Harry had always known that he wasn’t like other children. He knew he wasn’t treated as a child his age should be. He knew, but he didn’t know what to do about it. And then a half-giant broke down the door of the desolate shack they were staying in, and everything changed.
At the Leaky Cauldron he had learned what fame was, he learned it could have power, power he had never had before. There were perfect strangers out there who would listen to him just because of a scar on his forehead.
At Gringotts he had learned that he wasn’t poor, and that he would never have to wear hand-me-downs again unless he wanted to. At Madam Malkin’s he learned from Draco Malfoy that arrogance could be a very viable weakness, and at Ollivander’s he learned that he had real power.
Hagrid was a simple soul, kind and gentle. Harry would always remember him for the gift of Hedwig. Hedwig represented more than a friend, and more than a pet. He now had a way of communicating that he had never had before. A way of communicating that could come in very handy indeed. He knew he now had the power to change things.
He had gotten aboard the train…which seemed an awful muggle way of getting around for witches and wizards. Ron Weasley was making a pitch to be his friend, although Harry didn’t know if it was because of his name or himself. Knowing what he did of the world, Harry was inclined to believe the former.
Draco Malfoy had appeared again, along with two …ogres? Trolls? Surely those two things couldn’t have been people. Hermione Granger had come looking for a toad, and Harry was now the proud owner of a Dumbledore chocolate frog card.
Finally, the time had come to put a singing hat on his head. He sat down on the stool and let the floppy hat come down to cover his eyes. “Hello, Mr. Potter. It is good to see you. I must say you have a very interesting mind. A mind that all of the four founders would be proud of, to be honest. You really belong everywhere and nowhere.”
Harry thought hard. “You know, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything less helpful.”
The hat chuckled. “And from looking at your past, that is really saying something. Mr. Potter, do you believe in fate?”
Harry frowned. “Not particularly.”
“Neither do I,” said the hat “but many in this room do, including several very influential people at the head table. You have many paths open to you, but there are some who would wish to limit those. You will need to fight them if you wish to determine your own future. You are suited for any of the four houses, but I am going to put you where you can achieve the most. Win their loyalty and keep it, and the others will fall in line. You will be underestimated at first, use that to your advantage.
“Find out about your past, the things no one will tell you are the most important. Don’t judge by appearances, and don’t hide your own appearance—honesty will get you everything, although sometimes a more creative version of the truth will serve you well. I will be on your side, young master. Put me on every time you enter the Headmaster’s office, no exceptions. That is the most I can do for you for now. As for your house—better be Hufflepuff!” the hat shouted out loud.
The room fell into a deep silence as shock reverberated throughout the room. Then the Hufflepuff house broke out into cheers as Harry took off the hat and made his way to the table. They broke out into chatter and made him welcome. Harry had never seen such a thing in his life. These students had nothing but complete unadulterated acceptance for him. He had never felt anything like it.
“Calm down you lot, can’t you see you are being a bit much for the poor boy?” This was from one of the older students. The boy stuck out his hand, “Cedric Diggory, at your service.”
Harry took his hand and shook it. “A pleasure.”
Conversation had resumed in the great hall and after the last student had been sorted, the Headmaster rose. “Ah, what an evening this has been. A few start of term announcements—the Forbidden forest is still forbidden, the third floor corridor is off limits and going there could have deadly consequences, Mr. Finch has a list of forbidden objects, please see him in his office if you want a complete list, and lastly—dig in.” And with that food appeared on all of the tables.
Harry was in awe of the sheer variety of foods offered. He would not starve this year. Actually, he was damned if he would ever starve again. As far as he was concerned, the hat was right, his destiny was in his hands and no one was going to take that from him.
Harry was gradually introduced to his year mates. There was Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones, Justin Finch-Fletchly, Wayne Hopkins, Megan Jones, Ernie Macmillan, and Zacharias Smith. Harry’s head was spinning from all the names and faces, but he was sure he would learn them soon enough.
One horrible school anthem later and they were all headed to the dorms. The Hufflepuff dorms were down by the kitchens. They were underground, as was appropriate for a house with the Badger as it’s mascot, but they were not in the lease dungeon like.
The entrance was a giant still life painting of Hogwarts. The password—‘friendship’ surprised Harry not at all. The common room was done in comforting shades of yellow and black. Huge comfy chairs were scattered around and there were plenty of desks for students to do their work. There were tunnels that branched off from the main room and Harry was told that they led to the dormitories.
The prefects had them sit all around the fire and a few moments later, their head of house- Professor Sprout came in to greet them.
She beamed as she looked around her students. “Welcome to the new, and welcome back to the old. For those who don’t know, I am Professor Sprout and I teach Herbology here at Hogwarts. For those of you who don’t know, let me tell you something about this house.
“This is a house of loyalty and hard work. There is nothing we cannot accomplish if we just stick together. I will tell you this now--you will be underestimated by the other houses, you can depend on it, but reputation does not make fact. I never want to hear of fighting in this house, or outside of it. If you have a problem with another student, you will come to me. A problem shared, is a problem halved, and there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
“And speaking of help, there is a mirror on the wall over there that links to my quarters. If any of you need anything, you may use it to call me. However, if it is three AM, you had better have a good excuse.” She smiled at her students. “I will wish you goodnight now and I will see you bright and early in the morning.”
“Goodnight, Professor.” They said back in unison.
Professor Sprout left and the prefects led the first years to their dormitories. Harry was amused to find that the door was large and round like a Hobbit’s home. When they went in, Harry instantly fell in love with the huge canopied beds that they had to sleep on. Harry’s trunk was by a bed at the end of the room by the large ‘window’ that looked out over the lake. Harry figured it was enchanted the same way the ceiling of the great hall was.
“This place is great” Ernie Macmillan said as he flopped down on his overstuffed bed.
“It sure is.” Zacharias Smith agreed.
“What do you think, Harry?” Justin Finch-Fletchly asked.
Harry thought a moment before he answered. Hopefully the hat was correct about the advantages of telling the truth. “It is much better than my cupboard was.”
Ernie frowned. “Cupboard?”
“Yeah, when my parents died, I was put with my muggle aunt and her family. They didn’t like magic or I very well, so they put me in the cupboard under the stairs. Although, when my Hogwarts letter came and was addressed to the cupboard, they decided they might be investigated for child abuse and they moved me to my cousin’s second bedroom. It wasn’t much better, but it was a real room.”
No one looked as if they knew what to say. Finally, Justin had the courage to ask. “Did they abuse you other than that?”
Harry didn’t answer, he just took off his robes and pulled off his shirt. He was so thin they could see his ribs, but more importantly they could see the palate of fading bruises.
Zacharias ran out of the room and a few minutes later returned with Professor Sprout, whom he had called on the mirror. “See, I told you.” He said as he pushed her towards Harry.
As she saw Harry clearly, she was horrified. “Dear child, what have they done to you? Come, we are going to see the nurse and then we are calling the authorities. This is not acceptable.”
Harry allowed her to usher him to the door. He was barely able to pull his shirt back on before he teacher pulled him in front of the fireplace and handed him some floo powder. “Throw it into the fire, and clearly state ‘Hogwarts Infirmary’, then step in.” she told him.
Harry was incredulous. “Are you serious? I am already bruised, do you want me burnt?”
“Don’t be silly, magical people don’t burn easily, and besides, wizards use this way of travel every day and no one has died yet.” she chided.
Harry shrugged, but followed her instructions. “Hogwarts Infirmary!” One dizzying ride later and he was in a whitewashed room with tall stained glass windows. Professor Sprout followed shortly after.
An older woman came out of an office and looked around. “Professor Sprout, surely there hasn’t been an accident yet? The school year has barely begun!”
“Madam Pomfrey, I am afraid I am not here because of any accident.” Sprout’s voice was grave. “I am here because Mr. Potter is in need of treatment. It seems as if his relatives were…how should I say this, oh yes, rabid piles of scum.”
Poppy Pomfrey was deeply concerned. “Professor, that is a very serious accusation, are you sure?”
“Very.” She looked down at Harry. “Please remove your shirt. Madam Pomfrey is a very good nurse who will be able to heal you.” She them looked over at the nurse, we will need to take pictures though, and keep a record. I will be reporting this to the proper authorities.”
Harry frowned as he took off his shirt again. This was getting quite serious. “Please, are sure you need to go to all this trouble for me?”
“Oh, Harry, this is no trouble.” Professor Sprout looked as if she were about to cry.
Poppy took a look and she agreed with Pomona, this would definitely need to be reported. “Harry, you do understand that what they did to you was wrong, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, but no one has really cared before. The Dursleys told everyone I was a trouble making hoodlum who always lied and got into fights and no one would believe me after that, so I just quit trying to tell.” Harry explained. “But the hat told me I shouldn’t hide here, so when my dorm mates asked questions, I answered them truthfully to see what would happen.”
Poppy was enraged. “Oh, those horrid, horrid people. Harry you will never have to go through that again, I promise you. Now, as much as I would like to heal you right this second, I think it would be better if we let the aurors see you just as you are.”
“Aurors?” Harry asked, looking confused.
“Our form of police, my dear. Now go ahead and lie down on one of the beds over there. You must be tired, and I don’t know how long it will take for them to get here.” Poppy looked over at Pomona who had tears running down her face. “Go get Dumbledore, will need to know about this. I’ll call the aurors.”
“Yes.” Professor Sprout said shortly and then she left the infirmary.
“Poor dear, things like this always hit her hard. She sees each of you as her children, you know.” Madam Pomfrey said as she began to search through her cabinets. “How do you feel dear, are you in pain?”
“Some, but it’s no big deal.” Harry replied.
“Well, you shouldn’t have to be in any. Ah ha!” she said as she found the pain killing potion she was after. She turned back to Harry. “Take this and the pain will go away.”
Harry took the little bottle from her and drank it down. Then he made a face. “That was foul! I think it must have gone bad. Am I poisoned now?”
Madam Pomfrey chuckled. “No dear, potions often taste like that. Especially Professor Snape’s potions, but they are some of the best. How do you feel now?”
Harry blinked. “I feel fine, I actually don’t remember when I’ve felt this good before.”
“That’s good dear.” Poppy said before she went over to the fire and threw a pinch of green powder in before sticking her head in calling for auror headquarters.
Harry blinked. All of this magic would take a bit of getting used to. It seemed useful, but it sure was confusing—all these magical advancements and they still hadn’t heard of a telephone?
A few moments later, Madam Pomfrey took her head out of the fire and then two people stepped out into the room. One was a very tall black man, and the other was a petite young woman with glowing purple hair.
Madam Pomfrey ushered them over to Harry. “Harry, I would like you to meet Auror Kingsley Shackelbolt, and Auror trainee Tonks. She was a Hufflepuff just like you dear.”
Harry studied them closely before holding out his hand. “It is nice to meet you.”
They each shook it, then Kingsley asked, “Can you tell us what happened?”
“I guess, my muggle aunt and uncle don’t like magic very much and as a consequence, they didn’t really like me. Although, I didn’t know that was why they didn’t like me until Hagrid came and told me about being a wizard. For most of my life, I lived in the cupboard under the stairs, it was only when they thought that someone had found out that they moved me.” Harry found that it wasn’t easy to talk about it calmly. He knew that what they had done to him was wrong, but it hurt to say it out loud. It made it more real somehow.
“Before I left, my uncle decided to ‘teach me a lesson’ so I would remember not to talk about what they did to me.”
“So what made you decide to tell?” Tonks asked.
“Well, they can’t hurt me here, and the Sorting Hat told me that I would be better off if I told the truth.” Harry answered.
Kingsley patted him on his shoulder. “That was very brave of you. You will never have to go back there again.”
There was a bustle by the door and Dumbledore and Professor Sprout came into the room. The Headmaster looked frazzled. “Now Harry, what have your relatives told you about lying?”
Harry was confused. “They told me I should lie if anyone asked about how they treated me. Do you know them, sir?”
“Oh yes, Harry, we are good friends. Now they called and told me earlier about how you were teasing your poor cousin and fell down the stairs chasing after him. Lying about them like this is a terrible way to pay them back for all they’ve done for you.” Dumbledore scolded.
Harry was outraged. “You knew how they treated me, and you left me there? And now you are trying to cover it up? They let you run a school? What kind of people are you?”
Kingsley looked back and forth between Harry and Dumbledore. “I think we are going to have to find a definitive truth one way or another. Dumbledore, if Harry is right and you were in on the abuse, we will have to take you into custody as well.”
Dumbledore laughed nervously. “Surely you are not going to take his word over mine?”
“I’ll take his word over Merlin’s if he can prove what he can say.”
Harry motioned for Kingsley to come close and he whispered something into his ear. Kingsley frowned and looked back over to Dumbledore. “How did Harry’s guardians call you?”
“Well, how everyone calls each other of course—the floo.”
Kingsley looked at Dumbledore with disgust. “I don’t know what kind of game you are playing, but it is sick and it is wrong. Muggles can’t use the floo, Albus, especially if they don’t even have a fireplace. I am going to have to take you into custody while we sort this out. More importantly, I know I am not going to leave you in charge of a school full of vulnerable children. Whether you were involved in Harry’s abuse or not, I am reporting you to the school governors.”
Dumbledore looked sad. “I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to do this.” He took out his wand so fast no one could stop him and he stunned everyone in the room. He then went over to the fireplace and called for Severus Snape. A few moments later the dire potions master stepped through.
Professor Snape took in the scene with a glance. “Having trouble, Headmaster?” he asked dryly.
“A bit. It seems that Harry’s relatives were a bit more unkind to him than I thought, but I need him to stay there for now.” Dumbledore told him as he went over to the boy in question. “I am going to need your help modifying their memories and I am going to need you to heal him so there is no more evidence of abuse.”
Snape looked at the child of his worst enemy and cringed. This was not right. Harry was going to have been his to torment, and now some others had beat him to it. Snape’s only goal would have been humiliation, but not this, never this. Snape was smart enough though not to say anything. It was important that his memories stayed intact.
“So this is Potter’s brat? What did he do, come complaining about a bit of physical discipline?”
Dumbledore chuckled. “I knew I could depend on you. Heal him and modify the memories of these people while I go and work on his dorm mates. I’ll be back as soon as I am done. You won’t be able to erase Harry’s memories of his abuse, but you can make him forget I was here and just make him remember that he was healed, but that they didn’t think that there was anything really wrong with how he was treated. The more he believes no one cares, the less likely he will be to bring it up again.”
“As you wish, Headmaster.” Snape replied. Dumbledore walked out and Snape quickly conjured a wizarding camera and began to take pictures of Harry’s injuries. He would have to modify their memories for now, Dumbledore held too much over his head for him to take such a risk. He wouldn’t be able to help Harry if he was in Azkaban. Snape also took a magical diagnostic scan and recorded the results. When he went back into his quarters he would also make sure a copy of his memories was safely stored in a pensive.
He then woke Harry up. “What happened? What was with that crazy wizard?”
Snape chuckled. “Crazy is a very apt term indeed. As for why he is doing the, I don’t know. I am Professor Snape, I teach potions here.”
“Oh, you made that potion that made my pain go away. Thank you very much for that.”
Snape came to realize that this was most definitely not a mini James Potter here. “You are welcome. Now that crazy wizard will come back soon, and he has the means to make me seem to be on his side. He is very powerful, and you will need to be on your gaurd. I am to heal you and then convince you that he was never here and that no one cared about the abuse. I will need you to pretend for now that you truly believe that.
“Right now the Headmaster is changing the memories of all your dorm mates so that they won’t remember, and I will have to modify the memories of the aurors and Madam Pomfrey and Professor Sprout.” As Snape spoke he was digging through his robes and pulling out various bottles.
Harry grimaced. It looked like there were more potions coming.
Snape saw and repressed a grin. “Don’t fear. I am going to show you a spell I created to make taking potions easier. You must promise not to share it with others though, for I never have.” Snape pointed his wand at Harry’s mouth. “Antastas”
Suddenly Harry could taste absolutely nothing…he couldn’t small anything either. “I think it is working, should I take them now?”
“Yes, it won’t last too long.” Snape said as he handed him the bottles one at a time. “The first is to mend any bone damage you have, the second is to repair organ damage. This works on bruises as well since the skin, after all, is just one large organ. Now these are going to hurt, so I am going to put you to sleep for them. Don’t be surprised if you wake up in your own bed tomorrow. Now, do you understand everything I’ve told you?”
“Yes, pretend like I don’t know anything other than no one cares about the abuse.”
“Very good. Now in class I will have to treat you like scum. Act hurt, but take no true offence. We will figure out later how to work everything out. Got it?”
“Yes, now do you think you could put me to sleep? It is starting to hurt.” Harry asked.
“Of course.” Snape hit him with a strong sleeping spell and Harry was out like a light.
Snape stood up and looked around at the four adults he now had to deal with. This was going to be a long night.
Ok, thoughts anyone? And before you ask--No, Kallisti is not going to be put off. I just need a bit of a palette cleanser once in a while. That, and I love powerful/independent/dark Harry stories and I wanted one to call my own.