Author's Note: This fic is mainly written to explore the idea of normal life in the magical world. As such, do not expect an action packed plot, especially in the first two years. The focus is going to be on character relations, magic, and some politics. Using a female Harry Potter helps keeps it fresh - plus I've always wanted to write a fem!Harry, and honestly, I feel like there aren't many good fem!Harry's out there, so it's a genre that needs expanding.
Legal disclaimer for the entire story: Harry Potter doesn't belong to me, and I don't write this for profit.
Another disclaimer: Some credit should be given to Inverarity's protagonist Alexandra Quick. While I didn't seek to steal the name of his protagonist, it's entirely possible that his excellent stories influenced my decision.
Alexandra Potter: The Girl Who Lived
Chapter One: Never Hit Girls
Not much had changed in the ten years since Alexandra had been left on the Dursleys' doorstep. Number Four, Privet Drive was the same as ever - more or less. The pictures had changed: where once they depicted the chubby baby face of Dudley Dursley, a rather spherical ten-year-old now stood, often between two proud parents. Vernon and Petunia had aged too: Vernon had grown larger still, and his mustache was much thicker, while Petunia now dyed her hair to hide the faint beginnings of grey.
There was very little sign that Alexandra lived there at all. But if you looked carefully, you might have been able to tell. If you were to open the door to the cupboard under the stairs, you would find a picture hanging there, on display for the hoover and mop. Like the others, this family photo showed the three Dursleys, dressed to the nines. But unlike the others, it also showed a young girl, maybe eight or nine years old. A pretty girl, she had long black hair, bright green eyes, and a faint scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on her forehead. She was standing to one side of the photo, as if neither she nor the Dursleys wanted evidence that they were related, and Dudley was glaring at her rather than smiling for the camera.
Aside from the secret photograph, you would have to go to Alexandra's bedroom to know she lived at Number Four. It was the smallest bedroom, of course, and sparsely furnished. There was no carpet covering the worn wooden floor, nor pictures on the light pink walls. The creaky bed was small, the wardrobe second-hand, and one leg of the desk was shorter than the others. The sole decoration was a long mirror hanging on the back of the door.
Alex looked around her domain in satisfaction. It might have confused others, to see a young girl so happy with so little, but Alex had learned to value all that she had. And with so few possessions it was easy to keep her room tidy, unlike Dudley's eternal mess. Tidy room, tidy mind, that's what her teachers said. Whenever she passed Dudley's door she saw the truth of it.
"Girl, we're leaving in ten minutes!" Vernon shouted up the stairs. "You better be ready!"
Alex jumped in surprise. She hadn't realised it was so late. It was summer, and though it was close to six o'clock it was still light outside. She quickly opened her wardrobe and pulled out her best dress. It was green, to match her eyes. Like all her clothes, it was second-hand. That wasn't to say the Dursleys were poor - a new shiny car in the driveway was testament to that - but they had always made it clear to Alex that she was not really part of their family. They were her guardians, not her parents.
Alex didn't mind much. You could find some pretty good clothes in charity shops if you looked hard enough. She whipped off her top and shorts, dropped the dress over her head and did the zip up.
"FIVE MINUTES!" shouted Vernon.
Any other girl would have a mother to help with their hair. Alex was used to doing it on her own. She scrunched up her nose and pushed, and suddenly her hair was alive: it straightened with a wiggle, and then began to braid itself into two fine Dutch braids, which then tied around the back of her head like a circlet. It would have taken anyone else at least fifteen minutes and a lot of practice to put their hair into such a complicated style. Alex did it in fifteen seconds.
It was her secret. Her talent. She'd first discovered it when she was seven: she'd returned from the hairdressers and absolutely hated her haircut, and in a moment of extreme regret her hair had restored itself. She was stunned; the Dursleys tried to pretend it never happened. But Alex didn't forget. She knew what she had seen. By seven years old, most children have stopped believing in magic, but since that day Alex had been convinced of its existence. She knew it because she could use it.
Changing her appearance was easiest, requiring barely any effort at all. At first she'd been limited to her hair, but her abilities seemed to grow with her age. By the time she was nine, she could change almost anything about herself. On the surface, at least. Her hair, eyes, skin - it was all easy. Much more difficult were deeper changes. She still couldn't make any structural changes, like the shape of her face, or her height.
She could do other things as well, though they were much harder. If she focused hard, or if she was upset, she could make small objects float, tell animals what to do, or make flowers bloom. One time, when she'd been having a staring match with Dudley, she'd actually got some idea of what he was thinking.
Alex shuddered at the memory. Dudley's mind was not somewhere she wanted to be.
Alex slipped her pumps on and hurried downstairs. The Dursleys were all waiting by the door. Petunia gave her a look over - her eyes lingering on Alex's hair - and sniffed. Alex rolled her eyes: that was about as close to approval she ever got.
"Took your time, didn't you?" said Vernon, but he wasn't showing any signs of exploding. This was just his normal level of grumbling.
They took the new car to the concert, which was being held in a local church. None of them actually enjoyed classical music, of course. Vernon thought it was "uppity nonsense" and Petunia wouldn't know culture if it was sunbathing nude in next door's garden. As for Dudley, he spent most of the car ride talking about the television he was missing.
But being "upstanding members of the local community" meant attending Stonewall's junior concert. Alex was indifferent about the whole affair. She didn't particularly enjoy classical music, preferring the music in the charts, but it wasn't as if there'd be much to do at home. She'd already finished what little homework she had, Dudley always had control of the TV, and the Dursleys strictly controlled what books she was allowed to read - they didn't want her getting any "dangerous ideas". The concert, therefore, was a welcome break from boredom.
"Vernon, Petunia, it's so good to see you!" said Mrs. Williams, the woman who had invited them to the concert. Her 11-year-old son was in the choir, and she had a tendency to gush about it.
"Oh Carol, of course we wouldn't miss it," replied Petunia, greeting her by kissing the air next to her cheek.
"And this must be Dudley," Mrs. Williams continued, taking in Alex's cousin. She seemed to be struggling to find something positive to say, but eventually settled on a complete lie. "You'll be a lady killer in a few years, I bet."
Alex struggled to contain a laugh while her aunt and uncle puffed up in pride.
"And who's this?"
It was now Alex's turn to be examined.
"Alex, ma'am," she said - unlike Dudley, Alex had always been punished unless she was excessively polite. By now it was second nature.
"Alexandra," Petunia corrected. She never liked it when Alex shortened her name. She said 'Alex' was a boy's name.
"You are a pretty one, aren't you?" said Mrs. Williams. Alex couldn't help but grin - such praise was rare, and the scowl on Vernon's face took the cake. Mrs. Williams might be a bit fuddy duddy, but she was all right, Alex decided. "I never knew you had a daughter, Petunia! Where have you been hiding her?"
"Oh, she's not our daughter!" Petunia said, extremely quickly. Alex's smile died.
"Petunia's sister's daughter, you know, " said Vernon, trying to pass it off casually.
"Oh, I see! Visiting your Aunt and Uncle? I'm not sure if Whinging has much to offer a girl your age, but it's always good to see family..."
Alex swallowed. She'd never found a good way to explain that she was an orphan. The Dursleys had no such problems.
"Her parents are dead and rotting," said Dudley, managing to showcase both his tact and wit. Alex scowled at him; Mrs. Williams looked mortified.
"Why, young man, that was not a kind thing to say! You should apologise to your cousin."
The Dursleys looked like they were sucking lemons, forced to watch as their perfect child was told off.
"Sorry," mumbled Dudley. It was music to Alex's ears - undoubtedly finer than anything Mrs. Williams' son was about to produce. I should come to more of these things, Alex thought. When they were in public, the Dursleys had to behave.
"Oh, look, dear Mrs Figg's arrived - lovely to see you, Vernon, Petunia." They exchanged more air kisses, and Mrs Williams left.
"Well I never!" said Petunia, once she was out of earshot. "Telling Dudley off like that! The nerve of some people... we don't tell her how to raise her son, do we?"
"What do I always say, Pet? The country's -"
"- going to the dogs," completed Alex in a bored tone of voice. Her uncle said it several times a week.
Vernon turned a beady eye on her.
"That's enough out of you for one night, I think," he said. "You've done enough damage already."
Alex was fuming as they took their seats. She had done enough damage? She'd done nothing! It wasn't her fault that Dudley was rude, and it certainly wasn't her fault that her parents were dead. But that had never mattered to the Dursleys.
The music was predictably bad, the seats uncomfortable, and the church was far too hot. Alex desperately needed a drink of water. To make everything worse, Dudley spent most of the concert kicking Alex whenever he thought no adults were looking. Alex was certain her shins would be black and blue the next day.
"Stop it!" she whispered urgently after a particularly hard kick.
"Shhh!" said Petunia, giving Alex a sharp look. Dudley smirked at her.
The intermission was a welcome relief. After gulping down three glasses of orange juice, Alex excused herself to go to toilet, hoping to escape all the grown-up "small talk" as they downed as much free wine as they could in the short break. Dudley was waiting for her when she was finished.
"I'm gonna get you," he said. "Tomorrow at school."
Alex clenched her fists. Every so often Dudley would "get her", and it was never pleasant. Sometimes he'd stick her head through the gap in the barbed wire fence and hold her there. Another favourite was to spill milk on her at break. He'd never been caught in the act by a teacher, and Alex wasn't about to tell on him. She was no tell-tale.
"Oh yeah?" she said, bolder than she felt. "Well, maybe I'll get you. You're so fat, it can't be hard."
"I'm not fat!" he said - too loudly. Some people turned to look at him and he scowled. Alex stuck her tongue out at him.
"You think you're so clever, Potter. You're always such a teacher's pet. But I know your secret. I'm gonna tell everyone."
Alex's heart plummeted. How did he know? "If you do, I'll tell everyone you're gay," she said. She had to beat him at his own game.
"You wouldn't!" said Dudley. He looked truly afraid. Mutually assured destruction.
"Oh, Dudley, I always knew there was a reason you always hang around with Piers. Do you play with your - your willies together?"
Alex gasped, stunned, and brought a hand up to her stinging face. She wasn't the only one - all the adults around them gasped too, and turned to stare.
"You... you hit me," she said. Against her will, tears began to form in the corners of her eyes.
"Dudley Dursley!" a man said. He was tall, with black hair going silver. He did not look happy. Dudley gulped audibly. It was Mr Stevens. Their headmaster. "What on earth do you think you're doing?"
"She-" Dudley began, but Mr. Stevens interrupted.
"I'm not interested," he said, "you never hit girls, do you understand me? Never."
"Yes, sir," Dudley said to his shoes.
"Look at me," said Mr. Stevens. Alex inwardly cringed, almost feeling sorry for Dudley. Mr Stevens' "look at me" was one of his most powerful weapons. Dudley looked up, his face completely red from his public humiliation. Everyone was watching, now.
"We will discuss this tomorrow morning, in my office," he said. "Vernon, Petunia, I would like you to come too."
They nodded in agreement, not willing to speak, apparently sufficiently embarrassed by what was happening.
They didn't stay for the second half of the concert. They left as inconspicuously as they could, and drove home in silence. It was not to last.
"You!" said Vernon, as they entered the kitchen, rounding on Alex. She froze in place. Surely they couldn't blame her this time? Not with such a public audience. "To your room, now! I don't know what you said, but you've embarrassed us tonight, in front of all our friends. There'll be no more concerts."
Hardly daring to believe her luck, Alex hurried upstairs. No chores, and no mention of losing her pocket money.
"Not you," she heard as she walked up the stairs. Was Dudley actually going to be told off? Alex hovered at the top of the stairs. She didn't want to miss this. It was hard to make out what was being said, until:
"It doesn't matter what she said!" Vernon bellowed. "You never hit a girl. I thought we had raised you better than that!"
"No buts! No television - for a week! And you have to be in bed by eight o'clock, every day!"
"Dad!" Dudley said, completely shocked. Nothing like this had ever happened before.
"Maybe you'll remember this, next time you think to use your fists!"
Dudley came stamping out of the kitchen; Alex wasn't able to get up the stairs fast enough. Dudley saw her there, listening in, and he gave her a look of genuine hate.
They stared at each other for a moment. Then, unable to stop herself, Alex whispered down the stairs.
She ran to her room before she could see the result.