Prologue: The Early Years
A.N.: This is my first story so be gentle. I don't have a beta yet, but I can't stand grammar problems; if you see some particular mistake fairly often, please alert me to it, and I'll try and fix it post haste. Any flames will be packed into lemon grenades and sent to life's house. I do not own any part of Harry Potter in any amount whatsoever—although I have made an offer to buy Luna Lovegood and Hermione Granger from Rowling, she hasn't responded positively yet. Anyway, on with the story!
—November 2, 1981—
Several hours after Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall had left Harry Potter on a doorstep and the sun was just coming over the hills, Petunia Dursley awoke to a loud crying noise. She got up and went to check on Dudley, but it wasn't him crying. She followed the noise to its source (could someone in the neighborhood have had a baby without her knowing about it?) and found its origin: the toddler lying on her welcome mat. She saw the note addressed to her and, after reading it, was horrified. They were stuck with this thing? She heard Vernon moving around upstairs, and decided to put the little freak in the cupboard under the stairs for now; Vernon could help her figure out what to do about this...this...injustice later; once they'd had some breakfast, perhaps.
—September 11, 1985—
Hadrian Potter (who most people called Harry) woke up to the pounding on his cupboard door: a sharp noise that repeated several times and was forceful enough to make dust fall from the "ceiling" of his "room". As always, it was his aunt Petunia who woke him from his fitful slumber at the crack of dawn to tell him his list of chores for the day; how she was able to screech these things at him in a whispered tone was a mystery to him. There were several rules in the Dursley home—at least, there were for Harry—and the most important two rules were do what you're told and don't ask questions.
One of the only questions Harry had ever asked was about what happened to his parents. According to Aunt Petunia, he'd been dropped off by his parents, who hadn't wanted to deal with the responsibility of raising a child, and that when she had tried to contact them about him, the reply she eventually got was from a bobby arriving at the house to inform her of her sister's death; apparently, they had died in a head on collision with another driver after they'd a night of heavydrinking. The other driver had survived with minimum injuries, but neither of his parents were wearing seat belts at the time and took a trip through the windshield, leaving the Dursleys stuck with their freak child, who they took in, fed, and clothed out of the kindness in their hearts, of course, something Harry was reminded of at least once a week.
Still, life at #4 Privet Drive wasn't all bad: his cousin Dudley was almost always nicer than his aunt or uncle, who yelled at him often and, in his uncle's case, beat him occasionally. But lately, Dudley had taken to mocking Harry publicly, before turning around and apologizing privately; apparently, Vernon had bribed him into being mean to Harry with candy and other such treats. This saddened Harry; was he not supposed to be happy?
—April 1, 1987—
Hadrian Potter hated April Fool's day. He hated it with a passion. You see, it was the one day every year when his overly large cousin would be less likely to hold back from messing with him as his parents had told him to. Lucky for Harry, Dudley was a naturally morally sound person and only reluctantly went along with his parents in trying to please them. He also knew someone with authority when he met them, and never got on their bad side—a skill Harry often envied his cousin. Harry, you see, was a trouble magnet—he didn't seek out trouble, but it could find him on a regular basis, and trouble always meant a beating for "making the Dursleys look bad." As if they needed his help with that!
The point was that Dudley never got caught if he could help it, but on April Fool's Day, he had a free pass to beat on Harry and make the Dursleys proud. Harry had once hoped that someone would make the Dursleys stop so he and Dudley could be friends again.
Yeah, right. That would never happen. This was his personal hell, and it was never going to end.
—July 31, 1988—
Hadrian Potter lay in his cupboard. Today, his uncle had decided he was old enough to be beaten with regulation sports equipment and had taken the day off to figure out what was most efficient at thrashing his nephew. Dudley had conveniently gone to Piers house for the day, so as not to be forced to participate. At breakfast, before the beatings, he had been forced to cook twice as much food as usual—Uncle Vernon would need a snack (or five) to keep his energy up after all—while Harry, as usual, was only allowed a lukewarm glass of water and a crust of near-rotten bread. He was then made to do his chores; only then would the beatings begin.
The beatings had been on and off for six hours before Harry was thrown into his cupboard with enough force to break his arm if it hadn't been broken already. As he listened to his Uncle trudge up the stairs, he whispered to himself "Happy Birthday to me...Happy Birthday to me..."
—June 10, 1989—
Hadrian Potter stood at the edge of the school roof, wondering how he'd gotten here. Last he remembered, Dudley's gang had been chasing them (although Dudley never participated, to appease his conscience). He'd had jumped behind the trash cans and found himself on the roof, thirty feet off the ground. Dudley's gang was in summer school and one of them had suggested to the Durlseys that Harry bring them some lunch every day, insisting that the school didn't feed them enough during the summer sessions. The fact that it was a good two kilometers to the school from Privet Drive was not lost on the Durleys. What's more, no matter what they wanted to eat that day, it always had gone soft or cold by the time he reached the school, and they would beat him up. Then they would complain to his relatives that he had not delivered the food to them, or was trying to poison them, and so his uncle would give him a beating. Once more, he wished for a way to make his horrible life end.
Then it hit him: it could end. Now that he thought about it, he remembered an old saying he'd heard the Dursleys use from time to time: "If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." Thinking back on his life, Harry was saddened to think that there wasn't a single thing in living memory that had given him any joy or happiness. His relatives had always told him that the world didn't care about freaks like him; they only cared about power and control. They certainly cared about it, and no one else had ever proven otherwise. As Harry thought back over his life, as he recalled every insult, every bruise and broken bone, every broken nose, every time he'd been locked in his cupboard without food or water for days on end, a pain began growing in his chest. The thing about pain, he thought, is that it is a privilege reserved for the living.
The pain was becoming unbearable, all consuming, and it only got worse as he stepped closer to the edge of the roof. This only served to further his resolve, to keep walking forward, if only to end the pain. The hurt in his heart told him that his innocence was now lost for all time, now that he'd come to terms with reality. His head hurt too, but that pain seemed focused in his scar. Looking over the edge, he could see the ground several meters below. He knew such a fall was not guaranteed to kill him—that is, unless he landed head-first. Taking a last deep breath, he slowly tipped forward and fell, headfirst to his death.
After an indeterminate amount of time, he became aware of his surroundings. He was disappointed and shocked beyond belief to discover that he was still at the school—even though the world looked like a photo with the colors switched—and that the pain was still there. It was different, though.
It was unimaginably worse.
The pain filled his entire being; every cell in his body screamed of it, but it was an emotional pain. The pain was all-consuming, but he found he could bear it, somehow. He tried to stand up, and noticed that he seemed much taller than before; where once, he could barely see over the hand rail next to the stairs, he now nearly bumped his head on the ceiling. As he walked through the school, he felt what seemed to be the source of the pain; a lack of happiness that ate away at his very being. He also knew that, somehow, the pain was a good thing. He had met powerful people before; some people almost seemed to have a physical presence to go with their power. And he felt the POWER his pain gave him. It was pure, raw POWER. It was fueled by the poisonous ache that spread to every cell in his body; it filled his blood and screamed out of every pore, forming a tangible, almost visible aura that he could feel fruitlessly searching for people anywhere nearby. All seeping from his heart, when his innocence had shattered.
He knew then that this was exactly what he needed. He wasn't sure why, but whatever had happened to him had made him powerful; powerful enough to make his life better, even if it was still with the Durlseys. He wandered outside and, without giving it a thought, shifted through reality until he arrived at Privet Drive.
As he walked towards #4 (at least, he thought he was walking), he could feel the suffering that filled the building; the hatred his relatives had for him was expected, but...jealousy? Fear? He was confused for a moment, before dismissing it. Even if they hadn't been jealous or afraid before, they would be now. Best of all, their wish for normalcy would keep them from reporting it: Hadrian knew that whatever had happened to him was most definitely not normal.
Before this point in his life, he had feared questions, been to afraid to seek out answers, to demand the truth. But now, he had the POWER to demand answers, to satisfy his curiosity. His mind made up and his a way to achieve his new purpose in sight, he entered the house. If any of the neighbors had been home, they would have heard two high-pitched wails reverberate through the streets before being struck deathly silent.
A.N: Alright, that's all for now. I'm sure a number of you will guess what happened to Harry, but please don't ruin it for everyone else. Please review, and for the love of chocolate, if you don't have any constructive (read: CONSTRUCTIVE MEANS NO FLAMES) criticism, I am open to suggestions.