Edited: June 10, 2011
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me. I am a fan and this is fiction. Everything concering the Harry Potter-verse is the property of Warner Bros., J. K. Rowling, and/or their respective owners.
Author's Note: This is as AU as it possibly can be. I won't be telling you ahead what happened differently. The story is self-explanatory. Some characters will be exactly the same, others will be different due to different circumstances.
Little facts I guess I should tell ahead:
When Harry was two years old, there was an accident with fatal consequences for his guardians. Nobody was aware he had survived. He ended up in an orphanage, which was the beginning of a harsh childhood. By the time Hogwarts' letter arrives, he lives at St Mary's orphanage, happy to be safe for once.
Lacius Longbottom was proclaimed as the Boy Who Lived. He grew up with his parents, grandmother and his twin brother Neville.
Follow Harry's journey into a world he'd known about, but never thought he'd belong to. The story begins a day before a certain owl arrives at St Mary's orphanage.
Have fun reading the story!
A/N: Former Summary
"Everybody knows his name: the Boy Who Lived. However, five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, too."
After having received several complaints concerning this summary, I decided to explain it:
It's a pop culture reference from the movie Man in Black, the words are spoken by Agent K [Tommy Lee Jones].
"Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe.
Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat.
And fifteen minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet.
Imagine what you'll know... tomorrow."
Since I ended up wondering whether I should have put the disclaimer right into the summary, I wrote another summary to have this issue solved.
Chapter 1: Green Eyes
Sister Augustine didn't have any favourites.
That was a fact. Everybody knew it. She cared for all of her charges equally.
Sister Augustine was a woman of sixty years and although she was everything but rusty, life started to take its toll: her knees weren't what they used to be; her eyesight had gotten poorer over the years. All in all, she was a little slower than she used to be. And in what she'd recognized to be her calling so long ago, speed was everything.
For nearly thirty-five years Sister Augustine had been the sole warden of a small orphanage on an unobtrusive street in London. Theoretically, twelve children would fit into the old – not pretty, but at least dry – building. In reality, there were twenty, though.
It wasn't only this orphanage that had been asked to take in more protégés, but all of them in the district of London. Sometimes, it was kids coming from the streets, runaways from bad homes, or those who simply had no home to go back to.
Sister Augustine had seen worse times than these: the situation had been particularly bad between the years 1970 and 1981, especially since one orphanage had been destroyed in a terrible fire 1971. Back then, there had been thirty wards under her care and she'd done the best she could. Sister Margret, an elderly lady of seventy and her best friend, had been a godsend back then as much as she was now, although her bones were even older than her own. But that didn't matter: Whether it rained, snowed or there was fog so thick you were unable to recognize your own hands, Sister Margret always came to St Mary's Orphanage in order to cook for however many charges Sister Augustine had under her protection.
Neither of them could tell how long they would be able to keep going, but they'd promised each other to do it as long as their health permitted it.
They had no successor, nobody to follow in their footsteps.
Their Order had run out of young nuns five years ago, which had resulted in the closure of their old convent. Thankfully, the government financially supported St Mary's Orphanage – not well, but good enough to live – otherwise the ladies would have been forced to close their beloved home as well.
However, the lack of adequate successors had forced Sister Augustine to a sad decision last month: she could no longer shelter new children for longer than six months. The charges she'd received until late June were allowed to live here as long as it was possible or necessary, but the others could only find a temporary bed.
The children knew this of course, but it wasn't taken well by the newcomers. Most of them had been pushed around too many times and therefore many conflicts broke out between the residents and temporarily placed children.
Fortunately, her older protégés helped. They played with the little ones when Sister Augustine was occupied, brought them to bed, cleaned them even. They were a community, really, a family, which was why it had to be particularly hard for the 'Temporaries' as they were called by her children.
Yes, her children. They were hers. She looked after them until they were able to stand on their own feet or they finally found the home each of them so dearly deserved.
There were some like little Johnny who'd been living here for nine of his ten years while others like Marco had only come here two months ago. The fifteen-year-old was thankfully allowed to stay here and would most likely leave when he turned eighteen.
Teenagers rarely found a home.
Many of her children had kept in touch when they'd left St Mary's; some had even adopted some of her charges in later years.
The orphans who lived here might lack real parents and frequently 'lost' friends that were closer than siblings to them, but they had shelter and Sister Augustine, who did all in her power to make their difficult lives a little simpler.
Six months ago, a great scandal had come to light in London's centre resulting in very strict inspections by the government and ever since the elderly nun fought tooth and nail not to lose her responsibilities.
However, food was scarce sometimes and the building lacked in rooms and space. Nevertheless, her charges – especially those who had seen other orphanages or the street's law – were aware of how good they had it here. Therefore they helped her as well as they could to go through the inspections unscathed.
With an almost girlish giggle she remembered how little Johnny, who had been discovered while babysitting little Angelina, had in fact managed to convince the examiner that he was a twenty-year-old apprentice to Sister Augustine suffering from a childhood disease, which inhibited his growth.
They looked out for her as much as she did for them. They always warned her when a new inspector arrived so they could do the necessary changes to go through another test.
Funnily, the idea hadn't come from one of her older charges:
Six of them were fourteen or older; Alexandra would be leaving her house very soon for she'd turned eighteen last month. Seven were between nine and twelve years old whereas the rest (nine) were between one and six.
They all came from different places, but five of them had come to her six months ago and they'd gone through what seemed to have been hell.
You see, six months ago a fire burnt down an orphanage and the ashes had revealed unspeakable terror: the owner of the institute, Michael Sullivan, had forced the children he had sworn to protect to work for their food; he had mistreated them and nobody had known since the orphanage's façade seemed innocent.
Sister Augustine had long ago stopped wondering about the resilience of kids, but when she had taken in five protégés from that place, even she hadn't been able to conceal her amazement:
Yes, Richard – or Char, as they all called him – was very timid for a fourteen-year-old boy and more often than not he was jumpy…
Gregory (Grey) didn't trust men, hated them in fact, which was why she didn't expect him to ever find a home; it was almost impossible for a single mother to gain custody of an orphan…
Lucas (Luke) who was nine and five-year-old Sara both hadn't been able to sleep until she had bent her rules a little bit by allowing them to share a room. In said room, there was another boy and albeit nobody had ever confirmed it to her, she was convinced that said boy was the reason those children were sane, or alive for that matter.
The boy was small and skinny, even for an orphan who hadn't seen enough meals in the course of his life. He had a thin face, black hair and the most remarkable green eyes she'd ever seen.
His name was Harry.
He was a very solemn boy and seemed to be older than his eleven years.
He had been smaller and skinnier when he'd arrived here, all of them had been. Sister Augustine remembered their coming as if it had been yesterday…
She stood outside next to Sister Margret when two police cars arrived. Alexandra raised her eyebrows.
"Hope you know what you got yourself into."
"Alexandra!" Sister Margret reprimanded her with her rough, severe voice. "Those children have done nothing. That Sullivan is the one who committed the crimes, not them."
"As long as you don't think they're innocent." The muttered comment was met with another chastising look from the nuns. Alexandra was a good girl, but she didn't trust anyone at first. She was extraordinarily protective of those she'd come to like; everybody else was a potential enemy.
It was an essential rule for a girl who had spent five years of her life on the streets.
The doors slammed and the police officers told Sister Augustine's new children to leave the car.
First, a young boy, very thin, as if he hadn't eaten enough for several months, with blonde hair and blue eyes practically jumped out of the car, stepping away from the man and glared at him.
He was followed by an older boy, dear God, was he thin! His eyes were fixed on the ground and his shoulders were hunched.
Out of the other car a much smaller boy was revealed. He had brown hair and eyes and Sister Augustine recognized a scar across the boy's left cheek. He waited very close to the car until a small girl (she didn't look older than three years old) left the police vehicle as well. She didn't even look around, but immediately turned her face towards the other child and hid herself from the rest of the world. The boy – she would later find out that his name was Lucas – soothingly spoke to her.
The last of her new charges left the same car the younger ones had been in. It was another boy with black, unruly hair, younger than the blonde but older than the brown-haired one. He stepped out of the vehicle and laid a hand on Lucas' shoulder.
Sister Augustine had expected the other boy to startle, but he relaxed instead. That was quite remarkable.
It was her turn to flinch, though. She hadn't noticed that one of the police officers had approached her in the meantime.
"My name is Walton. I'm bringing you five of Sullivan's charges. Don't expect them to talk too much for now. The fire must have been frightening and adding that to everything else… Thank God, nobody died. Wouldn't have been too sad had it been Sullivan, though."
That was the most remarkable thing, really. The entire building had burned down; however nobody had been hurt.
It was inexplicable how the man could've left the building since he had been unconscious by the time he was found.
"Thank you, Mr Walton," she answered politely and walked towards the little group.
"Hello, there," she said softly, stopping at what she considered to be a good distance for shy kids. This wasn't her first time, after all.
The blonde one looked at her and smiled weakly. For some reason, he seemed relieved. Then, he looked away.
The raven-black-haired boy took a step forward, hesitantly but decided, and met her gaze.
She almost gasped for she'd never seen such green eyes in her life and when he looked at her, she felt as if he saw much more than just a pair of brown eyes.
A moment later, he took a step back, relaxed visibly and smiled softly. "My name is Harry, Sister."
As if on cue, the other children introduced themselves as well.
Only then she realized that he had judged whether or not to trust her and that his judgment was deeply respected by the children with him. Hadn't he spoken in favour of her, life would have become a lot more complicated.
It had been good, instead.
Harry (his family name he didn't know) was an unusual boy in many ways: He was fiercely protective of those he was close to, not unlike Alexandra, but unlike her, he didn't distrust people in general.
On the contrary, his trust was gained easily (for an orphan for whom self-reliance had become a necessity like breathing), but unlucky were the souls whom he wouldn't put his faith in.
Those he decided to trust, however, were forgiven incredibly easily should they hurt him in any way.
He was earnest, but kind-hearted, and he'd helped her so profoundly she still couldn't quite fathom if she took care of him or the other way around.
He behaved so grown-up at times, she sometimes forgot he was only ten… or eleven. Harry didn't know for sure.
At the age of one or two he had been found in front of an orphanage. Yet, he refused to think he had been abandoned.
'I was loved once. I know that. Something terrible happened. It wasn't their fault.'
Maybe, it was that certainty that had caused Harry's heart to never become bitter.
What had happened in between his second and tenth year of life, Sister Augustine didn't know. She hardly ever did. All she knew was that he'd spent more than one year in Hell.
He never talked about it. None of them did.
It had taken some adjustment when they'd arrived; rarely five children arrived at once.
However, thanks to Peter, a sixteen-year-old boy who had been living at St Mary's for eight years, little Johnny and Harry, who'd played mediators for the rest, they'd settled in nicely.
The black-haired boy had received her other children's respect two days after their arrival when he'd protected Hannah against some of the neighbour's kids ('the Others', as they were called).
She still wondered just what exactly he'd done, but somehow a lot of the harassment by 'the Others' had stopped.
She'd asked Alexandra once, who'd merely answered that he hadn't done anything bad. Coming from a girl who had the physical strength break an attacker's arm, that wasn't particularly helpful.
"Sister Augustine?" The boy who'd just been the main topic of her brooding called her from behind in a low voice. She turned to see him.
"Gaby is sleeping, Madame," he whispered. "I fed her, bathed her and now put her to bed. Is there anything else you want me to do?"
"No, Harry, thank you very much," she replied with a smile.
"I'll be outside with the little ones." At that, he turned around and walked towards the backdoor which led to a small yard, just big enough so her protégés had something to spend their time with.
No, Sister Augustine didn't have any favourites. If she did, it would be the boy with the emerald green eyes, though.
So, that would be the first chapter... Please, tell me what you think.
Read and review!
June 10 2011: Thank you so much for all the kind reviews.