Disclaimer: I’d love to say they were mine, but alas it is not so. Harry Potter and attendant characters belong to the lovely J. K. Rowling, her publishers and the movie guys with the rights to her books. I’m just playing.
“Hey, Dad, look at this!” Harry Dursley ran over the couch and climbed up beside his father, a large man with a jolly face and an impressive moustache. In his hands was a rather old-fashioned looking letter; the sort written on fine, creamy parchment and folded just so and secured with an elaborate design stamped in scarlet sealing wax. “It’s written to a Harry Evans, except I’m the only Harry here, and my name isn’t Evans.”
“Harry Evans, is it?” asked his dad, and for a moment Harry could see something flash in his eyes. “Well then, it clearly wasn’t written to you…”
“Vernon,” a voice came softly from the direction of the kitchen. There stood his mum, a tall, thin woman with gentle blue eyes and muddy blond hair. “Vernon, you can’t just tear it up.”
“Mum?” asked Harry.
“Harry… there’s something that we need to tell you. Something we should have told you –”
“He’s ours now!” bellowed his dad. “They left him here on the doorstep, like so much garbage. He’s my son now…”
“Vernon. We knew this day…”
“Mum, Dad –” Harry jumped up. “You’re my mum and dad, right?”
Petunia swept into the room, wrapping her arms around him.
“Of course we are, Harry.” She hugged him fiercely. “We chose you.”
“Chose?” Harry looked up at her. “Chose? You mean, like adopted?”
“Harry…” his dad cam up behind him, wrapping long arms around them both. “When you were a baby, something terrible happened, something we hoped never to have to tell you.”
His mum shuddered.
“I had a sister. She was… very gifted. Special, you might say.”
Harry frowned. “Special? Like…”
“Like you, Harry. She could make things happen.”
“Let’s sit down, shall we?” said his dad. “This is going to be difficult.”
“Perhaps I should bring out some tea.”
“That would be soothing, dearest.”
Harry sat back down on the couch, taking his place in the middle of it as he always did, so he might snuggle up against his parents while they watched the telly, or when they talked about school, or dad’s day, or mum’s charity work. It was a wonderful place to be, settled securely in their love for him.
His mum brought out the tea pot, but instead of their everyday china cups, she had opted for the heavy-duty mugs that Piers’ mother had gotten them on a trip to America. She hardly ever used them, finding their whimsical designs and silly slogans a bit vulgar, but they always made an appearance when a bit of levity was required to lighten a solemn discussion. Harry accepted his tea (two lumps of sugar with a splash of milk) with some trepidation, feeling much better once his mother had sat down next to him.
“So… I’m adopted?”
“Yes, darling.” Tears ran thickly in his mother’s voice, although her eyes were dry. “We adopted you as soon as we could.”
Harry stared into his tea. “What happened?”
“We… we don’t know, exactly, do we Vernon?”
“No. We found you on the morning of All Saints, wrapped in your baby blanket, with a letter. It said that your mother – Lily, her name was, your mum’s sister – had been killed, and that you had no other relatives.”
Petunia put her mug of tea down on a coaster and lifted his from his hands and setting it aside. He burrowed into her, finding himself shaking. “Dearest Harry. Never think it was merely duty that brought you into our home. As terrible as it was to know that my sister was murdered, we were grateful that you came to us and were not left with…”
Harry looked up at her, and saw angry lights in her eyes.
“Your father.” Petunia scowled. “James Potter. Assuming, of course, that he’s still alive.”
“Oh, Harry. You’re so young –”
“Mum, I think I’ve the right to know.”
“You do, baby boy.” She pressed a kiss into his hair, the messy mass of it flying in every direction. “It’s simply that I don’t like to speak ill of someone who cannot defend himself.”
“You have every reason to speak ill of that…”
“Vernon.” She said sharply. “That will do.”
“My sister once got a letter, much like the one in your hand. It’s an invitation to a school. A very special school for remarkable children.”
“Ones like me, that things… happen… around.”
“Yes, Harry. It’s called Hogwarts. It was a blessing when Lily got that letter because her abilities had begun to grow beyond her control.”
Harry frowned guiltily, remembering the vibrant blue of Mrs. Goldstein’s hair after she’d made him angry last week. “Like mine.”
She nodded. “It’s not your fault Harry. It’s just that you need to learn to control it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Is that where you got that book? The one about clearing and controlling my thoughts?”
“Well, it was a book of Lily’s, yes. I thought if we learned some of it, it might help you control the surges.”
Harry nodded. It had helped some, mostly by helping him control his temper, which he knew was quite hair-trigger.
“So what happened to her?”
“She fell in love with a young man whilst she was there. His name was James Potter.” Petunia scowled. “He was a very handsome young man, just like you’ll be, I expect, as you look very much like him.”
“That’s my modest lad,” said Vernon. “You can’t take credit for genetics.”
Petunia laughed a little.
“Poor ickle Harry, so put upon.”
Harry grinned up at her.
“And there’s Lily’s smile.” His mum caressed his cheek. “Your greatest gift to me, Harry, has always been that smile.”
Harry wrapped his arms around her waist.
“Would that she’d been able to use it more,” said his dad. “That…”
“Yes, well,” said Petunia. “It seems that wizards – wizards and witches are what they call themselves, these people that can do magic – can be a bit fanatical about their bloodlines, and James Potter thought that your mother was good enough to dally with, but not to marry. He was outraged when your mother fell pregnant with you.”
“Bastard,” muttered his Dad.
“I’m sorry, Petunia, but his behavior with your sister was reprehensible. Your mother was a bit foolish, Harry. As grateful as I am for your existence, she should have taken greater precautions.”
Harry nodded. His parents had spoken to him several times about sex and babies. “Why wasn’t she?”
“I don’t know, Harry.” Petunia frowned. “I think it has something to do with her involvement in something she called The Order. She told me that there was this very bad man who called himself Voldemort, of all strange things, who wanted to take over the world. We laughed about it a bit, it was so cliché, like a comic book villain, but she was deadly serious about it too. She joined up with this Order right after graduating and told me that the leader – Dumbledore, who is also Headmaster of the school she attended – kept pushing her toward James. I can’t imagine her not taking proper precautions…”
Vernon stared at her. “You think this Dumbledore fellow had something to do with it?”
“Well, she told me that he was the most powerful wizard of the age – how hard would it be for him to negate her efforts at contraception?”
“I’m sorry, Harry, but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and about how your mother came to be pregnant. I think that Dumbledore wanted Lily and James to have a child. I know that he deliberately ruined her relationship with another young man before she suddenly started talking about James all the time.”
“Why would he do that?”
“I don’t know, Harry. That’s why we don’t want to send you off to Hogwarts, though.” Petunia looked at her husband.
“There are other schools. There’s one in France. There are others in America.”
“You’d send me away?”
“Only if you wish it, Harry.” His mum’s eyes glinted with tears. “No matter how we laughed about the silliness of the man and his goals, Voldemort murdered your mother Harry. Albus Dumbledore didn’t protect her from a raging madman. He left you here, without even having the courage to come in and tell us what happened. I don’t trust him with you, but we will send you to his school if that is what you want.”
Harry studied his mum. “D’you suppose I might meet this James Potter if I go to this school? Hogwarts?”
“You might, I suppose.”
“D’you suppose he’s waiting for me?”
“He could be. Lily thought that the Headmaster might hire him when her Head of House was killed.”
Harry looked at the creamy parchment sitting on the coffee table, and frowned thoughtfully.
~0~James Potter, Deputy Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry looked up as one of a half-dozen mail delivery owls swooped in, dropping their burdens on their appointed rounds. A small, flat parchment, sealed in scarlet landed directly in front of him, the crest of Hogwarts rising in elegant relief against the creamy background. He frowned, picking it up.
A Hogwarts acceptance letter?
He turned it over, gasping as he read the name… and the message written in the blocky letters of a childish script.
“To: Mr. Harry Evans”
Return to Sender. No such person lives at this address.