Harry and the Turn of the Tide - revised version as of June 2009
What if: Voldemort was really dead, Harry had managed to change the spell that Voldemort sent to Lily, the wards around Harry failed after only six months and Harry was taken away from the Dursleys? The boy grows up at Hogwarts and slowly gains a huge family.
Pairings: Minerva/Albus, Poppy/Aberforth, Lily/Severus, Harry/OC.
Warnings: Completely AU, partly OOC, Abuse by the Dursleys
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in this story; they all belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
Notes: Thanks to my wonderful beta Mushcorn. You can find a story graphic as well as several chapter graphics on my newsgroup page (Link on the profile page).
Chapter 1 – The Rescue
It was a bright Sunday afternoon in early May of 1982, and Headmaster Albus Dumbledore and his wife Minerva McGonagall were sitting in the living room of their quarters at Hogwarts. They were having tea together with Poppy Pomfrey and her husband Aberforth, Albus' brother.
"Have you already thought about whom you want to hire as Defence teacher for next year, Albus? Since Charles is already telling everyone that he will return to the Aurors, I believe it's time to look for someone else again."
"Yes, Minerva," Dumbledore replied pleasantly. "I know, and I already have an idea. In fact, I wanted to ask him earlier but didn't because of the one-year curse that was affecting this position. However, with Voldemort gone, I believe that the curse must be lifted by now…"
Suddenly an alarm went off in Dumbledore's office. Dumbledore hurried down to the office at a speed which would have made people believe that he was much younger than his 140 years.
"Something is wrong with the blood wards around Harry," he said urgently, turning to his friends, who had followed him into the office. "They seem to be failing rapidly, which means that Harry is in danger. I'll go and look after him." He transformed into his phoenix form and flashed away immediately.
Dumbledore arrived directly in front of Number Four Privet Drive, which was in every way identical to the other houses on the block. After making sure that the street was quiet in its Sunday afternoon sleepiness and no one was around, he transformed back into his human form and approached the door of the house. Though he considered simply unlocking the door with an Alohomora spell, he decided against it and just pushed the bell.
A very large man opened the door, watching him with an angry expression on his round face. "What do you want?" he bellowed immediately, eyes scanning Dumbledore's robes critically. "You are one of them, aren't you?"
"Maybe it would be wise if you let me come in so as not to alert the whole neighbourhood?" Dumbledore replied calmly, putting his foot into the doorframe so that the huge man couldn't close the door in his face. "I would like to have a few words with one Harry Potter." The old wizard noted a hint of panic flickering in the man's eyes.
A bony blonde woman appeared behind the man. "The little freak is in his room," she stated, pointing to a cupboard under the stairs. "You'd do good to take the ungrateful little urchin away!"
Albus felt his spirits, already low, fall even further. He had hoped so much that Petunia would be able to love her little nephew and that Harry would be safe and happy with his relatives. However, it seemed that Minerva had been right. She had warned him not to leave the baby with these Muggles. But he had to see Harry before making any decisions. 'Maybe the Dursleys only talk like this while they are caring for the baby at the same time,' he mused. 'However, Harry still must be in grave danger; otherwise the wards wouldn't have failed.' Dumbledore took the few steps till he reached the cupboard.
The smell was the first thing Dumbledore noticed. It was like that of a cowshed. He bowed his head, casting a Lumos charm, and looked into the dark cupboard. He let out a loud gasp as he took in every detail of the cupboard.
There was a cot with a baby blanket draped over it. He recognized that blanket. Minerva and he had given it to Lily and James when Harry was born. Beside the cot was a small, almost round bundle with black hair on one side. Harry. The bundle on the Floor had to be Harry, because there was nothing else in the room that could be identified as a human being.
Albus took a step into the cupboard and gathered the whimpering figure into his arms, nearly gagging at the smell. A glance at the little face, which was nearly invisible behind the rag the baby was wearing, confirmed that the child was Harry Potter. He was filthy, and his nappy was so full it was about to burst. It obviously hadn't been changed for at least three days. Albus immediately cast a Scourgify spell on the little boy and magically exchanged his nappy for a clean one. Now the bundle in his arms was more like a little boy. With the dirt gone from his body, Albus saw that the boy was covered in bruises. Noticing that the baby was still shivering in his arms, he tentatively put a hand on one of the small baby cheeks, noticing that the boy's skin was very hot and his breathing was laboured.
Dumbledore turned to the Dursleys, who had been watching him the whole time, and said threateningly, "This is not the last word we have spoken about Harry. I will take him now but I'll be back to talk to you." Pressing the small bundle to his chest, he apparated directly in front of the Hogwarts Apparition border in Hogsmeade. Then he ran up to the hospital wing, shouted, "Poppy!" into the fireplace of her office and put Harry on the nearest bed. He then sat down next to Harry, carefully stroking his cheeks, and talked to the boy in a small, calming voice as he searched for some sign of consciousness.
A minute later, the doors to the hospital wing opened, and Poppy stormed in, Minerva hot on her heals. "What…" Poppy started to ask but stopped dead when she saw the small bundle on the bed. She waved her wand over Harry a few times, until she held three pages of notes in her hand to assess the child's condition. With only a quick glance at the writing on one of the parchments, she let out a loud gasp. "I'm sorry, Minerva and Albus, but you have to leave us alone for a while. It will take me at least two hours to heal most of his injuries. Maybe you could ask Severus to come and help me, please. I'll firecall you when I'm done."
Minerva and Albus knew better than to contradict the Healer and silently returned to the Headmaster's office, from where Albus immediately contacted Severus Snape, the Potions professor of Hogwarts.
When her friends left the hospital wing, Poppy immediately began to tend to her small patient. "Oh my…" she mumbled to herself and proceeded with healing the broken ribs first in order to heal the lung, which had been punctured by a rib.
Hearing the doors of the hospital wing slam, she sighed and threw her young colleague a relieved glance. "Severus, please fetch a bucket with lukewarm water and a clean cloth and start cleaning him. I don't think we have much time to spare, and I don't want to use too much magic on him," she told him, glad to see that he complied without asking any questions. Both of them worked intently on the child for nearly three hours before they had finished everything that could be done at the moment.
Severus pulled up two chairs, and both of them sat down tiredly. "Poppy, who is that boy?" Severus asked carefully.
"Can't you recognize him? It's Harry Potter," Poppy answered absently, obviously wrapped up in her own thoughts.
"What?!" Severus exclaimed. "That's Harry Potter? Oh, right, he resembles James a lot," he then assessed, glancing at the child. "But how can he be in such a condition? He was supposed to be a pampered, little brat and not a mistreated, sick baby."
"He was such a happy, healthy child only six months ago," Poppy answered desperately. Tears were welling in her eyes. Before Lily died, she had known Baby Harry quite well. Lily and Minerva had been very close, and Lily had often brought Harry to the castle whenever she needed someone to baby-sit her son. Poppy and Rolanda Hooch had often joined Minerva during these opportunities to care for the cute little boy. Lily had also brought Harry to Poppy a few times when something was ailing him. At the moment, Harry was in a half-conscious state and had yet to show any sign of recognition. She stood up and went over to the fireplace in her office to call Minerva and Albus.
It only took her friends a minute to join them at Harry's bedside. "How is he, Poppy?" Minerva asked immediately.
It hurt Poppy to tell her friend the truth, knowing that Minerva had always loved the little tyke as if he were her grandson. But she just had to tell everything. She explained about the broken bones, which Severus and she had managed to mend in the meantime. However, he was still suffering from a concussion and a bad case of pneumonia, along with a fever that was dangerously high in spite of the potions they had given him.
"So he will be all right in a few days' time?" Minerva asked, giving her friend a hopeful glance, before she sat down on the edge of Harry's bed, carefully stroking his flushed cheeks.
"I don't know," Poppy whispered. She had to try hard to keep her tears at bay. "He is undernourished and is just over half the weight he should be at his age. He has a very bad rash on his bottom. It is so badly infected that it will take a few days to heal. I believe that they have only fed and changed him once or twice a week. From his lung infection, which he's probably had for a few weeks now, he has developed asthma, and because of rampant illnesses, his heart and his immune system are damaged. Both problems, the asthma and the weakness of his heart and his immune system, will probably remain for his whole life. At this stage, I can't even tell if he'll be really healthy in the future."
She sighed and glanced over to the little child, before she spoke up to give her friends the last bad news for the evening. "I'm sorry, but I have to report this. It is too bad a case of child neglect and abuse to overlook, so it's my responsibility as a Healer to report the Dursleys to the Ministry."
Albus, who had so far sat there, his head in his hands, suffering from self-reproach, looked up and spoke, "Yes Poppy, we'll do that. However, before we tell the ministry, we have to decide what shall happen to Harry, and we have to appoint a guardian. Otherwise the Ministry will take over guardianship."
"All right," Poppy replied. "Let's go into my office, so that Harry can rest. He'll be fine, and the spells I put on him will alert me in case he has any problems."
"Let me take him in, Albus," Minerva said as soon as they were seated in Poppy's office.
"But how will you manage to look after a child, Minerva?" Severus asked thoughtfully. "You have classes to teach, you are Head of House and Deputy Headmistress. You don't have time to look after Harry."
"That's true," Albus agreed. "Of course I could help you, but even I don't have the whole day. Maybe we should find a family who would take him in. I'm sure there are lots of wizarding families who would be delighted to adopt Harry Potter."
Minerva started to cry, and Poppy spoke up. "I'm afraid that his condition doesn't give us a lot of choices. He should be near someone who has at least practice with Healing. I can't even assure you that he'll be able to live a normal life yet. I'd prefer to have him here at Hogwarts so that I could look after him. Perhaps I should take him in."
"Maybe that would be a good idea, Poppy," Albus said pensively.
"I know that I don't have to say anything about this child as he is the son of Potter, who was not exactly my friend, but I believe this is a good idea," Severus commented, ignoring the astonished look he received from Minerva and the twinkle that appeared in Albus' eyes.
"Thank you, Severus," Poppy interrupted the silence with her kind voice, watching Severus. She had known him since he first set foot into Hogwarts, and she knew him probably better than anybody else. He had always confided in her, and she was the one to know everything about his childhood, which had been far from happy. "Minerva, what do you think?"
"Oh, yes, thank you, Poppy. I think that's a very good idea," Minerva replied quickly. "However, will Aberforth be all right with your decision?" she asked sceptically.
Poppy went over to the Floo and called her husband over, who after hearing the whole story said, "Of course. If you want to take Harry in, then we'll do that."
Dumbledore promised to retrieve the necessary papers from the Ministry in the morning, and they adjourned their meeting. Before Albus left, he called Twinkle, Minerva's and his personal house elf, and asked her to install a nursery within Poppy's quarters with a connecting door to Poppy's office so that it would be easy for the Healer to look after the child while she was working.
An hour later, the elves had finished the room. It was done in light colours, mainly white and a light blue. The room held a crib near the wall on one side, a changing unit next to it, and a wardrobe on the opposite wall. Next to the wardrobe was a magical window, showing a view of the lake. Then there was a bookshelf filled with children's books and a shelf holding a few toys. A playpen was placed in the middle of the room, near the door leading to Poppy's office. The door on the opposite side led to the living room of Poppy's quarters, which she shared with Aberforth during the school year.
While Poppy was still admiring the elves' work, Aberforth carefully took Harry into his arms and carried him to the soft bed in his new room. He placed him down, tucked him in, and gave him a kiss on the forehead. "Good night, my baby. Sleep well."
With this, Harry blinked and finally opened his eyes a little. When he saw the old man hovering directly over his face, Poppy expected him to cry immediately. However, Harry took a good look at the face with the long, white beard and mumbled, "Gada," before he tiredly closed his eyes again and drifted off.
Poppy and Aberforth took turns staying with Harry during the night. It was not only because his breathing sounded so laboured that Poppy thought it would be better to keep an eye on him all the time, but because she wanted him to drink a little milk every two hours. For six months, he seemed to have only received two bottles of milk a week. Therefore, they couldn't feed him much at a time; otherwise his stomach wouldn't be able to handle it. So it would have to be small, frequent meals. She had also asked Severus to make a nutrient potion for the child, which he would have to take twice a day. They would probably have to get him used to larger amounts of food for at least a week until they could try to give him solid food, which he should be eating at his age.
"His magic must be very strong. Otherwise he wouldn't have survived. It's a miracle that he is still alive," she told her husband. 'How could he get such a bad concussion and so many broken bones? It's as if they had just thrown him back onto the Floor of the cupboard after taking him out to change him every third day or so,' she contemplated.
In the morning, Minerva arrived to visit Harry before breakfast, but the boy remained unresponsive. He wasn't asleep but didn't react to Minerva's touch or to her voice. The two friends were very disappointed, especially Poppy, who had thought that Harry would try to talk to them again after his reaction to Aberforth's kissing him goodnight in the evening.
"Will he be all right?" Minerva asked concerned.
"Yes, Minerva, he will. We have to spend as much time with him as possible, and we must talk to him as much as we can. Yesterday he said 'Gada' to Aberforth."
Minerva gasped. "That means 'Granddad,' I think. He managed to say that to Albus once. It was a few days before Halloween, and it was the first and only thing he said to Albus." She sniffed a little. "Do you think he recognized him and thought Aberforth was Albus?"
"Probably," Poppy replied, moving her hand calmingly around her friend's back. "He will be fine, but it'll take some time. At the moment, he still has a very high fever, and he probably is in quite a large amount of pain. I can only give him very light healing potions because he is so small, and they can only remedy so much at one time." She threw her friend a calming smile. "Now, go and have breakfast, Minerva. Don't worry; I'll be here for him."
After breakfast, Albus showed up to confirm that Poppy hadn't changed her opinion and still wanted to take Harry in. Hearing her confirmation, he stepped into the fireplace and took the Floo to the Ministry in order to get the guardianship papers and to exchange a few words with a friend he had in the family division.
From there, Dumbledore apparated directly to Privet Drive and paid Petunia Dursley a visit. She told him to come into the living room, where they had a short conversation until Albus unobtrusively waved his hand, causing the fat baby in the nearby crib began to cry. While Petunia tended to her child, Albus conjured two cups of tea, of which he laced one with two drops of Veritaserum. When the woman returned, he urged her to drink, and when Petunia complied, he began to question her thoroughly. "How often did you give Harry a bottle of milk?"
"Did you give him anything else to eat?"
"No. I didn't want to take anything from my precious Duddykins for the freak."
"How often did you change his nappy?"
"I always took him out of the cupboard on Sundays. He was such a nuisance."
"Did you clean him then?"
"No. He was too disgusting to touch him more than necessary."
"How often did you give him a bath?"
"Never. He wasn't worth the hot water."
"How did he get the concussion?"
"I didn't know that he had that, but probably because Vernon always threw him back in the cupboard and he often hit his head on the wall."
"Why didn't you do anything against his fever and his lung infection?"
"It was his own fault. Vernon always threw him on the cot but he was so stupid to fall down onto the Floor and didn't take his blanket with him. He just stayed on the Floor until I took him out the next Sunday."
"Will you please sign here in order to give your guardianship of Harry up in favour of Poppy Pomfrey, a friend of mine?"
"Of course. We never wanted him, and I don't want to see the freak again." Petunia signed the parchment, and Albus put it back into his robes and relaxed.
Before he apparated away, he waved his hand at Dudley, his eyes twinkling mischievously. When he arrived back in his office at Hogwarts, he put the memory of his conversation with Petunia into his Pensieve in order to show it to Minerva and Poppy, before it would be used against the Dursleys in court.
When Poppy stepped out of the fireplace in the Headmaster's office after Dumbledore had called her shortly after lunch, Minerva was sitting in his office, looking sick. "What's wrong, Minnie, are you ill?" she asked, immediately waving her wand over her friend.
"No, Poppy, Minerva is not ill. However, I believe she needs a Calming Draught," Albus answered gravely. He motioned for her to watch the memory in his Pensieve, and when Poppy finally returned to the hospital wing, where Aberforth was watching Harry, she was as shaken as Minerva had been.
As soon as Minerva had recovered a little, she straightened herself in the chair she had been occupying and threw her husband a stern glance. "What did you do to Dudley Dursley?" she asked firmly but with a hint of curiosity showing in her eyes.
"Oh, the first time, I just threw a tickling charm on him," Albus replied innocently.
"And the second time?" Minerva asked, full of foreboding.
"Ah, yes, the second time," Dumbledore repeated mischievously…