Author's Note: I posted this story a few years ago under my old pen name, but later deleted it. Now I'm posting it again.
Albus Dumbledore's first mistake was to dismiss the possibility that a young muggleborn witch like Lily Potter could know more about magic than he did. As he surveyed the disaster at Godric's Hollow the old wizard theorized that Lily had sacrificed her life to save her son Harry from Voldemort. While this answer was partly correct, it was far from being the whole truth.
For not only did Lily use her death to power the ancient blood charm, she also used Voldemort's own magic against him. When the Dark Lord attacked young Harry with the Killing Curse he opened a connection to this arcane piece of blood magic, and ended up supplying the power that destroyed his body. The Lily's plan was a work of pure genius, but her former Headmaster was too arrogant to admit that he didn't understand all its complexities.
Secure in his ignorance, Dumbledore began to plot. He was perfectly aware of how corrupt the Ministry of Magic was, since he had been a part of it for decades. With the death of his parents Harry's closest relatives were the dreaded Black Family, thanks to fact that Dorea Black had married the boy's grandfather Charlus Potter. Bellatrix Lestrange was going to end up in Azkaban along with that traitor Sirius Black, so they both could be safely ignored.
That left the other two sisters, Andromeda Tonks and Narcissa Malfoy. Since they were both purebloods they had the strongest legal case for claiming guardianship of Harry, but any political fight between them was sure to end with a victory for Lucius Malfoy's wife. Dumbledore had proof that Lucius was a Death Eater, but he also knew the clever snake would buy his way out of Azkaban. The Malfoys would love to rehabilitate their public image by raising Harry as their second son, and that scenario could only end in disaster. The boy had to be ready if Voldemort returned—the prophecy demanded it.
Dumbledore's only other option was Lily's sister Petunia Dursley, but she was a muggle and had no legal rights according to the Ministry of Magic. He would have to present the Wizengamot with a fait accompli, and hope that his towering reputation would allow him to survive politically. The blood protection Lily had cast could be used as the foundation for a new set of blood wards around the Dursley's home. These types of wards were illegal, but protecting Harry from the vengeful Death Eaters outweighed the risks.
Having devised a plan, the old wizard went to work. Dumbledore had no particular gift for creating wards and he had never made a study of blood magic, but that didn't stop him. After all, people had been telling him that he was a genius since he took his NEWTs over a century ago. His magic would center on a note he had written for Petunia. Once she read it and accepted her nephew into her home, the blood wards would be set until Harry reached his seventeenth birthday.
After Hagrid and Minerva had left Privet Drive, Dumbledore stayed behind under James's Invisibility Cloak which he had found at Godric's Hollow. Petunia quickly picked up her nephew and read the note with her other hand. She seemed upset about the whole situation, but after a few moments the two disappeared into the house and the blood wards sprang into existence.
With an almost silent pop Dumbledore disappeared from Harry Potter's life for the next ten years. In a long and eventful life this would be the single worst mistake he would ever make.
That mistake was not obvious for the first several months of Harry's stay at his Aunt's house. He seemed like a normal toddler. The only thing unusual about him—other than his preference for female company—was the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. It was a shallow cut, but it never seemed to heal for some reason. At times it would even begin to bleed again for no reason.
That didn't matter to his Aunt Petunia, because she loved her nephew. In truth she loved him more than her own son, and certainly more than she loved her husband. As the years passed that fact became more and more evident to Vernon Dursley, and he didn't like it one bit. He insisted that his wife pay more attention to her own son Dudley, and to him as well. Vernon even went so far as to suggest moving Harry out of his bedroom and down into the cupboard under the stairs.
When Petunia heard that she knew exactly what she had to do: she had to murder her husband. It had to be done in such a way that allowed her to stay out of prison and to collect his life insurance. If she was in prison who would take care of poor Harry? As for the insurance money: well, her nephew was an orphan and he deserved the best of everything. Especially since he was a wizard—the greatest wizard in history.
To achieve her objective Petunia began spending time in bars of Soho. Getting away to London when she had to care for two young children was difficult, but she somehow she managed it. Petunia was no great beauty like her late sister Lily, but she still had a fine figure so no one questioned her presence at these seedy nightspots. She had thought about involving some young male criminal in her plot, but no mere man would be able to see how important Harry was to the world.
After a few weeks of scouting she found a fellow housewife was looking for a way out of her abusive marriage, and the two women agreed to kill each others' husbands. Since no police detective thought to link the murder of a man in Portsmouth with a housewife in Little Whinging or the murder of a man in Little Whinging with a housewife in Portsmouth, neither woman was ever caught. Beating a man to death with a cricket bat was difficult for Petunia, but she got through it by thinking of her beloved nephew.
Ten years later Professor Minerva McGonagall, the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, received a letter she had looked forward to for some time. Harry Potter was finally coming to Hogwarts, and he was hoping that she might pay him a visit. Since he hadn't spent any time in the magical world, Harry was interesting in the names of his fellow first-year students. Normally Minerva wouldn't have shared that kind of sensitive information with a student, but allowances could be made just this once. It served Albus right for leaving the boy with those horrible muggles.
"Hello Professor McGonagall, my name is Harry Potter," said the boy who answered the door at Number Four, Privet Drive.
Minerva was too shocked to respond for a moment. Harry looked just like his father, but he had Lily's beautiful green eyes. His clothes and his hair and even his nails were perfectly groomed. The Boy-Who-Lived was going to be beating them off with a stick in a few years.
"How do you do, Mr Potter. May I come in?"
"Yes, of course," Lily's sister Petunia said as she gestured towards the sofa in the front room. "Please have a seat."
Like so many times before, Minerva launched into her spiel about Hogwarts. However Petunia quickly cut her off, and explained that her nephew knew all about the magical world thanks to the hundreds of letters Lily had written her sister back during the seventies.
"Mrs Dursley, where your husband?" Minerva asked after she had handed Harry a parchment with the names of the first-years on it.
"A criminal murdered Vernon several years ago."
"I am terrible sorry for your loss. And what about your son?"
"Dudley is spending the summer with his Aunt Marge. This my nephew's special time. A wizard only turns eleven once."
McGonagall turned to study Harry. Despite his youth he seemed to have a... charisma about him, much like Albus did. "Is there any specific questions you would like to ask me about Hogwarts?"
"There are several foreign names on this list of students, but they are all female. Why is that?"
Trust the son of James Potter to ask an embarrassing question. "Miss Li and the two Patil twins are all daughters of prominent business-wizards who import and export goods between Asia and Europe."
"And what about Blaise Zabini?"
"He is a wizard, and his mother is English."
"But why don't these business-wizards send their sons to Hogwarts?"
Normally McGonagall chose to ignore topics like this. For instance she never told the muggleborn students like Hermione Granger about the blatant discrimination that she would face in the magical world. Her job was to sugarcoat the situation, and enroll as many students in Hogwarts as possible. But for some reason she found herself telling Harry the ugly truth about how their small world really worked.
"Their sons receive their magical education in their native countries of China and India. The daughters are seen as having lesser value to their families, so they are sent to Hogwarts as hostages. If their fathers try to cheat their European business partners these daughters would be killed in retaliation."
"That is barbaric," Petunia said.
"Not really," Harry said as he rubbed his forehead. "This is the same thing the Romans use to do to the barbarian tribes they conquered. Sons of the local chieftains were sent to Rome to be educated, but in reality they were hostages held against their tribes' continuing good behavior."
"Quite correct Mr Potter, you know your ancient history. Do you have any more questions?"
"Yes, I do. My mother's letters were full of information about the war against You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. I see that the children of several of those Death Eaters will be attending Hogwarts with me this year. Will my life be in any danger?"
"Only if you are sorted into Slytherin. It would be a simply matter for your enemies to arrange an accident down in those horrible dungeons. You will be reasonable safe in the other three houses, but the risk of assassination is still very real."
By now Harry was holding his head with both hands as if he were in great pain. "Thank you for your time, Professor. I hope to see you on the first of September."
McGonagall quickly got up and left the house. It never occurred to her to be offended by the fact that she had received a curt dismissal from an eleven year-old, or to question why she had obeyed that dismissal without hesitation.
"Are you alright Harry?" his Aunt Petunia asked.
"No, I'm not. I was hoping that witches were the same as muggle women, but that clearly isn't the case. It will be a challenge at Hogwarts when I'm surrounded by a few hundred of them every day."
Petunia hugged her nephew tightly. "You don't have to go if you don't want to. You can stay with me forever."
"No, I have to learn about magic, and that means I have to go to Hogwarts. I will learn to cope with the pain—it will just take some time. We can make a start of it by going to Diagon Alley tomorrow, and while we are in London we can also do some fund-raising."
After Vernon's death Petunia needed a job, and for a time she worked in a flower shop here in Little Whinging. But several years ago she joined a charity dedicated to helping young orphans, and with her nephew's help she soon became their top fundraiser. Harry just had to walk into one of those expensive London townhouses and the cheques soon followed. Their wealthy female supporters delighted in showering him with all sorts of gifts, and one of them even set up a lavish trust fund for his education.
"Harry, I remember Diagon Alley. It was always crowded when your mother went shopping for school supplies in August."
"I'm have to learn how to deal with witches, so I might as well start tomorrow. But now I would like to take a warm bath."
"Of course dear, whatever you need."
The trip to Diagon Alley was a disaster. Th moment Harry walked into the Leaky Cauldron the pain became unbearable. While her nephew returned to the car and rested, Petunia went to mail a letter by owl. Later that day Professor McGonagall returned to Little Whinging with the Hogwarts Healer Poppy Pomfrey in response to her desperate plea for help.
"Well, what do you think?" Minerva asked her old friend after the Healer had finished the medical examination.
"It's hard to believe, but Harry Potter is suffering from a simply case of magical exhaustion despite having a very powerful magical core. It's as if the boy has been casting spells for several straight hours."
"That is impossible," Petunia cried. "He doesn't even own a wand."
"Let's continue this conversation out back," Minerva suggested as she glanced over at Harry, who was writhing in pain. "I afraid that the presence of two witches is only making his condition worse."
"Mrs Dursley, are you familiar with the Wizarding Wireless?" Poppy asked as the sat down on a bench located in the tiny garden behind the house. "I believe it's similar to your muggle radio."
"Yes, my sister told me all about the Wireless before she died."
"It seems that your nephew is in effect a biological form of the Wireless. He is literally broadcasting his magic in every direction."
"Poppy, you can't be serious," Minerva said. "I have never heard of such a thing, not even in theory. Surely this is just some form of accidental magic."
"No, accidental magic has been studied at great length and it has very distinct characteristics. What Harry is doing is something very different. He is constantly creating a magical field around his body, and even worse this field increases in strength when he is near other magical person. Is is a completely unknown form of magic... but then so is surviving the Killing Curse."
"Do you think the two events are connected?" a skeptical Minerva asked.
"I honestly can't say. The only person who really knows what happened that night in Godric's Hollow is Headmaster Dumbledore, and he has refused to share any information about the subject with the rest of the world," Poppy replied. "I suggest we bring him here so he can examine Harry."
"No! Dumbledore can't find out about this," Harry said as he leaned against the back door of the house.
"That are you doing out of bed so soon? You need to rest," Aunt Petunia told him.
"Mr Potter, your medical condition is very serious. Perhaps even life-threatening," the Healer explained. "I not sure how to help you, so we need to bring in outside experts to help us figure out a course of treatment. I would prefer to send you straight to St Mungo's Hospital, but the presence of that many wizards and witches might actually kill you."
"You can bring others here to help me, so long as they are witches. No wizards."
When he was growing up Harry thought it was only natural for women to help him in any way they could. But as he got older he began to notice that what was natural for him was very unnatural for other people. After his Aunt Petunia explained that he was a wizard it didn't take much to figure out that this effect on women had something to do with his magic, but it now appeared that these witches were also baffled by his strange ability. Until they could provide him with some useful information he would keep his distance from any wizard. While he enjoyed the company of women, men always hated him for some reason. Always.
Although it was a criminal act, the first thing that Minerva did was disabled the apparatus which monitored underage magic for the Ministry of Magic in Little Whinging. Then she did the same for all the devices Albus had connected to Number Four—after all their years together as colleagues she could find his magical signature with her eyes closed. At the same time Poppy was setting up a series of runes which would isolate Harry from any magic while they worked on a diagnosis.
Finally the two pitched a magical tent in the garden out back away from the prying eyes of Arabella Figg. Neither witch questioned the fact that they were abandoning everything else in their lives to focus on Harry Potter. It just seemed like the right thing to do. If Petunia hadn't been cooking meals for them they probably would have forgotten to eat and starved to death.
After a fruitless day of testing Minerva and Poppy decided to call in Professor Vector and Professor Babbling from Hogwarts. This proved to be an excellent choice since Bathsheba Babbling's extensive knowledge of Ancient Runes gave them their first real break. It seems that Dumbledore's efforts to protect Harry from the remaining Death Eaters had almost killed him.
"Minerva, I know that you think the sun shines out of his arse, but Dumbledore's work on these blood wards is criminal in its negligence." Bathsheba told the group as they conferred out in the tent.
"What does that have to do with Harry's condition?" Poppy asked.
"It has everything to do with Harry's condition," the Professor barked. "Dumbledore tied these poorly designed blood wards directly to the magical core of a child. A child that had just survived the Killing Curse. I don't know what happened between the Boy-Who-Lived and You-Know-Who, but the link between Harry and the blood wards is highly unstable and it always has been. That must be the reason why he is generating this strange magical field."
"I agree with Bathsheba," Septima Vector added as she went over her Arithmancy calculations. "There are two separate pieces of magic at work here. One is the blood wards surrounding the house, and the other is centered directly on Harry's body. If I was a betting witch I would say that Lily Potter cast some sort of charm on her son just before she died in order to protect him."
"Lily was one of the most brilliant students I ever taught," Minerva observed. "If anyone was capable of setting a trap for You-Know-Who, it would have been her."
"I think that is exactly what happened," Septima told them. "Then Dumbledore thought he was being clever when he tied this charm of Lily's to her sister Petunia's home. It has protected Harry all these years, but at a terrible cost to the boy's magical development."
"That old fool always thinks that his skill with a wand trumped his ignorance," Bathsheba sneered. "A quick draw in a duel is no substitute for doing real research in a library."
"You are right," Minerva said in despair. "Albus had only a few hours to prepare the blood wards before Rubeus Hagrid brought young Harry here to Little Whinging."
"Alright, we now understand the underlying cause of the problem. How do we fix it?" Poppy asked.
The answer to that question took most of August for the group to figure out. They finally managed to design a ritual which would sever the link between Harry and the blood wards. Once that was done they hope it would be possible for the boy to gain some measure of control over the unusual magical field he was generating. Unfortunately this ritual was dangerous... and illegal.
"I can't believe we are even contemplating this," Poppy said after the other witches presented her with their outline.
"Normally I would agree with you, but keeping Harry alive is worth any risk," Bathsheba replied. "It's all Dumbledore's fault anyway. Blood magic is considered dark magic for a good reason, and he is the one who opened this particular can of worms ten years ago."
"You do realize that if the Ministry of Magic finds out about this we will be given the Dementor's Kiss for sure."
"I say we all Obliviate each other after the ritual is over," Septima said. "It is the only way we can protect Harry and ourselves from those ignorant fools at the Ministry."
"That's an excellent idea," Minerva said with enthusiasm. "We will also Obliviate the boy afterwards to spare him any unnecessary guilt. Albus will arrive here in Little Whinging after a short time to find the house on fire, and then he will be forced to bring Harry to Hogwarts where he belongs."
Poppy's magical oaths as a Healer were strong, so again she tried to reason with the others. "Petunia, are sure you really want to go through with this? What about your son?"
"Vernon's sister Marge will take care of Dudley. I have always known how important my nephew was to the world. Doing this for Harry will be a great honor," Petunia answered.
The ritual was simple but terribly messy. The four witches planned on carving a series of runes on five of the boy's bones: his two femurs, his two humeri, and on his skull. The complicated part would be filleting Harry's skin and muscles so that Bathsheba could reach the bone itself and begin carving. The operation had to be done while Harry was conscious, and without the use of any pain-relief potions. Once the runes were in place Petunia would then commit suicide.
"This is insane!" Harry cried when he learned about this last part of the ritual. "There was to be another way! I can't lose you!"
"This all started when your mother Lily sacrificed herself to protect you. If we want to undo the damage that Dumbledore has caused then we needed another sacrificial act just as powerful. Only my death can set you free," Petunia explained.
"But I can just stay here in Little Whinging! I don't have to go to Hogwarts! Please don't do this!"
"I am sorry Harry, but some day you will understand how important you are to the world."
The crying boy was then restrained by the four witches, and those cries soon turned to screams. While Minerva and Septima were cutting open Harry's arms, legs, and head Poppy was busy stabilizing his condition and insuring that he didn't bleed to death. Once the bone itself was exposed, Bathsheba quickly moved in and carved the complex runes which were just a few centimeters in size. When she was done Poppy healed the deep cuts. Harry never stopped screaming during the entire operation.
"Petunia, are you ready?" Minerva asked as she handed the muggle woman a bottle of deadly poison.
"Harry, I love you."
Was all his Aunt said before she drank the foul black liquid and collapsed to the ground. It was the last thing the boy remembered before the pain finally overwhelmed him.
"Mr Potter, I see that you are finally awake. My name is Poppy Pomfrey, and I am the Healer here at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
"I know who you are," Harry snarled as he tried—and failed—to get up off the infirmary bed. He could feel the five wounds on his body quite clearly, and they all hurt like the dickens. "You are the one who did this to me."
"Mr Potter, but we have never met before today. I sorry to have to tell you this, but your Aunt Petunia died when your house caught fire last night. You were brought here to Hogwarts so I could treat you for smoke inhalation."
Despite his pain and anger, Harry remembered the witches talking about their plan to Obliviate themselves. They needed to hide the evidence of their illegal ritual. They had also planned to Obliviate him, but that part of their plan must have failed for some reason. He remembered everything—including his Aunt Petunia's suicide. Had he somehow driven her to do that?
"Where is Dumbledore?"
Poppy looked shocked at his question. "You listen to me young man, that kind of cheek will not be tolerated here at Hogwarts. You will always refer to the Headmaster with a proper amount of respect. Furthermore it is inappropriate for someone your age to inquire about the comings and goings of such an important wizard."
It seemed clear to Harry that the operation to control his unique magic had worked. He couldn't recall a woman ever refusing to answer one of his questions, or using that tone of voice with him. But had his magical... Charisma over women been destroyed, or was it just inhibited in some way?
Harry concentrated on the runes cut into his bones, and then turned to the Healer. "Poppy, I need a hug."
For a moment the Healer looked like she was going to yell at him again, but then a strange change came over her face. Harry could tell he was having an effect on her because he could feel the runes burning inside his body. Despite the pain he didn't flinch when the Healer leaned over and wrapped him in a tight hug.
"Madam Pomfrey, may I ask what is going on here?"
"I am sorry Headmaster," the blushing Healer said as she moved away from her patient. "Mr Potter just lost his Aunt Petunia, and he looked like he needed some emotional support."
"That is quite alright," the old wizard said in a compassionate tone, but his eyes were not so forgiving. "Would you please give us some privacy. I have much to discuss with Mr Potter."
When the Healer left them Dumbledore transfigured the bed next to Harry's into a comfortable chair and sat down. "I wish we could have met under better circumstances. Your parents were dear friends of mine. I see that Madam Pomfrey has already told you the terrible news about your Aunt Petunia. You have my deepest condolences."
"Who will I live with now?" Harry asked as he tried to contain the anger he felt towards the old wizard. The pain from the runes was fading, but he was still very uncomfortable. And his condition was all Dumbledore's fault. "I don't think my Aunt Marge will want to take me in since I'm not related to her by blood."
"I am afraid that will be up to the Wizengamot to decide. They make the laws for our world, and the topic of your future home will be a source of intense discussion among its members," Dumbledore explained. "But you don't have to worry about that until the end of the school year which is several months away. For now you will stay here at Hogwarts."
"I haven't had time to go to Diagon Alley. Will it be possible for one of the Professors to take me on a trip to London so I can buy my school supplies for the year?"
"You ask a great many questions for someone your age."
"I'm sorry," Harry said as tried to sound contrite. Picking fights with men or boys always ended in disaster for him. Always.
Dumbledore continued to study him closely. "That is quite alright, my boy. Professor McGonagall will escort you to the London as soon as Madam Pomfrey gives her approval."
After the events at Ollivander's Wand Shop both Dumbledore and Minerva thought it would be prudent for Harry to stay at the castle and skip his first train ride on the Hogwarts Express. Even after five hours of searching the old wand-maker hadn't been able to find a match for the Boy-Who-Lived anywhere in his shop. In desperation Harry used his magical Charisma to influence Minerva, and suggested that he try his mother's old wand.
With the runes inside his body burning, Harry and Minerva returned to Hogwarts and broke into Headmaster's office. There they retrieved not only his mother's wand but also his father's Invisibility Cloak. Dumbledore was furious when he found them looting his office, but his mood quickly changed when he found out their reasons.
"Albus, Harry tried every single wand Ollivander had in stock, and none of them worked at all," Minerva explained. "Fortunately Lily's old wand seems to be giving him a positive result."
That was a bit of an overstatement. Harry was able to use his mother's wand, but his magic could best be described as feeble. For the next few days we was given remedial lessons in Transfiguration, but nothing Minerva did seem to improve his magic.
Harry was sure that Dumbledore was going to send him to St Mungo's Hospital for a proper examination, but the Headmaster was obviously nervous about letting the magical world discover that their little hero was a fraud. Or perhaps he was afraid of the answers the Healers would give him. As Harry watched the other students walk up to the front of the Great Hall to be sorted, he thought that Dumbledore's caution was a waste of time. By the end of the first day of classes everyone at Hogwarts was going to know the sad truth about the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Harry Potter," an anxious Minerva called out halfway through the ceremony.
"Well, what do we have here? It a rare event to see something completely new after a thousand years," the Sorting Hat whispered in his head.
"Gryffindor or Hufflepuff."
It a moment of weakness Professor Sprout told Harry about the secret of the Sorting Hat. She explained that if you asked for a certain house the Hat would usually go along with your request. But that wasn't the case this time.
"So boy, you want to find another witch whose robes you can hide behind," the Hat sneered. "I would never place a coward like you in Gryffindor. Godric would rise from the grave and destroy me if I did. In truth the only place for a wizard as deceitful as you is in Slytherin, but given your weakness the snakes would kill you by the end of the first week."
"This isn't my fault," Harry hissed. "Dumbledore did this to me."
"Are you still refusing to take responsibility for your actions?" the Sorting Hat asked in disgust. "Whose magic drove your Aunt Petunia to take her own life? There isn't room in Hufflepuff for a wizard as selfish as you."
"I tried to stop her!" Harry screamed, and every person in the Great Hall heard him. His shocking outburst left many wondering if the Boy-Who-Lived was crazy.
"Ravenclaw," the Hat finally declared.
Author's Note: (1) In this story Harry can barely use a wand, and that will never change. (2) The Sorting Hat was created by a male—Godric Gryffindor—which is why it reacted so negatively.