After Harry's first year, Vernon Dursley tried to hit Harry, but missed, and so Harry was locked away for the summer. What if Vernon hadn't missed?
The are many times when a split second can cause huge consequences.
This was such a time.
Harry Potter had made a mistake. He had scared Dudley, pretending to do magic, and his aunt and uncle had reacted far more angrily than he had imagined. A year away from his abusive relatives had dulled Harry's memories of them. Harry had made the mistake of mildly talking back when they had screamed at him, and Vernon had lashed out. Normally, Harry would have avoided the blow, but this time he was not quite fast enough. The punch landed, breaking Harry's jaw. The fall afterwards had caused a severe concussion and a minor skull fracture.
Had Vernon's fist missed, as it usually had before, things would have been very different -- Vernon would have just locked the freak up for the summer, and decided what to do about his unnaturalness come late August. That, however, was now out of the question. Even Vernon had been shocked at the damage he had caused. If they took the freak to hospital, there would be questions, and Vernon was not stupid enough to trust getting away with any excuses. And, if the freak died while they were all there, they would have to have some really good story when the freaks came looking for the boy in six or seven weeks, a story which might have to satisfy the police as well.
Vernon had thought furiously, and decided he was likely already in too much trouble when he was found out.
Therefore, he decided to take a gamble, which Petunia had agreed to. Then he had pulled Harry's trunk out from the cupboard under the stairs and put it in Dudley's second bedroom. He put Harry's finger prints on the outside of the door and around the inside of the cupboard before dropping Harry on the bare floor, carefully closing the door, automatically locking Harry away without having to smudge the fingerprints. Then they placed Hedwig, still locked in her cage, with the owl fighting against that cage, into a plastic garbage bag and closed it tightly. They repeated the process twice more, making it nearly airtight.
Then they tossed the bags, cage and owl, out of the window of Dudley's second room.
Hedwig did not long survive the fall, in part because of the injuries and in part because of the lack of air.
They made certain the cage and owl were well-buried in the trash that was collected that afternoon. Then, two days later, the Dursleys left for an extended vacation in northern England, Petunia having taken notes from the report the freak's school had sent, where they mentioned the friends he had made. They would report Harry as a runaway the next day, and knew they had to give the police the name of someone from the freak's world to talk to. The dentists' daughter should be as good a bet as anyone.
It was the evening after the Dursleys had reported Harry missing that Dobby the house elf appeared at the Dursley house. He was bound to the House of Malfoy, but he felt a connection to the Boy who lived here. He wanted to protect Harry Potter, and he had sensed that things were not well with the Boy for days. This was the first real chance he had to check on the situation since he had stopped the wizard's mail.
What he found appalled the elf, who had seen much cruelty in his life. "Dobby does not understand," he said aloud. "Dobby wished to help Harry Potter, to save Harry Potter. Yet Harry Potter is dying in house that should protect him."
Dobby puzzled this for a moment, then decided. "Does not matter. Dobby's plan does not matter. Dobby must save Harry Potter. But how? Who can Dobby trust to save Harry Potter?"
Everything Dobby thought of was quickly discarded. Every wizard Dobby knew of in Britain, every government, was considered and then he had to drop that part of the idea. Other species were considered, and then also dropped.
Then Dobby remembered an old story. He hoped that the story the old centaur had told his grandfather so many years ago had been true -- and that he could contact the people in the story.
It might be Harry Potter's only chance to survive the next few days, let alone what his Master had planned.
Shortly before dawn, a very broad figure of average height, his features well-concealed by a hooded cloak, shimmered into existence near the cupboard under the stairs. A wave of his hand revealed the state of the boy inside the cupboard. The man studied the results for some time, casting several more spells in turn.
Another wave opened the door, and a final one put the child into stasis. The figure stood still, sensing the magic in the house and around the property. A snap of the fingers and Harry's possessions floated down the stairs.
The figure paused in thought, and then magically multiplied the dried blood in the cupboard, spreading it around the corridor. Then, he vanished most of it, leaving just enough so that should any Muggles investigate, the blood would easily be revealed by their technology, just as it should be found by any magical investigators. A small splatter had been artfully left on a wall, in case those who came next were lazy or sloppy.
The man only then pulled out a wand. He carefully used it on the door, breaking it so that any Muggle would think Harry might have sprung the lock, while any wizard would think it was broken with wild magic. He, Harry, and Harry's possessions faded away.
Neither Dumbledore's monitors nor the Ministry's detectors noticed a thing.
While she was always up early at school, Hermione tended to sleep in a bit during the summer. Therefore, even though it was 7:50, she was just getting dressed when her mother came to the door.
"What is it, Mum?"
"It's a policeman," her mother said, puzzled. "It seems your friend Harry ran away from his family.
Hermione frowned, her quick young mind trying to process this data with what she knew and had deduced about Harry and his family. She slipped tennis shoes on her bare feet and went down to talk with the constable.
Harry Potter lay unconscious on a pallet in a bare but well-lit room. Three figures stood around him. One was the man who had rescued him, revealed in the light of morning as having dark hair, general Mediterranean coloring, and dark blue eyes. The second was a man of about the same height as the first, but built along thinner lines, and with the much darker features of much of North Africa, especially parts of Egypt. The third was much smaller and darker than the other two.
"Well?" the third man asked.
"I have fixed his recent injuries," the second man answered. "I have also confirmed our young colleague's analysis of the curse scar." The other two men winced slightly. "He needs rest, and could be awake after dawn tomorrow, but more likely in a few days."
"Did I miss something?" the first man asked.
"Yes, and yet no," the second man answered. "There are recent injuries, perhaps a little more than a month ago, which were well-healed with magic. There are numerous old injuries, healed by nature, perhaps assisted by Mundane means, including a very old compound fracture of the left arm and several cracked ribs. More importantly, he has been malnourished and generally mistreated." He considered, and then said, "Had I merely read a full record of his condition, I would have said I was reading the report on an unregarded slave."
"Well? What do you suggest?" the leader asked.
"If I can have two or three days, I can more fully heal his old injuries, and partially correct his stunted growth."
When the policeman had left, Hermione was convinced that the Dursleys had done something to Harry. The constable was not convinced, but was wondering.
Hermione's parents had to go into work. However, her father managed to get off work early, and he drove her to London. Hermione hoped to get into Diagon Alley and send an owl to the Headmaster, but Tom informed her that the owl post was closed. However, he agreed to send Hermione's letter on.
When Hermione whispered into the innkeeper's ear what the letter was about, however, Tom's face hardened. "Right you are, Miss. Leave it with me. He'll have the letter tonight."
Hermione nodded, and she and her father left. Mister Granger was conscious than many of the looks they had been given were not friendly ones, and he wanted to leave as soon as he could.
Tom quickly flooed through to the Hog's Head. A few hurried murmurs in Aberforth's ear, and Hermione's note was soon on its way via owl the short distance to Hogwarts.
Events were now in motion which were very different than they would have been, if Harry had just ducked a bit more quickly.
Alastor Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt approached the Dursley house a little after midnight, both invisible to the Muggles in the neighborhood via disillusionment. They scoured the house in opposite directions, but both covering the same ground.
They met back in front of the cupboard. "Two scenarios?" Shacklebolt asked.
Moody nodded. "One, the boy was knocked out and left in the cupboard for dead. The Muggles left him, and made it look like he ran away, hid in the bloody cupboard, and locked himself in. Seems a bit daft. . . ."
"The lock is fairly new," Shacklebolt pointed out. "They'd have said he used to play in the cupboard or something, and that he locked himself in and died in there, unable to get out. Probably would have died of thirst before they got back."
"And any injuries could be blamed on his getting hurt after running away? Aye, that's possible," Moody agreed. "A stupid story, but fitting into the stupidity of these people, from what I could gather."
"If true, though, Harry woke up and broke out." Shacklebolt frowned. "And if that's true, then where is he?"
"I know," Moody admitted. "I don't like all this blood. The second scenario might be true."
"That Harry woke up and broke out while they were here, and they killed him? Could that really be what happened? Dumbledore doesn't think so."
"Dumbledore has some exotic toys set to track Potter," Moody agreed. "They've all gone out of wack. Could mean anything."
"Could Harry have been picked up by Death Eaters?"
Moody shrugged. "Could be, but remember your superiors mostly claim that all the Death Easter are dead or in Azkaban. I'll meet with a friend of mine at the Met. He's a Squib, and will know how to get the Muggles in here and do a forensic sweep. They'll sweat the Dursleys, and if they don't break the bastards, I will. We need to know if Potter was left here injured or if they killed him."
"That sounds like a plan."
Moody nodded. "Why don't you come along. You need a contact in Scotland Yard."
It took a while for Scotland Yard and the local police in Surrey and the North to coordinate things, but the forensics team entered Number 4 late that afternoon (to the great interest of all the neighbors). It took them no time to find the blood.
The Dursleys were brought in for questioning less than two hours later. Vernon and Petunia were very careful in their answers.
Dudley was not, and soon had spilled the entire chain of events. His parents were charged with assault and child endangerment, with several other charges pending. However, until Harry was found, there was little more that could be done, other than to search for him.
Two mornings after the Dursleys arrest, The Morning Prophet broke the story to the wizarding world. This was also the morning Harry awoke.
Unsurprisingly, Harry's first words were, "Where am I?"
Harry's rescuer answered, "You are on a small island in the Aegean Sea. Does that help you in any way?"
Harry considered that, and answered, "No, not really. Who are you?"
"For now, you may call me Jason."
Harry considered that for a moment, and decided to move on. "Why am I here?"
"What is the last thing you remember?"
Harry flushed. "I didn't move quickly enough."
"You shouldn't have had to, you know," Jason pointed out. Harry said nothing.
"Now, your relatives have been arrested. The question is, what do you wish to do, young wizard."
Harry looked puzzled.
"You were brought to our attention, and you interest us. If you had not interested us, I would merely have rescued you and left you are Hogwarts, or perhaps St. Mungo's." Seeing Harry's puzzled look, Jason added, "That is the British wizarding hospital. You were injured."
"Oh." Harry looked at Jason. "And who are you?"
"We may get to that. You have a number of choices. First, we have mended your injuries, and adjusted your body, to help you recover from years of poor feeding." Harry again flushed slightly.
"So, if you wish, we can send you to one of your friends. Most likely, you will be temporarily housed with the Grangers or some other family with connections to the Muggle world. That is because you will need to testify at your relatives' trial for assault, if not attempted murder."
Harry looked away.
"I am sorry, but the news was leaked to both the Muggle and magical press. It might be possible to move the trial to the magical world, but under the first option, that would be up to your Ministry."
Jason shrugged. "As best we can tell, it was Albus Dumbledore who placed you with the Dursleys, although it went against the apparent wishes of your parents." Harry looked curious. "We have not tracked down all the details."
Harry looked confused. "What are my other choices?"
"You have a destiny, Harry Potter," Jason informed him. "We do not think you have been well-handled." He looked directly into Harry's eyes. "Tell me, do you think the Philosopher's Stone was well-protected?"
"Well . . . no, not really," Harry had to admit.
"There is little doubt that Dumbledore set up the conditions to test you. He wanted you to do what you did. We can give you alittle training, and give you much information, before you head back to Hogwarts in seven weeks. It would not be much, but it should help you to a degree."
Jason looked at Harry and asked, "Have you ever heard of a magical discipline known as Occlumency?"
"No, sir," Harry answered.
"It means to cloud your mind, to prevent people from picking up on your thoughts, especially through a type of mind-magic known as Legilimency. If you were to take the second or especially the third option, you would need to learn."
Jason smiled. "Right now, all you could tell anyone is that a man who called himself Jason said you were in the Aegean. If you stayed a while, you would learn things that you would not wish anyone to know, not to mention things we would not want others to know. Albus Dumbledore routinely uses Legilimency. Quite likely, Severus Snape does as well, as do a number of other wizards. Voldemort was quite infamous for it."
"I see. And the third choice?"
"As I said, when I rescued you I learned that you should interest us, and we are a very powerful group of people. We have no need to use you, but helping you would help us to a degree. We have limited access to time magic. We would train you for perhaps six months to a year, yet you would still go back to Hogwarts this First of September, unless you would prefer not to. We would find you acceptable mentors to act as your guardians until you come of age, and by that I mean acceptable to you. And you will again face Voldemort at some point, no matter what you might like to think, for your fate seems linked to his. We can help insure your survival and victory."
"That's a lot," Harry commented.
"It is," Jason agreed. "And yet other than to work hard and not to follow in Voldemort's, or even Dumbledore's, footsteps, all we will ask is that you keep our secrets." Jason shrugged and admitted, "I wish I could tell you more."
"I don't think I have a real choice," Harry pointed out. "I'll keep your secrets. I think I need a lot of help."
Jason smiled. "Then let us start." A snap of his fingers, and there was a long white chiton on the bed.
"A dress?" Harry asked.
"A chiton, or if you prefer a Greek tunic. That and sandals are all you will need to wear, my apprentice." Jason smiled and pointed at the one closed door visible. "There are modern facilities in there. Find me when you are refreshed. We shall have warm bread, soft cheeses, and cold goat's milk to break your fast. Then, we shall fish for our lunch. A cold bottle of Santorini, well, diluted with spring water for you, and some bread and olives will feed us the rest of the day. I shall teach you the basics of Legilimency along the way."
Harry wasn't sure about the idea of goat's milk, and had no idea what Santorini was. He had never had fish, other than a few scrapes of Aunt Petunia's fish-and-chips (Vernon and Dudley never had leftovers from their double orders). Still, he was hungry.
Jason's smile left as he exited the room. He had been reading Harry's memories, and had been appalled. He had been a magical warrior, from a very ruthless culture, and he would never have treated the child of his worst enemy as Harry had been treated, nor allowed it from his people. He would never have treated a slave as Harry had been treated.
Harry's treatment offended every code Jason had ever lived by. He swore by every oath he knew that Harry Potter would be treated better if he had anything to say about it.
Although Jason would never know it, there were a few other people making similar pledges that morning. One would not have surprised Harry, as it was his good friend Hermione. Minerva McGonagall would have been a bit more surprising.
At the Burrow, Ron and the twins were glowering at their parents, who had refused to rescue Harry against Dumbledore's commands. Ron, everyone thought, was being a bit too smug about the whole thing.
That evening, as dusk fell in the mountains of Transylvania, the head of the vampire council was surprised to awaken surrounded by silent figures. "Who are you?" he demanded in his native early Koine.
"You know us," a voice intoned in more Classical Greek.
The vampire's eyes went wide for a moment, and then he said simply,"It has been just over three hundred years since you came to amember of the council directly."
"Three hundred and twelve," the spokesman agreed. "Who is your current representative in Britain?"
"A very silly youngster who calls himself 'Sanguini,'" the vampire leader admitted.
Several of the figures snorted in amusement. "Sounds like a pasta dish," one muttered in Italian.
"Never mind that," the spokesman snapped. He turned his glare to the vampire, who winced. "Are you prepared to exert some pressure for us, if necessary?"
There was only one answer. "Yes, Master."
This story will be updated much more slowly than previous stories.