Those Less Worthy
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and the deriving themes, characters, plotlines etc belong to J. K. Rowling. As if you thought any different when you found this on a fanfiction site.
Summary: Hogwarts is the most elite Wizarding School in the country; only the richest are allowed in. So what happens when, in a twist of fates falling from one turning point in time, Harry Potter doesn't make the cut?
Author's Note: I told myself I wouldn't post this until it was completely finished … but I haven't updated any of my other stories for a while, so I figured; I might as well give you guys something. I'm currently up to about 40,000 words ... depending on the feedback, I'll probably be updating again in about a week or so. Maybe sooner, maybe later.
At the end of each chapter (which I estimate will be anywhere between 3 to 8 thousand words long) I will be copy-pasting a small commentary on what, exactly, I was thinking at the time while writing. These aren't so much Author's Notes as background information on the story and notes I made while typing.
Anyhow, enjoy the story!
Chapter One: How It Began
It was May, spring time in the grassy hills of Northern Scotland where the prestigious and beautiful school of magic, Hogwarts, resided. A young couple entered the tall, wrought-iron gates with content smiles on their faces as they re-entered a lush, familiar scene they had spent many-a afternoon laying or wandering about during their own school days.
The taller of the two, a man with wind-swept black hair and keen hazel eyes hidden behind thin round glasses, smiled down at his new wife. He had been married to the red-haired beauty just three months previous; he still couldn't believe she had accepted, let alone that she proudly wore the engraved golden ring on her thin, pale fingers.
As if sensing his thoughts, the woman turned to meet his gaze with stunning emerald eyes that flared with power, a light dusting of freckles adorning her nose. She smiled prettily up at him and slipped her hand into his, interlacing their fingers loosely as they made their way up the steep, winding path to the elaborate castle before them.
At the open entrance doors, a tall, thin woman with a sharp face and tightly knotted hair greeted them with a fond smile and escorted them to an office in the depths of the school. There, the couple were directed to sit before an aged man with twinkling blue eyes, who beamed kindly at them and their obvious love for each other.
He folded his hands before him, and spoke.
The reason he had called them there was something he had thought on for many, many months, and he was glad the plan was finally being put in action. He had already recruited the couple's friends to his cause, the Heir to a powerful and influential Ancient family, and a studious werewolf – all that was needed was their agreement, and he could begin recruitment of the next hopeful prospects to join his steadily growing Order against the Dark Lord and his forces-
The old man broke from his thoughts, his eyes wide and surprised.
"I'm sorry," the woman looked on him sadly, pleading with her eyes. "But we've only just found each other. I understand what you're trying to achieve, I truly do, but James and I – we can't be a part of that, not yet." Her free hand traced the back of her partner's, and his hand also came across to grasp her second one tightly. "We want to start a family. I couldn't – we couldn't raise a child in an environment like that. I'm sorry, Albus-"
The man was quick to reassure them that it was alright, perfectly natural of hopeful parents-to-be, and that he was in no way disappointed or angry at them for turning down his request. His eyes continued to shine as the couple was guided out by the admittedly disappointed stern-faced woman, and his hands folded primely on his lap for a while as he thought sagely.
He soon came to the conclusion that the goings-on of that day were of no consequence. The Potters had had the potential to become valuable allies in the war against Voldemort, but they were not invaluable. What was one young, inexperienced couple against the hundreds of other, far more experienced persons he hoped to recruit? Lily Potter nee Evans may be a potions prodigy, James Potter may have achieved highest marks in his year for the art of Transfiguration, but they were not irreplaceable. And if they could not be convinced to join his cause – he knew they would never, never join the dark, of that he was most certain – then they were no longer any concern of his.
In any case, he already had the Blacks, in the form of James' friend Sirius. And when Sirius' mother – whose health was notably failing of recent times – finally passed on, the legacy and wealth of the Black Family would be at his fingertips.
And so it was that the Potters soon fell from all thought, hidden in the background, sitting on forgotten sidelines as they watched a war wage around them. They had had the opportunity to become great, to become soldiers in a battle against evil, but they had passed this in favor of a future of their own choosing. Now, to the old headmaster, they were but past Head Boy, and Head Girl; and there was one of those every year, hardly anything special to be commemorated for.
Their two friends, Sirius and Remus, had both taken the old man's offer and become members of the prestigious Order. As months passed, they spent more and more time apart; by the time Lily was due her first child, late in July of the year 1980, they were little more than distant friends, once-friends, friends you could pause and chat with on a busy street should the need arise.
So young Harry James Potter, Lily and James Potter's first child, was the godson of no one. Born in the first minute of the first day in August, with thick black hair and dark blue eyes James prayed would ease into green, he was an angel in the young couple's mind.
And the world kept on turning.
James Potter, being the Heir to a Noble and Ancient House, decided on a safe, stable job in the Magical Artifacts Department, spell-casting and paperwork and a good, steady income. His young son was often seen laying or sitting in a spelled cradle beside him, silent to all but James, playing with flashing balls and singing books and figurines of various animals or shapes. The child's eyes – green, as James had hoped for – were constantly alight with curiosity and joy, and his small rounded face was in a near perpetual grin as he looked out on the world around him.
In an effort to earn as many savings as they could in the dark times they lived, Lily Potter, a brilliant witch in potions and complicated charm work, was accepted into the mysterious ranks of the Unspeakables. The Unspeakables were the researchers and spell-casters of the Ministry, whose purpose ranged from monitoring the passage of time, to safe-keeping the Arch of Death. Lily herself was allocated to a small office researching the existence of Soul Magics, the possibilities which lay in such magic.
Even as all this happened, as life moved on and Harry continued to grow, the war raged on around them. It wasn't uncommon to step into work one morning, to find your partner or the woman who had worked across the isle was gone.
But one day, one night – one very, very memorable Halloween – that finally changed for good.
The Dark Lord Voldemort, who was feared so much even his name caused wizards and witches to flinch, was dead. Dead at the hands of a child, a mere babe, Neville Longbottom. Lord Voldemort had broken into the Longbottom Manor that night, torn the wards and blasted his way into the house. He had turned his wand on Frank Longbottom, and stalked to the room where Alice – a woman two years Lily's senior – had pleaded and begged, and finally died, for her infant son.
But then, when Voldemort turned to the small, fat child – his curse had rebounded, leaving an empty body, a confused child with a razor-sharp scar across his forehead and nose, and an elderly grandmother who staggered into the sitting room the next morning, only to find the cold body of her only son and Heir.
The next morning, James and Lily had stumbled into work – James, as usual, laden with the fourteen-month old Harry – to find celebration.
And when they found that the bane of their existence, the one who had destroyed their lives, the lives of the ones around them, over and over and over again, was dead … no words could describe their joy. Finally, finally, they could raise their son … and, Lily thought slyly, and future children they might conceive … in a peaceful world ignorant of war and death.
And for a while; everything was good.
Harry was two and a half years old – walking, just beginning to discover the nuances of speech – when It happened.
The thing that changed … everything.
James had been unable to take Harry that morning; their Boss was performing a spot check of the offices, and he needed to hide the young walker lest he be told off again for bringing his son into work. Lily had offered to take the child, as her workmates had no problems with the adorable boy and in fact welcomed his youth and innocence into a job that could, at times, be downright depressing in the secretive nature and distrust.
She had set the boy in a magically conjured pen to one side, making sure to lock it tightly. She and her work partner Angela were on the verge of a breakthrough with the bizarre object they were instructed to investigate, and she didn't want to worry Harry would stumble into the way.
But – so involved with the silver charm she was investigating, she soon lost track of time and space, as she always did down there.
She didn't notice when the young, hungry child performed his first bout of accidental magic, canceling the ward she had formed around him.
She didn't notice when he toddled over to a low shelf hitched against one wall.
She didn't notice when he giggled, and rummaged through the small, glass – and above all else, shiny – bottles she and Angela kept there.
But she did notice when she heard the loud, expensive-sounding smash.
Whirling, screaming, drawing her wand and casting every preventative and protective spell she could think of, she envasceo'd hundreds, if not thousands of galleons worth of potions, items, ingredients, parchments, contained spells … leaving one small, startled and barely conscious Harry sitting in a pile of shattered glass, splintered wood and broken lives echoing into the futures of so, so many.
The damage to young Harry was, at first, indeterminable; he had no physical injury thanks to Lily's quick spellwork, but his developing accidental magic had been extremely active ever since the Incident, and she and James feared he way have absorbed, or been affected magically, by some of the substances he had unwittingly pulled onto himself. Yet, at such a tender age, there was no telling what had been inflicted on him; so, the matter was pressed to the rear of their minds in favor of a far more immediate problem.
Because the damage to Lily, to James, to their entire family, had been far, far worse.
The items Lily had envasceo'd, sending to an alternate realm where they were literally torn atom from atom and eliminated from existence for all of eternity, totaled one hundred and seven thousand, sixty two galleons, ten sickles and a knut. Her employer – now, ex-employer – had told her flatly and almost jokingly, he would let the knut slide. But every single other sickle, every single other galleon – must, must, must be repaid.
James, having just months before inherited his legacy when his not-yet aged father fell to one of the last Death Eater raids, bypassed the tearful Lily – who claimed she could work herself to pay the debt – and spent almost the entire Potter Inheritance and Fortune to satisfy the extremely angered Ministry. Then, upon a very strong suggestion from the Head of his Department, resigned. And told to never approach the Ministry, or any of their enterprises, ever again.
Lily was heartbroken. In one move, one hour, one moment, all they had worked for was gone. They had no one to turn to; the few friends they had were friends from work, and as such unapproachable. Sirius and James had long fallen out of contact, when Sirius took up the mantle as Defense Professor at Hogwarts for two years running, thus breaking the supposed "curse" on the position. Remus was – somewhere, James had fallen from contact with him also. Dumbledore hadn't spared them so much as a second thought since them turning down his offer to join the Order. Lily's parents had passed away in a car accident five years previously; James' own parents were dead. Lily's sister was a muggle, and hateful of magic; James was an only child.
They had no one.
So, with what little money they had left, with the savings they had scrounged together from their respective, well-paying jobs, they began to plan. There was nothing for them here; the Ministry refused to offer them employment after the disaster of the Incident, and the few factories or magical shops hiring closed their doors and pulled the shutters whenever they saw the downtrodden pair coming; their reputation preceding them.
It did not take long for Lily and James to discover there was nothing to be had in the Ministry, in central London, in Hogwarts, among any of their old friends or alliances. They couldn't be here anymore.
So they turned their eyes elsewhere. And began to plan their departure.
They made plans, their eyes moving from the Wizarding community in central London and away to the outskirts, where they could both afford to live comfortably, and perhaps be more able to find jobs, as well as a place to raise Harry. So, looking over what money they had left, they found themselves drawn to a magical community in the eastern London, hidden in wizard-space and magically expanded alleyways much in the same way they Diagon and Knockturn Alleys had been.
The community had extremely cheap residential areas – sporting a three bedroomed apartment they could afford to deposit on with the money they had – and a population of just over three thousand magical beings, the third largest magical settlement in Britain, but also one of the poorest. There were plenty of retail stores and a handful of spell-crafting and -casting workshops James could enquire into, which were not controlled or owned by the Ministry – meaning he could likely find employment there with minimal difficulty. And, the advantages of being a magic-only community meant the trace wasn't in effect, those underage could practice magic for home-schooling purposes, and there were children's schools that taught not only reading and writing, but also extremely basic concepts of potions and classes on how to hold a wand correctly among other rudimentary wizarding skills.
The community was, admittedly, darker than Lily or James had grown knowing in their own, sheltered families … but with the little means they had, there wasn't much better that they could afford, and they were growing desperate.
Lily and James decided within a week of searching through the Prophet for ads, to purchase the home, and the next Monday sold the deed to their cottage in Godric's Hollow. The small number of galleons they received in return was immediately put into repayments for their new mortgage, and three days later their things had been packed, Harry was strapped to James' chest for floo transport, and they were ready to leave.
There wasn't really anyone they wanted, or needed, to say goodbye to. The past few years had been lonely for the once popular young couple. They felt there really was nothing left for them here; with little to no money, a new family and no job to be found in central London, it was time to move on.
With a whisk of green flames and a muttered direction, the three of them – Lily and James discretely clutching each other's hands in the family-sized public floo fireplace – disappeared.
The apartment was located on one of the streets magically expanded within the wizard-space; an entire suburb compressed into an area the size of a football field and the entrance hidden as a mysteriously locked Janitor's door in an abandoned gymnasium. The sun shone, yes, though there was more often rain in the old-style town formed from black and grey bricks, steep and narrow alleyways and a jumble of buildings thrown together, every second one an after-thought during planning.
There was a centralized street where one or two of the locally-owned stores were situated, with numerous thin alleyways branching off in all directions to different apartment strings or long, twisted buildings, all of them densely packed to compensate for the limited space the magically-expanded town provided. After dropping their shrunken boxes off at the three-story, thin apartment, Lily and James were shown around by an equally thin man in a long brown cloak. There was a grand total of one and a half parks in the town, with three swings, two park benches and seven trees, one of them flowering. There was a primary school for the younger children, and a stone courtyard just beyond the initial entrance to the town.
Three thousand residents, including over two hundred children under the age of eleven. A town built almost entirely from black conjured stone, wood and magic. Minimal Ministry intervention, although admittedly with a strong black market undercurrent. A small, out-of-the-way hospital next to a tiny fountain flowing with magically filtered water. This place, this town, was known collectively to it's residents and rare visitors as Were, derived from the term werewolf and named as such for it's nature of appearing dangerous and deathly at first, although, if time was taken to dig deeper … so much more could be found.
At least, that's what their guide – a local storekeeper – had said.
It wasn't the most elegant place, nor the most beautiful, but it was about as far away from the Leaky Cauldron, and the Ministry, as Lily and James could get without leaving London, something they just couldn't bring themselves to do. It was functional, affordable, and goddammit it might just work.
If someone had told James, freshly graduated from Hogwarts a mere five years ago, that he would have ended up here of all places, he would have laughed.
But now, looking up at the drizzly white sky, his wife's hand in his own and his son on his hip, he couldn't imagine himself anywhere else.
This is just a silly little plot-bunny spawning from reading far too much fanfiction. One of the stories I recently read (I forget the name) mentioned in passing "only those with the means, or ability to earn a scholarship, go to Hogwarts." I then realized just how expensive Hogwarts must be – for the Head of a Ministry Department (I am, of course, talking about Arthur Weasley) to live on the brink of destitution just to send his children there. Admittedly, there are a lot of children – but think about it. How many truly poor children do you see at Hogwarts? Children whose parents are unemployed, bankrupt or unable to earn money? Almost all of the students are either sons or daughters of well-known / highly-placed Ministry personnel (Susan Bones, Draco Malfoy, even Ronald Weasley would count), Heirs to incredibly large fortunes (Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom) or from very well-off Muggle families (Hermione, whose parents are highly paid Dentists, Justin Finch-Fletchy, who was once destined for Eton of all places.)
And the very few exceptions – Tom Marvolo Riddle, Severus Snape – are extremely powerful, more than powerful enough for a scholarship. Although, for the sake of a working plot, there will be no scholarships in this fanfiction – basically, either you have money, and go to Hogwarts, or you don't. Pretend the orphanage was willing to pay such an amount to have Tom off their hands and Severus' Mum was a midnight cat burglar, whatever tickles your fancy.
So, from the before mentioned sentence sprang the idea of; what happens if you don't go to Hogwarts? Then; why wouldn't you go to Hogwarts? Then; what if Harry didn't go to Hogwarts? Then; why wouldn't Harry go to Hogwarts?
And finally; how do I make a workable plot out of all this?
And the rest flowed on from there.
Oh, but please, don't forget to review! It won't make the story longer, or better … but it might make me update quicker! (dangles carrot)