Petunia had inherited her mother's brown eyes and her father's brown hair. When her little sister Lily was born, her parents started having fights. When it became clear that Lily had bright red hair and even brighter green eyes, Petunia began to figure out why. After all, neither of her parents had red hair or green eyes, so where had those features come from?
Lily had her mother's face despite those differences, and while Petunia was her father's favourite, her mother, Alice, loved Lily better. When Lily got that letter saying she was a witch, their mother had been startled, but then pleased, thrilled even, with the very idea of magic in the family. Their father had just smiled in amusement and shaken his head before giving permission for Lily to go to Hogwarts.
When Harry Potter arrived on the doorstep of Petunia Dursley, the first thing she noticed were those green eyes staring up at her. Those green eyes that weren't Evans or Kingsley, but from the unknown man that Alice Kingsley-Evans had had an affair with. That, as much as the boy's own parents, was what made Petunia hate him. Having an affair was not done, even in the neighbourhood she'd grown up in.
Harry was six, and unlike the previous year, he was in a different class to his cousin Dudley. He'd also found out that it was alright for him to stay in the library all through break provided he wasn't noisy. That suited Harry just fine. He was quite happy to sit quietly with one of the books and read.
At the moment, he was reading the famous work of Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Beyond the Looking Glass. Not at the same time of course, that would be confusing, but there was something about these stories that sounded right to little Harry.
He was eight when he found out why. His Aunt Petunia had sent him to clean the attic of dust. One of his many tedious chores meant to keep him busy while Dudley watched television. Among the boxes up in the attic, Harry found the diary and journals of his grandmother, and after reading the first page of one of them, tucked as many of them as he could into his over-sized clothing without becoming obviously lumpy, and hurried as quietly as he could down to his cupboard, where he stashed them before running back up to get more of them.
In those books, Harry read the famous story from a different perspective, with attention paid to different details, and with whole sections added to the story that Mr Carroll had missed out, and a number of things found to be different to how the story books had depicted them. Harry read about Tarrant Hightop, Chessur, Mallyumpkin, McTwisp, Queen Mirana, and so many others. He read of Alice going as a child, the dreams and nightmares that came from the memory that she couldn't remember, returning on the day she was proposed to by a Lord Hamish, her own slaying of the Jabberwocky, leaving again, travelling the world as part of the trading company that her father had started, falling in love enough to marry – though she didn't love Mr Evans near so much as she loved the Hatter – and then somehow getting back to Underland long enough to find her Hatter again, and conceive his mother, Lily, who later received a letter saying that she was a witch.
Magic, despite his relatives assertions to the contrary, was real. His mother had been conceived in Underland by the famous Alice and the equally famous Hatter, and she had inherited his hair colour – though it was not so wild – and his incredible green eyes. Harry wondered if his own hair had caught that wildness that had skipped his mother. Certainly he had the same eyes. Though his grandmother seemed a little disappointed that Lily's eyes hadn't changed colour with her mood, as Tarrant's had done – becoming orange when he was angry, though green all the rest of the time.
Grandmother Alice talked at length of all the things that made Tarrant Hightop exactly who he was, and while his hat was indeed the finishing touch and he didn't quite look himself without it, there was certainly more to the man than that.
Chessur and Absalom got almost as many pages dedicated to them as well, and Harry kept an eye out for any blue caterpillars or butterflies, always quietly asking if they knew Absalom when he saw them. He had yet to get an answer from the caterpillars, and when he tried to follow the butterflies, his Aunt always sharply called him back.
When the letter came, Harry recognised it from his grandmother's journal, and slipped it into his cupboard quickly before taking the rest of the mail to the kitchen for his uncle before Vernon could tell him to hurry up a second time. He would take the train to London and follow the path Grandmother Alice had noted in her journal of how they found and purchased all of his mother's school things.
Harry was quite sure that Aunt Petunia had no idea what was in her mother's journals, or she would never have kept them in the house where Harry could find them. He may not have found the way to Underland, but he was certainly going to take the first opportunity presented to him by the magic in this land, and he was particularly grateful to Grandmother Alice for taking such an interest in everything that happened with his mother. It meant he had a fairly good idea of what he was getting himself into.
As soon as he was sent out to weed the garden, Harry was over the fence and bolting down the street, letter burning a hole in his pocket, as he headed for the train that would take him to London.
It didn't take long to find the Leaky Cauldron, follow an adult into the Alley beyond, and then straight down the cobbled street to the bank. He didn't have much money to change for wizarding coin, he'd spent almost all of the change he'd found down the back of the couch on the pass that would let him use the train and bus all day. Still, he had his grandmother's word that his mother had opened an account with Gringotts, and he was hoping they'd let him into it.
"Yes?" demanded a goblin teller when Harry stepped up, having waited his turn.
"I'd like to... enquire as to any holdings that are under the name of either of my parents or myself. If it's not too much trouble please," Harry said, slowly, carefully, having practised the fancy banker/grown-up speak on the train after thinking hard about all the things Grandmother Alice had talked about in her journals detailing her time travelling the world as part of a trade expedition. That last part he tacked on more quickly.
The goblin raised an eyebrow. "And they are?"
"They were James Charlus Potter and Lily Mirana Evans, later Potter," Harry answered earnestly.
The goblin appeared to freeze up, then leant forward to scrutinise Harry more closely. "Do you have a key, Mr Potter?"
Harry shook his head. "No sir," he answered. "I haven't anything but my grandmother's journals and my name."
The goblin frowned as he sat back, and tapped his long, pointed nails on his desk for a moment, clearly thinking. "Very well," he said at last. "The locks will have to be changed on the vaults, a reckoning made of all withdrawals from the date of your parents death until now, and obviously you did not give leave for all that has been published about you, so you may wish seek legal action on those matters. I will escort you to the vault your parents opened in your name, and then begin these processes. Follow me."
"Yes sir," Harry answered quickly, falling into step behind the goblin as he led the way from the main bank floor to a corridor, a passageway, and then a cart on a set of rails.
When they came to a stop, Harry had only three words to say. "That was incredible!"
The goblin chuckled darkly, and Harry supposed he was amused, but then the vault door was being opened and Harry was handed a wallet that would hold his coins and silence any clinking.
Harry was told to return to Gringotts in the morning and ask for Goblin Wulfgar.
Harry's first stop after Gringotts was a law firm, on the advice of Goblin Wulfgar, where he learned the full particulars of his fame, his cult following, the books and the dolls and all the people who had his endorsement in their shops even though he had yet to visit any of them. Harry didn't really know what was going on, he just decided that it wasn't to continue, and was able to secure a personal solicitor to make sure it stopped and didn't start up again.
His second port of call – he'd gotten that from Grandmother Alice's journals, and was quite fond of the phrase – was Knockturn Alley. Harry kept his head down and found the second-hand stores that couldn't afford to be on the main street. Harry first found a trunk that was thick with protective spells, as well as in possession of a feather-light charm, an expansion charm, and a shrinking charm, that had belonged to a curse breaker before he'd encountered a curse that broke him instead. Next was the second-hand book store, for texts with other people's notes in already to help him study. Naturally, he got more than what was on the list. It was a long list, and would have cost quite a bit if he'd bought them all new, but buying second hand meant that the books were cheaper, and there were so many interesting books that Harry saw no reason to limit himself to the assigned books.
After that was the apothecary's shop, where Harry looked at everything with his other potions book in his hand. The one that he'd thought looked interesting and useful, rather than the one that had been listed as part of his school supplies. This seemed to impress the apothecary behind the counter, and he was quite helpful in educating Harry about his wares.
Harry decided to skip the quills, parchment, and the telescope on his list, deciding to get a good stationary set from a stationers and a few exercise books instead, and buying a proper telescope from the National Geographic.
A second-hand clothes shop had dragon-hide gloves, boots, aprons and coats, which Harry decided – since he could get all of these things in his size – he'd buy at least one each of. There were Hogwarts robes there too, in perfectly good condition, and his size, so Harry bought his full set at the same time. He'd stop by some shops later for some regular clothes, socks and under-things that would also fit him. He had money of his own now, so he wasn't going to wear Dudley's hand-me-downs any more. Not when he had the option of buying clothes that actually fit him.
Harry found a potion seller who sold him potions to fix his stunted growth, his malnutrition, and his bad eyesight – and that had been a very expensive potion. Another potion was to be drunk in conjunction with applying a salve would get rid of the scars from the beatings from his relatives and the time he'd been attacked by Marge Dursley's prize bulldog. Harry bought both, even though one or the other would have made the marks fade, since both would make them completely disappear.
That just left a wand, and then Harry would go out into regular London and buy the rest of his things. He'd seen Ollivander's Wands on his way towards the bank, but didn't feel like going back into Diagon yet. Knockturn was a bit scary, there was no doubting that. A number of the women he'd seen looked like the wicked witches and evil hags of picture books, and there were men didn't look much more pleasant, but Harry wasn't going to let that put him off. There were plenty of normal-looking people here too, and despite being offered eye-of-newt-on-a-stick, two for a knut, Harry really hadn't been accosted or anything here. He'd gotten the distinct impression at the solicitors and the bank that he would be if people in Diagon Alley knew who he was.
Harry found a wand shop in Knockturn, to his relief, the sign above reading Abe's Custom Wands. That was close enough for Harry to Absalom for him to like the sound of it, and it was custom wands, where it looked like Ollivander's had ready-made wands on the shelves. A wand was important for a witch or wizard in this world. He wanted the best one he could get right from the get-go.
"Well, this is a surprise. I don't normally get to make first wands. Do come in young man, come in and take a seat," declared the man who had been sorting through a bowl of what looked like plastic beads at the front desk, but was now waving Harry to the stool on the customer side of the desk with one hand as he put away the beads.
Two hours later – Harry had been required to take an active part in the crafting of his wand, as well as the divination process that had found his most compatible woods and cores – Harry walked out of Abe's with sixteen inches of monkey-puzzle tree and tulgey wood carved together in a lovely spiralling twist, with a small pool of mercury in the base of the handle, and from hilt to tip was a feather that Harry hadn't been able to see until Abe had shone a black-light on it. Abe said he'd found it in a muggle night-club, and honestly had no idea what it was doing there or what kind of creature it had come from. Harry decided to not let it bother him, and was soon back at Gringotts to change some of his galleons for pounds and get a portkey to the old Potter town-house. It was apparently derelict, but it was invisible to muggles, not that far from Trafalgar Square, and there were no Dursleys there, so it would suit Harry just fine, whatever condition it was in.
Harry made his other purchases quickly and easily, and then discovered that travelling by portkey was not fun. All the more motivation to learn how to evaporate like Chessur.
The Potter town-house was a dump. The wallpaper was faded or stained and no longer on the walls properly. There was dust on every vaguely horizontal surface and filth on every vertical one. The floorboards all creaked, and the carpets were looking more than a bit moth-eaten. The furniture was covered at least, so it wasn't quite as dusty as it could have been, but it had all still managed to get some of the stuff into its upholstery.
It would suit him just fine. He'd start cleaning when he got back from Gringotts in the morning, and it would help him to pass the time between now and when he left for Hogwarts on September first. The place would then be a lot easier to move properly into come summer.
"Ravenclaw!" the Hat declared, and Harry hopped down from the stool once McGonagall had removed it from his head, making his way to the cheering table.
"And to think, everybody was banking on you being a Gryffindor like you parents," said an older student by way of greeting.
"Yes, well, I didn't know them," Harry answered pointedly. "And I have a curious mind," he added with a distant smile. He'd gotten all of Grandmother Alice's journals and diaries from Privet Drive, without the Dursleys or any of the busy-body neighbours ever seeing him, and they were all stashed in his trunk right now.
He had every intention of searching the Hogwarts library for any reference to Underland that was more tangible than the story of Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Maybe even search the grounds for rabbit holes and the halls for hopeful looking glasses.
Harry nearly cheered at having found a promising looking mirror in a disused classroom, but upon reading and deciphering the inscription over the top he deflated, then frowned.
"Well that's not any more safe to keep in a school than it is to announce to all the curious students that there's something that could kill them on the third floor corridor," Harry muttered to himself, even as he stepped up to look into its depths.
A collection of people appeared, none of them him, but all of them familiar from Grandmother Alice's descriptions in her journals and diaries.
The White Queen Mirana, the white rabbit McTwisp, Absalom the caterpillar, Mallyumpkin the doormouse, the Tweedle Twins Dee and Dum, the March hare Thackery, and there, in the middle of them all, Alice Kingsley stood, holding Chessur, while Tarrant Hightop, the Mad Hatter himself, had his arms around her.
"I don't suppose I can come through?" he asked, laying a hand on the glass surface.
Even Chessur's grin dimmed as they all shook their heads sadly.
Harry sighed. "I'll have to keep searching for a way then," he said firmly, and left the mirror behind, determination in every line of his body.
With a despondent sigh, Harry climbed aboard the Hogwarts express, heading home for the summer holidays. He'd not found an appropriate mirror, the grounds were completely barren of rabbit holes, and all of his year-mates had been trying to buddy it up to the 'boy who lived', rather than actually getting to know Harry.
He'd gotten an anonymous Christmas present, which claimed to actually be the property of his father, so he didn't actually count it as a gift, but rather someone finally doing the right thing by returning his property. The invisibility cloak had been steeped in odd potions though, so he'd gone down to the laundry to wash it thoroughly before he wore it though. The elves had been most helpful in identifying all of those potions, and Harry was glad he'd thought to wash them off first.
After all, what good was an invisibility cloak if it had been steeped in potions that allowed it to be seen through, or one that would cause an astute person to know that there was more in his approximate area than there appeared to be? None at all.
Still, at least he'd gotten the top grade for the boys in first year because of all the extra reading he'd done searching for a way to Underland, which was better than nothing. Maybe next year would be more interesting. Maybe next year they'd get a DADA teacher who didn't stutter too. Professor Quirrel had disappeared with a week of school left, only exams thankfully so no one missed classes, but it was still odd.
"Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts!" insisted the strange creature that had appeared in the middle of the room that Harry was cleaning at that moment.
Harry gave the creature a level look. He'd met the house elves of Hogwarts, so he knew that this was one, and he had some idea of how to handle one.
"Do you have orders to tell me this?" he asked.
"No," the elf answered nervously, shifting about and twiddling its fingers. "Dobby's master would probably like it for Harry Potter to be at Hogwarts, but such danger!"
Harry sighed. So he wasn't faced with a normal house elf. He was faced with one that was going a bit off in the head, and not necessarily in a good way either. Bother.
"Alright Dobby," Harry said. "If you can find me the way into Underland before the first of September, then I won't go to Hogwarts. If you can't, then I'm afraid that I have to go back so that I can keep searching for it myself. It's the only real reason I go anyway," he explained. "Does that sound fair?"
Dobby nodded and disappeared with a pop.
"You're Harry Potter."
Harry sighed, shook his head in agreement, and looked at the girl who was sitting alone in the compartment. "And you look like Alice," he said. "But I know that you're not unless reincarnation is real, in which case the gods are not fair for setting you back in this world rather than in Underland. So, will you introduce yourself?" he asked, stepping in, closing the door, and taking a seat opposite her.
"Luna Lovegood," she answered. "Though it is very sweet of you to compare me to Alice, thank you."
Harry chuckled. "I only mean that you look like my grandmother when she was younger. It's the hair mostly I suppose."
Luna nodded in understanding. "Still, thank you all the same. You're not at all like you're portrayed in the 'Boy Who Lived' books you know. I think that's a good thing really."
Harry smiled broadly at that. Finally a person who thought it was a good thing he wasn't a superhero!
Later that night, when Luna was sorted into Ravenclaw, Harry made a point of making space for her to sit beside him.
"What did you do that for Potter?" asked one of the snootier girls in his year. "Everybody knows that the Lovegoods are loony."
"On the contrary," Harry countered firmly. "Luna has been the only person I've met in the whole magical world who was sensible enough to see that I am more than the 'Boy Who Lived', and tried to actually make friends with me and not my reputation."
Luna was bullied for all of a month before the rest of the school cottoned on to the fact that Harry actually really did hold the girl as a friend and would defend her against any and all attacks. He'd even gone so far as to invade dorm rooms to retrieve Luna's stolen belongings. Quite a feat when the girls dorms were all spelled against boys entering, and that Harry even managed to retrieve items from the dorm rooms of other houses.
"How did you do it Harry?" Luna asked when the bullying finally stopped.
Harry grinned. "I've been practising my evaporating skills," he said. "I do so hope that when I get to meet Chessur that he will be proud of me. Grandmother Alice was never able to learn you know, though she did the futterwacken almost as good as Grandfather Hightop."
Luna giggled behind her hand. "And how is your futterwacken?" she asked.
Harry sighed despondently. "I haven't any idea," he said sadly. "I've never seen the futterwacken performed, and Grandmother Alice didn't really leave a sufficient detailing of the steps. I hope that when I find Underland that somebody will be willing to teach me."
Luna patted his arm. "I'm sure they will Harry."
"Bog-nov," Harry groaned when he was the only person left in the classroom, his bright emerald eyes fixed on the Cornish Pixies that the idiot had released in class. He was surprised when the one he was looking at clasped its hands over its mouth and looked scandalized. Harry blinked and frowned. "No offence to you," he said, "I meant the idiot who had you in a cage in the first place."
The blue, winged creature relaxed a little, even laughed behind its hand, and flew down to land on Harry's shoulder.
"And how do you know any Outlandish?" it asked in a tiny, tinny voice.
"Grandmother Alice wrote down some of Grandfather Hightop's more eloquent moments in her journals. I don't know what it means, but it felt appropriate," he answered softly, shifting eagerly in his seat. "Do you know how I can get to Underland?" he asked.
"Down a rabbit hole is the general method for humans," the pixie answered with a laugh.
Harry sighed. "I have yet to find a rabbit hole that went anywhere deeper than a warren, and I can rarely fit more than an arm down those holes."
The pixie was sympathetic. "You've been looking in the wrong places then," it advised.
"I've been looking in every place. I fear I'll never find the right rabbit hole without a guide," Harry answered. "I don't suppose you could show me the way?"
The pixie shook its head. "Not us," it answered. "We don't take the rabbit hole, or the looking glass for that matter, so it would do you no good."
Harry sighed again. "Thank you anyway," he said.
When Mrs Norris, and then the students started getting petrified, Harry took to walking the halls with a blindfold, advising Luna to do likewise once he'd taught her the guide-dog spell – a spell which had been created by a blind wizard who had heard of the muggle concept and couldn't afford to buy the eye-correction potion. The spell would guide the witch or wizard who had cast it to their desired destination safely, manoeuvring them around other people and preventing them from running into walls, doors, or any other hazards.
When Luna brought Harry an enchanted diary that Myrtle had been moaning about, he dropped it with a hiss, as though burned, then levitated it in front of him with his wand and, with Luna at his side, took the item to their head of house, Professor Flitwick.
Such a shame that Professor Lockheart didn't leave the castle before he was killed by the monster in the Chamber of Secrets, but at least the dangerous diary – because Professor Flitwick had declared it very much an unpleasant object that he would be disposing of personally – wasn't going to hurt anybody any more. Myrtle particularly appreciated Luna coming back to say so before they had to board the Hogwarts Express for the summer holidays.
"It looks like I'm raising the national average," Harry commented to himself, amused, when his exam results reached him that summer. "Then again, I suppose with people like that Ronald Weasley chap and that Creevey boy, it all evens out. Then again, Creevey probably knows everything that there is to know about photography, even if he knows nothing else."
He was just glad that he'd gotten all of the 'Boy Who Lived' books off the shelves and a good number of them recalled by the end of the previous school year, so muggle-borns like the Creevey boy didn't know about him to adore him like all the other sheeple. The most frustrating aspect of that battle had been getting Albus Dumbledore, of all people, to back down about the matter. He really was a moron. Or else terribly controlling and manipulative. Considering the titles he held, Harry was rather concerned that it was the latter, rather than the former.
Other legal matters were taking longer – like getting a trial for his godfather. Interesting little tidbit there, Harry had found, the man who was supposed to have legal guardianship of him had just been thrown into prison without a trial and only circumstantial evidence. Harry didn't much care one way or another if the man was guilty or not, or if he could have a half-way decent parental figure (anybody had to be better than the Dursleys had been), he just didn't like the idea of a perfectly workable justice system being so completely ignored.
Harry was gifted the Marauder's Map by the Twins Weasley when they noticed that he didn't have a pass to go to Hogsmeade – due entirely to not having lived with his guardians since he'd received his Hogwarts letter – and was momentarily hopeful when the map showed that there was a tunnel beneath the Whomping Willow. Maybe he'd found his way to Underland at last?
Five feet down the tunnel and Harry gave it up and turned back. This wasn't a way to Underland either. Clearly this tunnel was man-made and went somewhere near by, rather than to the land his grandmother had found. He'd have actually properly fallen if it had been a way to Underland, as it was, he was walking along-ways without a problem. Definitely the wrong direction.
Harry decided to just get his Arithmancy and Runes homework finished instead. There'd be other days to go to Hogsmeade and hunt for the way to Underland. Luna would be able to tell him what she wanted from the shops as well.
"You wanted to see me Professor Lupin?" Harry asked, stepping into the man's office.
"Yes Mr Potter, I did. Thank you for coming. Did you see the paper this morning?" Lupin asked, gesturing for Harry to take a seat while he poured them both tea.
"I did," Harry answered, nodding. "I'm glad they finally sorted that mess out. Now someone just needs to tell the poor fellow that he can come out of hiding."
Sirius Black had been proclaimed innocent of the charges he had been incarcerated for. The truth potion had been administered to the people who had actually questioned him before throwing him in Azkaban, and it had been quite revealing.
"As you say," Lupin agreed, handing the boy a cup.
"I must admit though, I'd never expected the trial to be able to come to a proper resolution without Mr Black in attendance himself," Harry added with amusement as he sipped his tea.
Lupin chuckled and settled down in his chair with his own cup of tea. "I expect he'll get his hands on a copy of the Prophet at some point," he said. "That's not the only thing I wanted to talk to you about though."
"Is it to do with you not permitting me to face the boggart at the beginning of term, or that Mr Black is my godfather?" Harry asked, locking his bright green eyes on the man who, he knew from Grandmother Alice's journals, had been a good friend of his father. "Or perhaps about you having never come to see me for more than a decade?"
Lupin sighed. "Yes, all of those. I'll start by apologising for that last. Dumbledore set wards around the Dursley home preventing anyone and anything with a certain amount of magic from approaching you. I wanted to visit, but physically could not because of those wards."
Harry snorted into his tea. "Dumbledore stumbles again," he quipped.
Lupin chuckled weakly. "Yes, I suppose so. As for Sirius being your godfather, Mr Potter, you know that it is entirely possible that after so long an exposure to dementors that he is not completely sane any longer? Possibly not even completely safe."
Harry nodded. "I know Professor. I actually did an extra-credit assignment on them for Care of Magical Creatures. I've been studying the patronus charm too, but without a dementor to practice against, I can't really know how I'd hold up in a real-life scenario."
"I'm impressed Mr Potter. That is quite an advanced charm for a third year to be learning," Lupin said, his eyebrows raised.
Harry chuckled. "I should maybe just try setting them on fire?" he suggested. "I've just recently gotten it to start taking a more solid form, but I'm not certain what it is yet. Still, better than just mist."
Lupin smiled. "If you need any help, I'd be happy to," he said. "Now, you wanted to know why I didn't let you face the boggart at the beginning of term?"
"Academically," Harry answered, nodding his head. "Considering what I had thought would appear, it is quite sensible to not have me facing a boggart in the staff room. I'm curious what you thought would appear that you stopped me facing it."
"I though that Voldemort would appear," Lupin answered honestly.
Harry snorted into his tea again, chuckled, then laughed out loud until his stomach hurt. "Oh Professor, that is a good one! Why would I be afraid of a man who killed himself on accident when I was a baby, and has been at least mostly dead ever since? He's nothing to do with me, whatever the story books may say."
At least, not since the goblins had pulled that bit of soul from the scar on his head anyway. He'd felt so much lighter – and not in the Dumbledore sense – when it was gone. Like he could suddenly float if he wanted to. That was just a little bit Mary Poppins-ish though, so he kept his feet on the ground. Getting rid of it had certainly made evaporating easier as well.
"And the prophecy?" Lupin asked, genuinely confused.
"What prophecy?" Harry returned, now confused himself. "Nobody has said anything to me about a prophecy. If they want me to fulfil one then it's best I know it. No Professor, currently my only mission in life is to find an appropriate rabbit hole and disappear down it for the rest of my life."
"You mean like the Alice in Wonderland stories?" Lupin asked, even more confused, before shaking his head. "Dumbledore should have told you about the prophecy when you arrived at Hogwarts."
Harry shrugged. "I've yet to speak two words to the man," he answered. "And it's Underland, not Wonderland. Easy mistake to make though. Alice was my grandmother."
Harry nodded. "I found her diaries and journals. I do so want to see the place for myself," he said wistfully.
"Mr Potter, may I ask what your boggart would have turned into?" Lupin asked.
"I was thinking the Jabberwocky," Harry said honestly. "Grandmother Alice had to slay it with the vorple sword you know, and was able to give a frightfully detailed description of the monster. It wouldn't have really fit in the staff room. Then again, since I've done all that research on dementors, I suppose the boggart might turn into one of those for me now. They really are frightful creatures."
Lupin nodded dumbly. He really hadn't expected that from the boy.
Harry sighed. "You know, I almost thought I'd found the right rabbit hole the other week, at the base of the Whomping Willow, but it was obviously a horizontal tunnel, and not a real rabbit hole at all."
"You didn't go all the way down it, did you?" Lupin asked.
Harry shook his head. "Five feet in I figured I'd the wrong hole. Though I do now wonder where it ends up. Perhaps I shall investigate it another day."
Luna had invited Harry to stay at the Lovegood house for some of the summer holidays, and Harry gladly accepted, since Luna herself would be happy to help him look for rabbit holes on the property, and her father wasn't the sort of journalist to print lies about him.
Unfortunately, there were no more appropriately sized rabbit holes on the Lovegood property than there was in the garden of Harry's own house.
When Sirius invited Harry to his house shortly after, Harry went there just as happily. It was a bit of an adventure making his house habitable again, but that was alright. Again however, the garden yielded no rabbit hole that would take him to Underland. There wasn't even a rabbit hole at the camp site for the quidditch world cup that Sirius took Harry to.
Harry blinked in surprise when his name came out of the burning cup. "Excuse me, but what in the name of Crims just happened?" he asked loudly.
"Your name came out of the Goblet Mr Potter," Snape sneered. "I thought it was rather obvious."
"Except for a couple of things Professor," Harry answered. "One: Hogwarts already has a champion, that rather exemplary-looking Hufflepuff chap who stood up a moment ago."
That got a few cheers from the Hufflepuff table in appreciation of his recognising their champ.
"And two: if I were going to enter into what looks like a magically binding contract, I'd be obliged to use my full name, surely? There's a few details missing from a flimsy bit of parchment that only says 'Harry Potter'," he finished. "To say nothing of three: the 'infallible' age line."
"Mr Potter, if you refuse to participate in the Tournament, the enchantment on the Goblet will likely strip you of your magic," stated Mr Crouch from the staff table.
Harry huffed in disgust.
"Go on Harry," Luna urged softly. "You might find your rabbit hole somehow during the Tournament," she pointed out.
Harry sighed, groaned and stood. "Fine," he said. "But I still object."
Harry looked up at the Hungarian Horntail whose nest he was supposed to steal a golden egg from. The other champions had already gone, and now, rather than playing with the small figurine, he was faced with the full sized, extremely protective mother herself, and she was not-at-all-pleased with her situation it seemed. That was fair. Neither was he.
"Grandmother Alice had the right idea," Harry muttered to himself. "And Rudyard Kipling. Six impossible things before breakfast, and the female of the species is more deadly than the male."
Harry put his chin in his hand, looked up at the Horntail, and performed that very particular skill that he'd been practising ever so very hard ever since he'd read about it in his grandmother's journals. He evaporated.
A moment later, the golden egg was floating away from the nest behind the dragon's back, and when it was quite clear, Harry reappeared, holding the egg in his hands. There was a face-splitting grin on his face as he winked at the judges.
He'd been practising that grin too.
From the lake shore, Harry frowned. His only real friend was down at the bottom of that lake, and they hadn't even thought to check that the champions weren't hydrophobic or even capable of swimming. Oh, he wasn't and he could, but he also was decidedly unfond of water and a weak swimmer. Just as well he'd sent out for some gillyweed really.
But if they really expected someone who was part veela to be able to handle water then they were all wet behind the ears. He just hoped that they hadn't picked Fleur's dance partner from the Yule Ball to be her hostage. If he had to drag up What-his-name Davies as well as Luna (who he'd taken to the dance as she was really the only choice and he was quite fond of her), then there would be some trouble.
At the bottom of the lake, Harry bubbled out a sigh of relief to find that, as well as the girls who'd been the dance partners of Viktor and Cedric, there were two blonde girls where he'd expected one, and Luna wasn't the smaller one. He guessed that the little blonde was Fleur's younger sister.
A quick swipe with the knife he was altogether very glad he'd thought to bring along, and a fierce growl at the complaining merpeople, and Harry was off with both of the blondes.
Near the surface, Harry spotted Fleur herself, being driven away back to shore by a rather vicious pack of grindylows. Shooting a spell from his wand that Lupin had taught him last year, Harry gave Fleur enough room to relax a little, but then she spotted her sister, wrapped up in Harry's left arm while Luna was in his right.
Harry was rather swamped by blondes when he got back to shore, and the eldest of them was kissing his cheeks in gratitude while the younger two giggled behind their hands.
The maze was truly ridiculous, and not at all in the good way that Luna was and Harry hoped that Underland would be. When he reached where the cup was waiting to be claimed, Harry found Cedric being attacked by an acromantular of all things! Even stabbing his knife into it's brain via the eyes and killing it, Cedric was seriously wounded.
Legs weren't supposed to bend that way after all.
"I'm going to stun you, and then straighten out your legs," he said to the older boy. "You don't want to feel this pain."
"Sure Harry," Cedric panted. "I don't want to feel this pain I'm feeling already."
Harry nodded and cast the spell, then, once Cedric was down, pulled the older boy's legs around the right way. He was no medic, so he could only do so much, but they looked at least mostly normal now.
Harry looked over his shoulder at the other two champions, glad that Cedric had been too preoccupied with his pain to notice them. He'd found Viktor under the imperious curse, though thankfully stunning him had worked. Fleur had been out cold already when he'd found her, her dress torn up and blood flowing freely from a number of injuries – now inexpertly bandaged by him. He'd had them floating along behind him rather than leaving them where they were for who-knows-what to find them. Now though, it was probably time to wake them up.
"Ennervate, ennervate, ennervate," Harry said, pointing his wand to each of the older students in turn, then headed for the cup. "Time got Lady Luck to screw me over," he said as he closed his hand around one of the handles. A sharp tug on his navel and Harry nearly brought up his lunch mid-flight as he registered the feeling of portkey travel from when Sirius had taken him to the quidditch world cup the previous summer.
"Damn," Harry coughed when he'd finally landed. In a cemetery.
"This way! Quickly!"
Harry turned and spotted – joy of joys – a white rabbit, impeccably dressed, and standing beside a large hole. Harry didn't wait and he didn't think. He dived for the hole, grinning. His only thought was: sorry Luna. She'd so wanted to come with him when he found the right hole.
Harry grabbed up the key from the table and palmed the bottle with the tag stating 'drink me', ready with a spell on his lips that would shrink down his clothes to fit him when the pishalver took effect. Small and with the sudden aching feeling of all the things he'd left behind in his trunk back at Hogwarts, Harry sought out the upplecupchin in its ornate little glass box underneath the table, and grabbed it up as well, even if it was rather large compared to him at that moment.
Then again, the most valuable things he had there were his grandmother's journals, and upon being entered in the Tri-Wizard Tournament he'd made out a nice simple will stating: 'If I don't make it out, Luna is to have everything of mine, except for the troubles. I hope they die with me.'
With great anticipation, Harry unlocked the door and stepped through. He walked down some stairs that had no real support, and then took the tiniest bite of the upplecupchin so that he was his own regular size once more, his clothes re-sizing on his frame once more.
"Finally here," he breathed as he looked around him.
"Indeed," agreed the same voice that had called him in the cemetery. The white rabbit himself.
"Mr McTwisp, I presume?" Harry asked hopefully.
The white rabbit smiled and bowed slightly. "It is a pleasure to meet you at last," he said. "We've been hearing stories about you from Absalom for positively years."
"I've been looking for the way to Underland for that long," Harry agreed with a smile. "Thank you sir for showing me the way."
McTwisp bobbed an agreeable nod. "Well, I hope you will excuse me, but I have an appointment to keep. I suppose you will be alright on your own?"
Harry nodded. "I will," he answered. "Don't let me detain you."
McTwisp presently turned on his toes and dashed off under the large leaves and away.
"Underland," Harry breathed happily, staring around himself in wonder. "Home at last."
"My goodness," he murmured in awe.
Harry blinked in shock when he came across the tea party. At the head of the collection of tables was a man in a tall top hat with shocking orange hair and likewise green eyes, to his immediate right was a woman of no more than thirty years with masses of golden hair and smiling brown eyes, also wearing a very fine hat. An utterly content looking doormouse was a bit further down on the left, and further down from her on the right was a hare whose eyes were not matching in the dilation of their irises.
Tarrant Hightop, the Mad Hatter. Mallyumpkin the Doormouse. Thackery the March Hare. The woman had to be Alice, his grandmother, but she was far too young to be, surely?
The woman turned and, when she spotted him, smiled broadly.
"Hello Harry," she greeted.
"Grandmother?" he asked.
She nodded, and turned to the Hatter. "Tarrant, you recall I told you we had a daughter?"
"Oh yes Alice, I remember. You called her Lily and you were quite pleased that she had inherited my colouring."
Alice smiled again. "That's right. Well, this young man is our Lily's son, Harry."
"The boy Absalom has been talking about," Tarrant clarified.
Alice nodded. "See? He's got eyes so very much like yours Tarrant."
"Come closer boy," Tarrant called, his accent changing slightly as he waved Harry around the table to come and stand at his immediate left.
Harry obeyed immediately.
"Yes," Tarrant agreed. "Yes, he's got the eyes. And his hair is just as wild as it should be."
"Welcome to Underland Harry," Mallyumpkin congratulated with a smile.
"Thank you Mallyumpkin," he returned.
"Aye!" Thackery added fiercely. "Welcome!"
"Thank you Thackery," Harry said, unable to suppress a smile at the near-violence in Thackery's tone, though he didn't doubt that the welcome was truly genuine.
"Though I insist that you only call me Alice," Alice said. "I'm not old enough any more to be called grandmother, even if it is correct."
"Indeed," the Hatter agreed. "No grandfather-ing for me either. Hmm. I'll need to make you a hat soon though. You've a good face for hat at least. Very proper for a member of the Hightop clan."
Harry nodded in understanding, still smiling happily. He'd finally found his family, and they had accepted him. Even if they didn't want to be called grandmother and grandfather. He'd been claimed as a Hightop, and that was better than being the last Potter any day.