Correcting Mistakes

A/N: I don't own Harry Potter et al. Sad, but true.

Prologue: Betrayal

Harry was livid. A random screening had found it; a one in a million chance. The DMLE routinely screened for potions, curses, and other hidden, but potentially damaging magics that would lie in wait and injure Aurors when they least expected it.

Five percent of the Auror Corps were screened every month. There was a series of twenty of the most common potions and curses that were always tested for. Another twenty additional potions and curses were also screened for each month, selected at random from a list of over a hundred such things.

Harry's random test the previous month had detected a loyalty potion in his system. He'd gotten word the day before, when the results had come back. He'd been immediately hustled back to testing for a full workup. That's when the love potion had been detected. Further testing had indicated that both potions were keyed to one person: Ginny Potter.

Earlier that day, she'd been arrested, and was in holding cell awaiting trial. She'd admitted under veritasserum to having conspired with her mother to snag Harry. Molly had made the potions, and she'd administered them, as far back as Harry's fourth year, gradually increasing the dose each year. Ron had helped, she'd claimed; slipping Harry the stuff when they'd been on the run in 1996 and 1997. She'd even admitted the reason: money. Those admissions themselves were both damning, but the real kick in the marbles had been when she'd admitted to carrying on an affair with Dean Thomas since their 'break up' in her fifth year.

The hunt was on for Molly and Ron, and Aurors had been dispatched to pick them up. Ginny had also admitted that Ron had been dosing Hermione with love and loyalty potions as well, also with his mother's help. She'd further said that her mother had gotten the idea for the whole thing from Dumbledore, though she couldn't say when. Her mother had dropped that bomb after Dumbledore had passed, when Ginny had wanted to get back together with Dean openly.

It was all more than Harry could bear. After watching the interrogation of his wife from the far side of a one-way mirror, he'd been encouraged by his boss to take the rest of the day off. He immediately apparated to Grimmauld Place. He didn't usually spend time there, but it was one place he knew he could be alone. He barged into the library, and paced angrily, practically wearing a groove in the floor. Finally, he settled enough to flop back into a high backed chair to think.

It was there, ensconced in the library, that he found the solution to all his problems. He'd absentmindedly been flipping through a random book, wondering how deep all this went, and how far back, when he spotted a spell. Tergum in Tempus. Time… back in time. Intrigued, he started reading. The spell, done inside a ritual circle drawn in blood, would send the consciousness of the caster back to a certain point in time. The caster merely drew the circle in their own blood, focused on the time they wished to return to, pointed their wand upward, and recited the spell.

Harry quickly re-read the passage on the spell. There were no known side effects listed, and he wondered why. He looked at the cover of the book; it was the Black Family Grimoir. No wonder he'd never heard of this spell before, it was family magic. He briefly wondered whether he should perform the spell or not, but then recalled that his entire life had been absolute shite, except for the last few years, which had suddenly turned to ashes. Gryffindor's charge!

He returned the book to the shelf, used his wand to cut his hand, and dribbled blood in a circle around him. With one last look around the room, he closed his eyes and pictured a time in his life when he'd been happy. He thrust his wand into the air, called up his magic, and shouted, "Tergum in Tempus!"

Chapter 1: Re-birth

A thunderous noise awoke him. Harry shot bolt upright, taking in his surroundings. He knew immediately the spell had worked, as he was sitting in the cabin on the island Uncle Vernon had drug the family to on his eleventh birthday. He looked down, and saw his eleven-year-old self, clad in clothes way too big for him. Then the door burst open, and Harry saw Hagrid. A huge grin sprang to his face. Harry waxed nostalgic as Hagrid introduced himself and gave Dudley a pig tail. It wasn't until Hagrid had him at the entrance to Gringotts later that morning that things really changed.

"Hello," Hagrid said to the teller. "We'd like to visit Harry Potter's vault. And then I need to visit vault…"

"I'm sorry," Harry interrupted, before Hagrid could conclude the conversation. "I have an account here?" he asked innocently.

"Of course the Potters have an account here," the goblin responded.

"Do I have an account manager?" Harry pressed, knowing full well the answer.

"Of course," the goblin acknowledged.

"Erm," Hagrid hemmed, shifting his feet.

"Might it speak with him?" Harry asked, ignoring Hagrid's discomfort. "I apologize for not having an appointment, but I didn't know about my account until today."

"Wait here," the goblin replied. "I'll see if he's available." With that, the teller hopped off his stool and disappeared.

"Harry," Hagrid said at last, "I don' know if we've got time for yeh te meet wit' yehr accoun' manager today."

"But shouldn't I know what I have?" Harry asked.

"Dumbledore'll let yeh know abou' all tha'," Hagrid dismissed his concerns.

"I don't even know this Dumbledore fellow, Hagrid," Harry responded. "What if you took care of your business while I meet with my account manager? It shouldn't take too long, I'd imagine. I mean, I can't have that much money. My Aunt and Uncle would be way better off if I did, right? This way, Dumbledore won't even have to bother explaining it to me. I promise I won't leave Gringotts without you."

Hagrid shifted uncomfortably, and hemmed and hawed a bit, but finally said, "A'right."

It was then that the teller returned, hopping back up on his stool.

"Ripclaw is your account manager," the goblin said. "He is available now. Proceed through the double doors to your left. His office is the second on the right."

"Thank you," Harry replied. He nodded to Hagrid and disappeared down the familiar corridor. He knocked on the proper door.

"Enter!" came the expected command. Ripclaw was nothing if not predicable. Harry entered, and crossed the room to Ripclaw's desk. Ripclaw sat behind the large polished wood desk in a high-backed chair that made him look very small. Harry suppressed a grin.

"I apologize for the unexpected visit," Harry began. "I only just learned of my account with Gringotts today, and thought that I should review it with my account manager."

"I'm surprised you didn't know," Ripclaw replied. "We've sent you account updates every year since 1982." Harry suddenly realized what had happened, and why. He inwardly groaned at Dumbledore's manipulations.

"I have received no updates," Harry replied innocently. "In fact, I have received no mail at all before my Hogwarts letter."

"Curious," Ripclaw observed. "Perhaps you have a mail block on you."

"Can you check?" Harry asked, continuing the charade.

"Prick your finger on this," Ripclaw instructed, pulling a dish with a pin sticking out of it from a drawer and pushing it towards Harry. Harry pricked his finger and magic pulsed from it. Several puffs of smoke rose from the dish in various colours. "There's the mail block," Ripclaw observed. "Were you aware that your magic was bound?"

"What!?" Harry shouted. "Can you fix the block and the binding?"

"I can fix those and the tracking charms, all for a small fee," Ripclaw agreed.

"How small?" Harry asked, not shocked by the tracking charms, and willing to pay almost anything.

"One hundred galleons," Ripclaw answered.

"Fifty galleons," Harry shot back, knowing the goblins liked a haggler.

"Eighty galleons," Riplclaw countered.

"Seventy galleons, "Harry replied.

"Seventy-five galleons. Final offer," Ripclaw stated.

"Done," Harry agreed, and they shook hands.

"It's nice to see someone as young as you so keen on saving their money," Ripclaw observed as he waved his hands in an intricate pattern. He continued for a moment, before frowning. "You have someone else's soul within you."

"Is it my parent's murderer?" Harry asked, knowing the truth.

"I cannot tell," Ripclaw replied.

"Can you remove it?" Harry pressed.

"I cannot," Ripclaw replied. "But I can bind it so it cannot draw on your power."

"Please do so," Harry agreed. He'd not known the goblins could do that. You learn something new every day, Harry reasoned. A moment later, Harry was seated, and Ripclaw was pulling several books and documents out of a drawer.

"Here is the Potter family account book," Ripclaw said, passing over the book. "This is the Peverell family account book. This is the Evans family account book," he continued, passing over a much larger book and a much thinner book. "This is your Black family juvenile trust account book, and this is your Potter family juvenile trust account book." He passed two more thin books over.

"Did my parents leave a will?" Harry asked. Even in his past life he'd never seen it. It hadn't seemed important.

"They did," Ripclaw answered, pulling out another document. "But the official copy was sealed by the Wizengamot at the request of Albus Dumbledore. It was never read."

"Who can unseal it?" Harry asked, suspecting the answer.

"The Wizengamot, or your guardian," Ripclaw answered. "Fortunately, I have another copy of the will here for you. It was left in our care by your parents." He passed it over.

Harry unfolded the parchment, and began reading. The will had been written two weeks before their deaths. After skipping through the legalese at the beginning he finally got to the heart of the information. His parents clearly stated that they were hiding under the Fidelius charm in Godric's Hollow, and that the spell had been cast by Albus Dumbledore and the secret keeper was Peter Pettigrew. Then he got to the bequests, and his face darkened. The executor was to be Sirius Black, or an attorney named Edward Tonks if Sirius was unavailable. Harry was to be placed with Sirius Black, his godfather, or failing that, Alice Longbottom, his godmother. If either of those people were unavailable, he was to be placed with any living Longbottom. All money and property was to go to Harry, save a two thousand galleon per annum stipend to be paid to his guardian for his upkeep. Harry was to be emancipated at fifteen to take up his duties as head of house. The will was witnessed by Sirius Black, Alice Longbottom, and Albus Dumbledore.

"May I have a copy of this will to take with me?" Harry asked.

"You may keep that copy," Ripclaw replied. "There is another in the Potter files."

Harry nodded, and started looking through his account books. Harry hadn't taken much of an interest in his accounts before, and had never looked through his books. He'd left that to Ginny. He knew he had multiple accounts, but had continued to use the Potter trust vault, since it was easier. Here his face darkened again. There were monthly deductions of one thousand galleons from the Potter main account starting in November 1981. The annotation next to those transaction read 'Dumbledore Family Account (1254)'. There were also annual deductions of five thousand galleons from the Potter main account starting in January 1982. The annotation next to these transactions read 'Dumbledore - Dursley Account (123131)'. There was also the removal from the vault of a 'wand, elder' and a 'cloak, invisibility' noted in November 1981.

He flipped through the other account books, but noted no activity other than growth.

"Why are there withdrawals from the Potter family account, but none of the others?" Harry asked.

"Your appointed guardian, Albus Dumbledore, was not informed of the other accounts," Ripclaw replied.

"Not informed?" Harry asked, with a raised eyebrow.

"Mr. Potter, I've read the will," Ripclaw explained patiently. "I know who is supposed to be your guardian. I know that it's not Dumbledore. I also know how much your guardian is supposed to be taking from your accounts. I suspected when he breezed through that door in November 1981 that he planned on robbing you blind, and my suspicions were confirmed. When he asked to see the Potter accounts, I showed him the Potter accounts: the family account and your Potter family juvenile trust account. I didn't tell him about the Peverell, Evans, or Black family juvenile trust accounts because he didn't ask about them specifically. I can't do anything about his theft, because until the will is published, it's not technically theft."

"Damn," Harry swore softly.

"Yes," Ripclaw agreed.

"Can you recover all my vault keys that are out?" Harry asked. "If he's taking money from my accounts, he must have a key." With a snap of his fingers, Ripclaw made two vault keys appear on his desk. The smaller one Harry recognized as his trust vault key. The other was larger, and he assumed was the family vault key. "Can you restrict access to the vaults to Potter family only, and restrict fund transfers to the limits set in the will on my instruction?" Harry asked.

"Without the will being published, my hands are tied," Ripclaw replied. "But I will continue to monitor the outflow of cash, and record every knut and item removed from your vaults until the will is published. Then we can seize it back with interest." A feral grin appeared on Ripclaw's face.

"I assume I'm restricted from withdrawing funds from any account besides my trust accounts until I'm emancipated?" Harry asked. He received a nod. "Can I transfer funds between accounts before I'm emancipated?" Harry asked. Again, he received a nod, and another feral grin. "In that case, I'd like to transfer all the funds, save ten thousand galleons, from the Potter family account to the Peverell family account. I also ask that you not annotate the transfer destination on the Potter family account ledger."

"It shall be done," Ripclaw agreed.

"I'll also need a thousand galleons from the Potter trust account," Harry continued. A snap of his fingers, and a sack of galleons appeared on the desk. "So much easier than the cart ride Hagrid told me about," Harry commented. "Ripclaw, I thank you for your time. It's been a pleasure. If there's nothing else, may your gold flow and your enemies fall."

"If I didn't know any better, Mr. Potter, I'd say you'd spoken to goblins before," Ripclaw observed.

"This is the first time in my life," Harry replied with a wink. Then he was out the door. Hagrid was waiting for him, and saw the bag of galleons. He didn't even realize he'd neglected to hand over Harry's vault key.

When the duo left Gringotts, they walked down Diagon Alley, and Harry purchased his robes, books, and supplies. They also stopped at Twilfitt and Tattings, at Harry's insistence, and Harry got an entirely new wardrobe. He placed the new garments in his trunk, and vowed privately not to wear them where the Dursleys could see. The wand went quickly after Harry whispered to Ollivander that he thought holly and phoenix feather might do the trick after they'd tried three other wands. Ollivander gave him a queer look on the way out the door, but said nothing. Hagrid went ahead and presented Harry with Hedwig. On their way out of the alley, Harry spotted his next destination: Tonks, Beard, and Smith Solicitors.

That night, Hagrid returned Harry to Privet Drive. The Dursleys refused to even speak with him. Harry was ignored while the Dursleys made plans to take Dudley to a specialist the next day to remove his pig tail. He woke up early the next morning for breakfast. Then Harry made a break for it, leaping over the back garden fence and fleeing into the neighborhood. He found a secluded spot and called the Knight Bus, riding it to the Leaky Cauldron. Casting a wandless notice-me-not charm on himself, he marveled at how easy wandless magic was for his eleven-year-old self. He supposed that the removal of the block, knowledge of the spell, and the belief that the spell would work, made it work just as well as it would've for adult Harry. Notice-me-not charm in place, Harry entered the Leaky Cauldron and passed through to Diagon Alley. He quickly made for the solicitors office and cancelled the notice-me-not charm.

"Hello," the secretary said as he closed the door behind himself. "Are you lost?" Harry placed her in her early twenties, blonde, a little on the chubby side. He had never met her before, but that didn't surprise him, as he'd never used Ted Tonks' legal services before.

"No," Harry replied, walking up to her desk. "I'm here to see Mr. Tonks."

"Do you have an appointment?" she asked, looking briefly at her calendar.

"No," Harry answered. "I wasn't able to make an appointment, but this is important. I believe my family might have retained Mr. Tonks' services."

"I'll see if he's available," the secretary told him. "What's your name?"

"Harry Potter," he replied, grinning inwardly as her eyes bugged out of her head. Without another word the secretary hurried down the hall. Almost immediately she returned with a slightly younger looking Ted in tow.

"Mr. Potter," he said, extending his hand. "It's so nice to meet you."

"Thank you Mr. Tonks," Harry replied. "I was wondering if I might sit down with you. I've had a bit of a shock, and need some legal advice."

"Of course," Mr. Tonks said with a smile. "Right this way." Mr. Tonks then led Harry back to his office, a cramped affair with bookshelves lining both side walls, and a small window across the back. Harry took the offered seat.

"Until yesterday, I didn't know the magical world existed," Harry began, shocking Mr. Tonks. "I went to Gringotts yesterday, where I discovered I had an account there, that I had several bank accounts, and that my parents were also magical and had left a will. That will, I was told, was sealed by the Wizengamot. There was an unsealed copy amongst my parents account papers," Harry passed it across to Ted. "I was also told that a man named Albus Dumbledore was my guardian. All my life, I've been told by my muggle aunt, with whom I live, that my parents were degenerate drunks who'd been killed in a traffic accident. I must conclude that isn't the case. Furthermore, judging by the list of people who were supposed to be my guardians in the event of their deaths, as well as the amount of money Mr. Dumbledore has removed from my accounts every month, and the fact that I had a mail block and a bind on my magic, I have to assume that Mr. Dumbledore has some sort of nefarious plot to ruin either myself or my family."

Through his initial explanation, Mr. Tonks remained silent, but became increasingly unsettled as Harry proceeded. When Harry finished, Mr. Tonks opened the will and began reading.

"Sweet Morgana," Mr. Tonks swore under his breath. "What is it you want my help with exactly?"

"I want Albus Dumbledore to burn," Harry replied coldly. "Get my parents' will published. Get Sirius Black out of Azkaban. Have his guardianship over me restored. Finally, I want my family's money back. He's stolen one hundred seventy thousand galleons, a wand and a cloak from me and I want it all back."

"That'll be quite a challenge," Mr. Tonks replied. "Do you know who Albus Dumbledore is?"

"I do," Harry informed him. "I'll have Gringotts forward you copies of the relevant documents showing theft. You have a copy of the will. If it were me acting alone, I'd pass copies of everything to the Daily Prophet, the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and the Minister for Magic, but if you have a better suggestion, I'd be happy to hear it."

"Are you sure you just found out you were magical yesterday?" Mr. Tonks asked skeptically. "You seem to have a very good understanding of our world for someone so new. I don't know if the Prophet would print it, and without…"

"The goblins gave me a very good lesson yesterday, Mr. Tonks," Harry replied, brushing the question off. "Besides, if you were screwed over as masterfully as my family was, wouldn't you learn everything you could about how to fix it? I wouldn't worry about the Daily Prophet, though. I found out yesterday I own sixty percent of it."

"Touché," Mr. Tonks replied chuckling.

"As for the rest…" Harry trailed off.

"I'll pass the information along to Amelia Bones and Minister Fudge, as well as the Daily Prophet," Mr. Tonks agreed.

"When you talk to Madam Bones," Harry suggested, "recommend she review Sirius Black's trial transcripts."

"I'll do that," Mr. Tonks said, giving Harry an odd look.

"Good," Harry said. "Now, what do I have to do to get you put on retainer for me?"

"The Potter family is already on retainer, or was before 1981," Mr. Tonks said. "We'll just reactivate the account."

"Ok," Harry agreed. "If there's nothing else, I'll just pop over to Gringotts and have Ripclaw send you copies of the pertinent paperwork." With that, Harry left, leaving an astonished Ted Tonks in his wake.

During Harry's brief stop at Gringotts he made sure Ripclaw would send Mr. Tonks the copies he needed. He also wrote out a transcript of the prophecy, along with pertinent details, such as who gave it, when, and to whom. Harry then instructed this also be passed along to Mr. Tonks. He also retrieved his Potter family and Black family heir rings. He pretended to act surprised when Ripclaw told him he was the Black heir as well.

As he was stepping out of Gringotts, he looked over to Florean Fortescue's and saw Augusta and Neville Longbottom sitting there. Harry walked over.

"Excuse me," Harry said, feigning ignorance. "I'm a little lost. Could you help me?" He put his hands on the back of the chair in front of him, making sure Augusta could see his rings. She almost immediately gasped. Her eyes went from his black hair and green eyes to his mostly-hidden scar to the rings on his fingers. She leaned in.

"Are you Harry Potter?" she asked in a low voice. Harry nodded. "My name is Augusta Longbottom, and I've been looking for you for a long time."

"It's nice to meet you Madam Longbottom," Harry replied. "I only found out I was magical yesterday. Since then I've been to Gringott's twice, and learned quite a bit about myself and my family. Are you related to Alice Longbottom?" He tried to appear innocent.

"She's my daughter-in-law," Madam Longbottom replied sadly. "She was your godmother."

"She was supposed to become my guardian," Harry said.

"I know," Madam Longbottom said. "Alice told me. You should have been raised with us." She put an arm around Neville. "This is my grandson, Neville. You used to play together when you were infants."

"Hello, Neville," Harry said, extending a hand. "It's nice to meet you. Are you going to Hogwarts this year too?"

"Y…Yes," Neville acknowledged, gaining confidence slowly. "It's nice to meet you too, Harry."

"Would you like to come back to Long Hall with us?" Madam Longbottom asked. "We might talk away from prying eyes and ears."

"I'd like that, Madam Longbottom," Harry replied with a grin.

Harry spent the rest of the day chatting with the Longbottoms about anything and everything. He explained as much of his situation as he could, and listened to Madam Longbottom describe wizarding politics and the wizarding government. While Harry knew most of it, he still learned a bit. He hadn't been very political the last time around. He also picked up some new information about his family. She pledged her support for Harry, and promised to cooperate with Mr. Tonks as much as she could to press matters with the DMLE and the Wizegamot. After supper Harry politely declined the Longbottoms' invitation to stay the rest of the holiday with them, and Madam Longbottom apparated him back to Privet Drive. He thanked her, and walked into the house, ensconcing himself in his bedroom without seeing his relatives.

The next morning, Harry again quit 4 Privet Drive, this time riding a bus, and then the train to the Richmond neighborhood of London that he knew Hermione called home. He then walked from the station to Hermione's house. He observed it briefly as he passed by, but didn't approach it. He instead went to the nearby park, Richmond Green, where he knew Hermione spent a good deal of time reading during the summers.

It took him all of five minutes of looking once he'd reached the park to find her. She was seated under what she'd described as her favorite tree, reading. He started over to her. Before he reached her, however, she was approached by three other girls. Harry couldn't hear what they were saying, but it obviously wasn't nice, judging by Hermione's reaction. One of the girls knocked the book she was reading out of her hands.

"Oi!" Harry shouted, as he picked up the pace. "What's your problem? Leave her alone."

"What do you care?" one of the girls asked as he pulled up.

"Maybe I just don't like slags like you hassling my friends," Harry shot back.

"Oh yeah?" another girl asked, "What are you gonna do about it?"

"Well, my dad's a copper, so…" Harry said, leaving the rest to their imagination.

"Screw him," the third girl said. "Let's go. This aren't fun anymore. See ya 'round ya naff bint."

"Wanker," the second called as a parting shot.

"Thank you," Hermione said, reaching for her book. Harry got to it first.

"Hogwarts: A History, eh?" Harry asked, picking it up and handing it to her. He looked around quickly, seeing they were practically alone. "So'd you get your wand yet?"

"Ex…Excuse me?" Hermione stuttered, glancing around.

"Are you a witch or not?" Harry asked with a grin.

"How…How do you know about that?" she asked.

"Well, I'm a wizard, aren't I?" Harry replied. Then he stuck out his hand. "Harry Potter, at your service."

"You're Harry Potter?" she asked incredulously. Harry merely brushed aside his fringe, showing her his scar. He again extended his hand, which she finally shook. Her face relaxed, and she finally smiled. "Hermione Granger. Pleased to make your acquaintance." Then she got a confused look on her face. "Wait… I read your parents were killed. How's your dad a police officer?"

"Call it a little white lie to help out a friend," Harry replied.

"Friend?" Hermione asked.

"Well…" Harry prevaricated. "Would you like to be friends? I haven't got many, you see, and I can always use another." Hermione pondered for a moment, as if trying to determine whether he was serious or not before she smiled.

"I would," she replied at last. "Care to sit?" And so Harry and Hermione whiled away the morning chatting, and soon fell into the easy camaraderie that Harry remembered so fondly from his earlier school years. They had lunch at a nearby chip shop before Hermione took him home with her.

"Mum and dad are at the surgery until five," Hermione explained. "Would you like to stay for dinner? I can ring them up and ask if it's ok." Harry agreed, so Hermione rang her mum, who was over the moon that Hermione had made a friend. Upon ringing off, Hermione showed Harry her room and her book collection. They spent the balance of the afternoon watching the telly until her parents returned home.

"Mum! Dad!," Hermione nearly shouted when they walked in the door. "I'd like you to meet my friend, Harry Potter." Harry waved from behind Hermione.

"Hello Dr. and Dr. Granger," Harry said.

"Well, come out and let us have a proper look at you," Mrs. Granger said. "And none of this Dr. and Dr. business. It's Mr. and Mrs. or we'll both be looking up all evening."

"Harry's magical too," Hermione informed them. "Just like me!"

"Is it all magicals that have untamable hair, or are you and Hermione just two peas in a pod?" Mr. Granger asked upon observing the young man before him.

"I'm afraid it's just us, Mr. Granger," Harry replied, grinning at Hermione.

Mrs. Granger made spaghetti. While the dinner was being prepared, Mr. Granger continued to pepper Harry with questions in the living room.

"Do you live around here?" he asked.

"No," Harry replied. "I'm out in Surry."

"How'd you get to London?" Mr. Granger pressed.

"A bus and the train," Harry replied. "It only took about an hour."

"Do your parents know you're here?" Mr. Granger asked.

"My parents are dead," Harry replied. "I live with my Aunt and Uncle and Cousin."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Mr. Granger commented. "Do your aunt and uncle know you're here?"

"No," Harry sighed. "They're not the nicest people. I've just found out I'm a wizard, and they went round the twist about it. They did finally move me out of the cupboard under the stairs and into my cousin's spare bedroom. Uncle Vernon was upset when my Hogwarts letter came address to 'Harry Potter, the Cupboard Under the Stairs, 4 Privet Drive.' I went to Diagon Alley two days ago with Hagrid, the gamekeeper at Hogwarts. Then I ran away yesterday, and went back to Diagon Alley. Today I was planning on doing some sightseeing around London, which I've never done before, but I ran into Hermione before I saw anything."

"Wait a tick," Mr. Granger said, pausing. "Your aunt and uncle made you live in a cupboard?"

"From as far back as I can remember," Harry affirmed. "It's big enough for a mattress, and I'm pretty small."

"Do they hit you?" he continued.

"Not usually," Harry said. "But they do yell a lot. I have to do most of the chores around the house. I sort of wonder who's done the cooking the last three days."

After a delicious dinner, Mr. Granger drove Harry home. Harry could see him frown from the driver's seat when Harry was cuffed by Uncle Vernon when he was let into the house. Harry had gotten the Granger's phone number and been instructed to call if things got too difficult. Harry chose not to use it. He'd established contact with Hermione, which had been his primary objective. Vernon's beatings weren't unusually severe, and he was able to sneak out of his room at night to eat in contravention of Petunia's instructions as the bedroom door didn't have any locks on it yet.

Two days after Harry's visit with the Grangers, there was a knock on the door. Petunia yelled for Harry to answer it.

"Hello?" Harry asked as he opened the door, revealing two constables.

"Hello," the male officer said. "Are you Harry Potter?"

"Yes," Harry replied, curious.

"Are your aunt and uncle home?" he continued.

"My aunt is," Harry replied. "My uncle's at work."

"May we come in and speak with her?" the constable asked. Harry merely opened the door, nodded, and left to find his aunt.

"Aunt Petunia," he said, when he got to the back garden, "There's some police here, and they want to talk to you."

"Oh, bugger," Petunia swore. "What on earth have you done now?" Harry shrugged, and followed her back into the house. The constables were in the hallway; the female officer, a short Indian woman, was observing the locks on the cupboard under the stairs. "Officers, I'm Petunia Dursley," she said breezily. "What can I do for you?"

"We're here to investigate claims that your nephew has been abused under your care under section 47 of the Children Act of 1989," the male officer said. Petunia's eyes bugged out. "We've been informed by a Dr. Daniel Granger of Richmond, London, that he has reason to believe that your nephew was given substandard care, and exposed to violence at the hands of yourself and your husband." While he was speaking, the female officer was looking Harry over. "Would you please step into the parlor while my partner conducts an interview?"

"I… I…" Petunia sputtered as she was guided by the male officer into her own parlor. "That's preposterous! I've never even heard of a Dr. Granger in London! How would he know anything about us?"

When they were gone, the female officer looked at him.

"Can you remove your shirt?" she asked. "I want to check you for bruises." Harry nodded and pulled the oversized t-shirt off. There were several bruises on his body and shoulders, including some that looked suspiciously fist-shaped. "I need you to be honest with me," she continued. "Do your aunt and uncle hit you?"

"My uncle mostly," Harry replied. "My aunt not a lot."

"When was the last time you were hit?" she pressed.

"Yesterday evening when Uncle Vernon got home from work," Harry replied, pointing to a bruise on his shoulder.

"Why were you hit?" she asked.

"He said it was what I deserved for being a freak," Harry replied. "He was still angry that I'd run off the day before."

"You can put your shirt back on," the officer said. As he complied, she continued. "We received reports that you lived in a cupboard under the stairs. Is that it?"

"Well," Harry prevaricated. "I did do, until my birthday last week. Now I live in my cousin's second bedroom, upstairs."

The officer opened the cupboard door after undoing all the locks. Opening the door, she saw the mattress that had been left behind with some clutter. She nodded, closed the door, and headed for the stairs. Harry pointed out his new bedroom, and she entered, noting the size, as well as the pile of broken toys laying in heaps.

"You don't take very good care of your toys," she observed.

"Those are my cousins," Harry said. "I haven't gotten a chance to clean up in here since I moved in. I've been busy buying school supplies and doing my normal chores."

"What are your normal chores?" she asked. He detailed his day, and what was expected of him. She began taking notes. Before she left, she took out a camera and took photos of the room. She then led him back downstairs, where she took more photographs of the cupboard. She'd just stepped into the kitchen to make a call when Dudley came home. The sound of the door opening caused her to poke her head back into the kitchen doorway. Dudley, observant as ever, didn't see her. He did, however, see Harry standing there in the hallway.

"What are you doing standing around, freak?" Dudley asked. "Aren't there chores you should be doing?" Dudley then sucker punched Harry in the stomach and pushed him into the cupboard before slamming the door.

"Oi!" the officer shouted, and raced into the hall. Dudley's eyes bugged out and he turned to run, but the officer tripped him up and took him down. She was cuffing him when her partner appeared from the parlor. "I just observed this one punch Mr. Potter in the gut and push him into the cupboard. Can you let him out?"

"Duddi-kins!" Petunia gasped as she stepped into the hall.

"Is this your son?" the officer asked Petunia. She nodded. "I'm writing him a reprimand for assault and battery to go on his record." Petunia wasn't stupid enough to ask why, she merely nodded, resigned. The male officer helped Harry out of the cupboard.

"We'll be removing Mr. Potter to a place of safety, pending an emergency protection order from the council," the male officer informed her. "Go collect your things, Mr. Potter." Harry ran up the stairs, and threw his spare clothes in his trunk. As he was coming back down he heard the tail end of the conversation. "…unlikely that Mr. Potter will be returned to your care, and will instead be placed in a community home. You should make yourself available to the police in the future while the investigation is ongoing, and failure to do so may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest. Do you understand what I've said to you?"

Petunia was crying by this point, as the seriousness of the charges laid against her had been made clear. She nodded her understanding, and watched as Harry and the male officer hefted his trunk and Hedwig's cage and Harry left 4 Privet Drive for good. With his trunk snugly in the back of the police car, Harry climbed in back and left for the police station.

At the police station, he was processed and interviewed by a guardian appointed by the council to act on his behalf during the period of flux. He was inspected and photographed by a medical official to document bruising, and he asked Harry about his medical history. Harry told the official about his broken bones and beatings. His school history and home life were also questioned. When he left the guardian and medical official, he was taken back into the waiting room, where he got a mild shock. Standing there waiting for him were the Grangers.

"Harry!" Hermione cried, and ran up, hugging him. Harry was quick to hug her back, his eyes tearing up.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

"We're here to take you home," she said. "If you want to come, of course." She pulled back and looked down. "Mum and dad volunteered to let you stay with us while everything gets sorted out."

"But I've only just met you," Harry objected.

"And yet it feels like I've known you forever," Hermione replied. "I've… I've never had a friend before. And you're… erm… like me, you know?"

"Yeah, I know," Harry said, grinning and taking her hand. "I feel the same way, 'Mione." She looked like she was about to object to his nickname, but she stopped and then smiled.

"Let's go home, Harry," she said finally.