A few notes before we begin.
This story is intended to be read in 1/2 width view.
It is likely that there will be influences from several of my favorite works of fiction throughout this story. The Cosmere novels by Brandon Sanderson and The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, in particular, have had heavy influences. Their excellent use of magic systems and general quality are what inspire me most to write. The works of H. P. Lovecraft deserve a mention here too although, I'm aiming to write an adventure with horror elements. Meaning the Lovecraftian elements will be less evident, at least in the beginning.
The story that I am writing could be seen as a darker version of canon. In tone, it could be compared The Witcher series, which I have also taken inspiration from for many of the magical creatures that I plan to use throughout this story.
I have a rough outline for 7 'books' that will follow the main character throughout her Hogwarts education.
Many of the important canon plot points that rewrites generally use are going to be discarded, the world is similar, but I aim to give a fresh story that I hope will be enjoyable.
Two Important changes from canon are;
Voldemort never made multiple Horcruxes in this story. In fact, if he had attempted to it would likely have ended poorly for him; a magical ritual that involves tearing your soul apart understandably carries a hefty toll. It is used only by the most desperate or insane as a safeguard.
The Potters, as they were in the midst of a war, did not tell anyone that they were expecting a child. They went into hiding as soon as they found out that Lily was pregnant. Peter, Sirius, and Remus were the only three that knew aside from Dumbledore who agreed to cast the Fidelius to protect them. As in canon, the Potters were convinced to make Pettigrew the secret keeper.
Lily gave birth to a baby girl after they had been in hiding for several months and they named her Holly.
There are a few miscellaneous character differences from canon that may not be immediately evident. The rise of Voldemort in this story was more brutal and bloody. There are some minor characters that have been killed off early because of this. An example being Walburga Black who died alongside her husband rather than living an additional seven years. Among other things, this means that Sirius was left as the head of the House of Black at a slightly younger age.
Everything Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling and we thank her for allowing us to play with it.
Holly Black and the Reflection of Fear
31st October 1981
Albus Dumbledore froze mid-conversation. He felt the Fidelius charm that he had cast shatter, as the protection around the Potters cottage crumbled away.
"Albus?" Remus asked, looking concerned. He exchanged a questioning glance with Sirius.
"The Potters… Their secret is broken. " Dumbledore said, turning to Sirius in confusion, as far as he had known Sirius was to be the secret-keeper for his friends. Sirius however, had been here with both Remus and himself for hours, discussing business for the Order of the Phoenix. Albus knew that there would have been no way for him to break the secret.
"Peter," Sirius said, his voice hoarse. "I told them to take Peter as their keeper-"
"Godric's Hollow!" With a 'pop' Albus disapparated, quickly followed by the other two men.
The three men appeared almost simultaneously, in front of a simple homely looking cottage. A winding path lead through the small garden from the front door down to the wooden gate. They all took a moment to process that they could, indeed, see the cottage.
The older wizard was the first to move, he started towards the garden gate but was quickly overtaken by a sprinting Sirius and Remus. As he passed into the garden he saw with dread that the front door had been blown entirely off its hinges. Before he was even halfway up the garden path, however, the roof of the house exploded in a bright green fireball. The noise tore through the silent village, shattering windows and whipping Albus' hair around his face.
Distant sounds of dogs barking and neighbours waking up were drowned out by Sirius' bellow of denial as he and Remus charged into the house. He felt anguish wash over him as he passed Remus cradling James' body at the foot of the stairs. He climbed to the second floor; where the explosion had come from in time to see Sirius enter the ruined doorway that used to lead to the nursery. For the second time that night, Albus Dumbledore heard a noise that would haunt him for many years. A raw howl of confusion and loss coming from Sirius that confirmed Lily's death for him before he ever saw her body.
He entered the nursery to find it almost unrecognizable. The entire roof, and most of the northern wall as simply gone, the brightly coloured wallpaper seemed to have been bleached by some force or magic and Lily lay dead in front of an empty crib. Sirius was cradling a crying baby and trying to soothe the child, even while tears freely fell from his own face.
There was one more thing out of place in the nursery of course. The withered, charred form of Tom Riddle, frozen in apparent agony and very, very, dead.
"Peter!" the sound of spellfire echoed from downstairs. "Peter! Don't you run! COWARD!"
At the sound of Remus' voice Sirius started towards the door, crying child still in his arms but Dumbledore stopped him.
"No! Sirius, you must take Holly and hide! No one can know." Albus gripped Sirius by both shoulders. Both grown men now had tears falling down their faces. Pain and indecision clear on Sirius' face.
"Sirius, listen to me! Only the order knew about her! He may be dead but his followers are not, and they will want revenge! We don't know what happened here but if people learn that James and Lily had a child and she survived this?" He left implication hanging. "It's the only way that we can be sure she will be safe!"
Sirius stared into the blue eyes of Albus Dumbledore before he nodded just once and spoke, his voice cracking as he did so.
"Don't let him live, Albus."
As Sirius, crying baby held tightly to his chest, disapparated, Albus turned on his heel and swept downstairs. Following the sounds of spellfire and Remus Lupin's yells of rage was not difficult and he caught up with him less than a field away.
"Albus he's an Animagus!" Remus called as he noticed the headmaster catching up with him, and caring no more for what was once a closely kept secret between friends.
"He's a filthy, traitorous, rat!" Remus punctuated each of his roars with another jet of light aimed towards the scampering rodent form that was Peter Pettigrew. Peter dove one way and scurried the other, dodging for his life as white-hot spellfire crackled past his sensitive ears.
Peter was heading for the old stone wall ahead, and the dense woodland that sat just beyond it. If he could make it to the wall, to the forest, he could escape. He could hide. He picked his spot, a small hole near the bottom of the wall, big enough for a housecat and clearly used by other animals as a pathway to and from the forest. Diving for it in one last desperate bid, he saw Remus' spell impact harmlessly into the ground beside him and he would have wept in relief for his freedom, had Albus' spell not hit him squarely in the back.
Albus Dumbledore, being the man that he was, could not simply look away and allow Remus to murder his once-childhood-friend. Not even when Remus assured him that it was what he wanted.
He knew well what would happen to Remus if a registered werewolf were to kill an unarmed wizard. The Ministry was hardly subtle about their prejudice and Remus would spend the rest of his life in Azkaban, so no he could not allow that. Not even when Remus assured him that it was still what he wanted.
The Daily Prophet the next day carried a large picture on the front page of a younger James and Lily Potter with their arms around each other, taken a few months after their graduation from Hogwarts. There were no more recent photographs available.
The Daily Prophet.
November 1st, 1981
DARK LORD VANQUISHED!
James and Lily Potter, shown above, have heroically given their lives to successfully defeat the Dark Lord.
He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was confirmed to have been defeated on All Hallows 'Eve, in an interview by Albus Dumbledore, who was one of the first on the scene.
The country mourns and celebrates in equal measures tonight as tributes and thanks pour in from all over the country for the Potters. The Ministry has stated that both James and Lily will be receiving the Order Of Merlin, 1st class posthumously, in recognition for the ultimate sacrifice that they both gave in the line of justice.
Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement revealed earlier today that in a tragic turn, James and Lily Potter had been betrayed by their longtime friend Peter Pettigrew, who had lead He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to the Potter's home in Godric's Hollow.
Thankfully through the actions of the Albus Dumbledore and another, who asked to remain unidentified, Pettigrew is now in the custody of the Auror department.
Peter Pettigrew, for conspiring with Death Eaters, Supporting a Dark Lord and betraying both James and Lily Potter to their deaths, has been sentenced to receive the Dementor's-Kiss on the 2nd November 1981, and to live out the rest of his days in Azkaban prison… (more on pages 2-5, Interviews pages 6-11).
The copy of the newspaper lay unopened on the coffee table at Grimmauld Place as Albus, Remus, Sirius, and Andromeda sat, without speaking in the lounge. The only two noises that disturbed the room were the heavy drumbeat of the grandfather clock and the quiet gurgling of the toddler that was crawling at Sirius' feet. The four adults sat in silence watching as she, one hand gripping at Sirius' trouser-leg, one grabbing at the plush sofa he was sat on, attempted to stand upright.
It had already been decided that he would take her. Both men loved the small girl as though she was their own but it had to be Sirius. Remus could not take her with his condition. More than this though, Sirius was her godfather. Lily and James had trusted him with that. He would pour everything he was into making sure that Holly Potter lived a happy and full life. He reached down a hand to help the girl stand and she grabbed at him happily.
"Pagger!" she gurgled as her hand wound around his thumb. Not for the first time that day he felt the threat of tears sting his eyes.
"I shall make sure that the necessary changes are made to the Ministry paperwork without anyone knowing." Albus said, looking away from the child and out of the living room window. Outside the last of the leaves were falling from the trees in Grimmauld Square as autumn faded to winter. Hogwarts had already seen its first touches of snow but London was still mild. Honestly, Dumbledore found that he was dreading going back to his school later. The castle was far too quiet this year.
"Holly Black," Remus said. He smiled weakly at the girl holding Sirius' hand and taking clumsy steps. "Never thought I'd see you with a child Padfoot."
"...Neither did I Moony."
"You will make a good father Sirius," Remus said, turning serious. "I know you will."
"I'll have help. Andromeda is besotted with her already."
"She was well behaved all day, I'll help any time," Andromeda said, with a smile at the black haired child.
Albus was glad that they had decided to involve Andromeda. The woman had a daughter of her own and would be an invaluable source of help for Sirius. Besides, she would be Holly's aunt from now on.
Sirius was now helping Holly climb onto the sofa. She squished her hands happily into the faded red leather once she had climbed onto it. Albus observed them and saw that Remus was likely correct. It was difficult to remember that the two men in the room with him were only twenty-one years old. They both looked so mature today. All three men still wore the dark, formal robes that they had worn to the funeral. Holly was currently trying to shove a fistful of Sirius' shirt into her mouth.
"I hate to turn the conversation to this, but I believe that Tom Riddle's defeat may only be a setback." Silence reigned at Albus' grave words. "He was obsessed with death for his final years in Hogwarts and at the time I didn't think more of it. After he revealed himself as a Dark Lord well, I was too busy fighting the man to worry about how he spent his school days."
Dumbledore sighed as he stood up, and began pacing towards the empty fireplace. For a long moment he said nothing more and the silence was only broken by the sounds of Holly trying to eat Sirius' robes, without much success.
"Tom Riddle feared death from a very young age. He feared death with such an intensity that I think it is likely that he took steps against it. We may not hear anything for many years or indeed at all. There remains though, a chance that one day he will return." Dumbledore said, still facing away from the room and into the empty grate of the fireplace.
"What are you saying, Albus?" Remus asked.
"I don't know for sure yet. I've got a lot of research to do. For now though, Holly's identity should stay between the members of this room. To everyone else, no matter who they are, she is Sirius' daughter."
"I won't keep it a secret from her. Holly deserves to know who her parents were." Sirius said, after a while.
"That's for the best I think, she will have to know at some point. Easier that she understands as early as she can." Albus said, before giving them all a last smile and taking a pinch of Floo Powder from the mantlepiece. "I'll owl each of you once the Ministry is dealt with."
Each of the adults in the room nodded or waved in an unspoken farewell to the Headmaster as he stepped into the fireplace. The roar of flame subsided along with Albus' words of 'The Ministry of Magic.'
Holly Black drooled onto her father's robes as her legs, unused to standing properly, gave out under her. She huffed and Sirius scooped her into his arms while Remus and Andromeda watched the pair quietly.