The Boy Who Lived
Harry James Potter was having an awful night.
It started off with a run-in with those insufferable Potterheads. In a feat that brought them to new irritable heights, the Potterheads had stalked Harry from 10 Downing Street all the way to Wales. The black haired boy was able to seek refuge from his overzealous fans in John Kirk's home, but unfortunately things did not get better from there. His meeting with Elaine's family was an awkward affair that grew even more uncomfortable when Elaine's granddaughter, Hestia, had accused him of failing to save her grandmother. Harry had been able to escape to the backyard and got to spend a few pleasant minutes with Megan Jones, but it was short-lived after the Prime Minister had interrupted them with more bad news.
Some reporter had discovered the Dursleys'... unusual child care methods and had plastered the story all over Great Britain. She had talked to all the neighbors on Privet Drive, went undercover at his primary school and even snooped around Number 4 Privet Drive. Neighbors rattled on about all the chores he had to perform. His former classmates recounted several extreme episodes of Dudley's favorite pastime, 'Harry Hunting.' Teachers had revealed their written notes to administrators regarding their concern over his well-being and perhaps the most humiliating thing of all, pictures of his cupboard under the stairs were plastered over every media outlet from local papers all the way to BBC News.
Heather and Gordon had tried to cheer him up on the way back to 10 Downing Street, but Harry continued to stare dejectedly out the car window. Just when he thought he had left behind the Dursleys in Little Whinging, they were back again to haunt him. Even beyond the grave, they managed to belittle him and make him seem weak. He was Harry the Victim again and it frustrated him to no end.
Unfortunately, days after the story's release were no better. Kinglsey informed Harry that his story had reached the wizarding world as well. Apparently, both reporters were twin sisters- a witch and a muggle, and had collaborated together on the piece about him. The story in the wizarding world was a little more inflammatory than its muggle counterpart and the Daily Prophet, the wizarding newspaper, had received opinion letters proposing the extermination of muggles and calls for a Ministry-wide investigation into the matter.
Harry's response to all of this was to lock himself away in his bedroom. He was sick of the pitying looks he was receiving from the staffers at 10 Downing Street and annoyed about Heather's constant hovering. He just wanted to be treated like a normal boy again.
On the fourth day of his self-inflicted solitary confinement, there was a sharp knock on his bedroom door. Harry was ready to yell at the intruder to go away, but their voice made him pause.
"Harry, it's Gordon. Open the door now."
The seven year old sighed, knowing he could not avoid this conversation, and proceeded to slide off his bed. He padded quickly across the wooden floor until he reached the bedroom door. Harry unlocked it and cautiously pulled it open. On the other side was the Prime Minister staring down at him with a frown.
"I don't like locked doors," he informed his soon-to-be adopted son.
"Sorry, sir," Harry muttered. "It won't happen again."
"I also don't like that you've confined yourself in here. You're better than that," Gordon told him, causing the seven year old to bite down on his bottom lip in shame. After living at 10 Downing Street for almost a month, he had come to realize he hated disappointing the Prime Minister more than anyone else. This feeling of guilt was a new experience for a child who in the past had only felt bitterness when he 'disappointed' adults such as his aunt and uncle. "Can we go inside and sit down? I want to talk with you."
Harry nodded before opening the door wider and letting the Prime Minister enter his bedroom.
"Sit," he told Harry and pointed to his bed. The small boy obliged and watched Gordon place his desk chair adjacent to the bed. "Now, can you tell me why you're letting them win?"
Harry blinked at the question, "I'm sorry?"
"You're letting them win- the Dursleys, the press, everyone," Gordon told him. "You should not let the story be controlling you. You should be the one controlling the story."
"I'm not letting anyone win," Harry argued, feeling his temper begin to rise. All of the frustration and anger that had been churning in his stomach over the last four days was quickly bubbling to the surface from the Prime Minister's admonishment. "It's just that I'm sick of everyone treating me like I'm wounded. Between this and Flight 1326, it's like I'm someone everyone needs to feel sorry for and I hate that."
Gordon chewed on his bottom lip, as if he was weighing his next words, before nodding, "I understand that. This is a lot for someone your age. God knows how I would have handled this when I was seven… but unfortunately, this is a story that is not going to go away overnight, Harry. It's going to keep nipping at your heels until you get up and meet it head-on."
The boy sighed and nodded. He knew he could not hide away forever, but he had no how he was going to be able to hold his head high in public again. Everyone had seen his cupboard for God sakes. It made him feel exposed and so small, like he was a bug under everyone's shoes. All Harry wanted was to feel strong again.
"I- I just don't know how," the small boy admitted.
Gordon smiled at him and leaned over to squeeze his shoulder, "Harry, you're a clever and resilient kid who has proven to everyone time and time again that you're certainly no victim. I'm confident that you will figure out a way to take control of these stories and make it appear that you are the strong one, not the Dursleys."
Before Harry could reply, a knock on his bedroom door turned his attention elsewhere. Kingsley was standing in the hallway with his hands behind his back. The black man's face was emotionless as always.
"Sir, I was told to report here by Mrs. Rollins for Harry's lessons," the deep-voiced wizard informed the Prime Minister and then glanced over at their seating arrangement. "Should I return at another time?"
Gordon shook his head, "No, that won't be necessary, Kingsley. I don't think I could stand in Heather's way and live to tell the tale," he added, flashing a small grin in Harry's direction. The small boy returned it hesitantly. "I'll leave you two to your lessons…" Gordon got up and walked towards the door, "And Harry, I expect to hear a few ideas about combatting your press issues in forty eight hours. Is that understood?"
Harry nodded, "Yes, sir."
"Excellent," Gordon said, nodded at Kingsley and then exited his charge's bedroom.
Kingsley walked inside and they both took their usual spots in the two arm chairs in the corner of the room. The bodyguard pulled at several tomes that he had been using to tutor Harry over the last few weeks. The first was a basic wizarding history guide. It was not as in depth as any the history books he would be reading once Harry started his wizarding education, but it was acceptable for now. The next tome was about Britain's wizarding government. It gave an in-depth analysis about all of the departments within the Ministry of Magic, an overview of the Wizengamot's functions and even included a brief history of the International Confederation of Wizards. The third and Harry's least favorite was a handbook to wizarding social customs. Like any other seven year old boy, Harry turned his nose up at learning about salad forks and different types of bows but Heather had insisted upon it, so there was no way out of it for the boy. Her word was truly law in the Rollins household. The final set of books were guides to magical creatures, herbology and potion brewing. They were all wizarding topics that would be easier to study without a wand, which was why Kinglsey had included them in his wizarding curriculum.
"Before we begin, I must ask how you have been, Mr. Potter," the older wizard said in his deep voice that sometimes made Harry feel as if his ears were vibrating.
The small boy turned his eyes downward for a moment in shame. His self-induced confinement had made it clear he had not been handling the news in the muggle and wizarding worlds well. Ever since Gordon had talked to him, Harry wished he had not reacted the way he did. It had been cowardly to lock himself away, but the boy had never felt so embarrassed in his entire life. Even Dudley's teasing at school was incomparable to what he was enduring now. However, Gordon had presented him with a way out of the spotlight and Harry knew he had to find a way to seize that opportunity.
"Um, I've been better," Harry admitted, earning him a small chuckle from the bodyguard. "I just wish I was out of the papers."
Kingsley nodded and Harry knew there was no way the wizard had avoided any of the articles in the Daily Prophet about him. Harry's new troubles were front page news for almost a week now. Kingsley would have had to been living under ground to avoid all the stories.
"Unfortunately, in the wizarding world someone with a name like yours is going to be in the Prophet longer than others," Kingsley told him.
"Yeah, I've noticed," Harry quipped, trying to keep the bitterness out of his voice. It would not be the first time he wished fame was not constantly dogging him. "Mr. Rollins told me I need to think of a way to spin the story in a way that's works for me."
"I think that's an excellent idea, Mr. Potter," Kingsley said. "Do you know how you want the story to benefit you?"
It was a good question that Harry had not really pondered before. If he had been asked a few hours ago, he would have said that the only way the story would benefit him if it did not exist in the first place. Now, however, Harry knew Gordon was expecting more from him. He needed to think of something clever to win his soon-to-be adoptive father's approval.
Suddenly, a light seemed to turn on in Harry's head.
"Are there any orphanages in the wizarding world?"
Kingsley shook his head, "Not that I know of, Mr. Potter. Muggleborn and half-blood orphans are usually raised in muggle orphanages, while purebloods usually have such an extensive family tree that it is nearly impossible not to find someone is willing to take orphan children into their homes. "
Harry nodded and already, ideas were swirling around inside of his head. He could not wait to tell Gordon his plan.
It was something they should have foreseen when they decided to enact vengeance upon those who had wronged Harry. Sometimes Heather had a one-track mind when it came to getting what she desired and after seeing that wretched cupboard her soon-to-be adopted son spent nearly six years of his living sleeping in, the woman wanted to raise the Dursleys up from their graves and then kill them again.
Publicly shaming the Dursleys seemed like the perfect solution. They would no longer be pitied victims of Flight 1326. Their memories would be tarnished by the abuse and neglect they inflicted upon their own flesh and blood. Thanks to Heather and her husband, the world would never remember them fondly.
Heather had faltered though. She had not taken Harry's feelings into account when she had hired Rosemary and Rita Skeeter to perform her dirty work. Heather knew he was sensitive about the media. She knew he hated being in the spotlight, but she had been so… so furious at the Dursleys and Dumbledore and that awful Figg woman, she had lost sight of what was important: Harry's happiness.
Watching her soon-to-be adopted son mope around 10 Downing Street during the days after the articles were released by the Skeeter sisters gnawed at her heart. She wanted to gather Harry into her arms and beg for his forgiveness but if she admitted her wrongdoing, if she admitted that she and Gordon had orchestrated the entire exposé on the Dursley family, the black haired boy would probably never want to be in her presence again. Harry would hate her and she could never have that.
Heather tried to be there for Harry. She had attempted to comfort the boy, but he rejected her advances and chose to hide himself away in his bedroom. That had hurt Heather the most. Harry would rather be alone than use her as support.
It was driving Heather mad, which was why it was no surprise when she found herself in 10 Downing's kitchen after the staff had long vacated the premises. She had gotten sober when Gordon was put forward by his party as a candidate for Prime Minister, but now the bottle of brandy was mocking her in the liquor cabinet. She reached for it, her hands trembling and felt the cool glass in her hand. It would be so easy to begin again…
Heather Rollins's battle with alcoholism had stemmed from a doctor's appointment thirteen years ago. After a year of trying for a child, a doctor informed Heather that conception was not possible. She was infertile. Gordon had handled the news by throwing himself into his work. Heather had chosen a different route. She started drinking heavily, trying to erase her feelings of inadequacy. Heather was a woman. It was supposed to be natural for her to conceive a child. How was it fair that she could not do something billions of other woman could?
Heather's fingers grasped the bottle tightly. Maybe there was a reason she was barren. Maybe she was never meant to care for a child. After all, Heather had only been Harry's caretaker for a few weeks and she clearly was doing a horrendous job.
She began to unscrew the top of the bottle of brandy. Yes, maybe taking a sip would be a good idea. It would certainly make her forget she was failing Harry…
She nearly dropped the bottle in surprise as she spun around to see who had discovered her. Heather let out a sigh of relief when she realized it was only her husband. It would have been trickier to explain why she was in the liquor cabinet at 1 AM on a Friday to a staffer.
"You caught me," Heather muttered, reluctantly screwing back on the cap and then putting the bottle of brandy back in the shelf.
"When you didn't come to bed, I knew you must be down here," Gordon told her, walking towards his wife and then stopping to close the liquor cabinet. "Did you have a drink?"
Heather turned away from her husband, so he could not see her face redden, "No."
Gordon breathed a sigh of relief next to her, "Good, I'm proud that you were able to control yourself."
"Barely," she muttered, still feeling ashamed. Heather had been seconds away from throwing away years of sobriety over her guilt. It had been incredibly stupid and reckless, which was why she was shocked Gordon was not yelling at her right now.
"But you still did," her husband reminded her. "The Heather I used to know would have drank an entire bottle after Harry locked himself in his room."
Heather trembled and felt her eyes begin to water. She did not deserve his kindness, "Gordon, I was so close to ruining everything."
Her husband allowed her to bury her face into his chest. She let out a few muffled sobs that echoed in the empty kitchen. Gordon smoothed her blonde hair and whispered words of comfort into her ear. After a few minutes, she had exhausted herself from crying and looked up at her husband while wiping her eyes.
"I love you," Heather told him earnestly.
Gordon kissed the top of her head, "And I love you too." He kissed her again. This time it was on the lips. "Though I wish you had come to me earlier, Heather. I had something to tell you at dinner that would have cheered you up."
The blonde's eyes widened slightly. She had taken her meal in the privacy of her office, still reeling in guilt over her soon-to-be adopted son.
"Oh? What would that be?"
"Harry wants to take charge of the story," he told her. "I talked to him this afternoon and convinced him to be proactive about the Dursley situation. He told me at dinner tonight that he wants to open a wizarding orphanage. Apparently, there are none already in existence."
Heather instantly felt her heart fill with joy, "Really? That's a great idea!"
"I thought it was a well-thought out decision on his part," Gordon agreed. "He wants to feel less like a victim and I think by helping others he can certainly accomplish that."
Heather smiled at her husband, "I'm glad you talked to him, Gordon. Harry really looks up to you."
Her husband sighed, "I know. That's why these last few days have been so difficult for me. I feel like I let him down by letting the Skeeters publish the articles. I don't remember the last time I've felt this guilty."
Heather squeezed her husband's hand comfortingly, "I've been feeling guilty as well." She admitted. "Though I wish I had handled it like you did. I just wallowed around while you were being proactive and-"
"Stop, Heather," Gordon told her firmly. "Don't do this to yourself."
"I can't," she snapped. "Why were you able to handle this so much better than I was? I turned into a mess at the thought of Harry hating me and you turned it into a positive situation. It's not fair."
Gordon ran his hand through his hair. After fourteen years of marriage, Heather knew it was a sign of frustration, "I just never lost sight of our original goal, Heather. The Dursleys deserved to be outed for being child abusing monsters and if it taught a lesson to Harry in the process that's even better.
The boy is going to have the media hounding him for a long time. He needs to know how to handle it appropriately. That's why we're here, Heather. We are not just his caretakers. We're his teachers too. An experience like this will stick with Harry for a long time. Instead of being ashamed of his past and scared of the Dursleys, he now has an opportunity to move passed it all. God knows I wish I had the same opportunity with my father."
This had silenced Heather. She knew her husband still struggled with memories of his father. She did not know much about their father-son relationship but by the way Gordon turned frosty at any mention of the man, Heather knew it was far from loving.
"You're right," she admitted. "This will be good for Harry in the long-run… I just wish we didn't have to hurt him to help him."
"None of this would have happened if the Dursleys treated their nephew properly. Please remember that," he begged his wife. Heather knew he was doing this to keep her away from liquor cabinet and appreciated her husband's efforts, but she knew she would always feel a little guilty about the situation. Harry still had been hurt.
"I will," Heather promised. She had lost her energy to fight any longer. "Should we go to bed?"
Gordon nodded and Heather let her husband lead her out of the kitchen. It would take her hours to fall asleep.
Thank you everyone for all of your support. Harry's about to dive deeper into the wizarding world with this new plan and don't worry, there will be a wizarding inquiry about Harry's placement with the Dursleys. I haven't let Dumbledore off the hook yet. Thanks again for all of your reviews! You are all awesome. I am not sure when the next chapter will be posted because I am moving about 1,000 miles away from my current apartment in about two and a half weeks. But, now that school is out, there should definitely be a new chapter up in 3 weeks, a month max. Thanks again for your patience!