Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
This may be the oddest thing I've ever written. Any and all comments, including "I don't get it" are welcome. I'm also not really sure about the title. This is not a pure crack-fic - but give it a chance. I've got some really messed-up crap in store...
This is an alternate universe with a very odd divergence. It may seem a bit similar to the originals at first... but that will change very soon indeed.
Harry and the Mysterious Curse of the Girl-Who-Lived
CHAPTER ONE: HARRY POTTER IS NOT A GIRL
Harry Potter was your typical, everyday not-very-well-treated orphan living in a house where his relatives didn't really care for him. They called him by the angry epithet of "freak" constantly, although Harry eventually realized what his own name was by the time he began to attend school. Harry didn't exactly hate his relatives, but he certainly did not love them. He didn't, to be honest, even like them at all, but at least that feeling was clearly mutual.
Harry just tolerated them, even though he was forced to do difficult chores and given very little food, whereas his rotund and corpulent cousin the same age was given copious gifts, spoiled rotten, and was permitted to bully Harry as much as he desired. But his cousin Dudley was not in good health, and was quite stupid, so Harry didn't feel bad feeling more than a little bit superior.
His relatives absolutely hated anything that could be considered "abnormal", although this was such a subjective concept, Harry really didn't understand what could be thought of as "normal". He felt normal, and he didn't think his relatives were normal. Then again, maybe he wasn't normal either.
But there was something odd that kept happening over the years. Every so often, his Aunt Petunia would make an odd remark referencing something girlish. Never in context, never in a way that made sense. "Perhaps you'd prefer to wear a dress after all!" That sort of thing.
Or "You might as well have pigtails with that hair!" Which made even less sense, considering Harry had short, albeit highly unmanageable dark hair. His Uncle Vernon and Dudley never really chimed in on these insults, having plenty more to choose from. So Harry learned to mostly ignore them. Mostly.
But everything would change when the bizarre letter arrived.
It was the day before Harry's birthday, and he was sent (as per usual) to retrieve the daily mail. But amid the various letters for his aunt and uncle, a mysterious and ornate letter lay, oddly addressed:
Ms. Harriet Potter:
The Cupboard under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
The Cupboard Under The Stairs? A weirdly specific and accurate detail, as this was where Harry slept in somewhat cramped quarters. It could have been worse, of course, at least he could stretch out fully. His cousin Dudley had two bloody rooms. But Harry was used to the unfairness of life and found pleasure where he could find it.
But why did the letter say "Harriet"? Maybe it just meant "Harry" and someone made a mistake? Harry didn't like it, but had little choice but to ask his relatives.
"Aunt Petunia, there's a letter here addressed to a 'Harriet Potter'. It looks like it's from a place called 'Hogwarts' - weird name."
Aunt Petunia's face drained of color and she leaped forward and grabbed the letters out of Harry's hands, completely startling him.
"Here now, what's going on?" Harry asked, a bit too completely taken aback to be his normally polite self to his aunt.
But his question would go quite unanswered.
And many more would soon arrive.
A very frightened Vernon hustled the lot of them from place to place, trying to escape the crazy mislabeled letters. But more and more came and followed their every move. Harry was excited and scared at the same time, but honestly wondered what in the world was going on. It was clear that his aunt and uncle knew more than they were saying, but they refused to answer any questions. Even Dudley's, whom they almost never refused anything. Chilling, that.
Eventually Vernon had taken them to some island in the middle of nowhere, and claimed that "no one will find us here!"
Harry feared he was right, and as the seconds passed, he realized that midnight was nearly upon them. His birthday would be soon, and he would get nothing for it. Not that he ever did, though.
3...2...1... Harry Birthday, Harry Potter.
But then, suddenly, a mighty shudder was heard at the door, and an enormous hairy man burst into the cramped cabin. He ripped Vernon's gun from his grasp and twisted it into a knot, exhibiting ridiculous strength.
The man introduced himself as Hagrid, and explained that he was there to pick up Harry and take him to the silly-named Hogwarts. Apparently Harry was famous, and Hagrid was completely shocked that Harry didn't know about it. He then turned his wrath on the Dursleys for keeping the truth from Harry, although Vernon continued to bluster about angrily in protest.
"Ah, go boil yer heads," said Hagrid. "Harriet - yer a witch."
Harry frowned and looked confused. "Wait, what? Did you say say 'witch'? And did you really call me Harriet? My name is HARRY, not Harriet. Harriet is a girl's name, and it also sounds stupid." Sexist though it may be, Harry didn't like being called a girl.
Hagrid started to laugh. "Yer just like your mum, with red hair and everything. Cute as a button, yeh are!"
Harry turned slowly to look at the broken mirror on the wall and touched his black messy hair. His mouth opened, then closed again. "Um, Hagrid, is there a word for boy witches?" Harry was desperately hoping this was the case.
"O' course, Harriet. They're called wizards, sure."
"Oh, that makes sense," Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "So I'm a wizard then?" Harry realized this might explain all the bizarre things he had experienced over the years: hair growing back, reappearing on a roof, and of course the latest bit, the hilarious vanishing of the glass in the reptile house at the zoo.
"No, Harriet, girls are called witches, mind yeh. Yeh are a witch. Nothin' to be ashamed of. And yeh'll be a thumpin' good'un, I'd say, once yeh've been trained up a bit. Yer mum was brilliant, and yer dad was a smart one too. I reckon I oughter give yeh yer letter now that I'm thinkin' abou' it."
Harry wasn't sure he agreed with the logic, but he accepted the letter. But oh, what a letter! Yes, it also was mistakenly addressed to Ms. Potter, not Mr. Potter, but it was an invitation to a SCHOOL OF MAGIC. Harry couldn't help but get excited, although he was a bit confused about some of the references.
Hagrid quickly explained that owls were used as a method of communication, and set off a message to Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster of the school with an owl he had hidden under his cloak. But it didn't take long for things to get a bit worse.
"I'd like ter see a great Muggle like you stop her," Hagrid growled, and explained that the term was used to describe non-magical people.
Harry's head was spinning, and he felt he had a great deal to learn. But once he realized his Aunt had known all along - Harry was furious. Of course, Petunia angrily defended her actions, which was no real surprise. Hagrid explained (he was doing this quite a bit, of course) that Harry's parents hadn't died in a car crash at all; in fact, they were killed by an evil witch who died attacking him.
Although Hagrid would not stop referring to Harry as "Harriet", and Harry was starting to get just a BIT frustrated.
"Dang it, Hagrid, please just tell me this evil witch's name! Could you write it down at least?"
"Nah - can't spell it. All right - Volotredi. Awful, horrid old woman she was. Terrifying."
Hagrid then revealed that Harry (or "Harriet") was the only known survivor ever of the dreaded Lady Volotredi, so he was called the "Girl-Who-Lived". Harry was about to protest this invalid sobriquet, but Vernon and Hagrid quickly began to argue, and then Hagrid had given Dudley a hilarious pig's tail.
Harry could hardly be mad with Hagrid after that.
"Wow!" Harry enthused. "So... I can hardly believe I'm a wizard too."
Hagrid smiled proudly. "Indeed, 'Arriet! Yer a witch just like yer mum and dad, like mother like daughter, right?"
Uncle Vernon, growled, seemingly stuck between insane fury and intense longing (to get rid of Harry, naturally).
"Well, 'girl'." Vernon growled and pushed Harry forward. "You had better get going with your new hideous friend."
Dudley, still hiding behind his mother, looked extremely confused and turned to Petunia to ask a question, but she shushed him presumptively.
"But Mum," Dudley whined. "Why is Dad calling Harry a girl?"
"Be quiet Dudley." Petunia hissed. "I'll explain to you later after 'Harriet' is gone." She frowned spitefully. "Nothing we can do about it anyhow."
Not getting it at all, a frustrated Dudley pushed Harry forcefully, as this was really the only thing he could think of to do.
"Here now!" Hagrid growled angrily. "That's no way to treat a lady!"
Harry sighed and rubbed his head, hoping he wasn't about to get a headache.
"Don't yeh worry, 'Arriet," Hagrid assured Harry. "I'll take good care o' ye. Plus I'll get to show yeh the great Magical things, right? Ye'll love it, just like yer mum. Aye, but yeh are the spitting image of 'er, ain'tcha?"
"I'm not!" Harry insisted in frustration. He turned to his relatives. "Aunt Petunia, I don't look like my mother do I? I mean not like a girl?"
Dudley laughed, not about to turn up this opportunity to insult Harry. "Yeah, you look like a girl, Harry. A baby girl!"
"Shut yer mouth," Hagrid growled, and Dudley squealed in fright, hiding behind his mother.
For her part, Petunia did not look pleased. "You look nothing like your mother," Petunia informed her nephew. "Except for your blasted eyes. You look just like your degenerate father. Now get out of here with your freakish friend and leave us in peace!"
Vernon was still too rattled to speak, but he was able to glare, reinforcing his wife's words.
Harry sighed. "Fine, sure, let's go Hagrid."
Hagrid beamed and gingerly patted Harry on the head. "Yer a bright lass, ye'll do fine. Come on, let's go."
Harry awoke to find himself in the boat Hagrid had arrived in, and was filled with sudden exuberance. So what if Hagrid didn't seem to understand that Harry wasn't a girl? He was about to see Magical Business, although Harry obviously had no idea what might be in store. Anything was better than the Dursleys, anyway.
Hagrid noticed Harry had awoken and burst into a happy smile.
Harry chuckled to himself, even if the giant man wasn't quite all there in the head, he was so friendly and so happy to see Harry, Harry resolved to always treat the man with respect. He had rescued Harry from the Dursleys, and that deserved more than a little forgiveness.
"Hagrid, can you tell me about my parents?"
Hagrid blinked but then nodded readily. "Of course I can, Harriet. First of all, let me pay the owl fer the Daily Prophet - it's the wizarding newspaper." Harry's eyes widened at the odd little bronze coins Hagrid gave to the delivery owl, which Harry hadn't even noticed.
"Is that Wizarding money?"
"That it is. And I suppose yer worried about not havin' any on yeh? Well don't worry about that, yer parents left yeh gold in the wizard bank." Hagrid quickly gave Harry an overview of Gringotts, a bank run by goblins, where Harry's vault was safely guarded.
"Now that ye're out from those nasty Muggle relatives, I can give yeh back yer key. Didn't want them to know about it, right?"
Harry blanched and shook his head. The very idea - he knew that his Uncle Vernon, hatred of abnormality aside, would be all too happy to help himself to a vault of gold.
"Ah, but yeh were askin' abou' yer parents, eh?" Hagrid chuckled with an enormous grin on his face. "Yer mum was a great friend o' mine, even though I was just the Keeper of Keys and Grounds. She visited me all the time, yeh know, and although I didn' know yer dad as well at first, once they were together, they visited all the time."
"That's great," Harry said with an easy smile. "So they weren't always together?"
"Nah, I think it was their seventh year they finally realized how they felt. Lily sure liked teh complain about James before that though, I'll tell yeh!" Hagrid said with a boisterous laugh.
Harry couldn't help but join in the laughter.
"But I'm sure yeh'll be knowin' all about that soon enough, eh Harriet?" Hagrid said with a knowing wink.
Harry frowned, thinking there was some kind reference there to Hagrid's mistaken view of Harry as a girl, but for the life of him, Harry had no idea what Hagrid might mean. But he wasn't about to ask for clarification - because there was the awful possibility he might get an answer.
Soon enough (expedited by some surreptitious magical acceleration by Hagrid) they reached the shore, and made their way through London to a ratty, broken-down old pub called "The Leaky Cauldron".
"Don't let the looks fool yeh, Harriet. That's just to keep all them Muggles out. Come on!"
Sure enough, on the inside the pub was not broken down at all, but filled with talking patrons. It wasn't sparkling clean mind, but it was a pub after all. Could these oddly dressed people be other wizards and witches? Harry was quite excited to see them, but he couldn't help but wonder if they too would mistakenly call him a girl. Hopefully Hagrid was the only one - maybe he had some sort of odd mental gender defect that made him see the opposite genders on people. Maybe he couldn't tell the difference. Or maybe there was some obscure curse on Hagrid - hey, magic existed after all, why not bizarre curses? Harry was willing to accept just about any rationalization at that point.
Several people looked up and greeted Hagrid as they came in. Apparently he was well known around there.
"The usual, Hagrid?" The barkeeper asked.
Hagrid smiled and shook his head ruefully. "Nah, I can't today, Tom. I'm on Hogwarts business," he patted Harry carefully on the head, although it still wasn't exactly a gentle touch.
The bartender took a closer look and his eyes widened. "Good Lord, is this - can this be?" The entire Leaky Cauldron had gone eerily silent. "Bless my soul, Harriet Potter... my dear, what a delight to finally meet you!" Tom hurried out from behind the bar, rushed toward Harry and bowed low. He took Harry's hand and kissed it, leaving Harry shocked and quite disconcerted.
"Welcome back, Miss Potter, welcome back."
Well, there went the hope that it was only Hagrid that thought Harry was a girl.
Harry, getting his wits about him, seized back his hand. "Um, I'd prefer to shake hands. I am a boy, you know," he added, hoping this would sink in.
Tom the bartender looked chagrined. "I quite apologize, young lady. I never know quite what's changed with the latest generation. Perhaps you would favor me with a handshake, then?" He stuck out his hand tentatively, tension clear in his expression.
Harry sighed but accepted the handshake. It seemed rude to act otherwise at that point.
Unfortunately, that seemed to open the floodgates, as suddenly Harry found himself shaking hands with everyone else in the pub, many of them more than once.
Harry saw a man that looked familiar as he introduced himself as Dedalus Diggle, wearing a stylish top hat. "I've seen you before," Harry realized. "You bowed to me once in a shop."
Diggle seized his chest and had an expression of pure delight on his face. "She remembers! Do you hear that? She remembers! Young lady, your memory is as sharp as you are beautiful. Just like your dear mother."
Harry couldn't help but wince at that. He began to worry that he'd soon be hearing that particular unwelcome "compliment" far too often. But the handshakes kept coming. At one point, a stuttering young man introduced himself as Professor Quirrell, who would be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts.
Although Harry didn't think the trembling and nervous man seemed capable of even mustering a defense against butterflies.
After a minute or two more, Hagrid stepped forward and looked cross. "A'right, that's enough all of yeh! Treat the girl with some respect! She's got things to do, same as all of yeh." Slowly the crowd dispersed, and Hagrid revealed the magically hidden entrance to the wondrous Diagon Alley.
It was such a magical place, filled with all manner of magical folk and items. Harry scarcely knew where to look next.
"Welcome," said Hagrid. "To Diagon Alley."
Harry's eyes shot from one wonder to the next, barely even taking any one thing in. He saw a sparkling stack of shiny cauldrons outside the nearest shop.
"Yeah, you'll be needin' one," said Hagrid, "but we gotta get yer money first."
Hagrid introduced Harry to the imposing wizarding bank with its surly Goblin guards. The large man gave Harry his vault key and the two sped down a twisting railway in a tiny cart with their Goblin guide. Harry was shocked by the mounds of coins in his vault.
"My parents left me all this?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Yup, it's all yours. But don't worry, ye'll only need a bit for yer purchases I'm sure."
After helping Harry gather together some coins, they sped off to another vault, where Hagrid retrieved some mysterious item for Dumbledore. Harry was incredibly curious of course, but he was far too polite to pry into Hagrid's business.
Outside, Hagrid sighed, looking a bit sick. "Might as well get yer uniform," said Hagrid, pointing out Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. "Listen, Harriet, would yeh mind if I slipped off fer a... well, a small pick-me-up in the Leaky Cauldron? I hate them Gringotts carts."
Harry chuckled. "Of course, Hagrid. Come by when you're done."
Hagrid nodded readily in relief and sped off.
Harry entered the store alone, feeling a bit nervous, but Madam Malkin was clearly used to nervous first year students.
"Hogwarts, dear?" she asked kindly. "I can take care of you. Another Hogwarts student is being fitted up just now, in fact."
Harry looked to the back of the shop to see a boy with a pale, pointed face. Madam Malkin led Harry over to a footstool next to the pale boy.
"Hello there," said the boy with an odd smile, "Hogwarts, too?"
"Yes," said Harry.
"My father's next door buying my books and Mother's up the street looking at wands. Then I'm going to drag them off to look at racing brooms. I think I'll bully Father into getting me one and I'll smuggle it in." He winked. "I'm sure I'll look quite dashing, don't you think?"
Harry was simultaneously disgusted and reminded of Dudley's spoiled greed. Come to think of it, that was Dudley twice.
"I'm a boy," Harry informed the boy, not expecting to have any effect.
"Of course you are," the boy said with a creepy smile. "You don't have to convince me."
Harry frowned, disliking this boy more and more every second.
"I'm sure to be on the Quidditch team this year, you'll have a chance to cheer me to victory, I'm certain. Know what House you'll be in yet?"
"No, I don't," Harry answered a bit brusquely, not really wanting to continue the conversation, but he did wonder about Quidditch and this House business.
"Well, I am quite certain I'll be Slytherin. Cunning and ambitious, after all, right?" Draco laughed, looking inordinately pleased with himself.
"I'm glad you've figured it out," Harry answered, wondering what Slytherin was, exactly.
"I say, look at that man!" said the boy suddenly, nodding toward the front window, where Hagrid stood grinning, two large ice creams in his hands.
"That's Hagrid," Harry said, his eyes narrowing. If it was a contest between this spoiled brat and slow but friendly Hagrid, it wasn't even close. "He works at Hogwarts, obviously." Harry made sure to emphasize the last word.
"Oh, I know that," said the boy hurriedly. "I've heard of him, of course. Um, a servant, I think. That is, I know what he does."
"He's the gamekeeper," said Harry, wondering if it was possible to hate someone in such a short time.
"Well, I knew that already," the boy said with a sneer. "I hear he's some sort of savage, living in a hut by himself. Crazy man."
"Well, I think he's brilliant," Harry said, a touch angrily.
"Do you?" the boy said with a small sneer. "Who are you, exactly? Are your parents ourkind?"
"They were a witch and wizard if that's what you mean."
"Well, don't get your knickers in a bunch," the boy snorted. "Besides, I don't think they should let the other sort in, do you? They just don't belong."
Harry thought that it was a good thing he was covered with pins and needles - otherwise it was very possible he'd already have decked the little berk.
"That's you done, my dear," Madam Malkin said suddenly.
"Um," Harry licked his lips in sudden worry. "These aren't like specifically girl's robes. I don't want to wear girl's robes."
"Don't worry, dear, I understand," Madam Malkin smiled knowingly. "These robes are essentially the same for young witches and wizards, just fitted slightly differently. You won't look at all that 'girlish', if that's your worry."
That was exactly Harry's worry, so he nodded his thanks with a ready smile and hopped down.
"Wait, what's your surname?" The boy asked.
"See you later," Harry said flippantly.
"Um, well I guess I'll see you at Hogwarts then," the boy said, looking a bit taken aback.
Harry waved his hand dismissively. "Sure."
Hagrid and Harry ate their ice cream quickly, and continued on their trek through Diagon Alley, stopping off at a book store and an apothecary for school supplies.
"Just yer wand left - oh yeah, an' I still haven't got yeh a birthday present."
Harry felt himself go red. Well, that was a clear difference between Hagrid and the spoiled boy, after all. "You don't have to get me anything, Hagrid."
"Nonsense!" Hagrid assured, and bought Harry a beautiful snowy owl.
Harry was enchanted instantly. "You're beautiful, girl, right?" He looked to Hagrid for confirmation, who nodded. Then Harry glanced around and whispered, "you know I'm not a girl, but a boy, right?"
The owl looked at Harry like he had just said something unbelievably stupid. Harry chose to take that as agreement.
And now it was time for the magic wand - Harry could scarcely wait. The two walked into Ollivander's wand shop, which seemed unoccupied... at first.
"Good afternoon," said a soft voice. An old man stepped out of the shadows, startling Harry completely.
"Um, hello," said Harry awkwardly.
"Ah yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon," said the man. "Harriet Potter."
Harry sighed. Another one getting it wrong.
"You have your father's eyes. It seems like only yesterday he was in here himself, buying his first wand. Eleven inches long, pliable, made of mahogany. A bit of power and an excellent wand for transfiguration." Mr. Ollivander moved closer, his eyes glinting a bit creepily. "Your mother, on the other hand, favored a willow wand. Ten and a quarter inches. Swishy. Nice for charm work. Well, I say your mother favored it - it's really the wand that chooses the wizard, or witch, of course."
Mr. Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry's forehead. "I'm sorry to say I sold the wand that did it," he said softly. "Thirteen-and-a-half inches. Yew. Powerful wand, very powerfull, and in the wrong hands... well if I'd known what that wand was going out into the world to do..."
"So you also knew my parents?" Harry asked, trying to break the tension. It seemed that they had been quite the popular couple.
"No, that's a rather strong wording," Ollivander corrected. "In fact, I never spoke to them after their wand selections. But that is quite normal for most people, I assure you. Usually I only see someone again if they need a new wand replacement."
The wandmaker's eyes glinted as he looked Harry over. "Which of your parents do you think you take after? Your mother? You do look quite as I remember her as a young girl."
Harry scowled. "No, I think I don't take after my mum in looks. I'm a boy, haven't you noticed?" He rolled his eyes in frustration. "What am I saying, nobody else has!"
Ollivander raised an eyebrow. "I believe you are mistaken, Miss Potter," he said, emphasizing the "Miss". "You are a girl, of course. I think I can trust my own senses."
"I am not a girl," Harry protested a bit loudly. "And you heard me say it then? Most people don't even seem to notice."
"I wouldn't know anything about that," the wandmaker replied. "But as I said, you are wrong. You are not a boy, you are a girl."
"You can't tell me what I am! I think I'd know!" Harry found himself getting very annoyed. Finally someone actually acknowledges that Harry keeps protesting being called a girl, and what - this old man telling him he's wrong?
Ollivander stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Well, I suppose gender dysphoria is not entirely impossible. I have seen cases of it before, although quite rarely. I do not care to suffer such delusions, mind you. I will refer to by your proper gender nomenclature and pronouns, I assure you."
Harry blinked in confusion. "I don't even know what gender... dysfunction? I don't even know what you said!" He glanced over at Hagrid, who looked utterly baffled. Well, no help there.
"Gender dysphoria, not dysfunction. It means you have a mental defect where you mistakenly believe you are the opposite gender of what you actually are." Ollivander shook his head sadly. "Of course, I don't hold to just placating such nonsense. Children shouldn't be permitted to change their gender on a whim."
Harry's eye twitched as he tried to control his temper. "Mr. Ollivander," Harry said very slowly and calmly. "Please just give me my blasted wand already. Thank you very much, sir." That last bit was said just a touch incensed.
Ollivander snorted, but complied, rummaging through a few boxes of wands. It took several false starts, but Harry finally found his wand. And the rush of exhilaration - he almost forgot about the severe annoyance Ollivander had been.
"You all right, Harriet? Yer very quiet?"
Harry sighed. How could he possibly explain to Hagrid? It had been the best day of his life - but also by far the weirdest. He was getting to study magic, but everyone mistakenly thought he was a girl. Even Ollivander, who at least understood Harry when he protested the mistaken gender identity, refused to believe that Harry WASN'T a girl.
It was frustrating, to say the least.
"Don't yeh worry yer pretty little head about it all," Hagrid said with a beaming smile. "Yer mum was raised by Muggles, too, right? And she was right brilliant at school. Everyone loved her. I'm sure yeh'll be loved by everyone too."
Harry couldn't help but feel a bit better with that sentiment. "I hope I can live up to what everyone expects of me."
"Ye'll be brilliant, Harriet. I'm sure of it." Hagrid said with utter confidence.
Well what can you say to that?
The Express and Hoggy Hoggy Hogwarts
"WHAT?" Harry shrieked. "I am NOT a girl! I do NOT have pretty hair!"
Ron held up his hands. "Sorry, Harriet, didn't mean to offend you."