|The Track of a Storm
Author: Lady Taliesin PM
James Potter died on October 31, 1981. But when, nearly six years later, Lord Voldemort invokes an ancient magic to restore himself to a body, James is drawn back into a world where everything he knows is gone, and everyone he cares about thinks him deadRated: Fiction T - English - Drama - James P. & Harry P. - Chapters: 26 - Words: 133,551 - Reviews: 1,055 - Favs: 807 - Follows: 308 - Updated: 06-26-08 - Published: 05-22-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2404979
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A/N—HELLO!! My gosh, how I've missed you all—very long time, very little see :) Anyways, here's a bit of a present for you all—the Dursley confrontation! And also, a tremendously important announcement cleverly disguised with an actual chapter. Ooh, the subterfuge…
By Lady Taliesin
A companion-of-sorts to Track of a Storm – do NOT read this without having read that first!! In which our three favorite marauders make a short detour to No. 4, Privet Drive to pay the Dursleys a little… "visit"…
Disclaimer – Y'all know the drill…it's all Jo Rowling's, not mine. Sue and you'll get nothing, nada, zippo, zilch…in other words, don't bother trying.
September 17, 1987
The path up to the house was impeccably kept, each and every brick empirically clean and spotless and the bushes bordering the path on either side neatly trimmed and altogether quite in order. It was a warm day out, the late afternoon sun casting a warm golden glow over the manicured lawn and the row upon row of identical houses that bordered it on either side. All told it was a very pleasant, ambivalent sort of day, barely more than a hint of a breeze and hardly a cloud in sight.
"What a dump."
"Manners, Sirius," chided Remus, too intent on figuring out which way to hold the enormous muggle map of Little Whinging he held in his hands to spare a glance over at Sirius. "It's all a bit…staid, I'll grant you, but hardly a dump."
"Quit being rational, Moony," scolded Sirius, military-like. "It's depressing. They all look the bloody same. Imagine growing up in a place like this; no wonder Harry said their son is on the path to becoming an arse-faced thug…"
"That's not what Harry sa–"
There was a sudden, loud crack, and then – "Sorry I'm late!"
James Potter, out of breath and pale-faced, hurried up the garden path to Number Four, Privet Drive, shoving his wand into his jeans pocket as he joined Remus and Sirius and slung an arm over both of their shoulders. "Small mission…lost track…came as fast as…miss anything?"
"Nothing at all," answered Remus mildly, folding the map up and shoving it in the back pocket of his jeans as he cast a warning look at Sirius over James' head. "We only got here –"
"Forty sodding minutes–"
"– ago." finished Remus, ducking out from under James' arm and leading the way up to the freshly painted door. "And it took us awhile to find the house, anyway, so you're hardly late at all. Your directions were a bit…unclear…"
"What? It looks just like I said," answered James vaguely, bounding up to the door and knocking hard on the brass doorknocker, wiping a smear of blood off of his face as an afterthought.
"Every bloody house in the bloody neighborhood looks just like what you said…"
Remus kicked Sirius warningly in the shin, eliciting a loud "Aagh! Bloody werewolf –" just as the door opened and an enormous, walrus-mustached man stared down at them, an expression of absolute shock slowly spreading across his purple face.
"Mr. Vernon Dursley, I believe!" said Remus brightly, after a pause that streamed to stretch for hours. "Lovely to see you again. Do you mind if we come in?"
"Mmrgh…y-you – you –"
"Why, thank you. I can assure you, this won't take any time at all…"
"…So as you might have noticed, Harry's been missing for quite a while now," continued Remus, helping himself to another one of Petunia's store bought biscuits as both of the Dursleys continued to stare at James and Sirius in absolute shock. "You've doubtless been concerned about this, but I can assure you that he's perfectly safe – for a week or so it was touch and go, but for the past month he's been fine. I believe Professor Dumbledore sent you an owl or two concerning the matter, but as both returned with their messages undelivered we thought it might be best to tell you how things stand in person."
Sirius cleared his throat pointedly, and both Dursleys flinched. "I have, of course, already mentioned the extreme pointlessness of this entire –"
"On his birthday, July thirty first, your nephew was kidnapped," interrupted Remus, raising his voice over Sirius'. "He was seized by one of Voldemort's servants, who brought him back to Voldemort so that the Dark Lord could kill him." He paused briefly, apparently waiting for some sort of reaction from either of the Dursleys – but they both appeared to have sunk into a sort of catatonic shock, and neither gave any sign that they'd even heard him at all. He coughed, tried to ignore the triumphant "told-you-so" look on Sirius' face, and continued. "Fortunately I was able to accompany both Abaddon – Voldemort's servant, rather – and Harry to Voldemort's headquarters, and rather than kill him immediately the Dark Lord allowed us to remain together for nine days until…well…anyways. He planned to wait nine days before he killed us. We did, eventually, manage to escape, along with James and Sirius and since then we've all been perfectly alright, a spot of trouble getting to Hogwarts but you needn't worry, because everything's fine with your nephew. And also, of course, with the rest of us. Er. So. Anything anyone else would like to add?"
"Yes, actually," began James, standing up and crossing his arms over his chest – Petunia and Vernon screamed, and backed as far away from James as they possibly could without having to risk getting out of their seats. James, for his part, blinked. "Er. Hello. First off, I'd say it's nice to see you again, but the truth of the matter is –"
"H-he's – y-y-you're – a ghost –" gasped Petunia, clutching Vernon's arm as her horse-like face turned as white as a sheet. James sighed, and rubbed his eyes.
"No, actually –"
"You're supposed to be dead!"
"I was, you see, until –"
"There's nothing 'abominable' about it, really; I came straight here from the job, no time to shower, sorry; and shut up, Sirius," said James patiently, sitting down on the arm of the couch and ignoring Petunia's shrill squeak of protest. "As I was saying – Harry told me, told all of us, all about you."
There was utter silence, for a moment.
Finally Sirius coughed loudly, and drew his wand out of the pocket of his jeans with a flourish. "Care to continue?" he asked James pleasantly. He was staring absorbedly at the wand as he spun it between his fingers, but he was perfectly aware of the Dursleys following the wand's every movement.
"He sugarcoated rather a lot of it," said James after a moment, his eyes narrowing slightly as the Dursleys turned their frightened attention to him. "But he told us. About sleeping in a cupboard, about doing all of your chores while your son – Dudley, is it? – ran around with his friends and terrorized the neighborhood. About never having quite enough to eat, just the scraps none of you cared for. About getting bullied at school, in the park, in your home. About having to wear all of his cousin's old clothes, even though none of them ever fit. And as it turns out, you never called the police after he disappeared."
After a moment's silence Vernon cleared his throat. "I don't know what kind of a trick this is," he began nastily, "And I don't know what that little brat told you, but whatever it was –"
Sirius jumped to his feet, and pointed his wand straight at Vernon's heart. "You ever call him that again, and I swear I'll –"
"Sirius!" said James sharply. Sirius broke off, but didn't move – his narrowed grey eyes were fixed on Vernon Dursley, who was visibly trembling as he tried to shrink against the back of his chair. "This isn't a trick," said James slowly, turning slightly to regard Vernon again as Remus pulled Sirius gently but firmly back down into the chair. "We won't bother you with the details, but the gist of it is – I'm back. And if you ever so much as come near Harry again, I will personally make sure your government has you locked away for life. Is that in any way unclear?"
Both Vernon and Petunia looked too petrified to speak – taking their silence for assent, James nodded curtly and stood up. "Excellent. With any luck we'll never have to meet again, so – goodbye." And with that James turned around and strode out of Number Four, Sirius and Remus close behind.
"Well, that was a fine start to a brilliant day," said Sirius happily, licking his fingers daintily and blinking against the bright September sunlight. "Dursleys' psyches effectively crushed, three cones of mint chocolate chip ice-cream effectively consumed…"
Remus, apparently unable to stand it any longer, flicked his wand at Sirius – instantly an entire hoard of napkins sprang to life and attacked his face, frantically scrubbing away the enormous mess of melted ice-cream and whipped cream that reached as far as his temples. "One werewolf effectively disgusted," he informed Sirius, before turning to James and helping himself to a spoonful of James' as yet untouched chocolate milkshake. "Feeling alright?"
"Hmm? Oh. Yeah, I'm fine." James smiled reassuringly at him, but behind his thin wire-rimmed glasses his hazel eyes held a faraway look. "I'm just – just thinking, is all."
"About?" prompted Remus after a moment, his eyes narrowing slightly as he gazed at James thoughtfully. James rolled his eyes.
"Nothing terribly important, I promise," he said, making a face at Remus and reaching down to take a bite of his milkshake, only to discover that Remus was still holding onto his spoon. "Hey! Give that back, you thieving –"
"A compromise?" suggested Remus, holding the spoon just out of James' reach and smiling benignly. "Something is obviously bothering you. Tell me, and I will consider – consider, mind you – giving back the spoon to this excellent chocolate confection."
James looked appalled. "I bought that milkshake! And you've already had one, besides!"
Remus made a pretense of ignoring him, and busied himself with the spoon. "Yes, well. What can I say – it was delicious. Care to start speaking, then, before it all melts?"
With a huff James reached over and seized the spoon out of Remus' hands. "It's not that important, really. I was just thinking about today, is all. And about how bloody unlucky Harry is, too."
"Unlucky?" Remus pondered this for a moment, waving his wand absentmindedly and transfiguring his fork into a spoon. "On the contrary. His dad came back from the dead, and has taken him away to live in the most perfect house he could possibly imagine – his words, not mine. I'd say he's quite lucky."
"Yes, but that he needed to be taken away in the first place. Think about it – he's one year old and his mum dies, his dad dies, one of his uncles supposedly dies, another is incarcerated, and the third is a sort of outcast from the rest of society. All within the course of a week. He has to go and live with those wretched muggles, doesn't know a thing about magic, doesn't know a thing about his family, is bullied and starved and, and just neglected his whole life…and the only way he finally gets out of it is by being kidnapped by Voldemort and left to die in that cell with you. Unlucky, like I said."
"No—pure luck," corrected Sirius, finally swatting the last of the napkins away from his face and joining the conversation. Remus nodded in agreement, and helped himself to another scoop of James' milkshake.
"Consider the chances of all of us ending up in that dungeon together, and all of us managing to get out more or less unscathed. The odds against it are rather high. Astronomical, in fact. The odds of you even coming back in the first place –"
James rolled his eyes, and threw up his hands in defeat. "Alright, I get the point. We were incredibly lucky. Me, Harry, you two sods…"
"I resent that," interjected Sirius, sounding injured. "I add three words into your conversation and get branded with your undeserved, inequitable slander…"
"…All of us really, truly, unbelievably lucky. Former circumstances entirely aside. And – look, just take it, would you? You werewolves and your chocolate fetishes, honestly…"
"I am a connoisseur, not a fetishist, firstly," said Remus, pulling James' milkshake over to himself and taking another enormous spoonful. "And secondly, my…passion…for chocolate has nothing to do with that. It is a Lupin family trait, and has only been aggravated over the years thanks to post-full moon offerings from yourself and Mister Black."
"You hear that, Prongs?" said Sirius with a laugh, getting to his feet and stretching leisurely. "He's blaming us for his addictions, the nerve…"
James just rolled his eyes and laid a handful of coins down on the table, getting to his feet as he did so. "Come on, children. Time to go home."
A/N—I'm feeling tremendously nostalgic, at the moment…oh, goodness. That was fun :) Anyways, the actual point of this "update" was, I'm afraid, not strictly to give you all a chapter and a bit more of a wrap-up to the plot, although I was certainly delighted to do so—the actual point is to tell anyone and everyone who is interested that THE NEW VERSION IS NOW (almost) ONLINE!! Yes, indeed. Not quite online, because I had all sorts of issues with ff(dot)net this morning, but almost online! A brand spanking NEW VERSION of Track of a Storm, about a billion times better than this version—good writing! An actual plot! Loads of new subplots! Romance! Intrigue! Angst! Just basically pretty wonderful, all around. And, with the exception of the first chapter, a VERY VERY DIFFERENT VERSION!!
For more specific info on the NEW VERSION and to know where/when it'll be posted, see my profile! In the meantime, I miss you all tremendously, and if you do end up reading the NEW VERSION, which will start being posted within a week (and you should, because I will adore you forever!!), you should review (because I will adore you even more!!)!!
But anyways, so far as this version goes, it is now officially all done and over. So—
Goodbye, and HUGS to you all!!