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A/N: I do not own Harry Potter. Nor any of the Jay Ward Productions Characters mentioned herein. But you knew that.
October 31, 1980
Clutching her son to her breast, Lily Potter fought against her panic as she drew the symbols on the floor of Harry's nursery.
Why hadn't she done this before? Why wasn't she better prepared?
She could hear the battle below as James fought for their lives on the main floor of the house. The modicum of security the ongoing fight offered died when the sounds of battle ended suddenly.
She threw a handful of Floo powder into the fireplace. Nothing. She reached for the emergency portkey, and almost started crying when it too, turned out to be useless. The only answer was an ancient tool that lacked the precision and ease of use of more modern spells, but the likelihood of Voldemort having cast charms that would block the function of a Norse Spell Circle was vanishingly small.
Lily could hear someone coming up the stairs as she finished her drawing. Still holding Harry, she stood in the middle of the circle and reached for her wand…
Only to find it missing. Where was her wand? Had she left it in the kitchen? Would she and Harry die due to her carelessness?
Activating the Circle required magic offered to its field matrix. When Voldemort entered the Nursery, he would kill them both. She was too large to be fully enclosed in the Circle's field matrix without the Circle being active. Designed to be activated from within, the circle needed power, but the theory said that outside magic might still work…
Decision made, she cast a sleeping spell on Harry and placed her sleeping son in the center of the Circle, and prayed her hastily drawn symbols were correct. The Circle allowed no destination to be specified, it only promised that the inhabitant of the Circle be sent somewhere safe.
Lily stepped away from her sleeping son and died when the Dark Lord entered the room.
Voldemort looked away from Lily Potter's body with a small smile. Severus would be so disappointed, but the dour man would have to learn to live with disappointments.
The boy… One of those supposedly with the power the Dark Lord knew not, lay asleep on the floor. Perhaps the real threat was the Longbottom child, dispatching this one was hardly worth his time, despite the battle the boy's sire had offered. The man born Tom Riddle wondered idly just what the 'power he knew not' might be while raising his want to cast a final spell.
Voldemort gathered the hatred he carried for everyone who was not him. "Avada Kedavra!" he chanted, and watched as the green spell flare jumped from his wand to the boy. His eyes widened in shock when the spell veered away from the sleeping child and into the floor, where chalk symbols suddenly lit up the room with an otherworldly blue light.
Voldemort's attention to the blue light faded as he realized that magic, his magic was still pouring out of his wand, and he could not stop it. Whatever these symbols were, they were sucking him dry. In a panic, he tried to break the connection, but no matter where he pointed his wand, the torrent of magic still connected to the now blue white circle.
The light was so bright; he could no longer make out the child at the center. A horrifying thought ran through his mind as he tried and failed to drop his wand. This was the power he knew not.
Fully charged, the Spell Circle discharged and fulfilled its design, sending the inhabitant of the Circle to safety. The backlash flooded the room, destroying the cottage and obliterating the body of an all too arrogant Dark Lord.
November 1, 1980
She stretched in the early light. Ursula truly loved this time of day, offering at it did, the opportunity for fresh discoveries and adventures.
Her husband was, of course, already gone, out making his rounds, ensuring that those who lived in the lands he protected where relatively safe and happy.
Rising from her bed, she pulled on the outfit her husband so loved her in, and padded her way to the main room of her home so that she could witness the beauty of the world outside.
Looking down on her husband's domain was inspiring, so much so she missed the flash of light behind her. There was however, no missing the scent that flooded her senses, the smell of her hometown, Bayonne, New Jersey. Ozone and Petroleum distillates.
Turning she found a small child sleeping on the floor behind her. She rushed to the child and lifted her… no, she quickly checked, him, up. The little boy blinked at her sleepily and cuddled closer, murmuring "Mummy."
That was all it took. Ursula knew she had found her calling.
"Ursula!" a male voice called from the doorway. "I'm home!"
"Look Dear," she said, turning so her husband could see the sleeping boy."
"What is it?" the man asked.
"It's a baby," she explained patiently. "Our Baby!"
"Oh," the big man nodded, slightly perplexed. He accepted the child from Ursula and examined him closely. "He little guy."
Therefore, he was.
July 19, 1991.
Cresting the hill, the party came to a stop. The guide wiped his forehead with a colorful handkerchief while waiting for the tourist in the purple crushed velvet safari suit and blood red pith helmet to catch up.
"We're here, Boss," the guide said. "Beyond that tree line is Mbebwe."
"At last," Albus Dumbledore said while extending his telescope to take in the incredibly dense, lush jungle that seemed to spring from the dusty dry grassland. After realizing he could see nothing but trees and vines, he collapsed the telescope and returned it to the left leg pocket of his purple crushed velvet cargo shorts. They set off the yellow stars on his safari blouse nicely. As always, Albus was proud of his skill in blending in among the Muggles. "How long until we reach the settlement?"
"Like I told you, Boss," the guide continued with a wide smile, "only crazy people and those who don't care if they die go to Mbebwe. I have led you to the boundary, but we," he gestured to himself and the porters, "will not go in."
"But how will I find the man I'm looking for?"
"If only half the stories about that place are true," the guide said with a broad smile, "you won't have to worry about finding him, he'll find you."
Albus considered arguing, but realized he would be wasting his time. Nodding to his guide, he adjusted the straps of his backpack and resumed the hike toward the legendary jungles of Mbebwe, alone.
The guide waited until the old man vanished into the jungle. "Crazy Wizards," he said with a shake of his head before turning to his crew. "Make camp, we were paid to wait a week for him to return… if he does."
Three days later, an exhausted Albus Dumbledore stumbled into a small clearing.
He had been looking for the missing Potter heir for most of a decade, and this… this destination was by far the worst.
Worse than his trip to Buckingham Palace to explain to the Monarch that her distant cousin was missing. Worse than his trip to New York City to see if Steven Strange had any idea as to where the boy might have gone. Worse than the trip to Connecticut to see if one of the insanely powerful Elders, who as a group, were condescending smug when dealing with wand users, had intervened in the Potter family's fate. The horrors he was forced to deal with in this forsaken jungle were even worse than his trip to North Korea to confront the most frightening man in the world about the status of a young boy.
This jungle was horrible. The predators ignored animal repelling wards, the rain shredded his tent, soaking everything he owned beyond the ability of drying charms to work, the rivers were full of vicious creatures that would attack anyone attempting to cross or even just get water, and even the plants would attack someone foolish enough to stand still for more than two minutes.
Albus was beginning to think that returning to Hogwarts without Harry Potter might be the best plan. After all, compared to this, how bad could an unbeatable Tom Riddle really be?
"Oh, good afternoon," a voice broke into Dumbledore's misery.
His wand at the ready, Albus spun to face… a large gorilla sitting in the shade of a tree… looking up from a book?
"I'd heard rumors of someone gadding about in the jungle," the giant simian continued, carefully marking his place in his book with an antique brass bookmark. "I always like to meet new people, so I came out to have a look, and I'd just sat down for a spot of lunch. Would you care to join me?"
Before Albus had managed to formulate an answer, a huge lion reared from the foliage and roared.
Albus might have soiled himself at that. He was not sure, and at that moment, was in no position to check.
"Leon!" the gorilla scolded. "Stop that, you're disturbing my guest."
The lion roared again.
"Do I have to get George?" The gorilla asked.
With a whine, the lion's tail drooped, and the beast disappeared back into the bushes.
"Sorry about that," the ape said with a sigh. "Leon likes to scare the tourists. Do have a seat; no one will be bothering us."
Dumbledore lowered his wand, swallowing noisily. "Thank you," he said lowering himself to the ground. "I am Albus Dumbledore."
"Algernon Prescott Emerson the Third," the gorilla responded. "My friends call me Ape. What brings you to Mbebwe?"
"I am searching for a child," Albus answered, having decided to ignore the oddness of this situation and soldier on.
Ape's oddly expressive face offered an expression of distaste. "Most societies frown on that sort of thing," he noted.
"A missing child," Albus emphasized, and although he was speaking to a gorilla, he decided to press on. "The boy's name is Harry Potter and he's been missing for most of a decade. It's vital that I find him."
A look of concern became evident on the Ape's face. "When did you lose him?"
"Young Harry disappeared the night of All Hallows Eve, 1981, when he was barely 15 months old."
The gorilla passed Albus a plate of sandwiches, "do have some, I've brought far too much for just me." He waited as Albus selected a half sandwich from the plate. "And what are your intentions if you find him?"
"Well," Albus said, taking a small bite of the sandwich, "assuming he is in a caring family, offer him his place at my school. His birth parents enrolled him not long after he was born."
"I see," the gorilla said as he stood up, gathering his picnic supplies and book as he did so. "Come along Albus, I need to take you to meet George."
"George?" Dumbledore echoed.
"Yes, George, of the Jungle. My oldest friend. Coincidentally, on November 1st 1981, George's wife Ursula found a young child. Since then George and Ursula have raised the boy in their own inimitable way. I believe it is possible that your search may be at an end."
A subdued Albus Dumbledore rose to speak at the end of the staff meeting the week before the school began. "Colleagues, I am happy to announce that I have found Harry Potter."
The assembled staff lost their end of meeting boredom and was suddenly alert.
"Are you sure?" Minerva asked.
"Oh, yes," Albus nodded, trying very hard not to think about the jungles of Mbebwe. "There is no mistaking him, he is Lily Potter's son."
"So," Filius asked hesitantly, "we can expect to see him September first?"
"We can," Albus nodded again. "The negotiations to convince his new parents to allow it were… strenuous. I will be sending out a list of the school rules that young Harry will be exempt from, due to his rather… curious upbringing."
"Exceptions to the rules?" Minerva asked, scandalized.
"Several," Albus admitted. "Among other things, young Harry will be exempt from the school uniform. He refused outright to even consider wearing robes."
"There were rumors the boy was being raised by Muggles," Snape sneered. "Will we be seeing the pampered princeling modeling the latest in their sportswear?"
"And why are you making exceptions for this one boy, no matter who he might be?" Pomona demanded.
"The Ministry has been demanding the return of Harry Potter to these shores for most of a decade," Albus sighed. "If I had not negotiated the boy's return, the Ministry, would likely have done something foolishly impulsive, which might have ended up pulling us into a war we couldn't win."
"Lovely," Pomona sighed. "What other exceptions does the Boy Who Lived rate?"
"He has a rather particular pair of familiars, a bird and…" Albus hesitated for a moment, "something else. I would advise you all to avoid the creatures if at all possible, but they will have free run of the castle, as young Harry needs them. The largest boon I granted the boy is that I have given him permission to sleep in one of your green houses, Pomona."
"Excuse me?" the woman asked incredulously. "You expect me to give up an entire greenhouse to house single student?"
"No, he doesn't want an empty greenhouse…" Albus hesitated, "I promised him he could stay in greenhouse five."
Silence filled the room for several seconds as they digested that tidbit of information.
"Albus," Pomona said, breaking the silence, "Greenhouse five is houses the most dangerous of all the plants we cultivate. Only my NEWT Students can use that green house, and even then in teams of three or more with full protective charms and breathing filters. For anyone else, entering that greenhouse would be a slow agonizing death. If those plants weren't so useful in healing potions, I wouldn't keep them."
"Trust me Pomona," Albus sighed, "Harry Potter will love it."
"Potter, Harry!" Professor McGonagall called out.
Whispers suddenly broke out all over the hall.
"Potter, did she say?"
" The Harry Potter?"
For several seconds nothing happened. McGonagall looked up from her parchment to the Headmaster. The old man blinked and then gestured meaningfully. The Assistant Headmistress sighed and called out "Little Guy of the Jungle!"
"Huh?" the dark haired, nearly naked, young man squatting on all fours asked as he looked up from sniffing the hem of young Blaise Zabini's robes suspiciously.
"It is time for your sorting, Little Guy," Dumbledore said from his place at the staff table.
"Ok, Commissioner," the oddly dressed boy said happily before he loped to Professor McGonagall in a gait that had him on all fours. Gingerly lowering himself onto the three-legged stool, the boy looked up at her in curiosity.
McGonagall lowered the sorting hat upon the boys head and stepped back.
And was immediately glad she had when the boy screamed something unintelligible, pulling the hat from his head, and ended up rolling on the floor of the Great Hall stabbing at the hat with a conjured knife.
Before any of the staff could react, a birdcall filled the air of the Great Hall.
" AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !"
Instantly the flailing boy stopped his attack on the Sorting Hat. "Hello Tookie. Hat supposed to talk in Little Guy's head?"
" AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !" a large bird with beautiful blue plumage called as it fluttered down from the rafters to land on the sorting stool.
"Oh," the boy said nodding. He lifted the hat. "Little Guy sorry Hat Fella. Tookie says when you talk in Little Guy's head you finding where Little Guy belong and not possessed by evil spirit."
The boy stood up and returned to the sorting stool. The Tookie Tookie bird fluttered to the boy's shoulder and the young man once known as Harry Potter sat down and returned the hat to his head.
"Hufflepuff…" the hat all but screamed. "You're in Hufflepuff. Now put me down."
"Ok," Little Guy said happily, removing the hat from his head. "Where Hufflepuff?"
" AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !" the bird responded.
"Thanks, Tookie," Little Guy said as he made his way to the 'Puff table. "Hi fellas," he said as he took a seat between a Hannah Abbot and Susan Bones. "I am Little Guy."
"Harry Potter in Hufflepuff," Cedric Diggory marveled in the confines of the Badger's common room after the Welcoming feast. "Can you imagine it? Now the rest of the school will have to take us seriously."
"Calm down, Ced," Jacob Summerby said quietly. "Sure, everyone expected him to end up in with the Gryffies, like every Potter before him, but there's something odd going on with the Potter boy, you saw how he was dressed."
"A loin cloth," Joyce Zeller mused. "And not a stitch more. Then he conjured a knife from nowhere, without a wand, before his first lesson. What really got my attention is that not one of the professors raised as much as an eyebrow. Jacob is right; something very odd is going on. I was across the table from him at dinner, his diction is atrocious, his table manners nonexistent, I don't think his hair have ever seen a comb, and from the way he spoke to the two firsties on either side of him, I don't think he knows what a girl is."
"What?" Summerby asked in shock. "Was he raised by wolves?"
"From the stories he told, he was raised in a jungle somewhere," Joyce explained. "Which fits with the name McGonagall used to get his attention; Little Guy of the Jungle.
"Especially when you notice that Sprout escorted Potter out of the dorms immediately following her 'Welcome to Hufflepuff' lesson," Eve Lawler noted. "That's never happened before."
"Well, yeah," Cedric agreed, "but still, Harry Potter is in Hufflepuff!"
"Found it!" Susan Fawcett called from her study carrel. Almost instantly, she was surrounded by fellow Ravenclaws, each craning to get the best view of her discovery.
"What did you find?" Eddie Carmichael demanded.
"Tookie Tookie Bird," Fawcett read. "Native to central Africa, a powerful magic bird species similar too, but unrelated to the Phoenix. The Typical Tookie Tookie bird has brown plumage, but reports of blue Tookie Tookies abound in legend. Known magical abilities include, travelling long distances instantly, the ability to lift many times its own weight, the ability to find anything it is asked for, and an immunity to fire and ice."
"Potter has a rare magical African bird for a familiar?" Cho Chang asked.
"What makes you think it's his familiar?" Marrietta Edgecomb asked.
"It has to be," Cho insisted. "I mean, it's not on the approved pet list for first years. If the staff is allowing it there has to be a reason."
"And a familiar is the only exception to the approved pets list," Roger Davies nodded. "Well thought out Cho."
"You're all missing the big picture," Penelope Clearwater pointed out.
The brows of the assembled Ravenclaws furrowed as they tried to determine what they had missed.
"What is it, Penny?" Roger asked.
"Potter spoke to it and it understood him," she announced. "And the bird made its call and Potter understood what it was saying. This suggests far more intelligence than any normal magical bird. We need to learn more about the Tookie Tookie bird."
"Harry Potter is in Hufflepuff," Terrence Higgs noted before the assembled Slytherins.
"I always said he was a duffer," Draco Malfoy announced. "And this proves it. He is nothing."
Higgs nodded to Marcus Flint, who roughly cuffed the first year upside the head, knocking the smaller boy to the floor.
"You are here as a curtesy to your father, Malfoy," Higgs said dangerously. "You are here to listen and learn, not to speak and demonstrate to everyone that you are a fool."
The door from the dungeon opened and Sarah Rosier entered, clearly flustered.
"Took you long enough," Flint groused.
"Sod off Flint," the girl spat as she pushed Draco from his chair before sinking into it herself. "Move it firstie, chairs are for people who deserve them."
"An hour is a bit much to make sure that Potter is actually in the Hufflepuff dorms, Rosier," Higgs suggested.
"He was and now, he isn't," Rosier explained. "I went to the Hufflepuff dorms under the pretense of speaking to Sprout about the NEWT Herbology project. She was leaving the dorms with the Potter boy, and I was allowed to accompany them."
"Accompany them where?" Darrius Urquhart asked.
"Greenhouse 5," she said quietly. "Potter is evidently sleeping there."
"What?" Flint shouted.
"Greenhouse 5," Rosier confirmed. "Sprout opened the door; Potter took one look and rushed in. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so happy."
"Potter is some kind of plant lover?" Draco laughed, only to receive a slap to the back of his head.
"You were told to be quiet firstie," Flint said. "Another word and I do you damage."
"Who is staying in there with him?" Urquhart asked.
"No one," Rosier said, shaking her head. "Only that odd bird of his."
"Why is Dumbledore letting him commit suicide?" Higgs asked the assembled upper forms of Slytherin house.
He was unsurprised that silence was his only answer.
Nearly the total population of Gryffindor house gathered in the common room, with the new firsties in the center of the room.
"You lot spent the most time with Potter, tell us about him." Fred Weasley demanded.
"Who cares about Potter?" his younger brother asked. "He's a Hufflepuff for Merlin's sake."
"He's a Potter," Angelina Johnson explained patiently. "Potters have always been in Gryffindor, and he isn't. We want to know why the hat put him in with the 'Puffs."
"Did one of you spoil Gryffindor house for him?" George Weasley asked, eyeing his brother Ron suspiciously.
"I never even saw him until he was on the boats," Ron Weasley protested.
"I honestly don't think he spent much time with anyone," the bushy haired firstie said hesitantly. "Not long after we left the station, I was looking for Neville's toad and found him alone in a carriage. He had his head out the window like a dog in a car. I told him that doing that was dangerous because he could be hit by one of the track side signs. He called me a 'smart fella' and climbed out the window and up on top of the carriage. I didn't see him again until we got off the train and he jumped down off the train to join the rest of us walking to the boats."
"He rode on top of the carriage?" Percy Weasley asked indignantly. "Why didn't you tell anyone, like me for instance, I'm a prefect."
"I did tell you," the girl insisted. "You told me not to be silly. After two other prefects reacted the same way, I went back to my carriage."
"Maybe," Neville Longbottom said, looking up from the floor for the first time, "maybe he just wanted to be in Hufflepuff."
Silence filled the Gryffindor common room as each member of the house of Bravery tried to wrap his or her minds around anyone wanting to be a Hufflepuff.
"Finally," Little Guy said as he looked about the vast building full of plants, many of which were starting to reach for him playfully. "Little Guy thought never be warm again."
" AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !" Tookie said wisely.
"Tookie right, as always," Little Guy admitted. "But silly robes all itchy."
A vine encircled his waist, drawing Little Guy's attention. "Hey Plant Fella, thanks for making Little Guy feel at home," he said patting the vine.
The vine began pulling Little Guy into the foliage where, " AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !" the bird pointed out helpfully.
"Ah, don't be silly Tookie," Little Guy scoffed as he disappeared into the foliage. "Plant Fella and Little Guy all friends here."
The Tookie Tookie bird just sighed as the silence in the green house was replaced with the sound of thrashing, thumping and what sounded like a scream of terror. Spreading his wings, he took flight, penetrating into the dense interior of the green house where he found Little Guy finish a nest among the plants, and a knotted ball of plant growth that was the remains of the plant that was the source of the vine.
"Told you Tookie," Little Guy said with a yawn. "Plant Fella wanted to rough-house a little before sleep time."
" AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !" Tookie agreed, before he thought of something else. " AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !"
"You worry too much, Tookie," Little Guy said, yawning again. "Tomorrow take care of itself. Good night, Tookie."
" AH AH EE EE TOOKIE TOOKIE !" the bird responded.