Disclaimer: If only, if only… I simply wish could own Harry Potter, but alas, Rowling beat me to the punch! It's all hers, ALL hers. Not mine, sadly . Also, any of the names mentioned in the story that are not related to Harry Potter are not people I actually know or heard of—so any similarities are pure coincidence.
Author's Note: Well, here it is; a completely AU story, begun from the Dursleys' very doorstep! I'm not exactly new to writing fan fiction, but the last time I wrote something it was a long time ago... Anyways, enjoy! Update information can be found in my profile.
Thank you to my friend and beta gold09 for editing this story!
A Fractured Childhood
Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody was not one to ignore his superior's orders, nor was he one to commonly hide in bushes spying upon people. This was a common misconception, generated by his years as an Auror. In fact, when left alone Moody tended to avoid others as much as possible and therefore had no orders to follow and no bushes to hide in. However, when he did find an order to be not to his liking, he tended to spy in bushes and plot to foil said plan.
Which is how he came to find himself crouched in a batch of prickly bushes, observing the events occurring at Number Four Privet Drive. He was too experienced to believe that none of the three—Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hagrid—weren't aware of his presence in the bushes, but he figured that they all thought that Moody was there to make sure things went well. It was, in fact, the opposite, and Moody had already arranged plans to be far out of the country when Dumbledore discovered his actions—seeing as Moody wished to kidnap the Boy-Who-Lived.
The boy in question was sleeping quietly in a bundle of blankets, already positioned on the doorstep with a letter set beside him. Moody snorted in derision at Dumbledore's tactics. Introducing a family to its newest member by placing it in their way wasn't the best start for little Harry Potter. Of course Dumbledore meant well… but, as they say, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.' Moody knew what the right thing to do was, and he was going to do it regardless of Dumbledore's wishes.
He was going to kidnap Harry Potter.
Of course, Moody wouldn't be the one raising him. Oh, no. That would be a disaster. The kid would end up just as scarred as he was in weeks. Moody was going to send him to a very special friend of his; one that he hoped would do a better job. If not…he could at least be comforted by the thought that he would do a better job than Dumbledore in taking care of Potter.
The roar of Hagrid's motorbike and two pops of Apparation—one noticeably louder than the other—alerted Moody that the Hogwarts' staff had left, leaving him alone on the silent street with only a child of one for company.
Moody and Harry traveled for several days throughout the United Kingdom, in an effort to avoid any pursuers looking for the missing Boy-Who-Lived. He needn't have bothered, as Dumbledore had felt that the matter had been dealt with after leaving the letter for the Dursleys and did not bother checking to see if the Dursleys had actually received his 'gift.'
Three weeks after kidnapping Harry found Moody standing in front of a middle-class house in Dorset, carrying the baby that had caused him no end of trouble in his arms—no one had ever considered that an Auror needed basic training in how to take care of babies. The house belonged to his life-long friend, Bertram Ackwood, and his wife Jane, a childless and aging Muggle couple. Moody had known Bertram since they were children, neither knowing that one would turn out to be a wizard and go off to learn magic while the other remained behind, wishing he could share in his best friend's life.
It was with great trepidation that Moody knocked on the Ackwoods' door, not knowing how welcome he would be. He hadn't spoken with Bert in years and he worried that Bert would resent him for that. He was cut out of his musings when the door opened, streaming light out onto the darkened street and providing a glimpse of a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
"Alastor," said the man standing at the door in surprise. His greying hair was rumpled and a pair of glasses had been jammed onto his face haphazardly, as if he had just woken. He blinked once, then twice, staring at Moody and his various disfigurements in obvious confusion, and invited him in.
"I'm sorry if I woke you," said Moody in an uncharacteristic display of guilt. It was then that he realized just how much aging affected the Muggle body—he was the same age as the man before him, yet he did not find himself ailed with anything other than grey hair and the injuries he had sustained in his work against Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
"No worries," replied Bert. "I was simply getting a bit too comfortable while reading by book." He lead Moody into the sitting room, grabbing a bottle of brandy for the cabinet and pouring two glasses, as he took his seat in a large comfy armchair beside a roaring fire and placed one of the glasses in Moody's free hand. He removed a stack of newspaper from another armchair and gestured for Moody to take a seat, who did so. "What brings you here, old friend?" he asked, taking a small sip of the golden brandy.
"I need your help," replied Moody, noting that he hadn't said those words in years. "I've saddled myself with something that I can't quite handle." Moody knew he shouldn't be lying, he knew that it was unethical…yet, he didn't want Bert to know that he had planned on dropping Harry into his lap.
"Does it have anything to do with that baby in your arms?" Bert asked, raising an eyebrow. "You didn't go and impregnate some poor girl, did you?" he smiled at the last, indicating it was a joke.
"I'm afraid it wasn't as pleasant as that," Moody replied. He sighed, and began to explain the events leading up to that fateful night in October. Bertram was what the Ministry liked to call an 'informed Muggle' and as such Moody explained all the details, including magic.
By the time Moody finished, both glasses had been drained of brandy and refilled. Bertram was staring into his glass, ignoring it in favour of his thoughts. Moody took another sip of brandy, before asking, "I haven't seen Jane yet tonight. Is she in bed?"
Bertram jerked up so suddenly that the brandy slopped against the sides of the glass and nearly spilt all over the floor. "Jane's dead," he said bitterly.
Moody didn't know what to say. "I'm sorry," he said awkwardly.
"Unless you were driving the car that killed her, you have nothing to be sorry for," replied Bert, though his eyes roamed over Moody's scarred and battered body in obvious resentment. Moody suddenly knew he wasn't wanted—and Harry probably wasn't either. Bertram clearly held much anger over Jane's death, multiplied by the fact that Moody was sitting in front of him, able to cure a dying person with little-to-no effort.
An awkward silence followed the news of Jane's death, before Moody realized that he had imposed enough upon his friend. "I just figured I'd check up on you, then," he said, rising to his feet.
"Sit, Alastor," Bert said sharply, looking into his friend's one good eye. "You said you came here because you needed help. What do you need?"
Before the news of Jane's death, Moody had planned to leave Harry with Bert. Bert probably knew that too. Instead of asking Bert to take Harry in, however, he said, "It's Harry here." He gestured towards the sleeping baby cradled in his left arm. "He's got no parents and no living relatives. I can't take him in—I wouldn't be any good."
"So why did you come to me then? Isn't he one of your sort?"
"He is," replied Moody, "but he's rather famous in my world and would be better off living in this one. I came to ask if you knew of anyone who could possibly take him in."
"Let me think," Bert replied. Moody sipped the remainder of the brandy he had left in his cup, which he had set down on the coffee table in his attempt to leave.
It was only a few minutes later when Bert let Moody know of a prospective foster home for Harry. The two chatted a bit longer, catching up. It was with a heavy heart that Moody left his old friend's home, knowing that the chances of seeing him again were slim to none.
"…and you have all the paperwork?" Doctor Cameron Mallory could barely contain her excitement. "I can really have a son?" she asked, still in disbelief. While she had initially balked at inviting the strange man carrying the baby into her home, the name of her patient Bertram Ackwood had allowed the odd man entrance into her home. Imagine her surprise when he offered her custody of what she wanted most in the world—a child!
"Yes, of course," Moody replied, quickly conjuring some paperwork in his rucksack with all the information necessary. "There is one thing you should know about him though."
"What's that? Can't be anything worse than no living relatives, can it?" Cameron could feel the balloon of happiness that had been swelling in her chest begin to recede, as her mind invented thousands of complications that a one-year old baby could have.
"Well…that depends on your perspective," Moody replied. He was about to let a Muggle in on magic, something that really couldn't be helped given the circumstances. He had naturally put a patch over his eye to cover its magical origins, as he had been wary of allowing the Muggle to see it. Bert had said that she knew how to keep a secret—the laws on doctor-patient confidentiality had seen to that—but, in the case of rejection…it was best not to Obliviate unless unnecessary. "Tell me, Doctor. What do you know of magic?"
"Magic?" asked Cameron, completely taken aback. Her eyes widened in surprise, before she exclaimed, "Oh! He's a wizard then, yeah? My brother's one—still keeps in touch with the family, though I haven't seen him in a few years. Nothing to worry about—I grew up with that little miscreant."
It was Moody's turn to act surprised. He chuckled. "Well, that simplifies things quite a bit. Has your brother ever mentioned to you the 'Boy-Who-Lived,' by any chance?" Moody spent roughly half an hour explaining to her just what it meant to be raising the famous baby who had defeated Voldemort, but Cameron did not lose any of her previous excitement.
"You're sure you're alright taking him in?" Moody asked, hoping the positive feeling he got from this woman was a good one.
"Of course! Little tyke needs a home," she said, caressing Harry's hair gently. She had taken the baby from Moody quite a time before, and Harry had taken to her like a fish to water.
"And you won't have any trouble looking after him? I know you work full days—"
"Oh, it's no trouble. My sister and I live together, and she works at home most days. He should be fine."
"Alright then," conceded Moody, handing her the paperwork. "I'll probably drop by every so often to make sure everything's okay." Moody knew he was promising more than Dumbledore had ever had and made sure that once this business was over and done with, he'd give the man a long lecture on the proper care of children. And the man ran a school for children! It was appalling. Dumbledore, my friend. You're getting nearly too old for your job...
Cameron spent the first few months with Harry in absolute bliss. She had taken time off from her private practice to allow for a period of adjustment, and as much as she loved her job, taking care of Harry was just as rewarding for her. The child was a delight, very rarely crying or acting upset. He enjoyed walking around the apartment, exploring the various objects and asking 'what's this?' in the slurred voice of a young child. Cameron found his curiosity refreshing and charming, as did most of her friends.
Cameron and Harry lived relatively happy lives together. Margaret moved out when Harry was three, going to find an office job, leaving Cameron no choice but to place Harry in nursery school under the name Harry Mallory; she felt so strongly about his place in their small family. Harry bloomed in nursery, playing and learning with kids his own age, only to return home chatting constantly about everything he had done that day. His teachers reported that he was a happy child that fit in well with others and progressed at normal rate for his age.
It was a rainy day in October, clouds looming overhead and thunder booming every few minutes. Harry, now in primary school, had seen off all the other students with his teacher Mrs. Horsfall, and it was just the two of them waiting for what he believed to be his 'mother.'
"I can walk home, you know, ma'am," he said politely to his teacher after waiting another half an hour. "I only live around the corner."
"No," she replied sternly. "The weather is terrible, and you'll not be walking home in it."
"Yes ma'am," Harry said, falling silent. Another fifteen minutes passed, in which Mrs. Horsfall grew increasingly worried and Harry increasingly bored.
"Your mother's never failed to turn up on time…" she mumbled to herself, before digging up the records to find the contact numbers. She picked up the phone, before dialling one of the numbers under Harry Mallory's name. The answering machine picked up—as she had called the apartment—and she sighed, before hanging up. She turned to the next number on the list, Dr. Mallory's work number.
"This is the Mallory and Lockwood Private Medical Practice, how may I help you?" asked the voice on the other end.
"Hi, I'm looking for Dr. Mallory. She hasn't picked up her son from nursery yet and we've been waiting quite a while…"
"That's odd," the secretary's voice, bland earlier, now sounded of concern. "She left nearly an hour and a half ago. Maybe she's been caught in traffic?"
"I hope so. Thank you."
"No problem," replied the secretary. Mrs. Horsfall hung up.
Mrs. Horsfall knew there was something wrong now—Dr. Mallory's practice was only two blocks away. She looked back at her list of contact numbers, and called the only emergency one listed; Margaret Mallory.
"Hello?" came the voice on the other line.
"Hi, Ms. Mallory?" asked Mrs. Horsfall in obvious relief.
"Yes, who's speaking?"
"This is Jane Horsfall—I'm your nephew's teacher. Dr. Mallory hasn't showed up to pick him up yet—"
"What? That's so unlike her."
"I know. I was wondering if you knew anything. I called her office, but they said she'd left an hour ago."
Margaret's voice was filled with concern, as she replied "I haven't heard from her either. I'll come by to pick Harry up, though."
"Thank you," said Mrs. Horsfall.
"I'll be there in about ten minutes," Margaret replied, before hanging up.
There was a message waiting on the answering machine in Margaret's apartment when she arrived home with Harry. Margaret played the two messages waiting—one from her boyfriend and the other from the hospital. She dropped her mug of tea, sending it to the floor with a crash as the answering replayed the news of a car accident—stating that her sister was in critical condition and the hospital where she was staying.
By the time Harry and Margaret arrived at the hospital—barely a quarter of an hour later—Cameron had been declared dead.
Harry couldn't stop asking what had happened to his 'Mummy' and Margaret hadn't been able to stop crying. She didn't know how to tell her 'nephew' that Cameron was dead, nor did she know how to look after him. When she had regained some semblance of control, Margaret called Child Services, and they placed Harry in an orphanage until a proper home could be found, under the name of 'Harry Potter.'
The orphanage wasn't very well funded by the government, leaving Harry and all the children there near poverty despite the many donations given to the orphanage. Harry, however, was only at the orphanage until December, when he was adopted. He lived with the Lowrys for nearly four months, before they took him back to the orphanage, citing that he was 'strange' and 'weird things occurred around him.' Still, despite this record of being 'odd,' Harry was adopted again, his adorable face allowing many potential foster home owners to fall in love with him. It only took this couple three weeks to send him back to the orphanage, explaining that he was an odd and abnormal child, and far out of there ability to handle. Harry couldn't understand why he kept getting sent back to the orphanage, and eventually, after being moved from foster home to orphanage four times, he decided that he'd make sure that he was sent back because of something he actually did. Harry set out to be as violent and resistant to authority as possible, getting into fights at the various schools he attended, and generally misbehaving. Now, he was returning to the orphanage with black-eyes, broken arms, and a reputation for being trouble, and he was adopted less often.
At the age of nine, Harry Potter had seen more homes than half of the children in the orphanage combined. The children saw him as the symbol for what their lives could turn out to be, and therefore ostracized him as much as possible. Harry kept to himself, mostly, reading the various books that had been donated to the orphanage or swinging on the swings in the play ground nearby. He hadn't been to a foster home in nearly a year now, after the last time he had been sent back with a dislocated shoulder and a twisted ankle from fighting at school. He wasn't particularly violent at the orphanage—only a few incidents when the other children had decided that he was slightly odder than the sort of person they wanted around them—and he had always come out in better shape after those. He did, however, manage to receive a black eye monthly, in case anyone wishing to adopt him came by.
He had grown resigned to the fact that he would be in the orphanage until he reached the age of majority, a conclusion he didn't like, but it was better than being thrown away over and over again. He liked consistency in his life, which he had lacked up until this point. While life at the orphanage wasn't the best, it wasn't as bad as seeing the looks of fear and hatred on the faces of his adopters.
On a day in late December, Harry could be found reading on his bed as he usually did when it was too cold to go out and read in the sunshine. The snow had piled high outside, uncharacteristically for Dorset, and most of the children were trapped inside and getting a little antsy. One of the other boys had begun to poke Harry with his pen, to the amusement of the other boys, though Harry just ignored him; he knew very well how to deal with the other children now, and ignoring was best.
It was to this general atmosphere in which Mrs. Newport and an old man arrived into the boys' dorm. They walked all the way up to Harry's bed, causing the other boys who had been previously laughing at Harry to scuttle away. "This is him," Mrs. Newport said, smiling politely.
"It is indeed," said the old man, peering intently at Harry, especially at Harry's scar. His hazel eyes were searching as he turned his gaze to Harry's, who stared back at him defiantly. No! Harry exclaimed inwardly. Not another one. And I was just getting used to it here too…Should have gotten into a fight with some of the other boys last week—that was stupid. I'll make sure he sends me home before New Years, though. He looks like he couldn't handle a rowdy child, being so old and all. Harry smirked, while the old man just gave him a kindly smile.
"His record notwithstanding, I'd like him to come home with me," he said to Mrs. Newport.
"If you're sure, then," she said to the man, before turning to Harry. "Come, boy. You're going home with Mr. Flamel."