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What we leave behind on chapter 1

Newcomb The Mirror of Erised is supposed to show your heart's desire - so why does Harry Potter see only vague, blurry darkness? Aberforth is Headmaster, Ariana is alive, Albus is in exile, and Harry must uncover his past if he's to survive his future.

If you just want the highlights, the main "points of diversion" are that Ariana lived, that Sirius Black escaped Azkaban when he overheard what happened to the Longbottoms, and that Harry was born 1 year earlier than in canon.

The crowds of people swirled around him, thankfully ignoring the small boy with the large trunk and the owl in the cage. The Dursleys had been eager to get rid of him and head to the hospital for Dudley's procedure, so they'd dropped him off in the cold light of dawn, hours before the scheduled departure of the Hogwarts Express, a train that was set to take him to something grand and huge and life-altering.

A magic castle, a life free from the Dursleys, a vault full of gold, a scar people wouldn't stop staring at, and a wand that was somehow connected to the evil wizard who'd murdered his parents.

It was, reflected Harry, quite enough to be going on with. So why couldn't he stop thinking about the breakfast he'd cooked that morning? It hadn't been an unusual breakfast — quite the opposite, in fact. But there was something about the memory that struck him as important.

  1. Now is not the time, said his unspoken look.
  2. A few stepped over to the brothers to have a look and he snarled at them, almost like a growl, warning them off.
  3. Mythical bird of rebirth.

Standing there in the kitchen in Dudley's oversized clothes, the tile floor chilling his feet, quickly and efficiently toasting bread and frying eggs like he'd done a thousand times before… and yet, his mind wouldn't stop fixating on it. This would be easier to figure out if it weren't so noisy, thought Harry. King's Cross was bustling with activity as the morning commute filled the station.

No one spared him a passing glance, which suited Harry just fine. He'd been more unnerved than he'd like to admit by his first exposure to the wizarding world; a bunch of strangers crowding him and touching him in the Leaky Cauldron wasn't exactly relaxing, and Hagrid's whirlwind tour of Diagon Alley had raised more questions than it'd answered.

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Should we try to find somewhere else to sit? It would have been slightly pathetic, but he'd gotten the strangest feeling that Hedwig was actually listening to him, and after a few weeks he was surprised and more than a little depressed to realize the owl was quite literally the best friend he'd ever had.

Hedwig ruffled her feathers and gave him a bleary, flat look. He craned his head above the crowd, keeping an eye on the barrier between Platforms 9 and 10. As the clock high on the wall had inched towards the departure time of 11 o'clock, Harry had spotted more and more Hogwarts families — they were pretty easy to pick out based on their dress alone.

He figured there must be some kind of magic at work diverting attention from the barrier between platforms, because the Hogwarts people weren't exactly subtle about walking through a ticket box. He stood up and arranged his luggage cart, repositioning Hedwig's cage on top of his trunk. He hesitated, his excitement tinged with a healthy dose of nervousness.

Harry glanced down at his trunk, cracked it open, almost changed his mind, then opened it fully and grabbed something off the top of the disorganized pile of clothes and school supplies. Hedwig gave him a reproachful look, though Harry wasn't sure if it was for the object he now held in his hand, or for the way she'd been jostled around on top of his trunk as he'd rummaged around inside it.

The hat had cost him all the money he'd been able to scrounge up over the summer, but it was still the cheapest he'd been able to find within walking distance of King's Cross. It was dark blue and the fabric felt thin and cheap, and it had a cheerful Union Jack emblazoned on the brim, but it was better than nothing. Harry adjusted the hat, pulling it low, the brim flush with his glasses, making sure his unruly dark hair wasn't poking out too much. Hagrid had mentioned how much he resembled his parents, but everyone in Diagon Alley had seemed to key in on his scar.

Well, it will either work or what we leave behind on chapter 1 won't, he thought. Hedwig was still looking at him, and he shifted guiltily on his feet. It wasn't like he was hiding, exactly. He didn't mind being himself, and he didn't mind other people knowing something about his past, but he still hadn't quite worked out how he felt about the fact that an evil wizard had murdered his parents, and having random people shaking his hand, thanking him for not being murdered alongside them wasn't helping, and bloody hell, he was thinking about breakfast again.

He shook his head. This was getting ridiculous. He glanced up at the clock again. Might as well get this over with.

With a deep breath, Harry gave his luggage cart a push, accelerated to a brisk jog, and stepped into another world. Platform Nine and Three-Quarters was a riot of noise and steam. The Hogwarts Express, it turned out, was a regal-looking locomotive painted a sharp green with silver trim. The train was only a backdrop to the chaos, though.

Parents and children of every age were everywhere, shouting greetings, saying tearful goodbyes, and lugging trunks onto the train. Harry navigated through the crowd as best he could. The first few carriages were already filled; in some places students were hanging out the windows to accept last-minute packages from tearful parents. Harry pushed his cart further down the platform, looking for something a bit more sedate. A few strenuous minutes later, he was sitting comfortably in an empty compartment near the back of the train, his trunk settled into the luggage rack.

With no pressing concerns, he looked out the window and watched the crowd. After a few minutes he noticed something odd. As families kept coming through the barrier, Harry saw a peculiar pattern: You'd think the parents would have seen the train before. Other parents not so much. She hefted her trunk, which she was dragging awkwardly behind her.

This thing is pretty heavy. He got to his feet and helped the girl lift the trunk up to the luggage rack, which was a good thing because it seemed to be about twice as heavy as his own.

I've wanted to go to Hogwarts ever since I can remember. Then her eyes widened fractionally.

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I didn't mean…" she held up her hands as her voice sped up. If you don't grow up around all this stuff, it can be pretty confusing, all these new terms and ideas. I've never really thought about it. He winced at Cho's expression, but ploughed on.

Living with them is all I can remember, and as far as they were concerned, magic didn't exist. Three boys near Harry's age stood there, all dragging trunks, looking sweaty but excited. He had an easygoing demeanor and close-cropped brown hair. The other two boys started hauling their trunks inside. One was skinny and blond with a slightly upturned nose. The other was big, with wiry hair and ruddy features and a heavyset face. The first boy sat next to Harry. I met these two on the platform. They were just telling me all about Hogwarts.

Everyone calls me Vaisey. As they settled into their seats, the train let out a shrill whistle and began to move, gathering speed.

See a Problem?

He half-turned to Hedwig for help before catching himself, then with a mental shrug, turned back to Vaisey. He's, like, a terrorist, right? Some nutter who used magic to kill a bunch of people a couple years ago? Zacharias wore a guarded frown. And don't say his name. You-Know-You is a pretty touchy subject. I tend to just say things, don't mind me. Touchy subject, got it. He turned to Harry with an apologetic grin. Voldemort — " he had to pause as Zacharias and Cormac flinched in their seats, the former giving him a dirty look.

The curse didn't work, I got this scar on my forehead, and Voldemort, uh, was gone. And that," he finished rather lamely, "is what happened. Kind of a stupid story, though. She glared at Vaisey. Three inches, balsa wood and unicorn dandruff, slightly chewed?

I don't think anyone knows what really happened. I just heard the story last month myself. That's tough to beat.

All I've got is a scar from when my brother whacked me with a post-hole digger. It's pretty wicked, though. Four sets of eyes instantly locked onto him, like they'd forgotten he was there.

Harry slid open the compartment door and walked out without a backward glance. He walked down the length of the train, looking out at the countryside as it sped past.

Things to leave behind

He felt a little numb. Guess I should have expected that, he thought sourly. It might have been optimistic, but he'd held on to hope that maybe kids his own age, not having lived through the dark times Hagrid had told him about, wouldn't make as much out of his story as the adults in Diagon Alley.

If the scene in the compartment was a sign of things to come, though, he really shouldn't get his hopes up. He'd been singled out at school his entire life — Dudley had made sure of that — but Harry wasn't sure that trading isolation and insults for impolite questions about his parents and his scar was much of an upgrade.