"Harry Potter and the Trouble With Neurotypicals: Book 2"
By = Fayanora
Note: Fanfiction. Not making money off this. J. K. Rowling gets all the credit for the Potterverse.
Book Two: Aspie Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Chapter One: My, How The Tables Have Turned
After getting off the school train at Platform 9 3/4th, he went through the platform with his trunk and saw Dumbledore there. He was looking very odd in a three-piece purple velvet suit, shoes made of what looked like snakeskin but was clearly (to Harry) dragon hide, his beard trimmed so it went no farther than the middle of his silver tie with green stars.
"Nice suit sir," Harry told him when he got in range.
"Why thank you, Harry. That's nice of you to say. Come, we are going to take a cab to The Leaky Cauldron before we go to your aunt and uncle's house."
"You trimmed your beard," Harry noted.
The old man chuckled. "Oh no, my dear boy; I didn't trim it. I..." he looked around carefully for eavesdroppers before continuing in a whisper, "I used magic on it, of course. It will return to normal later."
"Well that's good. It's a fine, distinguished beard you have, sir."
Dumbledore chuckled again and called a cab. Two cabs passed them by, their drivers almost crashing from staring at Dumbledore's suit, before one finally stopped. This man's jaw was open most of the time they got situated, and it was only with a mighty effort of will that he closed it again and forced himself to focus on the road as he drove them to their destination.
Once they got into The Leaky Cauldron, Dumbledore sent Harry's trunk ahead to his bedroom, and had Harry take his arm for side-along apparition.
"I warn you, Harry, the first trip usually makes people ill for a time."
"Thanks for the warning."
Sure enough, when they found themselves in a familiar but unexpected house smelling of cats, Harry bent over sick. Luckily, there was a bucket right there, which he vomited into.
As he wiped the sick from his mouth, he said, "Lucky this bucket was here."
"Luck had nothing to do with it, Harry m'dear," said a familiar female voice. "Dumbledore told me you were coming, and that it was your first apparition trip."
Harry looked up, and was astonished to see Mrs. Figg in her slippers, navigating a living room floor full of cats to walk over to him.
"M-Mrs. Figg? You're a witch?"
"Me a witch? Ha! Don't I wish. I couldn't so much as transfigure a teabag, boy. I'm a squib, I am."
"Oh. I thought squibs only lived in the wizarding world?"
"Oh no, no. Squibs are born to wizarding parents, it doesn't matter which world we live in. I live a little in both worlds, I guess you could say. Here, have some tea, get the nasty taste out of your mouth."
Harry took it and sipped, recovering fully at last. The tea seemed to work mostly by replacing one disgusting taste with another, but at least this one was more tolerable. "Begging your pardon, both of you, but why are we here? Why didn't we just apparate into... wait, never mind. I answered my own question." Suddenly appearing in the Dursley's house, with a loud crack? That would have been suicide.
"Yes, quite right, Harry," Dumbledore said. "It is, of course, rude to apparate right into someone's house. Unless, of course, you call ahead and get permission first."
"Well that's one reason," Harry agreed. "I suppose this was only possible because you're a squib, Mrs. Figg? A wizarding household would have wards, I'm guessing."
Mrs. Figg blinked, impressed. "You always surprise me with your intelligence, young man. Not that... oh dear." she turned red.
"Oh don't worry about it," Harry said, knowing what she was saying. "You were raised in a different culture, one with a different definition of racism. It's taken me a bit of getting used to myself."
After he finished the horrid tea, Harry said his thanks, and he and Dumbledore left to go to the Dursley's. Harry felt very nervous about this, very worried despite everything. After all, he was going back to the house where he'd been abused for 10 years, and the precautions Dumbledore had promised were still abstract to him, Netty the house elf aside.
It was only then that he began to really think about the house elves. They were something he was going to have to do more research about. He wasn't sure what he thought about them, yet, except that he got the feeling they were an entire species of servants. He wondered if they got paid, and if so, how much?
When the door of the Dursley house opened up, Vernon's face went from 'oh it's you is it?' to 'whaaaa?' in two seconds flat, as he stared agog at Dumbledore.
"Greetings, Mr. Dursley. I am Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts. May we come in?"
Vernon said nothing; he didn't look like he could even think at the moment.
"I shall take that as a yes, then. Come, Harry."
They stepped in, as Vernon gave no resistance.
"Vernon, who is it? Who's at the..." Petunia saw Dumbledore and she, too, imitated a Venus Flytrap with her mouth.
"Greetings, Mrs. Dursley. I am Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts."
"Mummy, what's going oaAAAAHHH," Dudley shouted, running away from Dumbledore so fast he tripped over his own feet, and slammed his bedroom door shut. Dudley must have picked up on Dumbledore's wizardishness even through the weird suit.
"Dudders?" Petunia had been brought out of her fugue by her son's scream. "Dudders? Are you..." Confused, she turned back to Dumbledore, recognizing at last what she'd missed before. "You!" she snapped. "What are you doing in my house?"
"Your husband graciously let us in."
Petunia looked at Vernon, who was snapping out of his own fugue at last, then turned back to Dumbledore with a look that could have broken glass.
"Anyway, as I said, I am Professor-"
"I heard you the first time," she rudely interrupted.
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled gleefully. "Good," he said. "I was concerned; you seemed to have lost the ability of independent movement. Glad to hear that I needn't have worried."
The idea that Dumbledore worried about them made strange, conflicted expressions cross both the Dursley's faces.
"Well, now that I am here, I can do as I told you in my letter I would do, and explain Harry's continuing arrangements. Please, sit down, both of you. Dudley," he called across the house, "you will need to be here, too."
Neither of them looked pleased to be ordered around in their own house, but complied all the same. Dudley poked his head out of his bedroom and shouted "NO!"
"Dudders," Petunia said in a shaky voice. "Best do what he says, popkin."
Dudley glared at Dumbledore, then slowly made his terrified way over, sitting next to his mother.
"Good," Dumbledore said, sitting down himself. "Now, when I asked you two to watch over Harry like he was your own son-"
"You mean when you dropped him on our doorstep without so much as a by-your-leave?" Petunia shot back.
"Yes, sorry about that. But time was of the essence. The blood wards that protect Harry from Voldemort and his supporters while he lives here could only be put up within a limited time. And given our... previous correspondence Petunia, I naturally assumed the two of you would be fit for the job."
"We almost didn't take him," Petunia snapped. "I don't know why I did. Moment of weakness, I guess. Should have dropped him off at an orphanage."
"Given what Harry has told me about his treatment here, and what Poppy has said about the scars she found in her examinations of him, it may have been better if you had."
"ARE YOU ACCUSING US OF CHILD AB-"
"YES, Mister Dursley, I am indeed accusing you of child abuse," Dumbledore snapped, the sparkles in his eyes gone and a tone of cold fury in his words. "And were it not for the blood wards and the threat of Voldemort returning, I would give him over to a kind and loving family like the Weasleys in a heartbeat. In fact, had I known what sort of a life he would have had here, I would never have left him here to begin with."
He sighed, calming down a little in a way that reeked of sorrow. "But what's done is done. The wards have proven themselves invaluable, having saved Harry's life just a few days ago. Even so, when I offered Harry certain protections from the three of you while he lives here, a part of me hoped he would decline the offer. But rest assured, you will not be abusing or neglecting your nephew ever again. I have authorization from the Ministry of Magic to cast certain-"
"MINISTRY OF MAGIC?" roared Vernon. "Weirdos like you in the govern-"
"QUIET!" Dumbledore said so loudly and angrily that even Harry fell backwards in fright.
"Better," he continued. "Now, as I was saying, I have been given authorization to cast certain spells on the house that will keep you three from hurting young Harry ever again." He stood up, waved his wand a few times, and then sat down again.
"There. Let us test it, shall we. Mr. Dursley, if you would attempt to hit your nephew."
Vernon glared suspiciously at Dumbledore, his desire to hit Harry fighting the knowledge that this was surely a trap. "Why should I? Not saying the little fr—EEK!" Mr. Dursley put his hands to his mouth in a panic, standing up and gesticulating madly. This set off Mrs. Dursley, but when she tried ranting angrily at Dumbledore, she did the same thing as her husband. Dudley took off running back to his room.
Harry laughed, remembering the tongue-tying hex Dumbledore had told him about, knowing this must be the result of the hex. Then he noticed that his uncle had been stopped from throwing things at Dumbledore by another spell, his arms being forced behind his back. Harry snorted with laughter at this, but refrained from more laughter out of habit.
"An excellent test, don't you think, Harry?"
They waited while the Dursleys finally realized the futility of fighting, and stopped struggling, sitting down again once the spell eased up on them. With a flick of his wand, Dumbledore made Dudley come zooming back into place as well. When the chaos died down again, he spoke.
"Good. Now, prepare yourselves, for I have someone I want you to meet. She will be Harry's bodyguard while he is here, making sure he gets enough to eat, and giving him a person to speak with, who doesn't hate him. Aside from friends he may wish to have over, of course."
Both Dursleys no doubt wanted to say something, such as 'he has friends?' or 'over my dead body!' but they didn't dare, for fear their tongues would be tied again. So they just blanched, instead.
"I must also warn you not to have muggle visitors over," he explained to the Dursleys. "For the being of whom I speak is not a human; she is a house elf."
The Dursleys didn't know what to make of this, and it showed on their faces.
"You should call her, Harry, as she is your tertiary guardian now."
"Um, okay Professor. Uh... Netty!"
A small pop and then screaming from the Dursleys announced the arrival of the short, green-skinned female elf with her large, batlike ears and large protruberant eyes; eyes that Harry finally noticed were bright, sky blue.
Luckily, the spells soon had the Dursleys down for the count and quiet. Netty was glaring at them and clucking her tongue disapprovingly momentarily, before turning to Harry. "Hello again, Harry Potter sir," she said, bowing.
"There's no need for that, Netty," Harry said uncomfortably.
She stood back up, looking uncertain. "Sorry, Harry Potter sir. Netty is not familiar with your ways, yet. Netty is doing better next time, sir."
"Netty, relax. You're doing fine," Harry said. "I know we barely know each other, but please, try to think of me as a friend. We're just friends, and you're just here helping out a friend."
Netty raised an eyebrow. "Um... okay, Harry Potter sir."
"And please, you can just call me Harry."
The house elf's face contorted in confusion so badly that Harry was concerned briefly, before she said, "Begging your pardon, Harry Potter sir, but Netty is not feeling comfortable with that order. It is contradicting Netty's training."
"It wasn't an order. Nothing I tell you is an order unless I specifically say it is, okay Netty?"
She relaxed at that. "Thank you, Harry Potter sir."
"If you need to be more formal, then you can just shorten it to 'sir.' You don't have to say my name every time."
Netty bowed again, stopping halfway as she remembered he didn't want that, and stood back up. "Understood, sir."
"Yes," Dumbledore said with amusement. "Netty here is charged with keeping watch over young Harry here. She'll make sure you're feeding him enough and treating him, at the very least, with civility. She will not go anywhere she can be seen by your neighbors or any other muggles. But I warn you, she does have magic that she can employ if she needs it to do her job as I have defined it. So if you don't want to see any magic in the house, I suggest you do your duty as guardians."
They made no response but to nod mutely, like their spirits had been broken.
"Good. Now, I must be off. Harry, Netty, I shall see you in September."
"Fare well, Professor Dumbledore sir!"
He twirled on the spot, and disappeared with a tiny, barely audible pop. Once he left, Netty looked around the house, inspecting it. Harry, not knowing what else to do, followed her.
"Netty is afraid she is going to get bored here, sir. This house is almost too clean. Is your family doing all this without magic, sir?"
"Yeah, my aunt is a bit of a neat freak. Cleans all the time, sometimes even if I'd already cleaned it. And sometimes... but never mind."
"Well, this is going to be... ah, this is being much better," Netty said, upon opening the door to his room. "Netty is having something to clean! Er... if it is being fine with you, sir?"
"Of course. Just make sure not to throw any papers out without consulting me first, unless I've already chucked it in the bin. And make sure I can find my stuff."
He went over to his trunk and rifled through it for a book to read. It was late, and he'd had a long day. But then he set the book aside, and took out his two-way mirror instead. He spent the next hour or two telling Luna about the day, while Netty cleaned Hedwig's cage, got Hedwig some food, and did his laundry for him. Before that, though, she brought him sandwiches and some tomato soup and insisted he eat, for which he was grateful, and thanked her. She grinned and bowed just her head, then continued with the rest of her work.
Life at Privet Drive now was... interesting. He no longer had to worry about being hit, or yelled at. In fact, the Dursleys hardly said two words to him all week. Nor did they look directly at him, as though afraid they'd lose their self control if they did. But this was far from a problem for Harry, especially now that he had Netty to talk with.
The second week back, Harry invited Luna over to the house, just to meet there before going to the local library together. Netty didn't like them going off out of her sight, but he convinced her that he'd never run into trouble in Little Whinging before, so she didn't press the issue.
"You must be Netty," Luna said when they first met. She held out a hand to the little elf. "I am most pleased to meet you, Netty. My name is Luna Lovegood."
Netty took Luna's hand, grinning. "Netty is liking you, Luna Lovegood ma'am."
"And I like you, too, Netty. Ready, Harry?"
Harry put his wand in his pocket just in case, and followed her out the door. "We'll be back by suppertime, Netty."
"What? Is you not coming for lunch?"
"I've got money, we'll get something out. Don't worry about it, Netty."
"Okay, if you is saying so."
Harry rushed out the door, walking arm in arm with Luna. They talked about interesting things they'd read for a few minutes. It was only when they were well away from number 4 that Luna changed the subject.
"By the way, Harry, Ron wanted me to tell you he's still waiting for a reply to his last letter. I told him it's only been a week, but you know Ron."
"What letter? I haven't received any letters from anyone yet."
"Really? Well, we'll have to talk with Hedwig about it when we get back."
"Are you sure he didn't use Errol? If he did, the poor bird probably passed out halfway here and is resting on a tree or something. That's assuming he's not an ex-owl."
"If he's not an owl, what else would he be?" she asked curiously.
"Never mind, it was an obscure reference."
When they got back from the library, they did indeed check with Hedwig. It was hard, but Luna thought Hedwig's exasperated and annoyed looks meant she'd been mysteriously losing his mail, and was really peeved about it. But with no better form of communication with her, they had no idea what was going on.
"I suppose I could ask Netty to look into it," he said.
"Ah, good thinking, Harry."
Netty popped into place in front of him. "Yes, sir? You is wanting me for something?"
"We think someone's been intercepting my mail. Ron sent a letter that I should have received by now, and Hedwig informs us the mail has been vanishing en route. Is it possible you could investigate this for me, whenever you have spare time?"
She bowed her head a little, and said, "Yes, sir! Netty is looking into it right now!" Then she disapparated.
Over the next week, the mail kept getting intercepted, and Netty kept popping away to look into the matter. Harry had to resort to using Luna to relay messages to Ron. He had no idea about Hermione; did she have an owl? No, he remembered she didn't. But she hadn't phoned, either, and she had his number. He also hadn't heard anything from his three Slytherin friends or Hagrid, either.
Finally, halfway into the third week, Netty popped into place in front of Harry's bed, wrestling another house elf. This one was little like Netty. His eyes were green and shaped like tennis balls, and he was filthy, wearing a pillowcase that looked like it hadn't been washed in decades.
Netty is bringing you the culprit, sir!" she announced as she wrestled a stack of letters from Dobby and tossed them at Harry, who caught them and set them aside.
Harry got up and leaned over to look at the other house elf. When the elf saw him, he relaxed, and bowed his head at Harry. "So long has Dobby wanted to meet you, sir! The famous Harry Potter, who defeated the Dark Lord. Dobby-"
"Why did you steal my mail?" Harry asked, a lot more calmly than he felt.
"Oh sir, Dobby is terribly sorry. Dobby is come with a warning, sir. Dobby is overhearing something most dire, plans to make terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year. And Dobby must keeps Harry Potter safe, for he is too precious-"
"That doesn't explain why you stole my mail."
"Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts! It is very dangerous for him now. Dobby is thinking, if Harry Potter is not hearing back from his friends, that he may not want to go back."
Harry actually laughed at this. "Oh my goodness... Dobby, if you knew what it was like here before I got Netty here to help me, you would understand. I hate it here! I'm only here to fulfill my part of a spell that protects me from Vold-"
Dobby and Netty both gasped.
"-emort," Harry continued, "and his followers. Hogwarts is my home. Dangerous or not, I am going back. By the way, what is supposed to happen at Hogwarts? What's the danger?"
Dobby gritted his teeth. Still being held down by Netty, Dobby banged his head against the floor.
"What are you doing?" Harry shouted, horrified. "Stop it! Stop hurting yourself!"
To Harry's surprise (but not Netty's), Dobby stopped at once. "Sorry, Harry Potter sir. But Dobby is almost saying something he ought not, and had to punish himself."
"Well I forbid you to punish yourself, Dobby."
"Thank you, Harry Potter sir. You truly are greater than Dobby has heard."
"Is there anything at all you can tell me about the danger?"
"Only that dark things are being plotted, sir."
"Does this have anything to do with Vold- sorry, with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?" Harry asked, a tone of sarcasm in his voice.
Dobby looked strangely at Harry. "Not... not He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, no."
Something in the elf's behavior seemed to be trying to give him a clue. "Does he have a brother?"
"Not to my knowledge, sir."
"Well if not him, I don't know who else could do horrible things at Hogwarts."
Dobby was still behaving strangely. But whatever clue he was trying to indicate, Harry couldn't figure it out. He walked away to think a little, barely noticing Dobby and Netty discussing him; Netty told Dobby how Harry treated house elves with respect like equals, how polite and kind he was, and when Dobby asked about the rumors that Harry had faced Voldemort at the end of his first school year, Netty looked to Harry as if to ask him the same question.
"Yes, I did meet You-Know-Who a few weeks ago at the end of school." At which Dobby began to wax poetic about how brave and bold Harry was. It was distracting him from thinking, though.
"Dobby, I don't care how dangerous it is, Hogwarts is my home. My true home."
"Begging your pardon, sir?" said Netty. "But what is we to do with him?"
"Dobby, you work for someone else, right?"
"Yes. Dobby has a family, sir."
"Then why do you look so filthy?"
"It is... it is how the family is wanting Dobby to be, Harry Potter sir."
Harry examined the small elf. "Are those... are those bandages on your hands?"
Dobby sniffed. "Y-yes, sir. Dobby is not allowed to be out here, to be warning you. The only way Dobby is able to do it, is he had to iron his hands."
Tears welled in Harry's eyes, and he knelt on the ground by the small elf, putting a comforting hand on Dobby's shoulder. "I'm sorry to hear that. I guess you and I have something in common."
"W-what? What is you meaning, Harry Potter?"
"Before Netty came into my life, and the spells Dumbledore put on this house to make them behave, I... well, I spent 10 years of my childhood a slave in this house, beaten and abused, underfed and..." Harry shuddered, and was unable to continue. He had to take a few minutes to calm himself down from saying that much. He hadn't noticed before how bad these slips of his made him feel, but here with Dobby, he finally noticed. It was hard, talking about these things.
"Dobby is sorry to hear that, Harry Potter sir. Dobby is having no idea. Still, you is doing better now. And you is alive. You must not go to Hogwarts."
"You're not stopping me."
Dobby surprised Netty and broke out of her grasp, running off to another part of the house. They ran after him, and found him in the kitchen hovering a crock pot in the air.
"Don't you dare, Dobby."
"Sorry, sir, but I must."
"Netty will catch it, Harry Potter sir!" she leapt up and it began to fall. She snapped her fingers and it slowed to a stop. But Dobby had vanished with a loud crack.
As she put the crock pot back, Harry looked bewildered. "What did he do that for? Why not just disapparate the moment he got free of you?"
"WHAT THE BLAZES WAS THAT?"
They turned, and saw Vernon Dursley standing in the door.
"Honestly, boy... one of those... things is bad enough, without two of the little ACK!" He growled and went to the living room to wait for his tongue to untie.
Harry and Netty shrugged. Harry resolved to ask Dobby what he'd been attempting to do if he ever saw the elf again, and went about his business.
Later that day, Netty was getting dinner ready when Harry came in. Noticing she was carrying a very large dish that obscured her vision, Harry said, "Here, Netty, let me help you with that." He took it from her and set it on the table.
She sighed with relief as he followed her into the kitchen. "You is ever so polite and kind, Harry Potter sir. Netty is not knowing where you is getting it from," she said, glaring behind her at the Dursleys. "But it is surely not coming from them."
"Actually, it is from them, in a way," he whispered. "I was their servant for 10 years. More like their slave, really. Being polite was expected of me."
"Oh, Harry Potter sir, Netty is wishing she is knowing back then and is being able to help, she is. Being a servant is no place for a wizard, sir."
This made him think about Dobby's words. "Netty, are house elves paid for their work?"
She shook her head very violently. "Oh no, Harry Potter sir. House elves is not paid, sir."
"So you're slaves, then?"
"Well... some muggle-born wizards is thinking so, Harry Potter sir, but, well... I is not really supposed to say this, sir, but we house elves have long memories, we do. We is passing knowledge from one generation to the next, through the centuries, as well as training our children to work. One story tells of how house elves is once free, long ago."
"Yes," she said, shuddering. "Freedom is being scary and dangerous for house elves, though. We is being even shorter when we is living free back then, and there is many things in the world that would eat house elves."
"But you can do magic. Didn't that help?"
"We... we is having magic back then, yes... but that magic is being very weak, sir. The Story is telling how we is seeing wizards with many animals in their warm houses, protected from dangers by magic, and we Bargained with them one day. Wizards is getting loyal servants, and house elves is getting strong magic, protection, and food in exchange."
"I see. So it's supposed to be a symbiosis—a mutually beneficial relationship?"
"Yes, Harry Potter sir. But, well... some wizards is forgetting that. Some wizards is taking us for granted, sir. They is knowing we dare not disobey."
"And thus, poor souls like Dobby."
"So what do you want, if not freedom?"
"We is wanting kindness, compassion, good treatment, loyalty, appreciation for our own loyalty, and praise for our good work, sir."
"Well I just want to tell you, in case I forget, that I do appreciate your work, and your loyalty."
"Thank you, sir. Netty appreciates it."
"Do you get treated well in Hogwarts?"
"Oh yes. Hogwarts house elves is very happy."
"How many of you are there, in Hogwarts?"
"Well over one hundred, sir. Netty is not sure the exact number."
He nodded. It was good to know, and made him feel a little better. They were sentient beings, and could talk, but their relationship with wizards was of a nature similar to that between dogs and humans. Still, he felt bad for Dobby; poor, mistreated Dobby.
"Dobby would probably take freedom, even if it meant his magic got weak," Harry said.
"If Dobby were freed, sir, Dobby's magic would not get weak. He is only one house elf. As long as most house elves is working, sir, the magic remains. All of us would have to be freed for our magic to weaken, sir, and Netty is hoping that never happens."
"Well if it means that much to your people, I have the same hope. I just wish there were something I could do for Dobby."
"Netty too, sir; Netty too."
[End of chapter 1]