Fate's Gambit

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters and my writing certainly couldn't be considered canon. If my efforts don't fit your idea of what a Harry Potter story should be, I can only offer my apologies and a suggestion. Writing your own really is the only way to ensure the story progresses exactly the way you want it to, it also gives the rest of us something to read.

Chapter 2

Cas used the same glamour charm that she'd perfected when going shopping with Mistress Lily, it had been many years since she performed this but found herself slipping into this persona again very quickly. The little elf took her young charge first to the opticians, then the only shop in muggle London that she knew well, Harrods.

When Mistress Lily was pregnant with baby Harry, she used to get terrible cravings. Cas would set off to the Harrods food court for whatever her mistress wished. She still had the Potter pouch that allowed her to withdraw money, muggle or wizarding, straight from the Potter vault. Harry hopefully wouldn't have to appear at Gringotts until he was eleven and became Lord Potter.

Harry was getting overwhelmed again but thinking of his friend helped calm him down. He'd noticed the beautiful cakes in the café' and asked Cas if they could bring Luna with them the next time. He just knew his friend would love them and their only problem would be choosing which one to have.

A whole new muggle wardrobe later and it was back to Potter Manor where he couldn't wait to tell his grandparents all about his day. With all the things he'd seen, done and had bought for him, Harry still thought meeting Luna was the best bit.

After his bath, potions and supper, Cas was tucking him into bed. "What would you like to do tomorrow Master Harry? Your grandparents want to spend the morning with you but after that the rest of the day is your own."

Harry thought for a minute or two. "I would love to visit a swing park and actually get to go on the swings. Dudley would never allow me to have a go and it looked like so much fun when I watched the other kids."

Cas could only nod as she tried not to cry at her young master's previous life. She hoped her actions today had helped pay the Dursleys back for the hurt they intentionally caused this child.

-oOoOo-

Vernon watched his secretary through the glass partition and knew she was almost his. He'd been wearing her down for months now and he could sense it would soon be time for a weekend 'seminar' that she would have to accompany him on. This would cause her great problems as, taking overtime rates into account, the single mother would earn less than her child minder. A weekend away would cause serious financial hardships.

That would be time to introduce the 'Vernon Dursley' compensation scheme and then she'd be hooked. He would then play with her for a while before throwing her back. Vernon was a great believer in the 'catch and release' policy, there was always plenty more fish in the sea for him to trawl a lure at.

It was the chase and then bending that person to your will that excited Vernon, once he'd accomplished that goal he soon got fed up with his conquest. The freak was almost broken as well. He'd written it up in his journal and planned to make sure the boy was seen working in the front garden and washing the car before his next beating. Vernon didn't want to arouse any suspicions now he was so close. The freak's mother thought she was really something and wouldn't give Vernon the time of day, now he was regularly beating the snot out of her only kid. Who said there was no justice in the world?

When the rest of the freaks came back for the boy he wouldn't be able to take a piss without Vernon Dursley's permission, far less perform magic. He'd show the bastards just who they were dealing with, dropping a kid off on his doorstep in the middle of the night.

He was studying his calendar to fit it all into his busy summer when his secretary knocked and entered. "There are some gentlemen here to see you sir!" The sarcasm was actually dripping off her use of the word 'sir'. Vernon's mind was working on ways to repay her for that when he noticed who the gentlemen were.

The first two 'gentlemen' flashed Vernon their credentials as CID officers (UK Police - Criminal Investigation Department) while the other two were uniformed policemen who looked ready for anything.

"How can I help you gentlemen?" Vernon asked in his most official voice.

"Well you could start by telling us what you did with the kid's body?"

Vernon hadn't caught the CID officers name but it didn't make any difference, he was rendered speechless anyway.

"Nothing to say? Ok Vernon Dursley you are under arrest for the suspected murder of the child in your care, namely one Harry James Potter. You do not have to say anything at this time but anything you do say will be noted and may be given in evidence. Do you understand these rights sir?"

Vernon could only nod, "Let the records show that the accused nodded his understanding. Sergeant, the cuffs please."

The two uniformed officers were on Vernon before he could think, never mind move, and his arms were handcuffed painfully behind his back before being escorted out the building with the entire staff rubbernecking. The CID officer informed Vernon's secretary that the office was now a potential crime scene with no one being allowed inside until forensics said they were finished.

Vernon's knees almost gave way as he remembered his journal was locked in a special drawer built-in to his desk. This book documented all his beatings of the little shit, as well as his secretarial conquests and the methods he used. He didn't think it would take the forensic team more than two minutes to find it. That would be about as long as his defence would last if he spouted that the brat was magical, Vernon Dursley was well and truly screwed.

-oOoOo-

Harry awoke in his gigantic bed to the aroma of his awaiting breakfast and the sight of his brand new clothes all laid out for him. The potions that Cas had him drink also seemed to be helping as he was sleeping all night and now felt full of energy. Hedwig sang a good morning just as Cas appeared with his next dose of potion, Harry thought he could get used to this.

-oOoOo-

Harry's fat cousin on the other hand didn't wake for the simple reason the boy was too scared to go to sleep. Dudley been brought into this place last night and immediately threw a tantrum because he didn't want to be here. The staff just totally ignored him but two older boys approached, Dudley was told to shut the hell up or they would kick his fat arse up and down the dorm.

At first he didn't believe them but a punch to his gut sharply changed his mind, he then started crying but a kick in the butt cured that as well. He lay in his bed too frightened to even move to the toilet, resulting in another few slaps for stinking the place out.

A member of staff eventually approached him and escorted the shaking boy to the bathroom. Unfortunately, they didn't exactly stock clothes in Dudley's size. All they could come up with was a pair of greying y-fronts, an old set of painters' dungarees and a massive sweat shirt. Dudley had to roll the legs and sleeves up until his home at Privet Drive was no longer a crime scene and they could fetch some of his own clothes.

Breakfast was over by the time he made it down to the canteen area. The famished boy was handed a piece of toast, which he ate while trying to ignore the sniggering and sniping about his clothes and rather large size. Dudley didn't think he could last too long in this place.

-oOoOo-

Harry loved spending time with his grandparents, he was learning so much but it didn't feel like school lessons. This morning he learned he could make a pencil float before moving up to floating a book, his grandfather was delighted but his grandmother appeared upset with the way he was learning magic.

"Jonathon you won't be happy until you've got Harry performing stunners, I don't want you pushing him too hard."

"Martha the boy's a powerful wizard with a natural feel for his magic, I just wish I could get him up on a broom."

"Jonathon Potter, you will not have my grandson up on a broom until there's someone here who can supervise him."

Harry couldn't help but interrupt, his excitement got the better of him. "You mean it's actually possible to fly on a broom? I thought that was just in stories."

"No Harry, flying on brooms is real. Your father was a born flier and I'm sure you will be to."

Harry couldn't help but think things just kept getting better and better.

-oOoOo-

Jimmy Simpson couldn't see how things could get any worse, the Dursleys lawyer was in Chief Inspector Duncan Roberts office and the burley Welshman always called it as he saw it.

"Jimmy this piece of shit is going down for at least twenty, whether we find this poor kid's body or not. The sick bastard actually kept a journal of all the punishments he inflicted on the boy. The wife will also still be behind bars when we hit the new millennium and I'll have the bastard's sister as well for setting a bulldog on the lad for amusement. This is one sick family and we have it all documented for us."

Both men knew each other well enough to speak their minds freely in the confines of this office, knowing it wouldn't go any further. "What's the forensic looking like?"

"Cast iron Jimmy, there's loads of it and all authenticated in the bastards own hand writing. We've a belt with ingrained blood that must have cut the poor kid's back open and the day, date, time and description of every time it was done. I've never known a child to get to nine-year-old and not have his photograph taken. The walls were plastered with pictures of the other boy but we can't source one image of Harry. We're going through the school records but even there he always seemed to be missing when class photos were taken, the media and press are going to be all over this."

Jimmy knew he wasn't going to win this one, shit he didn't want to win this one. He was in total agreement with Duncan, the Dursleys were one sick family. His only bargaining chip was to offer both of them pleading guilty to the rest and testifying against the sister if they dropped the murder charge. Murder was hard to prove with no body and they'd still get twenty years for the other charges.

Duncan handed him an artist's drawing of a kid who looked like something out of a Dickensian workhouse, only the version without the singing and dancing. He looked dirty, underfed and the glasses held together with tape seemed too big for his face. Even this drawing screamed abuse to the lawyer so how was it possible for Harry to slip through the system designed specifically to prevent these occurrences?

The policeman was getting more and more wound up. "This is all we could come up with for Harry Potter, the boy wasn't registered with a doctor, dentist, health worker – nothing. He apparently just appeared on their doorstep as a baby with a note telling them his parents were dead and he was their responsibility. Story around the neighbourhood and school is that the boy's a troublemaker, bullshit!"

Duncan grabbed the drawing out of Jimmy's hand, "This is a boy who was crying out for help and we all failed him. I promise you this though Jimmy the bastards that did this to him are going down, they're going down hard!"

Jimmy wisely decided not to mention any deals, when that image hit the media nothing was going to save the Dursleys. He thanked his friend and left to tell his clients the good news.

-oOoOo-

The young boy laughing as he received a push on the swing bore little resemblance to the drawing that would break in the media later today. He looked happy, healthy and spotlessly clean. His new clothes and glasses completed his transformation into just another nine-year-old having fun in the park with a relative. Even his baseball cap was common attire so no one gave them a second look. Harry was enjoying himself but he kept getting the same feeling he'd first felt yesterday, right before meeting Luna. Since that was still his favourite thing ever, Cas was soon being dragged where this feeling was leading.

Their destination proved to be a large tree with a small bushy-haired girl sitting under it, reading a book in the shade the oak provided.

Harry just looked at her and smiled. "Hi I'm Harry, are you here alone?"

Hermione glanced up at this boy with raven hair, green eyes and wearing a smile that was too big for his face. She found she just had to smile back. "Hello Harry, my name's Hermione and my mum and dad just work across the road. There's my mum waving at the window." Hermione waved back, letting her mum know everything was ok.

"Why aren't you having a go on the swings? They're brilliant!"

Hermione's mood darkened. "The other kids call me names and push me off them, so I sit here where my mum can keep an eye on me from the surgery."

Harry sat down beside Hermione, reaching over to take her hand. Luna had done this with him and it felt so much better. "The same thing used to always happen to me at my old place, which is why we came here. Do you want to come and have a shot with me? Cas will be with us."

Hermione was confused, the only time anyone was ever nice to her was when they wanted help with their homework. When Harry took her hand she felt a tingly feeling go right up her arm and she just knew he was sincere. Hermione glanced at the woman with him to see her staring at Harry with love in her eyes as he offered an explanation for their relationship.

"Cas looks after me now, my mum and dad died when I was only one and I was sent to live with my aunt. That didn't work out and now I stay at my grandparents who Cas works for. Do you want to give the swings a try Hermione?"

Hermione nodded and Harry helped her up as they headed off in the direction of the swings, still hand in hand. Harry had made his first friend yesterday and thought this is what friends' did, and anyway it felt nice.

Cas took care of Hermione's book as both kids were laughing while trying to see who could swing the highest. Some of the other kids looked over but didn't say anything with an adult present.

Both Harry and Hermione had a great time chasing each other all over the climbing frame before she noticed the time. "Harry I have to be getting back, mum and dad will be finishing work soon."

Harry took her hand again as they walked back to the Granger dental surgery. He noticed that he always offered Hermione his left hand, it was as if the right one belonged to Luna.

"Will I see you again tomorrow?" Hermione asked nervously.

"I'm meeting my other friend tomorrow, she goes with her dad every second day but we can meet the day after if you like?"

It was a hesitant Hermione who asked a question she didn't know if she wanted answered. "Am I your friend Harry?"

"If you want to be, I'd like you to be."

Hermione was now wearing a smile to match Harry's as she squeezed his hand before saying goodbye and carefully crossing the road. It was only after Hermione had entered her parent's surgery that Harry noticed the couple watching him out the window.

As soon as Hermione was buckled into the back seat of the car, her mother's inquisition began. "What's your friend's name?"

"Harry, Harry Evans."

"Was that his mother with him?"

"No, his parents are both dead. He lives with his grandparents who employ Cas to look after him."

"Has he moved into the area?"

"I don't know, he was bullied at his last place. He stayed with his aunt and didn't talk much about it but it seemed quite bad."

"Are you meeting him again?"

"Yes, he's seeing another friend Luna tomorrow then me the day after."

Dan Granger was never one to resist a joke. "Wow, two girlfriends already, your friend Harry sure is a quick worker."

Hermione let out a whine that is specifically reserved for young daughters being embarrassed by their parents. "DAD! He was nine yesterday so I hardly think so. I wish he did stay nearby though, then I would have someone to talk to in school."

Both parents were aware Hermione struggled to make friends, which was why this Harry was such a surprise. When she saw her daughter walk away hand in hand with the boy, first chance she got Emma had gone over to the park to check on them. The sight that greeted her of both kids laughing and playing tugged at her heartstrings. Emma was almost in tears by the time she made it back to the surgery because her lonely daughter looked to have found a friend.

"He also told me his house has a rather large library."

"Well that settles it Emma, we better see the Vicar this weekend to post the banns and book the church. Have you seen a wedding dress you like yet poppet?"

Hermione burst into tears. "I make a friend and you make jokes about it, well go ahead see if I care. I wish I had grandparents to go to."

Out the side of his eyes Dan saw his wife pass tissues back to their crying daughter and knew he was going to get his head chewed off the minute they got home. Even the thought of his wife's temper though couldn't make him feel any worse than the fact that he'd caused his daughter to cry. Years ago Dan had went out and bought every parenting manual he could get his hands on but soon found that they nearly all contradicted each other so he'd decided just to 'wing it'. How hard could it be?

The result was he now found himself growing further and further away from his nearly ten-year-old girl who he loved more than life itself, and his increasingly desperate attempts to connect on some level nearly always ended in tears. He really should have expected this since he didn't have a bloody clue about women. Emma had actually asked him to marry her, so what chance then was he ever going to have understanding girls.

-oOoOo-

Luna was also experiencing parental problems. She'd casually asked her mother if she could accompany her new friend into muggle London, instead of having to stay in the Alley like her dad had said. Her mother's eyebrows shot up and her gaze focused intently on her only daughter as Luna underwent an interrogation in much the same fashion as Hermione. Unlike the girl in the back of the car though, there were no tears as Luna was delighted her mother seemed so interested in her new friend. She once again found herself being left confused by an adult. Her mother's parting comment of 'I'll be seeing your father when he gets home' left Luna wondering if her mother had originally planed to wear a blindfold for the rest of the day.

Normally something like that would have vexed her for hours, as she struggled to understand the hidden meaning behind the words, but not today. She was sitting in the garden with her drawing book, concentrating on creating a picture of Harry. When that was done she drew herself standing beside her friend, holding hands of course. Looking at her drawing, it felt incomplete. Luna started drawing a figure to Harry's left, her brown crayon gave the now obviously female figure long curly hair as she held Harry's left hand. She was singing to herself as she finished the drawing and identified the figures. Luna and Harry were joined by 'Her' which she knew wasn't quite right but all she had at the moment.

As a drawing, it was no better or worse than millions of its contemporary's pinned on walls or stuck on fridges by proud parents the world over. As an object, it could have found its way into the hall of prophecies.

Luna was finally satisfied with her work and was heading inside to show it to her mother when daddy arrived home. Her mum was very angry for some reason that Luna was unsure of, but she knew it involved her.

Xeno had barely stepped out the floo when he discovered he was in trouble, if the tone of his wife's voice wasn't enough then using his full name was a dead giveaway.

"Xenophilius Lovegood, what in Merlin's name were you thinking? Letting our eight-year-old daughter go off with someone you didn't even know, far less see."

Xeno could only stare at his wife and think that her flushed cheeks and the fire that was clearly visible in Maia's burning blue eyes made her even more beautiful. Every day he woke up beside this witch he asked himself how he got so lucky.

"Xeno I'm waiting on an explanation."

"Maia, our daughter has an excellent sense of responsibility. Luna said she was going shopping with her friend Harry so I told her to remain in the Alley. She and her friend couldn't come to any harm there. You know she would do what she was told and not leave the Alley."

Maia could only stare at her husband in disbelief. "Were you aware that she'd met 'her friend Harry' less than two minutes before she asked your permission?"

The Knut had finally dropped as to why he was in trouble. "No I didn't, you know I'm not great with things like that and can't remember all her friend's names."

Maia was exasperated. "How difficult is it to remember Ginny Weasley, she's the only witch for miles around that's Luna's age."

Luna decided it was time she entered this conversation. "Ginny still has three brothers not yet at Hogwarts so I barely see her, Harry is my best friend and I want to go into muggle London with him tomorrow. Cas would look after us."

"Who's Cas?" Xeno asked.

"Cas is his elf, she's very nice and bought us ice cream. She nearly cried when Harry said he'd never had a card for his birthday. I was going to make him one but did a drawing for him instead."

This statement had alarm bells ringing for the Lovegood parents. Luna had told Maia that Harry was nine so how could he never have had a birthday card? Xeno was coming at it from another angle. A house elf signified wealthy pureblood but what would they be doing going into muggle London?

Xeno knelt down so his eyes were level with his daughters, "Listen petal, how about tomorrow I meet your friend Harry and make a decision then? I promise you can still go to the Alley with him and I'll even give you money so you can buy the ice cream this time."

Luna's whole face lit up filling the entire room with warmth. "Thanks dad, I love you," She flung her arms around his neck. Luna was confident that she was going to be allowed to go because nobody could meet Harry and not like him, it just wasn't possible to do so.

Maia watched her daughter and husband embrace with a smile on her face but was still uneasy about this. Something just didn't ring true and Maia was a witch who trusted her instincts. She was happy enough that her husband could check this Harry out but was planning on popping by Xeno's office later to meet him when the kids returned. She wouldn't be totally happy until she'd got a look at this boy for herself.

-oOoOo-

The boy in question was currently establishing a routine that was so far removed from his former life that it felt like a different universe. He was again describing to his grandparents what a brilliant day he'd had and all about his new friend. Cas had his bath and supper waiting on him. Harry still refused to wear the new pyjamas she'd bought for him, nothing would part the boy from the pair that used to belong to his dad.

-oOoOo-

Dudley's life was also taking on an element of routine, as soon as the orphanage staff's backs were turned he found himself once again the victim of kicks and punches. The news reports had alerted everyone to why he was in here. As the son of child abusers, who was not himself ever hit, the rest of the kids had had taken it as their mission in life to show the bawling blimp just what he'd been missing.

Dudley couldn't believe that people would actually beat him up because of who his parents were, that just wasn't fair.

-oOoOo-

Rita Skeeter was sitting in a muggle pub nursing a gin and tonic. Her reputation for writing scandal had gotten so bad that all conversation stopped when she walked into a magical bar. She needed a big story to break out of the gossip column and on to the front page where she was supposed to be. A name mentioned on the muggle telly dropped the biggest story ever right into her now seriously shaking hands.

The newsreader's use of the name 'Harry Potter' had immediately focused her attention on the box attached to the wall. 'The nine-year-old boy had been systematically and brutally tortured by his relatives for years and the police are currently digging up the Dursley's back garden as part of the search for the child's body'.

The picture that they displayed in the box achieved a reaction from even Rita's heart of stone. She could only imagine what it would do to the majority of the wizarding world, seeing this image of their hero. The reporter sat there as if frozen in place but her mind was ablaze with the implications of what this would mean to the wizarding world and her career. If she were the one to break the story, there were no limits as to where it could take her career. This wasn't a juicy titbit of overheard conversation though, this had to be right or she would be found hanging by her neck outside the Prophet offices.

Rita was quite well acquainted with the muggle media machine and understood that anything that made it onto the box as news would also appear in their printed media. She downed her drink and made a beeline for the nearest newsstand to buy every paper she could get hold off that carried the Potter article.

Back in her flat with the various publications spread around her, Rita was positive this child was the-boy-who-lived. That brought up the biggest dilemma of her life. She could easily race with this to the Prophet and get her front page story in tomorrow's edition, but there was another part of this story that Rita wanted badly.

The muggles had no idea who this child was but Rita did. The reaction of the magical world to Harry Potter being left on the doorstep of muggles, who later ended up beating him to death, would be righteous outrage. Outrage that would demand a target for venting, Rita wanted to provide them with one. By discovering who left the baby there, and then apparently never checked to see if he was being cared for, should do quite nicely.

The industry that had sprung up around a fictional account of Harry Potter all had him living the pampered life of the conquering hero. This was going to blow their world and business to smithereens. The person responsible for this monumental mistake would be fortunate to escape with their life.

It was an extremely risky ploy as someone else could break the story. Against this, she would then have the information that nobody else had, and before the people involved had a chance to destroy it. Rita was heading toward the ministry, aiming to use her special talent and snoop around every record pertaining to Harry Potter she could get her mitts on.

If the story hadn't broken before she had the name, then Rita was sure the Prophet would run a special edition with her headlining it. Merlin they probably wouldn't run anything else for the next few weeks.

-oOoOo-

Arabella Figg awoke in alien surroundings and only the soothing voice of a young woman next to her saved the squib from totally panicking, "It's alright Mrs Figg, you're in hospital. An ambulance brought you here after you collapsed in the street. You hit your head and I'm afraid we're going to have to keep you here for a few days yet for observation as there's quite a swelling."

Arabella now recognised the young woman was wearing a nurse's uniform as the events that brought her here came back into focus.

She had completely missed the arrests but the next morning noticed all the people gathering outside the Dursley's house, she hastily approached to try and find out what was going on. Arabella couldn't understand why the people entering number four were clad totally in white with even their mouths covered. What really got her attention though was that a few of them were carrying spades.

"Any idea what's going on?" she asked the woman who was now standing next to her.

"They think that Dursley buried the boy in the back garden so they're digging it up looking for the body. That poor little Harry, and on his ninth birthday too!"

Arabella remembered no more as she'd collapsed on the spot. She now lay in her hospital bed with tears running down her cheeks while whispering to herself.

"Albus, you stupid old bastard. I warned you, I warned you, I warned you..."

A/N thanks for reading.

Edited and reposted 2nd May 2011