Hello, this is a first for me. I've been a reader for a long time and thought I'd try my hand at writing. I hope you enjoy.
To say Petunia Dursley was shocked to find her nephew half frozen on the doorstep one morning would be a tremendous understatement. Wrapped in her dressing gown, she stared down at him for a moment, trembling, as the air was stolen from her lungs. Feeling the shock easing, she snatched the basket inside quickly and closed the door before the neighbours noticed anything peculiar. She sagged back against the door as grief threatened to overwhelm her. There was only one reason why her nephew would be there. She felt strangely empty knowing Lily was dead. They hadn't gotten on in years but there had been love there once before magic had ruined it for them.
She pushed past the sadness quickly and moved to set the basket and child down in the living room. She picked up the letter that was nestled between its blankets and sat down to read. Sadness was quickly replaced by disbelief, then anger. Who did these people think they were? Who did they think Petunia was? Was her own family so worthless to them that they were expected to just ignore the danger of Lily's mistakes? Looking up the stairs, towards where her own child still slept, she came to a decision quickly.
This was not her problem. Professor Dumbledore had made it clear to her so many years ago that their world was not for her, and she would not sacrifice the safety and happiness of her own family to care for one of their problems.
She looked again at her nephew, who was still sleeping with unnatural calm. Steeling herself, she grabbed the basket, crossed the room and slid it, baby and all, into the cupboard under the stairs. Her husband would be up in a minute but if the child could sleep for just a few more hours Vernon would never need to know he'd been there.
Were it any other day, the occupants of the Leaky Cauldron and Diagon Alley might have paid a bit more notice to the tall, bitter faced woman carrying an infant through the pub. As it was, with the war over and Voldemort dead they were still in the midst of the biggest celebration any could remember. Giddy excitement replaced any observational skills and one odd woman waiting patiently to follow others through the wall was hardly going to attract attention.
Petunia knew exactly where she was going and what she would do. The alley had changed little since her one other visit there, so despite the laughing, revelling crowds she felt confident she knew the way. Vernon was at work and Dudley had been left apologetically with a neighbour. The child, Harry, was awake now and looked up at her with grave eyes that seemed to know far too much about what she was doing. Petunia tried not to look at him directly to avoid any creeping feelings of doubt.
Finding the shop she was after she quickly ducked inside, then paused uncertainly. Now that she was here, she wasn't quite sure how to go about it. On the other side of the dark counter, the old man she remembered watched her calmly.
"Madam," he greeted her politely, breaking the silence.
"Good morning," Petunia said awkwardly. "You're the wand maker, yes?"
"I remember you. You sold my sister her wand, back when she was a child."
"Miss Evans. Willow and dragon heartstring. A very good wand for charm work," Ollivander said, nodding. "And this… this is her son."
Petunia took an automatic step back as the man's eyes narrowed in on her nephew. There was something unnerving about his gaze that said he knew far too much. But then, they were all like that. Straightening herself, she launched into what she'd come to do.
"This is Harry Potter, my nephew and Lily's son," she told him. "I'm handing him over to you."
Ollivander stared at her, unperturbed. Under his gaze, she felt compelled to justify further.
"He's a magical, like she was. Like his father," she explained. "He's meant for your world, not mine. Yours."
"I am a very old man, Ms Evans."
"And I am deeply unsuited to raise a magical child," Petunia snapped, feeling a familiar, bitter anger that was threatening to surface. "And that's what he is, Mister Ollivander, and he belongs with his own kind."
"Perhaps he does," Ollivander agreed quietly, his eyes never leaving the boy. "This discussion would possibly be better held with Professor Dumbledore or with someone from the Ministry."
Petunia laughed at that.
"Mr Dumbledore made is perfectly clear how much he valued my opinion in his letter. And how would someone like me, a mere muggle, reach your Ministry?" Petunia said. "This is where us normal families are instructed to bring children when they are to enter your world. This is where you steal them from us. I'm bringing him exactly where we are told to, but I cannot house him for the next ten years first."
The old shop keeper remained silent, watching the boy. Harry's gaze had finally left Petunia's face and he now met the old man's eyes peacefully.
"I suppose…" Ollivander paused, seemingly thinking. "He will be a remarkable child, to be sure."
"Of course he will, he's Lily's," Petunia practically shouted, bitterness coating her words. She sighed, then continued.
"Your world destroyed my sister. The least you can do is raise her son."
"That, I suppose, we did," Ollivander said. "And if this is really what you want, then I'll take the child."
Petunia sagged in relief. Stepping forward, she set the child down on the counter.
"What do you need from me?"
"We have… ways of sorting out any bureaucratic processes your mundane agencies require. As for our world, for now the act of handing him over and your intention to be rid of him should be enough. Write two identical statements when you return home declaring your wish to relinquish custody. Include my name if you like. Sign your name in your own blood. I'll send an owl for one copy and then keep the other at hand to provide when they come for it. I would expect you will hear from Wizarding Welfare and from Professor Dumbledore himself in the next few weeks, when this is known."
"You keep them as far from me and my family as you can," Petunia said, fiercely.
"That is hardly likely to be in my control, Ms Evans."
"Dursley," she corrected. "I'm married."
Ollivander simply looked at her. Petunia shook her head and finally let herself look at her nephew properly. The boy gazed back at her with his oh-so-familiar eyes. For a few moments, everything was briefly still.
"You tell him his mother was a sweet girl once, before all this," Petunia said quietly, not yet looking away. "You tell him my side of the family is normal and respectable."
"Of course, Mrs Dursley."
"He belongs with his own kind," she said again, almost to herself.
Ollivander and the child watched her silently. Nodding, she stepped back to the door.
Her sister's eyes watched her leave for the last time. She could not be held to their judgement anymore.
It took a surprisingly long time for Albus Dumbledore to realise something wasn't right with Harry Potter's living arrangements. Wrapped up in the political situation, dozens of trials and the tragedy of the Longbottoms, he didn't properly examine his monitoring spells for several weeks after he'd left the child in Little Winging. When he did and found them unresponsive, he left it still further, assuming Petunia Dursley and her nephew hadn't yet come to accept each other. The spells were based on both she and the boy thinking of the house as his home.
A solid month after Halloween, Dumbledore finally made the trip back to Privet Drive, believing he was only going to re-trigger the wards. A rather nasty surprise awaited him when he arrived.
"What do you mean he doesn't live here?" Albus asked, aghast.
"Just what I said," Vernon Dursley said, testily. "Why would he? Petunia told me about her sister and her husband. Very sad for you lot I'm sure, but what can you expect from the life they were leading?"
"Petunia told you- is Mrs Dursley available?"
Vernon looked at him suspiciously. He was not impressed by the mad old man with his unconventional beard and had no intention of inviting him in.
"She's with our son," he replied. "Head around the back. I'll tell her to meet you at the rear door."
Dumbledore made his way to the back alley, picking his way through the bins. Entering through the rear gate, he found Petunia already waiting for him in the yard, door closed firmly behind her. There was no sign of her own son, who Dumbledore assumed was now with Vernon.
"Good afternoon, Mrs Dursley," he tried to begin pleasantly. She was having none of it.
"What do you want, Professor?"
"Mr Dursley must have told you, I'm here to check on little Harry. Where is he?"
"Not here. Why would you assume he was?"
"Mrs-" Dumbledore cut himself off, then started again. "Do not play the fool with me, Mrs Dursley. I assure you I can be much more direct if I must. Harry Potter was left on your doorstep late in the night on October 31st. My wards kept him from being disturbed or injured until collected by yourself, which I have record of occurring. Where is he now?"
Petunia stayed silent for a moment, then shifted and produced a folded piece of paper from one of her pockets. She held it out to Dumbledore, smirking a little as she did so. He took it, eyeing her warily as he started to read. She watched him, still smirking as he grew progressively paler. Finally, he looked up at Petunia.
"Who else do I know? Lily said every magical child in England gets taken there, so he can't be too much of a danger."
"You foolish, foolish woman," Dumbledore whispered. Petunia merely raised an eyebrow.
"Are we done then?"
Dumbledore disapparated without further comment. Shrugging, Petunia went back into the house. Hopefully that would be all the excitement for the day.
Dumbledore reappeared in Diagon Alley, drawing friendly greetings from several street peddlers. He strode towards his destination, bursting in moments later. Ollivander stood waiting for him, calm and unfazed.
"Professor," he greeted him. "What can I do for you today?"
"Don't play with me, Garrick," Dumbledore snapped. "Signed in blood? You tricked her into a blood based contract!"
"I hardly tricked her," Ollivander protested mildly, "She wanted a permanent way to be rid of the child, I merely provided it. Would you prefer I'd sent her to the goblins?"
Dumbledore looked at him flatly.
'You can't possibly expect to keep him."
"Oh, but I do, Albus. Harry is a delightful child. I'm growing quite attached to him."
Ollivander leaned back and looked down, drawing Dumbledore's attention to the basket he had nestled on the floor behind the counter. In it, the Boy Who Lived napped peacefully.
"He's too old to sleep through the whole day of course," Ollivander told him. "But I've found he's quite a content young boy, very happy with a few simple toys and gentle attention from myself here and there. He's explored every corner of my flat upstairs in the evening and during the days he totters around behind the counter here quite happily, watching people come and go."
"You've let others see that he's here?" Dumbledore asked, aghast.
"Only those that wouldn't recognise him and mean him no harm either way," Ollivander looked at him gravely. "With my line of work, you'll find I'm a rather good judge of character and intent, Albus. And I'm aware of the vulnerability of my ward."
"He cannot stay here, Garrick."
"He can," Ollivander corrected. "I have the blood-signed intent of his closest relation, the guardian you chose for him. That will outrank the claim of any other wizard you could find, beyond the boy's godfather. You don't mean to suggest Harry should live in Azkaban do you?"
Dumbledore stared at him, still processing what had happened. Harry Potter had been here for a month already. If he took this before the Wizengamot his own claim would be severely questionable, especially in light of the failure of his first choice of guardian. Even if Ollivander lost, the Malfoys would promptly file their own case for custody as the boy's next closest relatives. The Tonkses might do the same, but their chances of winning against the Malfoys' gold was slim, even this recently after Lucius' own legal troubles.
It couldn't be risked. Dumbledore, ever the tactician, started quickly revising his plans on the spot.
"People will certainly find out he's here," he began out loud. Ollivander was unfazed.
"That's fine, let them. It will be healthy for the child to get used to the attention he'll get while he's still young. Perhaps some of the awe will wear off if they get used to seeing him around."
"Perhaps," Dumbledore agreed, still caught in his musings. "You'll need extra security, though. Your wards certainly need updating."
"If you think it's necessary," Ollivander replied, his mystical persona returning.
"It is," Dumbledore said, firmly. "I'll implement a new set over the premise myself. Harry is not to be taken outside of the shop and the flat under any circumstances, for at least the first few years. Understood?"
Ollivander inclined his head.
"I will assign you one of the Hogwarts elves, too," Dumbledore continued. "One that's good with small children."
"Only a foolish man turns down a helping hand," Ollivander said by way of agreement.
"Just be careful about which hands you accept," Dumbledore replied, dryly. He leant forward to look over the counter at the sleeping toddler. "Very well, Garrick, we'll give this a try. I'll support you with the Ministry when they get wind of this, and they most certainly will."
"Very good of you, Professor."
Dumbledore nodded and turned to leave again.
"I'll be back later today to begin work on your wards and other… details," he said. "Keep that boy safe, Garrick. If you fail, you may doom us all."
Ollivander watched the doorway for a few minutes after the professor's departure. Finally, he looked down at his ward once again.
"Let's hope it doesn't come to that."