DISCLAIMER THE FIRST: It is by JKR's writing alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the grace of coffee that thoughts acquire speed, the back acquires strains, the strains become a warning. The warning is that I make no money from this. It is by JKR's writing alone I set my mind in motion.
PITHY STATEMENT RELATING TO THIS CHAPTER: "Bad news isn't wine. It doesn't get better with age." Colin Powell – American four star army general and former U.S. Secretary of State – 1937-
Last Updated: 08-26-2014
CHAPTER FOUR – RAIN ON THE PARADE
THE LEAKY CAULDRON, LONDON – AUGUST 1st 1998 – AFTERNOON
Harry sipped his tea and fumed. He didn't trust himself to speak and luckily Professor McGonagall seemed perfectly willing to give him time to order his thoughts or at least get a hold of his anger. Luckily for the Scottish witch, dealing with his anger was something Harry had a lot of practice at.
With Dudley and his buddies bullying him when he was younger, Harry never looked away when others were being bullied. This led to an a him getting into a rather brutal fight with three boys who were teasing a young Vietnamese girl his second year at Stonewall. Harry found out later that she had trouble speaking English when stressed.
The result was three bullies who would steer clear of Harry and left Harry with some scars. Luckily the girl, Phần Thị Dao, introduced him to her grandfather. Phần Văn Chu owned a local auto repair shop catering to American cars and he seemed to take a shine to the young teen. He had been in the Vietnam war and had done a lot of things he'd tell Harry he hoped a kid like him would never have to do.
Yet Mr. Chu had seen a bit of himself in Harry and in return for saving his granddaughter, he had begun to teach Harry martial arts. Yet it wasn't anything like Harry had expected. Mr. Chu was a hard task master and Harry soon learned that 'martial' meant pertaining to war and that's exactly what the old man taught.
So while a few of his Stonewall contemporaries were off taking taekwondo, karate or boxing like Dudley, Harry was learning stuff he figured wouldn't be out of place in the trench warfare in World War I. Mr. Chu's favorite phrase was, "Never fight fair when you're fighting for your life." Harry certainly wasn't learning how to fight by the Queen's rules that was for sure! Even Dudley stopped trying to 'spar' with Harry after the smaller teen had taken him down with frightening ease.
Yet it was Harry's anger which got Mr. Chu angry as well. Too many times he had whapped Harry on the head and reminded him that anger was a weapon only to one's opponent. So while he had learned a lot of nasty things (mostly relating to knives) from Mr. Chu, it was learning to rein in his anger which probably was the best gift from the old man.
Harry thought of the many ways the Vietnam vet had taught him to put his anger away for when he could deal with it. Taking a deep breath, Harry put down his tea cup and simply said, "So let me get this straight. This Mr. Dumbledore decided to leave me with the Dursleys over your objections. He felt it would be better that I have a normal childhood so I wouldn't become spoiled or arrogant due to my fame. Instead he left me to relatives who despise me and took this hatred out on me at every opportunity."
McGonagall winced at this but Harry cut her off before she could speak, "So while I understand Mr. Dumbledore is high up in your government, it seems to me that he just took it upon himself to do this with only a few people knowing. I understand that this was done to protect me from these 'Death Eaters' but in the long run I needed protection from my own relatives! So tell me, Professor, when did growing up in a highly abusive home become a normal childhood? I lived under a fucking cupboard under the stairs for God's sake!"
McGonagall bit back a gasp but still paled at this before sighing and looking like to Harry as if she was slowly deflating as she sagged in her chair. "I warned him, Mr. Potter. I told him the Dursleys were the worst sort of Muggles."
"But did you do anything after that?" Harry said hotly. "You knew where I was! This Hagrid knew as well. Were you going to be put into prison for telling others of this anti-Voldemort group my parents were in? Okay I can see that these blood wards may have kept me from being murdered but there is a lot more to life than just being alive! Where the bloody hell were you lot when my uncle was taking a belt to me over things Dudley did? Where were you when my aunt would tell everyone how much of a 'problem child' I was so everyone in the neighborhood mistrusted me?"
"Mr. Potter…" McGonagall began but Harry interrupted her hotly, "And don't give me some cock and bull story about no one had a clue this was going on! Looking at the list of my occurrences of accidental magic showed it happening when my relatives or Dudleys friends were doing things which would prompt a reasonable person to intervene. Yet nothing ever happened; no one ever came to help. I was resigned to it as I got older. Now that I know I was being monitored by your Ministry, I'm suspicious of how nothing was done!"
McGonagall flush in shame and looked away.
Harry's face hardened at this show of shame. Yet Mr. Chu had always taught to follow through with an attack and Harry wasn't in anything resembling a forgiving mood. "I didn't start to have a normal life till I went to Stonewall and it took me threatening them to get that! Looking back, I think my magic showed and it scared them! So all those years not one of you lot could come in and tell my relatives to back off? My Aunt knew about magic so it's not like you were giving any secrets away! Well should be glad that you can report to your headmaster that he succeeded. I'm not arrogant nor spoiled. What I am is brassed off and the only reason I'm going to Hogwarts is because I need to learn how I'm different and the fact my tuition is being paid for by the trust fund my parents set up. That and my minimal French is far too limited to go to that Beauxbatons school instead."
The old witch finally met Harry's fiery gaze, "Mr. Potter, I don't know what to say..."
"Well that's good because I don't think there is anything you can say. How did you rationalize leaving a 15 month kid on the doorstep like a rack of milk for God's sake? I'm supposedly this big hero and savior and yet I didn't rate you and Mr. Dumbledore actually talking to my relatives and explaining the situation? I know my aunt and my mother didn't get along but would you want to find out a sister or brother of yours died from a letter pinned to an orphan?"
"The Headmaster didn't feel that your Uncle would take a personal visit well," McGonagall replied as if she didn't believe the excuse herself.
"So? All that magic and you can't keep my Uncle Vernon from hearing a conversation? Lilith told me earlier that she heard from her brother that you Magicals aren't much of a logical bunch but this takes the cake! You LEFT ME on the doorstep like the morning paper and just assumed the Dursleys would take care of me! They could have easily just dumped me in a rubbish bin like you see on the news some times and washed there hands of the problem! All because your Headmaster made a decision I doubt was his to make."
McGonagall flushed face darkened as her face switched from shame to anger, "Now see here, Mr. Potter..."
"See what?" Harry retorted angrily. "You talked for over an hour about the purebloods. Okay my dad was a pureblood from an ancient family. Simple logic states that I have other relatives other than the Dursleys. Okay so maybe for safety I needed to stay with them. Who gave Dumbledore the right to cut me off from the rest of my family? What about my parent's friends? You and the Headmaster cut us all out from each other! Plus I can read you know! No matter how much my relatives hate anything freaky, I would have loved to have known more about my heritage back then instead of getting all now!"
Harry looked away before turning back, his eyes blazing, "This morning you talked a lot about tradition and family lineage and how important it is in your world. You and your headmaster cut me off from that. Denied me the knowledge that I wasn't alone, I wasn't unwanted, and I wasn't worthless!"
McGonagall looked at a loss for what to say. Luckily this gave Harry a chance to take a deep breath and once again rein in the anger which was seething and just begging to be released. Worse was he was attracting notice. While they were on a break as they waited for the Gringotts representative to arrive, there was still plenty of people in the room and the angry tone of voice was attracting attention.
Harry sighed heavily, "Look Professor, obviously this is a lot for me to take in at once and right now I'm not emotionally ready to deal with it. What I can say is that you had better tell your Headmaster that I don't care if he's the Grand Poobah of the Sizzlepot or whatever you call it. He can be Merlin's second cousin for all I care, but I will not allow him or anyone to mess with my life again. I get even the hint of this and I'm gone. Thanks to your efforts to ensure that I'm not a arrogant spoiled child, I'm quite capable of talking care of myself and I don't need your magical world."
McGonagall's eyebrows shot up at this but Harry cut her off again before she could say anything. "From what you and Professor Sprout said, having someone as famous as me up and denounce your lot and stay away is going to go over like a fart in church. Well I'm perfectly willing to be that crass. I had plans prior to my Hogwarts letter. It will be rough but I'll be damned that after I what survived through that I would let Dumbledore or whoever think they can dictate my life. So since it seems you lot need me more than I need you, be sure to tell the Headmaster I'm not making idle threats."
Before McGonagall could reply, a shadow fell over the booth they were in. Both looked up to see the concerned face of Professor Sprout looking down at them. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but the Gringotts rep is on his way. I doubt you want to be seen with a very irate Mr. Potter, Minerva. Percival is getting suspicious enough as it is although I think I've deflect him so the Ministry won't hear anything."
The transfiguration professor pursed her lips, "Just so. Thank you Pomona. I feel for now that we have gone as far as we can. Anything further will have to come from the Headmaster anyway."
"Oh yeah, that's going to be a fun conversation," Harry said with sarcastic contempt.
McGonagall frowned at this but simply took up her pointy hat and left the booth towards the fireplace which supposedly was connected to something called the Floo network. Harry took another sip of his tea before he realized that the Herbology teacher hadn't left. "What?" he asked heedless of how rude he sounded.
Sprout smiled. It was one part sad and one part amused. "It's been a long time since I've seen Minerva so riled up. From what I've gathered over the years, I'm betting she let the Headmaster talk her into doing something against her principles."
Harry scowled at this. He didn't want the witch's pity even if she seemed a really good sort of lady. "Principles or not, she allowed my life to get shit down the loo. Forgive me if I'm not feeling rather charitable for her feelings."
Sprout frowned at this but she didn't seem angry at Harry's words. Instead she slid into the booth. "I can't say I know what's going on because for the most part I ignore the Headmaster. He has been called a great man and in a sense I guess he is. Yet he has far too many irons in the fire. Me? I am a teacher and in many ways surrogate parent to my students. I keep my focus on that. It has served me well but in your case perhaps myself and my fellow teachers should have asked a few more questions after the war and not taken Headmaster's word that he had taken care of things."
Harry almost made an angry retort at this. Yet Mr. Chu's words about not going out of one's way to make an enemy gave him pause. With another deep breath, Harry simply said, "Well I guess it would be hypocritical of me to yell at one professor for going past her duties as a teacher to yell at another for doing just her job."
Spout laughed at this, "Very good, Mr. Potter. It's nice to see you don't let your temper you're your tongue. Sadly it's a rare talent, I'm afraid. You will find we Magicals are passionate people. For whatever reason, we seem to feel emotions more deeply than Muggles. We fall in love at first sight, we hate deeply and we hold grudges for centuries. It is good to see you are willing to listen and not jump to conclusions. Again it is unfortunate that this happens infrequently in our world. Indeed if you do go to Hogwarts, I will warn you that your potions classes will probably not be pleasant."
Harry frowned at this, "Why not? I liked chemistry and I'm a good cook. I'd think potions would be one of the things a Muggle-raised like myself would be good at."
Sprout laughed again, this time bitterly. "Oh I'm sure you will do fine. If you're anything like your mother, you probably will be top of your class. The problem is the teacher. He was a contemporary of your parents. In fact Severus grew up near your mother and they were friends prior to getting their Hogwarts letter. Unfortunately not only did they have a falling out, but you look amazingly like the man who beat him out for your mother's affections."
Harry rolled his eyes, "Un-fucking-believable. So this Severus is going to hate me because my mum married the guy I look like? After all these years he still holds a grudge?"
Sprout shrugged, "I cannot say for certain but...oh bollocks yes I can. Professor Snape is a potions prodigy but he is a terrible human being. Why the Headmaster hired him, keeps him on and even made him head of House Slytherin over other faculty members remains a mystery to me. I just wanted to warn you that you can bet he will dislike you from the minute he sees the resemblance to your father."
"Today is just turning out to be a shit sandwich with a side of fuck-all," Harry said exasperatedly.
Sprout smiled warmly, "I know Mr. Potter. In fact I dread doing these briefings even as I love seeing all the new blood. It just saddens me to see the likes of Ms. Granger or Mr. Finch-Fletchley, who both have so much to bring into our world, will find discrimination and worse. However we do what we can with the tools we are given. Your life has been a tragedy; it's obvious to me and Minerva was somehow involved. I can't tell you to just get over it and move one. All I ask is you look at Hogwarts as a new start. You are the last in a long line of Potters with a history stretching back to when history merges into legend. You may not owe our world anything but I do believe your ancestor's memories, all their dreams and deeds are worth making the effort to at least see what would be lost if you decide to turn your back on our world."
Harry blinked at this. In a way it reminded him of Mr. Chu who often spoke of his ancestors as if they were merely in the other room and not long, long dead. Yet he acted like his actions could bring down their wrath at times.
Sprout's smile faded, "They will see you as the Boy-Who-Lived as I'm sure you've already seen. I'm just asking you try to be a Potter for your family's name if nothing else. We've lost too many families; I'd hate to see the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter fade due to the Headmaster's penchant to meddle."
Harry starred at the older witch for a moment before quirking a smile, "I guess your speech makes sense coming from the head of House Hufflepuff if what I read in your brochures was right."
Sprout looked surprised before chuckling, "Oh my! I guess I was giving a duty and loyalty speech wasn't I?"
Harry chuckled as well, "Not surprising and I'm not offended. I could tell you and Professor McGonagall were really trying to pretty up a bad situation before the Gringotts guy shows up. In this case, you're just telling me things a mentor of mine has often talked about."
"Oh?" Sprout asked.
"He's a Vietnam vet; I kept his granddaughter from being bullied. He's taught me a few things over the year. I think I was his hobby since I could tell he misses Vietnam. In fact if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been so calm with Professor McGonagall. He's talked quite a few times about honoring one's ancestors."
Sprout nodded at this, "Ah yes well that is quite common in Asia, the magical community even more so. Here in Europe, ghosts are usually those who refuse to pass on due to a fear of death. In Asia, ghosts are often those who elect to stay on for a time to help pass on tradition and lore. A good friend of mine in Thailand had a great-great-great grandfather as her mentor. I envy her as Hogwarts' own ghost teacher can get distracted at times."
"Really? Wow I wish I could tell Mr. Chu that. I'm sure he'd shudder at thinking that some of his family might have hung around. He came from a military family and sometimes from the stories they were a bit…excessive in passing on their training."
"Ha! Sounds like a family of Mad-Eye Moodys," Sprout said with another chuckle. At Harry's confused look she elaborated. "Alastor Moody is a retired auror, in fact I'm pretty sure he was one of your father's teachers at Auror Academy. He's a tad paranoid and his training exercises are rather notorious. I'd not like to think of a man like Moody hanging around as a teacher!"
Before Harry could reply, the flames in the fireplace flared green and before his astonished eyes, what at first looked like a short squat man with a briefcase came out of the fireplace like a shot. He landed with practice ease. Another look proved that initial appearances were deceiving. While Harry had been warned, he couldn't help but blink in surprise. Hearing about magic was one thing; seeing it another. Being told the Gringotts representative was a goblin was nothing like actually seeing it in person.
The goblin seemed unfazed at all the stares from the teenagers present and quickly went over to were he saw Professor McGonagall was sitting with Percival Bentwhistle, the Ministry official.
A moment later the floo flared again but this time the figure did not land like a Olympic champion. This time the person, a witch Harry saw, landed on her feet and then promptly fell on her face.
"Oh Tonks!" Sprout sighed as witch which had shockingly pink hair moaned a bit before rolling over and getting to her feet. "I would have thought the Auror Academy would have taught you some grace."
"You know her?" Harry asked. He noticed this Tonks was dressed in what looked like no-nonsense reddish robe which looked to his eye like it probably doubled as armor. Mr. Chu kept some boiled leather armor on hand for certain types of sparring. His son liked to work with leather and he said it was cheaper than trying to buy hockey or American football pads. The witch's robe seem to have a feeling of that protective leather.
"Oh yes. She was one of my Badgers. Class of '91 with top honors in transfigurations. She might be a bit clumsy but she's scary with a wand. That and she's a full metamorphmagus which is rather rare."
"A what?" Harry asked as he gave the witch another look.
"A metamorphmagus can alter their appearance. Most can only make minor changes but Tonks can do a great deal more," Sprout explained. "It's a born trait and not one you can learn so the Aurors were eager to get her to do infiltration missions."
The witch in question seemed to sense she was being talked about as she looked over at them and then surprisingly waved. It was hitting Harry that she was just waving at Sprout when the witch's face lit up in surprise. She pointed at him and then at Sprout while mouthing, is that him?
Before Harry could groan, Sprout surprised him with a laugh as she nodded at the younger witch. She then turned to Harry, "Don't worry Mr. Potter. She's not some obsessive fan. She's a cousin of yours."
Harry looked at Sprout quickly before looking back at the younger witch. She smiled at him and gave him a thumbs up before turning and going over to the table where the goblin was looking over some document the Ministry representative had given him. Once the break was over, the goblin was going to give them a lecture about Gringotts and a small primer on the magical economy in general. Magic, apparently, turned on its head so many principles of labor, materials and the like so the goblins had pushed for these briefings to help keep the galleons flowing or so Professor McGonagall had said.
"Cousin? In what way?" Harry asked. While his voice was calm, internally Harry was seething. Almost minutes after asking about relatives, one shows up!
Sprout bit her lip for a moment while she looked at the ceiling for a moment. "Let me see…hmmm. Your great-grandmother was Dorea Black. Her eldest brother Pollux had a son Cygnus who had in turn three girls. Tonks' mother Andromeda is the eldest of those sisters. The youngest, Narcissa, has a son starting this year."
"Tonks is a rather odd name," Harry said. Never mind names like Andromeda or Narcissa! He wondered if the man McGonagall said betrayed his family was related to him as well but decided now wasn't the time to ask such a question.
Sprout laughed, "Oh Tonks isn't her name. Oh well that's not true. Tonks is her surname. Andromeda Black was a Slytherin pureblood who shocked everyone by falling in love with a Ravenclaw muggleborn. She eloped with Theodore Tonks and got thrown out of the family for it. She just hates her given name; Nymphadora."
"Nymphadora?!" Harry said with a laugh. And here he thought Narcissa was bad!
"Yes, well I'm sure you will tease her about it…once. Remember Mr. Potter, she took the top spot in transfigurations in her year and has been through the Auror Academy. On top of that I'm sure her mother taught her quite a few dark tricks from the Black family. She's not one to tease lightly. Of course other than hating her name, Tonks is a wonderful girl. I'm betting she got this duty today in order to talk to you. I know that Andromeda and Ted worked hard to gain custody of you and given that he's a lawyer, you can well imagine the lengths they went to."
Harry frowned, "Why would they go through the trouble?"
Sprout hesitated before sighing, "I'm sorry Mr. Potter; I didn't mean to bring it up given what you've learned today. Sirius Black is the grandson of Pollux. He was named your godfather by your father. Andromeda felt that since Sirius was cast out like she was for going against the pureblood ideology of House Black, that it would make sense that she and Ted would have best claim to raise you given Sirius being in prison."
Harry's frown turned into a scowl, "Okay this is getting confusing. So supposedly my godfather betrayed my parents. Yet from what McGonagall said, he gave me to this Hagrid guy before running off after this Petticoat guy."
"Pettigrew. Peter Pettigrew," Sprout corrected him gently.
"Right…Pettigrew. Well if my godfather was such a rat bastard that he'd betray a man Professor McGonagall said was like a brother, whose family took him in, then why let me live? Seems like a guy who killed twenty people on top of betraying his best mate wouldn't have a problem offing a fifteen month kid like me, godson or not."
Sprout sighed, "It is a mystery. All I can say is Sirius is in Azkaban after his trial. He's never given any reason for his actions and mostly is just belligerent when talked to. I have heard that the guards are surprised he's done so well. Apparently he's even attacked other Death Eaters in the yard when he gets a chance which mean he gets time with the Dementors."
Harry made a face, "Now that doesn't sound good. Do I want to know what a Dementor is?"
Sprout face darkened, "They are terrible beings and England is one of the few who use them. They feed on positive emotions and if they grab you, they can suck your soul out in what's called the Dementor's Kiss. People rarely live long after their soul has been stolen from them. Prisoners being punished are moved to a special wing where the Dementors roam the corridors. Sirius has been there many times yet seems strangely unaffected. Very different from the likes of Andromeda's younger sister Bellatrix. While some would say she was mad going into Azkaban, there is no doubt she is beyond insane now as she has been a 'guest' of the Dementors quite often due to her hair-trigger temper."
"Yikes! I thought solitary confinement sounded bad. These Dementors push that right up to eleven," Harry said. He paused a moment, "Do you think I'll be able to see this Sirius Black? Even if he doesn't say anything useful, I'd like to meet the man, look into his eyes and ask him why he betrayed my parents."
Sprout got up as it was apparent that the goblin was starting to set up for his presentation, "Talk to Tonks before you leave. I'm sure she will know. It might be that that's why she's here. I mean it doesn't take a Ravenclaw to predict you'd probably want to meet the man after you learned of what happened that Halloween."
Harry finished his drink and made a decision. The rest of the group was either off for a bathroom break or talking quietly among themselves while they waited for the next round of presentations to be set up. Finding himself alone for a moment, Harry had decided to satisfy his curiosity. Luckily the 'drama' of Dean Thomas finding out that Auror Shacklebolt was actually his uncle meant that a lot of teens were listening to the Auror tell the tale of how his brother had fallen in love with a Squib and left the magical world. He was later killed in the same war which claimed Harry's parents.
So with the likes of Lisa, Justin and Hermione distracted and his cousin Tonks out on some errand for Shacklebolt, Harry slowly made his way to the anomaly in the room. Paul Runcorn stood out in a subtle way. His clothes were off, his manner was off and there was an air of menace to the boy that Harry thought he recognized.
He had to know.
He manage to slide into the seat next to the sullen teen before Runcorn realized he was there. As expected the teen stiffened and a furtive movement of his right hand made Harry smile, "So what do you got stashed away?"
The boy looked at Harry in surprised, "What? What do you mean?"
Harry gave Runcorn a knowing look, "I mean what are you packing? Gun or knife? I'm betting knife. I've got a Ka-Bar myself. Never go anywhere without it."
Runcorn's face grew wary, 'I don't know what you're talking about."
"Of course you do," Harry responded easily. "Look, I'm not interested in ratting you out especially since I've got one myself."
"How do you know I'm armed," Runcorn finally asked after a long pause.
"You look like it. Listen, I had a crappy childhood and I had to learn to protect myself pretty quickly. After I ran into a spot of trouble, I got introduced to someone who taught me how to fight. He was the one who gave me my Ka-Bar. I try not to think about how he killed the guy he took it from but he was a soldier at the time. Anyway, I keep my eyes open and you look like someone who is used to living rough and having to protect yourself. You and me, well we stand out don't we?"
Runcorn eyes narrowed at this as he glanced around the room. "It's all posh here. Money, cream looks and the latest fashionable things. From what I overheard earlier, the only reason that Moon bird is dressed weird is she's actually wearing some Wizarding clothes her brother got her. Even so, she's a looker."
Harry laughed, "Well you and I aren't bad looking blokes but yeah, while apparently I'm rather well off due to my parents, I didn't grow up with two pence to rub together till I went to secondary and got to keep any money I made."
Harry had been shocked when the goblin had passed him a folder which held a summary of his trust fund and his family's estate. While an adult in both the Magical and mundane world, Gringotts would not release full control over his estate until he could pass a test to show he understood the various ins-and-outs of the magical economy.
When asked, the goblin had shrugged and only said that Muggleborn while starting behind usually had a better grasp of money than most wizard kind. He didn't think Harry would have much trouble getting past his test by the end of his first year at Hogwarts
Harry also realized that the Dursleys had no idea about the wealth that Harry had access to. If they had, Harry was sure they would have treated him like a prince growing up in hopes of cashing in on some of it as repayment for raising him. Even cut off from the main estate till he could pass the test, Harry's trust fund ensured he had little to worry about money wise.
Runcorn snorted at his comment, "I doubt anyone in this room has every wanted for money. Yeah some of them may not be rich kids like that looker you came in with or the banker's kid, but I doubt they'd last long on the streets."
Harry's eyes narrowed at this. Runcorn had just confirmed Harry's guess about him. "Look, Paul, can I call you Paul?"
Runcorn tensed at this but finally nodded.
"Look you don't know me from Adam but let's be frank here. You're homeless, right?"
Runcorn's eyes flew open in shock, "How could you know that?"
Harry sighed, "Calm down Paul. I know because of your clothes. You got them from a place that lends out clothes to homeless types trying to get work, right? I had to use the same type of place when I started looking for work as all I had to wear was my cousin's cast-offs and he weighs like two stone on me. Plus, I told you, I keep my eyes open and I've found that helping people who need a hand can really come in handy."
Harry had helped this homeless family with some food which might have gotten tossed at the Superstore he worked at. The father repaid this favor by running off Piers Porkiss who took over the gang when Dudders decided boxing was more important than being a delinquent. Unfortunately Piers was a nasty shit-stain of a thug and he and his mates might have really hurt Harry if he hadn't been driving off with a cricket bat to the head.
Runcorn just stared at Harry silently.
"Anyway the reason I came over is I figured that you and I are sort of in the same boat if I was right about you. My relatives are going to kick me out the second they learn I know about magic because I think they knew I was a wizard and they resented it. So I figure that since I've got money, I could get a place or something till school starts. I figured you might want a better place to stay," Harry explained.
Runcorn just looked at Harry. Harry decided to wait him out and just stared back.
"A Fairbain-Sykes," Paul finally said.
"What?" Harry asked.
"You asked me what I'm carrying. It's a Fairbain-Sykes. It was my great-grandfather's. It's about all I have from my family before my step-dad kicked me out," Runcorn explained. "While my great-grandfather might not have been SAS, he was in some hodge-podge irregular group fighting in Burma. My gramps told me all the stories."
"Ah, okay I see. Sorry, you just threw me there for a second. Yeah that's a good knife. So I take it your great-grandfather did all that ungentlemanly warfare sort of thing?" Harry asked.
Paul shrugged, "The Japs weren't playing nice so our side didn't either. It wasn't an official thing but they got the job done. I also have a kukri my gramps got gifted to him but that needs a new handle.
"Cool! Mr. Chu loves those."
"Mister Chew?" Paul asked with an raised eyebrow.
"No, Mister Chu, less of an 'oo' and more of 'schoo' since he's Vietnamese. I was thinking we might be able to hang at his garage. He's got a living area above it that's alright. He mostly uses it to crash if he's had too many after work or if he has guests from out of town."
"Friend of yours?" Paul asked.
Harry nodded. "Saved his granddaughter from bullies. He's the guy who taught me about knives and how to protect myself. He's cool. You'd like him. He's like old school Vietnam vet and he's not going to look down his nose at you for being homeless. Hell, he'll like you more because it proves your resourceful and can take care of yourself."
Paul nodded at this. "Well I can't believe I'm saying this but okay, I'll take you up on the offer."
Harry frowned, "It might be because of my aura."
"Your what?" Runcorn asked.
Harry looked guilty, "My magical aura. You didn't hear it because you sat off by yourself at lunch but Lilith was telling us about magical auras and how Magicals with strong auras have people respond better to them. She's had quite a few years to read up on stuff since her older brother is already at Hogwarts. Apparently not only have I gone from penniless to really well off, I also seem to have a lot of magic. Lisa Turpin said she felt it considering I pretty much walked up to her at Heathrow and she immediately took a shine to me even though I was a complete stranger."
Paul frowned, "I'm not sure I like the sound of that."
Harry nodded, "I know! Bad enough Mandy Brocklehurst was telling us about compulsion spells, love potions and all sorts of ways to fiddle with people's minds. Fuck me running it sounds like the magical world is one big mind rape waiting to happen! But as much as learning magic sounds pretty brill I have to say it seems like you can get righteously screwed over if you're not careful."
Paul surprised Harry by laughing at this, "Yeah well that goblin hinted pretty strongly that the unwary ended up in early graves." He looked around the room again before shaking his head. "I almost feel sorry for this lot. They're soft. They're all pretty, probably got good families and money. Not to sure how they'll stand up when the shit really hits the fan. You heard the Professors; these purebloods are going to treat us like my step-dad treats the dot-heads. I doubt Justin Money-Bags over there is going to take that too well. You can bet those purebloods are going to treat him like he probably treats his domestics."
Harry sighed. Firstly at Paul's slur against Indians given how Harry was good friends with the family that ran the Gurkha Kitchen (and odd name given how they were Indians and not from Nepal) but also at the truth in the teen's words. While Granger seemed the type to have been ostracized for being a bookworm, he doubted many of the people he'd meet would be prepared for the abuse Harry was sure to come once they set foot in Hogwarts.
"You're right. All the more reason to stick together. We help them, they help us, we protect each other."
Paul laughed again, "You sound like Professor Sprout."
Harry shrugged, "I'm okay with loyalty. Besides Mr. Chu says bravery is for people too stupid to recognize they should have already been running away from a fight they can't win. I don't think I'm smart enough for this Ravenclaw House and while I've got plenty of ambition, it sounds like most people in this Slytherin House would slit my throat for what I did to this so-called Dark Lord."
Paul nodded, "You got that right. Can't get too far in life without someone to watch your back." He looked at Harry with an odd look on his face. "Seems like you've managed it."
Harry frowned, "Badly till I met Mr. Chu. Before that no one gave a damn about me." He stuck out his hand, "How about we agree to try and look out for each other for now?"
Paul rolled his eyes and frowned comically as he shook Harry's hand, "Why do I think I'm going to regret this?"
Chapter Five Preview: Tonks gets a surprise while raiding the Black library and learns that things are not as they seem.
A/N: I added a bit to this chapter while reviewing it. Not to keep piling on McGonagall but the truth is there are so many things wrong with what she and Dumbledore did to Harry. If anything, they denied him hope. Before that Hogwarts' letter, what did Harry have to look forward too? In this fic, this goes forward by a few more years. While Harry started to take steps to become master of his own fate, he now knows he was making life choices without all the information. It's also insulting, I think, to him that no one told him earlier as if he couldn't handle the knowledge.
Asian Martial Arts Master Cliché: Quite a few reviewers groaned about Mr. Chu. However as we shall see in Chapter 9, he's not a Mr. Miyagi character and would resent the comparison. He's simply a guy who came from a long line of soldiers and knows his way around a brawl. He certainly isn't teaching Harry any ancient Asian martial arts secrets. He's teaching the sort of thing you'd expect someone who was deeply involved in a guerilla war would know.
Also trying to nail down the how the name is pronounced came up with many variants. While and English speaker expects something like 'fan' it can be pronounced Poon, Pun or most commonly (if the Internet is to be believed) Pan. Likewise given the tonal nature of languages like Vietnamese, Văn doesn't sound like you'd expect either. So while one would expect (especially without the proper tonal spelling) the name to sound like Fan Van Chew, it doesn't. This will be a bit of a plot point and why he goes by Mr. Chu rather than Mr. Phần.
Never fight fair when you're fighting for your life: I got told this by a guy who would teach self-defense techniques to high security prison guards. He also was the first Baron of Fett Burg for you SCAdian types. As was said in the movie Patton, the trick isn't dying for your country; it's making the other poor bastard die for his. Of course right before the 41st Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in support of Task Force Phoenix V, BG Pritt told us our job wasn't to die for our country but to teach the Afghan soldiers how to do so for their country. Our job was to do that and come home. While dying heroically sounds good in sagas, it's a sucker's bet. You fight heroically and THEN go home and hopefully much later die a 'straw death' in bed. I'm sure Odin takes all those warriors as well given how the fought and survived.
Knives: The Ka-Bar (technically the KA-BAR™) is the knife developed for the U.S. Marine Corps in WW II and still in use today. The Fairbairn-Sykes was a commando knife developed prior to WW II by two Brits working with the Shanghai Municipal Police. It was uses by the SAS and airborne units. A kukri is an awesome "knife" used by the Gurkhas of Nepal. I say "knife" because it's more like a small hand-axe.
People watching period films will often wonder how anyone could stand Napoleonic tactics type tactics of walking into enemy fire in nice neat, orderly formations. Psychologically it is because you can't see death coming. Knives, on the other hand, are another thing entirely. A Prussian general once remarked that all European armies boasted that none stood up to their bayonet charges and they were all correct.
The reason is it is one thing to charge into bullets. It's another to stand your ground when someone is about to stick a foot of sharpened steel into your gut and twist. Not a good way to die and even seasoned troops usually broke rather than duke it out in no-holds-barred bayonet fight. Thus Harry learned from Mr. Chu that the threat of a knife was usually all it took to get people to back off him. Plus I'm sure Harry had a "Crocodile Dundee" moment when someone like Piers Porkiss pulls a switchblade on him. "That's not a knife. THIS is a knife!"
Slang & Slurs: Obviously Runcorn calling the Japanese 'Japs' or Indians 'dot-heads' is hardly politically correct. Yet in this case I see him picking the term up from his grandfather's stories and since he's never actually met any Japanese, he's hardly had a chance to have his use corrected. That and while in London I heard quite a few things white Londeners would say about Indians/Pakistanis without seeming to realize how bigoted they sounded. Sort of like how so many soldiers would refer to Iraqis (or any Middle Easterner) or Afghans as "Hadjis" Sadly an author has to write things or in ways they don't like simply to make the characters come to life.