Disclaimer: Rowling and Zelazny, something and something, but not something mine.
The Trump of Merlin
Perhaps there should have been a reason for secrecy or lies. Perhaps, in another world she wouldn't have made a mistake. But her husband was both understanding and forgiving. He didn't want to destroy the family. So, he treated the girl as his own. Only her radiant green eyes reminded them of him. Her hair was red, almost flaming, but as her mother had copper hair too, it was at least understandable difference.
When she got a strange letter, they guessed that her father was one of them, but they couldn't tell that to the eleven year old. How would you go on about it? Lilly, dear, we would like you to know that your mother has made a mistake? And your real father never even called her after that one night, so good luck finding him without even his name.
When they finally found it in their hearts to tell, Lily didn't speak with them for a week. After that, she asked where her real father was. But they didn't know. Lily demanded, shouted, pleaded and cried, but they couldn't give her a name they didn't have. All they had was a small tarot card with a picture that he left to Lily's mother as a souvenir.
It was cold, radiant and eerie. Similar to the wizarding portraits Lily saw in the school. But there was nothing like it - spells couldn't crack the secret the cold card possessed. Lily even asked James for help, regretting the decision the second she let the mystery slip. Surprisingly, Potter proved to be helpful with the access to the Restricted Section. Covered in cloak they researched various theories but could find anything that even scratched the mysteries of the card. James wanted to try and see how much it could be damaged, guessing about some sort of protection woven into it, but Lily protested – it was the only thing of her father she had, and if there were no protections to check...
Lily didn't find her father. But she did find the side of James she liked. Covered under the cloak, whispering in the silence of the library she got to know him more and more. And the next year they met as a Head Boy and Girl.
James always admired the strength of Lily – both literal and not. He always remembered when she broke his nose in one simple slap, at the same time winning his heart to the years to come. He never pranked her again, only asked her to go out with him every other day. She said no almost as many times.
Lily herself ignored her eerie strength completely – she knew that she was stronger than even most of the boys, but as she never was one for violence and didn't even use it when it would have helped her. She declined the opportunity to play quidditch, talked everyone out of fights and never even had the urge to hit the Junior Death Eaters, as the 'elite Slytherin club' was called in her mind.
One day, nearing the end of their last year, Sirius came to them with a solution – he had found an obscure book on bloodline tests and offered to perform the spell, which might have found something about her real father.
Lily agreed, but only after a hundred of reassurances that the spell wasn't dark and it wasn't even outlawed. Of course what resistance there was came from the fact that James had shared the tale with his friends, without letting her know. But, both Sirius and James were forgiven and all three of them gathered around a small piece of parchment.
A few drops of blood, a complex incantation and there it was. Surprisingly, it appeared that her father was a Muggle after all, as the test didn't register any wizarding powers in the two generations it reached, there were some strange readings mixed in, but Sirius explained it as an expected spell residue – it wasn't a very exact spell. It left a question of how an obviously magical card of her father was made.
James promised to look for the possible painters after their graduation, but the Order of Phoenix demanded lots their attention, and then – Harry took away whatever time they had left and more.
His steps were slow, indifferent. Their screams had no meaning. They were already dead. Only she was to be spared and given as a gift. His robes were billowing slowly, as he took the stairs up.
"Stand aside — stand aside, girl —" He ordered.
She didn't listen.
A wave of his hand and she was washed in the green light. She fell, in front of the child, and he took another step towards his goal.
Then, he saw her lips moving - a whisper from beyond a grave.
Lord Voldemort, the monster everyone were afraid to even think about, shuddered as he tried to push that away the image as his imagination, raising a wand for a final spell against the little boy. He was the bringer of death and death had no rule against him.
"Avada Kedavra", he said calmly, as if casting a levitation charm, with a practised ease.
As the green light left the wandtip, he knew that something was wrong.
The room shook and there was a surge of energies.
The shade rose from the body of the Dark Lord and was surged away by swirling wind.
Months had to pass until he could even think clearly. Years, until he regained a measure of control. But Lily's voice, her dying whisper echoed in his being, each and every night, since the night he heard her say it. "You will never touch my son."
It was no magic he knew – a curse, uttered from the other world.
Harry Potter was a freak. So had his relatives told him repeatedly over the years. A part of him had agreed – he really was different than others.
He never had a cold, nor was ever otherwise ill. He was as strong as uncle Vernon by eight years of age. He could go days without food and could shrug off any injury.
His resilience was a curse as much as a blessing. When the bruises from an unintended strike disappeared, his uncle gave him another one – just to bring home a lesson. When that one was gone, he was left alone. But with time, Vernon realized a thing many people would never even think about. The boy couldn't get hurt – so to learn the lessons of life and to beat the freakishness out of him, a stray hit or two were nothing. And the boy healed so well, no one could ever know he was hit.
The real suffering began when at feeble age of eight Harry caught the arm of his uncle in the air and swatted it away. He fractured Vernon's arm with that simple action. That didn't sit well with his uncle. Even when Harry tried to explain that he didn't mean to hurt his Uncle, no one believed him.
Had Harry been cast from different mold, he would have tried to fight more. Had he unleashed everything he had, he probably would have succeeded. But, being trained by his uncle from a rather young age to listen and do as he was said, no thoughts of open rebellion ever surfaced. The Dursleys were cruel, but he knew no other way of life.
Until a letter arrived.
We all know how the tale should go – of a magical train, the first few friends and rivals. Yet, there were many curious things a close examining would have revealed.
The train itself was a puzzle to both Harry and, once – to his mother, whenever they took it. There was a feeling of strange fullness whenever the ride went on. Also, he was one of a few Muggle raised children to notice that the first of September was always a Sunday year after year. No wizard ever batted an eyelash thinking about it – it was just the way of Hogwarts.
Harry quickly fell into the habits of the school, he got yelled at by Snape, caught a tiny remembrall to get on a house quidditch team, saw a huge three-headed dog. The usual, at least as far as the magical schools go.
The troll was a surprise – Harry's leap onto it's back startled it greatly. But what really came out as a surprise was when the little boy had almost strangled the beast into unconsciousness. However, before that could happen, Ron managed to hit it with a levitating club. This way no one realised how strong young Potter was. Yet.
Quirrell had no chances to drop young seeker from the broom. All the shaking and bulging couldn't make Harry release the broom. The gryffindor even managed to steer the unpleasant broom slightly.
It was Christmas, when the strangest gifts arrived.
The first mysterious gift was the invisibility cloak.
Your father left this in my possession before he died.
It is time it was returned to you.
Use it well.
Ron had all but fallen in love with it.
The second one – a strange tarot card.
Your mother trusted this puzzle to me.
It is said to depict your grandfather.
I hope you will learn its secrets where I have failed.
It was a first ever depiction of anyone from his family, that weren't Dursleys. The strangest thing wasn't the strange cold feeling he felt while touching the card – it was the man itself. It wasn't like any photo of her mother's father – Petunia had a photo of her parents, half hidden on a shelf somewhere in the house. That meant that it was a picture of a Potter. But why was it written that it belonged to Harry's mother?
Flaming red hair, short, slightly unkempt, but not as much of a mess as his. Radiant green eyes, beardless, slightly worried face. The man in the picture looked young, sitting on a strong white stallion, facing the dexter side of a card. He wore a riding suit of green and carried himself strongly. The painting was unmoving; unlike the many wizarding photos Harry had seen since the arrival at Hogwarts. The other side was marked with a white unicorn.
There was something that both drew him at the card and repulsed him. Harry spent quite some time holding the card between his fingers, imagining that he was looking at his grandfather.
He was half expecting to feel something, a surge of magic, anything, but the card remained silent and cold.
The subject of Harry's strength came up when they were smuggling a dragon up a tower – he astonished Hagrid with the ease he carried the crate and had to endure Hermione's questioning. No he had no idea about the strength he possessed being unnatural. No, he thought it was a wizard thing. Yes, he wasn't making it known as his Uncle... No, he wouldn't elaborate on that.
Hermione still eyed him suspiciously for a week.
When Harry woke up from the mess with the Philosopher's Stone, no one was expecting it to be so soon. He woke up and saw Headmaster speaking with a red bearded man, dressed in silk robes with Gryffindor colours. Albus was in the middle saying apologies for not managing to save the stone. Apparently Nicolas had showed some interest in young Harry Potter and came to see him. The man looked slightly alike to his grandfather's picture, but held himself high, three huge jewelled rings glittering on his fingers – an emerald, a ruby and a sapphire.
Harry's voice was still weak so he didn't ask much, just said that he tried to save the stone. Flamel laughed it off, saying that everyone have their own time, and after a long, hard stare at Harry's eyes said his goodbyes. Harry didn't see him for quite some time after that.
Harry's second year wasn't eventful much – the rumours of Slytherin's Heir, the incompetent DADA teacher, a fight with a basilisk. Well, the fight was certainly dangerous.
Actually, the sword he drew out of the hat had been more interesting than anything else – it felt familiar. When he held it, a tingle of strange power played on his fingertips, a strange vision of a curved labyrinth of lines played in his mind. It helped him find focus and slay the basilisk with but a scratch that Fawkes, luckily for Harry, healed with his tears.
He gave the sword to Dumbledore, but regretted it ever since. The sword called to him since then. It was a soft, but persistent allure.
Third year was by far the worst. Dementors shook Harry to his core. But the worst thing was gaining a godfather and losing him at the same time – Sirius had to continue the life of a fugitive, and Harry had to remain at Dursleys.
Harry's Patronus had surfaced on the very same day. It was a shining unicorn, chasing away the black beasts of Fear.
His fourth year was a marked with a flaming cup, and his name coming out from the flames. He was a champion, mistrusted by everyone, but one that beat all the obstacles. He got injured by the Dragon, but healed quickly.
The second task was the weirdest one – for he had taken a wrong turn and seen a glimpse of a strange underwater city. It felt safe and Harry spent precious seconds staring at it from afar. When he tried to reach it, forgetting about Ron for a second, it disappeared and he found himself near the four hostages.
No one understood why Harry looked so upset after emerging from the lake. He muttered things about the place he wanted to call home but couldn't. Even Dumbledore had no idea what he had seen down there.
The third task had brought death and pain. Harry had to witness Diggory dying for nothing. His blood was used by the Dark Lord, his trust – betrayed by the impostor Moody.
The fifth year had an insufferable toad, a hidden school army, and finally, the failure of Occlumency training, which usually left Harry tired, and dreaming of a strange door at the end of the corridor, rows of small orbs, ordered in a neat fashion, and a room with a pulsing pattern on the ground.
A vision of his Godfather being tortured made him spring into action. Soon, the six students were rushing down the Ministry, to the Department of Mysteries. There, Harry saw things he had never seen before.
First, they entered the round room with doors. From here on, things went crazy really fast.
There were a few quotes from Both Rowling and Zelazny works, but those are small, and you probably wouldn't even have noticed most of them if I hadn't told you that there were.