Letters and Lunches
Old Crow - Scribe
After the events of the MOM, Harry is emotionally shattered. Unable to leave Privet Drive for the summer, he turns to his friend Hermione for help. She receives a letter from Harry 2 days after returning home. She fears for her friend's mental health and gets her mother involved. Through a series of letters and lunches Hermione and her parents attempt to piece together Harry's broken life.
The story takes place during July of 1996, the summer between 5th and 6th year. The story was originally written immediately after book five had been published. As such, the words horcrux and hallows are not included. Instead, it offers a logical progression of young Harry continuing to develop the leadership role that he had reluctantly taken on in book five.
Harry Potter and associated milieu, characters, and situations are owned by J.K. Rowling and her licensees. This is a work of fan fiction, produced solely for enjoyment. No infringement of rights is intended.
The story was revised and hopefully improved in the summer of 2011.
… - …
Friday - 5 July, 1996
Emma Ganger was enjoying the morning sitting in her back garden reading a professional journal. Their house in Crawley was a very comfortable place to live. She and her husband, Dan were justifiably proud of their home. They lived a good life, as co-owners of the Granger and Granger dental practice. Emma was working about half time and Dan three quarter time, leaving ample time for each other. They had a good marriage and were very proud of their daughter, who had returned home on holiday from boarding school two days earlier.
The wizarding war heating up in Britain had not yet reached Dan or Emma. They hadn't read anything in the newspapers that that they could link to wizarding trouble, although there had been a number of unexplained deaths reported in the newspapers. None of the cases had eyewitnesses, shots were never fired, there were no calls for help, and there was never live footage on the evening news.
Somewhat harder to pass over was her daughter's injury from the last week of school. The school physician and one of the teachers had stopped by their practice a little more than a week ago, initially explaining that her daughter had suffered an injury from a mis-directed spell and would be as good as new in a few days. Emma and Dan had assumed that it was the result of an accident at school and the school officials had said nothing to give the Grangers a different idea.
When Hermione had come home, and Emma had seen the injury, she was quite shocked at the size of it. Starting at Hermione's left shoulder running diagonally to her right hip, the injury looked like a purple surgical scar measuring nearly two feet! However, two days later it was barely noticeable. Hermione had been taking the medications that the school physician had prescribed, and was to take them for another four days. It had never occurred to Emma that her daughter's wound was the result of an attempted murder, and at the time had been life threatening.
While Emma was enjoying her garden, Hermione was working on her homework, finishing an essay due at the start of term in seven weeks, The use of Dragon Blood in Invisibility Potions. Hermione was a nearly seventeen year old witch, home from her fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, located in north central Scotland, about 550 miles northwest of London.
Hermione's studies were interrupted from a tap on her window.
"Hedwig!" she beamed. She was anxious to see what Harry, her good friend from school had to say. She'd been with him through a very traumatic adventure at the end of the summer term and was worried for him.
Her school friend Lavender insisted that Harry and Hermione fancied one another, and were destined to become a famous couple. A more objective viewpoint would put them as constant companions, right on the edge of something more. She opened her window to let the beautiful snowy owl into her room, and stroked the bird for a minute as she untied the letter from Hedwig's leg.
Hermione, what have I done? Sirius is dead because of me, and you were so badly injured. I am so sorry. I accept all of the blame. I have no business being a wizard. I can't even save a shaggy black dog, let alone the entire wizarding world.
You told me it was a trap - Why didn't I listen? That witch laughed when Sirius died. It's my fault that he was there. I really tried to curse her in the lobby, and I couldn't even hurt her. I'm such a failure. Dumbledore should have killed us both when he had the chance. I deserved it. I understand why you hate me.
I don't expect to hear from you again. Again I am so sorry.
An earsplitting cry disturbed the peach of Emma's garden. "MUM! What should I do?"
Mrs. Granger took the parchment from her hysterical daughter and read it. "Let's go see him, Hermione. That boy needs help; and from what you've told me over the years, he'll never get it at home." The two women hurried into the car as Hermione gave her mum Harry's address in Little Winging.
The teen's relationship with her mum had changed quite a bit in the last few years. Until her third year at Hogwarts, she' been amazingly open with her parents, at least Emma. She told and wrote home about her feelings and the day-to-day happenings at school. While part of the closeness was due to being an only child, part was also due to the lack of close friends that Hermione had made as a child.
Their relationship seemed to grow distant at the end of the third year. Perhaps the year of keeping the secrets of the time turner secret from everyone including her best friends had started it, but Hermione shared less and less with her parents as the years went on. She'd chosen not to mention the darker aspects of her world – Death Eaters, open prejudice, the politics, and the rebirth of Voldemort.
Emma knew that Hermione was holding in more than she should. The hour-long ride to Surrey County seemed like a good opportunity to reconnect with her daughter.
Emma envisioned starting slowly, but the questions seemed to all roll out at once. "Hermione, tell me what really happened that last week of school? What were you and your friends doing in London? How did you get there from northern Scotland? Hermione, why didn't you tell us the whole story? How did you get hurt? A man was killed! Why didn't you tell us?"
Hermione realized that she needed to tell her Mum the whole story. She opened up like a floodgate. "Mum, I barely know where to start. There was this evil Defense teacher who tortured some of the students in detentions, and Harry was always getting hurt. Then she got Professor Dumbledore and some of the other professors got sacked. Professor Umbridge was totally out of control. Then Harry dreamed that his Godfather was being tortured. Mum, I tried to stop him, but he went anyway. We couldn't find a teacher to notify. I had to help him. Oh Mum, I could have stopped him." Tears were streaming down the young woman's face.
"Let's start over. Please tell me one thing at a time. Why were you in London?"
"Harry dreamed that Sirius was being held in the Ministry of Magic. We flew there to help Sirius, but it was a trap. Voldemort's Death Eaters were waiting for Harry, and we tried to run away. They started attacking us, and we couldn't defend ourselves very well. Then Sirius and the some people that Professor Dumbledore knew came to save us. Sirius was killed, and Voldemort tried to get Harry."
"I don't understand. Who is Voldemort and why are they after Harry?"
"I don't really know why. Voldemort is a really evil wizard who has been after Harry since he was a baby. They were after this magical prophecy, and I think it had something to do with Harry. Oh Mum, why does everything have to happen to Harry? His life has been one tragedy after another. His parents were murdered when he was a baby. He lives with evil people. Voldemort won't leave him alone, and I don't know how to help him."
Emma had listened to her daughter carefully. "What did you mean about the people that Harry lives with? They are his aunt and uncle, aren't they? Are they criminals of some sort, or do you mean that Harry is somehow being mistreated?"
"I think they treat Harry horribly. His clothes never fit, and he's always so skinny when he starts school. He told me a story about a cupboard, but I really didn't understand. They never let Harry talk on the phone." I think he's really scared of his uncle.
"Have they ever hurt him?"
"Mum, I don't know. They never get him anything for Christmas, but I don't know if they yell at him or…"
"What if they beat him?"
Sensing that her daughter's emothins were at the tdge of what the teen could control, Emma calmly replied, "Hermione, we don't know that. Let's wait until we see him. Would you like to have him stay with us for a few days? We could have lunch with him and ask."
Noticably relieved, Hermione replied, "Thanks Mum. You and Dad are wonderful." She breathed easier.
Mrs. Granger parked the car at number 4 Privet Drive. They both got out and went to the door. Petunia opened the door. She looked at the two well-dressed women standing at the door and smiled. "Can I help you?"
"Hello Mrs. Dursley. I'm Emma Granger. This is my daughter Hermione. Hermione and Harry go to school together. We are here to take your nephew out for lunch."
The smile vanished from Petunia's boney face. Her worried eyes scanned the neighborhood for observers. Wringing her hands on her apron, she asked, "School? St. Brutus?"
"May we come in? Thank you" said Emma firmly, and she walked in, not waiting for an answer.
She briefly surveyed the house. There was no sign that Harry lived there. None of the family pictures included Harry. There was nothing from his school out in the living room. "Harry please."
"Upstairs," snapped Petunia as she turned on her heal and stalked out of the room.
"I'll get him." Hermione climbed up the steep stairway that Petunia had pointed to. The room at the end of the hallway had several latches on the door, and a cat-flap at the bottom. The door was closed. She softly knocked on the door. "Harry?" There was no answer. Hermione opened the door. The room was dark except for the light filtering through the pulled down shade. "Harry?" There was no answer. Hermione flipped on the light and looked around. Curled up into a ball on the little bed was Harry. He looked terrible! Wearing only a dirty sweatshirt, and graying underpants, he was sobbing into a pillow. Hermione knelt down and pulled him into her arms. She'd never seen him in this much anguish. "It's alright Harry. I'm here. I'll take care of you." She smoothed his unruly hair. Her heart ached seeing her normally strong, confident friend so completely in anguish.
Harry half opened his eyes and saw his friend. "Mione?"
"Hi Harry." She looked at his eyes. They were as bloodshot as she'd ever seen. Harry's face looked pale and gray. He was shaking. She gave him a soft kiss on his forehead. "It's alright. My Mum brought me. We are going to take you back for a while."
Harry mumbled something into her shoulder as he clung to her. She caught the words 'Dumbledore' and 'protection.' "Let's get you cleaned up. You'll feel better."
Downstairs the conversation had gotten interesting. Emma had followed Petunia into the kitchen. "What do you mean St. Brutus? Hermione and Harry go to Hogwarts."
Petunia didn't answer.
"You are Harry's aunt Petunia Dursley, aren't you?"
Petunia nodded nervously. "Are you a…?"
"Pediatric Dentist? Yes. My husband Dan and I have a practice in Crawley."
Some of the fear lifted from Petunia's face. "I see. I live here with my husband Vernon, and our son Dudley. We are…"
"What about Harry?" Emma cut in.
… - …
Meanwhile, upstairs Hermione had gently but firmly gotten Harry into the bathroom to get cleaned up. She opened the little closet in Harry's room and was appalled at what she found. "Oh Harry," she sighed. There was one other sweatshirt, a few t-shirts that looked like they would fit Umbridge, and two pair of impossibly large jeans. On the floor was a pair of trainers that had been duct taped to hold the top and bottom together. Hermione thought of her own closet, and felt so bad for her friend. Finding the least awful set, she laid them outside the bathroom door, and softly knocked. He took the clothes, and dressed in the bathroom. While waiting, Hermione peeked in Harry's school trunk, and noticed the now half empty bottle of Ogden's old Firewhiskey that George had given Harry among Harry's school robes. She also noticed several pieces of what looked like a small mirror at the bottom of the trunk. Hearing the bathroom door unlock, she quickly closed the trunk and sat on the small bed.
A few minutes later the three of them left the house. Emma was furious with Petunia's attitude towards Harry. Once in the car, Emma asked Harry if he minded having lunch at a local pub. He didn't. In fact he had never been there. They stopped outside of a local pub, the Cork and Cleaver. Their table was quiet. Harry was obviously glad to be out of the house, and had lost his dazed look, but did not have a lot to say. They sat eating their lunch in comfortable silence.
Hermione kept a hold on Harry's arm. After they had gotten half way through their lunch, he excused himself to use the restroom. Hermione looked at her mother, and asked, "How can we help him? Mum you should have seen his room. There was nothing in it. He doesn't have any clothes. It was awful."
Emma replied, "Will he let us take him shopping? We could have him stay with us this weekend."
"I don't know. Maybe we could ask him."
"Ask me what?" Harry had returned to their table.
The young woman looked embarrassed for her friend. She knew how much he was hurting, and didn't want to say anything that would make him feel worse. "Harry, we were wondering if you might like to stay with us for a few days? Maybe this weekend?"
Harry's face lit up for a split second, then he lowered his eyes. Headmaster Dumbledore had told him that he had to stay at Privet drive for most of the summer to renew the "blood ties" that offered him some protection against Voldemort. It had only been a week. He replied, "Can't. I can't leave Privet Drive for more than four hours a day for most of the summer."
Emma felt the pain flowing from her daughter's friend. She was certain that he had an unstated reason for his refusal. Obviously the thought of leaving his relatives was a dream for him. She would ask her daughter about it later. She tried a different approach. "Harry, what happened the last week of school?"
Harry looked at his friend. Hermione picked up Harry's hand again and held it tightly. The pain was evident on his young face. "I made a horrible mistake. I got my friends hurt and my godfather killed." It was obvious that his self-confidence was shattered.
The silence that followed was deafening. Harry was certain that Mrs. Granger was going to yell at him, take Hermione and leave. Hermione was certain that Harry was going to walk out on them, she could feel him tensing. Emma couldn't believe the volume of pain that her daughter's friend was holding in.
Finally Emma asked, "Please tell me about your dream."
Harry found that he needed to tell his story. "It wasn't a regular dream, someone… someone put it there." Harry wasn't sure how much Hermione had confided in her parents, or if they'd even been notified by McGonagall about the previous week.
Emma sat there quietly waiting for Harry to continue.
Harry started again, "There's this evil wizard…"
Harry nodded, "Yes. He was putting these dreams, visions really, in my head for the last month at school, and I…"
"Acted on one of them?"
Harry admitted, "Yes. I believed it was real, and I almost got my best friend killed. My Godfather tried to rescue us…"
"And someone killed him." She leaned over and hugged the boy. "Harry, I'm so sorry that you had to go through this." She looked him in the eye and clearly stated, "This isn't your fault. Hermione doesn't blame you. Dan and I don't either. We do not hate you. Please don't blame yourself."
"Tears streaked Harry's face. He looked down and wiped his face. After a minute, he replied "Thank you for lunch, Mrs. Granger. Would it be okay if you took me home now?"
Emma smiled at the boy and hugged him again. "Of course, Harry." She paid the bill, and they drove back to Privet Drive.
Hermione and Harry sat in the back seat. She held his hand on the way, keeping him focused on her, rather than his pain. She thought about his letter. He obviously felt dangerously guilty about leading them into a trap. She wondered what he'd meant by "saving the wizarding world." What had transpired between Dumbledore, Harry and Voldemort? Who else had been in the lobby? Hermione had been in the Hospital wing for a few days, and had never really heard the details. She wanted to know the answers to help her friend, but realized that this wasn't the time to press him further.
Emma watched her daughter kiss her friend on the step outside at the Dursley house. Hermione obviously cared a lot about him. On the way back, they both were lost in their thoughts. Finally Emma asked her daughter, "You really flew to London?" Hermione nodded, and they were back in silence. After a few minutes, she asked, "You really would do anything to help him?" Hermione nodded. Emma suggested, "Then let's figure out what we can do to help."
On Saturday morning Hermione sat at her writing desk and started a letter to her best friend.
I'm so happy that we were able to have lunch yesterday. I read your letter over and over. Mum and I are so worried about you. Thank you for talking with my Mum. I know that you don't know her very well, and have no reason to trust her, but she really cares about you. I really care about you too. You're my best friend, and I wouldn't even want to think about being without you.
Harry, I need to ask you for your help. I need to know what happened that night. After Dolohov hit me with that flame curse, what happened? Please believe me when I tell you that I'm not trying to place blame on anyone, I just need to know. I was so drugged up with all of Madam Pomfrey's potions that I don't remember many of the details of that night. Who came to help us? Which Death Eaters were captured or got away? What happened to the prophecy? Why did Malfoy think that you knew about it? Please tell me Harry.
Please understand. My injury was not your fault. I was careless and let an evil man get to me after I'd beaten him. You showed us how to approach a downed opponent in the DA meetings . I allowed myself to get careless, and fortunately have been given a second chance. Ginny, Neville, and Luna are fine. Ginny wrote me and said that Ron is finishing his treatments this week. Professor Lupin told me that Tonks is doing fine too. She left St. Mungos, and is on a three week paid leave. Harry, we've been given a second chance!
I can only imagine how much you miss Sirius. Please listen to me. I had the opportunity to get to know him a little bit last summer when you were with your aunt and uncle. He absolutely hated being stuck at Grimmauld Place. A little piece of him wore away every day that he was there. Every time one of the Order members would leave for a mission and Sirius had to stay behind, another piece wore away. I know you don't want to hear this, but I don't think he had much left by last month. I think that given the choice of any of a hundred final outcomes, Sirius would have selected to die helping to protect you . Like myself, know that Sirius loved you.
Harry, you mentioned being responsible for saving the wizarding world. How did that burden get placed on your (cute) shoulders? If it really is there, how can I help you?
Please help me help you.
PS We are taking you out for lunch on Monday - Same time.
PPS Sorry for keeping Hedwig overnight. She must have been waiting for me to reply.
Harry put down the letter. How could she forgive him so easily? He read her letter again. Clearly she didn't blame him for almost leading her to her death. Did she really think he was cute? Harry smiled, if only for a moment. It was his first smile in a week. He opened the window shade and felt the warm sunlight.
Meanwhile Emma had dialed her oldest friend, Diane Turnbull. Diane was a practicing Psychologist at the Crawley Connections Organisation – a mental health clinic. Emma had never told Diane that Hermione was a witch, but Emma trusted Diane completely.
They arranged to have lunch that day, with the understanding that there was some "business" to discuss. They met at the Rat and Parrott pub on High Street midway between their respective practices. Diane handed Emma the clinic brochure describing their services. Providing confidential counseling for children, young people and young adults on any issue including family and relationship problems, child abuse, depression, eating disorders, and more. 'Spot on.' thought Emma.
After some chitchat, Diane asked her long time friend, "What's up, Em?"
"One of Hermione's school friends is in a bad way right now. Hermione received a letter from him yesterday, and he sounded really depressed. We drove to his aunt's house where he lives, and took him for lunch. Diane, he is a special kid, and has a lot of problems."
"Em, what do you mean?"
"Diane, do you believe in the supernatural?"
"I have no reason not to. Do you?"
Emma replied, "Kind of. Just keep an open mind. OK?"
"Sure, Em. You mentioned a letter. Not many kids write letters these days. Can I see it?"
Emma took a deep breath. She thought about all of the directions that this conversation could go. She handed the parchment to her friend.
"Interesting paper," Diane mumbled as she felt the parchment.
Diane read through the note, and looked at it again. Several words and phrases stood out. Sirius certainly wasn't a common name. The only other time she remembered hearing it was in connection with Sirius Black, the escaped mass murderer from a few years ago. Dumbledore was another uncommon name. She couldn't remember hearing that name in years. Diane reread the line, I don't expect to hear from you again. The boy's letter had all of the makings of a suicide note.
"Em. He clearly has some issues. You said you saw him yesterday. What was he doing when you found him?"
"Hermione went up to his room to get him. I didn't see him there, or get a look at his room. She told me later that he was on his bed half dressed crying."
"What does his personal support group consist of? Does he have any sort of relationship with his parents?"
"I would say that there's no love coming from either his aunt or uncle. His parents were killed when he was a baby. I saw no obvious signs of physical abuse on him, but he was pretty covered up for a warm day. I don't think they talk with each other in any meaningful way. I've met his aunt once. She acted as if Harry wasn't even a member of her family. However, he does have a good group of school friends."
"She cares a lot about Harry. They have been friends since they were eleven."
"I think they are on the threshold of beginning to date. I'm certain that Hermione wants to. He may be a step behind, catching up."
Diane looked at the parchment again, and thought for a half minute. "Who was Sirius, and what was he to Harry?"
"Sirius Black. Yes, that one. I believe that he was Harry's Godfather."
"Is he a…?"
The two women looked at each other for a few seconds, each wondering what the other had really meant, and how it would forever affect their friendship if the words were actually spoken.
"Em, what do you think Harry meant when he wrote I don't expect to hear from you again? What was he planning on ending?"
"My first reaction was a fear for the worst, but after seeing him, I'm not so sure. I think he believed that Hermione would not want him to be her friend any longer."
"Believed. Did they get along at lunch?"
Balancing Harry's request to leave early and their departing kiss, Emma nodded an affirmation. "OK."
Dr. Turnbull asked, "How would you like me to help?"
Emma considered her question for a moment and replied, "Diane, I know he's depressed, to at least a moderate degree. He was recently a victim in a very violent attack, and he certainly believes that he needs to accept a large degree of the responsibility for them being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Diane inquired, "Who was there? I don't remember reading about it. Where was it?"
"He was out of school with Hermione and four other friends. They were in a government building after hours."
All but certain that she'd put the clues together properly, Diane inquired, "The Ministry?"
The two women looked carefully at each other and nodded.
Emma nodded again in relief and said, "You know?"
"My grandfather was something of a squib. He told me the strangest stories when I was a little girl. I always wanted to believe them. What about Hermione?"
"The girl can do amazing things, and I don't think I've seen a tenth of it. I've never seen Harry do magic, but Hermione tells me that he is a very powerful wizard."
"Again, how would you like me to help?"
"I'd like you to talk with him. Given the very unique circumstances, an out of the office conversation might be best. Maybe for lunch in a few days?"
"That sounds good. Don't wait too long. Monday would work fine. Let me know. Thanks for lunch, Em."
"Thank you, Diane."
The previous evening, Emma relayed the events of the last two days to her husband Dan. He'd never had an exceptionally close relationship with his daughter, but realized that he currently had an opportunity to get much closer.
Dan and Hermione had made plans to go shopping for Harry Sunday morning. As with most parents, Dan had his stated reasons (helping Hermione pick out some decent clothes that might cheer her daughter's "friend" up a bit) as well as the unstated reasons. (learning more about his daughter) for spending the morning shopping for a boy that he had never even met. Hermione liked Harrods and Dan didn't mind the drive or the higher prices. On the drive north into London, Dan silently went through the list of questions that he wanted to ask her daughter. He knew of magic, and certainly believed that it had existed. The few tricks that Professor McGonagall had demonstrated six years ago at their house were inconsistent with the violence that he imagined taking place that night. Emma had told him that the purple streak that sliced diagonally across their daughter's chest had nearly disappeared in the time that Hermione had been home.
Dan reflected on visit that they had received from Dr. Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall that morning a week ago. It had been brief, and in hindsight, hadn't really answered their questions. They'd been told that Hermione and her friends were at a government building on some errand and had been assaulted by a group of thugs. There had been a fight and a number of the assailants had been taken into custody. Their daughter had been injured, but was expected to recover fully in a few days. He'd inquired and been told that the other students injuries were minor, a broken nose, sprained ankle - those sorts of things, with no need to worry about it. After talking with Emma yesterday, Dan wondered what percentage of the truth that they had been told. Had the two women agreed to meet them at their dental practice out of convenience for them, or with the intent of keeping the meeting short?
They got in the car to go, and eventually got to the M4 motorway heading to London. Dan didn't know how his daughter would react to the questions, so he had decided to prioritize his questions and see how many he would get through. He was reminded of something that one of his solicitor friends had told him, "Never ask a question, if hearing the answer will make things worse."
He wanted to understand her relationship with Harry, get some more insight about what happened that night, and perhaps understand how his daughter got hurt. Screwing up his courage, Dan proceeded. "Hermione, tell me about Harry." He started off with what he felt was as open-ended a question as he could get.
"He's in my year at school. We are in a lot of the same classes together. He gets good grades. He plays sports at school, Quidditch. It is a bit like football, except played up in the air. His parents were killed when he was one. They were a witch and wizard. He's been living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin in Surrey since. They don't treat him like a member of their family." Dan nodded, hoping that she would continue. "Dad, he's really kind and very brave. He's had such a crappy life."
Probing deeper, Dan inquired, "Who was Sirius?"
"Sirius Black was Harry's godfather."
Dan thought of Hermione's godparents, the Turnbulls. They would be Hermione's guardians if something had ever happened to Emma and himself. "Why didn't Harry live with Sirius?"
"He wasn't in a position to take care of Harry."
Dan considered her response for a moment and gently asked, "Couldn't he afford it?"
"No, that's not it. In fact, I think he might have been pretty wealthy. He'd been unjustly imprisoned for twelve years and escaped just before our third year."
"It's kind of a long story."
Dan thought back, remembering the news from three years ago, about an escaped mass murderer. He looked at his daughter with concern.
"Dad, he didn't kill those people. He was set up by a wizard named Peter Pettigrew. Sirius was sent to prison without a trial."
"OK." The conversation, while enlightening, was getting way off track. He was certain that everything his daughter had told him was the truth, but she hadn't really answered his question. He tried again. "Harry is your…?"
"Friend, Dad. He is my good friend." She blushed and turned her face to the window."
Hermione had comparatively few friends in grade school. Dan wasn't certain if that was a result of her profound intelligence, her emerging powers as a witch, or her drive to do well in her studies. She'd mentioned several of her students at Hogwarts over the years - a roommate Lavender, a girl named Ginny, her brother Ron, his brothers, and Harry. Emma thought that they might be dating. Like most fathers, Dan wasn't sure if he wanted to know. He knew that Hermione, like every little girl, eventually had grown up, but no father was happy at the thought. She had never referred to a young man as being a "good friend" before. He vowed to have another look at the school pictures that Hermione had on the wall in her room.
They arrived at the car park, and got a ticket from the attendant. As he locked the car, he suggested, "Lead the way, my dear. What are we getting?"
"A few shirts."
A few blue oxford dress shirts also led to two pair of jeans, trousers, a pair of Doc Martins, trainers, sox, a sweatshirt, and a dozen pair of boxers. He'd heard, "Please don't ask, Dad," as he inquired if Harry would rather have briefs. She'd hated the sight of those graying briefs. Carrying their packages back to the car, he saw the smile on his little girl's face. If she was happy, he was happy.
With twenty minutes left in their ride, Dan resumed his questions. "Hon, what really happened that night?"
"Voldemort, he's the bad…"
"Your mother told me. Go on."
"He tricked Harry into thinking that his godfather was being tortured at the Ministry of Magic in London. Harry went to help him."
Dan gently inquired, "And you and the other students…"
"Went with so Harry wouldn't be alone. We'd been practicing defensive spells all year, so we though we could be of some help." Hermione paused. Dan watched her pull nervously at the hem of her skirt.
"How did you get there?"
Not certain what to make of her answer, he inquired, "Your mother mentioned that. What happened there?"
"Voldemort's men had planted a trap for Harry. They tried to get him to steal a magical prophecy. When Harry realized that Sirius wasn't there, they attacked us, and we tried to get away."
"How could you steal a prophecy? Why would they need to trick Harry into helping?"
"It was a magical sphere about the size of a tennis ball, and it had Harry's name on it. Only certain people could touch it. I really don't know what it contained. It was smashed that night, and I don't think that anyone saw or heard it."
"How did Harry's Godfather get killed? Was he shot or stabbed?"
Hermione shook her head slightly and replied, "By that time, I was injured and unconscious, so I'm not sure. Harry said that Sirius was dueling with his cousin, and she somehow killed him."
"Wands, Dad. She must have cursed him and …"
"It's okay, honey." He could see the tears streaming down his daughters cheeks and didn't want to press. He reached over and took his daughters hand. "Let's go get some lunch. You must be starved by now."
"Thanks Dad. I love knowing I can count on you."
"I love you too, Hermione."
… - …
At the same time Hermione and her father were having lunch, Harry was at Privet Drive reading a message that had arrived late last night.
Harry James Potter
Number 4 Privet Drive
Little Winging, Surrey
Dear Mr. Potter,
Please be advised that your presence is required on Monday 15 July for a follow-up interview regarding the felony offenses committed at the Department of Mysteries on the evening of 28 June.
At this time, no charges have been made against either you or your classmates. Official legal representation is not needed at this time. However if you wish, your solicitor or another adult may be present.
While this is an official criminal investigation, it is not being held in any of the courtrooms that you might be familiar with. Please report to my office on level one at 9:00 AM. Please plan on two to three hours. Also, please plan on lunch with myself and several of the investigating Aurors following the interview.
Director of Magical Law Enforcement
Ministry of Magic
Harry reread the document. Criminal investigation, no charges (yet), legal representation. Another anxiety attack set in. His heart raced, cold beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and forehead. His lungs felt like they'd stopped working. Harry's legs started shaking and he staggered across the room to his trunk. He flung himself down next to the trunk, opened it, and poured himself half of a juice glass of the fire whiskey. In one grimacing gulp he finished it, and returned to his bed, tears rolling down his cheeks. 'My life is one gigantic nightmare. What else can go wrong?' he thought as he lay shaking with cold chills.
After a sleepless hour or so, he got up looked out his window at the darkness, and started on the letters that he had been putting off.
The first lie was easy enough. He started on another note.
I'm sorry that I got you hurt that night. I apologize for getting your Dad's wand smashed. I guess leaving school and going to the MOM wasn't such a brilliant idea after all. Thanks for helping me though. You're a great friend.
He thought how much he would have treasured having his father's wand, and how guilty Neville must feel having lost his. "The hits just keep on coming," he muttered to no one.
Two letters down, and a very painful one left to write.
Thanks for your letter yesterday, and thanks again to both you and your mum for checking up on me. I can't believe you've forgiven my decisions and actions leading up to getting our group injured, a handful of Order members injured, and Sirius murdered. My brilliant behavior has led to my being called in by the department of magical law enforcement for an investigation on Monday.
You asked me to write down my memories of the events of that night. Here's what I remember.
During our History of Magic OWL, I saw the vision of Sirius being tortured in the Ministry. It seemed so real. Naturally, you were spot on when you tried to warn me about my tendency toward saving people. I wish I had listened. I wish Dumbledore had told me that he thought Voldemort would try something like that. You know all the events leading up to our finding the prophecy and exploding the shelves that night in the ministry.
At that point, we ran in several directions. The Death Eaters also split up. Dolohov and Rabastan went after you. After you cast Silencio on Dolohov, he hit you with that flame curse. Luckily it was a weakened version of the spell. However, much you got was too much. I stunned him, and Neville carried you with us. We met with Ginny, Luna & Ron in one of the rooms, but couldn't get the doors locked quickly enough. Ginny had a broken ankle, Luna'd been hit on the head and Ron'd been cursed with something that made him seem drunk. He was really difficult to move along with us. He got tangled up in some brain creatures (Cagnivorum Cadogans, I think). We ended up in the Death Chamber with the archway that we had seen earlier.
Neville and I kept stunning the Death Eaters but they wouldn't stay down. Neville's nose was broken, and he couldn't perform spells properly. I was so angry and so scared. Then Tonks, Lupin, Shacklebolt, Moody, and Sirius charged into the chamber. They began dueling with the Death Eaters. About that time, the prophecy smashed.
Bellatrix defeated Tonks and gave her a concussion with internal bleeding from her fall. Then she defeated Kingsley while he was dueling two Death Eaters I couldn't identify. As Moody dueled with Malfoy & McNair, he lost his magical eye. Neville beat McNair by poking him in the eye. Dolohov hit Neville with Tarantallegra. Then Sirius tackled Dolohov. I cast Petrificus Totalus and we were able to capture him. Like you'd heard, Sirius was dueling with Bellatrix Lestrange. She cast a spell that immobilized him and he fell through the archway. I still can't believe he didn't just get up and walk back out. How can that be death?
About that time, Dumbledore arrived. He had the presence of mind to set up anti-apparition spells around the area. Within five minutes, most of the Death Eaters were down, and Dumbledore had magically tied them up. Rockwood was captured by Dumbledore while dueling with Kingsley. I managed to capture Malfoy. Nott, Jugson, Rodolphus, Crabbe, Rabastan, McNair, and Avery were captured by the joint effort of Lupin, Kingsley, and Dumbledore
Bellatrix escaped to the lobby after she killed Sirius. I tore after her in a blind rage. We dueled for a minute. I didn't beat her even though I wanted to, so badly. Dumbledore came after us and brought her down.
Then Voldemort appeared. Somehow, he knew the prophecy was destroyed and was livid. He tried to kill me, but Dumbledore animated the statues from the fountain and they took the brunt of the curses. At one point, Voldemort possessed me and tried to get Dumbledore to kill us both. That was the most horrible feeling. Now I know how Ginny felt and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. In the end, Voldemort apparated away with Bellatrix and Dumbledore got us all back to the school. Fudge and some others saw him.
Hermione, I was horrified when you fell. I prayed you weren't dead. You cannot believe my relief when Neville found your pulse. I admit that we weren't prepared. We were unable to keep an opponent down after capture. It was completely naive on my part to assume they would stay down, once beaten. I didn't even think of collecting or snapping their wands.
Yesterday, you appeared at my bedside like an angel. Your touch was so gentle and your look so forgiving. I thought you were part of an amazing dream, until you kissed me. I can't believe you came to me. I'd come to realize over the last few days just how much you mean to me, how much I don't deserve you.
I'm glad you have forgiven me. I know that I'm slow to forgive myself. Sirius was my last bit of family. If anything more had happened to you, I couldn't have stood to live.
Thank you, so much.
Harry sealed the letters and asked Hedwig to deliver them. "Please deliver Hermione's last and wait for a reply. Thanks girl." The beautiful owl took to the air and flew off.
On the morning of Monday 8 July Harry's owl tapped on the window as Hermione was having breakfast.
"Thanks for coming Hedwig. I really needed your help," Hermione said stroking the snowy owl, removing Harry's letter, and attaching the note to Hedwig's leg. "Please take this to professor Dumbledore as soon as you can." After a few quick gulps out of the juice glass that Hermione offered, the beautiful white owl took to the air. Circling once with a soft hoot, Hedwig saw the girl wave thanks before beginning her journey north.
… - …
At 11:30, Emma Granger's gray BMW pulled into the driveway at Privet Drive. Harry was waiting on the front step. Hermione rushed out to greet Harry. "Hi Harry," said Hermione giving Harry a bone crushing hug worthy of their friend Hagrid.
"Good morning, Mrs. Granger," said Harry, opening the door for her daughter. Harry walked around the car and got in the rear door next to Hermione.
Emma smiled at Harry, pleased that he looked better than the last time that she'd seen him. "Good morning, Harry. I thought we'd try someplace different today. Do you have to be home at any certain time?"
"No ma'am. Just within four hours."
"Harry, if it's okay with you, we are also having lunch with one of my old girlfriends, Diane Turnbull."
"Fine, Mrs. Granger."
Emma looked in her rear view mirror and smiled at the teen. He was so polite. Hermione had shown her his letter relating to the events of the 28th. She'd explained in general terms about the different curses and hexes that had been fired back and forth. The idea that someone could possess the mental power to lift objects (or kill someone) just by thinking it and saying a few words both amazed (and somewhat frightened) her. Looking at the skinny teen in the backseat sitting next to her daughter, she had a hard time comprehending that he could have saved her daughter and the rest of the kids from twelve killers and that monster.
She looked at him again, and sadly realized that he was wearing his "other" sweatshirt. She couldn't imagine a parent showing so little care and nurturing for a child. While she didn't wish any harm to Petunia, she certainly wished that her daughter's friend could have a better life.
Twenty minutes later, they turned onto High Street, and parked across the street from their destination, The Rat and Parrot pub. Harry got out and opened the doors for Hermione and her mother. They both thanked him. Entering the pub, Emma saw her friend Diane sitting at a table in the back, and they walked over.
"Harry this is my friend, Dr. Diane Turnbull. We went to school together, and have been friends since collage."
"Hi Dr. Turnbull."
The waitress took their order, and they were left alone again.
"Harry, I work with kids who carry a lot of pain around with them. In many cases, I can help them get straightened around, and sometimes put a smile back on their face." Diane was one of those rare people that caused almost everyone that she met to warm up to her.
Harry liked the woman. "My cousin had braces on his teeth. His teeth got straight. My aunt told me that I couldn't have them."
Diane understood his misinterpretation and smiled at him, meeting his emerald eyes. "No, not that kind of pain Harry. I work with teens whose heads and hearts are hurting. A lot of teens have some serious problems in their lives, and sometimes it helps to have an outside person to be able to talk things over with. Other than brushing and flossing, I don't know a thing about dentistry."
Hermione wasn't sure what her mother was up to, and wanted to find out. "Mum, I left something out in the car. Can you unlock the door for me?" The two Granger women excused themselves, and stepped outside the restaurant.
Turning to face her mum, Hermione ranted, "Mum, what do you think you're doing? What's Harry supposed to say? Hi, my name is Harry Potter. I'm a famous wizard boy. My life would really be okay except that the evil Lord Voldemort is trying to kill me! He sent a team of Death Eaters to try and steal a magical prophecy that a drunken fortune teller made about me, and in the mean time, my Godfather, who could turn himself into a dog, got killed. In my spare time, I fly around on a broomstick. Pardon the fact that I'm wearing rags, I left my dress robes in Scotland. What were you thinking?"
Emma had expected this and calmly replied, "Hermione, Diane knows a little bit about Harry and your special circumstances. I had lunch with her Saturday, and gave her the basics on Harry's situation. I found out that she already knew bit about the wizarding world. Sweetheart, he needs all the help that he can get. Please let her talk with him."
Her rant deflated, Hermione muttered, "Oh."
In a positive tone, Emma suggested, "Let's just give them ten minutes, and see what happens. Okay?"
Hermione nodded, but added, "The thing is mum, Harry doesn't trust very many people, and if someone violates his trust, he just shuts them out. I was pretty amazed that he said anything to you last week. I don't want you to lose that."
The two women looked back to their table. Diane and Harry were quietly talking about something. Emma asked the waitress to bring over four half-pints of Fosters. As their food was ready, they returned to the table and sat down.
A few minutes later, Diane's pager went off. "I'm terribly sorry, I need to get back to the office. Em, Hermione, it was great to see you again. Thanks for lunch. Harry, I did enjoy meeting you. I'd like to have a proper lunch with you again soon, if you have the time. I can help."
Harry looked her in the eye and nodded.
"Bye," they all said.
"She seems like an interesting lady," said Harry, picking up her business card. "What kind of doctor is she?"
Emma explained, "Diane is a psychologist, specializing in sorting out problems that teens are likely to have - depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and family relationships. Her practice is a few doors down from ours. We were roommates at collage, and have been friends since."
Hermione knew this to be a slight stretch of the truth, but didn't say anything. She looked over at her friend. Something had clearly happened since they last saw each other, and she didn't think it had anything to do with her mother's friend. "Harry, what's wrong?"
He admitted, "I got a letter yesterday from the ministry, regarding an investigation by the department of magical law enforcement. I need to go see Director Amelia Bones next Monday for an interview. She was there at my last trial. I feel like a Christmas goose, knowing that it's 17 December."
"Harry, what did she send you? May I see it?" asked Emma.
Harry handed her the letter.
She explained, "Harry, in the non-magical world, it looks like this would be a request for a deposition. In other words, it looks like they are going to ask you some questions, and get your statement about what happened. It's usually used to prepare criminal charges against the bad guys. In this case, I expect that they're trying to sort out who threw what curses, so the Death Eaters can all be charged properly. It looks like it is intended to be a friendly meeting. What about it worries you?"
Harry replied, "The last time I received an invitation regarding a "friendly conversation" it turned out to be a full trial in front of all fifty judges of the Wizengamot court, with me as the accused. That was last summer when my cousin Dudley and I were attacked, and I tried to defend us."
"Could I get you anything else?" the waitress asked.
Emma rubbed her head and replied, "Another round, please."
Hermione looked at her mother, but didn't say anything.
Emma continued, "Harry you might be right, but it appears that in this case, the letter is clearly trying to convey a different message. Hermione didn't get a letter like this, did you dear? Why would they single you out Harry?"
Hermione shook her head in amazement. 'Things always happen to Harry." She squeezed his hand.
"I chased after Bellatrix after she killed my Godfather. We battled in the lobby, and I cursed her illegally."
Not wanting to derail the conversation, Emma stayed on topic and inquired, "Then what happened?"
"I didn't do it right. She got up and laughed at me. Then she tried to kill me. Voldemort came. He tried to kill me. They battled with Professor Dumbledore. Voldemort mentally possessed me, trying to get Dumbledore to kill both of us. Somehow I was able to throw Voldemort off, and they both got away."
Emma looked at her daughter's friend in amazement. How in the world could all these things happen to any one person? Who in the world could stay grounded with that shitestorm blasting down on them? Emma felt like she could use two sessions with her friend Diane, just thinking about it.
Hermione could feel Harry's leg shaking under the table. She wanted to get back into the car with Harry, so she could hug him properly. "Mum, maybe we should get going. Harry needs to get back."
He immediately remarked, "Thank you for lunch, Mrs. Granger. Everything was delicious."
"Harry, you are so welcome. Let's get going." She paid the bill and they walked across the street to the car. There was a large shopping bag in the back seat.
Hermione announced, "I was out shopping with Dad over the weekend, and we found a few things for you. Let me show you." She was obviously delighted for her friend as she showed him the clothes that she had bought.
Harry liked everything that She'd bought. She had great taste. He liked the darker colored clothes, and everything looked like it would fit great. He did not take the boxers out of the bag, but looked over at his friend. She squeezed his hand again. Hermione liked the boxers that she got him.
"Thank you. You didn't have to do this."
She replied, "Harry, I wanted to. You deserve to look great. I know your aunt doesn't take you out shopping too much."
Harry thought for a moment. "She never has."
'What a miserable excuse for a human being,' thought Emma. She wasn't sure who had caused more pain for Harry - the wizarding government, Voldemort, or Petunia Dursley.
As they pulled into the driveway at Privet Drive, Harry called, "Thanks again for lunch Mrs. Granger. Hermione, thanks for the great stuff."
Emma replied, "Harry, you are so welcome. Here's my card if you ever need something during the day. We'll see you soon."
"Bye Hermione." She whispered in his ear, "I love you."
"Me too. Bye"
… - …
Hedwig reached the window of the circular office of Albus Dumbledore Monday evening. Recognizing the owl as Harry's, Albus said, "Excuse me, Minerva. Let's see what the news is from our young friend." Upon opening it, they soon realized that the letter was not in Harry's handwriting.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
Sir, I am so worried about Harry. Last Saturday, I received a horribly frightening note from him. My mother and I drove to meet him for lunch. He looked terrible. He was shaking and in tears on his bed. It looked like he hadn't been out of his room in days.
Professor, I'm certain that you have excellent reasons for keeping him with those awful people, but sir, living with them is breaking his spirit. Something is so very wrong. I've never seen Harry so deeply depressed. He really and truly needs help. Please reconsider.
After he showed her the note, Dumbledore asked, "Well, Minerva, what is your assessment?"
With thinning lips, McGonagall observed, "Albus, there's not a doubt in my mind that the boy is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. How much of it has been put there by you, how much of it by others, and how much was self imposed, I suppose only Harry knows."
"His destiny does indeed include some heavy burdens. Let's pay Miss Granger a visit tomorrow, and see what else she can tell us." He quickly penned a note and sent Hedwig back on her way.
Thank you for your letter. Harry's well being weighs heavily on my mind as well. Professor McGonagall and I will visit you and your parents tomorrow at noon at their practice.
… - …
A few hours later in the littlest bedroom at number 4 Privet Drive, Harry was concluding his business with the bottle of Ogden's. Harry tossed the now empty bottle in the trash bin in the kitchen before grabbing a piece of leftover chicken and returning to his room.
Harry noticed an owl tapping at his window. He took the envelope and opened it.
Dear Mr. Potter,
It is our duty to inform you that the late Sirius Black named you one of the beneficiaries to his estate.
As you may know, Gringotts takes no position regarding the unproven criminal activities of our customers. As such, Mr. Black's Will can be executed without restriction to follow his final documented wishes. Given the size of the estate, his wishes are remarkably concise. There are several documents that need signing.
Please arrive at the estate office at 3:00 PM on Monday 15 July for a reading of the Will, review of the estate, signing of various transfer papers, titles, licenses, etc. Please bring your vault key to the meeting.
London Office - Gringotts
Through an Ogden's induced haze Harry reread the letter muttering, "Brilliant. Now I'm going to get rewarded for allowing him to get killed. Maybe Bones will throw me in Azkaban first. Maybe I could be cellmates with Malfoy."
"Shut it Potter. We're trying to sleep."
As he drifted off to sleep, Harry thought that sharing a cell with Malfoy might be an improvement over living with the Dursleys.
Harry awoke to the sound of the empty Ogden's bottle hitting his headboard. "What the hell do you think you are up to Potter? Bad enough that you have been a layabout over the summer without you turning yourself into a sodding drunk too. Get your lazy arse out of bed, and get the garden tidied up. Now!"
"Yes, Uncle Vernon."
Harry got out of bed, put on a shirt, his old trainers, and his old jeans. He walked out of the room, bumping into Vernon in the hallway.
"Watch where you are going," Vernon said, shoving Harry to the other side of the hall.
"Get out of my way if you want me outside," Harry shouted back, standing very close to Uncle Vernon. For a minute, the two glared at each other.
With none of the grace that Sirius had exhibited in the department of mysteries, Harry suddenly tripped as he stepped back. Vernon had accidentally stepped on Harry's untied shoelace, and Harry tripped while stepping back.
Thunk, thunk, tumble, thunk, thunk, tumble, thunk, thunk, crack!
Harry rolled, and fell down the fifteen wooden stair treads about as clumsily as humanly possible, hitting his head on the oak handrail post at the bottom of the steps.
Vernon, looked down at Harry shouting, "Get up and get outside, you clumsy freak," as he walked into the bathroom.
Ten minutes later when Vernon had finished in the bathroom, Harry was still at the bottom of the stairs. "What the bloody hell? Potter get up."
Harry didn't move.
Vernon panicked for a moment, went into Harry's room to see if he could find one of Harry's kind to call. He didn't want a normal doctor to know anything about Harry's lot. He saw a business card on the corkboard. "Dr. Emma Granger. Must be a freak doctor."
He called the emergency number.