Eight year old Harry Potter's life, little though he might realise it, was distinctly odd.
The latest example of this oddness was right in front of him.
"And then what happened?" Harry asked in curiosity.
"And then the Father of All Serpents told her to eat from the tree, for it was the fruit of Knowledge," said the snake. "And her eyes were opened, and she perceived her nakedness, and sought to cover herself."
Harry was supposed to be weeding the garden, but sitting behind the garden shed listening to a talking snake tell him stories was far more interesting.
"Couldn't she tell?" Harry asked, brow wrinkling. "I mean, it's sort of hard not to notice, being naked."
"It is a metaphor," said the snake tolerantly; after all, its audience was barely more than a hatchling. "When I say she noticed that she was naked and sought to cover herself, I mean that she became different from most other creatures, and noticed the way in which she was different."
Harry thought about this for a while.
"It's a mettyphor because… because only humans wear clothes, right? And she was different from all the animals," he suggested finally.
"Very good," praised the snake.
Somewhere in the distance an angry voice screeched,
"Uh-oh," Harry exclaimed, scrambling to his feet. "I'd better go. Thank you for the story, Mister Snake."
"You are welcome, Young Brother," replied the snake. But the boy had already fled.
Had it been human, the snake would have shaken its head, and sighed to itself.
The child was clearly in the hands of unfit guardians. What were the demons thinking?
It was hard to find a more charming boy than Harry Potter.
Small for his age, and badly dressed, the boy was nonetheless calmly-spoken with lovely manners, and a pair of big green eyes and a shy, endearing smile that simply increased his charm.
The Dursleys had tried to spread rumours about the boy, talking about delinquency and bad behaviour, but it was obvious to everyone who met him that there wasn't an ounce of harm in him. He was far too well-behaved, too well-mannered, and a kind word or two was enough to make him beam in startled pleasure. It was more than likely that the couple were trying to divert attention from their own, rather unpleasant offspring, whose corpulent figure and bullying ways were well-known to the neighbourhood.
Despicable, his teacher thought, and shook her head sadly.
"Miss Harper?" a bright, polite voice asked.
She jumped, and looked around to see that Harry himself had approached her when she wasn't paying attention.
"Aren't you supposed to be outside during lunch?" she asked, smiling a little.
Harry looked up at her with wide green eyes.
"It's just I had a question," he explained, looking a little dismayed.
"What is it, then?"
Harry brightened as he saw that he wasn't actually in trouble.
"Someone was telling me stories," he explained. "About an angel who turned into a snake and told the first lady to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. It was really interesting."
Her eyebrows rose.
"That's a story from the Bible, Harry," she told him kindly. "You don't have any Bibles at home?"
Harry shook his head, frowning.
She thought for a moment.
"You know, I think the library has a children's Bible, if you want to read more," she said thoughtfully. "I can show you next time we go in there for Reading Time, how does that sound?"
Harry's face turned radiant.
"Thank you Miss Harper! That's brilliant!"
She simply smiled fondly at his enthusiasm, unaware that in this instance, religious education might not be the best thing to expose her student to.
"So," Harry summarised, the children's Bible on his lap as he talked to the snake, "basically he's in trouble because he ran away and was naughty, instead of doing what he was told."
"…I suppose you could say that," the snake conceded eventually. It had never heard Lucifer's actions described in quite that way before.
"It says he was the fairest and most beautiful angel of them all, and they called him the Morning Star for he shone as bright," Harry read off the page. "So how come he was a snake in the Garden, then? I don't get it."
"He could turn into a snake," the snake said patiently.
"Oh. That makes sense." Harry flipped through the pages in front of him. "I wonder if there's more books that can tell me about him?"
"Probably," said the snake.
As Harry grew older, the Dursleys found it more and more difficult to treat him badly.
If Petunia went to order him to do something that he didn't want to do, she found herself hesitating, and asking Dudley to do it or doing it herself instead.
If Vernon opened his mouth to yell at the boy over breakfast, one glance into green eyes and he found himself shutting it again and going back to his bacon, without any further fuss.
Dudley no longer chased or tormented his cousin; Harry would just look at him and say, 'Dudley, don't be a prat,' and Dudley would find himself nodding politely and going away and leaving his cousin alone.
There was only one occasion in which he persisted in bothering Harry until Harry was quite annoyed. Ten minutes later a dazed Dudley realised that he was helping Kelly Hampton braid her hair, and agreeing that gosh, the blue bows were pretty.
Dudley had promptly flung himself backwards with a yell of horror, and after that made a far greater effort to be nicer to Harry.
Over time Harry developed an assurance and confidence in himself that in anyone else might have been conceited. And yet, in Harry, it wasn't arrogance; it was simply that the idea that things might not go as he wanted them to, or that people might not do as he wished them to, never entered his head.
Petunia found herself buying Harry proper clothes of his own, and books and toys, and making sure that he ate properly. Vernon found himself clearing out the extra bedroom one afternoon and making it habitable; he exchanged a confused, speaking glance with Petunia, and gruffly told Harry to move his things out of the cupboard because he was sleeping in the room next to Dudley's from now on. Harry appeared completely unsurprised by this information, and his aunt and uncle shuddered at the implications.
But whatever the reason, by the time that he was ten years old, the Dursleys treated Harry almost like a normal human being.
Harry sometimes wondered, vaguely, why the Dursleys' behaviour had changed so drastically over the course of little over a year, but other thoughts usually soon put the question out of his mind.
Harry was on his way home from school when he spotted the burly man and Mr Davis.
Harry liked Mr Davis. He was rather strange; he always had goats in his backyard even though his neighbours complained, and whenever he saw Harry he shouted 'Hail Satan!' and saluted, but he was always kind and sometimes gave Harry sweets, so Harry overlooked his odd habits.
Harry frowned, and walked closer.
The burly man was holding Mr Davis by the throat, while Mr Davis tried to push him away. The burly man was strong, though, and it had no effect.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked.
Mr Davis instantly rolled his eyes sideways to look at Harry in relief.
"Piss off, midget," the burly man said, without looking around.
Harry's frown deepened.
"I think," he said slowly, "you should let put him down."
The burly man instantly let Mr Davis go, and then looked greatly surprised, like he hadn't meant to do that at all.
Mr Davis just lay on the ground coughing, and blinked up at Harry with an expression of gratitude.
"What the f–" the burly man started to say, turning around, but stopped dead as he looked at Harry.
Harry was just standing there in his school uniform with his backpack on, his hair blowing a little in the breeze, but the burly man looked at him like he saw someone completely different.
"Oh shit," the burly man said, staring at Harry in what seemed to be horror.
"You shouldn't swear," Harry said reprovingly. "It's rude. I don't want you hurting Mr Davis. He's my friend."
"Praise be to the Dragon, and see how fortunate are those who fall in his favour!" Mr Davis wheezed valiantly, and coughed some more.
"Oh boy," said the burly man. "Look, I didn't know, okay? No one told me he was one of your followers, alright? I was just reminding him about his contract, but if he's been serving you that's fine, I'll let the boss know. No problems."
"All right," Harry said agreeably. He had no idea what the bloke was talking about, but it sounded like he was going to leave Mr Davis alone, and that was what Harry wanted.
"Hail, oh exalted Lord of Darkness!" Mr Davis cried, more loudly this time.
"Oi, stop that," the burly man told him. "Can't have everyone knowing, can we? You don't want to ruin his plans for world domination, do you?"
Mr Davis froze in consternation.
"I will pretend I know nothing. I would hate to ruin his glorious plans of conquest and unholy rule!"
"See you do," said the burly man. He turned to Harry. "I'll just be going, then," he said respectfully, and with a nod, began walking away.
Harry looked down at Mr Davis, still lying on the pavement and making no effort to get up.
"Are you okay, Mr Davis?" he asked in concern.
"I am fine, oh Child of – erm – I mean – uh –" He floundered to a stop.
"My name's Harry," Harry said kindly.
"Harry," Mr Davis repeated, a little incredulously.
"That's right," Harry agreed. "Excuse me, Mr Davis, I really need to get home. I'm glad I could help, though."
Harry smiled a goodbye, and continued home.
On Harry's eleventh birthday he received a letter, written in emerald ink and an elaborate cursive hand.
Frowning curiously, he opened it and read it.
After a moment's contemplation, he went to find his aunt and uncle.
"Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, I got the strangest letter…"
Vernon and Petunia simply exchanged despairing looks.
If things had turned out the way they had without Harry even knowing about magic, what would happen once Harry was trained to do peculiar and frightening things?
That same morning, a black classic car drove down the streets of Godric's Hollow, eliciting a few raised eyebrows at the blatantly muggle vehicle. The sound of 'Born to be Wild' drifted faintly on the air as it purred down the road.
The car came to an abrupt stop, however, as the driver caught sight of the Potter house, half-collapsed and with an entire wall blown out as though something had exploded with great force inside the building.
It was clear from the degree of disrepair that whatever had caused the initial damage, it had happened a long time ago, and the house had been abandoned for several years at the least.
The inhabitants of Godric's Hollow spent the next several minutes wondering what was happening as the air filled with the sound of shouted curses and angry yells, and the long, drawn-out sound of someone hitting a car horn in frustrated fury, and the sudden fear of someone who knows they're going to be blamed for this.
Yeah, so this entire fic is a bit of a shout-out to Good Omens. This chapter is a bit rushed, I dunno.