Author's Note: Hey guys! :) Here's the new story that I had told you all about after completing "How to Love" about two and half months ago. So it's about time I post this, haha. Right below this Author's Note is a paragraph titled "Info". Surprisingly enough, it gives you info about the story that you might want to know so you're not hella confused, but there will certainly be some confusion anyways (Harry's POV at first may throw some of you off, put please bear with me) and I apologize for that in advance. Please enjoy :)
Info: AU, timeline is pre-OotP. Harry didn't know about magic until the beginning of this story. Hermione and Ron are not friends. Only Dumbledore believed that Voldemort was slowly returning, so the Order has not formed until just now. Moody was really Moody in GoF, so none of that Barty Crouch Junior subplot crap. Wormtail was never Ron's pet, Scabbers (he was just in hiding, until now). Harry doesn't know about magic, wizards, etc. because according to wizarding law, all witches and wizards needed permission from their parents/guardians in their household (so Sirius's permission would not be legitimate) to go to a wizarding school. Obviously the Dursleys did not ever give their permission when his first Hogwarts letter came, and they've hidden everything from him.
Welcome to Hogwarts
Chapter One: Your Parents Didn't Die in a Car Crash
Privet Drive was darkened by an average night that had followed an average day. The close-knit houses only had a few lights on as their occupants prepared to go to bed, only to wake up to an identical, average morning many hours later as the sun rose and overcame the moon, which was then to be a part of a different night for twelve hours.
Only pavement and empty streets were lit up by street lights, their lack of the usual bustle of competitive, well-dressed people cast an eerie sight, and so nobody in their homes looked outside; and besides, there were no other neighbors to spy on out there.
Yet Dudley Dursley found himself looking out the window, feeling very distant from his parents, who paid no attention to the outside of their home.
He could have sworn that he saw Harry disappear from directly across the house just a couple of hours ago. It had been a very odd sight…
Dudley was just returning from a friend's house and looked outside the window, happy that he had beat Harry home. This meant, of course, that his cousin was to be punished for returning home later than him. It wasn't like they were doing anything different…Harry had his own gang tailing him.
But then something had caught his eye. There was a man walking down the street, if he could even be called a man…it looked more like a rat than anything else. He had dropped his old, battered hat the moment Harry turned around the corner, looking anxious to get home as quickly as possible, his friends out of eyesight but surely not too far behind. The man said a few words to Harry, pointing to his hat, probably asking him to pick it up for him. Harry bent down towards the hat, but what was odd was that at the last minute the old man bent down towards it, too.
And then they were gone. It was like the hat had somehow moved them elsewhere....
To Privet Drive, it was as though the encounter had never happened. Nobody else seemed to notice…or if they had, they'd consider it a hallucination and take some aspirin, making it all a joke to tell their family over the dinner table.
It wasn't that Dudley actually cared about what happened to Harry…in fact, the household was better off without him, even if he wasn't home half the time because of constant detentions. Dudley just couldn't explain something like a disappearance into thin air, and it bothered him. He was unable to peel his gaze away from the window.
And then, just as he was about to call it a day and relish the fact that his cousin might be gone for good, Harry reappeared.
At first, all Harry could see were green jets of light shooting at him, just barely missing him and sparing him his life, and then it was all gone the moment he grabbed that old battered hat that had brought him there in the first place.
There was a sharp tug around his navel, as though force greater than him or even Voldemort was pulling him through the air. He didn't dare to let go of that hat, no matter how nauseous and exhausted he felt…and just as quickly as it had happened, Harry had returned back to earth, falling to the ground and slowly recovering, not even feeling the pain because what he had endured from where he'd just escaped was far worse.
The sight before him was too good to be true, and he carefully scanned his surroundings to make sure that this wasn't a trick. There were streetlamps and houses, and no signs of a graveyard. It was a twin of Privet Drive. Was it Privet Drive? Was he really here? If he was, he'd never been so happy to be here in his life.
He'd never known about magic hours before, but there he was, a fugitive from a godawful graveyard where the most evil creature he'd ever encountered -- he'd called himself Lord Voldemort -- had displayed all sorts of Dark magic on Harry. He hadn't known that wands existed, or that they could conjure such horrible magic, or that they could lift things, tie things up, inflict pain... He hadn't known about Lord Voldemort, or Death Eaters, or anything beyond his own little world living amongst what they called "Muggles". He hadn't known that a completely different world lingered behind him, that they knew his name, that people like Voldemort wanted him dead...
But it all existed. It had been around the entire time. While he was stuck at Privet Drive, all of this magic existed. After seeing so much magic happen before his eyes and being forced to endure pain whenb Voldemort said "Crucio!" multiple times, Harry did not doubt its existence. He wished it didn't exist, but it did. It was all there.
It was real.
He dropped the old battered hat, afraid that it would make him return to the place he now feared the most. How that bloody thing had transported him to that bloody graveyard was completely beyond him...it was magic, something that Voldemort was very keen on displaying to Harry. Dark, dark magic.
The hat fell to the ground slowly when he let go of it, as though it was regretting being further and further away from him, eager to transport him back to hell.
He closed his eyes and put his hands to his forehead, which felt as though it were on fire. Did it split open yet from the pain? Harry had encountered his scar hurting in the past without any sort of explanation. Until now.
Who was that? There was another voice speaking to him. It sounded familiar. Somehow. There was a form walking towards him angrily: the gait of Uncle Vernon.
There it went again. His uncle was repeating himself. Or maybe he was imagining it. He kind of wished he was imagining it. He wished he imagined everything, that it had never happened in the first place. He wished he imagined magic.
Harry stood there stupidly, not sure of what to do or say anymore, as the form was prowling towards him. He didn't feel threatened, for once. Nothing Uncle Vernon could do would affect him after Harry had been trapped in a graveyard with Voldemort.
Then, with incredible speed, his Uncle picked up his pace and grabbed Harry's arm.
He didn't like being touched.
He kicked. He screamed. He resisted as much as he could. To get his uncle away from him. Didn't he understand?
Then again, he didn't know what happened in the graveyard. He couldn't possibly know what he had just survived….
No matter how much he was resisting, he was still being pulled somewhere. There were other voices now, too. Aunt Petunia and Dudley, to complete the trio of the people he hated the most, next to Voldemort.
Uncle Vernon kept pulling him across the street, muttering curse words paired with things like, "Shut up!", and "Stop it!", the very favorite parts of his vocabulary aimed at Harry.
He whipped the door opened and there was suddenly light everywhere. Harry's eyes slowly adjusted gratefully to the light.
No more darkness. No more graveyard.
Yes, this was home. He was back. He was a survivor from Voldemort's wrath. Flashes of memories whirled inside his mind but he remained standing (although just barely). Moments ago, facing the most evil wizard -- there were wizards, magic was real! -- he thought that he would never live to see Number Four, Privet Drive again. He thought he wouldn't take in another breath, but he escaped. He made it. Harry survived the unspeakable scene at the graveyard and lived to tell the tale... although he wasn't sure he wanted to tell it to anyone any time soon... any spectator of what had happened would probably faint, or puke, or die of shock.
They were all the foyer, incredibly clean and neat as he had left it, as though nothing had ever happened. Harry wished he could imitate that attitude.
But there was a stranger standing there, whom the Dursleys were keeping a distance from. He was the strangest-looking person Harry had seen, wearing odd robes and an outlandish hat, but nothing could genuinely surprise him now after the graveyard. He could take anything after that hell.
"Hello, Harry," he said, in a deep, calm voice. "I'm Albus Dumbledore, and I'm here to help you."
. . . . .
Here she was again.
Maybe it was because in her first year, Draco Malfoy found out she was Muggle-born, so she hid in the girl's bathroom: the one place he couldn't get to her.
Maybe it was because so many people pointed out her buck teeth, so she ran into the nearest classroom so they wouldn't see the tears their shouts had conjured.
Maybe it was because last year, Cho Chang chased her – with her giggling group of friends, of course – out of the Great Hall with insults, so she found the nearest broom closet and stayed there for three hours.
Maybe it was because she waited until past midnight to go to sleep, so she wouldn't have to face the other girls in the dormitories.
But no matter what it was, Hermione found herself here…
Academics aside, hiding was the one thing Hermione was very good at. Unfortunately, there were no empty classrooms or broom closets to hide in at her house…so she had to settle with remaining as silent as possible in her room, hoping that her parents wouldn't come upstairs to remind her what day it was. Then again, the calendar on her wall seemed to be doing that job all on its own: every time she glared at it, it glared back, saying, Hogwarts in just three days! Welcome to hell!
Hermione had hoped she'd never hide from her parents, who were the two of the three people whom she actually felt comfortable with. They were respectable, wealthy, and overall great people, but when the last week of August rolled around, their spur-of-the-moment pep talks mutated into long speeches of building self confidence. Their concern for her social situation at school went overboard, and while a part of her appreciated it, she did not want to remind them of her presence in their house as they returned from a long day at the dentist's office.
She looked at her analog clock, perfect and pristine, like the rest of her house, and saw – with a mini heart attack – that it was a quarter past six: right when her parents usually got home. And as if on cue, she heard the door open and the familiar voices of her parents destroying the one thing she appreciated now more than ever: a silent house.
Hermione was finally able to breathe again when there was a lack of, "Hermione! Come downstairs!". She laid down and buried her face in her pillow, wishing she could use a Time Turner to return to the beginning of the summer, or even skip the school year and go straight to the following the summer.
She stared aimlessly at the calendar that was beckoning her to cry at how close the first day of school was, until her parents unfortunately recognized her absence.
"Hermione, you're missing dinner!" Jane Granger shouted from the story below. "We've got pasta…your favorite!"
Hermione slowly got up, hoping the slower she moved, the slower time would pass.
"Okay, I'm on my way," she shouted back to her waiting parents.
She washed her face to hide the tear marks streaking her cheeks before joining her parents and escaping from hiding.
Albus Dumbledore had seen many faces, but perhaps this was the most tragic he'd ever seen.
Harry's eyes didn't look even close to Lily Potter's…sure, they were green, but they didn't possess the bright green sparkle that Albus had remembered from many, many years ago. They were stretched to huge circles and had just seen things that nobody should ever see.
He was muttering things about Voldemort, and Albus's worst fears were confirmed: Voldemort had made a second attempt to kill Harry, but had miraculously failed. He wanted to know exactly what happened, but he knew even better that it was not the time or place to question Harry, who was continuing to mutter things, perhaps to himself or to Albus. Nobody was really sure.
He thought he would meet Harry perhaps, at the earliest, on his eighteenth birthday: that was when he was to be a legal adult in the Muggle world, and when Albus had all of the rights to knock on the door of Number Four, Privet Drive and introduce Harry to the wizarding world. It would be easy to convince him to go anywhere away from the place he'd been trapped during all of his rememberable life. He had never imagined that this would be the way he'd meet the Boy Who Lived…and how that nickname suited him so well now, after he'd escaped Voldemort's clutches for the second time in his life.
Albus had had surveillance on Number Four, Privet Drive. He had his own sources that were best not to be revealed to the Ministry of Magic. When it was reported that Harry was not in the house or anywhere even near it, Albus notified Minerva, and both of them led a search. He was nowhere to be found…until now, of course.
His sources around the house – namely Arabella Figg – reported the very moment Harry returned. He'd apparently appeared from thin air, holding a battered hat that must have been a portkey…this had struck the sources as very odd, since the boy knew nothing about magic, and nobody was allowed to inform him of magic: it was against the wizarding law and severe consequences were served to whomever rebelled, especially in the infamous case of Harry Potter.
Albus Apparated immediately to Number Four, not caring just how illegal it was: it was critical that he got to Harry before the Ministry. And there Harry was, being led into the house by the Dursleys, who had been desperately trying to usher him inside soundlessly, which did not succeed. Petunia shrieked when she'd spotted Albus, and Vernon made odd, incoherent noises of frustration and bewilderment at his appearance. At first, of course, the Dursleys wanted him away, but Albus raised his wand to them, which quieted the family immediately. Until now.
"The neighbors will overhear him!" Petunia Dursley said worriedly, looking across the foyer as though she could see through the walls to witness nosy neighbors.
"That should be the least of our problems," Albus said.
Meanwhile, Dudley Dursley was sitting in the middle of the hallway past the foyer, staring at the floor as though wishing it would suck him in. Albus found himself about to ask him what he had seen, but then Harry began shouting and his attention was repossessed.
"You! What are you – what are you doing here?" Harry screamed, pointing at Albus.
His round, bloodshot eyes were boring into Albus's calm, light blue ones. There was a ring of sweat around the collar of Harry's oversized t-shirt and he was breathing heavy, as though he had just ran five miles. There were all sorts of cuts and bruises that could have quickly been healed by magic, although Albus did not want to see Harry's reaction to magic just yet. There was a possibility that after seeing magic performed for the first time by Lord Voldemort, that he would be very sensitive around magic, even the harmless kind.
Harry seemed to not be aware of much around him. It was as though this was the first time he'd ever seen this house. Albus could only imagine what the boy – or, young man, rather – was remembering as his eyes scanned the room…maybe Harry was seeing a long, black cloak instead of the thin coats on the coat hanger…maybe he was seeing a mysterious dark figure rather than the front door…maybe he was mistaking a letter in the letterbox for a wand….
"I'm here to help you, Harry," he said with a smile – which was difficult, because just looking at Harry's expression would make anyone not want to smile again.
Petunia looked around the foyer again nervously, and said, "The neighbors!"
"Petunia, please," Albus insisted.
Harry was standing against the wall of the foyer and was looking around just as nervously as Petunia, although for completely different reasons: he wasn't worried about being noticed by nosy neighbors…he was worried about someone far, far worse.
"I can take you some place safe, Harry. Away from Voldemort. How does that sound?" he asked.
Harry now stared at Albus, looking more confused than scared. He had stopped shouting about Voldemort for a moment, much to Petunia's relief.
"How do you know him?" Harry asked, now walking towards him and still breathing heavily. "How do you know Voldemort?"
"That's a very complicated question," Albus said kindly. "Let's just say I'm not a big fan of him, either. I know how confused you must be, Harry…I can explain a lot to you, if you'd like. Like I said before, I know some place safe where you can stay. If your aunt and uncle allow it, of course."
This man knew Voldemort. Maybe he could help? Or maybe he couldn't…maybe it was all a trap. Just one big trap for Harry to fall into again. He was done trusting people after picking up that old, battered hat. His guard was up, standing tall against every piece of distrust he could possibly run in to. No. Intruders. Allowed.
Uncle Vernon was shouting at this man. Albus Dumbledore. Saying that he had no right to take Harry away, but Harry was barely paying attention because he had just remembered hearing this man Dumbledore's name before….
"It was very surprising for me to hear that you weren't aware of the wizarding world at all," Voldemort said with a cold smile. "I have to admit, I had expected differently. If you were introduced to magic and Hogwarts, maybe you'd be under Dumbledore's command against me. Lucky for me, though, you haven't gotten a scrap of information on magic…."
Harry shook the memory away, making his mind escape the graveyard. Even just remembering one little piece of what had happened was…too much… But if Dumbledore would've had someone under his command against Voldemort, then wasn't he good? Bad people didn't go against Voldemort. Bad people joined Voldemort. "Bad" was an understatement. More like... evil. Harry had thought the Dursleys were evil, but they were Saints compared to the acts of torture performed by Voldemort and his followers.
Harry couldn't help but remembering those cloaked people, the Death Eaters, with masks hiding their identities. And with that came more memories…he'd not only seen horrible things, but heard things, too. Things that Voldemort had said and the Death Eaters nodded at. Things that he wished weren't true.
His parents didn't die in a car crash.
Harry quickly turned his attention to the room around him, sacrificing having to hear the screams of the argument instead of remembering the graveyard.
There were shouts from the Dursleys and deep phrases of reason from Dumbledore. The one person who might. Help him. But his guard was still up, fiercely protecting the trembling Harry behind it.
"We stay here for now," Harry said breathlessly. And since he wasn't going to be the first to explain a thing, he demanded, "Tell me everything."
Author's Note: And that's it for chapter one. When Harry thinks about the graveyard scene, it's very very similar to what happened in the graveyard in book four (for your reference) except Cedric was not there. Sorry if I've confused you. Hopefully the info at the beginning cleared out some things. Thanks for reading, and chapter two will come out sometime later on next week :)