Normally he was a sound sleeper, but when the lights abruptly go off and you hear people talking in the middle of the bloody night followed by the sound of an engine that definitely needed maintenance along with the loudest sobbing you ever heard, well you tend to get up to see what was going on.
Charles "Hawk-Eyed Charlie" Potter was a retired sniper and member of the Royal Air Force gunners division before a lucky shot during the war took out his plane and he had nightmares of nearly dying in the crash. He had moved to Little Whinging to live out his retirement because nothing much happened in Surrey. Everyone in the neighborhood liked him to a point, despite the fact that he had all his old guns stored in the basement and still tested them occasionally.
They never reported it because, well, the man was a retired sniper and he had explained two years ago that he was only testing them. He never let the children see them or took them out of the basement.
Even the nosy Dursley family across the street respected him for his service during the war. Aside from occasionally going to see some old war buddies in London twice a month, Charlie didn't go out much.
However that was all about to change on this cold November night.
Charlie watched as the old man laid the package on the doorstep of the Dursley family without even letting them know about the delivery. He frowned, and got his slip-on shoes to walk across the street.
What he found there had him furious. It was an infant with only a worn blanket to keep him warm and not even a proper carrier! There wasn't even a wicker basket to help the poor kid retain warmth. He picked up the tiny tyke and noticed the note. Reading it, his anger only grew.
This Dumbledore expected Petunia to care for her nephew without bothering to ask her? And he said that the child had to stay whether or not they wanted him, some farce about blood wards.
Well that wouldn't do at all.
Charlie took the kid back into his house and noticed the poor boy needed a nappy change. Unfortunately he didn't have any and it looked like whoever had left him there hadn't bothered to include a diaper bag.
There was only one option. He took the kid with him, securing him as best he could without the proper carrier and went to the only place that was still open at two in the morning on a holiday.
"Can I help you sir?" asked the woman bored.
"Yep. Can you direct me to the toddlers and infants section?"
The woman blinked, then noted he had a child.
"Some moron was daft enough to leave this poor kid on a doorstep without even a proper carrier, a diaper bag, or even a toy. All they left was some half-assed note. Don't know about you, but that doesn't seem right to me," said Charlie, his tone saying exactly what he thought of such people.
The woman, a mother of two, blinked then her eyes hardened.
"They just left the kid there? Only a note?!"
"Yup. Kid needs a diaper change too."
She didn't need to hear any more about such a blatant act of child neglect. She helped Charlie get all the things he would need immediately like food (the kid was at least a year old, and that meant somewhat solid foods), an infant carrier (which included lessons on how the hell to attach it with the seat belts and which way it had to face), diapers and other paraphernalia associated with changing a toddler, and a few toys for kids his age.
Charlie left the store feeling a hell of a lot better about things now that he could properly take care of the kid. At the very least he had spared the poor tyke from dealing with that horse-faced bint Petunia.
It was the news of the neighborhood. Someone had left an infant on old Charlie's doorstep and he had adopted the kid as a grandson. Everything was above the board and entirely legal. James 'Jamie' Potter was a happy toddler who had no idea how close he came to living with his less than tolerant relative.
As the years passed, it was clear that the kid was good for Charlie. Little Jamie got him to associate with the rest of the people in his neighborhood, not to mention livened up his house.
Of course there was the slight issue of the crazy cat lady Arabella Figg paying a little too much attention to Charlie and Jamie, but Charlie put an end to the rumors that he was dating her by pointing out he was a happily widowed man who had a grandson to spoil/train.
"Hawk, what's your position over?" said a voice over his headset.
"This is Hawk, I'm in position and ready to go," said a ten-year old with green eyes and close-cropped black hair. On his right shoulder was a patch that labeled him as a senior cadet. Beneath that was another that claimed him to be a sniper, mechanic and basic field medic. He could set a broken bone and place a tourniquet with expert ease.
"We're in position here. Just waiting for the Game Master to tell us to start," said the other voice.
A loud horn blared into the forest. This was his favorite training exercise, because they were supplied with arms and told to kill the enemy.
The sound of thuds and cursing was heard as the rounds hit their targets. No one wanted to be on the opposite team when he was the leader, they always lost.
Mostly because his grandfather cheerfully showed him how to snipe targets at a distance. He could kill and gut a rabbit in five minutes flat.
"TIME!" yelled the adult watching the exercise. Once again Hawk got the highest kill count. They only let him join this game because they needed an extra.
"Winner is the red team!" yelled the Teacher.
Hawk slung his paintball gun around his shoulder after unloading it.
"Way to go Jamie!" said his friend Paul.
"The undisputed champion of the mock battles!" cheered the red team.
Jamie had, from the first time he had participated in the mock battles with paint ball guns and markers in place of knives, beaten anyone he came across. This was because every time he played he always took a spot that was damn near impossible to see and sniped everyone on the opposite teams. And he was always assigned green, so he tended to have a higher kill count than everyone else.
"So you signing up for Cabin boy again?" asked Jake.
"Yup! Grandpa said that if I want something I have to earn the cash for it. Something about not turning out like our neighbors," said Jamie.
Jamie had many stories about the neighborhood bully Dudley Dursley. He never tried anything with Jamie around because every time he tried, even when he had his gang, he always ended up with his ass kicked and a pair of black eyes.
Petunia would have complained, but Charlie always shut up the two blowhards by pointing out his grandson was attending a better school and did his service to Queen and Country, whereas Dudley's highest ambition was to merely join his father's company.
Vernon never did like having that pointed out. He tried to get Dudley into the same military academy Jamie attending, but less than a month in, and Dudley was kicked out. Charlie even tried to keep the boy in, since he was of the opinion that the boy needed a firm hand in order to avoid being the waste of space he already was.
"So where did they say they were heading this summer?" asked Jake.
"Hawaii. I love being on those big ships, even if I do have to keep the others in line," said Jamie.
Jamie signed up every year for cabin boy duty in the Queen's Navy. He got paid minimum wage, had to work on the ship doing the worst jobs, and was at sea for two months. Because he had done it so many times, he was Senior Cabin Boy. It was a summer program designed to give the cadets a chance to see what life was really like working in the military.
Jamie would rather be working in the Royal Air Force for the summer, but those slots were only available for age fifteen and up, and those kids had to have a good record in the Navy first.
He was already a shoo-in for one of the slots.
Jamie looked up when he saw the owls flying above.
"Looks like it's that time of year again... Why anyone would use messenger owls is beyond me," he said.
"The owls coming again? Where do they even go?" asked Paulie.
"Can't tell ya...it's part of a simple trick to weed out the unworthy," said Jamie.
"You know where they go?"
"Followed them a couple years ago to this small building full of them. Ever since I've been stuck going to extra classes," said Jamie, making a face.
Classes like mundane-born orientation, Laws and by-laws of the Ministry, and Gringotts money-management. He still had no idea what his instructors meant when they said it would come in handy once he turned eleven.
"Come to think of it, I have a class in thirty. See you later Paulie!" said Jamie, placing his paintball gun inside the cabinet. They weren't allowed to use them outside of training exercises, seeing as how some of the boys still needed to grow up.
"Potter, James!" called out the drill sergeant.
"You got three letters. Scotland, Ireland and an affiliate branch over in America. You get a one-week leave for home in order to discuss this with your guardian. Here is the address to the Alley that will explain everything for you, I would advise you to check it out," said the sergeant.
"So they sent the letters. Well, lets get into the car then, no point putting this off," said Charlie.
"Your instructors gave me a call the day you found the Owlery. Said that the letters had a good chance of coming when you hit eleven, so I had best be prepared. Some of them seemed a mite disappointed that I didn't react like the others had."
"Didn't you work with some people who could do odd things during the war?" asked Jamie, getting into the car.
"Captain Longbottom and Private First class Bones. Friendliest people with powers I ever met. Strange folk though...kept using these polished sticks to get most of their work done. And don't get me started on the things they wrote with..."
An hour's drive later, and they were in London.
Thankfully the note also included directions to the stores next to this...Leaky Cauldron.
"Cauldron, eh? I heard about that place from Longbottom. Supposedly has the best roast with onions and potatoes this side of Hogsmeade, wherever that is. He always tried to get me to join him and Bones for a pint, but I never had time," said Charlie.
Charlie parked his car at the Veteran's Association, which is where he went for his monthly meetings with old friends. Jamie was well acquainted with the place, having learned how to fight from a few of the members. He got his first knife from one of Charlie's old platoon.
Coincidentally it was three blocks from the Leaky Cauldron. Charlie was surprised to be able to see it, considering he had never gone with Longbottom or Bones for a pint before.
This was the beginning of a long series of surprises for that day.
First was the warning they got about the strange scar on Jamie's head. One of the other veteran's lent him a baseball cap to cover it, saying the poor boy would be mobbed otherwise.
Then there was the mob Charlie got when someone recognized him. The thing was, Charlie had no idea who the man was.
Finally, the two had enough and went straight to Gringotts.
And there things too a turn for the bizarre.
"It can't be Charles Potter!" said one of the squat creatures behind the tellers.
"Hmm? What's it to you stranger? And why is everyone making a fuss about me today?"
The creature swore in goblin before directing them to an office. But word had already begun to spread that the grandfather of Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, was alive.
"Charles Potter. By all rights you should be dead after that attack," said the goblin bluntly.
"Why the hell is everyone making a fuss about me being alive?!"
"First we need to confirm it really is you before we do anything. Can you come over to this other room so we can get this over with?"
"Will I get an explanation as to what the bloody hell is going on?"
"After the test."
A few drops later, and Charlie was sitting in the chair nursing a massive headache.
"First things first, what do you remember of the year 1978?"
"Aside from enlisting in the Royal Air Force after some Colonel found me wandering the side of the road, not much. He dropped me off at the nearest Air base where they patched me up and I took them on the offer to enlist. I was a gunner in one of the planes before a lucky shot took us down and I became a sniper until I retired over a decade ago."
"First off, you are a veteran of the Second World War. You used to pilot one of the planes before a lucky hit got you and you decided to help on the magical side. You were missing, presumed dead after a Death Eater raid that destroyed your small town house and left your wife dead. We assumed you had been killed as well," said the goblin.
"I knew I was a fighter pilot in the war! Because of my fear of planes, they allowed me to become a sniper instead."
"Now who is the boy you brought with you?"
Jamie removed his cap, and the goblin swore.
"I applaud you common sense. Had the people in the Cauldron seen you, you would have been mobbed for sure. Ever since Dumbledore claims to have left you with your muggle relatives, people have been awaiting your return."
"Hold on a moment. Would these relatives be Petunia and Vernon Dursley?"
"I would assume so, why?"
"Can I have an appointment with this...Dumbledore? I want to have words with him about leaving an infant on a doorstep in the beginning of a cold November," growled Charlie.
"...Mind if we do it where the goblins can get a good view? Dumbledore has mishandled the Potter funds, and we would like to see the old goat get what's due to him."
Charlie gave a shark-like grin in return.
"Now, about my grandson's schooling..."
In the end they decided on Hogwarts, though it was with the agreement that Jamie would be allowed to change schools if he felt that Hogwarts wasn't up to their standards. Plus there was the fact he had already signed up for the two month stint on a British airship carrier as usual. Which meant arrangements had to be made so that he could catch up once that was over and transport to the school.
As far as Dumbledore was concerned, the school which Jamie attended didn't end until then.
First thing Charlie did was load up on any books he thought of use, occasionally calling his friends in the VA for advice.
Once they learned that he was magical, they had all sorts of tips for him, some not so friendly.
That sort of advice Charlie always took with stride, because as he always explained to his friends, he was still loyal to his wife.
At least now he had her name. Because of the head injury he took, all he could remember of it was that it started with a D and her maiden name was Black.
Before they left the Alley, Charlie did make a final pit stop in Gringotts for the name of his grandson's godfather. Any child of the Potter family had one, and he had the feeling Jamie was no exception.
They left that day nursing a headache and with a new pet. Jamie didn't particularly like owls, as he had to help clean out the Owlry at his school, but he was partial to snakes and dogs. Unfortunately they didn't allow exotic pets like that.
However Charlie knew his grandson, and he had little doubt that the boy would find a way to sneak his German Shepard puppy into that school.
He chuckled...that would prove entertaining.