AN: I was inspired to write this based on the possibility of what would have happened if Harry stayed in Diagon Alley before his first year. It seems unlikely, especially when you consider Hagrid's loyalty to Dumbledore. I hope I made it at least seem plausible. Oh, and my apologies, I'm not particularly good at writing dialogue for Hagrid. One last thing: the calendar I am using (making it up in my head) has some odd dates, so when days of the week are mentioned in the canon, the might not be correctly displayed here. Also, I'd like to give credit to lorddwar; many of the spells used came from his fic. Anyway, without further ado, here it is. Oh, and OOC Ollivander. I do not own Harry Potter nor am I profiting from this fanfiction, except my ego.
Inner thoughts, Spells, Parseltongue = Italics Flashbacks =Italics + bold
Prologue: A Crisis Of Faith
-Starts at the end of Hagrid's introduction of Harry to the Wizarding World-
Hagrid was walking Harry back up Diagon Alley, the purchases from the day's shopping excursion weighing them down, when it happened. Hagrid was overjoyed at completing Dumbledore's assignment, getting the boy-who-lived his letter and bringing him shopping for school supplies, with barely any difficulty. All he had to do now was lead Harry back through the Leaky Cauldron to a train station, give him his ticket to the Hogwarts Express, and put him on a train back to his relatives in Surrey. His relatives.
"We Swore we'd stamp it out of him! Wizard indeed," an angry Vernon Dursley had shouted at him. (pg. 53 HP and the SS)
Hagrid froze as the memory hit him. Behind him Harry noticed his likeable companion's difficulties. "Hagrid, are you all right?"
Hagrid looked back at the small boy with him, suddenly taking in how skinny and frail he really looked. "Yeh, fine 'Arry exempt 'm tired. Put yur' stuff down and take a breath'r."
They carefully put down Harry's new school things while Hagrid's head was swimming with thoughts. It's not like, they couldn't possibly, hurt him, could they? Even if they detested magic they wouldn't dare hurt him, or try to take away his stuff. And anyway, good old Arabella Figg is keeping watch over him, there was no way she'd let that happen to him. He was about to beckon Harry forward again when another memory sprang to the forefront of his mind concerning his recent encounter with the Dursleys.
"I was the only one who saw her for what she was- a Freak!" Petunia had shouted. (pg. 53 HP and the SS)
That memory only served to reignite his sense of distress. How could anyone hate Lily? How could her own sister hate Lily? But she did. She thought Lily was a freak. And Hagrid remembered his own childhood, when other kids thought he was a freak. And how they insulted and hated him. Because he was bigger than them, had giant's blood in him, and he was fascinated by interesting magical creatures. And by all indications Petunia acted the same way. Hagrid was sure for a limited amount of time the Dursleys would keep away from bothering Harry. But afterwards? What happened when they realized he wasn't a constant threat? And any notions of him sending his owl off with a letter seemed ridiculous. They could kill the owl, or really hurt him, and he'd never get a letter in time if they decided to do something malicious.
But they wouldn't hurt him, right? On the other hand, Petunia Dursley hated magic and feared it, the same way kids hated and feared him because they didn't know him and he looked scary. And Harry was already dressed in hand-me-downs that were too big for him. And he was far too skinny. Would it really be that much of a stretch for the Dursleys to go from mistreating him to hurting him? And they didn't have to hurt him, really. They could just refuse to get him to Kings Cross; stop him from going to Hogwarts if they so hated magic. Could he really do that to the boy who'd defeated Voldemort? Right there, Hagrid almost asked Harry about his time at the Dursleys. But he realized however Harry was treated there would embarrass him, and they were both liable to lose control.
Dumbledore said this would be so simple. Go to his relatives, give him his letter, take him to Diagon Alley, and get him back home for dinner. But if he learned of Harry's circumstances, how far his relatives were willing to go to prevent him from learning magic, of the potential danger he might be in, this wouldn't be simple.
"There is always a choice between doing what is right and what is easy, Hagrid" Dumbledore had once said to him.
Hagrid tried to calm himself. What do I do?
"Facts Hagrid, Facts. Theories are nice, but what are the facts?" Dumbledore again was saying after a report on some mysterious goings-on in the Forbidden Forest.
Alright, I need facts. And another memory hit him.
"Do you mean ter tell me that this boy- this boy!- don't know nothin' abou'- about ANYTHING!" he had shouted at the Dursley's just last night. (pg. 49 HP and the SS)
Even if he knew nothing about his treatment by the Dursley's, there was a solid fact to go on. Harry knew nothing of the wizarding world. Of course, Hagrid could just say he'd learn his way 'round the wizarding world in time. But what if he learned it from those dark families, like the Malfoys?
He watched through the window of Madam Malkin's as Harry conversed with a blond boy who could only be a Malfoy.
Hagrid involuntarily shivered. What if Lucius had come along and hijacked the boy-who-lived from him; filled his head with ridiculous ideas and prejudice. Harry wouldn't know better. And he shuddered to think about Lily and James watching their son turn dark from the afterlife.
It wasn't like he'd acted any better. He'd he made a mistake in Flourish and Blotts; he should've let Harry buy every book he wanted. But he kept him to books strictly on the school list, so Harry had no way of getting any more information about the wizarding world until he went to Hogwarts. No. Not Good. By then it might be too late. A bright, curious, boy who was also famous and just introduced to the magical world would seek information. And the information could come from many sources, like his peers, which was another opportunity for Malfoy to-; nothing good could come of that. And now, he was supposed to take Harry back to the Dursleys. The worst thing he could do in this situation was send Harry back to the Dursleys. But then what else could he do?
Well, whatever he was going to do, he'd explain to professor Dumbledore once he got back from the ICW conference at the end of August. But for now it was on him. What could he do for Harry? And then it hit him.
"The Usual, Hagrid," said Tom the barkeep as he reached for a glass.
Tom. Good old Tom Daniels. The friendly chap who was the barman at the Leaky Cauldron. If he took Harry there he could let Tom watch over him. He could even tell Tom about Harry's just coming to the wizarding world. Tom could tell Harry everything. He was always great with advice. And Tom had an impartial knowledge of everything in the wizarding world. Plus, that would mean Harry could stay in the alley, and get books and things at his leisure. And Tom could keep an eye on him. Maybe even give him so tips about magic. Better yet, Harry could meet wizards and witches his own age in the alley. It was perfect.
His course of action decided, Hagrid beckoned Harry to follow him. It took them five minutes to get to the Leaky Cauldron, and by then it was getting quite full, being the dinner hour and all. Hagrid set Harry up at a table to get a meal while he went to talk to Tom. He eventually found him heading towards his supply room to get more drinks. He tapped on the shoulder. "Tom, can I talk to ya' for a minute."
"Sure Rubeus, always a pleasure," Tom answered while flashing a toothy grin. Once they were inside the supply room, Tom conjured two chairs. "What's on your mind, Hagrid?"
"Well, as ya remember earlier, I'm introducing Harry Potter to the wizarding world. We just got done with shopping for his Hogwarts things." Hagrid lowered his voice. "You won't repeat what I'm about to tell you." Tom nodded earnestly before applying silencing charms to the door. That was Hagrid's cue to continue talking. So he recounted tracking down the Dursleys, and finding Harry, and then taking him to Diagon Alley. Hagrid made sure to voice his suspicions about the Dursleys' behavior towards Harry and his ignorance of the wizarding world and its customs. Finally he finished. "Well, what do I do?"
Tom sighed, clearly straining to think, and put his head in his hands. After a few minutes of silence he lifted his head up. "If for no other reason than he has no knowledge of the wizarding world, leave him here. I'll find out the full story of his relatives treatment if I can. In the meantime, I'll let him study magic here, and introduce him to the world he belongs to. When September the first rolls around, I'll floo him over to the Hogwarts Express after you leave him his ticket. I'll keep an eye on him, but I'll let him wander the alley as he pleases, and fill him in on everything he needs. I know what it's like to be in that position, an outsider to an entirely new world. And I have a civic duty to aid our savior in any way I can. Alright?" Hagrid agreed and Tom made to grab the drinks he came for as he and Hagrid departed the room.
Hagrid went back to Harry's table just as he was finishing his meal. Over dessert, Hagrid decided to tell Harry his plan.
"Alright Harry, I've got a room set up for you here. Since you don't know nuthin' 'bout the wizarin' world, Tom will tell ya everything ya need to know." Harry absorbed this in a shocked silence. NO DURSELYS FOR THE REST OF THE SUMMER! It was hard to contain his glee. After a delicious desert, Tom came by to give Harry his room key. He and Hagrid lugged everything up to his room.
"Now Harry, a few things ya should know before I go. Keep yer wand with you at all times. It's Diagon Alley, so the ministry can't track magic. That said, only use it in an emergency or when yer sure no ones watchin'. Maybe learn a few protective spells as well. O, yeh might wanna pick up a trunk, that stuff's heavy an' bulky an' 'ard to lung 'round. Yeh should consult Tom for any questions yeh have 'bout the wizarding world. Oh, and 'eres yur ticket for September to get ya ta Hogwarts. Take care 'Arry. Yer a good kid." And with that, Hagrid dissapparated back to Hogsmead.
Harry looked out over Diagon Alley. He was free. Free! He could never have imagined spending nearly a year away from the Dursleys. Yesterday, he was in a rundown hut, on the run from who knows what. Today, he was a wizard; a wizard, in a completely new world, with completely new opportunities, and with no Dudley to ruin it all. He was almost tempted to run back into the Alley, but one look at his disorganized mass of newly purchased school things, with money he never imagined he had, changed his mind. After attempting to organize his stuff, Harry fell asleep, exhausted, and fully clothed. His final thought was that this was officially the best birthday ever.