Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or associated properties.
The Ultimate Escape Artist
A small boy with bright green eyes and messy black hair, named Harry Potter, lived in the cupboard underneath the stairs of #4 Privet drive in Little Whinging, Surrey, England. During the day he was forced to work like a dog, by his relatives, and had been since he grew big enough to handle a rag and when he wasn't working, underneath the stairs was where he was banished. Harry ate, drank, and slept within its confines. He knew every corner of his tiny little world like the back of his hand and he HATED it!
This isn't much different from most realities, but being enclosed more than any Harry usually was, at such a young age, had an effect on him. Being starved and forced into a role much like Dobby's, but with a great deal less freedom, Harry's magic reacted, changing him in ways that would help him mature more rapidly than his peers and, almost as an afterthought, gifting him with something that would make him greater than any wizard before had ever dreamed of. What was this great gift you may ask, well it's really quite simple, Harry was the recipient of a special sense that wizards typically lack, young Harry was gifted with a sense that was the opposite of what it was called.
Needless to say this caused some quite major changes to what would have been a rather ordinary timeline, as you shall soon see…
Harry was five years old the very first time he tried to escape the Dursley's. He made it nine kilometers before he was caught and returned, by a funny looking man in a dress.
The Dursley's hated anything outside of the norm and the long bearded cross-dresser was definitely not normal. Harry was positive that he was going to be punished for trying to escape and causing the Dursley's lives to intersect with the old fruit's.
Figuring he was pretty well buggered at this point and being startlingly advanced for his age, both mentally and physically, Harry responded with what he figured was the appropriate response. "(Censored), interfering old goat (Hoo Boy, is this censored!)! I swear to (Censored) if I could I'd rip off your (Censored) and make you eat them I would! Why the (Really Censored!) would you know I live here and why the (Censored) couldn't you mind your own (Censored) business!? It's people like you that make me thank (Censored) for the existence of people like Dr. Kevorkian!"
Harry cursed the old man up one side and down the other in a similar vein until his magic finally reacted to his anger and turned the old man blue. "I will escape this hellhole one day if it's the last thing I do and I swear on that day, as God is my witness, I will allow no one to imprison me ever again, if I have anything to say about it!"
Recognizing this as yet another one of those strange events, much like his teacher's hair turning blue (when she blamed Harry for another kid talking in class the year before), that made his relatives lock him under the stairs for extended periods of time, Harry resigned himself to his usual punishment and stomped off to his cupboard, slamming the door behind him.
Vernon Dursley simply raised an eyebrow at the now blue skinned Dumbledore, whom he knew and hated since before Harry had been dumped on their front porch like an unwanted litter of kittens. "Spirited lad, isn't he," Vernon said calmly and slammed the door in the Headmaster's face.
Harry's life took a sharp turn for the better after that day, as Vernon bought him hiking boots, a backpack, and some proper clothing, so he could blend in better when he made his next break for freedom. Books on hiking and living off the land joined a variety of urban survival guides and maps as Harry's new favorite reading material and he studied them diligently.
Well fed and properly outfitted, Harry's next attempt, two weeks later, made it all the way to the North side of London, before the old cross-dresser managed to catch and return him, five days later.
"I've brought Harry home, once more," Dumbledore said, holding a struggling Harry in the air by the back of his jacket.
"I swear this (censored) cross-dressing (censored)(censored) keeps (censored) stalking me," Harry growled, as the, once again, blue skinned old man dropped him.
"Is it really that hard to keep your nephew from running away," the wizard asked irritably.
Vernon smiled and it wasn't exactly a nice smile, but it was a very satisfied smile. "I don't think it's right to force a young boy to stay where he's not wanted and doesn't want to be, but I have to admit I'm rather proud of his recent behavior," Vernon smiled at Harry, "I do believe the lad'll go far."
This time Harry slammed the door in the old wizard's blue face.
Harry had quite a few questions to ask his aunt and uncle about the 'cross-dressing, goat (censored)', and for once they answered them honestly or at least as honestly as their own prejudices allowed.
So, one week later after having read anything Harry could get his hands on about magic (Vernon actually bought him a collection of muggle published books on the subject), Harry once again set foot to pavement, escaping in the dead of the night with several very screwy ideas about throwing off magical trackers.
Harry didn't make it nearly as far this time, but it took Dumbledore nearly twice as long to find and return him with Harry managing to turn the old man's skin blue once more.
This was to set the pace for Harry's relationship with the old man for several years to come, much to the Dursley's enjoyment, as while they couldn't throw Harry out, helping him escape was perfectly acceptable and slamming the door in Dumbledore's blue face was always good for a laugh.
By the time Harry was eight he had learned how to pick locks, pockets, and horses with a stunning amount of accuracy. His skill at throwing off magical tracers had also improved, as he learned exactly what worked and what didn't via trial and error from the books on magic Vernon had managed to find in the muggle world.
Dumbledore had, had to recruit help to keep Harry boxed in and despite their best efforts, Harry escaped with astonishing regularity, traveling farther and farther abroad.
Harry's 'accidental' magic lashed out at his captor's in surprisingly repetitive ways, despite its supposed erratic nature. Dumbledore always ended up looking like Papa Smurf. Snape always ended up limping (Harry always managed to nail him in the groin somehow), with his left hand splinched off and attempting to escape by itself. Minerva had to give up any attempt at capturing the young boy, as she found herself trapped in feline form for days afterwards after each attempt. Kingsley always ended up struggling with a twelve foot afro. Hagrid ended up… well truthfully nothing really bad ever really happened to him, but he did spent days looking through dictionaries, trying to look up some of the words Harry had used, but then Hagrid was always apologetic and Harry found the half giant to be a good source of information on the wizarding world.
By the time Harry was nine, his bag of tricks had grown so extensively that Dumbledore had to hire a team of goblin trappers to capture and return the boy with Harry spending three weeks or more out of every month free and managing to reach far off places like Washington, Morocco, Madrid, and Moscow. Harry seemed to take it in stride however, as he couldn't blame the goblins for doing their job and they did offer some excellent advice for avoiding capture the next time. The fact that hunting Harry down was quite a lot of fun and was a good paid vacation from their normal jobs was never mentioned.
A young boy traveling alone and getting accosted by a group of men in matching black suits was noticed, even if the goblins were disguised. Pictures of Harry Potter in far off places began to circulate on the web, as travelers began to recognize the boy, who always claimed his name was John Christian, getting captured and carted off with startling regularity. Harry Hunting became a worldwide pastime with message boards devoted to multiple theories on who exactly John Christian was and who was after him. The magical world of course had no idea any of this was going on and thought Harry was being raised by a magical family in seclusion somewhere.
Things finally came to a head six weeks before Harry's eleventh birthday.
Harry had managed to lose the latest group of goblin trackers in the sewers of Moscow and a quick flight on the Concorde, hidden away in the luggage compartment, landed him in Florida a day before the launching of the space shuttle, to release a couple of satellites. Tired, he'd been up for over seventy two hours straight dodging goblins in the sewers, and drained, a forgotten voodoo ritual calling on the spirits of the Loa Legba to speed him on his journey, but for some reason Dumballah insisted on helping, and slightly hung over, rum was part of the ritual, Harry decided that the best way to get a break was to escape the Earth itself.