Title: Return to Sender
Summary: The Dursleys cannot accept Harry's magic and return the 3 year old to Dumbledore. How will this change Harry's life and the future for the wizarding world? Eventual "Snape adopts Harry" fic!
Disclaimer: All characters involved belong to J.K. Rowling!
Note: I was originally inspired to write a similar story years ago but ran out of plot ideas. Now I'm back with new ideas and hopefully not a "cookie cutter" plot. This is an AU story and will not follow the books exactly, some characters will not remain in canon.
I'd like to give a very special thanks to my beta reader, Blueowl. You're amazing and keep me going with new ideas!
Chapter 1: Halloween, 1981
The sun was just setting below the horizon and the wind rattled the windows of the Potter's safe house in Godric's Hallow. Winter would be there soon as the leaves continued to fall from the trees. Lily couldn't help but sigh quietly as she sat in the rocking chair, watching the last children run down the street, candy filled bags swinging from their hands. Their lives had changed so much since their school days at Hogwarts. War, marriage, a son, and now hiding.
"Is he asleep?" James whispered, walking into the living room from the study. He had been spending quite a bit of time lately in there, researching different defense techniques to "be prepared" as he put it. Lily couldn't help but smile at the book. There was a time when James wouldn't have willingly studied anything outside of assigned work. How times changed.
"Finally. Harry seemed agitated tonight. I think he's been feeling our stress lately." Lily spoke quietly, her hand caressing the cheek of her sleeping angel. His black hair was coming in fuller now and his closed eyes hid the most brilliant green that she'd ever seen.
"Lily, we're safe here. No one can find us under the Fidelius. Albus promised this would be the safest plan for us." James sighed, knowing that Lily was barely sleeping lately. She had taken to sitting besides Harry's crib, just watching him. He studied her face now and saw the circles under her eyes had grown darker. It was no use though. Until Voldemort was defeated, they would be in danger. All because of a prophecy. . . .
It was late in the evening. James was in the study, pouring over some new books that Albus had lent him. He was a husband and father on a mission to protect his family, no matter what it took. "Too bad Sirius hasn't been around to practice with," James thought to himself as he leaned back in the wooden, antique chair and stretched. He felt his back pop and groaned. He had been there for much too long, that's for sure.
Walking into the living room, Lily was where he left her, in the rocking chair by the window. Harry was still sound asleep in her arms, his tiny fist gripped around the emergency portkey around her neck. It was a lily pendant on a silver chain, given to her by her mother on her 18th birthday. James quietly walked over, happy that his wife was finally getting some rest. Grabbing the afghan from the couch, he draped it over the mother and child. A cold draft from the window made James shiver and he turned to stoke up the fire in the fireplace. But suddenly, an unmistakable cracking sound from outside froze him in mid wand movement. He tried to calm himself, convince himself it was nothing to be concerned about. Perhaps it was just some late night kids making trouble in the neighborhood.
Crossing to the window to peer outside, a loud ringing pulsed throughout the house. The wards had fallen!
Instinctively, Lily shot up from the chairs, clutching Harry so tightly he began to cry.
The young couple stared at each other in shock. Something must have happened to Peter if the Fidelius had been breeched!
On instinct, they both tried to apparate. Lily's eyes widened as their attempts failed.
"He has anti-apparition wards up," Lily gasped. Her hand quickly went to her throat. Quickly, she unclasped the portkey from her neck. Lily held onto Harry while James wrapped his arms around her.
"Hogwarts," James yelled, expecting the pull at his navel. Nothing happened.
"What?" Lily gasped in panic.
"The bastard must have anti-portkey wards as well."
"Is there such a thing?"
A blast from outside never allowed James to answer. Voldemort was giving up on the warded door and windows. Instead he was blasting the side of the house. The entire foundation was shaking!
James was overcome with nausea. This was really it. Another blast nearly threw James and Lily off of their feet. It was enough force to shake James from his panic. His eyes, no longer filled with fear but determination, took a long, last look at his beautiful wife and child.
"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off," James yelled.
With a strangled cry, Lily bolted upstairs. She knew that Albus would have sensed the wards fall. Praying that James would hold Voldemort off long enough for Albus to reach them, she closed the door to Harry's room. Placing her crying son into the crib, she started putting up wards on the door. She didn't think they'd hold forever but any delay would help.
In the living room below, James glared at the dark wizard before him.
"So, Potter, you think you're really capable of defeating me?" Voldemort laughed coldly, his wand out. "You're a pathetic excuse for a wizard."
James didn't even bother responding to his taunt. His mind was focused on his wife and son hidden upstairs. He knew he had one chance to rid the world of this monster and save his family. Gathering up every bit of hate he could manage, James set his steely gaze at the wizard before him. "Avada Kedavra!" he yelled, aiming his wand.
Voldemort's reflexes were almost supernaturally fast. He quickly dodged to the right, the curse blowing apart the wall behind him. He laughed cruelly at the man before him. He snarled and cast the Cruciatius. As James dodge the curse, it hit the couch and blew it to smithereens, pieces of wood flying everywhere.
"Enough of these games, Potter. I will be rid of you… NOW!" Voldemort bellowed.
Before James could prepare to dodge the flash of green light headed at him, he was distracted by a familiar rat hiding just behind the monster before him.
"Goodbye, Potter," Voldemort grinned, noticing the distraction. The green light was the last thing James ever saw.
Upstairs, Lily could feel the house coming to pieces from the battle downstairs. Blast after blast shook the walls and sent dust falling from the ceiling. Lily kept trying to activate the portkey but whatever magic Voldemort was doing to block it was strong. Lily pushed the crib as far from the door as possible, readying herself for whatever battle lay ahead. If James failed then it would be up to her to protect their son. Standing at the crib, running her hands through her son's hair. She was ready to do whatever it took to save her precious child. Love like she never felt before filled her heart as tears ran down her face. This could be the end. Harry stared up at her, reaching to be held.
Footsteps sounded on the stairs and the door suddenly blasted away, revealing Voldemort with his wand raised right at her. He laughed as he saw Lily standing, ready to face him.
"Voldemort," Lily growled. She felt like a cornered lioness, trying to protect her cub.
"Move aside, mudblood. I'm not here for you."
Lily stared into the evil, red eyes as they glared at her. If she could hold him off long enough, the Order should arrive in time.
"Confrigro!" Lily yelled, aiming at the wall above the doorframe. The strong blast collapsed the wall on Voldemort, covering him completely. Before the dust could settle, an explosion shot the rocks and debris off of the wizard and pelted the woman before she could get a shield up.
Using her charm skills, Lily quickly bewitched the stones to repeatedly pummel the monster before her.
"ENOUGH!" Voldemort bellowed as he dissolved the stones into fine sand. With a quick movement of his wand, Lily found herself completely unarmed.
Before the red beam could hit Lily, a white light shot over her shoulder and deflected the curse. Both dark wizard and mother turned toward the baby in shock. The baby was standing in his crib with his little, chubby hands gripping onto the railing. Tears were streaming as Harry's faceturned red from screaming. Little did the adults know that the small child sensed the magic being aimed to harm his mother and it frightened him.
Voldemort recovered first, now even more determined to destroy the child before him. He threw the woman to the side to get to the boy.
Lily quickly recovered and launched herself at the man hell bent on destroying her son.
"Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!" Lilly pleaded. She couldn't let him harm her son.
Voldemort's patience was wearing thin. "Stand aside you silly girl . . . stand aside now."
Lily threw herself in front of the crib, not knowing what else to do. She was exhausted, physically and emotionally. "Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead - "
Voldemort glared down at the sobbing woman. His time was running out. Soon the Order would arrive.
Lily pleaded again, blood running down her face from the duel. Knowing what was about to come, every ounce of love she had in her for her son poured from her center. Crying out one more time, "Not Harry! Please … have mercy … have mercy… "
"Avada Kedavra," Voldemort growled, striking her at pointblank range.
Lily slumped to the ground, tears still wet on her cheeks.
The baby screamed from the crib. Voldemort sneered at the wailing child. This one who would supposedly defeat him. With this child gone, he would be invincible! He leveled his wand at the child and without a second thought cast the killing curse for the third time that evening.
Green light abounded.
Voldemort immediately knew something was wrong. The boy was alive but . . . glowing. A bright, golden light surrounded him with green at it's core. He was frozen, staring as the light grew brighter. Suddenly, a beam of green light shot out of the child and straight into him. It was agony! Voldemort screamed as he felt his body burn and his soul rip free.
The light had filled the entire house and as the scream ended, everything went dark.
Earlier that day on Privet Drive…
Petunia pushed the stroller, smiling happily. Her beautiful boy was dressed in his adorable pumpkin costume, gripping sweets in both hands. The neighbors smiled as she walked by. The afternoon was quickly turning into evening and she still had dinner to prepare before Vernon returned home from work. She looked at her house as she walked up the driveway, perfect as always.
'And that's how it's supposed to be. Perfect and normal,' she thought happily to herself. Life was indeed perfect in Petunia's eyes. If only she knew what tomorrow would bring.
12:45 am- 4 Privet Drive…
Albus Dumbledore looked down at the sleeping child, now marked with the curse scar — the only evidence on the boy that anything remarkable had happened. He had been there just a day after Harry was born. James, the happiest father he had ever seen, had placed the newborn into his arms. Dumbledore had a lot of love for this child ever since that moment.
"Albus, do you really think it's safe leaving him with these people? I've watched them all day. They're the worse sort of muggles imaginable. They really are—" Professor Minerva McGonagall hissed in anxiousness. Although she trusted the Headmaster completely, she didn't agree with this decision.
"They're the only family Harry has left," Dumbledore cut off Minerva's scolding. Was this his ideal placement? No. Not at all. However, it seemed for the best. With the blood wards he would place, Harry would be safe from Death Eaters seeking revenge. And although Lily had never spoken much of her sister, he prayed with all his heart that they would take him into their family as another son. Surely they understood the blessing of a child, right?
"This boy will be famous. There won't be a child in our world that doesn't know his name," Minerva whispered as they approached the door. The reality of what Harry had accomplished was finally hitting her. Voldemort was truly gone. All because of this small child. How was it even possible?
"Exactly. He's far better of growing up away from all of that. Until he is ready."
Minerva wanted to ask "ready for what?" but stopped herself as Dumbledore put the baby on the doorstep. Hagrid's sniffles were becoming louder and louder.
He stepped away from the child after placing the note with him in the basket. The Headmaster paused, taking in the green eyes staring back at them. The color of his eyes struck Dumbledore, not remembering them being such a vivid green before that evening. Before he could ponder on it more, Harry gave a big yawn and closed his eyes, falling almost instantly to sleep.
"Good luck, Harry Potter," Dumbledore said softly as the trio walked back down the street, disappearing into the night.