Sitting by the Grangers pool, Hermione looked over at Harry with concern. "What is it?
Harry wasn't sure. His scar twitched and tingled. "Dunno. I had a funny feeling."
"Dinner's ready," said Emma. She smiled at both of them and said, "It's good to have you both here. The house is usually so quiet. What would you like to drink? We have coffee, tea, milk, juice, lemonade, soda, and beer."
Harry replied, "Coffee please. How can I help?"
"Just sit down and enjoy yourself. We can talk about keeping the house up later."
They ate their dinner in comfortable silence. Emma and Dan knew of the attack in the Ministry building only in the most general of terms. They had been notified that their daughter had been injured in a school outing of some sort and had been treated. They wanted to know all of the details but were patient enough to wait.
Harry thanked them for dinner and began clearing the dishes. Hermione had not seen that side of Harry before, scurrying around like a house elf on a mission.
Emma sensed that this was not the first time that the slightly built young man had done the cleanup. He fell into the role of domestic help too easily. Rather than argue with him, she let him do the dishes, but came in a few minutes later to dry and put them away. "You seem rather comfortable in a kitchen, Harry. Do you like to cook and clean?"
Harry thought about it for a moment. He was quite practiced at cleaning and was pretty good at cooking. He smiled at her and said, "I guess that I like to cook and I don't mind cleaning up afterwards. How about you?"
Emma smiled. After a day standing leaning over patients working on their teeth, she was usually exhausted. Putting a positive spin on, she replied, "I like to bake – Breads, cakes, or cookies on Saturday mornings, but on a daily basis, I'd rather not."
Seeing an opportunity to be useful, Harry replied, "How about if I help out by doing the cooking then. Could I do that much at least? I really want to help."
She smiled at him. "Thank you, Harry. That would be lovely. Let me know what you need, and I'll get it for you from the market."
Harry thought, 'This is too much. Petunia never asked my what I'd like to have.' He replied, "I'll gladly make anything that you like. It doesn't matter to me."
While Hermione was visiting with her dad, and Harry and Emma were discussing baking, Tonks and Mundungus had finally found Dumbledore who had been visiting his brother. The old professor took them into his office and examined several of the whirling silver instruments that had repaired themselves after his discussion with Harry just five days ago. He tapped one of them, and it gave a puff. Tonks looked on with more than a bit of concern when it showed a smoky image of a burnt up home with a Dark Mark floating above it.
He put a bit of floo powder into the fireplace, stuck his head in the fire and said, "Amelia Bones, please." A moment later, he came out of the fireplace and said, "Please tell me again what happened from the moment Harry got off the train." She relayed his waving goodbye to a few friends, their conversation with Vernon Dursley and their departure.
While more than a bit alarmed at her words, Dumbledore long ago learned not to shoot the messenger and replied, "Please think carefully, Miss Tonks. Had Harry already left before you and the members of the Order greeted Harry's aunt and uncle?"
"No sir. He was standing off to the side struggling with his trunk and his owl. We left immediately after we talked with him. I did anyway. Moody had another appointment; Arthur took Ginny and Ron home. I'm not sure what Remus' plans were, sir."
Dumbledore nodded. "What do you think happened to Harry, Miss Tonks?"
"My guess is his uncle said something to set him off, they had words, and they left him there on the platform. It wouldn't be the first time that he's tried to leave them."
Dumbledore nodded. She probably was right. "Please check at the Leakey Cauldron and Gringotts, Miss Tonks. Mundungus, please make a quiet inquiry on the Knight Bus, then call the others for a seven PM meeting."
A few minutes after Tonks and Mundungus had left, Amelia Bones, Director of the office of Magical Law Enforcement came back through his fireplace. He offered her a lemon drop, which she refused. She was a mentally sharp woman in her late sixties who had succeeded in her career despite a lifetime of gender prejudice in the law enforcement field. She was similar in appearance to Minerva, except that she had been blonde in her youth, and had an investigator's eye for detail. She greeted him and asked, "When did Auror Tonks and the scoundrel Fletcher arrive here?"
"About six. What did you find?"
"The house had been magically sealed and incinerated. I believe that at least ten Death Eaters were involved. The house was completely enveloped in flames by the time that we arrived. I would estimate that the fires had been started no longer than five minutes prior. We found the remains of three bodies inside. My belief is that the Death Eaters never set foot inside the home. The Dursleys had summoned the Little Winging fire department by telephone."
Unasked, she volunteered, "The only person out of place that anyone noticed was an unkempt man seen in their back garden that looked like he'd been drinking." She smiled indulgently and asked, "Is it safe to say that would have been Fletcher?"
She paused a moment and said. "I have to at least ask, are you certain that it could not have been Harry who set the fires?"
Dumbledore replied, "I wasn't there but I'm confident that it wasn't. Mundungus searched the boot of the vehicle which they saw it arrive. Harry's possessions were not in the car, and I'm certain that he would not have willingly abandoned his owl or his trunk. Additionally Tonks told me that she saw the wards go down. They wouldn't have dropped if he had been there, even if they had been arguing. There must have been some external circumstance."
Amelia was ready to leave when Dumbledore asked her if she would accompany him to a meeting. She knew of the existence of his Order of the Phoenix, and had a reasonable idea of the members. Since he was no longer harboring a wanted man, she agreed to go. She had believed him regarding Sirius Black, but without any physical evidence to the fact, she had no basis to overturn Crouch's decision to imprison Black.
He took her hand, picked up a muggle pen and clicked it. A moment later, they had arrived at the back of number twelve Grimmauld Place. Dumbledore took a slip of parchment out of his vest, and handed it to her, asking her to read it. As she did, a door appeared and they entered.
After dinner, Emma asked the teens if they had any dirty laundry that needed cleaning. Hermione brought down a gigantic pile of clothing. After the first load was in the washer, Emma went up to see if Harry had any laundry.
Hermione was in the shower down the hallway. She found Harry in his room, sitting on the floor sitting with his back to the bed. He was looking at a large leather-bound photo album. Tears had welled in his eyes. She sat down beside him, and gently asked, "Can you show me some of your photos? I'd like to look at them with you."
Unused to kindness by an adult Harry started over in the book. "This was my mum and dad. They were in seventh year at the time and had begun dating. Dad played Quidditch for the house team. Mum was more interested in studying. I think ancient runes and charms were her favorite subjects.
Emma looked carefully at the photo. Harry's dad was probably a few inches taller and weighed twenty pounds more than his son currently did, but they had the same hair and general features. He was well dressed and obviously in love with the girl in the photo. She was several inches shorter than the man, quite pretty, and had beautiful auburn hair that fell past her shoulders. She had the same striking emerald eyes as her son. It was amazing to her to see wizarding photos that moved on the page.
"Emma observed, "She was a very beautiful young woman. You look a lot like your dad. I suppose you've heard that before?"
Harry nodded his head and continued, "Here is a photo of their wedding. I think they were eighteen at the time. That's my dad, and those were his two best mates. He was my Godfather and the other one taught at school for a while."
Emma nodded, but didn't say anything. Hermione'd written that Harry's Godfather had been murdered last week. She realized that the young man sitting next to her was grasping for the pieces of his life and felt his loss.
Comforted by her presence Harry turned the page and continued. "Here is a photo of my folks and Sirius at my birthday party. Sirius was in trouble from my mum. He and my dad had snuck me outside to go flying on my dad's broom."
She was curious who had instilled the background memories into the boy. These were moments that all had a very positive spin on them.
He turned the page and said, "Here is a picture of Hermione, Ron and I from our first year. We sure were little."
It was a photo of the three of them taken during the winter. Harry's owl was perched on Hermione's shoulder and Harry was feeding it something while Ron looked on. Emma smiled as the bird opened its wings and didn't inquire about the ten year gap in the photos.
"Here is a photo from our third year," said Harry.
"Is that Ron's pet?" asked Emma.
Harry nodded. "That was his pet rat, Scabbers. He was OK except it turned out that he was really a bad wizard hiding out in the form of a rat, so no one would find him. He helped murder my mum and dad."
Stunned at his words, she put her arm around him and rocked him for a moment. "You need better photos to look at. Turn the page. Let's look at the others. What is this one?"
Harry replied, "The school had a tournament between a wizarding school in France and a school in Bulgaria. The first challenge was to figure out a way to pick up a golden egg from the clutches of a mother dragon. Hermione taught me a clever charm to summon my broom and I was able to swoop down and grab it before she could catch me."
"Is that a real dragon?" Emma looked at it carefully. Obviously she had never seen a real dragon before. She was amazed. "This one looked remarkably like the movie versions."
"Yup, a Hungarian Horntail. They are the toughest kind. Ron's brother, Charlie is a kind of zookeeper in Romania. He helps raise different kinds of dragons in a big reserve."
Harry had one last picture. It was a photo of Harry and Hermione with the school headmaster and an extremely large man that Emma had not seen.
He said, "This was taken last year. That is Professor Dumbledore and that is Hagrid. He teaches one of the classes, care of magical creatures. He found me when I was eleven and bought me my owl."
"These are very nice, Harry. Thank you for sharing them with me. Did you have any laundry that needed washing? Let's look." Before Harry could do or say anything she had opened his trunk. Aside from his school books and equipment, he had a few sets of school robes, the uniform shirt, tie and trousers, an old pair of taped up trainers, several pair of worn stockings, an impossibly big sweatshirt, an equally big pair of jeans, two sweaters which someone had knitted and two tee shirts. She silently closed the trunk. Who are those people that would let their child go around without any proper clothing?
She gave him a quick hug and said, "We'll have to do some shopping tomorrow. You and Hermione both need some new outfits. Dan bought a new gadget this week to play videos. It's called a DVD player. When you're ready come on down. We'll put one on."
Dan Granger pictured himself as a techie and was a merchant's dream as a customer. If there was something new, he tried it out. He switched operating systems on their home computer from the reliable DOS v6.2 to the Windows version 3.12. He finally had made friends with that when he decided that he needed a new computer and the just released Windows 95. The only software that either of the dentists had ever used was a word processor and a spreadsheet program but he had found a replacement for his printer, and told Harry that the latest one was a laser printer.
He had cameras, and a video recorder as well as an amazing collection of miniature tin soldiers that he had painted. "I'm good with my hands," he said. Harry supposed that it came with the job of being a dentist.
He put on the latest release, Braveheart. Emma thought it far too violent for her taste. She preferred musicals, but they did take turns selecting videos. Later, they popped popcorn and they played hearts. She commented, "You have your choice of a lot more games with a fourth player."
Harry supposed that she was right. He had no recollection of playing any games as a family at the Dursleys.
Meanwhile at Grimmauld Place, the meeting had not been very productive. In retrospect, having three wizards and a witch intimidate a muggle who just wanted to be left alone didn't seem like such a wonderful idea.
Dumbledore knew that they would be harder on themselves than necessary, so he did nothing to fuel the fire. Getting back to the matter at hand, Harry was missing, and had no place to stay.
Molly immediately offered to take Harry in. The others pointed out that the burrow might not be a safe enough location, and he would be better to stay at Grimmauld Place.
Bones pointed out that since there was no direct evidence that he had been abducted, Harry would not be considered missing until he had been gone for 48 hours. She also pointed out that since his parents had not designated the Dursleys as his guardians, any wishes that Sirius Black had documented should be considered.
Snape asked, "Has anyone thought to send an owl to the insolent brat and ask him where he is?"
Obviously not, since Molly scribbled a message and hurriedly tied it to the owl's leg, before sending it on its way.
She said, "Harry should get his within a half hour if he isn't too far away. We should hear from him within an hour or so." They sat back down and waited.
Ten minutes into the flight, the knot that Molly had used to tie the letter with gave way and the letter fluttered to the ground ending up down a storm sewer. The owl, realizing that it had lost its parcel swooped down to try to retrieve it. Halfway down, it spotted a pair of mice and all thoughts that it may have had of a missing letter vanished. The owl returned to the burrow at six AM.
Harry got up at six, showered and made coffee. He poured a cup and sat in the back garden waiting for the others to get up. He always liked mornings the best. He wasn't anxious to contact the Order and inform them that he had been invited to spend the summer at a home where he was actually welcome. It would come out badly and the only one who wouldn't feel bad was Dumbledore. He didn't want to be forced to go back to the Dursleys for the summer.
He was so angry at the man. 'Why did he abandoned me during the school year? Why hadn't he told me that Riddle would be trying to trick me?' His negligence had cost a good man's life and his friends had suffered serious injuries blindly following him.
Harry decided that it would be a long time before Dumbledore would have anything to say that would be worth hearing. Out of habit, he began weeding the flowerbeds in back. By 7:30 he had finished. A moment later, Emma came out.
Seeing his hands, she said, "I like to come out and work in the flower beds too. I sleep in a bit later than you do though. Thanks for the coffee. The roses are doing well this year."
Having taken five years of herbology, Harry replied, "The rains have been good this year, and you have excellent soil for them. There is a good amount of drainage and you have them mulched well. It only took a few minutes to tidy up the beds a bit. You obviously take great care of them."
She looked at him with increased respect. "Thanks Harry. I do like tending them. I never had the opportunity for formal study of plants like you've received, but I have fun muddling along."
"I'll pick you up some dragon dung fertilizer sometime. You would be amazed how well they will do."
Emma realized that there was an entire world that had been hidden from her eyes, and was glad that her daughter could experience it. Harry seemed so down to earth and attuned to nature.
"Come on in, Harry. We'll fix breakfast and go out and do a bit of shopping. After breakfast, Dan will put the trunks away. There is an empty shelf in the library for your books. We'll get you some new things to wear, and you'll be all set to enjoy your holiday."
At breakfast, Hermione asked if she could borrow Hedwig to send Professor Vector a note about an Arithmancy project that she had been working on. She lived in Cork, so it might be a while, but Hedwig would like the exercise and Harry didn't need to check in for two more days. Dan suggested that Harry put Hedwig's cage in the library as there was a very good spot for it and a window that would be easy to open and close as they needed.
After breakfast, Hermione picked up the house a bit, Harry and Emma put the dishes away and Dan put the trunks down in the cellar.
They got in the car, and left for the day. Emma asked, "Harry, would you prefer shopping at Harvey Nichols, or Selfridges? They both have nice things. Hermione, any preference?"
Sitting next to each other in the back, Harry whispered something to Hermione. "Either would be fine. Dad, would it be OK if we stopped in Diagon Alley for a few minutes first. Harry needs to stop at his bank and I'd like to pick up a book."
'Imagine that,' thought Dan. "No worries, we'll be there in a half hour." They parked the car and walked a block to the entrance.
"How long do you need?" asked Emma.
Harry replied, "Not long. Twenty minutes total if you know which book you need." Hermione nodded.
Dan said, "There are some DVDs that I'd like to look at in the shop next door. We can meet back in the car in a half hour."
Emma said, "Lovely." Looking at Harry, she asked, "Do you mind if I tag along?"
Hermione and Harry didn't mind and they parted ways.
It was fairly crowded in the Leakey Cauldron that morning. Tom had to go into the cellar to change out one of the 32 gallon kegs of butterbeer. His assistant Nob, was worthless, but the ancient squib was at least a decent short order cook. Tom told him to keep an eye on the place for a few minutes while he was downstairs.
Hermione opened the door and they went in, made their way down the pub and passed through the back door to the bricked alley. Touching her wand to the bricks, the doorway to Diagon Alley opened and they passed through. A minute later Tom returned, and asked, "Anybody pass through, Nob?"
"Aye, a couple o birds. Lookers too."
Tom, shook his head. G' back to work, ya o perv. We got a crowd that's wanting to be fed." One of the Ministry Aurors had stopped by yesterday and asked him to let her know if he saw Harry Potter in the next few days.
They walked to Gringotts first. Harry had worn a Quidditch team hat had Neville had gotten him, and looked like any other young wizard on holiday. They passed the uniformed guard at the bronze front entrance of Gringotts. Harry walked up to the accounts counter with his key in hand. Hermione and Emma stood by him with some interest. They didn't have an account there and had only been to the exchange window before. Harry showed the Goblin his key and asked "Could Griphook, take us to my vault please. I'd like to make a withdrawal and exchange some galleons into sterling notes when I get back."
The head teller liked at the key carefully, then looked at Harry and said, "That would be acceptable. We are happy to serve you today, Harry Potter."
Emma wasn't certain that the young man wanted them to be so intimate with his financial affairs and offered to wait in the lobby. Harry smiled at her and said, "Come on, this is nothing like Barclays. You'll love it."
The four of them crowded into one of the little trolley carts. Griphook asked, "Which vault, Mr. Potter?"
Harry said, "Number 678."
Griphook nodded and the little cart started. Emma thought it was the best roller coaster ride that she had ever been on. It seemed to go for miles! Griphook got out first and asked for the key. Harry handed it to him, and the little Goblin carefully opened the vault door. Emma hung back, not wanting to embarrass the young man with his unfortunate situation. Hermione was speechless. She had been to the Weasley vault once with Molly, but it was nothing like this. The vault was the size of a walk in closet, filled with gold Galleons, each about the size of a pound coin. She glanced to the side while Harry was scooping some into an ice cream bucket sized container. The ledger sheet indicated that there were two hundred seventy-eight thousand galleons and about an equal number of silver sickles in the vault!
As he scooped them into the container, she noticed that the ledger sheet reflected the change. When he was done, she gave it one last look, for a moment it was about two thousand galleons less, then it changed nearly back to the original amount with a note that said Interest applied – May-June. Harry held the bucket with both hands and Griphook closed the door. Emma had been looking up and down the dimly lit corridors and hadn't really been paying attention. When they got back to the cart, Emma asked about the flash of light that she had seen down the corridor.
Griphook replied, "Dragons guard the high security vaults. Perhaps you'll visit another day and see one."
They went back up nearly as fast as the rode down. Emma and Hermione waited at one of the benches while Harry exchanged most of the galleons for sterling notes.
Meanwhile Kingsley had been asked to check at the Granger house in the odd chance that Harry may have found his way there. He got to the house and found it locked. He used magic to open the door and stepped inside. Taking a quick look upstairs, there was no sign that the Potter boy had been there. The spare bedroom was empty, and the laundry either looked muggle, or like a teenage girl's. He carefully closed the door and relocked it.
Dumbledore had mentioned that the Granger girl's parents were muggle dentists and that they usually took a trip during the holiday. They probably were getting ready to go, or had already left.
Harry found Hermione and her mum at the Gringotts lobby bench and they left the bank to go the Flourish and Blotts. Hermione found four books on Arithmancy and runes that she wanted, while Harry found three books on dueling and home security. Emma didn't have enough galleons with her and the shopkeeper didn't take sterling, so Harry offered to pay for the books. They could settle up another day.
They made their way back down the street back to the pub. Just as they were walking in, Nob accidentally tipped over one of the big serving trays down by the wait station. Tom went over to help clean up the mess, muttering about the worthless old buzzard that he'd worked with for forty years.
They walked out the front door unnoticed and found Dan who was just finishing his shopping in the record store. He walked out commenting that they still sold LPs there in addition to CDs and the new DVDs.
At Harvey Nichols, Harry was well taken care of. Hermione and Emma had exceptional taste in clothing. They found some oxford shirts, casual shirts, nice trousers, casual trousers, jeans, stockings, boxers and three pair of shoes for him. Hermione found a swimsuit, an exercise outfit, and running shorts for both of them, as well as several pair of jeans, slacks and several skinny tops for herself.
Emma insisted on paying for their new things over Harry's protests. Aunt Petunia had never offered to take him shopping for new clothing. Harry was embarrassed at the attention that he was getting. In truth, he had very low self-esteem, and couldn't see how anyone would believe him to be deserving of so many nice things.
While they were out shopping, Professor Vector received the owl from her favorite student.
Dear Professor Vector,
Thanks for the suggestion on the holiday reading. I hope to get a chance to pick them up today. I hope that you have the best holiday. I expect to have a great one myself.
Thanks for all of your extra help this last year. I'll show you my work when term begins. You are an outstanding professor.
Vector read the note with pride, wrote a quick reply and sent the owl back on her way. Not having Harry in her classes, she had no way of knowing who the owl belonged to. She had a month off before the start of term planning meetings began.
The Grangers returned home about noon. Dan and Emma sat out in the back garden while the teens put their things away. The dentists both had afternoon appointments at their surgery and told the teens that they'd be back a 4:30. Harry replied he'd have dinner ready at 5:00.
On the way to their practice, Dan asked Emma about their shopping.
Emma said, "Harry invited Hermione and I to go down to the vaults with him at Gringotts. He showed them his vault key, a goblin put us in a little ore cart, and we went miles underground on this winding little track. It was the best time. While Harry was getting his coins, I think I saw a dragon breath fire."
Amused, Dan replied, "Sure."
"No, really. He showed me his photo album. I saw a picture of him with this gigantic dragon that they had used in some school event two years ago."
Dan looked at her, shocked at her words. "That skinny kid battled a dragon?"
She smiled at her husband. "Yup. He beat hit too."
Dan was amazed. "Really? I'll have to ask him about it sometime. How did you manage to get Hermione out of the bookshop?"
They smirked at each other, knowing their daughter's love of books. She said, "Hopefully they won't spend all summer studying ancient runes or Arithmancy. They could swim, or play tennis, or go to the mall."
Dan nodded. "Do you still want to go to Cannes or Marseilles in August?"
"It would be nice. It would be nice to stay around the house and putter in the garden too. Let's decide in a few days."
Back at the burrow, Ron and Ginny were in the back paddock flying on their broomsticks with Luna who lived a few miles away from them. Luna asked, "How did Harry take the news?"
Ginny asked, "What news?"
Luna said, "His aunt and uncles home was attacked yesterday. Wasn't it in the Daily Prophet? Daddy showed me. I read it this morning in the Times."
The two Weasleys were stunned by the news. Their parents hadn't said a word about it.
According to the wizarding world, Harry had been missing for 27 hours.
Given the circumstances, who would be Harry's legal guardian? Would that hold true in the wizarding world?
How much could Dumbledore get away with?
Who could Harry object to?