DISCLAIMER: Anything you recognise belongs to JKR.

Written for the If that hadn't happened challenge on HPFC, where we were given a canon event to change and write about the effects. I don't normally write AU, but this was too fun an idea not to do.

My event was Harry receiving his Hogwarts letter


"Howzaaat!"

Harry grinned and ducked his head as Morris and Adamson came at him from either side. Smith barrelled into them, gesturing at the back of retreating batsman as he continued his run down the pitch to join the group hug. The terror of Wilkins Grammar was out for 44, all out for 117, mostly thanks to Harry's reflexes.

He was the youngest player on the team by over a year, having made the cut at the end of his second year when the regular wicket keeper Barton was found with Adamson's girlfriend in the scorekeepers hut. The official reason was the broken arm, cracked ribs and black eye that the older boy had suffered from a collapsed rail in the stands, and none of them, including Barton were saying otherwise.

For Harry it was something of an achievement that had done wonders for his popularity. About half his class from primary school had gone on to Stonewall with him, and without Dudley and Piers there to direct them, Harry was mostly left alone by the rest of the gang. He kept his head down in class and stuck with a group of a dozen or so others who didn't quite meet the criteria for the 'cool kids', but weren't outcasts either. It was a pleasant change to simply be in the middle for Harry, and when Wally Smith bragged about Harry's incredible reflexes in front of his brother, Harry was asked to try out for the juniors team, whose keeper had just moved up to the seniors.

Now at the start of his third year, he was the youngest player on the school's first grade team in nearly twenty years. The older boys and their coach gave Harry lifts to matches and training, and the Smiths willingly leant him the necessary gear so that Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon didn't complain. The after school runs and gym-sessions had made him stronger and faster than he had ever hoped to be at thirteen, and last summer he had easily outrun all of Dudley's wheezing attempts to pound him into the ground. Cricket had given him a focus to his life, something to focus on when he lost his temper or was afraid; something to focus on so that weird things didn't happen.

Weird things like that letter incident when he was eleven. After fleeing from the hailstorm of owls to a tiny hut in the middle of storm-churned waters, they had hidden out for a night and most of the rest day before Uncle Vernon declared them safe. Well, that and the fact that Dudley was screaming about going over twelve hours without eating. When they had eventually made it back to shore, they discovered that the talk of the town was some enormous man who had washed up on the beach, his vast back showing clear signs of lightning strike. No-one had recognised him, and eventually the whole thing faded away to another strange story that was Harry's life. No more letters had come in parchment and emerald ink, and eventually he believed that the whole thing had been someone's idea of a joke.

Now that he was away from Dudley for most of the year he rarely felt endangered, and the other weird things had mostly stopped. In fact the last time anything strange had happened around him had been when Aunt Petunia slipped on the freshly scrubbed kitchen floor and nearly dropped the mound of cream and sugared flowers that was supposed to be pudding for them and their guests. Harry had dived in from where he was washing dishes to save it, and it seemed to almost hover for a second before landing safely in his arms. Aunt Petunia had stared at him, white and shaking for a few seconds before swallowing whatever she had planned to say, and scooped the plate from his hands.

Neither of them spoke of the incident, and he had told himself many times that he must have imagined the tingling sensation that ran through his body. Some man had turned up at the house the next day claiming to be a gas inspector, though Harry, from his position around the side of the house weeding thought he seemed a bit strange. Nothing had come of it though, and he had returned to school not long after, back to normal.

Which was why the three people in long dresses caught his attention as he started padding up. As opening batsman (not because he was particularly good, but because he could soften up the new ball for Adamson coming in behind him), he generally got his gear on and settled before grabbing drinks. He was tying on his left leg-guard when they stepped into view, a rangy man in patched clothes and a lithe dark-haired woman trailing behind a nearly bear-sized dog. A tall black man brought up the rear, one hand clenched around a piece of wood as he glanced continuously around. They crossed the ropes marking the players' area, and Smith stepped up to halt them and send them back.

While he and the woman argued, the great black beast wrenched its leash free of the rangy man's grasp and bounded over to Harry, bowling him over backwards off the bench. Momentarily Harry feared it was about to savage him and found that strange tingling sensation trickling through his fingers, but the dog seemed content to wash his face with its tongue the sit beside him as carefully he picked himself up.

He looked back over to the fence, where Smith was now staring at the sky in fascination while the robed trio approached him and the tingling became a roar as the big black man reached out to him.

Suddenly the man was flying backwards, his arms flailing as he hit the ground, and the last thing Harry remembered was the look of astonishment on his face, and the whisper behind him,

"Sorry, it's for your own good," before everything went black.