'…I left him upon your doorstep fifteen years ago, with a letter explaining about his parents' murder and expressing the hope that you would care for him as though he were your own…' – Albus Dumbledore, 'Will and Won't', Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling, (2005 Bloomsbury edition)

Disclaimer: I am not J.K. Rowling. I do not own Harry Potter.

Note: This piece is a sketch set in an alternate universe where following the events of October 31st, 1981, Harry Potter had a somewhat different childhood from what he experienced in the original books.

Units of measurement: three feet = one yard, which is a few centimetres short of one metre.

The word 'cuz' is used in this piece as slang for 'cousin'.

This piece is a one-shot.

Warning: This story is rated 'T' on account of implied physical violence by ten year olds.

Prelude; November 1st, 1981:

"'Look after him as if he were your own child'?" Petunia fumed, peering at the crabbed writing that covered the sheet of parchment. "What else does the fool think that we'd do?"

May, 1991:

"Piers has been making jokes about me, over lunch." Dudley said as the school lunch-break came to an end. "We're gonna have to 'get' him after school for that, Harry. We know he'll run for home and his mummy once school is over if he hears we know about it, so you get ahead of him, and I'll chase him."

Harry nodded.

School had finished for the day and Piers Polkiss was running for home. He should have known that Dudley would hear about the clever remarks he'd made about him; you couldn't trust girls not to chatter. Still, Piers had thought that Dudley would just laugh at them and find them funny, instead of this. Piers had been dead wrong on that count – unluckily.

Dudley was lumbering along somewhere behind Piers, as Piers ran down a narrow alley, his school satchel bouncing at his side. Piers wasn't that worried about being chased by Dudley; being caught by Dudley would be a problem, but Piers could run for longer than Dudley could.

What Piers was worried about was the other one – Dudley's cousin, Harry.

Piers reached an intersection, and cornered – except suddenly he slipped on a patch of oil which he'd swear hadn't been there a moment earlier, and skidded several yards and went over, bloodying his knuckles and crashing to a halt just short of a pair of gleaming black shoes. Piers looked up, even though he knew what he was going to see.

The gleaming green eyes of Harry Potter looked back down at him, from behind those sinister glasses.

Piers made a futile grab for Harry Potter's ankles, trying to bring him down, but Harry skipped back out of the way. Harry wasn't as beefy as his cousin was, but he was still a lot nimbler than you would have thought for a boy of his size.

"Oi! Dudders! Someone seems to have slipped and landed at my feet." Harry called out.

Piers could hear Dudley closing rapidly. Still sprawled full-length, Piers glanced back at the intersection, a few feet away, and the oil he thought he'd stepped in and slipped over on was completely gone.

He wasn't surprised. Freaky stuff like that happened around Harry Potter, although talking about it and calling it 'freaky' was asking for a beating from Harry and Dudley. And talking to adults about it was pointless, because even if they believed you about it at first, they soon seemed to just forget.

Dudley came into view at the intersection, grinning stupidly.

"Hey, cuz. Good work." Dudley responded.

Piers made one last futile effort to grab for Harry's ankles, but Harry skipped back again, the tip of one of his shoes 'accidentally' catching Piers on the chin as he went.

Dudley was closing in behind Piers; there were no windows overlooking the dirt and cracked stones of this section of alley. There was no chance of inconvenient witnesses, looking out of a building.

Piers gave in and resigned himself to the beating that was about to come as the price of his joke about Dudley Dursley.

He tried to distract himself, as the kicks and fists came in, with working out what he was going to tell his parents about how this had happened. He obviously couldn't blame Dudley and Harry for it, because that would just get him worse tomorrow, and there was some really creepy stuff that Harry could do if you crossed him to the point where simple kicks and punches were no longer enough to satisfy the cousins. If Harry got hold of a snake, for example, he could make it do almost anything he wanted, by hissing at it, and that included his hiding it somewhere and telling it to wait and jump out at the person who found it… And there was that time he'd made what he claimed was a 'magic potion' which turned Cyril Brookbridge's hair green for a whole week, despite the best efforts of Cyril's parents to wash and shampoo and even dye it back to normal.

No: it was best not to make the cousins Dudley and Harry any angrier at you than they already were, if you upset them.

Piers decided that he would make up a story to tell his parents about how he had been roller-skating or ice-skating, and fallen and made a mess of himself, like an idiot, this time.

The 'idiot' part would certainly be true.

Author Notes: (slightly expanded, 10th May 2019)

In the universe occupied by this piece, Harry Potter grew up smothered with practically as much love, affection, and attention as his cousin Dudley (and of course being told that like Dudley, he is entitled to anything he wants, and that the universe pretty much revolves around him.) Harry is clear that Dudley is slightly more important than him, and Harry defers to Dudley and lets him be leader because Dudley is older, but otherwise Harry expects things to do what he wants them to do.

Harry is assumed to eat as well as Dudley does, although since the boys probably play-fight/wrestle each other quite a bit, in Harry's case not much of his bulk is fat (and Dudley's has a lower percentage of fat than is the case with his canon counterpart.)

Vernon and Petunia Dursley have probably told Harry and Dudley that Harry's parents were 'murdered by a terrorist', and that if Harry can do any odd things it's probably to do with that. Dudley has the impression that Harry has any powers because Harry lost his parents in that way and although Dudley thinks that such things which Harry can do are 'cool', Dudley's not completely sure he'd want to trade his parents for an ability to do stuff like that. (Ironically, at least one of Harry's abilities - the Parseltongue - probably is in Harry's possession because of the circumstances of his parents' death and the whole 'transfer of a piece of Lord Voldemort's soul and some of his powers' business.)

Albus Dumbledore has some awareness of the kind of person Harry is in this universe; after all: as in the original books Albus has Mrs. Figg living in Little Whinging, and Albus is probably able to spy directly on conversations taking place in Harry's vicinity any time that Albus fancies with the 'deluminator' device he eventually leaves to Ron Weasley in the original books in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Albus finds some of Harry's actions distasteful to say the least, but the boy is being raised as a 'pig for the slaughter' anyway, and the type of boy which Harry is growing up as will make it considerably easier for Albus to throw Harry at Lord Voldemort and not have any qualms about whichever one is left standing.

The adults forgetting what children tell them about Harry doing freaky stuff might be the work of obliviators carrying out standard 'accidental magic' clean-ups, or could be the work of Harry himself; at the time of this initial post in May of 2019, I'm undecided which.

Harry may be growing up as what he is growing up as, but that includes Harry deeply valuing family (especially his cousin, Dudley) so long as it doesn't betray him. If something happened to Dudley (or to Uncle Vernon or Aunt Petunia) so long as it wasn't caused by them betraying Harry, Harry would go to the ends of the Earth to try and make things right for his family and to punish as horribly as possible those responsible. Harry himself certainly wouldn't turn on his aunt, uncle, or cousin without serious provocation from them.

On a side note, Dudley and Harry both have places booked for them at the same muggle secondary school (I'm not sure if it's Smeltings; I don't know if Vernon and Petunia could afford to send two boys there.) Harry is unlikely to want to go to Hogwarts (or any other magical school for that matter), unless Dudley can come too.

This piece is a one-shot.

Update to author notes:

Cyril Brookbridge is a name (as far as I know) invented for this piece for one of Harry and Dudley's fellow pupils.