DISCLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$
A/N: I started writing this some time ago. After getting several chapters done (but not posted), I read a fic (in Progress) that said it was in response to "Proud Mudblood's" Challenge – which included several (minor) scenarios (but not nearly all and definitely not the major ones) that are in this fic so I felt I should mention that but any similarity between that challenge and this fic is purely coincidental…
I also wish to note, for those following my other stories my father died from cancer. His body, lying there all yellowish in the sunset as we stood around unable to keep him with us… It may mean nothing to you, but I needed another release.
Harry Potter's first two years in the wizarding world had been strange. True, if he really paused to think about it his entire life in one way or another could be considered strange and certainly could not be considered normal by any except the most abnormal of measures. His parents had been murdered when he was fifteen months old. He had no memory either of them or the life he had had with them although, deep down, he felt he had been loved and cherished by his parents. That his parents had been brutally murdered was not normal. He was personally unaware of anyone who could claim the same thing. The truth was there were at least a few children at his school how had lost one or both parents around the same time for there had been a rather bloody war back then, but had Harry even suspected such things, he was unaware of it because to the best of his knowledge no one talked about it.
But assuming they had lost their parents in the way and Harry had heard about it, Harry was still not normal. First of all there was the fact that his parents had become the targets of the most evil wizard in memory if not of all time, a wizard so feared that even eleven years after his defeat and disappearance and, in most the world's belief, his death, people still feared to utter the name "Lord Voldemort." Harry was abnormal in no small part because he thought that was just silly. But what really set him apart was that on the same night that Lord Voldemort killed his parents, the same powerful and feared Dark Wizard turned his wand on baby Harry … and was destroyed by that baby. Ever since that day within the wizarding world Harry had been famous and lionized as The-Boy-Who-Lived, a name which annoyed him to no end once he learned of it and a fame he loathed not just because it was associated with the death of his family but also because he had no memory of what had happened. For all Harry knew it had all been a bizarre coincidence and considering how bizarre he found this wizarding world, that made bizarre coincidence far more plausible in his mind than what most people seemed to believe. He could point to his middle of the road marks in his magical school as proof of his theory, but most would say that he defeated the Dark Lord as a mere baby because he, fifteen month old Harry Potter who probably was still soiling his nappies, was the most powerful wizard in the room that night.
But the weirdness that was Harry's life did not end there or that night. The life he remembered before learning he was a wizard was also abnormal although the family he lived with would be sure to debate that opinion considering they spent every waking moment trying to be as normal as possible. Well, his Aunt and Uncle did. His Cousin's idea of being normal was beating up anyone smaller than he was and Harry had always been smaller. Apparently, finding a baby on one's doorstep next to the milk containers was not normal, even if the baby was the son of a sister. Since Harry was not normal, he was treated as not normal and any sign of abnormality was met with at best ridicule although more often a beating and being locked in a cupboard under the stairs of his mother's sister's home which doubled as his bedroom. Even Harry soon learned that a closet was not a normal bedroom even for an unwanted house guest.
His Aunt and her husband – whose immense, cetacean like bulk placed him well out of the normal range of even morbidly obese people – further added to their delusions of normality by ignoring Harry existed right up until they realized he had to be sent to school. It was then he painfully learned that his real name was a somewhat normal and boring "Harry" and not "Freak" or "Boy" as he had always been called. It was also then, during a few weeks of visits to doctors and stuff to make up for years of not seeing doctors and getting the necessary shots (wherein his normal coveting Aunt was repeated berated for not being normal enough when it came to the health care of one Harry Potter) that Harry learned he needed glasses, a fact that earned him a beating, loss of dinner for a week (if picking through scraps left by the human garbage disposals could be considered a dinner) and a new excuse for his Cousin to pick on him and pound on him. School was about as normal as anything Harry had ever experienced, right up until he received his end of year marks his first year. He was way at the top of his class while his cousin was way at the bottom. For whatever reason, his Aunt and Uncle considered his marks abnormal and he was dealt with accordingly and spent the rest of his time at school trying to be normal like his cousin Dudley when it came to marks. The problem was Harry was born with a brain in his head.
After ten years of living with what he knew were the very abnormal, normal coveting Dursleys, Harry's abnormal life took a turn for the even more abnormal. Precisely as some clock somewhere struck midnight on July 31st, 1991, which was Harry's eleventh birthday, the wizarding world truly struck him right between the eyes. True, there had been warning signs in the days before, signs even Harry could not miss. After all, how often does anyone, abnormal or not, get swarmed by huge flocks of letter carrying owls considering that normal owls neither carry letters nor swarm nor congregate in flocks whether or not carrying post or swarming was on their day's schedule. Which was the other abnormal thing about the sign of swarming flocks of post carrying owls; the birds were doing their swarming postal duties in broad daylight. To avoid the not nearly as nocturnal as one would think avian swarms (and given his Aunt's obsession with cleanliness the piles of guano said swarms were sure to leave in their wake), his normal coveting relations dragged him and his fat cousin to a ruined shack on a rock off the coast, which Harry was certain was not normal in any way at all. It was here in the drafty cabin, which didn't even have electricity much less a telly for his cousin's favorite shows, that a very abnormal man burst through the door just after midnight (an abnormal time for guests) and proceeded to tell Harry he was a wizard.
The man was Rubeus Hagrid who probably topped eight feet in height and had long, scraggly hair with a matching beard and mustache, a long, travel worn duster yet went about carrying a pink umbrella. The very abnormal man then went on about Harry being a famous wizard who was supposed to be attending a school for real witches and wizards called Hogwarts in the fall which was not exactly a normal way to introduce oneself. Then again, learning that he was a wizard did explain some things – things which Harry had known were not normal. He had once grown his hair back overnight after his Aunt had all but shaved his head. He had also kind of jumped from the ground to the top of his school. Well, he really didn't remember jumping at all. He just wanted to get away from his Cousin Dudley and Dudley's gang of friends who had somehow broken into the school's athletic supplies and found a cricket bat and were looking to play cricket with Harry – although not in either a proper or friendly manner. Most recently there was the trip to the zoo where Harry learned he could talk to snakes although in that case of now explained abnormality his only regret was he didn't ask the snake to eat his cousin. Then again, given how fat his cousin was, one might consider it cruel to ask any creature to eat Dudley Dursley in a single setting.
Thus began Harry's education as a wizard and his entry into a world filled with witches, wizards, ghosts, dragons, magic and a host of other things his relatives would definitely not consider normal. But even here, Harry's life was far from normal and it was not just because his real parents had been killed by an evil wizard or that he had supposedly beaten this terrifyingly nasty wizard when he was a baby. His trip into magical abnormality may have begun his very first evening at Hogwarts when he convinced a manky old hat that was used to sort new students into one of four Houses that the hat was wrong. Actually, the hat merely wanted to put Harry into a house called Slytherin and it might not have been a big deal to Harry at all had he not met one Draco Malfoy who reminded him of a physically miniscule version of his bully of a cousin and who had just proudly been sorted into that House or Ron Weasley, a far more personable boy as compared to the odious Malfoy spawn who was convinced that Slytherin and evil were synonymous. So Harry argued with the hat and was sorted into Gryffindor. Harry had never told anyone that but he was sure that if getting the hat to change whatever it had for a mind was commonplace he would have heard about it by now.
The list of not normal things continued. After ignoring a teacher under threat of expulsion and getting caught by the Deputy Headmistress herself while riding a broom unsupervised, instead of getting punished properly – as at least a few of his classmates had wanted including his future best friend Hermione Granger and the odious Malfoy brat which may well have been the only time those two had been in agreement about anything – he was rewarded for his rule breaking and insubordination by being made the youngest Seeker in a century for his House Quidditch team. His means to that end notwithstanding, being the youngest anything in a century is not normal. Neither is running into a Cerebrus even if it was in the school and the Headmaster had made a statement to avoid that corridor under pain of death. Nor could one consider attacking and ultimately helping defeat a fully grown Mountain Troll at age eleven after only two months of classes, extenuating circumstances of saving his friend Hermione's life notwithstanding, particularly where she became his friend after the troll incident, normal in the least. Add to it a professor possessed by the supposedly dead dark wizard who killed Harry's parents who tried to kill him at least three times that year, and it was all very abnormal even by magical standards.
Harry had hoped his new life meant no more normal coveting Dursleys, but that was not to be and an encounter with a hyperactive and slightly masochistic House Elf found him locked in a room with bars in the window for the later part of the summer. It was the smallest bedroom in his relatives' house and not a jail per se, but how many other kids magical or not had been treated that way? Then there was a flying car and a break out from his domestic prison which, while exciting, could not be considered a normal, everyday sort of thing. Nor would stealing that car (actually, Ron stole it) and flying to school and crashing into a huge and apparently very violent tree. If anything, his second year was less normal than his first. He had a professor in Defense Against the Dark Arts who advocated that one's choice in mouthwash could be critical in defeating vampires, contrary to the learned works on the subject, and that was probably the most useful thing he taught all year. Then there was the fact that someone seemed to have opened some place called the Chamber of Secrets and released a foul beast that no one seemed to either know about nor could the faculty seem to figure out what it could be and it seemed to strike at random petrifying annoying cats and certain Muggle Born students – as in witches and wizards who had no magical parents – including his friend Hermione. Add to it the school blaming it all on him simply because they found out he could talk to snakes and it was destined to be a bad and very abnormal year.
But as abnormal it may have been for Harry, he was at least willing to conceded most of the abnormalities he experienced in the wizarding world were not unique to him, after all the threat from the Chamber of Secrets was not unique to him at all. What he would neither concede nor would tell anyone was the strange and persistent feeling he had had from the very moment Hagrid had burst into that shack on his eleventh birthday until now. Every moment since that time, every event, every smell however foul, every conversation, it all seemed as if it had happened to him before. It was déjà vu every day, all day. And just like déjà vu, while he had that sense everything had happened before, he had no sense about what was going to happen next and where there are possessed professors, trolls and massive basilisks skulking about trying to kill him or anyone, not knowing what was about to happen was disconcerting to say the least. What good was it to sense that this all had happened to him before if he could not take advantage of it to see that the bad stuff that was about to happen did not happen again? If he could do that, maybe Hermione and the others would not have been petrified to begin with. Furthermore, he was certain that even if he told Hermione about this sense of his, it would only prove what others were already thinking and Harry refused to believe he was mental even if denial might be a symptom of insanity. After all, until he realized that the creature that was petrifying people left and right was a basilisk – thanks to Hermione – and as such was a snake, he thought he was hearing voices in the walls of the school just before every attack which, Ron pointed out, was not normal even in the magical world – hearing voices that no one else could hear that is.
Harry Potter stood in a corridor near the entrance to the Headmaster's Office – or rather the gargoyle that blocked the entrance to the stair that led to the Headmaster's Office. He had been up all night. Just last night a message had been painted on the walls of another corridor stating "Her bones shall lie in the Chamber forever." It referred to Ron's sister Ginny who was missing and Harry had figured out where the entrance to the Chamber was. He had led Ron and Professor Lockhart (the one who was on about mouthwash and proper grooming as crucial weapons in the fight against evil) into the caves below the school via a secret passage that only one who spoke to snakes could open and, after the professor tried to erase their memories and erased his own instead, Harry went on alone to face Tom Riddle who was also known as Voldemort – the wizard who had killed his parents. He also faced a huge basilisk and somehow had defeated both, saving Ginny's life in the bargain. What followed was a long meeting with the recently reinstated Headmaster Albus Dumbeldore about his most recent adventure, one which was interrupted by a Mr. Lucius Malfoy, father of the odious Draco Malfoy and who, apparently, had set the whole chain of events in motion, not that he would admit to it. Harry had just tricked the vile Malfoy senior into freeing the hyperactive House Elf named Dobby and the man had reacted by trying to cast a spell at Harry. Dobby had magically cast the man out of the castle. Once again, Harry had that annoying feeling of déjà vu.
"The Great Harry Potter has freed Dobby," the elf said looking at Harry in awe. "How can Dobby ever repay him?"
Harry thought of a snarky reply like telling the elf never to try and save his life again, seeing as it often was a painful experience for Harry and seemed to have been increasingly so over time considering the last time Dobby tried to "help" or rather convince him he was in danger Madam Pomfrey, the school nurse, had to re-grow all the bones in his right arm although that wasn't really the elf's fault. All the elf did was charm a Bludger to attack Harry during a Quidditch match and the iron ball had shattered his arm, an injury that Madam Pomfrey could heal quite quickly and with little additional pain. But that well groomed yet incompetent fop Gilderoy Lockhart who was rubbish as a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher had to prove he was rubbish at healing as well and had accidentally vanished all the bones in Harry's arm. Still, he had reason to steer clear of the little elf and was tempted to tell him not to try and save "the Great Harry Potter" again. But Harry then changed his mind.
"I would ask the same of you, Dobby," Harry said. To Harry's surprise, for the first time in almost two years he had no sense of déjà vu. He did his best to hide the elation he felt but could not help but wonder why this change had occurred.
"But … No. Dobby did not free Harry Potter from nasty wizards! Dobby could not even keep Harry Potter safe from nasty wizard's plans!"
"You saved me just now," Harry said. "Mr. Malfoy was going to cast the Killing Curse at me." Harry had no idea how he knew that. He knew of the Curse. Hagrid had told him that it was that curse which took his parents' lives the day after telling Harry he was a wizard. But aside from the curse's name, he had no idea about it. Dobby merely nodded in reply confirming Harry's suspicion.
"What do you want, Dobby, that I can give as a Thank You?"
Dobby looked down at the floor and shuffled his feet. "Nothing. The Great Harry Potter frees Dobby. Dobby not be wanting more."
"But that was before that man tried to kill me and before you truly saved me. I owe you, Dobby."
Dobby began crying. "The Great Harry Potter owes Dobby? Wizards not be owing to House Elves. B-but the Great Harry Potter is no ordinary wizard. But why would the greatest wizard Dobby knows be owing anything to Dobby?"
"You saved my life just now, Dobby. Surely there's something I can do to show you thanks?"
Dobby looked at Harry with tears in his eyes and a brief glimmer of hope. Then he looked down again and shook his head. "Dobby be free elf. Dobby not be worthy of thanks. Dobby already…"
"Already what? I thought you wanted to be free. I thought you didn't want to be a slave."
"Dobby wanted to be free of bad masters," the elf replied. "Bad masters treats elves worse than slaves. But elves be needing wizard's magic and wizard's not be wanting elves who's been freed. Dobby knows this and knews it and … being freed is better than being with bad masters but …"
"Dobby," Harry interrupted, "you wish explain something to me?"
Dobby nodded clearly nervous and maybe even scared.
"Dobby, I promise you nothing you say will make me angry with you. About the most you'll have to worry about is that I'll be confused," Harry then laughed. "Then again, most of our talks have left me confused."
Dobby seemed to relax a little and looked at Harry with a slight smile on his face. "Not here," he said softly and grabbed Harry's hand. They were clearly somewhere else almost immediately and Harry had not felt a thing. He had traveled by floo once and it left him dizzy and a little queasy and he heard that portkeys and apparition were not much better and, depending upon the person, might even be worse than using the floo. But whatever Dobby had done had no ill effects as far as he could tell. He looked around and saw that he was in another corridor and guessed they were still in Hogwarts. Having never read Hogwarts: A History which was a book his best friend Hermione had practically memorized, Harry did not begin asking questions about how Dobby had been able to do that given that the school's wards were supposed to prevent any forms of unauthorized magical travel. On one wall of the corridor there was a tapestry with a wizard dancing with some trolls which Harry did find very odd given his limited experience with trolls. Dobby was across from this tapestry and seemed to be pacing back and forth as if thinking about something when suddenly a door appeared in what had been a solid wall. He then turned to Harry in a manner as if expecting Harry to enter which Harry did. After all, magically appearing doors were rather mundane after what Harry had been through over the past two years. Still, he had not expected the room beyond. It was an exact copy of the smallest bedroom at Number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, the room his relatives had cleaned out for him (much to his cousin's dismay as it had held piles of broken toys). Harry was moved from his former bedroom in a cupboard under the stairs to this one when one of those strange, post-carrying owls arrived with a letter addressed to that cupboard under the stairs.
Harry looked at Dobby as the door to the room closed. "Where are we?" he asked. While he was pleased he had absolutely no sense of déjà vu about this, finding himself at what he considered the most hated place on earth was not a pleasant change.
"Hogwarts Elves be calling it the 'Come and Go Room'," Dobby replied. "It be having other names, but Dobby not be knowing them."
"What is it? Why is like my room at my relatives?"
"It being a magical room in Hogwarts. Manys knows of its but fews do. Many have found it but never knows whats it is and forgets it. Only a fews have founds it and knows it and use it many times. Even the old wizard who's been here forever has founds it but only once and not again."
"Why's it so hard to find? What does it do."
"Oh, it no be hards to find, Harry Potter. It always in the same place. Wizards just don't thinks it to be special is all. But it is. It be very, very special. Yous pace outside across from the strange wizard with drunken trolls and thinks about whats yous wants the room to be. Yous pass by it three times while thinkings it and the room becomes whats yous wants and stays what yous want for so long as yous stays in it. Unless there being another who wants the same room you wants, no one else can enter while yous is here unless yous lets them. The Hogwarts elves be using versions of this room for ages and ages to hides things that's gets students in trouble or other reasons. The best thing is this room be having neither ears nor eyes."
"Ears and eyes?"
Dobby nodded. "The paintings, ghosts and Hogwarts elves all be loyal to old wizard and tells him everything theys sees and hears if he asks. He uses them to … er … spy on people too. But here? No spies here, Harry Potter. No one can sees or hears us. This be the room where Dobby first meets the Great Harry Potter so … so Dobby thought … because … well…"
"Why are we here?" Harry asked.
"Harry Potter frees Dobby from evil wizards and Dobby being happy to be free of evil wizards, but Dobby can't be free as Harry Potter knows free to be…"
"Why not? Why can't you?"
"Dobby being House Elf, Harry Potter. House Elves are bound to serve a family…"
"As a slave, you told me."
"No! Well, not always. House Elves need to be bound to serve a family! Even the House Elves here at Hogwarts are bound to serve their family!"
"Why the young witches and wizards whos lives here. They be a family of sorts. They be enough of a one."
"But why do elves have to…?"
"Dobby not be knowing why, Harry Potter Sir. Dobby just being knowing thats House Elves be needing wizard magic for their magic to work and if there be no wizard magic, Elf magic fades away and when it's gone, so is the elf."
"Are you saying that you have to be bound to a wizard family or you will die?"
Dobby nodded. "Not rights away. It be taking a long time. But it be slow and painful and…"
"Dobby, if I'd known that I'd've found another way! I wanted you to be free of them and happy not … not dead!"
Dobby smiled. "But Dobby is free of nasty wizard family and is happy and is honored that the Great Harry Potter woulds even thinks of helping such an undeserving elf…"
"You're not undeserving," Harry began.
"But Dobby won't be dyings from it 'cause Dobby is being already bound to new Master."
"What do you mean?"
"When an elf be given clothes they's free of their last master and can be bonding with any witch or wizard if they wants it and if the witch or wizard … if theys not be stopping it."
"What do you mean, Dobby?"
Dobby now looked embarrassed almost as if he had been caught doing something wrong. "The Great Harry Potter be freeing Dobby and nots be stoppings the bondings and…"
"Are you saying you're my elf now?" Harry asked in surprise.
Dobby nodded. Until this time Harry had been standing and with that nod he sat on the rickety bed and just stared at the elf. "Um…"
Harry saw tears forming in Dobby's eyes and the elf's lower lip began to quiver a bit. The elf then turned his back to Harry and began pounding his head against the dresser in the room. "Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!" he said as he thumped his head as hard as he could.
"Dobby! Stop it!" Harry commanded and the elf complied and turned around looking very contrite. "Why were you doing that?"
"Because Sir," Dobby began, "Dobby thoughts Harry Potter be needing an elf and hoped Dobby would be Harry Potter's elf but Dobby being wrong!" he wailed.
"Dobby, it's not that," Harry said as soothingly as he could. "I never even thought about having an elf until … well, until you told me you became my elf. I don't even know what an elf can do and … well, it's not like I have a lot of stuff or … But I never said I wouldn't want you as my elf if I need an elf, did I?"
Dobby shook his head.
"I would be honored to have Dobby as my elf," Harry began and the elf threw himself at Harry and began hugging Harry's legs crying his large eyes out while mumbling what sounded like thanks. "But," Harry said loud enough to get the elf's attention, "but I don't know what House Elves do. I don't even know if I have things for a hard working House Elf such as you to do. What can House Elves do anyway?"
As Dobby began describing all the ways he could help the Great Harry Potter, Harry listened intently and offered several ideas that could really be interesting, especially his ideas about how to deal with his Muggle relatives. All the while Harry thought to himself that a twelve year old wizard having his own House Elf probably was not normal at all. But at least he did not have the feeling that this had happened before.