If love was the 'power he knows not', how the hell did Tom get beat by a disarming spell, after it made an curse that was supposed to be UNBLOCKABLE bounce back at him? Explain that to me, somebody! And 'elder wand' doesn't count.

Speech

Thought.

This hit me when I saw some Alice in Wonderland pictures at DA, This'll be an experimental chapter (more like a prologue) to see how it goes.

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"Ugh...I don't think Il'l be using the Floo again any time soon." Harry coughed, knocking soot and ash off his clothes while he climbed to his feet, "Blimey, Ron, how do you stay on...your..feet..." His voice trailed off when he noticed none of the Weasleys were around, nor was anyone for that matter. A hesitant look around showed he was in a dimly-lit store. A thick layer of dust lay everywhere and the air was stale and musty. This was a store he was unfamiliar with.

"Where am I..?"He thought, looking at some of the more gruesome-looking items up for sale; a set of human bones that lay under a glass case, an opal necklace with a warning not to touch, that it had caused the deaths of nine muggles. He suppressed a shudder as his eyes glanced over a pair of blood-caked knives and a gnarled severed hand resting on a pillow.

His couriousity feeling somewhat morbid for some reason, he began to reach out, wondering if it was for real.

It was then that a glint in the corner of his eye grabbed his attention. He looked around to see where it came from; another glint drawing his gaze to what appeared to be a strip of cloth on a table in the corner. Making sure no one was around, he edged over to get a better look. As he got closer, he found it was a collar. It looked to be made of leather, with a gleaming, blood-red buckle in the shape of an elaborate double-C. It looked a tad big for a cat or dog; but what truly struck him as odd was the fact that the section of table it was laying on was completely clean; looking almost brand new. Unable to resist the urge, he gingerly reached out and tapped it.

Without warning, the collar suddenly lurched, making him jump back, "Bloody hell!" He yelped, curiosity quickly turning to fear at the thought he had just touched something that might be cursed.

"Hello, young one" A voice spoke up. It was a baritone, but somewhat lazy-sounding. Wasn't hard to tell whoever it belonged to was male.

"What the..!?" Harry whirled around, looking for the owner of the voice. Unfortunately, he failed to bring his feet along and ended back up on the floor.

The voice came back, chuckling this time that sounded oddly like purring. "Calm down, I'm right in front of you."

He stared, "In front..? " His eyes rose back to the table, "The..the collar??"

"Bingo. To tell you the truth, it's a welcome change of pace to finally talk to someone instead of just hearing that slimey Burkes all the time.

"Burkes..?"

"Yeah, didn't you know? Whether or not you planned to, you ended up in "Bourgen and Burke's'", a store in Knockturn Ally."

"Knockturn...but I said Diagon..." Harry immediately started to worry about being caught.

"Relax, Knockturn's just off Diagon. Anyway, you might want to know that when you touched the collar, I was able to get a quick look through your head."

Harry frowned, "You what?" He asked, rather affronted.

"Easy. It was an automatic thing, think of it is a security feature. The collar was checking to see if you were worthy. And since I'm in the collar, I saw some of your memories"

"Worthy? Of what?" He started to feel uneasy about the direction the conversation was taking.

"To wear the collar, of course. It'll only select someone it's sure won't use it for dark purposes; robbing people, murder, that kinda stuff. And, well, I think it's deemed you a fitting wearer."

"I'm..I'm still confused..what are you talking about? a 'fitting wearer'?"

"Here, before I explain, let's just get our names out there. I already know you're Harry, you can call me 'C' for now. Anyway, the collar's decided you'd more than likly be able to make the best use of its abilities, someone whose life could really use improvement. And well, Harry, I'll be blunt. Nothing personal, but your life, for lack of a better word, sucks."

"W-well, it's nothing great, but..."

"Harry, I saw what you had to deal with. Pardon my French, but the Dursleys are assholes. That plus from the looks of things, only a handful of people in the magic world really see you as 'Harry, twelve year old student' instead of 'The Boy-Who-Lived. You know I'm right about that." C continued, "We both know you don't really care for the fame shoved on you, especially because of how you became famous to start with."

As much as he wanted to argue, Harry knew C was telling the truth about that; a magical celebrity at the cost of his parents...a factor no one seemed to take into account.

"All you'd really like is be just another student at school, hanging out with friends, getting in trouble for being late to class." C chuckled, "Getting caught in a closet with a pretty girl when you get older." He laughed when Harry blushed at the thought before getting serious, "Instead, you have prople apparently holding you to some silly standard because of something you never even planned, a teacher that hates you for some reason, and to be honest, your last year feels real iffy to me. Why would your headmaster hide something that valuable behind spells a group of beginning students could get past, especially when you think about it, the tasks matched you three perfectly. Chasing a flying key on a broom, chess, even a logic puzzle..all while one Albus Dumbledore is gone. And giving you a invisibility cloak, even if it was your pop's, that's just begging you to sneak around.

Harry felt himself go cold at that information. As he went over what C said, he began to realize, the tasks HAD matched up to him..'youngest seeker in a century'...Hermione, the smartest witch in her year..and Ron, who had a head for the game. And as he thought, instead of using the Floo for a fast route..the headmaster instead went on a broom, an obviously slower mode of transport, "But..but why..?" He couldn't hide the hurt in his voice, he had looked up to the man...someone who had helped him get away from his misery at number four. But now, it seemed like the man had deliberately planned it all.

"I'm sorry Harry..I wish I knew." C replied, honestly sympathetic to the boy," But look, the offers on the table; put on the collar and I promise things will start looking up. This is YOUR life, no one else's, and it's time you took it by the nose. It's up to you whether or not you accept."

He stared at it for a moment, his thoughts in an upheaval. Even though part of him wanted to just leave and get back with the others, another part kept mulling over what C told him and agreed.. Finally, almost on reflex, he grabbed hold of the collar.

"I was hoping you'd make the choice, kiddo." C called out as Harry looped it around his neck, "I promise you won't regret it. Just one warning, you'll feel weird for a few minutes when you put it on." He let out a whoop of glee, "Look out world! There's a new Cheshire Cat in town!"

"A new what cat?" Harry asked as the buckle clicked itself into place, the twin Cs now glowing brightly at his throat. Unfortunately, he didn't get an answer before everything suddenly went black.

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Meanwhile, at Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall was on her way to go over lesson material for the upcoming year when she stopped dead in her tracks, "W-why do I suddenly have the feeling things are going to get...unusual here?" She asked to no one in particular.

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I guess this could be considered a CreatureHarry in some respects since he won't really be completely human in this one. He'll pretty much be a smartarse shameless flirt in this fic, and not afraid to say what's on his mind thanks to C's encouragement. As for parings, thinking Susan Bones, Luna, or both. But I'll save that for later on.

And there'll be Ron/Ginny/Dumbledore bashing in this one, mainly 'cause it's fun to do. :) But like I said, this chapter's mainly to see how the idea goes.