The Harry Potter world is not mine. J.K.R. planted this garden, I am just adding a few weeds of my own.
Harry Potter, the boy who lived, ran like his life depended on it. In a very real way, it did. After a childhood of being kept on the edge of starvation and neglected development, Harry Potter was rail thin. For the majority of his life so far his two forms of exercise were forced manual labor at his aunt and uncle's house and running from his physically abusive cousin. If Harry had been in better health, with proper exercise and diet, escaping his cousin Dudley would have been easy. Dudley's two major forms of exercise were over eating and beating up Harry.
Life for Harry had been on of perpetually misery. Hope for something better had finally arrived on Harry's eleventh birthday. Hope in the form of that first letter from Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry delivered by his first friend, Hagrid. Harry suddenly had a whole new world opened to him. A new world that came with friends, enemies, and a blessing from the gods in the form of the wizarding sport called Quidditch. Hogwarts was everything Harry could hope for.
Harry was raised by his relatives to be a thing; He was deigned any chance to be an individual, or even a human. When he entered into the world of magic, Harry was no longer a no-body. Hogwarts became the home Harry had always wanted. Ample Food, close friends, and people that didn't see him as an embarrassment. School was a chance for Harry to be Harry. And then there was Quidditch, a fantastic game of magic and skill. A chance for Harry to prove he could succeed on his own strengths and abilities. Every year after the first, Harry looked to school as his escape from purgatory at the Dursley's.
Each year at school, Harry faced new challenges. Every year at Hogwarts Harry learned more about his family and the world of magic he now belonged to. Then there came Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts.
The year of the Dark Lord's return. The Triwizard Tournament came to Hogwarts, bringing with it new challenges, new faces, new friends, and new dangers. Harry's fourth year had started with an air of excitement, and ended in tragedy. Voldemort had returned to start a new bid for power and immortality. Harry had been forced to watch his fellow student die at the Dark Lord's order. The unwillingness of the Minister of Magic to accept the truth threatened to divide the wizarding world of England.
Harry Potter had returned to the Dursley's home on Privet Drive after his tragic fourth year. The first few weeks of his summer holiday Harry fought with the guilt and helplessness of what had happened. Feelings shame, helplessness, fear, and anger rose and fell in waves. Every morning owls had brought letters that stirred Harry's emotions into a storm.
Friends and teachers from school, and total strangers that were fans of 'The boy who lived' sent letters of support. The people that knew and believed the truth of what happened wanted to encourage Harry and help him see that the tragedy was not his fault. People that didn't know the whole story sent letters of congratulations for winning the Triwizard Tournament. But every morning also brought the other letters.
They were the letters that came from the dedicated fans of people like Rita Skeeter. Letters from the kind of people always ready to believe the worst about anybody. They were the letters that accused Harry of winning the tournament by riding on the misfortune of others. People that Harry had never met sent letters that called him a cheat, and worse. Letters that made Harry feel worse about what had happened.
There were some letters Harry just wasn't sure what to do with; the letters from Cho Chang. Each letter was painful for Harry to read. The letters would start out politely, but would ramble. It was obvious that Cho was still grieving for Cedric Diggory. Parts of the letters would be cool, and almost friendly. Other parts were filled with expressions of grief and anger and pain. There was very little that Harry could answer. He wrote back with sympathy for her loss, acceptance of the blame and anger, and apologies for whatever he could think of. Every letter was painful to read, but Harry saved every one.
Imposable as it would seem, it was Dudley that rescued Harry from his private sea of misery. Dudley, on the warpath from being denied the over ample amounts of junk food he craved, was "Harry Hunting." Not wanting to be used for a punching bag, Harry abandoned his self torment in favor of self preservation. Fortified by gifts of food from Mrs. Weasley, Harry wasn't as starved as his aunt, uncle, and fat cousin believed. Harry was soon evading Dudley's attempts to do physical harm.
Dudley was frustrated by Harry's ability to get away. In less then a week, Dudley recruited his old gang to help with the "Harry Hunting." There were now three hunters pursuing Harry almost daily. Harry had thought briefly about locking himself away in his room, or using the threat of telling his godfather the convicted and escaped mass murderer Sirius Black. But before ether idea could take hold, another thought came forward in Harry's mind. It was the memory of his duel in the graveyard with Voldemort.
Harry had survived that duel by running and dodging. He had escaped from a pack of full grown Dark Wizards by being fast on his feet. Harry knew Voldemort would be after him again. The Death Eaters would chase Harry down at their master's bidding. Even though he was still shy of his fifteenth birthday, Harry new his best chance of surviving the attack of a more powerful wizard was by getting away. So Harry ran.
Dudley and his gang chased Harry, but they couldn't match him for pure speed. They tried to use numbers to wear him down or tried to force him into enclosed areas. For weeks, Harry spent his days running, dodging, and evading his Cousin's little gang. Through the yards and streets of the neighborhood, Harry ran as if his life depended on it. Because he knew that some day, it just might.
Out of necessity, Harry spent his evenings studying and working on his summer homework. Still trying not to think too much about the end of last term, he threw himself at the assignments with determination. Hermione may do better on the assignments, but Harry was sure he would beat her on the sheer volume of composition. Inevitably, the owl post thinned out. Hate mail came less frequently, and was immediately dumped into the trash. Harry tried to send polite thanks to the people that had sent encouraging letters.
Eventually the fan mail thinned down to a few steady correspondences from his new pen friends. Some of the fan mail Harry fully intended to save until he could share it with his best friend, Ron Weasley. Apparently Ginny Weasley wasn't the only girl to have a crush on "The Boy Who Lived." Some of the fan mail had included some very affectionate letters and a few suggestive wizarding photographs of young witches that waved, winked, and even flashed.
Only two of Harry's new pen friends attended Hogwarts. Terrie Shire was a fifth year Hufflepuff that Harry vaguely remembered from Herbology. She was plane girl with dusty blonde hair, and though it was a little hard to tell under school robes, she appeared to be a little plump. The second Hogwarts student, Ian Smith, was a seventh year Ravenclaw Harry had never seen in person.
Tiffany De'Fay was a Home schooled Irish Witch of sixteen. Thomas Johnson and John Thompson were both fifth year students at a small wizarding school in Southern Whales. With his correspondence with them in addition to Ron, Hermione, Cho, Hagrid, and Sirius, Hedwig was having her busiest summer ever. However, she didn't seem to mind.
It was July 28th and Harry was enjoying his daily run. It wasn't so much that Harry liked running. He liked the escape from the real problems that haunted him. Harry was getting better at escaping Dudley, and was even able to give voice to some well worded taunts. Just to keep Dudley and company interested. Harry had just led them on a merry chase through the alley behind a collection of small shops. The trash bins and scattered litter gave Harry plenty to dodge around, helping to improve his agility and to slow down his pursuers. Harry cast a quick look over his shoulder as he cleared the alley to see his determined hunters' red faces blowing hard as they tried to keep up. They couldn't see the grin on Harry's face as he rounded the corner.
Harry had just turned to run past the front of the row of shops. There were few people, so he didn't have to worry about accidentally running into anybody. Behind him, Harry heard his cousin just coming around the corner. Then the pain hit. With an electrifying jolt, pain exploded from the lightning shaped scar on Harry's forehead.
"Avada Kedavra!" a voice echoed through Harry's mind. A sickly green haze cleared, exposing a fearsome scene. A semi-dark room filled with bookshelves and glass cabinets. A pair of Death Eaters, in dark robes and masks, held a battered old man between them. On the floor lay a woman. Her long gray hair spilled in a tangle around her head. Her face had a fixed expression of pain and terror. Her body made motionless by the Dark Lord's killing curse.
"Where is it?" Voldemort demanded of the old man. "Where is the Serpent's Heart?" The old man didn't answer. His body shook with racking coughs as tears and blood ran down his face. "Tell Me!" Voldemort ordered. Showing a lack of patients, the dark lord raised his wand. "Crucio!" The old man screamed in pain. His body went ridged with muscle spasms. With a sense of finality, his faded in to a crackling sigh and his body went limp. The Death Eaters let the dead body fall to the floor. Voldemort looked at the dead bodies for a long moment, then spitting out a paint blistering oath, Disappeared. The scene faded into darkness.
With a groan, Harry returned to conscious awareness of himself. Pain cut through the fog in his mind. His scar throbbed on his forehead. His hands and knees ached. Something hard and cool was pressed into his face. Slowly, Harry realized that he had landed face down on the cement walk in front of the shops. As his mind cleared, Harry started to hear voices around him.
"You got no right," an outraged Dudley was yelling at someone. "You can't push me like that."
"Like bloody hell I can't," The answering voice came in a funny accent. "I don't know why he collapsed. I don't care why you three jackasses were running after him. You don't kick somebody when they are down. Now buzz off!" Harry felt hands lifting him to his feet. "Come on kid, let's get you inside."
Harry tried to focus his vision as the man helped him to his feet. With some assistance, Harry made it into the shop and sat in a chair.
"Here." Harry's glasses were pushed into his hands. With a sense of relief, he put them on. With a sense of wonder, Harry looked around the shop.
The store was filled with collectables. Not porcelain figurines and ceramic dolls ether. The shelves were filled with models and action figures from movies, television, and comic books. Harry instantly thought of his friend Dean Thomas from Hogwarts. Dean would have though he had died and gone to heaven if he was here now.
"How ya' feelin'?" Harry looked in the direction of the voice. A tall man with dark hair and goatee stood a few feet away. "Think you'll be all right?" The man asked.
"Yes. Thank you." Harry answered quietly.
"Good. Fatso's gone. If you want, you can wash-up in the back. Do you need to call somebody?"
"No, but thank you."
"No problem." The shopkeeper moved behind the sales counter. After a few moments, Harry got to his feet and accepted the invitation to get cleaned up. Harry felt better after splashing some cold water on his face.
"Thank you for your help, sir." Harry said to the shop keeper. "I'll be going now."
"Right. Have a nice day." The man answered as Harry headed out the door. With an eye out for Dudley and his gang, Harry hurried back to the Dursley's. He had to write to his headmaster about the vision he had had.
Harry awoke The next day with a dull ache behind his eyes. He was feeling the lack of sleep that had followed a night of worry. As soon as Harry put his glasses into place, he reflexively checked for owls. He knew it was too soon for a return letter from his headmaster, but it would make him feel better to know that someone had the time to act on the vision he had had. Harry also hoped that his Headmaster's reply would give him an explanation about the "Serpent's Heart" that Voldemort had been after. Satisfied that no owls were going to arrive in the immediate future, Harry prepared himself for the day ahead.
The Dursley's family breakfast that morning wasn't exactly appropriate for Dudley's diet. Aunt Petunia was worried that her darling, perfect son would waste away. In truth, the diet had been of only partial success. Over the last year, Dudley had not gained a pound. That by its self was phenomenal. Dudley had also grown three inches vertically over the last year, forcing a horizontal reduction. The additional effort spent Harry Hunting had also helped Dudley to get into better shape. Harry thought about this fact as he watched Dudley inhale the half of sausage link that Aunt Petunia had insisted her poor Dudleykins be allowed to have. Dudley actually owed Harry for helping with his weight. Not that Dudley would ever admit it, but Harry could use that to bait his still fat cousin. All too soon, breakfast was over, and Aunt Petunia was ushering Harry out to do yard work.
With skill that comes from years of practice, Harry quickly finished his daily chores. With a quick drink from the garden hose, Harry started to warm up. He had just completed a second round of stretching exercises when Dudley and company arrived in the back yard. The hunters let out a braying shout. Harry dodged around them, using a dust bin as a boost, he vaulted the side gate. The chase was on.
Each day of the hunt, Harry gained in strength. His endurance was pushed to new limits. His agility and coordination improved. Harry was learning to scan ahead for obstacles, ambushes, and useful distractions as he looked for the best path to take. He was becoming better at literally thinking on his feet. All of this was coming together, to make Harry on the ground a closer match to Harry on a broom.
Harry Paused at the end of the alley he had just run through, casting about as if looking for where to run next. This gave him a chance to look around while waiting for the hunters to catch up. When Dudley was close for him to hear his cousin gasping for breath, Harry set off again. Around the corners and up along the row of shops. The sight of a pair of policemen didn't bother Harry. Dudley and friends, however, decided to head in the other direction.
'How disappointing,' Harry thought to himself. Harry Walked in small circles to cool off as he caught his breath. Looking around, he saw the shop he had collapsed in front of yesterday. With less on his mind at the moment, Harry was able to take in more details about the place.
"Magical Collectables" the sign above the door said. "Buy, Sell, Trade." With a smile, Harry went inside.
"Welcome back," the shopkeeper greeted Harry. "Doin' Better t'day?"
"Yes. Thank you. And thank you for yesterday." Harry answered politely.
The shopkeeper smiled warmly. "What can I do for you today?" He looked Harry over closely. "You look serious, with a sharp mind for detail. Bet you would do good with models. What you interested in?"
"I… Er." Harry took a moment to think of an answer. He had never had the chance to really develop any muggle interests. "I'm just looking, really. I don't have much money." Harry said truthfully. While he did have a Gringotts vault full of wizarding gold, he even had a few gold Galleons, silver Sickles and bronze Knuts in his school trunk at the Dursley's, Harry didn't have any money to spend in the Muggle world.
"Well, no harm in lookin'. You can read the open comics if ya like," the shopkeeper said pleasantly. "Jus' wash your hands first."
"Thank you." Harry accepted the invitation to look around the shop. The center of the shop was dedicated to racks and racks of comic books. The walls were obscured by shelves and display cases filled with merchandise. There were boxed model sets stacked under shelves with finished and painted models on the shelves. The entire back wall, broken only by the door to the back room of the shop, was covered with bookshelves filled to the limit. The miss matched collection of racks, cases, cabinets and shelves gave the shop an irregular shape. Harry lost track of time as he made his way around the shop. He had the feeling that he could spend days there and still discover new treasures.
It was Harry's third circuit through the shop when he noticed the black cabinet. It was placed at an odd angle that left it mostly hidden by a tall display case of ceramic dolls. The cabinet was made of black stained wood and the doors were made with leaded glass panes and silver fittings. Resting on black velvet was an assortment of things that would have looked perfectly at home in Diagon Alley. Or even Nocturne Alley. There were books, bottles, crystals, jewelry, even wands.
The discovery of the black cabinet had left Harry a little shaken. With distracting thoughts about what he had found, Harry headed for the front of the shop. He didn't want the shop keeper to see how rattled he felt, so Harry tried to keep his attention on the display cases and not look at the shopkeeper. When Harry passed the front counter, he kept his eyes down.
"Thank you," Harry said as he passed. "You have a…a…" Harry's voice trailed off as his eyes were caught by what he saw in the case below the cash register. Harry saw a pair of polished Galleons that looked like they could have just come from Gringotts.
"Nice, Aren't they," Came the Shopkeeper's voice into Harry's thoughts.
"Wh-where?" Harry struggled to ask.
"Like the sign says kiddo. 'Buy, Sell, Trade.' If it is collectable, I deal in it. And gold is always collectable. As coins go, they are a bit odd. I find enough around England that they are only really valuable as a curiosity and their weight in gold of course. I've melted enough down to be able to tell if they are solid gold when I weigh them."
"You buy them?" Harry asked to make sure. "You pay mu… money, in Pounds that is."
"British Pounds, American Dollars, or I'll even trade for merchandise."
"Wicked," Harry breathed.
As Harry jogged back to the Dursley's, he thought about the meaning of today's discoveries. He had never thought to exchange Galleons for Muggle money while at Gringotts. Now he had a place that would accept wizarding money for muggle things. The things Harry had seen in the black cabinet had also made Harry think.
Mr. Weasley, the father of Harry's best friend Ron, had once commented on wizarding things falling into muggle hands. Harry was confidant that if he reported the black cabinet to the Ministry of Magic that they would want to act. Harry had a mental picture of Ministry Wizards taking everything magical from the shop and just erasing the shopkeeper's memory of what had been removed. Thoughts kept tumbling around Harry's mind. By the time he finally got to sleep that night, Harry had a plan.
Harry woke Sunday morning with his plan foremost in his mind and got ready for another day, before going down to breakfast.
"Boy," Uncle Vernon's voice crashed down on Harry as he reached the bottom of the stairs. "Come in here." Uncle Vernon ordered from the kitchen. Harry thought briefly of the absurdity of being ordered to go where he was already headed. Entering the kitchen brought a sense of dread. Standing next to the table, Uncle Vernon was dressed in his best suit. "We are going to brunch with a client today." Harry knew that Uncle Vernon's 'we' did not include Harry. The thought of a morning without Dursleys was almost enough to make Harry smile. Knowing that smiling in front of uncle Vernon would only get him in trouble was enough to keep Harry's face blank. "If you value your hide," Uncle Vernon continued speaking. "You will stay out of trouble while we are gone. Your aunt and I will return by half past noon. If there is any sign that you have been up to no good, I will thrash your hide. Is that clear?" It wasn't really a question.
"Yes uncle Vernon." Harry said evenly. Uncle Vernon eyed Harry for a long moment then left the kitchen.
An hour latter the Dursleys left for brunch. Harry watched them drive off. After counting slowly to two hundred, to make sure they were not just driving around the block to try and catch him in getting into trouble, Harry went to the kitchen. Years of serving on the Dursleys had imparted in Harry some useful skills. In short order, he had cooked a large breakfast for himself. In the silence of a Dursley free house he enjoyed his breakfast, and after he finished Harry carefully cleaned and put away everything. There was no sign that he had even had a bite.
Once breakfast was a pleasant memory, Harry returned to his own plans for the day. It was a nice enough day out as he walked to "Magical Collectables". In his pocket Harry had three Galleons and seven Sickles. All the way to the shop he went over his story in his head. Years of rule bending and breaking at school helped Harry come up with what he hoped would be a believable story. Harry arrived just as the shopkeeper was putting the 'Open' sign in the window.
"Hello again," The Shopkeeper said as Harry came in the door. "You come back for more looking?"
"Well, actually," Harry said as he reached into his pocket. "I was out on the moors last summer with friends…" His voice trailed off as he held his handful of coins over the counter.
"Well, Howdy!" The shopkeeper exclaimed. "Your parents know you have this?"
"Yes," Harry said without hesitation or a trace of uncertainty. He was glad the shopkeeper had chosen the words he had. "I thought I would buy some things for a friend."
"Well, let's see what you've got." The shopkeeper brought out some forms, a pen, and a scale. "Fill this out," He said, sliding the pan and a form across the counter to Harry. "And I'll weigh your coins." Harry put the coins on the counter and looked over the form. The top half of the page was a batch of standard questions. Things like name, age, birth date, and so on, down through home address, telephone number, and occupation. Harry filled out the top of the form with no problems.
It did take Harry a Minute to read the bottom of the form. It was a lot of big words and intimidating phrases that basically said that he promised that the coins were legally his. Harry Signed and dated the bottom of the form and slid it back to the shop keeper. The Shopkeeper quickly checked the form.
"Well Mr. Potter."
"Call me Harry."
"All right, Harry. My name is Gary Stone, but you can just call me Gary.
"Alright," Harry consented.
"Well, Harry. The gold coins are worth two hundred Pounds each. The silver is worth twenty Pounds for the lot."
"Wizard," Harry breathed.
"Do you want your money in cash or check?"
"Um, cash, I guess."
"Alright then, do you want to look around first?" Gary gestured to the shop. "Or do you want your money first."
"I'll look first, thank you." Harry started to make his way around the shop. Conscious of the time, because he wanted to get back to the Dursley's before they got home, Harry made his was to the black Cabinet.
Harry tried to make a mental list of what was in the cabinet. Unfortunately, something about the collection made his eyes wonder randomly from one item to another. Without realizing what he was doing, Harry had opened the cabinet and started taking out items. The first was a book with a faded leather cover. The title Arma Adoro was almost completely worn away. What looked like a pair of red lacquered chopsticks with lines of gold Chinese ideograms made him think of Cho Chang. Those were in his hand in an instant. The signet ring of a golden stag's head on a red shield Harry picked up because it reminded him of his father's animagis form, Prongs. The ring went onto Harry's left middle finger. The last thing Harry felt compelled to pick up was a second book. A small wood bound book with the title Animus Accedo Addictio (a/n "Will and the Word") in flaking gilt on the spine. With a last look at the remaining collection of wands, jewelry and other artifacts, Harry closed the cabinet. With a sense of accomplishment, Harry took his selection to the front counter.
Gary looked over Harry's purchase with a critical eye. When he totaled up the price, Gary included the stag ring. The purchases were carefully wrapped behind the counter and put into a paper shopping bag. Harry was a little shocked to see he only received seventy-five Pounds in change, but he didn't say anything. It was still more muggle money then he had ever had at one time in his life.
"Have a nice day, Harry." Gary said to the Exiting Harry.
"Thank you, you too," Harry called back.
"Dear Mr. Weasley," Harry's letter began. "I hope you and Mrs. Weasley are having a good summer. I really appreciate all that you and your family have done for me." Harry did not want to sound gushy, but the Weasley family really did go out of their way to help him. They were just too modest about their efforts on his behalf to accept any repayment from him. "I am writing you because a found a collection of wizarding items in a muggle shop. The shopkeeper doesn't appear aware of what he has, and thinks they are curiosities to be collected. The shopkeeper has been kind to me this summer. I would not want him to loose the items in his collection without some form of compensation. If you are interested in removing these items from the reach of muggles, I will purchase them. The Ministry can, if it is necessary, collect these items from me at a later date. Attached is a partial list of things I have seen in his collection. I will send another list soon, in case there are any items your feel the Ministry needs to know about right away.
"Well bless him," Said Arthur Weasley in an appreciative voice.
"What's that, dear?" Asked Molly Weasley from where she was cooking breakfast for the still sleeping Weasley children.
"It is a letter from Harry dear."
"Oh, what does he say? Are those horrible muggles mistreating him? If they are…"
"Calm yourself, Molly. It's nothing like that. The boy found some things in a muggle shop that he though the Ministry should know about." Mr. Weasley waved the letter to his wife. She paused in her cooking just long enough to read it.
"Well, bless his heart." She said with a sigh. "After all the poor boy has to put up with, he still thinks of his responsibilities to the community. Oh!" Mrs. Weasley suddenly took on a concerned and focused expression. "Is his owl still here?" I quick glance told her that Hedwig was in fact still there. Post owls would not normally linger after making a delivery, but Harry's owl was exceptional.
Hedwig was perched beside the ancient Errol, waiting expectantly. She knew from past experience that Mrs. Weasley could not resist feeding anybody that came into her home, and owls were no exception. Hedwig also knew the date, and expected what was coming.
"Hedwig dear," Molly said to the snowy owl. "Could you help deliver Harry's birthday presents?"
Hedwig, in answer of the expected question, nodded her head with simple dignity.