For the record, Hari Potter would like to say that she doesn’t go looking for trouble, trouble just finds her all on its own.
Dumbledore had been kind enough to allow Harry to recuperate at her godfather’s old, ancestral house. Although, Hari had the sneaking suspicion that it was more due to the threats of violence that Sirius spewed, had he not allowed Hari to leave.
It didn’t matter how Hari got the permission to leave Hogwarts, she was grateful none the less. Hogwarts, for all of the fact that it would always be her first home, had become painfully stifling since she came back, half unconscious, and clinging to Cedric’s dead body. It was easy to see that the rest of the student body, with the few exceptions of her friends and several others, didn’t believe her claim that Voldemort was back.
Just three days ago, a group of sixth and seventh year Hufflepuffs gathered around her and tried to jump her, claiming that she should be in Azkaban for killing Cedric, instead of blaming it on a person who was already dead. Sirius had been furious when he heard about it, and it took the combined efforts of Hari and Remus to stop him from marching to Hogwarts and beating a bunch of children up. (Hari shuddered when Hermione inevitably found out. Hermione always had the terrifying tendency to casually set things or people on fire if they annoyed her. But hurting Hari wouldn’t annoy her; it would infuriate her.)
She took the whole day to explore after moving her things into the room where she was staying at, to the displeasure of a cranky, old house elf named Kreature. It was slightly disconcerting to find the family tree and realize that her grandmother was a Black, making Malfoy and his mother her cousins. That, and Bellatrix Lestrange. (The very thought made Hari send a quick apology to the thought of Neville for all of the horrible things the Lestranges did to his family.)
It was that damned pocket watch that Hari found in one of the drawers in her room that did this, she was sure of it. It was the last thing that she remembered picking up before her memory blacked out and she woke up dirty and bruised with the cloying taste of ash in her mouth. A newspaper (or what was left of it) held the date of May 27, 1942.
Panicking for a single, long moment, Hari groped around her skirt until she felt the familiar press of her wand.
Taking a moment to calm down, Hari stood on shaky knees and managed to wobble her way to an open street.
An officer patrolling the area noticed her almost immediately and rushed to her aide. Strong hands gripped her shoulders, steadying her. “Are you all right, miss? Where are your parents?”
An image of Sirius and Remus and Hermione and the Weasleys flashed through her mind, and Hari realized that she might never see them again. “They’re gone,” she choked out, tears blurring her vision, “Everyone…is gone.”
A handkerchief was pressed into her hand, and Hari gratefully used the cloth to wipe away her tears.
“Don’t cry, love. I’m sure your parents agree with me when I say that a pretty lass like you shouldn’t be so sad.”
Hari personally thought that it was a bit inconsiderate to bring up an orphan’s dead parents, especially if the death was supposed to be recent and the person was grieving, but appreciated the poor attempt to cheer her up, nonetheless.
“Are you…are you here to take me to an orphanage?”
The officer grimaced, “The War has left lots of children as orphans.” At her downed expression, he said, “Cheer up; a nice lass like you is sure to be adopted into a nice family.”
Wool’s Orphanage was an old, rundown building at the edge of town. Twin, rusty iron gates stood at the entrance, creaking and groaning loudly when they entered.
A part of Hari wondered if the matron purposefully left the gates in the condition they were in to warn for intruders.
The door to the entrance swung open, and a severe, stern looking woman came out to meet them. Her expression was set in a scowl, however her eyes softened marginally as she gazed at Hari’s dirty appearance.
“Thank you, kind officer, I will take it from here. Come, child.”
Obediently, Hari followed behind her, resisting the urge to fidget as over a dozen sets of eyes stared at her as she walked through the hallways.
Entering the matron’s personal study, Hari idly gazed at the handful of pictures that decorated the otherwise blank wall.
“My name is Agatha Cole. You will refer to me as ‘Mrs. Cole’ or ‘ma’am’, is that understood?”
Hari nodded, “Yes, ma’am.”
“Very good,” Mrs. Cole praised, and Hari felt herself flush in satisfaction. After all, her previous guardians were much more likely to spit insults at her than to praise her.
Mrs. Cole took out a blank piece of notebook paper and a pen. “I am going to ask you several questions,” she began to explain, sitting down with her pen in hand, “And I want you to answer them to the best of your ability. This will go on your record for anyone who is interested in adopting you.”
Hari nodded her head in deference, “Yes, ma’am.”
Mrs. Cole looked at her approvingly, “Families are going to like it if you are polite. First question, what is your full name?”
“Hari Jasmine Potter,” the green-eyed teen replied, “Hari is spelled as H-A-R-I.”
“Not short for ‘Harriet’ or any other combination of some sort?”
Hari nodded her head, “No, ma’am. Hari isn’t short for anything.”
“Very well then, Hari, your age and birthday.”
“My birthday is July 31st and I am fourteen years old.”
“Which school were you going to?”
Hari bit her lip, trying to figure out a background story for herself that could work both in the muggle world as well as the wizarding one. “I was homeschooled, ma’am,” she replied, an idea forming in her head, “My guardians wanted to keep me close to home with the war going on and the Depression.” Silently, she gave a mental ‘thank you’ to her muggle history class.
“‘Guardians’?” Mrs. Cole inquired.
Hari forced tears to well up at the corners of her eyes. It wasn’t hard at the thought of never being able to see her friends and family again. “My parents died when I was a baby, ma’am,” her voice warbled, emotion choking it, “My guardians took me in and raised me. They—they promised me that they’d never leave me!”
Almost instantaneously, thick arms wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her in a hug, and Hari almost felt bad for playing her feelings like she was. She needed some way to get to Hogwarts and ask Professor Dumbledore to help her get back to the time that she belonged in.
In the back of her mind, Hermione’s voice kept on telling her, ‘Nothing good ever happens to Wizards who meddle with time.’ She had to leave before she ended up changing the future irreparably.
Stiffening for a moment at the feel of a stranger giving her a hug, Hari forced herself to relax into it and hug the matron back. “Thank you, ma’am,” Hari whispered into her bosom, genuinely grateful.
Pulling away, Mrs. Cole cleared her throat, obviously not used to showing such displays of affection with others. “Are you okay to answer a few more questions?” she asked gruffly.
Hari nodded her assent, “Yes, ma’am.”
“This is the final question for your records: Are you allergic to anything?”
Hari shook her head, “Besides seasonal allergies, nothing ma’am.”
Placing the paper in some sort of folder before sliding it in a drawer and locking it, Mrs. Cole stood up and motioned for Hari to follow her, “I will give you the general tour and explain the rules of the orphanage and your role here. Ask questions at the end. If you have a question later that none of the others here can answer, you can ask me between eight in the morning and eight in the afternoon with the exception of Sundays in which we are all expected to go to mass.”
Hari quickly fell into step behind her, walking quickly to keep up. Curiously, she peered through the cracked windows into the other rooms as they passed by them.
“First rule is that we do not tolerate misbehavior of any sort. If I catch you fighting or acting like some sort of hooligan, I will give you the switch. I am a firm believer of the proverb, ‘Spare the rod, and spoil the child’. I am fair, and I will listen to any problems that you have. But I refuse to allow any sort of nonsense in my orphanage.”
“Yes ma’am,” Hari was quick to acknowledge, “I completely understand.”
“No running in the halls, no screaming, no skipping on your chores. The only exceptions will be Easter, Christmas, and your birthday. No purposefully scaring the younger children. We have to ration our food, so I will punish you severely if I catch you stealing.”
They stopped at a door that seemed to lead into a bedroom.
Hari looked curiously at Mrs. Cole, who seemed to hesitate. “Is everything alright, ma’am?”
“I have to warn you about something, Hari,” Mrs. Cole spoke up suddenly, turning around so that she was facing the smaller girl. Her expression twisted uncomfortably, and Hari eyed the way she seemed to fumble with the hem of her worn dress.
Hari stood up straighter.
“We have another orphan about your age. His name is Tom Riddle.”
Hari froze, feeling as if a dementor had passed by, that icy terror freezing the blood in her veins. She pressed her lips together, not trusting her voice to remain neutral, should she respond.
“Right now, he’s away at some boarding school of his. I’m warning you now, because there is something…not quite right about that child. Strange things always happen around him, even if I can’t prove it—I know they did. He’s done some nasty things to the other orphans; so, if he ever gives you trouble, come tell me. He’s not supposed to be around the others, anyways; for their safety, that is.”
Hari was grateful for the warning, and the concern that the matron showed her, but she also couldn’t help but feel sad. It was obvious that Mrs. Cole was talking about his accidental magic, and the realization struck to her that this time period was much more condemning than the one she came from.
“He must feel lonely,” Hari sighed wistfully, not completely realizing that she had spoken out loud.
Mrs. Cole glanced at her, “You are far too kind for your own good.” She spoke the words as if they were a terrible thing.
Blushing a bright red at being caught saying such a thing, Hari mutely nodded her head.
“Because of his oddities, Tom has a private room. Unfortunately for you, you came in the middle of the war. We have an extreme shortage of beds and quite frankly, there isn’t any room in the girls’ rooms for you. You will stay here for a bit until we figure out where to put you.”
At Hari’s frightened expression, Mrs. Cole rushed to reassure, “You will have a place to sleep before Tom comes back, and don’t you worry, dear.”
After an awkward moment of silence, Mrs. Cole cleared her throat, “Take a shower and rest up. Tomorrow, I’ll partner you with Mary and she can show you the chores you will be expected to complete.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Hari spoke softly.
Mrs. Cole nodded once, before turning around and marching to where her attention was needed elsewhere.
Closing the bedroom door, Hari daintily sat down on the scratchy bed, and proceeded to have a panic attack for the following several minutes.
Tom Riddle, who was Lord Voldemort, was here. Baby Voldemort, who grew up to be a mass-murdering Dark Lord, who personally killed her parents, was going to eat the food she ate and sleep several doors down from her.
Her first thought was to kill him, screw the consequences. If she killed him now, before he had a chance to build his empire, she would save hundreds of lives. She could grow up with her parents and her godfather wouldn’t be a wanted criminal.
Almost immediately, she discarded the idea. As horrible as he might be, so far, Tom Riddle was innocent of all of those actions of his future self, and it left something bitter in Hari’s mouth at the idea of killing someone innocent (or, just killing anyone at all) for the idea of ‘the greater good’.
So instead, with Hermione’s warning about messing with time clear in her head, she decided to try and avoid Riddle as much as possible. From what she’s seen of him, he seemed very egotistical and didn’t bother wasting his time on things he didn’t see as interesting. For all he knew, she was just another dirty, muggle orphan. And Hari was counting on him not giving her the time of day.
Taking a quick shower to scrub herself down, Hari lamented her loss of Hogwarts, if only for its great water pressure.
Dressing in one of the orphanage’s uniforms, Hari stepped outside and was immediately accosted by half a dozen children or so, each one of them curious about the new person joining them.
Floundering for a moment, unsure of how to deal with them, she spoke up, “It’s nearly lunchtime, is it not? Can’t you wait to ask me your questions then?”
Some of them looked abashed. One child, however, seemed to have no shame.
“You’re really pretty!” Exclaimed a blonde girl with a dolly clutched in her hands; she couldn’t have been older than five.
Hari flushed, unused to the compliments, “Thank you. You’re really pretty, too.”
The blonde girl preened, and the boy next to her rolled his eyes.
Hari smiled awkwardly at the gaggle of children before her, “Hello, my name is Hari. I’m sorry, but who are you?”
An adorable boy with curly brown hair looked at her suspiciously, “Isn’t that a boy’s name? Is it a nickname for something?”
The blonde girl smacked him on his arm. “Jacob,” she hissed, and Hari could tell that she would become a force to be reckoned with when she grew up, “You’re being rude!”
Hari giggled, thankful for the tension in the room breaking, “It’s alright. ‘Hari’ isn’t a nickname. I guess it’s a boy’s name, but I like it. It’s nice to meet you, Jacob.”
Jacob flushed at the attention and averted his gaze, mumbling out, “Nice to meet you, too.”
The blonde girl smiled brightly at her, “Hello, Hari! My name is Anne!” Grabbing the boy who stood next to her, she pulled him closer, “This is my big brother, Keith! He’s seven years old and the smartest person in his class!”
Hari thought that it was adorable, how proud Anne seemed of her brother.
Jacob looked around, “Aren’t you supposed to be doing chores? Mrs. Cole will give you the switch if she finds out that you’re being lazy.”
Hari smirked wryly at him; it was obvious that she had a bit of a smartarse on her hands. “Mrs. Cole told me that I wouldn’t start chores until tomorrow because it’s my first day here, today.”
A chiming bell rang throughout the halls. Anne grabbed her hand before she could ask the others what the bell meant.
“Come on, Hari, it’s time for lunch!” the blonde crowed happily, dragging the teenager all the way to the mesh hall and into the line of orphans waiting for their food.
Hari eyed at least thirty different children, all different ages. There were a few of them who looked older than her, however it was obvious that she was one of the older kids who lived there.
A girl with pretty brown hair waved at her. Smiling at the girl, Hari waved back, nudging Anne as she did so. “Who’s she?” she wondered.
“That’s Amy. The boy sitting next to her is Dennis.” Anne lowered her voice, although it still couldn’t be considered as a whisper, “Rumor has it that Tom did something to them when they were all small children, and now they aren’t very social anymore. I’m surprised that Amy waved to you. Usually, she doesn’t pay attention to anyone.”
“Are you talking about the freak?” A voice called out from behind them, and Hari flinched at the familiar insult.
Turning around, she was met with a teen with sandy-blonde hair and dull, blue eyes. To her annoyance, he was at least half a head taller than her. He gave her a crooked smile, holding out his hand to shake. Hari did so hesitantly. “Hello,” he spoke, “My name is Billy.”
“Hari,” she replied, frowning at him, “Why’d you call him a freak?”
Billy rolled his eyes, and Hari wasn’t too sure if she liked him, Baby Voldemort or no Baby Voldemort.
“He always had creepy shit happening around him.” Billy ignored Anne’s reprimand for his language, keeping his eyes trained on Hari. “Like the time Amy found him hissing at snakes. When Amy confronted him, he set the snake on her.” At her horrified look, he was quick to reassure her, “It was just a garden snake. So the bite stung, but Amy didn’t have to go to the hospital or nothing.”
“He was seven.”
Hari frowned, something insistent was nagging at her in the back of her mind. “Did you guys pick on him for being different?”
Billy scoffed, looking at her disbelievingly. “Trust me, sweetheart,” the endearment made her want to cringe in disgust, “Tom Riddle is a nasty piece of work. He was no victim.”
Hari leveled a glare at him; she was stubborn and she would embrace it. “I’m not saying that he was in the right, I’m asking if you left him alone in the first place. I’m sure he wouldn’t seem as creepy if you just ignored him and he didn’t feel as if he had to get back at you for calling him a freak. Words like those hurt. I know; I was called them by the people who raised me before my godfather took me in.”
Billy looked abashed, glaring mulishly at the floor but made no attempt at arguing with her.
By then, they had moved to the front of the line. Each orphan received a bowl of porridge and a chunk of bread at the side. Hari took her food with a grateful smile to the lady in charge (Martha, she soon learned). The rations were small, but it was still better than what she would have been fed at the Dursleys.
Anne, Keith, and Jacob sat with her. Several others joined, curious about the new person.
Soon, the two siblings were in a heated discussion on whether or not Hari was like a princess, much to the amusement of the others around the table. Hari was a flustered mess, trying to deny any sort of similarity with a fairytale princess.
“Hari is too a princess!” Anne exclaimed, “She’s the prettiest girl that I’ve ever seen, and she’s super nice!”
“But she’s an orphan,” Keith pointed out, and a part of Hari wanted to ask him why orphans couldn’t be princesses. It just seemed rather unfair.
“Snow White was an orphan,” Anne argued, “They even have dark hair and the same red lips.”
“Hari doesn’t have lips red as blood,” Jacob piped up.
“I hope not,” she commented dryly, “Or I should fear being turned into a vampire.”
Hari was happy that she seemed to get along with the people here, even if the children were outside her age group. She would miss them when she returned to her time period.
The weeks passed without much fanfare.
Hari quickly became a favorite of Mrs. Cole with how quickly and diligently she worked on her chores.
The babies, for some unknown reason, all seemed to calm around her, so she quickly became the one to go to if one of them was upset. She made acquaintances with Amy, Mary, and a few of the other girls. Anne still followed her around whenever she could, and usually dragged Keith and Jacob with her. Billy didn’t try to bother her again, but Hari could feel his stare whenever they were in the same room.
Mrs. Cole had yet to find another room for her to sleep in, but that didn’t bother Hari.
In fact, she had forgotten that her temporary room had belonged to Tom Riddle.
It was why she was so surprised when he came back.
She had been changing out of her dirty, gardening clothes and into her uniform when the handle on the door turned and Tom Riddle, in all of his egotistical glory barged in.
For a single, prolonged moment, they both stared at each other. Hari, with her arms covering his chest, a brilliant blush rising on her cheeks. Tom looked baffled, as if his brain couldn’t compute the fact that she had been changing in his room.
With rising indignation, Hari realized that Tom had been intently eyeing her: from her breasts, to her stomach to her thighs. He still had not said a word to her.
“GET OUT!” she screamed, throwing the nearest item she could reach (a pillow) at his head with deadly aim.