Title: Apprentice James

Character centric: Harry (no pairings)

MY Inspiration: Harry Potter (all media forms)

Disclaimer: This is my standard disclaimer; I don't own anything in regards to the sources of MYInspiration. All publically recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

All the characters, worlds, base concepts or general ideas are just a bit food for the writing bug. This story is pure fiction and is in no way meant to copy or reflect real life, events or people, should this happen then obviously it is pure coincidence.

Author's Note: See author profile for preferred pairing.

Summary: Char. Ooc, AU/AR, still within JK's world - Harry is apprenticed to a Diagon Alley businessman at the tender age of seven. From there the story changes... very mild bashing of some regulars.

Speech Legend: (This is the standard by which I write most of my stories and therefore you will not see this repeated in future chapters)

(…Other Languages/Mind Speak/Alternate Speech Patterns like sign language…)

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CH 1 - Apprenticeship

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Apprenticeship - (n) one bound to a master to learn an art or a trade; a novice

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In every world, it is said that the path not taken leads to another reality or alternate universe. One day instead of turning right, you turn left, but a part of you will always know that you should have taken the right path.

A man eating in a pub between the Magical World and the Ordinary, may be there on the day a tall horse faced woman walks past with a small dark haired scrawny child trailing behind her accompanied by an obese child or that man may have chosen to dine in his shop on the day they walked by the magical pub.

This is just such a story.

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It was the nearly the beginning of summer in the year of '87, that's nineteen eighty-seven in case there's any confusion, when one peculiar shopkeeper chose to dine out for lunch. He was there to try and figure out what he needed to do in order to keep his summer employees at the shop. They always returned to him in the winter, but he needed the help now. He sighed and glanced out of the large dirty window and chanced to see a woman with two boys walking by. One small boy was walking solemnly behind her and the other was larger than any child he'd ever seen in the Wizarding World.

He noticed the tall horse faced woman and immediately remembered her from the time her younger sister came to the Alley to get her first year school supplies. The smaller boy too was somewhat familiar and when the boy looked up at him he knew it was then that he had to do something quick. Those eyes, that scar, told him a lot about the boy. However the demeanor and the clothes told him a completely different story.

The man's eyes had widened when he noted the overly large man waiting on the woman. He stood up, cast a few glamour charms and left the pub quickly and quietly. He didn't believe that this would work, but he had the papers that he always carried with him and with a few signatures everything would be very legal in both their worlds. He just didn't know if the Muggles understood how apprenticeships worked, but for the look in those desperate sad green eyes, he knew he had to try to do something to rescue that poor boy.

This gentle faced slightly grey haired man appeared to be wearing a worn yet still quite normal looking Muggle suite. He stepped out of the pub and walked in the general direction of the horse-faced woman and oversized man. He made sure that some of the papers were visible. If this con was to work properly everything had to look and play the part.

He paused to look around confused and then called out to the overweight man by saying, "Pardon me sir, but is the Stoneville Orphanage located nearby? I seem to have gotten turned around at that last stop."

Petunia Dursley didn't like strangers approaching them on the street, but the man was addressing her husband, which was the proper thing to do. Her little 'Dudders' was whining about sweets and the 'other one' was just staring at the old man in fascination. She huffed and pulled both children away from the adult conversation. She sat them down at a quaint pub style patio, specially set-up to take in more customers during the sun days of the season.

Vernon Dursley prided himself in knowing the sections of the town they were in and he knew that orphanage well. They'd tried to deliver their unwanted burden there a few times, until it was impossible to think about taking such actions. Those 'Freaks' had done something, but he still couldn't help the desire he and his wife had to get rid of that child.

"Of course," he smiled an ugly grin that seemed friendly. "It's three blocks, back that way and turn left on Stover Avenue." It was then that the word 'Apprenticeship Contract' on fancy paper caught his eye. He glanced at the green-eyed boy that wasn't his son. "Might I enquire as to why you need to go there?"

"Oh," the man replied. "Pardon me, my name's Ollirick Garvander (...i...). I'm in the furniture business and am in need of a few young apprentices for delicate fibre work."

Petunia's face lifted up quickly at that. "What do you mean," she asked, slightly worried about the rumours of sweatshops and underage weavers. "Is it like those stories we hear in the news?"

"Oh no ma'am," Mr. Garvander said sitting down at an adjacent table, where Vernon joined him. "I need young ones to do the finer stitching on some of the pieces. It's just fancy stitching and embroidery. My hands are not what they used to be." He showed them aging arthritic hands. "This is completely within the letter of the law. I just figured that an orphan would prefer to work for some small change and learn a trade, while they still attended regular school. All contracts are legal within the United Kingdom and have been approved for businesses like mine." (...ii...)

"I'm not sure I understand," Vernon said. "You hire children to work for you?" He received a nod and wondered how that was possible. "How can you...?"

"By offering trade apprenticeships that last longer than the norm," the man replied. "We don't follow the old standard where the parents pay for their child to learn, but we do offer free room and board to the apprentices that we do hire. We expect them to learn the trade within the next seven to twelve years or it depends on when they'll reach the age of majority. Most normal contracts are only five to seven years or until the child reaches the age of twenty-one."

Vernon's eyes turned to the boy that his family didn't want within the confines of their house. "How young do you plan to take them?"

"Oh," the man replied. "About eight or nine years of age, why do you ask?" He was hoping that they were going to lie about the boy because in doing so the contract could change a few things based on their comments. Just like the time frame for the boy to become independent within the confines of his world based on the 'magical' apprenticeship contract in the man's hands.

"We have a child that is none of ours," Vernon said. "He was left with us, but we are truly unable to care for him. It's better that he learn a trade to become a useful member of society."

The man turned to look at Dudley first, pointed and said, "Him? He looks quite sturdy."

"No," Vernon said. "We mean the other one, he'll fit into your requirements and he's no stranger to hard work."

Mr. Garvander frowned in distaste at the idea that a small child like that one had already been put to work. "How old is he? He'll need to stand up to let me get a good look at him."

Petunia pushed Harry to stand in front of the man, who then did the standard checks that one would on an animal. He looked into the boy's mouth to see if he had all his teeth, pulled the oversize t-shirt sleeve up to gauge the boy's muscle and had him run the length of the block and back to gauge his speed.

"He seems capable," Garvander said. "How old?"

"He's eight," Vernon said. "He's about to turn nine."

"Seems kind of small to be turning nine," the man said, as the boy sat back down and scrunched into his seat trying to disappear into the chair. The man then pulled out a copy of the standard contract for apprentices and read out the conditions. "You do realize that once everything is signed he cannot be returned to you for whatever reason. The room, food and lodging are covered as part of the apprenticeship, which of course includes training in the furniture trade. You do understand that the reason I seek orphans is for the simple fact that they have no family that can come back to claim them."

"We don't want him," Petunia said. "We never did, so if we sign this today, when will you be able to take him away?"

"Well orphans are always prepared to go, should I choose one or more of them," Mr. Garvander said. "This is a strange and different situation for me. Are you certain you want to do this?"

"Quite," Vernon said. "Show me the contract and I'll make my decision then." The contract was handed over. The terms were quite clear and were outlined by duties of age. The money that the child would be receiving was not even the equivalent of twenty pounds weekly and only because the free room and board was actually garnered from the total wages. He signed the papers and passed them to his wife, who signed where her husband pointed out.

The magic in the paper caused a paper cut to occur, but she didn't mind, it was just an inconsequential wound. However that magic in the paper and the legality of her blood, ensured that everything was legal as per the Wizarding World and nothing from there on could ever change.

She filled in the boy's name on the paper as Harry Potter James, hoping that it would fool the Wizarding World. For the record, every time they tried to get rid of him they had stated and signed the boy's name as Harry James Potter. 'Hopefully this time it will be different,' she thought. 'This should give us enough time to plan and leave our home to go to something grander. Only three more years until Vernon's next promotion, I'm hoping we get to go somewhere warmer.'

Harry Potter, now named Harry James by his blood family will have effectively disappeared from Number Four Privet Drive and yet there will be no notice, alarm or anything to indicate that he's no longer living there. Apprenticeships of this nature were magical in the sense that the Master now controlled the life or lives of their apprentices. In effect the man now became Harry's magical and full legal guardian, in both worlds, until the time that the Apprenticeship could be deemed complete. The timeline was set for a maximum training period, which was twelve years in Vernon's eyes, but magically it could only be nine years in the Wizarding World.

The boy was small and scared, yet this was an adventure and when asked if 'he' had any questions, the only thing he did ask was, "Will I ever have go back to live with my Aunt and Uncle Dursley?"

With the signed contract in his pocket and the boy's hand in his, the older man replied, "No. This is permanent, but there are a few things that I will need to explain to you, before you can begin to work for me."

"Okay," Harry said taking hold of the hand that had been held out to him. He was still young enough to believe that he could trust adults at this point in time. He had nothing that truly belonged to him at their home and his relatives had left him there, as soon as the contract was signed. No backwards glance and no emotions to indicate any worry for him or his physical well-being.

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Harry woke up the following day and stared at the dark wooden beams above his head. 'It's real,' he thought. 'It was real. I'm now going to have to work and earn my keep, but this time I'll really be making some money.'

He looked around and didn't know what it was that had awoken him up, but he figured that he might as well make himself useful. So he got up, got dressed in his second hand clothing that came from a used clothing shop in the Muggle world and came down the set of rickety attic stairs. He found his way to the kitchen and it was there that he knew he was in another world. There was a strange creature waving its arms about and preparing breakfast. "Mornin' young Apprentice James."

"I'm sorry," Harry said. "I was coming to make breakfast..."

"No, no, nos," the creature said. "Cooking be Frixy's job. No be takin' Frixy's job."

"Easy Frixy," the old man from the day before said. "No one will be taking your job. Now Harry, have a seat and let's see if you remember anything about yesterday."

"Yes sir," Harry sat down and was wide-eyed at the meal being placed before him. "I c...c...can't eat..."

"Easy child," the man said. "Eat what you can and don't worry about the rest. Frixy will give it away to the homeless down another alley. Now let's be clear. Your Muggle relatives have signed you over in an official apprenticeship with me. Do you understand what that means?"

"I'll be learning a trade," Harry said in a small voice.

"True," the man said. "But it also means that as of the moment the paper was signed, I'm fully responsible for you and your well-being, as well as your education and the fact that you'll actually be learning my trade."

"Yes sir," Harry said munching quietly on some lightly buttered toast, not familiar with the concept of having jam or jelly on it. The butter was unique tasting anyway and he quite liked it.

"Another thing," the man said. "You may or may not have noticed that we crossed a barrier."

"It was magic," Harry said, looking up at the man brightly. "Magic is real. My relatives lied to me."

"That they did," the man said. "Now, I need to know how old are you really?" He calmed the panic that he saw and said, "I'm not going to send you back because they lied about it, but I need to know so that I can figure out where to begin instructing you in the trade and other basic things like the magic you'll be seeing and the normal type of education you should be having with reading and numbers."

"Oh," Harry said with a sigh of relief. "I'm actually six going on seven this year. I was born July 31 and my name really is..." He was stopped when the man held up his hand.

"I know your real name, but for now you'll only be known as Apprentice James or Harry James," the man said. "I'll explain more when you find out more through your studies and have questions." He noticed the boy's look and said, "You already have a question?"

"Well..." Harry hedged, but was encouraged by the pleasant look on the man's face. "How come the shop's name is Ollivander and your name is Garvander?"

The old man chuckled and said, "My true name is Garrick Ollivander."

Harry frowned and then asked, "Is the contract still valid?"

"It is," Ollivander said. "I changed my name to make it difficult to find me, but my name always goes back to the way it should be." He pulled out his wand and called forth the contract. "This may be a good thing for you too young man." He paused, watching the name of the boy change too, which registered the alias and then said, "A very good thing."

"What's it say," Harry said leaning over to have a peak that the old looking parchment, when an Owl hooted from the nearest window.

"Just a minute," Ollivander said taking the Official Gringott's letter from the Owl with the key to the young man's first vault. "Here you go," the man said handing it to Harry.

Harry looked at it, confused about what it was for. Then the man explained that it was the first key that a young man received when a vault was opened in his name by his employer. It was expected of him, as the boy's Master Teacher to do this. It was where his pay was going to go when a job was accomplished. The man found a leather cord, with a couple of sliding knots and a few security spells the key was placed around the boy's neck.

"Never lose it, but if you do, you must tell me immediately. Okay?" Ollivander said and received an earnest nod in return. "I need to know what you're skilled in, what you know to do. Just begin to list the things that you did for your relatives, no matter how big or small. Also tell me about your schooling, your grades and how far along you really are...I want honesty here, Harry."

"Yes sir," Harry said taking the fat lead pencil and large piece of parchment he'd been given. He began his list writing slowly, but clearly.

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(...i...) Ollirick Garvander - mix up of Garrick Ollivander, true-name of the wand-shop owner in Diagon Alley, see HPLexicon for confirmation.

(...ii...) No resemblance to any types of apprenticeships that exist out there. This is a story after all.