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Self-study

Chapter Text

Once you gave a thing a name you gave it a life.” – Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

 

Harry wasn't stupid. He knew that he was causing the strange things, which happened from time to time. After all, Uncle Vernon was punishing him, whenever these things happened, so it had to be his fault. His theory was supported by the feeling he got every time something unexplainable happened. The problem now was how to stop it. He tried to suppress the feeling, but it wasn't working. He needed more information.

 

Harry's first weeks at school were...acceptable. He had to deal with Dudley and his friends. And he might have turned his teacher's wig blue. However, he also learnt a few useful things, including a way to get more information on a certain topic: The Library. His relatives had never bothered reading anything other than newspapers and magazines. When someone was stupid enough to give Dudley a book as a present it ended up in Dudley's second bedroom, gathering dust. Harry felt nervous, but also eager when he entered the library. There was something about the place, which felt like... something. He approached the desk of the librarian. He took a deep breath and couldn't help but smile.

“Excuse me”, he asked. “Where can I find books about strange and unexplainable things?”

 

The librarian didn't seem to completely understand the question and sent Harry to the fantasy section. It didn't take him long to discover that the strange things were caused by magic. His magic. He began to spend most of his free time in school reading numerous fantasy books and taking notes. He knew that he shouldn't take everything at face value. However, there was a grain of truth in every fairy tale. The problem was to find it.

 

Harry wondered if he needed a staff. Since he had given magic a name, he could feel it better, but control was still beyond his grasp. Suppressing his magic was out of the question. His magic was part of him. He had to learn how to control it. He had to learn how to use magic. Tolkien was not much help. There were certainly magical beings in Middle-earth and even humans and Hobbits were able to do magic, but he didn't find any helpful information on how to learn it. Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels proved to be more help. Ged learnt from his maternal aunt, the village witch, and from the wizard Ogion before going to school on Roke Island. Harry didn't believe Aunt Petunia was willing or capable of teaching him the true name of things. Magic might be an innate power, but you clearly needed a teacher. Terry Pratchett was an eye opener. Some people might think that there was nothing to gain from reading books parodying classical fantasy novels and fairy tales. However, Harry was intrigued by the different ways to use magic or to not use magic. Headology could come in handy.

 

Harry took an interest in science. It didn't seem like a bad idea to try a more scientific approach to magic like the wizards of Unseen University did. Even a broken clock was right twice a day. Besides, science wasn't worthless, just because magic was real. He also researched cultural, political and scientific issues, partly in order to understand Pratchett's later books. His grasp on magic improved. He kept the number of accidents low and he was able to move little things with his magic. It wasn't much, but life at his relative's home had gotten a lot easier, since he had learnt to unlock his cupboard from the inside.

 

Harry was on the bus. Suddenly he could feel someone's gaze on him. It made Harry feel uneasy. People tended to ignore him, with the exception of his teachers and relatives. He closed his eyes, trying to determine the direction from which the gaze was coming. He turned and opened them again. A wild looking woman, completely clad in green clothing, gave him a cheerful wink. Harry gave a wave, not really knowing what else to do.

 

Harry tried to remember the feeling. He had felt a sensation of pressure. It had felt like he was being forced through a very tight tube. He had to research magical means of traveling. He should also find a way off the roof, instead of thinking about all the places he could go to.

 

Harry was walking down the street when he encountered a bald man. The man was wearing a long purple robe. Harry should have known that there was something different about this man. Before Harry even began to realise what was happening, the stranger had shaken his hand and left without a word. Harry didn't move. He kept looking at his right hand. He had been able to feel it. Magic. The stranger was another wizard.

 

Harry was just enjoying a nice chat with a Boa constrictor when his cousin shoved him out of the way. The glass vanished and the snake escaped, hissing a thanks. Nobody except Harry was able to explain how it had happened. However, Harry was reluctant to explain it to them. He could feel the suspicious glances, which were sent by his aunt and uncle. He was a decent actor and liar, so he looked as puzzled as everyone else, but he knew that he would be blamed for the incident. Accident or not. Sitting in his cupboard, he sighted. 158 days. He had such a good run. Days without incident – 0

Chapter Text

But need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge.” – Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

 

On one fateful morning Harry went to get the mail, because neither his cousin, aunt nor uncle could be bothered to do it. He picked up two letters and a postcard. He halted. No way. He could feel it. Magic.

Mr. H. Potter

The Cupboard under the Stairs

4 Privet Drive

Little Whinging

Surrey

Harry stared at the letter. He could feel the Magic in the parchment. The spark. He startled when his uncle called from the kitchen. C rivens! He quickly hid the letter in his clothes and took a deep breath. Show no fear. Show no emotion at all. He returned to the kitchen and handed his uncle the remaining mail. Uncle Vernon was still chuckling from his joke. It wasn't that funny.

 

After Harry had hidden the letter safely within his cupboard, he tried to do his chores. He really tried, but his mind kept drifting back to the letter. He even checked his cupboard in the afternoon, making sure the letter was still there. Harry had a few close calls. He almost knocked down one of Dudley's photos, almost ruined his aunt's vest and in the end he almost used magic in front of his relatives. Harry shuddered at the thought. If Harry had been caught, he would have spent the rest of the summer in his cupboard. There was a reason why he had never heard of magic before going to school. It was even forbidden to say 'Magic' in his relative's home. Sometimes Harry wondered if his relatives were hiding something, if they knew about magic. He checked one last time for any sounds in his relative's home. He had been looking forward to this moment all day. He removed the letter from its hiding place and took it in both hands. He could feel the magic in and on the letter. Traces of magic from multiple sources. Traces of something big. He turned the letter and examined the wax seal. A badger, an eagle, a snake and a lion surrounding the letter 'H'. He couldn't wait any longer. He broke the seal. It felt just like entering the library for the first time. He read.

HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY.

A school? Finally! Finding information on schools or apprenticeships had been so far his highest priority. Now it was just handed to him on a silver plate. Harry was relieved. He had already planned to latch onto the next wizard or witch he saw and to not let go until his questions got answered. He had been hesitant to go through with the plan, since he wanted to make a good first impression. The headmaster Albus Dumbledore seemed to be a highly regarded wizard. However, Harry couldn't help but think of the wizards of Unseen University. A title like 'Supreme Mugwump' could mean anything or nothing at all. He continued reading. Your owl? Do wizards and witches use them as carrier pigeons? And where can I get one? He frowned. This is not good. Is there a way to contact them by mundane mail? How can they know where I sleep and not know that I don't have a owl? Harry examined the envelope. No stamp. A cold feeling settled into his stomach. They await my owl by no later than the 31st of July. What if I don't find a way to contact them? What if....Don't panic! Harry took a few deep breaths to calm down. Harry postponed fretting over how to contact Minerva McGonagall and checked the supply list.

 

Harry had hardly slept. He had racked his brain long past midnight and tried to come up with a way to send an answer back to Hogwarts. He had just fallen into an uneasy slumber when he was woken up by hammering against his door. Time to make breakfast.

 

Harry had written the response to his acceptance letter. He had asked for help to get his school supplies and to explain magic and the magical world to the Dursleys. Harry already knew that this wasn't going to end well. He decided to send his letter per mundane mail. It doesn't hurt to try. Harry was going through his notes. There was not much information in the letter. However, this information was his very first real glimpse of 'real' magic.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry:

  • Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore

  • Deputy Headmistress: Minerva McGonagall

  • Possible subjects: - Spells

    - History of Magic

    - Magical theory

    - Transfiguration (Changing)

    - Magical botany

    - Potions

    - Magical creatures

    - Self-defense (Dark Magic, possible wizard duels)

    - Astronomy, astrology

  • School starts at the 1st of September

  • Uniforms (black robes, cloak, pointy head, protective gloves (Dragons are real!!!))

  • Cats, toads and owls are allowed (Familiars?)

  • First years are not allowed their own broomsticks (Flying broomsticks assumed)

Wands:

  • Support wheels”?

  • Necessary for advanced magic?

  • ?

 

Harry had sent the letter four days ago while he had been shopping with Aunt Petunia. He had been able to sneak away for a few minutes and his aunt had not noticed. Now he was waiting. He would hope for the best and prepare for the worst. His notes gave him a little bit of comfort. Harry wondered if it was already past midnight. He knew wishing was stupid. Nevertheless, he wished for the opportunity to learn. He also wished for a happy birthday.

 

Chapter Text

There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.” – Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man's Fear

 

Harry was woken up by hammering against the door. Time to make breakfast. Harry groaned and sat up. Another loud knock echoed through the house. However, it wasn't his cupboard's door, which shook under its force, but the front door. Uncle Vernon came rushing down the stairs, loudly complaining about the early disturbance. Harry heard his uncle unlocking and opening the front door, still cursing and shouting, before he abruptly fell silent. Harry strained his ears.

“Mornin'”, said a man's gruff voice. “I'm Rubeus Hagrid. I'm here ter take Harry ter Diagon Alley. Yeh know, buyin' his school stuff an' all that.”

Uncle Vernon didn't make a sound, but Harry recognised the tension in the air. The calm before the storm. His uncle was building up a head of steam.

“You're one of them”, shouted Uncle Vernon in panic. “Get lost! We don't want anything to do with your kind.” He struggled to close the door.

“I really don' have time fer this”, said the man, annoyed. He ignored Uncle Vernon's protest and forced his way into the house. There were heavy footsteps in the hallway, the floorboards creaked alarmingly.

“Get out of my house!”, raged his uncle. “You're trespassing. Get out, or I'll call the police.”

“Shut up and listen, Dursley!”, said Mr Hagrid angrily. “Harry wrote to Professor McGonagall, asking fer help. That's why I'm here. So, get Harry and tell 'im I'm here!”

“The boy...asked for help?”, growled his uncle quietly – too quietly. “He wrote to you?”, he hissed menacingly. Crivens! This is bad. Really bad.

“Sure, he did”, answered Mr Hagrid, sounding a little confused. “Very polite, that boy. Didn' seem ter know much abou' our world”, he continued warily.

“Stop!”, barked Uncle Vernon. “You won't tell the boy anything. You will leave this house and tell the rest of your kind that the boy isn't going.” Harry startled when Uncle Vernon's fist banged against the cupboard's door. “And you, boy”, he hissed. “Just wait until I'm finished here. How dare you consort with – wait, what are you –”

There was movement outside his cupboard. Uncle Vernon was roughly shoved out of the way. Rubeus Hagrid yanked the cupboard's door open, completely ignoring the bolt. He was a giant of a man, hardly fitting into the narrow hallway. A long mane of shaggy, black hair and a massive, wild beard covered most of his face. The man looked rather intimidating. However, as soon as he spotted Harry, his expression softened, his beard twitched and his black eyes were twinkling with a smile. Harry relaxed and extended his hand.

“Good morning, sir. I'm Harry Potter”, he introduced himself. “Thank you for coming.”

The giant didn't react. He was busy looking around the insides of Harry's cupboard. He could feel the magic crackle in the air. The man was getting angry. However, his anger wasn't directed at Harry.

“Dursley!”, roared Mr Hagrid, getting in Uncle Vernon's face. “Why is Harry locked inside a cupboard?”

Harry cautiously peeked outside. Uncle Vernon had lost his courage and backed away from the giant.

“Don' tell me this is his room!”, thundered the man. His uncle made a whimpering sound, but didn't respond. However, Aunt Petunia answered for him. Harry had not noticed her coming down the stairs.

“We had to put him somewhere”, she said sharply. “We never wanted him to begin with. You people can't expect us to bend over backwards in regards to the boy.”

“Yeh locked 'im inter a cupboard. Yer own blood. Lily's and James's son”, he yelled at his relatives, threatening them with a pink umbrella.

His relatives trembled with fear, trying to disappear into thin air to avoid Rubeus Hagrid's burning gaze. The giant himself was trying hard not to lose his temper. He took several deep breaths to calm down before turning to Harry.

“Get ready, Harry”, he said gently. “Let's get outta here before something happens. We have a busy day ahead o' us.”

“NO, NO, NO”, exploded Uncle Vernon. “The boy stays. He is weird enough already. I won't allow him to go to that school of yours and become even weirder. I won't risk him blowing up my family. His no good parents managed to do it after all.”

“How dare yeh?”, thundered Mr Hagrid. “Lily an' James Potter were good people. Far better 'n yeh lot. They fought bravely an' died as heroes.”

“That's what they got for getting mixed up with these freaks. ”, sneered Uncle Vernon, pointing at Mr Hagrid. “Always knew they would end up like that. If you ask me, the world is better off without them. They were just as strange, just as abnormal –”

“I've had enough. I'm warning yeh, Dursley. One more word...”, threatened Mr Hagrid, the tip of his pink umbrella dangerously close to Uncle Vernon's chest. “How dare yeh talk abou' the Potters in this way?”

Harry's uncle was fuming, but he remained silent, glaring at the giant.

“Harry is goin' ter Hogwarts. There's nothing yeh can do abou' it. His name's been down ever since he was born. Lily an' James would have wanted it. He'll study magic at the finest school o' witchcraft an' wizardry in the world. Under the greatest headmaster Hogwarts's ever seen: Albus Dumbledore.“

“THE BOY IS NOT GOING”, raged Uncle Vernon, in another futile attempt to get his way. “You made him our responsibility. So tell this crackpot old fool that the boy isn't coming.”

Uncle Vernon had never known when to stop. His last remark had pushed Mr Hagrid over the edge.

“NEVER –”, he thundered, “ – INSULT – ALBUS – DUMBLEDORE – IN – FRONT – OF – ME.”

The pink umbrella slashed through the air. There was a flash of violet light and a bang, followed by a grunt. One moment later Harry saw a pig tail sprouting from his uncle's tailbone. Best birthday ever!

Chapter Text

It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

 

“Can you teach me?”, blurted out Harry, looking at the giant with awe. They were alone. His relatives had fled upstairs after the incident.

“What?”, said the giant, clearly taken aback.

Harry was still grinning from ear to ear, reviewing the memory of Uncle Vernon's pig tail within his mind over and over again. Rubeus Hagrid, on the other hand, seemed to regret his outburst. He was stroking his beard thoughtfully and looked rather abashed.

“Giving people animal body parts?”, clarified Harry, thinking of all the possibilities. “And can I get my own umbrella?”, he asked, excited. Harry was still a little surprised at the umbrella. However, he had to admit that the idea was rather genius – with a touch of Mary Poppins. A wand would be too noticeable, but nobody would take a closer look at an umbrella. It was no wonder that the magical world had been kept a secret for this long.

“Listen, Harry”, said Mr Hagrid. “I can' teach yeh. I'm the Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, not a teacher. Actually...I ain' even supposed ter do magic. Yeh see...got expelled in me third year. Dumbledore let me stay at Hogwarts as groundskeeper. Great man, Dumbledore.”

The giant gave Harry a smile.

“Look at yeh, Harry. All grown up. Las' time I saw yeh, yeh were so small, yeh fitted inter my hand”, he chuckled. “Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh've got yer mom's eyes. They were good people, Harry”, he sighted. “Don' listen ter the Muggles. They don' know what they're talkin' abou'.”

“You knew my parents, Mr Hagrid?”, asked Harry hopefully. He hardly knew anything about them. His relatives had only told him that they had died in a car crash, which was obviously a lie. He had also heard a few nasty rumours about them, which were circling around the neighbourhood.

“Call me Hagrid. Everyone does. And yeah, I knew yer parents. Was friends with 'em. Fought with 'em in the war. Yeh couldn' find nicer or braver people, Harry.”

“What war? You said they died as heroes. What happened?”, inquired Harry, his mind overflowing with questions and eager for answers.

“Yeh don't know?”, said Hagrid, shocked . “O' course yeh don'. They've never told yeh anything, have they? Blasted Muggles!”

“Muggles?”

“People without magic..like yer relatives”, explained Hagrid. “I don' know if I'm the right person ter tell yeh, Harry. Besides, we really should get goin'. Get dressed an' we'll be off. Lots ter do today.”

Harry grumbled, but let the matter drop for the time being.

“And, Harry?”, added Hagrid nervously. “I shouldn'ta given yer uncle a pig tail. Would be grateful if yeh don' mention this little incident ter anyone.”

 

Harry couldn't help but feel disappointed. No flying broomsticks or magical carpets. No teleporting and no eagles. They took the train to London. It was still fun, however. Harry was amazed at Hagrid's reaction to the most ordinary things. However, he had to admit he was not much better in regards to the magical world. He had been aware of the existence of magic for quite some time and he had read dozens of fantasy book. The real thing, however, was still mind-blowing. Harry put the train ride to good use and asked Hagrid dozens of questions. His thirst for information was insatiable. Harry wanted to know everything about magical transportation, so Hagrid told him about Portkeys, Apparition and the Floo network.

“And there's also the Knight Bus”, continued Hagrid. “Jus' raise yer wand on the side o' the street an' it'll pick yeh up. Pretty convenient.”

“Why didn't we use the Night Bus today?”

“Ride's pretty rough. I on'y use it when I really need ter”, answered Hagrid.

If a guy like Hagrid doesn't like traveling by Night Bus, it has to be pretty bad.

 

“So, what exactly is your job at Hogwarts, Hagrid?”, asked Harry. “I mean...what does the Keeper of Keys and Grounds do?”

“Lookin' after the keys an' grounds, o' course”, explained Hagrid proudly. “Makin' sure everything is safe an' taken care o'. The gardens, the forest an' all the magical creatures on the grounds.”

“What kind of magical creatures?”, asked Harry eagerly.

“All sorts of”, said Hagrid, his eyes shining with wonder. This was obviously a topic he liked to talk about. Hagrid was delighted to share his knowledge on all the misunderstood creatures, which were feared by wizards and witches for one reason or another. Harry had to admit the idea of having a pet dragon wasn't unappealing. He was also rather disappointed that he had to wait until his third year to choose Care of Magical Creatures, a subject, which was taught by Professor Kettleburn. Hagrid was helping him out from time to time.

“You really know a lot about magical creatures, Hagrid”, complimented Harry, smiling at the giant.

“I ain' a professor, Harry, but I've got lots o' experience with 'em”, he beamed.

“Would you mind me visiting you in Hogwarts?”, asked Harry. “I want to learn as much as possible about magical creatures. And I can't wait for another two years.”

“Sure, Harry”, smiled Hagrid. “Drop by. I'll have tea an' cake ready.”

Harry really enjoyed talking to Hagrid and he hated to spoil the mood. However, there was still one question, burning at the back of his mind. He just had to ask.

“Hagrid, would you mind telling me what happened to my parents?”, asked Harry hesitantly.

“Harry, I don' know...maybe someone else should explain everything ter yeh”, said Hagrid anxiously.

“I have to know, Hagrid”, pleaded Harry. “I have to know the truth. My relatives always told me my parents died in a car crash.”

“Car crash?”, growled Hagrid loudly, jumping up from his seat on the underground. “How could a car crash kill James an' Lily? This is an outrage!”, he bellowed, attracting attention from the rest of the passengers.

“Sorry”, he chuckled awkwardly and sat back down. “Yer right. Yeh can' go ter Hogwarts without knowing”, he sighted. “I'll tell yeh, but not here. Somewhere more private.”

 

Harry could feel it as soon as they left the underground. Magic was thrumming in the air. Something big lay hidden between the buildings, distorting the space around it. Diagon Alley was near. Harry was able to pick out its entrance from afar. It was a dingy, old pub, which seemed rather out of place in Charing Cross Road and tried very hard to stay unnoticed. Hagrid entered the pub, with Harry close behind. The giant had described the Leaky Cauldron as a gateway between the mundane and the magical world. However, the palpable difference caught Harry off guard. This place was soaked in magic. The pub looked dark and shabby, but it was strong and ageless. Harry could swear it was somehow alive, with its own voice, consisting of more than the creaking and moaning of an old building. He could make out the shapes of several people in the darkness, who stopped talking when they entered. They seemed to know Hagrid rather well since they began smiling and waving at him. An old, bald barkeeper lifted a Hagrid-sized glass and called out,

“The usual, Hagrid?”

“Can', Tom. I'm on official Hogwarts business”, said Hagrid, giving Harry a small pat on the shoulder, which caused Harry's knees to give away and him to stumble forward, drawing the barkeeper's attention to himself.

“Good Lord”, exclaimed Tom. “Is this – can this be?”

The pub grew eerily quiet.

“Bless my soul”, he whispered. “Harry Potter...what an honour.”

Tom rushed from behind the bar and grabbed Harry's hand.

“Welcome back, Mr Potter, welcome back”, he said, with tears in his eyes.

Then all hell broke loose. What in the name of zarking fardwarks is happening?

 

Harry didn't know what hit him. Tom had started an uproar. Everyone in the Leaky Cauldron approached him to shake his hand. They were honoured to meet him. Harry even met one of his future professors at Hogwarts. Professor Quirrell, who taught Defence against the Dark Arts, complimented him on his skills, which only added to Harry's growing confusion.

“Yeh shoulda seen yer face, Harry”, chuckled Hagrid, after Tom had seated them in a quiet corner and had rushed off to fetch breakfast.

“Hagrid, what just happened?”, asked Harry, completely overwhelmed. He fixed the giant with a determined stare. He wanted answers. Now.

“Harry – yer famous”, said Hagrid.

“I'm what?”, said Harry, frowning.

“Famous”, repeated Hagrid. “Everyone in our world knows yer name. Yer the Boy-Who-Lived.”

“The Boy-Who-Lived?”, said Harry slowly. “What does this mean? How can I be famous? I'm eleven”, he emphasised.

“Wish yer relatives told yeh those things”, mumbled Hagrid. “Dumbledore left a letter fer yeh. Saw it meself.”

“This is about the war, isn't it?”, guessed Harry. “About what happened to my parents.”

Hagrid looked at him with sad eyes and remained silent, confirming Harry's suspicions.

“Guess I should start at the beginnin'”, sighted Hagrid, looking rather uncomfortable. “See, Harry, there was a wizard. An evil one. His name was...”

Hagrid's mouth moved, but no words came out. He looked terrified. Harry understood. Names had power.

“Well, no one says his name. People are still scared. Don' like ter remember those dark days. It was terrible, Harry”, said Hagrid. “Anyway – this wizard gathered followers. Some joined 'im out o' fear, others wanted power fer 'emselves. People began ter disappear, Muggles were attacked an' killed. It got worse each day. He was takin' over. Some people stood up ter 'im. He...killed them.”

“Including my parents?”, asked Harry somberly.

“They were brave, Harry. Fought fer what's right. They wanted yeh ter grow up in a safe world.”

“So, were they part of an army?”, questioned Harry. “Police?”

“Wizards don' have these things, Harry. We have Aurors. Dark wizard catchers”, explained Hagrid. “And no, yer parents weren' Aurors. They were members o' a secret organisation –”

Hagrid shut his mouth so fast, Harry could hear his teeth clang together.

“A secret organisation?”, Harry dug deeper.

“Shouldn'ta said that”, muttered Hagrid and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Listen, Harry”, he whispered and leaned closer towards Harry. “The Ministry was fightin' a losing battle. Pretty useless, especially in the end. Still are, if yeh ask me. Dumbledore founded this secret organisation ter oppose You-Know-Who an' his followers. Yer parents joined the Order when they left school. We were able ter put up a good fight. Until a few members o' the Order were killed – the McKinnons, the Prewetts, the Bones. You-Know-Who wiped out whole families.”

Hagrid pulled a dirty, spotted handkerchief out of one of his many pockets and blew his nose loudly.

“One day Dumbledore found out that You-Know-Who was looking fer yer parents an' they went inter hiding”, he said glumly. “But he found 'em. Came ter yer home an' killed yer parents.”

Harry looked away. His parents hadn't died in a car crash. They had been murdered by a dark wizard.

“And that's where things get strange”, continued Hagrid. “You-Know-Who wanted ter kill yeh too, but for some reason he couldn'. He killed so many people, but he failed to kill yeh. And that's why yer famous. Yeh survived. With on'y a scar on yer forehead.”

Harry's hand shot up and touched his scar.

“That's no ordinary cut, Harry. That's where the curse hit yeh. Worked with yer parents. An' blew up yer house. But yeh survived. That's why yer called the 'Boy-Who-Lived'.”

Harry remembered a blinding flash of green light. And something else resurfaced in Harry's mind. A high, cold, cruel laugh. Harry gulped.

“What happened to that wizard?”

“Nobody really knows, Harry. He disappeared, vanished. Makes yeh even more famous. Some say he died on that night. Codswallop, if yeh ask me. Don' think he was human enough ter simply die. Dumbledore believes he's still out there. Weakened an' hardly alive. Too weak ter continue, but bidin' his time until he can return.”

Bugger.

 

They ate in silence. Harry was still overwhelmed by the events of the last few hours. So much had happened. He had finally found the magical world and had met a wizard, who hadn't run off after wordlessly shaking his hand. A wizard, who had not only known his parents but was also willing to talk about them. His relatives had always avoided speaking of them. He had known their names and how they had died, but nothing else beyond that. However, contrary to his relative's claims, they hadn't died in a car crash. They were murdered by a dark wizard, who had also tried to kill him, but failed, before disappearing without the trace, resulting in Harry being famous. Nothing was more surprising and unsettling than his fame. Harry didn't like attention. He had tried his best to avoid it while in school and at his relative's home, perfecting the art of staying unnoticed and ignored in the process. Besides, the idea of a toddler being responsible for the defeat of a powerful, dark lord was ludicrous. According to Hagrid, nobody knew what happened on that day, but it seemed that everyone agreed that he was somehow responsible. The magical community was content with worshipping him to a ridiculous degree. There were other things, which didn't really make sense to him. If he was really that famous, why was he left ignorant and why was he living in exile with the Dursleys? Why was he dragged into the spotlight unprepared? Harry really needed a nice, quiet place to think about these issues.

 

After Doris Crockford had shaken his hand one more time, he and Hagrid finally managed to leave the Leaky Cauldron through the back door. The small, enclosed backyard looked completely ordinary, but Harry wasn't fooled. He waited in anticipation while Hagrid was counting the bricks on the wall. As soon as he got the right one, he tapped it three times, causing the bricks to rearrange into an archway. The magic of Diagon Alley washed over him the moment he crossed the threshold. It was wild and ever changing, whirling around the place, mixing and parting. Its components were so different, but blended together perfectly. It gave Harry goosebumps. Diagon Alley was a narrow, cobbled street, winding its way between crooked houses. The buildings leaned so far into the road, they were almost touching above their heads. Harry could see shops selling cauldrons, brooms and...Books! He was magically attracted by a second-hand book shop, but Hagrid reminded him that they still had to go to Gringotts Wizarding Bank to get money. Harry had been rather relieved when Hagrid had told him about his inheritance. The Dursleys had never spent much money on him and most likely wouldn't start now. He had to make sure his newfound resources remained a secret, because he doubted that his relative's dislike for magic included magical money. Despite being distracted by another book shop Harry was unable to overlook the impressive, snow white building towering over the neighbouring shops. They climbed up the stairs in front of the bronze double door when Harry noticed someone standing at the side. He almost squealed in joy. It was a small humanoid figure, about fifty inches high, with long fingers and large feet. The being was fair-skinned and had a dome shaped head.

“Yeah, that's a goblin”, whispered Hagrid.

Harry blinked. He had read about goblins. They were rather common in modern fantasy literature and folklore. The goblin in front of him hardly resembled the nightmarish creature he knew from books. He was wearing a nice, scarlet and golden uniform and had a trimmed goatee. The goblin caught Harry staring and flashed a toothy grin, which told Harry that real goblins were no less fearsome than their book counterparts. The impression was also confirmed by the inscription on the second pair of doors. Maybe mundane banks should take a leaf out of Gringotts' book, in order to avoid robberies.

 

An exciting roller coaster ride and a few glimpses into Goblin culture later, Harry left Gringotts with pockets full of money, ready to explore the rest of Diagon Alley. However, Hagrid looked the worse for wear and left Harry to his own devices, while he took a drink in the Leaky Cauldron to settle his stomach. Harry immediately headed towards the second-hand book shop near the pub, which he had seen earlier, leaving Hagrid behind, who chuckled and mumbled about something called 'Ravenclaws'. The shop was crammed with books, leaving only narrow paths between the shelves. Harry felt at home. What kind of treasures lay hidden under piles of worn and stained books? The shopkeeper reacted in the very same way like the people in the Leaky Cauldron when he saw Harry. He began searching the shelves for copies of his schoolbooks, browsing through them and looking for side notes. An old teacher had mentioned the advantages of second-hand books once and Harry would need all the help he could get. There was magic in the ink and parchment, but it felt off. It felt torn, damaged like the books themselves. Looking around, Harry wondered why parchment was still in use since paper had already become dominant when Gutenberg had invented modern book printing. The shopkeeper didn't know the answer either, but Harry suspected that parchment provided a better home for magic spells than paper.

 

Cauldrons, large enough to fit an adult, were lined up against the wall. Smaller cauldrons were displayed on shelves. Harry was tempted to buy a golden, thimble-sized cauldron, but Hagrid wouldn't let him. He was really looking forward to Potions.

 

The witch, who pinned his robes to the right length, eyed him curiously, but didn't seem to recognise him. At least, she didn't say anything. Apparently his appearance wasn't common knowledge and he should remain unnoticed as long as he kept his scar covered. Harry not only bought his school uniform but also some casual wear. He was tired of being the weird kid with baggy clothes and broken glasses. This was his chance to begin a completely new chapter. He also made sure to have two extra hats. Hats have power. Hats are important.

 

Harry bought the rest of his schoolbooks at Flourish and Blotts. It was the biggest book shop in Diagon Alley and a paradise for bookworms. Hagrid had to drag Harry out of the shop.

 

While Hagrid took care of buying a supply of basic potion ingredients Harry explored the Apothecary. This place contained actual, physical evidence for the existence of mythological creatures. Unicorn horns, glass bottles containing dragon blood, fairy wings. The magical world was a lot bigger and much more fascinating than he could ever have imagined.

 

“On'y one thing left”, said Hagrid, checking the list. “Yer wand. An' I still haven't got yeh a birthday present.”

Harry was speechless. He had just met Hagrid that morning and he had already done more for him than the Dursleys had done in the last ten years.

“Tell yeh what, I'll get yeh an animal. Every child should have a pet.”

Harry wondered what kind of pets Hagrid had owned in his childhood.

“Hagrid, you don't really have to –”

“But I want to”, said Hagrid gently. “Let's see...Not a toad. Everybody will laugh at yeh, when yeh bring one of those.”

“How about a cat?”, suggested Harry. “Cats are nice.”

“Don' like cats. They make me sneeze”, said Hagrid, making a disgusted face. “I'll get yeh an owl. They're amazing. Carry yer mail an' everythin'.”

“Sounds good to me, Hagrid”, said Harry smiling.

Hagrid bought him a beautiful snowy owl. He decided to call her Binky.

 

Mr Ollivander was a rather interesting man. He had an amazing memory, was a little bit creepy and had probably never heard of personal space. A wizard, who had delved deeper into magic than most others, but had not resurfaced completely sane. There’s a streak of madness in everyone, who spends quality time with gods. Harry listened attentively when Mr Ollivander lectured about wands. They weren't mere tools. Wands were an extension of yourself. They became part of their wizard or witch, growing and learning with them. They were sentient, reaching out to wizards and witches, who were able to use them to their fullest potential. It's the wand that chooses the wizard, not the other way round. Harry tried out several wands. He could feel the magic in every single one of them, but they remained unresponsive to him. Uninterested. However, when Mr Ollivander handed him a wand, made of holly and phoenix feather, Harry immediately felt a connection. Harry and his wand celebrated their union by producing a shower of red and golden sparks, which formed a blurry, avian form. They had finally found each other. Harry was overjoyed. However, Ollivander's ominous words at the end made Harry shiver. The same core. Yew and Holly.

 

Chapter Text

“And then Jack chopped down what was the world's last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement, and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant's children didn't have a daddy anymore. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after, without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done...which proves that you can be excused for just about anything if you are a hero, because no one asks inconvenient questions.” – Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

Harry was lying on his new bed in his new room and was staring at the ceiling. Hagrid had brought him back to his relatives' home. Harry had asked him to. The Dursleys had given him Dudley's second bedroom and had started to ignore him for the most time. A definite change for the better. Harry was just a little worried this would not last until he left for Hogwarts. He had begun to write Hagrid every five days. If his relatives changed their behaviour towards him he would mention that Hagrid wanted Harry to keep him informed. The amount of his chores had been cut down and he spent most of his increased free time reading his new books and mulling over what he found out. A lot had happened since Hagrid had turned up at Privet Drive. The shouting match between Hagrid and his relatives (mostly Uncle Vernon) had revealed a few interesting things.

 

Mundane people are called muggles.

My relatives have known about the magical world and my magic to some extent.

My mother and father were both magical.

My parents fought in a war and died as heroes.

 

After Hagrid had won the shouting match by giving Uncle Vernon a pig tail Hagrid and he had left for London. Hagrid had been reluctant to tell Harry the story about the war his parents had fought in but had relented in the end.

 

An evil wizard and his followers began attacking and killing Muggles, Muggle-borns and other wizards and witches which did not conform to their ideals.

Nobody says his name (You Know Who).

He killed my parents.

He tried to kill me but failed and vanished.

I am famous for surviving the Killing Curse with only a scar.

I am called the Boy Who Lived.

Most people would like to believe You Know Who is dead but some think he is still alive, just weakened.

 

Harry didn't like the story. Especially the open ending. He examined his wand. Brother wands. Same core. Yew and Holly. Harry had checked their meanings. Yew had always been a symbol of death and rebirth, commonly found in churchyards. Holly was protective, a symbol of hope and a remainder of rebirth and life. Death and Life. Opposites and yet similar. If You Know Who was still alive it would also be possible for him to return. If he returned he would come for Harry. No respectable Dark Lord would let the very reason for their downfall alive. Harry wondered if it was not more likely his parents had done something to protect him. Be that as it may he was famous. He was a symbol. He was stuck with it.

 

His first taste of fame had been getting crowded in the Leaky Cauldron after Tom the innkeeper recognized him. Harry had not only visited Flourish and Blotts but also a second-hand book shop. He had bought a few books about basic knowledge of the magical world, a few which had caught his fancy and three about the civil war in wizarding Britain.

 

The conflict with the Dark Lord Voldemort began in 1970. He started a revolution against the Ministry of Magic with the goal of creating a society run by pure-bloods. In the beginning he and his followers (Death eaters) mainly attacked Muggles to cause chaos but began to target Muggle-borns and Blood-traitors later on. They also saw goblins and other non-human magical beings as inferior creatures.

 

Harry wondered how many Death eater attacks were disguised as IRA bombings by the Ministry.The books diverged from that point. Two books mentioned that Death eaters had used the Imperius Curse to spy on the Ministry. However, one book mentioned Death eaters occupying strategic positions within the Ministry itself and using blackmail and the Imperius Curse to further destabilize it. It also mentioned the Death eater Augustus Rockwood who had run a particularly successful network of espionage within.

 

Lord Voldemort and his followers tightened their grip on wizarding Britain. People began to refer to him as He Who Must Not Be Named or You Know Who. The Dark Mark appeared over the scenes of their murders. Minister Jenkins was removed from office. Her successor Minister Munchum and Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement Crouch reported early successes. A group of vigilantes made their appearance and interfered with or supported the Ministry (Order of Phoenix led by Albus Dumbledore). Munchum was not able to stop the war and was replaced by Minister Bagnold. However, the war continued. The McKinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts and the Potters.

 

Harry had found a book about the Potter family. Ralston and Henry Potter had served both in the Wizengamot, wizarding Britain's high court of law and parliament, at different times in history and had proclaimed a rather pro-Muggle attitude. His father had been considered a blood traitor for marrying his mother, a Muggle-born, by You Know Who and his followers. His parents had been members of the Order of Phoenix. You Know Who had not needed further reasons for targeting the Potters.

 

There was a traitor within the Order of Phoenix. Several Order members were killed. My parents were warned and went into hiding. However, he found our home in Godric's Hollow, killed both of them and then turned to me. I am known as the only survivor of the Killing Curse. When he tried to kill me the curse rebounded leaving only a lightning bolt shaped scar on me. However, he seemingly lost body and power. Half of the top floor of our home was blown apart. Hagrid rescued me from the ruins which are now invisible to Muggles and serve as a memorial. There is also a statue depicting my family and my parents are buried in Godric's Hollow.

 

It had not ended there. Sirius Black, a close friend of his parents and his godfather, had played a role in their death and had killed Peter Pettigrew, another close friend, and twelve Muggles. It was not clear if Black was the traitor. There was not much information. The Longbottoms had been abducted and tortured by the Lestranges and Bartemius Crouch Jr, son of the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Crouch Sr's reputation had taken a major hit. One book hinted that some Death eaters had escaped punishment by claiming to be the victim of the Imperius Curse or by using their power, wealth or influence.

 

Hagrid brought me to the Dursleys after my parents had died. Albus Dumbledore told wizarding Britain I'm living hidden in the Muggle world. Albus Dumbledore told them I'm safe and happy.