Disclaimer: Peaky Blinders nor Harry Potter are mine. I'm just having fun with combining their world. We will be following Peaky Blinder's timeline, with a few tweaks because I can. Also let's ignore the fact that people had TVs in 1919 instead of 1927/28. It was a mistake that I was too lazy to rectify.
Harry James Potter scurried from his hiding place, past behind the passing milk man's van, and towards number four Privet Drive. The boy of no more than five tried his best to look presentable, leaving his unruly hair (and what a hopeless situation it was) and knocked twice. He pursed his lips, hoping his Aunt would answer, and he could have a small drink of water, perhaps even some bread, or even have the chance to bathe. Harry did not expect anything of the sort, especially since it was his birthday. It was only a good thing he was allowed to leave the house and go to the public library. While he did not take any books back with him, Harry made sure to hide the books he was reading in the very back, where no one would notice it.
Not a moment later, his Aunt Petunia had her narrowed eyes directed at him and she quickly ushered him inside with a pinch on the shoulder. Harry winced, expecting his sore shoulder to bruise later.
While Harry lived in the residence with his relatives, he was very much unwelcome to them. Petunia Dursley, a tall, skinny woman, with a long neck that was always adorned by pearls, would always shout at him to get things done inside the house or the garden, but never had she raised her voice at her dear son, Dudley. His aunt had a mean streak, more so than her portly husband, Vernon Dursley, who reminded Harry once in a while how he should be grateful a 'freak' like him was being sheltered in their home. At least with Uncle Vernon, the man preferred to pretend Harry did not exist and would only grunt when he happened to cross the man's path.
Harry hurried to his room, the cupboard under the stairs, and stored his shoes before he came back out. Aunt Petunia had called for him and he expected another long list of chores to be done by him before sunset. When he entered the kitchen where his aunt was waiting for him, she did not have the usual piece of paper with his chores, but a black chest sitting on top of the dining table. It had silver trimmings and the initials H.J.P embossed in gold on the lid, its gold key sticking out of the keyhole. Curious, Harry approached his aunt but was careful to not let her see how it piqued his interest.
"Did you need me for something Aunt Petunia?" He whispered, careful to not end up on the receiving end of his aunt's ire. Aunt Petunia had a short fuse for anything that Harry said or did.
She pushed the chest towards Harry. "This has your parents' things. Dropped off by one of their...kind, back when you had just been dumped with us." Aunt Petunia raised her nose, as if she smelled something foul. "It's yours now, but I never want to see it lying around or I will burn it myself." Then she left the kitchen, leaving a dumbfounded Harry staring at what could be his life's treasure.
The threat from his aunt pushed him to pick up the chest, and tried his best not to drop it on the way to his cupboard. Harry stuck a sock under the cupboard door so it would stay closed, then he fumbled around for his old and rusting military flashlight, and set it on a ledge above him, it's beam flooding the entire cupboard but centered especially on the chest.
With trembling hands, he twisted the key open and pushed the lid upwards. There was a bundle of letters, two long narrow boxes, a thick, black book of sorts, trinkets that were unfamiliar to Harry, and last but not the least, a shimmering cloth, folded primly underneath everything else.
He picked up a small gold ball with engraved wings on its sides and almost yelped when it started fluttering about his room at quick speeds. Filled with fascination and fear at what he was witnessing, Harry tentatively darted his hand forward to catch the tiny menace. Its wings kept on moving as he inspected the ball, but it eventually settled down, the wings tucking themselves flat against the ball again. Harry buried it back into the chest, underneath the pile of letters just in case it decided to fly away.
"That's not weird at all." Harry muttered to himself before moving onto the next item.
The long narrow boxes were labeled. One had James Potter inscribed on it, and the other said Lily Evans.
"These must have been my parents' names." Harry whispered to himself, his eyes blurring at the newfound fact. His aunt had always refused to tell Harry anything about his parents, except that they were low-lives, but sometimes his aunt would slip, and spew hate about 'that James Potter freak' or 'precious Lily'. Sniffing his tears back, Harry swiped at his eyes and put the boxes down, opting to reach for another item instead.
Harry held off on opening the boxes, even with great curiosity. If they were anything like the flying gold ball he had picked up earlier, Harry shuddered to think what would happen. The thick book turned out to be an album, but it was also not as normal as he would have expected it to be.
Harry gasped at the pictures. Instead of still photos, everything in the picture moved and he waved back to a couple who waved again. Harry Potter had no doubt these were his parents, James and Lily Potter.
The man had his unruly black hair, but had hazel eyes, and strong jaws. He would occasionally kiss the woman's cheeks and twirl her around. Harry ran his finger on the man's figure, in awe that the person, his dad, looked so much like him. The woman was beautiful and had long red hair, and the most piercing green eyes he had ever seen on another person except his own. The woman, his mother, was strikingly beautiful, and Harry's eyes blurred with tears at the thought of what he could have had if circumstances were different. She smiled a great deal, and often rolled her eyes at his father, clearly having had enough of his antics. Harry grinned at that, feeling elated at how silly they acted in the pictures. He was just grateful they were nothing like how Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon acted. He flipped through the album carefully, afraid that he might damage anything and his parents would stop waving or smiling at him. As he continued flipping through, Harry wept for the ones where he was being held by his parents when he was just a mere baby. Many of the pictures included Sirius Black, a long haired man, whose grey eyes and easy grin made him grin as well. Sirius Black often held him in the pictures, and was dubbed 'Harry's Dogfather', whatever that meant.
When he came to the end of the album, it was of Harry's mother, his dad, Sirius, and a man much shorter than the rest, with piercing blue eyes, and dark hair shaved at the sides. Unlike the others, he was wearing a high-collared shirt, suspenders clipped to a pair of dark pants, and a peaked flat clap. He would smile wide, and his blue eyes would almost disappear at the gesture. Sirius occasionally would pat him on the back and bring him closer to Lily and James, forming a group hug. Harry's mother and the man would be dwarfed by his much taller dad, and Sirius, and he would try to get out of the taller men's holds to no avail. His eyes glanced down at the names below the picture.
Lily Potter, James Potter, Sirius Black, Thomas Shelby.
Harry smiled at how close they looked. Shrugging, Harry moved onto rummaging through the other items. Harry was uninterrupted while he looked at the contents of the chest. He read the short letters written by his parents to each other while his dad could not come home due to a 'mission' because he was an 'Auror', or when his mom was held up at a place called the 'Department of Mysteries'. Slowly, he pieced together what his parents were from all the strange words they used in the letters.
"But, it's not real...? Magic sounds impossible." Harry whispered as he looked down at the words 'witch' and 'wizard' written in his mother's penmanship. Still trying to wrap his head around it, Harry took the one of the last envelopes addressed to him and began to read.
We write to you in hopes that you are safe and loved, and that we have not perished yet. Remember that no matter what happens, your father and I love you, and that no matter what you achieve in life, we will always be proud of you.
If you are reading this, then it would mean that we are no longer in this world, but I assure you we did not want to leave on purpose, my love. Hopefully, your godfather Sirius has matured enough in time and is raising you with your Uncle Thomas, and that Tommy has not let you become too corrupted by Siri. If you are not with them, then hopefully you are with your godmother Alice and her husband Frank Longbottom. Alice and I did hope you and her son, Neville, would be the best of friends growing up.
Harry, please know that a very evil wizard has decided that we are in his way to ruling the wizarding world. We have done all the precautions so that this man, who fashioned himself the name Lord Voldemort, will not be able to harm you in any way. We will be casting the Fidelius charm and apply it to our location. Our good friend, Peter, will be entrusted with the role of being our secret keeper, and that should Voldemort ever find us, it means Peter has betrayed our location to him. I trust Sirius and Tommy more, but your godfather thinks that he is a liability and everyone would know it was him who holds the knowledge of our location, and Tommy has been drafted to France. Your father and I are reluctant to switch to Peter, but Sirius has given a sound argument on the matter so we will accept.
We are so very sorry, my love, if we have left you in this cruel world. We will always be watching over you even if we're not physically there. I only hope you are happy and safe wherever you are, my love.
Harry's mind reeled at what he had just read. Evil wizards and some secret location charm? It was the stuff of fairytales.
There was no way a kid like him was being hunted down by some wizard hellbent on world domination. He was just Harry, someone who lived under the stairs and someone who was supposed to be grateful he was not a freak living in the streets instead.
Harry looked back down at the chest and the letter. If his parents were to be believed, he was not a freak, but someone who could use charms, or magic.
Harry's mood soured in an instant. For the longest time, he had believed his parents to be drunkards who had no care for their son's life. He should have expected his relatives to lie about it, instead of taking their word as facts. How many times had he heard Vernon scoff at the fact that the Earth was a sphere? No wonder he was always being punished for something he could not explain how it happened. The Dursleys knew, and shunned him for something he was born with and had no control over.
Spurned by the revelations of his mom's letter, the latter clutched tightly to his chest, Harry crept out of his cupboard and went looking for Aunt Petunia. The house was mostly quiet, but there was a shuffling sound he could faintly hear coming from the upstairs. When he found her sweeping in Dudley's bedroom, Harry did not bother letting her know he was present before speaking.
"You knew I was a-a wizard." Harry braved himself, his eyes unflinchingly daring his aunt to deny. Petunia Dursley visibly winced and her grip on the broom she was holding tightened.
"Of course I knew." His aunt hissed at him. Harry could not help but step back at the menacing tone.
"How could you not be? You were left on our doorstep, in the middle of November, without so much as a by your leave by that headmaster of your mother's school. You never cried, things floated when you were in distress or wanted something. I had half a mind to toss you out because you might harm Dudley!" Her raised voice made Harry jump, then she sat on Dudley's bed, seemingly exhausted. Harry never really thought about how old people were, but at that moment, Petunia Dursley looked like she had aged a great deal in an instant.
"You did exactly everything that Lily did when she was small, just that you were much younger." Petunia took a deep, shuddering breath. "I didn't want to see Lily in your face. I didn't like how you don't resemble her sometimes. Your eyes are too green, the way your grin came about was all Lily, even if you look a lot like your father, all I see is my dead sister. Your existence is a constant reminder of how my sister was never coming back." She said finally, glaring at Harry with unbidden tears in her eyes.
Harry stood frozen, never having seen so much emotion in his aunt's face besides contempt. He did not know what to feel for this woman. Harry could barely comprehend the weight of her words. He had been orphaned but she had lost a sibling. Was that equal in terms of suffering? Harry chose his next words carefully. Aunt Petunia's eyes did not seem to have as much hate as it normally did.
"How could I be of fault for that?" Petunia's face slackened into surprise. "I'm not stupid. You don't want me, even if I try so hard in school and do everything you tell me to do. Mum says here I should have gone to other people." Harry lips trembled even as he said the next words. "I want to leave."
"Where will you go? Your kind will come looking for you." Petunia narrowed her eyes at him. "That headmaster told me you'll be going to their school. It's not as if I have a say in that but I do not care. I had hoped you would turn out normal but it was inevitable."
Harry frowned, scolding himself for not thinking that through. Where would he go? He then remembered the photo album and ran back to his cupboard. He returned back to his aunt still sitting on Dudley's bed, glaring at the wall.
Harry thrust the last photo in the album to his aunt's hands. She flinched when she saw it was moving. "Find me Sirius Black, or this Thomas Shelby." He winced at the lack of manners, but his aunt had been lying to him for years. It was even in his opinion. "Mum's letter says Sirius is my godfather. He must want me."
"You think he would have come looking for you all these years, but no one has ever come to claim you." Petunia stood up, handing him back the picture. "I don't know where Thomas Shelby has been, but we can try. If he does not respond, what will you do?"
Harry stared at the moving picture. "I'll stay here and not be a bother." He whispered.
He desperately hoped there would be a positive answer to his request. Why did his godfather not come for him? Did he also die and was gone forever like his parents? What of Tommy Shelby? Was he not his parents' friend anymore? Harry tried to still his tears but they came unbidden anyway, and he cried for his misery.
Aunt Petunia left him standing there, with only a whispered reminder that Vernon was going to be home soon. After a while, Harry walked away from Dudley's room and tucked his picture and letter in the chest, hoping that he would be taken away soon from this place.
It took Harry a full week before he would figure out how to work the small trinkets littering the chest he was given.
Once he had time to himself, Harry emptied out the chest on his cupboard floor, and put them into groups. The albums and letters were put off to one side, the pile of trinkets to another, the two long boxes on the farthest corner of his room, and then he finally set the chest with the shimmering cloth still in it behind him. The gold ball thankfully stayed stationary, and he eyed it warily as he reached for the two boxes. Harry opened his mother's first, and he gaped for the longest time at the item in it.
Sitting in red velvet was a twelve inch long stick, its cherry red surface carved with the most intricate details he had ever seen. A thin strip of twisted wood wound around the the entirety of the stick, ending in minuscule floral carvings near the tip. Harry picked it off the box and felt a surge of warmth go through him, which made him drop the stick back onto the box. With an idea of what this was, he turned to the other box that belonged to his father and was met with a similar item. This stick however was darker in colour, and had an aquiline shape. It had no intricate carvings, with the handle looking as if it was a mangled piece of wood. Harry held it in his hand and was surprised at the how comfortable the handle was, and how warmth also surged through his arm and throughout the rest of him.
There was no mistaking that these were wands.
It was a only a few days before Petunia Dursley would receive a response from one Tommy Shelby. In the span of those few days, Harry Potter had been given a few privileges that would normally be only allowed for Dudley. He did not know why his relatives had a sudden change of heart, or something close to it, but he welcomed it nevertheless. One of those privileges was that he was allowed to move to Dudley's second bedroom. Dudley had stomped around the house in anger that his room, filled with his broken toys and unwanted things, was being given to the 'freak'. While Vernon Dursley was usually a patient man when it came to his son's antics, he had instead put a stop to the tantrum by raising his voice for the first time and cutting Dudley's telly time to a mere thirty minutes. To say that the whole household was in shock was an understatement. With that said, Vernon then turned to a pale Harry and told him to move his things upstairs and clean the room for his use.
With his heart about to jump out of his chest, Harry had moved quickly, careful to not cause much noise as he climbed upstairs while carrying his clothes and meager amount of toys. He tentatively pushed the door open, looking behind him first for any sign of his rotund cousin. Harry got to work quickly, pushing broken things to a corner, and cleaned as much as he could of the dusty bed. Meanwhile, Dudley continued to demand more things from his parents, as compensation for losing so much in one day.
He was not surprised to find out one day, when his Aunt and Uncle were huddled in the kitchen, that all the changes were a ruse. They whispered furiously at each other, unaware of Harry hiding in his old cupboard, watching them with a frown.
"No, Vernon! We have to wait. The Shelbys were always a bunch of thugs, and if I'm right, he can make our lives worse if he finds something not to his liking. We'll have to let him believe the boy has been well taken care of." Petunia told Vernon. Harry watched his Uncle bristle and slam a meaty hand onto the counter. Harry and his aunt both flinched at the sound.
"I'll not have some crook threaten me! We will see when he gets here." With that, Uncle Vernon turned to walk away from Aunt Petunia.
Harry shut the door of the cupboard, scooting further in and waited with bated breath as his uncle stomped upstairs. Silence reigned in the house, before he heard movement resume in the kitchen.
He was upset at the revelation. And to think the Dursleys might have had a change of heart, and was going to start treating him like family. Harry thought furiously that he had been naive, and vowed to never expect anything ever again from his hateful relatives.
"Come here, Harry." Petunia called to him from the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. Harry, who was watching telly, quickly came to where his aunt was. It was another thing that he was now allowed to do, besides getting better secondhand clothes. Since it was his turn to watch the telly, Dudley was with Pier Polkiss at the park, probably terrorizing another kid, and Vernon was having a nap upstairs.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia?"
Petunia gave him an envelope. "I have hit a dead-end on Sirius. I have tried reaching your... kind, but I have gotten no response." She pursed her lips, clearly disapproving of the situation. Harry was disappointed but urged his aunt to continue.
"What about Tommy Shelby?" Harry's eyes widened, hopeful for good news. Petunia looked down at the envelope she gave him, then she turned around and went through the motions of washing the dishes. When she spoke, Harry strained his ears to hear what she was saying.
"He's willing to take you in. He will be picking you up sometime this weekend and you'll be living with him in Small Heath, Birmingham."
Harry peaked through the curtains and sat back down at the couch again when no one arrived at number four Privet Drive's driveway. Beside him was the chest with his initials and a duffel bag filled with his clothes, and another pair of shoes. He had a full view of his relatives going about their usual routines. Aunt Petunia could be seen through the kitchen door, preparing lunch for her family. Uncle Vernon was sitting in his high-backed leather arm chair, newspaper on hand. Dudley was sitting in front of the telly, with his toys spread around him on the carpet.
Harry was expecting Thomas Shelby to take him away from his relatives today. Despite the more accommodating behaviour of his aunt and uncle(a ruse, he reminded himself), Harry still wanted Mr. Shelby to claim him. He only hoped the man was nicer than the Dursleys.
"Dad?" Harry lifted his head, looking at Dudley, who was still glued to the telly. Dudley glanced at him quickly and averted his eyes. Harry frowned at his cousin.
Vernon grunted. "What, son?"
"Will Harry come back?" The question clearly took Vernon by surprise. The Dursley patriarch brought his newspaper down to look at his son.
Harry certainly hoped he never would. His eyes met his uncle's briefly, then Vernon buried his face into his morning newspaper again.
"If he wants to, but I doubt it."
And that was that. Dudley did not speak again and neither did Vernon. Harry looked away and fidgeted with the hem of his shirt. No one could ever force him to go back to Privet Drive, not if he could help it. Not ever.
The sound of a car engine brought him out of his musings. Harry strained his ears, and he grinned when it seemed as if the sound stopped nearby. He jumped up, nearly ripping the curtains apart, and held his breath.
It was unmistakably Thomas Shelby, with his peaked hat and high-collared shirt, sitting in a car not unlike his uncle's Ford Model T. Harry stared as the man got out of the car and crushed a cigarette under his boots. He was not alone, however, and two other men followed suit, both wearing three-piece suits and somewhat similar hairstyle. His eyes widened when he caught sight of a gun holster on one of the men. They did not look mean, but they definitely were out of place in Privet Drive. He winced when the man with the mustache spat on the bed of daffodils. Aunt Petunia would be furious if she saw that.
Harry immediately closed the curtains and stood up from the couch, mindful of his relatives' eyes on him. He did his best to straighten his meager clothes, wanting to be presentable to the man who was about to take him in, and sat back down, grip tight on his bag and chest. Harry almost jumped out of his skin when the knocks came. Quickly, Aunt Petunia ceased her activities in the kitchen and opened the door. Harry could only wait with bated breath.
"Yes?" Harry could see his aunt tremble from his spot. He gathered she had seen the guns on their persons.
"Not sure if it's good to see you again, Cousin Petunia. Thomas Shelby of the Shelby Company Limited." Petunia Dursley paled, stepping back as the men entered the house, despite the lack of invitation. Thomas Shelby now stood in the Dursley entryway, his piercing blue eyes looking around the room. Then, his eyes landed on Harry, and held it there for a moment. There was recognition there, and Harry's heart soared. Harry stared dumbly when the man nodded at him and turned back to Petunia.
"I believe I have a Harry Potter to take off your hands."
"Tommy! Look at the book, my brother. All on Monaghan Boy!" John practically shouted at him as soon as he got in.
Their bookmaking business was in boom, and his horses were making a fair amount of money from all the bets and winning a few races here and there. Despite how it was all operated illegally, Tommy and the rest of the Shelby's were not in trouble. He had lined the cops' pockets well, most of them having served with him in France. Even then, racketeering was only going to get him so far in Birmingham.
Little Finn ran up to him and tugged his coat, beckoning for Tommy to lean down. The boy whispered in his ear and pointed towards Arthur, his older brother, leaning on the door to his office.
"You was seen doing the powder trick down at Garrison Court. The washer women said there were Chinese, that there was a 'witch'." Arthur glowered at Tommy once they were ensconced in Arthur's office.
"Are we fixing races now, Tommy?" Tommy's face remained stoic, his clear, blue eyes merely following Arthur's body language.
"Times are agreed, Arthur." Tommy leaned against the wall. Arthur's mustache bristled. "I'm taking charge of drumming up new money."
"Except you shouldn't have asked for the witch! We can't mess with the Chinese, Tommy." Arthur implored, then he took a large sip of whiskey. "I don't think you have permission from Billy Kimber to be fixing races. If he gets wind of this—", His brother's hand floundered in the air, "What happens if the Monaghan Boy wins? You think we can take on the Chinese and Billy Kimber?!"
"I think, Arthur." Tommy glared at his older brother, a little bit insulted. "That's what I do, and you'll let me do this."
Tommy could see Arthur had finally relented, his brother's tense shoulders dropping at the final words. He knew he was playing a dangerous game, but it was time for the Shelbys to rise above everyone else.
"I'm not only here to get yelled at either." Tommy said, pulling up a chair to sit in. He slipped an envelope towards Arthur. His brother straightened up at the site of the letter's sender.
From: Petunia Dursley nee Evans
#4 Privet Drive,
Little Whinging, Surrey
"What's her deal? We haven't spoken to her in decades, the mad hag." Arthur spat, pushing it back towards Tommy. He pushed it back towards Arthur.
"Read it." Tommy's grim expression had Arthur tentatively reaching for the envelope, unraveling Petunia's story and her subsequent request.
Tommy sat in silence, having snatched his brother's glass of whiskey. He had no qualms drinking heavily in the afternoon, not with the letters contents weighing heavily in his mind.
"Tommy, this says cousin Lily is dead." Arthur whispered, his knuckles paling. "It's been years and this hag didn't seem it fit to tell us. How come we never bothered to check in on her after the war?" His brother looked lost. Tommy had looked the same this morning when he was reading it for himself, like something had just clicked and he was loathe to admit overlooking their now dead relative.
Tommy shook his head, and downed all the whiskey that was left. "As I understand, they were in hiding. You knew how her and her husband had certain... abilities. We hadn't been able to think of her until Petunia mentioned her in this letter. You know they planned it so that no one else were harmed, Arthur."
"They were murdered, and their child orphaned! How—!"
Arthur was openly crying now, his brother's face full of anguish at the loss of their favourite cousin. Lily had always been understanding of Arthur's sensitive nature, and doted upon him as if she was the older one. She also understood how Tommy needed time for himself, and kept Petunia away whenever she was feeling particularly nasty to the 'freakish' cousin Tommy.
He chuckled to himself, certain that Lily would be appalled at what he was willing to do to achieve his goals now. He just hoped he would be forgiven for what he was about to do, for her son's sake.
"She's not entirely gone, Arthur." Tommy stood up, picking up the letter from Arthur's hands. "We'll be taking care of her son, Harry, instead. Petunia obviously doesn't treat Harry like family, but we will. It's the only way Lily will approve of us doing this shite."
Thomas "Tommy" Shelby was a family man through and through. He may go around people's backs, trying their patience to the point of being threatened to be murdered, but it was for the greater good of his family's and company's future.
He matched Aunt Polly's sharp gaze, letter in hand. Arthur sat at the head of the table, eyes bloodshot from having cried earlier, but hardly looked bothered by what Tommy just told his family. His brother, John, looked worried, and Finn was confused. Tommy didn't think the latter would ever remember Lily or Petunia, having only been seen by either women once when he was still a mere babe. They would need to tell
"Are you sure you're going to take him in, Tommy?" Polly asked. She was reading through the letter again, lips pursing the further she read. She continued, "With your ongoing war with Billy Kimber, the Chinese, and then there's—" Polly's lips thinned, the continued, "It's hardly appropriate for you to raise Harry here." Polly huffed, eyes tightening further as she reached the end of the letter and crumpled it in her fist. Tommy had an idea what Petunia said in the letter made her look like that. The first time he read it, he had wrecked his room. She was already disapproving of where Finn was growing, surrounded by what she considered were 'violent' men at every turn. Knowing this was Lily's child, there was no doubt in Tommy's mind Polly was going to be even more protective of his future charge.
"Cousin Lily chose me and Sirius, in case anything happened to her and James. Well something did and Harry has been left with his hateful relatives. Petunia was a nasty piece of work." Tommy gave Polly a pointed look. "Besides, he's family. We Shelbys are going to be taking care of him."
Arthur, his oldest brother, smiled through his mustache and raised his glass of whiskey to Tommy's words.
"That's all good then. When should we go get him, Tommy?" John said, patting Finn on the shoulder. The latter was the youngest of the Shelby brothers, and was undoubtedly excited at the idea of not being the youngest anymore.
"Will he get to room with me?" Finn chirped.
Tommy inhaled once more from his cigarette and then crushed it under his boot.
"We'll have to get some things ready first."
Tommy eyed the patrons of the The Garrison, then nodded in the bartender's direction. The pub was owned and ran by Harry Fenton, the tall, portly man who was working behind the counter. Well, not for long if he continues to employ the Shelby's for "protection". Tommy paid no heed to the blonde woman beside him.
"What's it for ya today, Mr. Shelby?" Fenton told him, his rag circling the counters. Tommy eyed the bowl of piss by his shoes. He turned towards the pub's private room.
"The usual. Please have it brought to the back room and let my brothers know I'm in there." Fenton did not say anymore, and Tommy shut the door behind him.
He was contemplating on whether Harry was faring well in his Aunt's care, when the private room's sliding screen suddenly was forced open. Tommy observed the blonde woman eyeing him with light green eyes and a hint of disdain. He nodded at her and stood up to grab the bottle and glass from her.
"Your drink, sir." Her voice was husky, and her clipped tones amused Tommy even further.
She smelled rich. It reminded him of those folks in London, who would turn their noses up at the sight of his town full of factory workers. As if a horde of decent, working people were a disgrace to society. Her purpose in Watery Lane was a mystery to him. There was nothing he could tell from the way she held herself, except that she was very guarded around him. If there was a reason, Tommy was sure it was not because she was looking to make a career out of being a barmaid in his town.
He dismissed her with a small nod of his head. Tommy felt her eyes linger on his back, before she shut the door with force. If he were any other entitled man, she would have been met by a few of his men at an alleyway, and no one will probably remember her ever working in The Garrison. Except, he did not care about her at all. She was a mere blip in his life.
Tommy waited for his brothers patiently, sipping at his glass of whiskey slowly. It was not long before Arthur swaggered in, followed by John and little Finn. He smiled at his youngest brother and beckoned him to sit beside him. Finn happily jumped on the seat, and took an offered glass of water from John.
"Is this supposed to be a family meeting?" John queried, hands already around the whiskey bottle's neck. "Because I don't want to lie around Aunt Polly. She somehow always knows I've omitted something." His face scrunched up and Tommy chuckled.
"No. Can't I spend time with my brothers?" He clinked his glass against Arthur's.
Arthur scoffed. "Funny. I haven't spent time with you since we came back from France."
Silence filled the room. Tommy could see Finn look down at his shoes. John did not say anything but he probably agrees with Arthur if his frown indicated anything. If they were always like this, Tommy was clearly not fit to raise Harry here with them. Knowing cousin Lily, his charge would be as fiery and emotionally tuned to everyone and with his magic, that would be dangerous for him and everyone. Change obviously needed to happen, and fast, before he takes Harry home with him.
"Well that's going to change." Tommy finally said. Finn looked up with a tentative smile. "If Harry's going to be living with us, we won't let him see discord in the family, not with how he's probably been treated at Petunia's."
"Who's Petunia?" Finn asked.
John answered their brother. "She's our cousin. You were still a babe then but we visited her once. We saw cousin Lily more often though. She's Petunia's sister, but Lily lived in Godric's Hollow with her husband, James." John paused, looking Tommy in the eye. He nodded, knowing what John was about to divulge was already something Arthur, him, and John agreed to. Polly had no qualms about them telling about magic to Finn. She loved Lily as if she were her lost daughter, and accepted her as she were. Her beloved niece's child would be loved the same.
"Now Finn, there's something about Harry that's different." John started. "You see, cousin Lily went to a special school in Scotland due to a special trait of hers. That's where she met her husband, James, and he had the same special trait."
Tommy could hear the pub outside getting noisier. At this point, a small riot or a disturbance of some sort was about to start. He stood up to leave John and Arthur to explain the special circumstances surrounding Harry's life. He slid the small door to the side and called for Fenton at the counter. The man looked worried, then a chair crashed against one of the pillars. The whole pub fell into a hush, except one man. His harried breathing and panicked ramblings were familiar to Tommy and he rushed outside.
"Arthur!" His brother was already on his heels. "It's Danny."
Tommy and Arthur almost tackled Danny "Whizz-Bang" on the floor. The man had a broken bottle in his hand, and he swung it dangerously against the other patrons. Arthur caught Danny's wrists, forcing him to drop the offending item. It clattered noisily on the floor. Tommy's voice tried to soothe the paranoid man and force his friend onto the floor.
"Danny! Hey, it's Tommy. We're not in France anymore, Danny." Tommy gripped Danny harder, and the man struggled in return. "We're home, my friend. You're home with your kids and your wife. We're done doing the King's service."
Arthur slowly lessened his grip on their former comrade, and eventually, Danny 'Whizz-Bang' quietened, his sobs almost non-existent at this point. The Shelby brothers helped the man up. Arthur smarted him on the backside of his head before trying to tidy up his clothes. Tommy dusted his friend's clothes off, eyes distant.
The Flanders Blues was common among the men who participated in the war. Tommy had his bouts, but it was nothing that could not be cured with opium. Arthur's was worse, but it was not like Danny's outbursts or paranoia. No, his older brother's was the kind of suffering that left you functional, but it definitely left him unstable and depressed, where he would spend nights by the fire trying not to just off himself. John hid his ailments well, but Tommy knew his younger brother sometimes cured his own Flanders Blues by sneaking some off his stash of opiates.
"T-Tommy? Where am I?" Danny's eyes were watering, awareness coming back to him.
Tommy smiled, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "You're home, Danny. Go on, go home to your wife and kids. They'll be wanting to know where you've been."
As Danny left the pub, the patrons started to move back to their former spots, righting chairs and tables along with Arthur and Tommy. The latter went to the counter, ordered another drink and downed it all at once.
"This can't go on, Mr. Shelby." Fenton told him as he poured a glass for Arthur as well. "He's going to get in trouble with others that won't tolerate him, Flanders Blues or not."
Tommy pursed his lips, then wiped his face of emotions.
"Just call us if you see him having trouble." Tommy whistled suddenly. "John! Finn! We're going." He ushered his brothers out of the pub, but turned back at the last minute. "Put the damages on the Shelby Company's tab, Fenton. We'll take care of it."
"He's rooming with me." Tommy said to John, aware of the incredulous expression on his brother's face.
In the past few days, the Shelby's tried to arrange their house and lives in order to prepare for Harry's arrival. Polly had the idea that the child should room with Finn, seeing as the boys were closer in age. Arthur did not care, nor did John, since both had their own homes, and John had his own children to care for.
Tommy had no qualms about living with Aunt Polly and his youngest brother, Finn. He had no vices and he was well off enough to not want anything else. As long as he had a roof over his head and his family at his side, everything else did not matter.
"I had Polly put another bed in my room. It's certainly large enough for both of us. Finn's a growing boy as well, it won't be long until he's begging for a bigger room too."
John made a noise, a sort of whine, and threw his hands up in the air. "You better keep the drugs away, Tommy!"
Arthur snorted. "With these houses, I think the kid will resort to it sooner rather than later. What in the bloody hell thought up a street of houses, completely identical to each other, was a good idea? What a fucking nightmare."
They had just arrived in Surrey, and entered the infamous Privet Drive lane, where Petunia lived with her family. Looking around, Tommy squinted at the identical homes, and vaguely wondered who would subject themselves to such mediocrity.
An old woman with a few cats circling her ankles waved at them, then went on her way towards what looked like was Magnolia Crescent. It seemed odd, and Arthur joked that perhaps she fancied John. His brothers continued to bicker in good nature until Tommy stopped their car in front of the fourth house near the end of the street.
"Is this it then?" John quipped, sticking his out the window. "What an awful hovel, innit? Well boys, let's get to it. The sooner we get Harry out of this place, the sooner he can recover."
They all climbed off the car. Tommy dropped his cigarette stub, and crushed it with his shoes, while John smartened his coat. Tommy saw a brief glint of Arthur's holstered gun, but did not say anything. It was necessary if Petunia caused trouble.
The middle Shelby brother observed the house, noted how clean it was on the outside. Petunia's husband must be well off enough if they had a similar car to his, parked on the driveway. The flowerbeds were neatly trimmed and emphasized the cobblestone steps leading to the front door. A face had peeked through the window on the left side. It was gone as soon as he had seen it. He nudge Arthur forwards, and they all walked to the front door.
"Yes?" Petunia Evans, now Dursley, stared at them with barely hidden disdain and fear. Tommy remembered she was a haughty little thing when they were kids, and thought herself better than them. Now, Tommy was standing in her foyer, hands in his pocket. He had purposefully tucked his coat behind his arms, displaying his own holstered gun.
He looked around the room first, ignoring the trembling woman before him. Everything was boring about the Dursleys' home. Tommy saw many pictures of what he assumed was Petunia's family on the wall, but none displayed any boy that looked like Harry.
Tommy had a view that looked into the living room. Clearly the stout man on the couch was Vernon Dursley, and a similar looking child was sitting on the floor, eyes glued to the telly. Neither of the two acknowledged their presence. Tommy turned back towards Petunia.
"Not sure if it's good to see you again, Cousin Petunia. Thomas Shelby of the Shelby Company Limited." Tommy greeted, lips pulled into a smile. It didn't reach his eyes, but his smiled widened when he saw movement on his left.
There he was. Black mop of hair, piercing green eyes, and fairly decent clothes on a scrawny build. Tommy did not think twice that this was Harry. The child's eyes were full of hope, and looked at him in reverence. He barely kept a lid on his temper at all the signs of abuse and neglect staring at him.
Tommy nodded at Harry then turned back to Petunia. He was no longer smiling when he did so.
"I believe I have a Harry Potter to take off your hands."
Arthur took that as his cue to shoulder his way further into the house, leaving Petunia almost plastered at the wall. His older brother spotted Harry and knelt in front of him, smiling brightly. Tommy stayed back and watched his brother's antics.
"Hi there, bud. You must be Harry, cousin Lily's kid." Arthur stuck his hand out, aware of Harry's wariness. "I'm Arthur, but you can call me Uncle if you want. I'm sure you'd like a nicer one after having an inadequate tub of lard for an uncle so far."
John snickered, and knelt beside Arthur as well. Harry was looking at them wide-eyed, as if disbelieving the events. "I'm John, and I'd like to repeat what my brother just said but I don't want to encourage bad habits." Eventually, Harry seemed to decide that they were harmless and shook hands with both of them. John ruffled Harry's hair and the flinch from the child was missed by no one. John paused for a moment but resumed the action. He looked at Tommy still standing in the foyer.
Tommy stepped forwards, for once a genuine smile on his face. "Hi Harry, I'm your uncle Tommy. What do you say to getting out of here, eh?" He looked towards Arthur, and his brother asked no questions before getting the luggage and chest sitting at Harry's feet. "I promise I'll be out soon enough. I just need to... speak to your relatives here."
Thank goodness for John, ushering the kid outside while distracting him as best as he could. Tommy was at the edge, and his ire could not wait any longer.
Once Harry was accompanied outside by Arthur and John, Tommy turned to the remaining occupants of Number Four Privet Drive. Petunia was now standing by her husband's chair, the latter's face still buried in the newspaper he was pretending to read. Their son was now unabashedly staring at him, one meaty hand constantly dipping into a bowl of popcorn and shoving it in his mouth.
Tommy took out a cigarette from his pack, not caring at the sound of protest from Petunia. He lit it and blew the smoke in Vernon's direction. "I suggest you get your kid to go to his room. This conversation won't be pleasant for children."
Petunia did not need no more prompting as she bullied her son to go to his room. He whined and stomped as he had predicted, shouting the house down for his parents to let him stay and watch. Only Vernon's booming voice had sent the child scampering upstairs. There was a loud bang, and silence ensued. It was occasionally broken by their son's stomping, as if it was going to make a difference.
Petunia braved to break the silence. "What do you want? We've given you Lily's spawn—" There it was.
"I've been keeping myself calm this whole time, because I didn't want to show Harry that side of me yet." Tommy started, flickering his cigarette on the carpet. "I'm disgusted by your behaviour, and sad that Lily isn't here to see the abuse you have been inflicting on her son."
"Now see here, sir! We have given that child a roof above his head, food, and education out of the goodness of our hearts! You're spouting lies!" Vernon's face was turning into an ugly shade of puce as he yelled at him. Tommy briefly thought the buttons on the man's shirt was going to burst out and blind him in the process. Petunia butted in before Tommy could speak.
"Th—That's right! My sister was an abomination and so is he. He should be thankful we didn't throw him out on the streets, or dropped off at an orphanage!"
"You are vile people." Tommy seethed, cigarette forgotten on the floor. "This is your relative, your sister's son, Petunia! If you were in Lily's position, I'm sure she would have cared for your boy with all the love she could muster in her heart. She definitely wouldn't have neglected nor raised a hand towards any child you might have left to her."
"Lily always tried to curry your favor, even when you were inexplicably horrendous to be around with. Now you have inflicted the same scorn to her child, one who has no idea of his origins or if his parents ever loved him."
Petunia bristled even as she gripped Vernon's arm tightly. Tommy's hand had moved towards his gun, and both Dursleys did not miss that. "We did nothing wrong. My freak of a sister's old headmaster insisted we take him in. There was no compensation for the boy, we just did what we could provide for him. We weren't obliged to talk about freakishness, so we didn't!"
"I saw him flinch." Tommy said, staring indifferently at both of them. His anger had reach unfathomable levels, that he could not express it at all or he could be forced to maim someone, perhaps even kill.
"When John ruffled his hair, he flinched from my brother. No kid does that unless he's expecting to be hit. It looks to me that he shall never step foot in this house, or anywhere near where you exist."
Tommy turned around, vowing to never speak to his horrible cousin and her family. He was going to make them miserable, this he promised to himself, for Harry. Shelbys protect their own.
Then Vernon made a mistake.
"Good riddance!" He yelled as Tommy was inches away from the door.
"What, Pet? That boy was a nuisance and he wasted our money! I say good riddance to freeloaders! His work certainly wasn't enough for the amount of things we provided for him—"
Vernon fell off the chair, and Petunia shrieked as she watched Thomas Shelby choke the life out of her husband. Without any prompting, Mr. Shelby stood up, leaving a heaving Vernon Dursley on the floor. He was the perfect shade of puce and Tommy sneered at the sight of him whimpering, Petunia holding her husband close.
"If I hear any more filth about Harry, I will have you wishing for death." Tommy picked up his peaked flat cap near Vernon's foot. The man flinched and Tommy nearly snarled his next words. "Believe me, my associates will know, Dursley. Good day to you."
With those parting words, Tommy spun on his heel and stalked out of number four Privet Drive.