, there's more than one those schools? There's more of you?"
"Of course there are. There are far too many young witches an' wizards to fit int' one school, no matter how big, my dear woman. But please, we must be hurryin' along. Excuse us."
"Wait, wait, wait. Just wait one minute." Petunia reached out, grabbing his arm as Aaron attempted to walk past her. He stopped mid step, staring at her in surprise. "If there's more than one of you, then who gave that man Dumbledore the authority to force us to take the boy in? To put all those spells up around the house without our bloody consent?"
Now, Petunia Dursley was normally the picture of female compliance, never doing or saying anything that would be considered un-ladylike. Now, however, she was irate and frustrated, unsure of herself of the circumstances of her nephew's continued presence in her house/
"Albus Dumbledore had no such authority, I can assure you, ma'am, and I'll be bringin' this up to both the English Ministry of Magic, and my own government." Aaron's eyes had narrowed through her little speech, and now his lips had formed a thin, straight line as he stared at these people – the husband and wife, and their young son, all of which appeared to be in much better health than his young companion.
"Then take him. His stuff is in the cupboard under the stairs. We only kept him in the first place because of that horrid man. We want nothing to do with him or his freakish ways."
Harry took a startled step back at that, away from his relatives. He knew his aunt and uncle didn't particularly like him, but he had certainly never thought they hated him.
Aaron took a step forward, so that he was uncomfortably close to the woman. "He is your nephew, you daft woman. Your blood."
Petunia merely made a small sound of derision in the back of her throat, blushing hotly when she realized what she had done. Stepping back away from the older man, she returned to her seat at the table, focusing entirely on the food in front of her. "I'm sure Harry will return in plenty of time to complete his chores this evening."
Harry allowed himself to led out of the house, still slightly in a daze as he watched Aaron root around for something in his pockets, before finally coming out with his wand. "There we are. Please, bring your wand out, Harry."
Harry started at that, blushing furiously. "It's in the cupboard under the stairs, just like the rest of my stuff." He admitted softly ,hitting the tip of his sneaker lightly against the pavement repeatedly.
Aaron merely stared at him for a moment, dumbfounded, before shaking his head and reaching over to grip his young companion's shoulder lightly. "I'll talk to them later, alright?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders, staring down at the ground. Aaron sighed, wrapping an arm around the boy's shoulders as he proceeded to flag down the Knight Bus. While he would have preferred a more anonymous form of travel, this would have to do for now.
Harry climbed onto the bus after him, staring around himself in awe, his relatives disturbing words from earlier forgotten for the moment as he took in the strangest bus he had ever seen in his life. Well, actually, the inside of the bus wasn't all that strange, but the drivers certainly were – how often did you see a driver that was a head – and only a head? And one with a Jamaican accent, of all things.
Aaron steered him to an empty seat, settling him in beside the window before sitting down next to him with a sigh. "Sit tight, It'll be a while."
Harry nodded, leaning his head against the window as the bus gave another violent jerk. Aaron kept him place with a carefully placed arm, however, and Harry smiled gratefully before returning to his perusal of the world outside as they sped away.
A/NThis is an idea that has been bouncing around inside my head for a while now. Well, maybe not that long. Anyway, why didn't any of the other wizarding schools attempt to get Harry to attend there, instead of Hogwarts? There are certainly enough of them, and Durmstrang seems like the ultimate Slytherin school – so why wouldn't they send somebody to Harry to try and entice him to their school? I'm not sure if I am going to continue this or not, so any comments y'all might have would be amazing :) Hope you enjoyed this chapter!