I got the idea for this story from Rorschah's Blot's fan fiction Odd Ideas, especially from chapters 49 and 58. The first few chapters are going to be very similar to what he posted and then the later chapters will be my own creation expanding on his ideas. I'll accept any and all ideas people make in the reviews, so if you want to see something special happen, then I'll see what I can do. Grammatical corrections and pointing out plot holes are most appreciated.
Time of Divergence from the Books: Harry's summer in the fifth book, a few days before the Dementor attack in Surrey.
As Harry munched through the Chinese food that Petunia had left outside of his room, he thought back to the Dursleys' new treatment of him. He would've had cooked dinner for them, but with the increased Auror protection and the subtle threats to at least provide Harry with three meals a day and a place for him to sleep, the Dursleys had started eating a mixture of takeouts and Petunia's cooking which was unfortunately inferior to Harry's prodigious cooking skills.
As Harry finished his dinner, he began cramming the leftovers into the takeout bag until he heard a crunch.
He frowned and reached in for a partially smashed Chinese fortune cookie. He peeled out the paper and read the phrase typed in it.
"A wise man once said that those who are willing to sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither freedom nor security."
Harry was reminded of Sirius, of the man who even broke out of Azkaban to be a free dog…er…man and to save Harry his godson. He was the only connection he had left to his parents other than Remus and Pettigrew didn't count. Maybe he should start emulating his godfather.
"Fine, Sirius. I'm leaving this waste dump of a home."
Harry crept out of Dudley's second bedroom with one of the large boy's old knapsacks over one shoulder. He was getting out of here for good.
Stepping past the sleeping guard taking an obviously unauthorized nap in the front yard, Harry was struck by a sudden idea and with an evil grin he grabbed the invisibility cloak and stuffed it into his pack. He knew where the guard was because of the suspiciously human-shaped patch of flattened grass. 'Siriusly', invisibility cloaks did not mean undetectable! Mad-eye probably would be yelling at…oh it was Mundungus Fletcher. Anyway it was always good to have a spare and while he'd have loved to stay behind to watch his . . . 'family's' reaction when they found a drunk sleeping it off on their doorstep, he had other things to do.
Quickening his pace, Harry hurried down the street and summoned the Knight Bus. How convenient that bus was. It was never late and very cheap too! Although it was best recommended to not look out the windows as most people will quickly get seasick, or was it bussick?
"Welcome to . . ."
"Are there any shopping districts aside from Diagon Alley and Knockturn?" Harry interrupted.
"Of course," Stan agreed. "What're you looking for?"
"Some place I can find a room and withdraw a bit of money from Gringotts," Harry replied.
"The old quarter at Cannon Street work for you?" Stan asked. "Looks a bit tarnished compared to Diagon but it's got everything you asked for."
"That'll be just fine," Harry agreed. Doing his best to hide his worry at being out of place as most kids didn't travel by the Knight Bus, Harry took his seat and waited for the ride to come to an end.
"Here we are," Stan said as the bus rolled to a stop. "Just walk toward the London Stone, push on the grill when no one is looking."
"Right," Harry agreed. "Thanks, Stan."
"All part of the service," Stan replied as he shut the door.
Harry got off the bus and after taking a look around, pushed the grill. The grate squeaked open and the stone moved aside to reveal a narrow doorway. On the other side was a new world, hopefully with better opportunities than he had ever got.
"Dung, hey Dung wake up. WAKE UP, DUNG!"
"Mwa?" The Order member groaned and grabbed his head to stop the pounding that the alcohol and the shrill female voice and blearily got to his feet. "What's up?"
"Where's your invisibility cloak?" Tonks demanded.
"Must have forgot it," Dung mumbled, "You here to relieve me?"
"Yeah," Tonks agreed. "Anything happen?"
"It's all been quiet," Dung replied. "Harry hasn't left his room since I got here . . . since anyone's got here."
"Another nice boring shift for me then," Tonks said with false cheer. "See you tomorrow."
Harry wandered up the street feeling like he'd just entered the magical world. It was all different, nothing like Diagon Alley. The buildings seemed to be an odd mix of ancient and new. Eventually his attention was captured by a bulletin board, more specifically an advertisement offering top pay for Potions ingredients and Wand components. Harry grinned; it was a rare thing in his life to have a chance to seek adventure for the sake of adventure without the world hanging in the balance. He carefully memorized the address and walked up the street to find an awesome adventure.
What'd ya need kid?" A woman asked as Harry entered the building.
"Forget it," she said immediately. "It's not worth doing if you're not already part of the business."
"Need to start somewhere," Harry replied.
"You sure you want to take on this job kid?" The dealer asked with a frown. "Harvesting Potions ingredients isn't a dangerous profession unless you want to make it pay and there are safer ways to make money."
"Well." Harry gave a boyish smile. "If I can't have a nice quiet life, then why not have a short merry one? Yes I'm sure."
"You do know that if you just wanted to commit suicide in a dramatic fashion, there are easier ways for that too." she sighed, "Alright kid, I tried. There's a pub up the street, you should be able to find one of the pro's drinking to their dead buddies there and if you're lucky they'll give you a few pointers before cutting you loose."
"And don't partner up with anyone," she called after him. "Not unless you know them and trust them with your back. Better to go it alone then have a bad partner."
"Right," he agreed.
"Good luck," she said softly as he left. "And I hope I see you again."
Harry followed the woman's directions and found himself in a dingy pub. The only other patron was a man in khakis and a pith helmet.
"To Frank . . . you were a good friend, and better bait . . . you will be missed. To . . . uh . . . George . . . or maybe it was Stan?" He mused. "Whatever your name was, you'll be missed too . . . both of you. You were great bait, one might even go so far as to say that the two of you were master bait . . .ers."
"Excuse me," Harry said.
"What do ya need kid?" He slurred.
"Just needed a few pointers on how to break into the business of harvesting potions ingredients," Harry replied. "You got any?"
"Well." He seemed to consider the question. "Get quality gear, good gear can save your ass. Bad gear can end your life."
"What kind of gear?" Harry persisted. "What's the most important thing I need?"
"Most important thing huh?"
"It takes a platoon of wizards to stop a Nundu," the man said with a grin. "You know how many muggles it takes?"
"A hundred?" Harry asked uncertainly.
"Just one," the man corrected. "Muggles are very good at causing death and destruction."
"But . . . magic . . .?"
"Is what does in most Wizards who try this business," the man said quickly. "If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail. Only problem is that not every problem is a nail, you try a hammer and . . . well . . ."
"So what do you use?" Harry asked.
"Same thing muggles do," he replied. "A large caliber rifle. Put a bullet in the right place and you can stop just about anything."
"Where do I get something like that?"
"You can either buy all your kit new or you can walk down the street a bit and buy it almost new," he replied. "I'd go with the second."
"Used only a day or two," he laughed. "Just have to clean off the previous owner and you're set."
"Clean off . . ."
"Like I said," he said with a feral grin. "Only used a day or two. Average life expectancy is about three months, that's with some of the old timers tossed in to play with the odds a bit. In real life, you live that long and you've got a good chance of lasting longer. Most people last a bit less then a week, two on the outside."
"Where do I get kitted out?"
"Shop up the street with a red sign," he replied. "Can't miss it, s'where the heirs go to sell off their benefactor's old junk. Good deals to be had by all."
"Where was I?" Harry heard the man mutter as he left. "Right, to . . . Phil . . ."
Harry followed the man's directions and soon found himself entering the aforementioned shop. "What can I do for you lad?"
"I need to get kitted out," Harry replied.
"You want used or new?"
"Slightly used," Harry said with a grin. "What do I need?"
"Everything," he said. "Most important thing is a good pair of boots though. That's not the sort of thing you can buy here, there's a boot maker up the street that can get you custom pair. No sense dieing if you have to do it with sore feet 'eh?"
"Clothes I can do, all double stitched. Get two pairs and you're set."
"What about a rifle?"
"Got three in stock right now," the shopkeeper replied. "A six hundred nitro double, a three seventy five Holland and Holland bolt, and a four sixteen Rigby bolt. What'd you prefer?"
"Uh . . ."
"Ammo will be hard to find for the nitro," he sighed. "And bolt action can also hold more rounds."
"Which one is better?" Harry asked uncertainly.
"Depends on what you want to do," he replied. "The double rifle gives you a quick follow up shot, but a slow reload and cartridges will be hard to find. Three seventy five is a good general caliber and popular enough so that it'll be no problem to feed it, four sixteen is a bit heavy for a lot of things but it's also good. The bolt action rifles are both excellent quality, both Mauser actions which gives you the claw. Both have peep sights and both are take downs . . . means you can easily take it apart into two pieces to save space."
"What about the double?"
The double was hand made by William Jeffrey & co, just oozes quality don't it?
"Ok, I had almost no idea what you meant by all of that," Harry agreed. "So, I guess I'll take all of them."
"They won't come cheap," he cautioned. "Even used, you're talking a couple thousand Galleons. I don't like robbing dead men before they're even in their graves yet."
"That's fine," Harry agreed. "Just get everything together and I'll come back later."
"Right lad," the man agreed. "Just be sure you look through this before you go out?"
"A book?" Harry asked skeptically.
"On shot placement," he agreed. "It's the most important thing you need to know if you're going to go after dangerous game. To some extent it doesn't matter so much what you're shooting with so much as where you hit your target. This thing'll show you where to hit it and what to harvest. Also, you said you don't know anything about guns, so think of this as a favor to increase your chances of a longer life span."
"Oh . . . thanks," Harry said after a moment of thought.
"There are a couple others you should flip through but this is the most important, understand me? Even if you don't do anything else you need to look through this."
"I . . . ok," Harry agreed. "I will."
"Damn it," Tonks complained. "This job sucks." A flicker of movement caused her to look up at Harry's window. "And there's Hedwig, going out to hunt. Least he has his bloody owl up there with him, better then no company at all."