The Rescue

A Harry Potter moment by BenRG

Author's Notes

Okay, I don't know all that much about Harry Potter or the associated terminology. I apologise in advance if I get any of the names of the spells wrong; I fully expect to be corrected in detail if I make too many mistakes. :-p

I just thought that it was so obvious that Professor Dumbledore's rationale for keeping Harry at 4 Privet Drive was missing a single, overwhelming problem. Who better to educate the Headmaster of Hogwarts' School of Witchcraft and Wizardry than the smartest witch of her era?

In terms of timeline, this is set about three to four weeks into the summer in between Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince.

There will be no overt shipping, but I may add a hint or two.

Censor: PG – Vague description of abuse and plenty of racist language (of sorts)

The Story

Hermione Granger pursed her lips and tried to keep her temper. No matter what she said to the Headmaster, the answer was still the same. "As much as I understand your feelings in this matter, Ms. Granger, and Harry's feelings too, I must reiterate that 4 Privet Drive is the safest place for him right now. The wards on Mr. Potter's home and from the blood of his family are the only way for us to be sure that Voldemort and his followers will not be able to attack him."

The brown-haired young woman sighed deeply and sagged down into her chair in her parents' kitchen. The girl deliberately avoided the gaze of her Headmaster and the two senior professors standing before her. She didn't want to see the deep compassion, understanding and wisdom in Albus Dumbledore's eyes, nor did she wish to see the stony, indifferent mask of Severus Snape or the carefully schooled neutrality of Minerva McGonagall that covered the old woman's deep empathic sadness for her prize student's obvious suffering.

"He is going mad there, Professor," she said at last. "If something isn't done, he will die."

"I do not doubt that Harry grieves for Sirius," Dumbledore replied in a kindly, grandfatherly tone of voice. "However, so long as he is safe, he will have time to confront those feelings and, thanks to his loyal friends, transcend them."You senile old idiot! Hermione shouted in her head. How can he grieve properly when he is locked up in a tiny room, surrounded by people who detest him and can barely bring themselves to let him eat? She didn't say it, however, because she knew that it wouldn't do any good. Professor Dumbledore was nothing if not consistent. He was so sure of the rightness of his action that no reasoning could break his certainty that Harry would only be safe in a place called home, protected by his mother's blood, through her sister Petunia...

At that point, Hermione's mouth dropped open very stupidly and she looked up into the suddenly-concerned face of her Headmaster. "Oh... sweet... Merlin..." she gasped. "Professor! The wards you set up can't possibly work! He isn't safe!"

Snape suddenly roused himself from his indifference and barely-concealed horror at being forced to remain in a Muggle home. "Don't be stupid, Miss Granger. Potter, because his life is valuable to the Headmaster for some reason, is protected by some of the strongest wards ever created, almost as strong as the wards on Hogwarts! Thanks to Li... to his mother's blood and the fact that the place is his home..."

"But Voldemort shares his blood!" Hermione interrupted. She wouldn't dare do that at school but, damn it, this wasn't school. This was the summer holidays and they were discussing the safety, sanity and the life of her very best friend in the world.

The moment those words left Hermione's lips Snape and Dumbledore's eyes met. "Yes, and that would nullify the blood protection given to him by Lily," the aged Headmaster agreed. "I had predicted this problem, Ms. Granger. However, I'm sure that the other wards will be sufficient to override this vulnerability."

"Yes, so long as he is with blood relatives in a place he sees as home, he will have a very high level of protection. Don't you realise though, that he doesn't see Privet Drive as home?" There was a stunned silence from the three professors and Hermione barely held in a cry of fury. Is the old fool so totally unaware of Harry's situation that he doesn't realise...?

"I know that Harry's relatives are none to fond of him," Dumbledore replied at last. "I also realise that they are somewhat... strict with him and that he does not find their company particularly amenable..." Snape snorted when he heard this. No doubt the highly selective way that the Headmaster chose to describe Harry's situation fitted in with his preconceived notion that the son of his old enemy was some kind of spoilt primadonna.

"Sir! He hates it there! He is locked in a room and fed through a tiny flap in the door every few days! They don't let him bathe! They only let him out to cook, clean and wait on their every passing whim! They treat him as their slave!"

"Don't exaggerate, Miss Granger," Snape snorted.

Hermione exploded. "I am not lying! If you need proof, go to The Burrow and look at the hand for Harry that Molly Weasley added to her family clock! It has been stuck on "In Hell" since he arrived at Privet Drive! He hasn't even been allowed to owl me! He is being forced to send Hedwig to Professor Lupin every few days to say that he is okay and nothing else! I only know what is really happening thanks to a two-way mirror that he gave me!"

"Miss Granger..." Dumbledore began.

"No! I will not be 'reasonable'!" Hermione nearly shouted. "Voldemort has nullified Harry's blood protection and Harry does not see Privet Drive as home! Don't you see that he is more vulnerable there than if he were walking down the middle of the street in Diagon Alley?"

"Albus, if this is true..." McGonagall began.

"Minerva, surely you don't believe this hysterical child..." Snape interrupted.

Hermione ignored the other two professors and focussed her gaze on her headmaster. The old man looked levelly at the brilliant young witch, all trace of his grandfatherly good humour gone, in its place the will and power of the man who once hunted Dark Lords almost as a sport. Harry had passed some of the tricks of Occulmency to Hermione during their conversations, and she immediately sensed her headmaster's mind touching hers. The young woman steeled herself, forcing herself not to resist or react. Finally, after a seeming age with the heads of Gryffindor and Slytherin arguing in the background, the old man sighed and closed his eyes. "She believes it to be true," the Headmaster announced in a tone of absolute certainty. That stunned both of Dumbledore's colleagues to silence. The old man continued without breaking his inhumanly powerful gaze from Hermione's eyes. "I have been aware that Harry is not entirely happy with his relatives' treatment of him. However, from what I have just seen, there is a very real possibility that my understanding failed to grasp the full breadth of his feelings and the very real danger that young Mr. Potter may be in as we speak."


McGonagall interrupted Snape before he could continue. "Severus, please do not tell me that you genuinely believe that Harry does not always complete his summer homework because he is lazy. Please do not tell me that you believe that Molly is exaggerating when she says that he seems half-starved when she sees him after the summer. Please do not tell me that you think that one of the most focussed and intelligent young women that I have ever known would lie about a matter like this simply out of a desire to see her best friend out of school."

Snape opened his mouth and then closed it a few times before speaking. "I do not presume to express an opinion on something about which I clearly know nothing." The man turned his gaze to his Headmaster. "If the Headmaster believes that there is something in Miss Granger's claims and Mr. Potter's complaints, then we are beholden to investigate."

Dumbledore had been unnaturally still. At that moment, he suddenly roused himself. "We will do more than that, Severus. If there is anything, anything at all in Miss Granger's analysis of Harry's feelings on his situation, then he is in a position of utmost peril. We must remove him immediately and ensure that he is in a place of safety." Dumbledore's eyes snapped up to Hermione's mother, who had been standing supportively behind her daughter, occasionally shooting Snape a lethal look every time the man allowed his contempt for Harry (and Gryffindors in general) slip out of his studied neutral mask. "Mrs. Granger. Next to Privet Drive, your home represents the most closely guarded and heavily-warded Muggle home in England, possibly in the world. As much as I would prefer to bring Harry either to our headquarters or to the home of the Weasleys, there is no place that he would be safer from my former apprentice's followers than here. I must now ask you... no, I must beg you to give this young man sanctuary here until I can make firmer and more permanent arrangements, all of which are long overdue."

"I have never understood why you have left that boy with those... child abusers," Emma Granger announced firmly. "Harry is welcome here for as long as he wants to remain."

"Thank you, madam," Dumbledore replied. There was a hint of a twinkle in his eye as he stood. "Family and home are purely subjective concepts, as you probably are aware. I would not be at all surprised if the presence of a... friend... of your daughter's calibre would vastly boost the degree of protection that Harry receives here."

Hermione went bright red. The Headmaster couldn't know of her hopeless crush could he? He couldn't realise that, as she and Harry had spoken over the summer, they had grown so very close, could he? The Headmaster's twinkling eyes suggested that his Legimancy had revealed far more than Hermione had initially expected.

"Minerva, Severus," Dumbledore announced. "Let us pay a visit to young Mr. Potter."

There was a triple crack as three of the most powerful magic users on earth simultaneously apperated into a small back alley in between Privet Drive and Wisteria Walk, Little Whinging, Surrey. Dumbledore immediately sensed an invisibility cloak in operation and his mind easily identified another talented former protégé of his. "My dear Nymphadora, what is your report?"

Junior Auror Nymphadora Tonks pulled back the hood of her cloak, revealing her shocking pink hair and her mismatched green and violet eyes as well as a broad, mischievous grin. She wasn't even slightly surprised that Dumbledore had seen through her invisibility cloak and tactical-level disillusionment charms. "Wotcher AD, Minnie, Snapey. Not much happening today. Actually, I haven't seen Harry for a few days since he was doing some gardening."

Snape, inwardly seething at the former Ravenclaw's informal mode of address, nonetheless felt that he had to establish some facts. "What chores have you seen Mr. Potter perform over the last three weeks, Auror Tonks?"

Tonks shot her former Potions teacher an odd look. "Pretty much everything. He does all the gardening, cleans the outside of the house and his uncle's car. The odd thing, though, is that he disappears for a few days, then seems... I dunno... weak, when he reappears."

"Sweet, merciful Merlin," McGonagall whispered. The tall, stern Scottish woman swept towards the door of 4 Privet Drive, Dumbledore and Snape hurrying to keep up. McGonagall reached the front door and raised her wand without hesitation. "Alohomora," she chanted, followed by "Osesame". The neat, mediocre, overwhelmingly normal door of number 4 unlocked and opened at once.

Inside the living room, Vernon Dursley was reading his favoured paper, the Daily Express, when the front door opened itself as if by m... m... m... and then three freaks calmly walked in. "What...? How dare you? Get out of my house you freaks!" Vernon's face immediately darkened to almost maroon in colour.

"Where is Harry Potter?" Albus Dumbledore asked in a friendly, agreeable tone of voice.

Vernon was stupid enough to actually attempt to respond aggressively. "You have no right to barge in here! That freak is our business over the summer, so get out!" The man rose, looking a little like an inflating hot air balloon as he levered himself out of his easy chair. He advanced on the seemingly-harmless old man with the half-moon glasses and twinkling, friendly eyes. "Get out I say!" Vernon raised a hand threatening. "Get...!"

Dumbledore raised a hand and made a barely-perceptible gesture. Suddenly, Vernon was walking through treacle and every motion was taking twenty times as much effort as usual. "Mr. Dursley, I have an extremely busy day ahead of me making decisions that will affect the very future of human civilisation. Because of this, I very little time to waste on your bigoted histrionics." Dumbledore beamed at the puce-faced man in a terrifyingly threatening way. "With this in mind, I will give you one more chance to voluntarily tell me where Harry Potter may be found before my colleagues and I proceed to disassemble this building, brick by brick, in an attempt to locate him."

Vernon's face went from puce to sickly yellow-white in less time as it takes to describe the change. "There... there is no one of that name here..." he ground out. "That... freak... does not live here!"

Dumbledore's smile jacked up a few notches and became positively carnivorous. "Now, Mr. Dursley, I cannot understand why you feel that such an instantaneously transparent lie would profit you in any way." The old man reached into a pocket in his robes and removed a box, from which he removed a lock of black hair. He held his wand over it for a moment and chanted "Localus!" There was a pause before a sparkling blue-white light appeared, took the form of an arrow, which pointed up the stairs. "Excellent," Dumbledore said with a beaming smile. "Severus, Minerva, if you would prepare young Mr. Potter for his departure..." Dumbledore raised a hand, cancelling the Impedimenta charm. Another gesture lifted the white-faced Vernon Dursley off of his feet and flung him gently back into his chair. With a raised eyebrow, Dumbledore made another gesture that transfigured the arms of the easy chair, making them curl across Vernon's chest like upholstered arms, binding him to the chair.

Vernon was too terrified now to resist. Even his closed mind was now clearly aware that, if he chose, the old wizard could kill him with a gesture and no one would ever know. Nonetheless, he couldn't resist getting in an accusation of bad faith. "If you could find him with your... unnaturalness... then why did you ask me where the little useless freak is hiding?" Vernon growled resentfully.

Dumbledore smiled in a grandfatherly way, his eyes twinkling. "Certain reports have come to my attention about Mr. Potter's tenure here. I merely was testing their likely veracity by giving you an opportunity to co-operate with me voluntarily." The old wizard sat in a chair opposite Vernon.

At this moment, Petunia entered from the kitchen, wondering what her husband had been shouting about. She got out half of an outraged scream before Dumbledore wandlessly and wordlessly put her under the Silencio and Incarcerus charms. With a gesture, the old wizard levitated the woman, still bound in magical rope, to the sofa and sat her down. "There, isn't this pleasant?" he asked in a friendly tone of voice. He pulled a paper bag out of his pocket and held it out to the terrified Dursleys. "Can I offer either of you a lemon drop whilst we wait?"

Meanwhile, Snape and McGonagall had reached the second floor of 4 Privet Drive. "Which room is Potter's?" Snape asked, looking around the landing in a hawk-like manner.

"Use your head, Severus," McGonagall replied with a sniff. "Which room do you think they have Potter in?" Snape shot his colleague an odd look. "I believe that Miss Granger told us that they feed him through a small flap in his bedroom door."

Snape followed his colleague's gesture and his mouth slowly opened in horror. The door to Potter's bedroom, if that is what it was, was far better suited for the task of containing a troll. As well as being reinforced with thick, heavy steel, it had at least a dozen locks and chains, as well as two steel cross-bars. And, just as Granger had promised, a small, reinforced dog flap for food, also locked with two heavy metal slide bolts.

Snape's blood began to boil. His temper was notoriously cold, but seeing this treatment being meted out to a wizard by a Muggle... even to James Potter's son... went far beyond the limits of his tolerance. He raised his wand. "Alohomora!" he declared and, as the locks and bolts slid open and the cross-bars dropped to the ground, he strode forwards to the door.

The door swung open and Snape stopped, looking around the small room. He considered the small window with the thick, reinforced bars, far too closely spaced to allow in even young Mr. Weasley's dwarf owl. Potter's Arctic Owl was screeching urgently from her cage on the far side of the room about something, although Snape had never had enough animal empathy to hope to understand what it wanted to tell him. Snape looked at the dusty, battered, near-broken state of the furnishings, the bare low-wattage light bulb and the threadbare bed clothes. It took a few moments to recognise the agonisingly thin shape huddled on the bed, bent into a foetal position with pain, as Harry Potter.

"Merciful Circe!" McGonagall gasped. The woman dropped to her knees beside the half-broken bed and placed a gentle hand on the unruly black hair, moving it aside so she could see that infamous scar and look into those green eyes, which now seemed so vacant and bland. "Mr. Potter?" she said gently. "Harry my dear boy, can you hear me?"

Snape leant down next to his colleague and looked at the boy. Was he even alive? "Potter?" he asked. "Potter, answer me, boy."

Harry reacted to the Potions professor's harsher voice, jerking slightly and looking up into Snape's face without recognition but plenty of fear. "No...!" the boy croaked. "Don't...!" Then, he blinked, and there was recognition and intelligence in the boy's eyes again. "P... Professor Snape? Professor McGonagall? Am... am I in trouble?"

"No, lad," McGonagall said gently. "We've come to move you. Your time here is done."

"I'm... leaving?"

"Yes lad."

"Thank you." Then the young man did something that Snape had never seen before. He began to cry in a broken manner.

Snape's practised eyes, long attuned to finding contraband in dormitories, swept the room. He immediately found the loose floorboards, which he opened with a gesture of his wand. He looked at Harry's depleted candy supply thoughtfully. "I see that you have not wanted for luxuries, Potter," he smirked.

"When you sometimes don't get fed for three days, you need some reserves of food around, even if it doesn't go too far in stopping hunger." Snape's eyes snapped to his least favourite pupil's and saw no falsehood there.

"Come on, lad, we're getting you out of here." McGonagall tried to get Harry to get up, but the boy seemed impossibly weak; he winced and gasped with pain. The Scottish witch's wand cut an elaborate pattern in the air. The diagnostic spell immediately identified cuts and bruises all over his back. "What in the name of leFay happened to you?"

"Uncle Vernon," Harry said with a grimace. "He found out that I had been talking to Hermione on Sirus' mirror. He wasn't happy to hear that I had been 'telling tales'..." Snape stiffened in outrage. It was an anger that worsened as Harry added, without a hint of understatement or irony: "I'll be okay. It's nothing. I don't want to cause trouble."

"That's good of you, Potter," Snape said quietly. "Nonetheless, the Headmaster has no use for you in a battered, half-dead state." The head of Slytherin House reached into his voluminous robes and pulled out a bottle of a pure, translucent blue potion. "Drink half of this, then help Professor McGonagall gather your possessions. As has already been said, you are leaving."

Harry took the bottle. "Nutri-Max Potion?" Harry asked. The potion was frequently prescribed to people who had been trapped without food or water for days, or given to Aurors who were expected to spend considerable amounts of time in unfriendly environments.

Snape was pleasantly surprised that the boy recognised what was, after all, an advance potion which he had no reason to have seen before. Perhaps he did deserve that 'O' in his Potions OWLs after all.

McGonagall was so focussed on ensuring that Harry drank the correct dosage of the potion, that she didn't see Professor Snape leave the room, only seeing the end of his billowing black robes as he descended the stairs.

"So, as you can see, I'm afraid that Harry really has no further use for your kind provision of shelter," Dumbledore was saying in an eminently reasonable tone of voice, while silently cataloguing the contents of the Dursley's living room. There were family photos and keepsakes everywhere. However, as he feared, there was no sign of anything that suggested that one Harry Potter was one of the family. That one salient fact added a great deal of weight to young Miss Granger's concerns on the actual strength of the wards here at Privet Drive.

Dumbledore extended his consciousness outwards and immediately detected that, while the now-useless Blood Charms were still in place, there was no sign of the sophisticated web of wards powered by the fact that this was Harry's home. Yes, it was as the girl feared. Only the standard low-powered unplottable charms had kept Tom from Harry's door up to now. Yet, Dumbledore knew that it was only a matter of time before his skilled former apprentice made a sufficiently focussed effort and penetrated them. Only the fact that he had been concerned with other matters to date had prevented that from happening before now.

"You mean that you're taking that... boy... and he's never coming back?" Vernon snapped. Dumbledore nodded silently. "Good riddance! The little piece of unnatural filth has never been anything but a burden to us! Ungrateful! Always talking back and never pulling his weight! As far as we're concerned, you can take the little maggot and bury him alive so long as we never see or hear from him again!"

"Yes, I rather thought that you'd react that way," Dumbledore sighed to himself.

At that point, a furious swirl of black robes and Dark Arts exploded down the stairs and arced towards the two confined Muggles. "You! Muggle filth! That you should treat a child in this manner? Have you no ethics? No fear of the consequences?"

"Severus, calm down," Dumbledore said mildly, not showing his concern at the former Death Eater's pale, furious countenance or the deadly black wand aimed right at Vernon Dursley's suddenly deathly-white face.

"Calm? Calm? He was all-but dead, Albus! They had starved and beaten him! They had even refused him water for the last day for daring to communicate with his friends without their permission and their monitoring what he had to say!"

"I didn't want him telling tales!" Vernon replied hotly. "I wasn't going to have you freaks coming around here and causing trouble! Too bad I didn't find out what he was doing in time!"

"I can see why you would be concerned," Snape said in an icy tone of voice. "Certainly, Mr. Potter's many associates would have something to say about you treating him as a slave, refusing him food for daring to utter a word of protest and refusing to allow him the slightest ease or pleasure."

"It is all that little parasite deserves! He is a burden on us, one we never wanted for one second, and we deserve to get whatever we can out of the bargain!"

Snape's eyes narrowed to predatory slits. "I'm sure that I can provide you with the repayment that you deserve, subhuman," he hissed.

"Severus..." Dumbledore warned, rising smoothly to his feet and stepping to the younger man's side.

"Stay out of this Albus," Snape said without taking his eyes from Vernon Dursley, who didn't know whether to be frightened, angry, or maliciously delighted in all the pain he had caused that troublesome little freak upstairs. Snape twirled his wand in his fingers for a moment before smiling in a way that made the air temperature drop five degrees. "This is a matter for those of us who no longer have a soul worth mentioning. Those of us who have... eaten death, if you get my meaning." Snape centred his wand on Vernon's podgy face. "CRU...!"

Dumbledore, in an impressive display of speed for a man of 160 years of age, seized Snape's wand arm and dragged it down, pointing his wand at the ground. "This one is not worth Azkaban," he said quietly. "There will be a time and place for such demonstrations, Severus, but this is not it."

Snape stared at Dumbledore in a strange, uncomprehending manner for a few seconds before relaxing slightly. Dumbledore nodded in a strangely tired manner and released Snape's wand arm.

Both men looked up as Harry, still pale and weak, but recovered enough to walk thanks to the boost to his body's nutrient levels and hydration from the potion, walked down the stairs. Behind him came Professor McGonagall, who was leading Harry's levitating trunk and Hedwig's cage down the stairs.

"All packed and ready to leave I see!" Dumbledore said, his cheer a little forced.

"We just need to fetch Mr. Potter's school materials and wand, Headmaster," McGonagall said.

"In the cupboard underneath the stairs, Professor," Harry said weakly.

Without any discernible change of expression, Snape pointed his wand at the cupboard door. "Reducto!" he declared. A bolt of red energy spat from his wand and struck the door, turning it into a spray of matchwood with an impressively loud explosion.

"How dare you break up my home, you criminal freak!" Vernon yelped.

Snape couldn't help be astonished by Vernon Dursley's continued belief that he was, somehow, still in a position of advantage, that none of the wizarding folk in his living room would actually dare to harm him. He stalked over to the bound Muggle male and looked down his nose at him, putting all his pureblood disdain and arrogance into his voice. "Be grateful that the Headmaster is pleased to simply inflict damage on your home and not your worthless body, Muggle."

"What is a 'Muggle'?" Vernon blurted. "You people keep calling me that and I don't know what it means!"

Petunia, who had been released from Dumbledore's silencing charm, looked over at her husband. "A Muggle is someone without magical ability, Vernon. Most of them look down on the likes of us as... animals; less than human."

Vernon snorted. "You freaks have it the wrong way round."

Snape smirked thinly. "I would be glad to demonstrate to you who is a beast and who is a man, Dursley. Indeed, at the slightest hint of word from my Headmaster, I will be glad to allow you to experience the joys of life as a suitably foul creature as a toad or a newt."

"You... You wouldn't dare!"

Snape's lips curled into a sneer. "I have nothing to fear from your kind, Dursley. What is there to hold me back?"

Vernon's mouth began to open and close like that of a landed trout. Suddenly, he realised that the freaks had the upper hand and that there was no telling what they might do to him. Dudley's various torments - the pig's tail and the oversized tongue for example - jumped to mind. That could easily be only a small taste of what they were capable of.

Snape was pleased with the suddenly look of petrified terror on the man's face. He turned to observe Potter and Minerva McGonagall loading cardboard boxes of books and magical paraphernalia into the boy's trunk. Dumbledore just stared into the tiny 5-by-5 hole in the wall, his expression unreadable. "Was it here, Harry?" he asked at last.

Harry looked at his Headmaster before looking down in shame. "Yes, sir," he said at last.

"For the nine whole years of your life?" Harry could only nod, too busy reliving his horrible memories to create a more sophisticated reply. Dumbledore turned to look at Vernon and Petunia. There were tears in the old man's eyes. "Why?" he asked at last. "Petunia, I knew that you had no love for our world and that you and Lily were estranged but..." the old man shook his head, suddenly looking ever second of his age. "How could you do that to a child?"

Petunia's expression was icy, scornful and free of compassion. She actually reminded Snape of Bellatrix LeStrange. "We had no room to put him anywhere else!" she snapped.

"You have four bedrooms up there," McGonagall said without looking at the Muggle woman

"All of which we were using!" Petunia replied in a petulant tone of voice. "We weren't going to upset our house for my sister's little overgrown... abortion! We never wanted the brat anyway! You should be grateful that we kept him alive all these years and didn't just smother him or drown him one night and throw the body on the compost heap where it belonged!"

"Well, he won't bother you any further," Dumbledore replied. "He is leaving, and I assure you that there is no reason why he will return."

"Not so fast!" The lack of tortures being inflicted on Petunia for her outburst gave Vernon the courage to speak again. "Don't think you can let that little piece of filth disrupt our lives for fifteen years and then just up and leave!" The fat man was going red-purple in the face again. "We have expenses! He has cost us a lot to keep and I'm not a rich man!"

Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "I would have thought that Lily's trust fund would have been enough to cover any of the modest expenses that keeping Harry has apparently cost you, Mr. Dursley," the old man said mildly. Vernon instantly went white. He had not counted on the old man knowing about the trust fund.

"Trust fund? What trust fund?" Harry asked.

"The fund was established from Lily's share of the Potter estate, Harry," Dumbledore told his pupil. "Your mother realised the precarious nature of her position and had made provision so that you would lack for nothing, should she and James die before you reached the age of your majority. It was sufficient to afford you clothing, food, board as well as covering any anticipated cost of your schooling."

Harry's expression went blank for a moment before a fire lit up behind his startling green eyes and he advanced on Vernon in a manner that made Dumbledore quite glad that the boy hadn't taking his wand when it was recovered from the cupboard underneath the stairs. "You told me that all those back-breaking chores I did over the years were to cover the cost of my keep," Harry said in a quiet, murderous tone. "You told me that I owed you for you taking me in! And all this time, you were taking my mum's money and keeping it for yourself?"

Vernon seemed to have no nerves at all. He smiled up at his nephew in an unrepentant, arrogant manner. "The money covered your costs, boy, no doubt about that, it even helped us purchase the occasional luxury. But no amount of money could reimburse us for the inconvenience of having your pitiful, filthy, unnatural self around. Those chores and the... discipline... was all to make sure that we got fair recompense for not just throwing you naked into the gutter to die like your filthy parents, good riddance to them!"

There was a sudden, massive detonation as ever piece of glass and china in the room exploded and all the photographs of the Dursleys exploded into flame. There could not be a much better demonstration of accidental magic generated by an extreme emotion. With a smirk that Snape had to objectively admire, McGonagall waved her wand to extinguish the fires. She was about to repair the damage when Dumbledore stopped her. "I believe that this... what was that Muggle phrase...? Ah yes! I believe this 'balances the books', Minerva. Please leave matters as they stand."

"What? You are just going to let the little freak smash up my home with his unnatural tricks and do nothing?" Vernon screamed. "The cost of fixing this...!"

"I'm sure that your misuse of Lily's trust fund allowed you to amass considerable cash reserves of your own, Mr. Dursley," Dumbledore said kindly. "I trust that they will be sufficient to cover these minor... breakages." The old man turned away from the Muggle to his colleagues. "Minerva, Severus, if you will transport Harry to his new lodgings...?" Snape nodded and shot the Dursleys one last thin-lipped sneer before touching Harry's shoulder and steering the boy, who was still trembling in outrage, out of the front door after Minerva and his trunk. "Severus, if you will inform Auror Tonks and Mr. Fletcher that their services will no longer be required?" Snape nodded.

Dumbledore turned back to Vernon. "Now, Mr. Dursley, I will be leaving shortly. However, as I am sure your wife has told you, there are several magical protections on this house that I must remove as Harry is no longer resident here."

"What? You have used those... unnatural things on my house?" Vernon went nearly black with rage. "Get rid of them now!"

"My pleasure," Dumbledore said with a smile that had no warmth in it whatsoever. "However, I should warn you that Voldemort, the dark wizard who killed your sister-in-law and her husband, who has killed many hundreds of wizards and Muggles alike, has been searching for your nephew quite assiduously of late. You should be aware that without these wards and protections that I placed on this house for Harry's sake, he should be capable of locating you, Harry's last blood kin, in a matter of a few minutes. I strongly suggest that you two and your son find a suitably isolated spot on the other side of the world to hide. If you do not wish to do that, I suggest that you instead ensure that all your affairs in order, because I assure you that my former apprentice will have you begging for the mercy of a slow, painful death before he decides that you truly do not know where his greatest enemy is hidden.

It was probably wrong of him, but Albus Dumbledore could not help but enjoy the sick look of dread on the faces of the Dursleys as he proceeded to cancel the now-purposeless wards and protections on 4 Privet Drive.

A pre-prepared portkey carried Harry, Hedwig and his escort across the south-east of England to Harlow in Hertfordshire. A neat, happy-looking middle-class home with two cars in the drive awaited him. Harry briefly wondered where he was, having expected The Burrow in distant Buckinghamshire or 12 Grimmauld Place in the borough of Chelsea in London.

All his questions were answered as the door was flung open and a blur topped with flowing brown hair shot out to crush him in a delirious hug of welcome. "Hermione," Harry whispered, recovering enough to return the hug with all the strength that his battered body could offer.

"You're safe now Harry," Hermione vowed, her tears pouring onto Harry's ill-fitting tee-shirt. "I'm going to make everything better, you'll see."

The End

And I mean it too. Sorry about this, but I don't have any ideas for a sequel right now. This was just to see if I could convincingly write Harry Potter fanfic. Please let me know what you think!