Minerva McGonagall sat at her desk late in the afternoon receiving the owls back from the students under her care. That meant everyone in Gryffindor tower and all the first years. The work wasn't hard, just tedious. It was just receiving mail, sorting it and dealing with the occasional problem. The older years were pretty easy, a pile for financial aid, one for those returning and finally ones for those electing not to return. Those in the last and smallest pile would be receiving a personal visit from their head of house. The first years were a bit different. First there were the muggle borns to visit and explain things to, then the applications for financial aid, finally she would get to sort those who had accepted or rejected.
But today she received one that had her worried. She received a Hogwarts letter with the address scratched out and a note that said wrong address. But she happened to know this was the right address she had personally seen the child moved to that house. She went to the floo to make a call and then returned to her seat to wait.
Early that morning***
"Morning Pet." Vernon said giving his wife a peck on the cheek, "Fine day today."
"That it is dear." Petunia replied, "Sit, your breakfast will be ready in a moment."
Vernon Dursley moved his bulk to his spot at the table, sat in his chair and picked up his paper. He read it like he always did in the morning. But today his reading was interrupted. As he turned the page he caught a glimpse of something at the window. When he pulled the paper back to look at it again he was shocked to see an owl at his window. "Pet, is that an… owl at our window?"
Petunia spun around quickly and looked, it was indeed an owl. She couldn't imagine who would be sending her an owl. Lily hadn't sent one since their last fight more than twelve years ago. It had been shortly before she married that fellow. The sight of an owl at her window was making her anxious. While she wanted nothing to do with her freaky sister and her crowd she certainly didn't want anything to happen to her.
"Petunia?" Vernon tried to get her attention. The woman had been staring at the owl for several minutes without moving, "Are you alright? Is it from your sister?"
"I don't know." Petunia said flatly, "But it won't go away until I check it."
Gingerly she approached the window and opened it. She reached slowly forward taking the letter from the owl's leg and looked at it. It was addressed to Harry Potter #4 Privet Drive. That's odd Petunia thought. She went to the counter and scratched through her address and wrote Wrong Address on the envelope and then gave it back to the owl who flew away.
"What was that about?" Vernon asked.
"Wrong address." Petunia replied.
"Should have just thrown the blasted thing away." Vernon grumbled.
"The owl would have just stayed until I gave it something to return." Petunia said, "They're annoying that way. I did the least I could while still getting rid of it."
"That should be the end of that then." Vernon said as he began to eat his breakfast, "Owls as a postal delivery system is just unnatural."
"What seems to be the problem Minerva?" Albus asked as he entered the office.
"Harry Potter's letter was returned with a note that say's wrong address." She replied.
"I told you there may be difficulty with the muggles." Albus said, "Just send a couple owls this time."
"Albus I have a weird feeling about this. Would you just go check please? I'd go myself but…" Minerva indicated he desk covered with letters.
"Fine, I'll have a look." Albus said, "But he's fine I tell you. All my indicators show he is safe at home."
Albus appeared that evening after dark on Privet Drive and walked to number four. Lights were on in the house so he knocked and waited. The door was opened by a large boy whose face slowly changed from expectant to confused.
"Who is it Dudders?"
"Someone dressed up for Halloween." He yelled back still staring, "You're a little early aren't you?"
"What do you mean?" Petunia asked moving towards the door. Upon seeing the man on her stoop she said, "Dudley go into the living room and send out your father."
Dudley left and Albus addressed the woman, "Petunia how are you?"
"What in blazes is going on?" Vernon asked as he stomped through the door, "My favorite show was just…" At that moment he saw the man at the door, "Go away we don't mess with your sort."
"Where is Harry Potter, I'd like to speak to him." Albus said.
"It's about that letter from this morning isn't it?" Vernon grumbled, "I told you we should have destroyed it."
"I don't know a Harry Potter." Petunia said, "That's why I sent the letter back."
"You are Lily's sister are you not?" Albus asked in confusion.
"I am but I've not heard from her in years." Petunia said.
Albus pulled his wand and did some spells, Petunia drew back in fright. The results of the spells shocked him, "You didn't find a baby on your doorstep about ten years ago?"
"Petunia, I'm sorry to break this to you but, Lily and James were murdered almost ten years ago. I left your nephew Harry here for you to care for." Albus said."But something's happened to him."
"I knew your world would hurt her that's why I wanted her out of it." Petunia spat out, "And I'm sure any child of hers would have been just as freaky. Leave and don't bother us again."
"Aren't you worried about your nephew?" Albus asked.
Albus had called an Order meeting but he had yet to address the group that had gathered. Finally Minerva nudged him, "Albus everyone is here."
"Yes, right." He pulled his gaze away from his magical instruments that said Harry Potter was alive, safe and well cared for and addressed the group, "Harry Potter is missing." The group gaped at the news, "I checked myself and he was never inside his relative's house."
"But you said he was being well cared for." Remus said, "You promised he was."
"He is. Just not at Petunia Dursley's home. But now we don't know where to send his school letter. Hogwarts still has his address listed as his Aunt's house. The wards are still up, he is alive, he is safe and he is being well cared for." Albus indicated several instruments on the table. Each one was merrily ticking, moving or puffing smoke, "Everything is as it should be except Harry."
Eleven year old Harry Potter was practicing as was his responsibility to do. Unfortunately for him this practice involved sitting without moving. On top of that he had to clear his mind. Honestly sitting still was bad enough but he couldn't even think of something to keep him occupied. But he sat as he was told and he cleared his mind as he was told and he blocked out any intrusion that tried to break in.
"Well done Harry." His teacher said after he had let him know the lesson was over, "You lasted for three hours. That is your best time yet."
"Thank you Professor." The boy replied.
"Magical creatures are next off you go."
"Thank you Professor."
Harry continued with his day. He ate his meals, he spoke to his friends and he completed his studies. When he was done he was approached by an elder, "Tomorrow you get to learn about yourself."
Harry was excited. For as long as he could remember he had been in this place. It wasn't a bad place but he knew it wasn't where he belonged. Whenever it was close to time for someone to go home they would be pulled aside and taught about themselves and their world. His friend Alta had left a month ago. This thought tempered his enthusiasm for learning about himself. The students in this school were drawn from different worlds and when they went home they would lose contact with the friends they had made here. It was hard to write a letter to someone who lived in a world of water like Alta did. Then trying to deliver it would be another exercise in futility. The only people let near the world gates were the students going home and the gate watchers. No one else, save the Headmaster, was really sure where they were.
Harry sat on his bed and contemplated what would happen tomorrow. He wondered how his magic would work when he got home. This place was magical, would his home be? Would he lose those skills he enjoyed? His mates tried to ease his fears by telling him they taught him magic for a reason.
"Maybe the reason was so that I could live here." Harry said, "You can't deny it you have to have magic here. I mean we breath three different substances, four when Alta was still here. We can only talk because of the interpreter magic."
"True but that's not the only magic you've learned." One of his friends said, "Just quit worrying until you meet with them."
"What if I leave tomorrow?" Harry said slightly panicked.
"I've only known of one that left the day they learned about themselves." Another friend said, "Quit being such a napler."
"You know you're still the only one who understands what a napler is don't you."
"Welcome Harry." Professor Wa said, "Just so that you can stop worrying you won't be leaving for good today." Harry breathed a sigh of relief before the professor continued, "I guess you could say there is a mistake being made in your world and we need you to go and fix it. We will bring you back when you're done; you are not ready for your assignment yet."
"Ok." Harry replied with no little amount of confusion.
"Now in your world you are considered a human and a wizard." The professor went on to describe his world and how his parents were killed, "The man was going to leave you with relatives that would have hated and abused you. Bringing you here was the first mistake we could correct. You can't let anyone see you when you go back or they will try to make you go there thinking it's the safest place for you. And on your world it is, but here it is much safer for you." The professor then gave him his assignment. That evening he told his friends as they helped him get prepared to make a trip.
The next day Harry stepped up to the watcher and followed him to the doorway, "Whatever you do, don't lose your school pin; it's your ticket back."
Harry stepped through the doorway into a stone hall with a door at the end. He quietly crept through the hall to the door and opened it slowly peering in. A Cerberus, Harry thought, how do I… Oh, yes music. Harry waved his hand and the light strumming of a harp could be heard floating back out to him. It only took a few moments for the animal to fall asleep. Harry stepped into the room and levitated the dog away from the only other door in the room which happened to be a trap door in the floor. He opened it and slowly let himself drop into the room below. As soon as he hit a plant started winding around him, fire, he thought and a flame appeared in his hand. He held it next to the vines and they pulled back. Walking ahead he soon left the plant behind. He extinguished the fire when he walked into a room lit by torches. Keys were flying around him up into a high ceiling. He found a broom and jumped on it after looking at the lock on the door. When he found the right key he put a bubble of magic around it so that it wouldn't know it had been caught. He moved back to the door and opened it then moved into the next room. It took Harry a few moments to realize he was looking at a giant chess set. He tried to cross but the opposing side blocked his way.
"Play across then." Harry said aloud then walked to his king, "A leg up please I would like to see the whole board."
The king picked him up and placed him on his shoulder. Harry directed the pieces and won so he was allowed to go to the next room. There he ran across a troll. Using the translation spell he knew he spoke to him, "Pardon me but would you let me pass?"
"Come now be reasonable. I don't want to hurt you."
"Fine I'm on a tight schedule, I need to be going." Harry conjured a large rock over the head of the troll and dropped it on him. It knocked him out and Harry went into the next room. There he found a table with several bottles and a note. Fire flared up in front and behind him. He read the note and said, "How quaint a riddle." He looked back over the bottles and picked one up and drank it then walked through the fire into the next room. The last room was large and mostly empty. There was a mirror in the middle and Harry walked up to it. He saw himself but instead of being in the empty room he was in his dorm room at school. As he looked at himself his image put its hand in its pants pocket and pulled out a stone. When he went to put it back Harry felt the stone drop into his own pocket. He pulled it out and held it between his hands and after a spell it crumbled to dust at his feet. Harry touched his pin and a door opened and he walked through it back to his school's world.
"Well done Harry." Professor Wa said, "Well done."
"I'm so sorry Nicholas." Albus told his old friend, "I thought it would be safe."
"Worry not Albus let us see what happened." They approached the Mirror of Erised. Albus performed a spell and Nicholas Flamel watched a dark headed youth walk up to the mirror and destroy the stone. He waved his hand at the mirror, "Show me what he saw."
They watched the young boy in the mirror pull the stone out of his pocket and put it back, "Nicholas I'm sorry."
"Don't be it was time for it to go." Nicholas said, "It was a decision from my old school. I have no choice but to accept it. My question for you is who is your champion?"
"What?" Albus blinked in confusion.
"When I was young my parents were killed." Nicholas said, "I was whisked away to a special school and was taught everything I needed to know. When I returned I fought and defeated a dark wizard and then lived my life. The walls behind your dark haired champion were the walls of my school. You have a champion in training."
"Harry Potter." Albus said, "It has to be. Where is this school?"
"Could have been." Nicholas said, "I recall his Grandfather looked very similar to this youth when he was young. Where is it? Well I can't tell you what I don't know. But rest assured you can't reach it. Well good luck, I'll be leaving. Perenelle and I have just enough elixir to set our affairs in order."
Later in a meeting with the rest of the Professors, Albus stated, "The stone has been destroyed. Nicholas decided it was better to destroy it now before someone could steal it. He and his wife will die shortly." The next day Professor Quirrell was found dead in his office, no one could figure out why.
Twelve year old Harry Potter was drawn to the Professors office again, "They've messed up again and a young girl's life is at stake. You need to get in, destroy this book and make sure the Headmaster see's it without seeing you. He's nice enough but a bit meddling, he also suspects you are here training."
Harry stepped through the doorway into another dark hall. The stonework looked the same as last time, he liked his school better. It had nice white walls with plenty of bright light and interesting pictures. A few moments later his thoughts were interrupted when a pretty red headed girl walked past him holding the black book he was sent to find. She seemed to be in a trance of some kind and hadn't notice him. He followed her into a bathroom and he heard a voice from the book say, "Open to me the heir of the founder Slytherin."
The sink moved and left a gaping hole in the floor. The little girl jumped into the hole, Harry followed right behind her. He landed on a pile of bones and saw the girl moving off. He got up and followed her through the cave they had landed in. When they walked past a snake skin that was about sixty feet long he began to worry for the girl. Did she know how to deal with a basilisk? Would that book protect her from it or was it leading her to her death? They walked on coming to another door and the book told it to open again. He followed her through the door and into a large room. He followed a little behind her and when she reached the statue in the back of the room she held up the book and it began to talk again.
He heard a reply from inside the statue as it was opening that said, "I hear and obey my master."
Harry knew he would have only a few seconds to kill it after the snake cleared the opening mouth of the statue. He readied himself and looked at the ground until he could tell the snake was coming out. He let off a series of magic pulses from his hands changing the aim each time until he heard the cry of pain from the snake. He fired three more times before he felt the life leave the animal. When he looked up the girl was staring at him with red eyes. She pulled her wand and tried to stun him. He dodged and said, "Your eyes really clash with your hair." He held up his hand and summoned the book as he ran towards the snake. The snake had been hit while still in the air and when it fell it knocked out a tooth. The girl was still firing hexes at him when he slid into the body of the snake, grabbed the tooth and stabbed the book.
Looking back up at the girl he watched as she collapsed onto the ground. He carried the tooth and the book back to the girl, but when he tried to wake her up she was unresponsive. Every healing charm he knew did nothing to help her. He looked around and found no other way back up, sighing he put the book and tooth in his pocket, tapping the pin he picked her up and stepped through the portal.