Harry Potter and the Darkest Vindications
Part I: The Dark Beginnings
Chapter 1: Professor McGonagall
It was storming outside, and the young boy lying upon the floor of the small, run-down house listened to the waves of the sea beat against the rocks outside. Harry Potter was cold. Covered only in a dirty old sheet, he shivered where he was lying. He was positioned upon the floor in front of the couch that his fat cousin, Dudley, occupied. Dudley was asleep, comfortable and warm beneath layers of clean and fluffy blankets. Harry longed to steal one, but the fallout wouldn't be worth the effort.
Harry Potter was a peculiar boy. He'd never known his parents because they'd died in a car crash when he was little more than a baby. Now, a short lifetime later, Harry was a skinny, shabby boy. His jet black hair was untameable; it looked like a frozen cloud of dark smoke upon his head, long tendrils reaching out in every direction. Perfectly circular glasses, broken the middle and held together with grimy tape that was still sticky sat perched on his nose. Upon his forehead, beneath the veil of unruly hair, was a most curiously shaped scar. It looked like a lightning bolt. Harry'd been told that he got it in the car crash that killed his parents. It was the only physical thing connecting him to them that he had left.
Today was Harry's birthday, but, like all of his previous birthdays, it was not an event to be celebrated. Harry lived with his aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley. They were his legal guardians and his prison wardens.
Despite the fact that they were meant to essentially serve the role of parents, they'd never treated Harry as their own son. They'd treated him as a nuisance in their lives, forcing him to sleep in a cupboard under the staircase of their home. They constantly humiliated him, and assigned him the countless chores that Aunt Petunia found too disgusting and degrading to do herself: scrubbing the grout between tiles, cleaning the toilet floor whenever Dudley's aim was off, clearing the septic when it decided to climb up the drains.
This was the only life that Harry had ever known. It was a sad life. Harry had no friends at school because Dudley was constantly telling the other children about his cousin, the freak. Sometimes it made Harry angry, and when Harry was angry, strange things tended to happen… Inexplicable things. Things for which no reasonable person could possibly hold Harry accountable. Yet, whenever such things occurred, Harry was always blamed.
The letters were a perfect example of such abnormalities. About a week ago, Harry had received a letter in the mail, but he'd never been able to open it. Upon seeing it, Uncle Vernon had promptly snatched it away, tossed it in the fire, and locked Harry in his cupboard for a day without food. Then, three letters, identical to the first, had arrived on a Sunday morning tied to the leg of a tawny owl. Uncle Vernon had flushed crimson at the sight of the owl, battered it away with a shoe, and locked Harry in the cupboard for another few days.
Then, last Sunday, letters had poured into the Dursley's home like a torrent a of liquid paper; spilling down the chimney shaft and flooding the den; leaking through the window sills; flooding beneath the doors. It was the most exhilarating thing that Harry had ever experienced, but it had positively terrified the Dursleys. After that episode, the Dursleys made plans to escape the "persecution." Uncle Vernon brought them to this cottage, on an island in the middle of the sea, muttering about how they "wouldn't ever be found here."
Harry didn't understand it. The letters were his, but his aunt and uncle were determined to keep them from him. He didn't know why. He supposed it was just another way for them to assert their superiority over him, but he knew there had to be more to it than that. The nature of the letters arrival was extraordinary. It was as if they had been produced by magic. Harry thought that the Dursleys must know something about the letters that he did not. Something that frightened them enough to spur the comfort of their home and flee to this dirty, run-down shack on some battered rock in the middle of a roiling sea.
The stone floor was covered in dirt. Harry's eyes had become accustomed to the dark many hours ago. He could see quite clearly as he carefully drew a birthday cake in the dirt, topping it off with eleven candles.
"Happy birthday, Harry," he said to himself.
In that instant, a clap of thunder sounded like a gunshot. Another explosion of thunder followed immediately after the first. Harry thought this odd because he'd never heard thunder boom twice in a row. Then the rush of cold air caught his attention. He looked up toward the door of the cottage to see the silhouette of a cloaked woman enter, carrying what appeared to be an electric torch. It was only then that Harry realized with alarm that the woman had blown the cottage door off of its hinges. It was lying on the floor before her feet.
Harry bolted up, disturbing Dudley's deep slumber. The woman stepped further into the cottage and aimed her torch at the door. The door lifted itself off of the ground and placed itself back in the threshold. There was a click as the hinges twisted themselves back into place.
By this time, Dudley was nearly done rubbing the sleep from his eyes with his pudgy hands. When he was finished, he took one look at the woman and shrieked in terror.
Harry heard commotion from the bedroom upstairs as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon both jumped out of bed. They were downstairs in the next moment. Uncle Vernon was carrying what appeared to be an old shotgun. He gasped when he saw the woman, and even in the darkness Harry could see his cheeks flush with anger.
Uncle Vernon cocked the gun and aimed it right at the woman's chest.
"Now, see here!" cried Uncle Vernon. "I'll not have this! Don't think I don't know what you are! I demand that you leave at once, madam! You are breaking and entering. I shall phone the police!"
"Please, Mr. Dursley, save your threats for someone who will be intimidated by them," replied the woman tartly. She aimed her torch at the fireplace next to Harry and gave it a flick. A roaring fire sprang to life, providing more light to the room than the torch did, so the woman switched it off with another flick. When its light was extinguished, she disposed of it it somewhere in the pockets of her robes.
"Oi!" Uncle Vernon roared. "You've no business here! I demand-"
"Mr. Dursley, Professor Dumbledore would like me to remind you and your wife that you were instructed to treat Harry Potter as your own child. I've seen with my own eyes that you have failed to do so. Now, you will lower that primitive weapon or I shall take it from you."
Uncle Vernon blanched and lowered the gun reluctantly. Aunt Petunia looked as though she might faint.
"That bloody cat!" Uncle Vernon exploded suddenly.
"Indeed," said the woman, as if she understood what he meant.
She then turned her attention to Harry. He unconsciously back stepped.
Without warning, she started toward Harry. Dudley squealed in horror, leapt over the back of the couch he'd been sleeping on, and ran to join his parents at the foot of the stairs. Aunt Petunia wrapped her stick-like arms about her bulbous son, attempting to hug him close.
Harry turned his attention back to the woman. She smiled warmly as she came into the light of the fire. He could see her clearly for the first time. She was dressed in all black robes, and she wore what looked like a Halloween witch's hat. Her stern face was lined with the wrinkles of old age. Under her hat, her black and gray hair was pulled back into a tight bun. She smiled at Harry and took a seat on the couch that Dudley had just vacated.
From her robes, she produced an envelope and extended it toward Harry.
Reluctantly, Harry grabbed the envelope, examining the address and the seal. It looked like the seal of an ancient royal house. The text read:
To Mr. Harry James Potter
Number 4, Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey
"Go ahead, Mr. Potter, open it," said the woman.
Uncle Vernon made a kind of choking noise in his throat. The woman turned and fixed him with a look. He scowled as his face turned sickly puce.
Harry took a closer look at the seal before breaking it. It was exactly the same as the seal on first letter he'd been sent, the one that Uncle Vernon had tossed in the fire. With a rush of giddy anticipation, Harry broke the seal and opened the envelope. Finally, he'd discover what it is was the Dursleys had intended to hide from him. They couldn't stop him now.
Written in an elegant script was a message on a piece of parchment.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on the 1st of September.
Minerva M. McGonagall
Confused, Harry looked at the list of necessary supplies.
First year students will require:
1. Three sets of plain workrobes (black)
2. One plain pointed hat (black) for daywear
3. One pair of protective gloves (dragonhide or similar)
4. One winter cloak (black, silver fastenings)
All first year students should have a copy of each of the following:
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade One) by Miranda Goshawk
A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot
Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling
A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch
One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore
Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander
The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble
1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
1 set glass or crystal phials
1 set brass scales
Students may also bring an owl OR a cat OR a toad.
PARENTS ARE REMINDED THAT FIRST YEARS ARE NOT ALLOWED THEIR OWN BROOMSTICKS.
Harry lowered the letter and looked toward the woman. She was smiling like a mother whose child had just taken his first steps.
"I-I don't understand, ma'am," said Harry.
Her smile vanished and she nodded. "I suppose you wouldn't," she said. "Obviously, your aunt and uncle have managed to keep these letters from you. Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, sent me to deliver this letter personally. You are indeed a wizard, Mr. Potter, as you've no doubt been wondering. You have been accepted to Hogwarts. I've come to inform you of this. I am Professor Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts and head of the Transfiguration Department."
"I'm sorry, ma'am," said Harry. "But what is Hogwarts? I've never heard of it."
Professor McGonagall's eyebrows constricted. Her lips tightened to form a narrow line.
She turned to look at the Dursleys.
"You mean to say you've not told this boy of his heritage?"
"Now, see here, woman!" snapped Uncle Vernon, starting forward.
McGonagall stood and Uncle Vernon halted. He straightened up and scowled indignantly.
"We swore to protect the boy when this Dumbledore left him on our doorstep! Well, I'll not have any of this magic mumbo jumbo! It's abnormal, I say! He won't be going to this school of yours, no sir!"
"Are you daft, Mr. Dursley? Not allow the son of Lily and James Potter to attend Hogwarts? And you haven't even told him about what he is? This is quite insulting. I can hardly believe it! After what happened to Lily and James I would've thought-"
"That is quite enough!" huffed Aunt Petunia. "My sister stuck her nose into one too many things that she should've stayed away from. I knew it'd be the end of her someday. Oh, but my parents were so proud to have a witch in the family. I was the only one who saw her for what she was: a freak! Oh, but such a noble freak, wasn't she? Silly fool with that silly husband. She rowed with the biggest freak of them all and just look at what happened! She got herself blown up, and if you think-"
"Blown up?" cried Harry. "You said my parents died in a car crash!"
"A car crash?" said Professor McGonagall incredulously. "A car crash? A mere Muggle-grade lapse of control? You say that a car crash killed Lily and James Potter? That is perfectly...outrageous! I can hardly believe the lies you've told this poor boy. When I first began watching you on my own, I knew…. You truly are the most wretched Muggles imaginable. The way you've treated this boy is despicable. I have half a mind to hex all three of you! Look at what you've done to your own son! Spoiled him rotten! Malnutrition! He is quite overweight. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves."
"Excuse me," Harry interjected.
Professor McGonagall turned to face him with a considerably friendlier look, though her eyes still burned with her intense anger at the Dursleys. Harry thought her a bit imposing.
"Yes, Mr. Potter?" she asked.
"Well, you called them Muggles. Er… what are Muggles?"
"Oh, yes, of course you wouldn't know. 'Muggle' is a term that we use to describe people who can not use magic."
"But, you must be mistaken, ma'am. I can't use magic. I'm just…."
"No, you can most certainly use magic, Mr. Potter. We do not make mistakes. You are a wizard."
"But I can't be a wizard. I'm… just Harry."
"Tell me, Mr. Potter, have you ever caused things to happen? Thing that you could not explain? Things that appeared to have no reasonable explanation at all? Perhaps the occurred during times when you were angry or frightened."
"Well…." Harry trailed off, thinking. Mysterious things had happened before when he was angry or when he felt humiliated. Once Aunt Petunia had insisted on cutting his untamable hair. She'd shaved it all down to the scalp, but left a row of untrimmed bangs in order to hide the lightning bolt scar on Harry's forehead. Harry had been so humiliated and so afraid of going to school the next day. He'd cried himself to sleep at the thought of the ridicule he'd face because of how he looked. Other children had made fun of him before because of the clothes he wore, and those snide remarks always made him angry and sad. He remembered being so afraid of what they'd say when they saw his hair. Miraculously, the next morning it'd all grown back. He'd earned a week confined to his cupboard as punishment.
"Yes," said Harry. "Strange things have happened before."
"Those are signs of magic, Mr. Potter. You see, a witch or wizard often begins to display signs of magic at a young age, though they have no control over such things. At the age of eleven, as wizard is ready to be properly schooled in magic. Since you are now eleven, you are invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Should you choose to accept-"
"I think we've made it very clear he will not be going!" Uncle Vernon interrupted.
"Under normal circumstances, Mr. Dursley, you would be able to deny permission to Mr. Potter," said McGonagall, her voice straining to retain some semblance of politeness. "However, should Mr. Potter choose to accept, I will see to it that he attends. Should you attempt to stop him, you will live the rest of your days as a pig. In case you aren't sure, that is a threat.
"Harry Potter will attend Hogwarts. Are we clear on this matter?"
Uncle Vernon grumbled something unintelligible.
"Are we clear on this matter, Mr. Dursley?" Professor McGonagall repeated.
"Yes," muttered Uncle Vernon, grinding his teeth.
"Very well. Mr. Potter, do you wish to attend Hogwarts School? Term commences on September the 1st and ends in early June. You will board there for the entire school year, but you may return home on holidays."
Harry considered this for a moment. An entire school year away from the Dursleys was a tempting idea. However, he wasn't quite sure he believed Professor McGonagall. It wasn't every day that one was told that they are a wizard.
"Professor… Magic… I don't understand. Can you show me?" he asked.
"Ah," said McGonagall knowingly. "Yes. I assumed you might ask for a bit of proof. Very well. Remember Harry, it is strictly illegal to use magic in the presence of Muggles. The Ministry of Magic grants very rare exceptions. In this sort of circumstance, for example, it is acceptable. Your aunt is the sister of a witch and she is very familiar with magic." Aunt Petunia grunted. "Observe."
Professor McGonagall produced what looked like a stick from a pocket in her robes. Harry realized that it was what he'd originally thought was an electric torch. She aimed the stick at Dudley's discarded pillow, which sat opposite her on the couch, and gave it a casual flick.
The pillow twisted itself rather violently into a cat, which then meowed.
Harry jumped at the sight. Aunt Petunia let out a little squeak. Uncle Vernon shouted an obscenity. Dudley hid his face in his mother's nightgown. Professor McGonagall closed her eyes for a moment, took a deep breath, and then waved the stick again.
The cat became a pillow once again.
"Wow," said Harry before he could help himself.
"I trust that is proof enough for you, Mr. Potter?"
"Yes, ma'am," said Harry.
"Very good. Do you choose to accept your invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?"
Harry took one look at the Dursleys and made his decision.
"Yes, ma'am," he said. "I accept."
"Wonderful, Mr. Potter," said Professor McGonagall. "Well, we best be off then."
"Now?" asked Harry with surprise.
"Oh, yes. It is close to dawn. We shall go to get the necessary supplies. I'll be able to rest easier knowing you already have them. Then, all these Muggles will have to do is get you to where you need to go. Even with their obvious lack of intelligence, I trust they can do that."
Uncle Vernon muttered something angrily under his breath, but Professor McGonagall ignored him.
"Well, come now, Harry."
"But how are we going to get off the island?"
"I'll be taking you to Diagon Alley through the use of Side-Along Apparition."
"Come, Mr. Potter. It is more magic. I'll show you."
Professor McGonagall stood and started off toward the door. Harry stumbled to follow and gave the Dursleys a parting look. Aunt Petunia deliberately looked away and Uncle Vernon scowled. Harry smiled as he exited the cottage.