Author's Note: This story is mildly inspired by For Love of Magic by Noodlehammer, to which I owe a great debt. However, it is my own, though rights to characters and settings of course belong to J.K. Rowling. Updates on my creative process and my thoughts on the story can be found on my author's bio. I also post exclusively about my stories and my thoughts about fanfiction on my eponymous tumblr blog, tyrnfrd.
This story has been moved forward 15 years from the canonical timeline, so that Harry is, like myself, born in 1995. Just to make my life easier. Enjoy.
At number four, Privet Drive, lived a young boy who seemed nothing more than ordinary. But things had not always been that way for Harry Potter. He had learned early to not mention any strange dreams or happenings to his uncle or aunt, nor to mention anything other than video games and food to his portly cousin, Dudley. And when strange people in eccentric clothing tried to stop him in the street and speak to him, Harry would quickly walk away and make very sure that his Aunt Petunia never saw it. And for quite a few years, Harry Potter was entirely ordinary. So ordinary in fact, that Uncle Vernon allowed Harry to move from the cupboard under the stairs into Dudley's second bedroom, the smaller one, even smaller than the guest bedroom, and certainly smaller than Dudley's bedroom or Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia's master suite. And once Aunt Petunia even raised her voice to Dudley to tell him to "make sure Harry is enjoying that game too Duddikins." Harry was of course not enjoying the spirited game of Harry-Hunting, but both he and Dudley swore black and blue that it had been Harry's own idea, and from then on, Dudley was much kinder to Harry, even allowing him to play games on his new PC while Dudley himself was occupied with the television or one of his radio-controlled cars.
Unfortunately, nothing good can last forever, and in his first year of junior school, Harry had an 'incident'. Doing the washing up, Harry put his hands into the still too hot water, and withdrew his hand with a yelp, drawing the attention of his uncle. Vernon's attention was drawn however to the now-empty bowl, the offending water having been vanished as if by magic. The portly man's face purpled below the walrus mustache dominating his face, and he let out a yelp of his own. "Boy!" Uncle Vernon yelled, "After, after all we've done for you," he sputtered, enraged by such abnormality, "Go to your cupboard!" And so Harry ran to the cupboard, quivering with fear.
When Harry finally left the cupboard under the stairs the next day, he observed the barely contained rage that his uncle still displayed, which was frightening enough. But more discomfiting to the youngster was the way in which his aunt seemed to pretend nothing had happened, her face studiously blank. Dudley, as Dudley was wont to do, didn't seem to have noticed any change at all. Harry himself was unsure of what exactly had caused this shift, but he resolved that it could never happen again.
It took a week before Uncle Vernon finally seemed to mellow to his usual disagreeable self, and another before Harry was allowed to return to his bedroom, instead of the cupboard, but life at number four got back to normal before too long. But the incident was still well within Harry's memory when Dudley came back one day from the school library with a fiction book for his required reading.
Dudley Dursley was not a studious child, and was indulged greatly by his parents, and so when it came time to take a book home from the school library, Dudley would always take the shortest ones, with as many pictures as possible. But now that he was in junior school, he was pushed by his teacher to take home a book with multiple paragraphs on a page. And when he refused, she picked one for him. And when he brought home a fiction book about a little girl learning to become a witch, something entirely unprecedented happened. Both Vernon and Petunia Dursley, parents who could not deny their child's slightest whim, exploded at their precious offspring. And Harry witnessed the whole thing. "Magic!" Uncle Vernon raged, as his face rapidly became puce-colored, "there's no such thing! I won't have it in my house!"
"No such thing!" agreed Aunt Petunia, giving her shrill input, her face draining of all color, seemingly transferring all the blood flow to Uncle Vernon's. "And I won't have you reading such a book! I can't understand it," she whined to Vernon, "Little Duddikins is usually such a good boy. Why would he pick such a horrible book to bring home?" Dudley himself, unable to process anything other than total praise and acquiescence from his parents, broke down in tears. Harry quickly vacated the area and made his way to his room. Now he had an answer. Magic was real, Harry could do it, and Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia hated it. And if his aunt and uncle hated something, like an unevenly cut lawn, it was a very bad idea to be the one responsible. Many of their neighbors on Privet Drive with less-than-perfect mowing skills could attest to that. But if Harry wanted to avoid performing magic accidentally, he realized, he would have to learn to control it. And that meant that he would need to learn how to do magic. Harry Potter would become a wizard.
It took Dudley a week to notice that Harry's lunchtime routine had changed. Dudley tended not to pay much attention to his cousin, except when he needed Harry for something - a distraction, or to copy homework, or to bring him a sandwich from Aunt Petunia. But at school, Dudley rarely sought Harry out. When Dudley did eventually notice, he found Harry in the last place that he himself would think to look. The library. And as soon as he found him, Dudley waddled away. It wouldn't do to spend too much time around the library. He might catch something.
Harry, on the other hand, was rapidly working his way through the entire contents of the school library, or at least everything to do with magic. He hadn't found anything useful though. He would have to go to the public library and see if they had more. Fortunately it wasn't long until the summer holidays.
Once the holidays arrived, Harry spent every day in the same routine. Wake up, eat breakfast, do his short list of chores for Aunt Petunia, and then spend his day wandering around the neighborhood. This had been his routine during the summer for as long as he could remember, but now wandering the neighborhood had been replaced with dashing directly to the public library. Specifically to the shelves containing Dewey Decimal 793.93, and a book known as the Player's Handbook. Harry had read many works of fiction before arriving here, but now he had a manual for what to do.
There was no doubt in Harry's mind that he was a Sorcerer. And quite clearly human. He had initially been drawn to the description of Wizard, since most of the children's fiction books he had read described wizards and witches, and there was no entry for witch, but strange things happened around Harry without him trying or studying to make them happen. Unfortunately, this didn't give him much to go on. But the book did say that sorcerers needed to do magic in practice to get better. So he flipped to the back of the book to take a look at the cantrips. Many of them didn't look very practical, or easy to test, but he made a short list. Light. Ray of Frost. Mending. He could use that on his glasses. He checked the list again, and smirked, adding one more to the list. Daze. He could use that on Dudley. Might be tough to see if it actually worked if he tested it on Dudley though.