Author: Shadow Rebirth
Warnings: language, adult themes, spoilers
Word Count: 2,595
First Written: July 12, 2008
Last Edited: July 14, 2008
Posted: July 12, 2008
Summary: Owls, cauldrons, and pointed hats? Harry Potter was not amused. And he still wasn't entirely sure that his human trafficking theory had been wrong. Warning! Features a very cynical Harry. AU, no pairings.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. This work has not been endorsed by J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Publishing, Warner Bros., or any of the others holding copyright or license to the Harry Potter books, movies, and products. No connection is implied or should be inferred. Other names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author receives no financial gain from its production or distribution.
A/N: Warning, this contains a very cynical Harry Potter. Why? Because I'm interested in seeing how that type of character would handle the HP world. Don't like, don't read. Also, I just want to let you all know that this is a sort of spur-of-the-moment story that will most likely have sporadic updates. It's kind of like practice writing how different actions and attitudes change the plot for me and as such I'll honestly be surprised if I go too far with this story. I'll try to make it as long as I can though.
The other warning that I have is that this story will be AU, and not just because of Harry's actions. I'll be adding a more realistic tilt to the whole HP world, which will drastically change some events. Those of you who have read the "Troll Incident" chapter of my story Realism: Breaking Clichés will have some idea of what to expect.
As for the title of the story...Honestly I was at a bit of a loss for what to call it at first, but I was listening to Sick Puppies while writing this chapter and the line "What is it I'm after, searching for disaster, watching my whole life flash in front of my eyes" from their song Cancer kept coming back to me, so I decided to name it after that. I'll change it if I think of something better, but for now I like it.
Searching for Disaster
The Boy Who Lived To Have Issues
A ten year old Harry Potter grunted as he shoved open his bedroom door with one shoulder. Walking slowly he began to head down the stairs, just barely peering over the large cage in his hands so that he wouldn't trip, fall, and break his neck. Not that his relatives would care beyond have to take care of his body, but he liked living, thank you very much.
As Harry reached the bottom of the stairs his aunt paused as she passed from the kitchen into laundry room. Her nose was wrinkled and her face was screwed up in an expression of disgust. This face was actually quite normal for her though, and Harry was privately toying with the idea that she'd had some freak accident in her youth that had frozen the expression on her face.
"What is that god-awful smell?!" Petunia screeched while taking several steps away from Harry and the cage in his arms. "Don't tell me you killed another one!"
Harry spared a moment to glare at his aunt. "I did not kill it," he snapped back. "It was just defective, like all those others."
Harry huffed in annoyance and then continued on his way through the kitchen and out the back door. He finally stopped near the back where he set the cage on the ground and pulled out a shovel that appeared to be quite well-used. Without pausing he began to dig a shallow whole in the ground.
Lined up along the fence to Harry's left were close to twenty small mounds of dirt. To an observer they would look disturbingly like graves, and for a very good reason: They were graves.
You see, in Harry's world there were three truths that he lived by. The first was that he hated his relatives and his relatives hated him. That's how things had always been and he had no desire whatsoever to change it. The second was that the world sucked and that Harry didn't care that it did. It's just way things were, so why try to change it? In his opinion the world was full of a bunch of morons and he had no reason to want to fit in with them in anyway.
The third truth was the one that applied to Harry's current situation: Harry couldn't keep a pet to save his own life. Without fail every single pet he'd ever had had died within a week. It wasn't that he was negligent and didn't take care of them or anything, they just...died. For no apparent reason. At first he'd been upset about it, but by the time the fifth had died he'd just been amused. At this point he was trying to find a pet that could survive his care. Until then the rest were just defective.
Once Harry had finished burying his latest pet--a guinea pig named Freddy--he headed back inside and deposited the empty cage with his room. Harry's room was the smallest in the house, but he didn't really care. He didn't need much space and besides he was rarely "home" anyway.
For the first half of his life Harry had actually slept in the cupboard under the stairs. Then he'd grown up, learnt that most people didn't sleep in cupboards, and threatened to report his relatives to the authorities if they didn't give him a bedroom of his own. They'd caved rather quickly.
From that point on Harry had learned that the best way to get his relatives to agree to his demands was to threaten them with things that would make them appear to not be normal in the eyes of their neighbors. It was rather easy and he'd only had to streak through the neighborhood once (after all, what kind of people raise a boy who streaks?) to make his relatives realize that he'd follow up with whatever he'd say he'd do.
After that life had become much easier. The only problem left had been that his cousin still tried to bully him at school, but kicking him in the nuts a couple times had been more than enough to dissuade the bully of such actions. The following detentions had been more than worth the results.
Of course even once his cousin had started leaving him alone, the other children still didn't want to play with him. Any other child might have been upset at this, but Harry had been rather happy at that particular turn of events.
Heaving a sigh Harry left his room and headed back down into the kitchen to grab a bite to eat before leaving. As if by fate, right as Harry passed by the front door the mail slot clicked and several envelopes dropped to the ground. The young boy would have just left them there for someone else--most likely his aunt--to pick up, but for sight of his name written in green ink on one of them. Out of pure curiosity Harry picked up the envelope. He regretted it a second later.
Mr. H. Potter
The Smallest Bedroom
4 Privet Drive
Harry raised an eyebrow as he read the address. How the hell did the sender know how big his bedroom was? Was this from a stalker or something? And just what kind of a sicko would stalk a scrawny ten year old boy?
Unfortunately, Harry's damned curiosity refused to let him just drop the letter and continue on his way. He struggled with himself for a moment before finally tearing open the letter and scanning the first page.
Instantly Harry let out a snort and then promptly ripped the letter into several small pieces, which he tossed into a wastebasket standing nearby. Not only was the letter from a stalker, but a deranged one at that. Honestly, magic? Couldn't they be a little bit more realistic than that?
Harry would have been happy if his life had just continued as normal following this strange incident, but unfortunately that was not to be.
The next day a heavy knock came at the door right around lunch time. Harry would have completely ignored it, but the sound of his aunt let out and ear piercing scream and slamming the front door shut caught made him curious. After all, anything that could frighten his nasty, nosey aunt like that deserved his attention.
As Harry quietly crept downstairs the knocking came again. Petunia was huddling, terrified, in one corner of the living room, so Harry waltzed up to the front door and pulled it open while ignoring Petunia's pleas to leave it closed.
And then blinked.
No wonder his aunt had screamed. Standing in the doorway was a man larger than anyone Harry's had ever seen before. Considering as he lived with his Uncle Vernon, a whale of a man, that was quite a feat. The large, hairy man stared into space several feet above Harry's head for a moment, as if surprised that no one was there. Once his eyes finally fell down to where Harry was, they widened once more.
After a moment of stunned silence shared between the two of them the large man's mouth suddenly split into a wide grin. "An' here's Harry!" he boomed. "Las' time I saw you, you was only a baby. Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh've got yer mum's eyes."
Harry stared blankly at the stranger. What the hell?
"...Who the fuck are you?"
The man looked startled by Harry's language, but he quickly forgot it as another smile broke across his face. "Right! O' course! I haven't introduced meself. Rebeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts."
Hogwarts, now that sounded familiar. Where had he...? Oh, right. The stalker's letter. Harry promptly slammed the door in "Hagrid's" face, much to the relief of his aunt. Without another word he turned around and walked back upstairs.
Fortunately the man did not bother Harry and his family again. Instead, the next morning they had another, different visitor, who came while Harry was out of the house. When he arrived back at the Dursley's in the middle of the afternoon there was an older woman who looked like she'd recently swallowed a lemon sitting in the Dursley's livening room with his relatives. Both Vernon and Petunia looked as though they'd rather be anywhere else.
As the front door swung shut behind him the older woman smiled warmly at Harry and he suddenly felt a deep sense of foreboding. The young boy gave his relatives a questioning glance, but they both avoided his gave. Shit, what had they done now? He hoped desperately that they hadn't sold him into the slave trade for extra cash or anything like that.
Finally Harry's uncle cleared his throat loudly. "Er, right. Harry, this is Professor McGonagall. She's the Deputy Headmistress at your new school."
Harry stared blankly at his relatives. "New school?" he repeated monotonously.
"...Yes. It's a private boarding school up in Scotland."
Harry's expression didn't change. Both he and his relatives knew that his grades weren't good enough to get into any boarding school, let along a private one.
McGonagall coughed, gaining everyone's attention. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Harry," she said in a prim voice. "As your uncle said, I am Professor McGonagall. The school that you've been enrolled in is Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
Suddenly everything clicked into place in Harry's mind. The letter, the gigantic man, this woman, his relatives' nervous expressions...It was all clear now.
"So you are a human trafficker."
McGonagall stared at Harry with an expression akin to that of a deer in headlights. She must not have expected him to catch on so quickly, Harry reasoned. After only a moment, however, she was able to recompose herself. She threw a glare in the direction of the Dursleys for whatever reason before turning back to Harry with a patient expression on her face.
"No, Harry," she said gently. "Magic is real and you are a wizard, just like your parents were. Haven't you ever made something happen, something you couldn't explain, when you were angry or scared?"
Harry only considered the question for a moment. "No. Not really."
The older woman froze, as if unable to process what he'd said. Once she'd once again gathered her wits, however, she simply sighed and pulled out a thin stick of wood. She flicked it while murmuring under her breath and suddenly a vase that had been sitting on the mantelpiece was floating in the air. Of course, Petunia immediately went into hysterics, pleading for McGonagall to put the "priceless heirloom" down.
For several long moments Harry just stared at the vase. Then he shrugged.
"Alright. When do we leave?"
Once again McGonagall was frozen with surprise. She blinked dumbly at Harry several times.
"...That's it? You're just going to accept it like that? You're not going to ask for more of an explanation?"
Harry shrugged again. "You made a vase float," he replied. "Am I supposed to deny that I saw that? And as for the explanation, I'm sure that you'll explain everything, right?"
"So then, when do we leave?"
Harry scanned Diagon Alley with a raised eyebrow. This had to be the strangest place he'd ever been. Owls, cauldrons, pointed hats? It seemed as though all the stereotypes of witches and wizards were true.
Just what had he gotten himself into?
Harry released a sigh as he followed Hagrid--the large man he'd met the day before--through the Alley. Once Professor McGonagall convinced him of the reality of the wizarding world and explained it to him, she'd dumped him into Hagrid's hands, saying that the large man would help him get his school supplies. And thus here he was, apparently on his way to get money from the wizarding bank.
Harry had to admit that seeing the goblins inside the Gringotts was a pretty cool experience. They were rather nasty characters, it seemed, but Harry figured that he'd be just as moody as them if he had to spend all day around people who wore robes, rode brooms, and thought that toads were good pets. Speaking of which, he'd have to check out the pet store later on...
When Hagrid pulled out a golden key that apparently unlocked Harry's vaults however, the young boy's mind instantly grinded to a halt.
"Woah, woah, woah," Harry said whiling holding up both his hands. "Why do you have my vault key?"
Hagrid blinked in surprise. "Er, Professor Dumbledore gave it to me."
"Dumbledore? As in the headmaster of the school? Why the hell did he have my bloody key?"
Hagrid stuttered for a couple of seconds, causing Harry to roll his eyes. He clearly didn't have an answer for him.
The rest of the shopping trip was...strange...to say the least. Harry was in complete disbelief about several of the items on school's list of required items, dragon-hide gloves in particular. If dragons actually existed then why where wizards skinning them? Shouldn't there be laws protecting them or something?
The pinnacle of the trip came went they went into Ollivanders to get Harry a wand. Hagrid claimed that this was where the best wand maker was, but the inside of the shop was so dusty and disorderly that Harry had trouble believing him.
"Good afternoon," said a soft voice from the back of the shop. An old man with pale eyes shining like twin moons stepped out from the shadows. Hagrid jumped in surprise but Harry just stared at the wand maker, wondering where he could get eyes like those.
"Ah yes," the man said before Harry could even speak. "Yes, yes. I thought I'd be seeing you soon. Harry Potter." It wasn't a question.
Harry repressed another sigh. Was this whole world filled with stalkers or something? Everyone seemed to know his name.
The experience of getting a wand--or "having a wand choose him", as Ollivander put it--was odd and quite tiring. The fact that Ollivander seemed to be exciting himself more and more with each wand he pulled out only made Harry become quite wary of the man. He felt as though the wand maker was going to jump him at any moment.
As soon as he'd finally received the "right" wand, Harry paid for it and then hightailed it out of the shop as fast as he could before Ollivander could get a word in edgewise. Only once they were far away from the shop did Harry finally come to a stop. He then spun around on his heel to face Hagrid and gave the man a firm glare.
"Alright," he snapped, "That's it! Everyone's been treating me really bloody strangely. What's the deal?"
At first Hagrid just stared at the young wizard in confusion, but after a minute he seemed to come to a realization. He glanced around nervously and then motioned for Harry to follow him. He silently led Harry through Diagon Alley, back into the Leaky Cauldron, and got them a private table. Then, finally, he spoke, telling Harry in hushed words about what had happened to his parents.
When Hagrid finished his explanation Harry could only stare blankly at the man. This went on for several minutes until Hagrid began fidgeting nervously. Finally Harry's head dropped onto the table with a dull clunk and he began grumbling under his breath.
It was a good thing the wood muffled his words, because otherwise his profanities would have had Hagrid blushing like a little girl.
A/N: And that's the first chapter. A little short, but I should hopefully have the next chapter out soon. Oh, and case people didn't pick up on this: Harry hasn't met Draco Malfoy yet since this trip is probably about a week or two earlier than the one in the canon; it isn't even Harry's birthday yet.
I'm honestly not sure what house Harry will be in yet. It definitely won't be Slytherin though--Harry's not particularly ambitious nor exceedingly sneaky. Thoughts and recommendations, anyone?
Please review to give me feedback!