Standard Disclaimer: I own nothing, have pity on me. All characters and the Potterverse is the property of JK Rowlings and I thank her for bring us this unique vision.
Descent into Hell...
To say that the return to Privet Drive was uneventful would be a mistake. Vernon seethed and sputtered, muttering to himself, Petunia shivered in her seat and Dudley followed his mother's example sitting in the back. The source of their anxiety sat across from Dudley, staring numbly out the window and saying nothing.
Harry Potter sat in silence; to many, the Boy-Who-Lived was a hero, the hope of the wizarding world, but Harry knew better. He was hollow, an empty shell, devoid of any sort of happiness or joy, just sitting there as houses whizzed by.
It was barely a week ago that Harry lost his Godfather in a duel with Bellatrix Lestrange, a Death Eater and one of more than a dozen Death Eaters who had trapped Harry and his friends in the Ministry of Magic's department of Mysteries. His Godfather dead, all of his friends injured in that fight. Guilt, rage and despair waged war within his mind during that silent journey from King's Crossing to Privet Drive.
"BOY!" snarled Uncle Vernon. "You're going to earn your keep this summer! I've arranged for you to do some work for a new neighbor. He expects you to show up by 6:30 every morning and work 'til 5pm. ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME BOY?"
Harry turned his face away from the window and with just a hint of anger replied.
"Yes, Uncle Vernon."
"Good! We'll have a normal summer this year. I don't want to see any more of those freaks around here. Since you have to report in every three days, I'll see to it myself that you do!"
When the car pulled into number 4 Privet Drive, Harry was surprised to see a brown Hogwarts owl sitting on the fence, waiting for him, no doubt. Pulling his trunk from the boot, he quickly retrieved the letter and stuffed it into his pocket. He'd read that later once he was in his room.
He had barely closed the front door and turned to drag his trunk up to his room when he was flung into a wall by a blow to his back.
Uncle Vernon roared, "Don't you dare let me see any more of those freaky owls around here! I want you up every morning at 5:30 sharp and heading over to number 10 Privet Drive to see Mr. Parsons. I'll be earning 50 pounds a week for your work this summer."
Harry's anger flared briefly. Great, thought Harry, now he's hiring me out to be a slave for other people.
Depositing his trunk in his room, Harry sat on the small crib mattress, pulling his knees up and staring out the window. A small noise of parchment crinkling caught his attention. The letter from Hogwarts! Maybe it was going to tell him they'd get him out of here early he thought.Mr. Potter,
I realize this is probably not going to be received well by you, but Minister Fudge is being uncooperative and obstructing all attempts to beef up the Aurors. He's also making some noises about wanting to talk to you, maybe even hold a formal investigation into your "break-in" at the Ministry of Magic. I feel its best for all parties at this point if you remain with the Dursleys at Privet Drive for the entire summer. I've asked Remus Lupin and Ms Tonks to visit you periodically, but other than that we will keep contacts to a minimum. Please remember to keep sending your owl with your status every couple days. I strongly urge you not to send any owls to your friends, your owl is rather noticeable and we do not want it intercepted by the enemy.
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
The parchment fell from Harry's numb hands and he sobbed quietly on his bed. "Sirius…"
The voices whispered to Harry, calling to him, beckoning him to come closer. The veil shimmered invitingly. Suddenly, Sirius Black's head pushed through the veil and gaunt arms reached to clutch him by his shoulders.
"You killed me Harry!"
"No Sirius, I didn't mean to… I didn't want it, I'm sooo sorry Sirius!"
"Hawwwy… little baby Harry wants to join his mangy godfather?"
Harry's head whipped up to see Bellatrix Lestrange holding a wand on him. He reached for his own wand and it wasn't there.
Suddenly the scene shifted and he was on the platform above the veil, Ron, Neville, Luna, Hermione and Ginny stood next to the veil. One by one they walked up to the veil and fell through it.
He tried as hard as he could to scream their names but no sound came out…
Harry bolted up in his bed, screaming and sobbing "No, not Ron, not 'Mione, not Ginny!" Moonlight filtered through the torn curtain over his window casting pale shadows. Suddenly there was a pounding on the wall and he could hear his uncle bellowing. "Shut the bloody fuck up you wretched freak!"
Four A.M. in the morning and a thin pale wizard sat on his bed rocking back and forth sobbing quietly. His time in hell had barely begun.
Harry's New Job…
Six in the Morning and Harry was standing in front of number 10 Privet Drive. Despite the predicted warm weather, Harry was wearing an old, oversized sweatshirt that Aunt Petunia gave him when it didn't fit Dudley anymore. His only comfort was his wand, safely tucked into a forearm holster. Despite the prohibition against underage magic, Harry decided he would not go unarmed this summer.
After ringing the bell twice he heard someone yell from inside the house. "Hold your horses! I'm a coming!"
The man who opened the door was tall, taller than Ron, and Ron had a couple inches over Harry at this point. Unlike Ron, he was heavily muscled; his hair closely cropped and touched with silver. On his arm was a tattoo unlike any Harry had ever seen before. The man seemed to have a problem with one leg as he walked with a cane, seemingly unable to bend that leg at the knee.
"You must be the Dursley's kid?" asked the man.
Harry sighed then replied, "Yes sir, I'm Harry."
The man thrust out a large hand and grabbed Harry's hand pumping strongly. "I'm Jack, Jack Parsons, just moved in a few weeks back. Your uncle said you would be looking for work this summer and with this gimpy old leg of mine I could use a helping hand."
Harry pulled his hand back and mentally counted the number of broken bones in it.
"Well come in! Come in! No sense hanging around out here Harry. I'm just setting up for some morning grub, have you had anything to eat yet?"
"No sir, I've not eaten yet."
"Well follow me, we'll rustle up some grub for you in the kitchen then get down to work."
Like the Dursley's house, there was a small living room off to one side of the corridor, the stairs to the second level of the house and the corridor leading to the kitchen. Interestingly enough the living room was filled with photos, photos of Jack in an unrecognizable uniform, and photos of aircraft. On one wall there was a glass case, which contained three small objects.
Harry followed Jack into the kitchen. Something smelled very, very good. Harry sat down at a small table and Jack placed a couple plates in front of him, some of which contained food Harry had never seen before.
"Excuse me Sir, but what is that?" He said pointing to thick chunky gravy. Gravy? For breakfast?
"Well Harry, you ain't lived 'til you've had Biscuit's n' Gravy! Good old-fashioned American breakfast food! Here, grab one of those biscuits and pour the gravy over it. As you can tell I'm not from these parts, I moved here barely a month ago. I'm still unpacking and settling in."
Harry carefully tasted the strange fare and his face lit up with a smile. "This is pretty good."
"Ok Harry, here's what we're going to be doing. I have two months to get this house in order before I have to start working. My company was nice enough to send me over here early so I could get set up, but I'm not able to do everything I want to do by myself, thanks to old gimpy here." Jack thumped his leg with the cane and it made a metallic sound, causing Harry's eyes to widen.
"How did you do that sir?"
"That's a long story Harry, but the short version is I wasn't watching where I put my foot during the last Gulf War and lost everything from the knee down. Wasn't much fun, but war is like that. Anyway, what I'm going to need you to do is all the stuff I can't do without needing both hands. That means a fair amount of lifting and moving stuff; I'll need you to lay the marble slabs in the backyard. Your uncle says I'm supposed to pay him and not give the money to you, which seems kinda strange to me, but I'm not used to you Brits yet."
Harry nodded and said nothing. Uncle Vernon would not want people to know he was taking his money and Harry didn't want to risk Uncle Vernon getting angry again.
"Harry when you're done with breakfast, you will find a pallet with a whole mess of marble slabs out back. Be careful with them, they weight about 50 pounds each, oh damn, umm… that's about 20 kilos over here," he said with a smile. "Take them out to the backyard and lay them out one at a time. Make sure they fit nice and tight to each other, I want to be able to put my BBQ out there, and maybe a hot tub someday. I'll call in you when its time for lunch, and I'll have some cold drinks in the fridge that you can always come into the house to get."
For the next several hours Harry moved the slabs, slowly covering the small grass plot. He thought it was strange, but then again, with that bad leg maybe Jack didn't want to have to worry about mowing it. It was hot, exhausting work, but Jack made sure he took several breaks to rest and drink something.
At noon, Jack called Harry in for lunch. Over sandwiches, Jack talked to Harry about his job working for some American company that made military equipment. He tried to ask Harry several times about his school, but Harry gave him vague answers about a private boarding school up in the Scottish highlands. It was against the law to reveal anything to muggles about the wizarding world and Harry was coming to like this noisy American.
By mid afternoon, all of the tiles were in place and Harry felt like his arms had been stretched a full meter longer than they used to be. It was a marvel he wasn't dragging his knuckles along the floor.
Jack called Harry in from the yard and handed him a cool drink.
"Take a short break Harry, then I'd like you to move a few boxes up to the master bedroom. Once you've done that, we'll call it quits for today. Maybe sit for a bit and shoot the shit. How's that sound to you Harry?"
Harry looked startled. "Umm… shoot the shit? Sir?"
Jack chuckled and said "I mean we'll talk Harry, I'll tell you what I want you to do tomorrow, that sort of thing."
Harry smiled and nodded, then muttered, "I think one of the things we'll need to talk about is how you manage to mangle English."
Jack laughed and said, "Just bring up the four large boxes from the basement to the master bedroom Harry."
The boxes were large; it was hard for him to see where he was putting his feet while holding them. Bringing up the fourth box, Harry stumbled slightly entering the master bedroom and the box tipped over with a loud crash, spilling some of the contents to the floor. He scrambled to put everything back into the box, until something caught his eye.
Harry picked up the photo, clearly it was very old, but the really amazing thing was it was a wizarding photograph. The young woman in the picture waved at the camera. On her lap was an infant who she helped to wave at the camera.
Jack came thumping up into the room and froze when he saw Harry holding the photo. The color drained from his face
"Umm Harry I can explain that photo, you see it's a…"
Harry looked at Jack, his anger rising, was Jack sent here by the order to watch over him? All he needed was another baby sitter to make his life more miserable.
"YOU'RE A WIZARD?" Harry demanded. "Did the Order send you to watch over me also? If so, you can go back to Dumbledore and tell him to fuck off, I don't want his help anymore! He's cost me too much of my life as it is!"
Harry was breathing heavily and waves of magic seemed to pour out of his body. The house seemed to groan and rumble like distant thunder.
"Whoa! Harry cool your jets. I'm not a wizard and I wasn't sent here to by anyone to watch you. Calm down, and lets go into the living room to talk about this."
Harry took a few deep breaths and tried to center himself, before following Jack down the stairs to the living room. He still clutched the photograph.
Jack sat down in a large chair and motioned to Harry to sit across from him on the couch.
"I'm not a wizard Harry. My father was one, but he married my mom who was a nonmag, and had me, another nonmag."
Harry's eyebrow raised in confusion "Nonmag? What's that?"
Jack ran one hand over his head and said, "Well that's what they call them in America. People who are born to wizards with little or no magic are called nonmags. Don't ask me what they call them over here."
"We call them squibs over here."
"Harry, considering what you said up in the bedroom, I can tell you're in some kind of trouble. If you don't mind, I'd like to help if I can. Are you a squib also?"
"No, and that's my problem. I'd give just about anything to be a muggle or even a squib at this point. I appreciate your offer of help Jack, but I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about it all just yet. Do you still want me to come over and do the work for you? I can't legally perform magic yet so I have to do everything the muggle way. It's illegal for someone my age to do magic except in the act of self defense, and even then its not always allowed."
"Well magic or not, I still need things done around the house Harry, so I expect that you'll be here bright and early. You don't have to tell me anything, but I would like to hear more about your world. It's been a long time since I was last in touch with the wizarding world."
Harry thought about it, and then nodded. "I'll be here everyday Jack." To himself he added, or Uncle Vernon will have my hide nailed to a wall.
Harry returned to the Dursleys just before 5pm that day. Vernon wasn't anywhere to be seen, and dinner was quite spare. Apparently Dudley's diet wasn't going well so Aunt Petunia decided to resort to a much stricter diet. Dudley's whining resulted in Harry getting even smaller portions than Dudley did.
Over the next few days Harry and Jack continued to work on improving and fixing up his house. Jack took a more active roll in helping Harry. They discussed many things while they worked. Harry learned about Jack's life in the military, ex Special Forces, wounded in combat and forced into an early retirement due to his disability. Jack learned about Hogwarts and about Harry's trips to Diagon Alley.
Jack could tell that something was missing from Harry's tales. He was very careful to omit certain details; he never said anything about his family or what was currently going on in the wizarding world. With his training in covert intelligence gathering, his instinct was that something was seriously wrong, but what it was, Harry hadn't said.
On his fourth night back with the Dursleys, Vernon came into Harry's room.
"BOY! Have you written that letter to your freakish friends yet? You know you need to send one at least once a week!" Vernon grabbed Harry painfully by one shoulder.
"Not… not yet Uncle Vernon." Harry stammered.
Vernon punched Harry in the stomach, doubling him over and letting him fall to the floor. "Get up you piece of shit! Write what I tell you to write!"
Harry crawled over to the table that doubled as his desk and pulled out quill and parchment, hastily writing down what Vernon told him to write. He then attached the note to Hedwig and sent her on her way.
Lies to the Order…
At 12 Grimmauld Place, a snowy white owl ghosted down to an open window. Remus Lupin was on duty that night in the kitchen of the Order of the Phoenix. He smiled when he recognized Hedwig. Although not related to Harry in any way, he felt a bond of kinship to Harry. Harry was the son of one of his closest friends, and the Godson of another.
Spotting Remus, Hedwig ghosted over to him and landed in front of him.
"A letter from Harry girl? Well let me get from you."
Hedwig, normally a very placid owl, seemed more than a bit skittish tonight, nipping several times at Remus while he tried to remove the parchment. Finally relieved of her burden, Hedwig took to wing and flew out the window.
She mustn't have expected any need to wait for a reply to this, he thought. Shrugging, he unrolled the parchment and read.Dear Professor Moody & Professor Lupin,
The Dursley's are treating me well. Uncle Vernon found me a job for the summer working for a neighbor. I'm well fed and feel fine. I'll keep sending owls every week if you want, but considering how well the Dursley's are treating me I don't think its really necessary.
Remus took the letter into the parlor and handed it to Moody who quickly scanned it over.
"Hmm, I'm glad to see SOMETHING is going right for that kid for once," growled Moody. "Lets just keep him on this schedule for now. As long as we don't tell him otherwise, he'll keep sending us updates every week."
Later that evening as Remus was starting to turn in for the night, he considered Harry's letter. Something didn't seem quite right about it, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. With a flick of his wand he extinguished the lights and settled into an uneasy sleep.
Over the next few weeks this become something of a ritual. Harry would spend his days working and talking to Jack He was very interested in hearing about Jack's tales from the military, and Jack for his part, loved having such an attentive listener. Once a week, Vernon would dictate a letter to Harry, shouting and calling him names if he wasn't ready to send the letter on time. Vernon was careful not to hit him too hard, or in places that would be immediately obvious.
Everyday Jack and Harry would knock off work around three and spend a couple hours talking. In some respects, Jacks tales helped Harry work through his grief for Sirius. While Harry hadn't given Jack any specifics, Jack suspected from the way that Harry talked and acted, that he had lost someone recently and was still trying to come to grips with it. The friendship that was forming between Jack and Harry was finally cemented one day when Jack made a request of him after work.
"Harry, can I ask you something?" Jack said.
"Depends Jack. I guess you can."
"When I was little, before my mom died and my dad turned his back on the wizard world, we used to get something called a chocolate frog. Do you think it would be possible to get any? I haven't had any in years and would love to have some."
"Well I suppose you'd have to ask my Uncle Vernon about that. We'd have to travel to London, a couple hours away. I think if you told him you had to go there to pick up something for the house and needed me to carry stuff for you, he'd agree. I'd have to disguise myself though. I'm not supposed to go to Diagon Alley without a couple of escorts to watch over me, but I'm game if you are."
"Disguise yourself? What kind of disguise would you need?"
Harry pulled his hair away from his forehead revealing the lightening bolt scar that Jack had seen on several occasions.
"Well the scar is easy to hide, I have just the thing for that. I'll also loan you a pair of clip on sunglasses for your glasses. Your eyes are both striking in intensity and easy to spot. Wait here a sec." Jack left the room. A few minutes later Jack returned with a ball cap, embroidered with a blazing gold lettering and a picture of a ship, USS BLUE RIDGE, LCC 19.
"Keep it Harry. It will hide the scar and keep the sun out of your eyes. Besides I have caps from several ships I've been on over the years, I won't miss that one."
Harry was stunned. It was a beautiful, midnight black with gold lettering. It was nothing like the hats wizards wore, but it was one of the nicest gifts he had ever been given! He tried to stammer out his thanks to Jack.
"Don't worry about it Harry. How about if I walk you home tonight to talk to your Uncle about a trip to London tomorrow?"
A few minutes later Jack and Harry entered the Dursley's house. Jack wasn't sure exactly what the heck was going on, but Harry seemed to change as they entered the house. His attitude swung a full 180 degrees and seemed to lose all of his confidence as he told his Uncle that Mr. Parsons wished to talk to him.
Vernon Dursley looked up from his dinner plate and, spotting Harry and Jack, he immediately started getting red in the face.
"What did that boy do this time?" he demanded.
Jack was wondering what the hell was going on, but he pushed on anyway. "Nothing wrong Mr. Dursley, in fact it's quite the opposite. Harry's been a great worker for me. I only came over because I have to pick up some supplies tomorrow and could use Harry's help loading up the car. Would you mind very much if I took him into London with me?"
Vernon glared down at Harry for a moment, then smiled at Jack saying, "Well I'm glad he's working out so well for you! Take him anytime you need him. He's good for heavy work like that!"
Jack nodded, smiling back while Vernon walked him to the door. Harry scurried around to his seat at the counter for another meager meal.
Jack returned home and slumped down in his favorite chair. Something was definitely not right in the Dursley household. His instincts screamed that at him. He was no expert on teenagers, but even he could see something was wrong. Harry seemed to be terrified of Vernon Dursley. Whatever the problem was, he'd have to go slow prying it out of Harry. The poor kid would probably close down completely if he pushed him too hard. No, it would be best if he could just provide Harry with the friendship he seemed to need to desperately.
The next morning Harry woke to a bright sunny day. He knew he was disobeying Dumbledore by going with Jack and it gave him a giddy sense of freedom. This was almost as much fun as skiving off classes!
The drive to London was uneventful, the pair talked about what they'd need to do. Harry explained that first Jack would have to go to Gringots to exchange pounds for galleons. While Jack was exchanging his money, Harry would get some from his vault. They both knew they couldn't stay long in Diagon Alley, so they'd get the money dealt with, then they'd go to the Diagon Alley location for Honeydukes. Jack did have a need to pick up a few items in London, but nothing really major.
Jack was amazed by Diagon alley, but like any other trained professional he went about his task following Harry straight to Gringots. Gringots was fairly busy today, so Harry agreed to meet Jack just inside the entrance after he had visited his vault. Stepping up to the counter he told the goblin "I'd like to visit my vault please."
"Name?" asked the goblin.
"Follow me please."
They boarded a trolley but instead of zooming off to the depths of Gringots, the trolley went a short distance and didn't seem to descend at all. "Potter Family Vault, watch your step exiting the cart," said the Goblin.
Harry was confused. This wasn't his usual vault. The doors he faced were huge; the doors carved with the signet crest of the Potter Family, a griffon with a Phoenix perched on its back. Harry took a step forward towards the massive doors wondering if his key would even work on these, when the doors slid silently open. Must be blood magic, he thought. The doors are keyed to only open to blood members of the Potter family. Hermione would love this! It was very old, very strong magic of the highest order.
Stepping inside he looked around briefly. The vault was filled with money, paintings, even furniture. Sitting right near the entrance was a small black box with a note attached to it reading "FOR HARRY". Harry knew he didn't have much time so he scooped up some galleons for his moneybag and grabbed the box.
Less than two hours later Harry and Jack were heading back to Surrey, the trunk loaded with one case of chocolate frogs, and on Harry's advice, two cases of Butterbeer. What Harry didn't know was Jack had grabbed what looked like several official pamphlets and today's edition of the Prophet. Jack asked about the box Harry was carrying, but Harry didn't know what was in it, all he could say was it was in his vault with a note saying he was supposed to get it.
Arriving at 10 Privet Drive, Jack suggested they make lunch and talk about a few things, which sounded really good to Harry. It had been weeks since his last Butterbeer. Harry really wanted to talk to Jack about an idea that had been slowly forming ever since Jack started telling him some of his war stories.
"You've been in wars haven't you?"
"Yeah kid. I've seen more than my share of bad times. Why do you ask?"
"I'm just wondering about something. In the wizarding world, wars seem pretty crazy, but your stories don't sound anything like that. You talk about fire teams and fields of fire and all sorts of stuff I've never heard of before."
Jack chuckled. "Let me tell you Harry, war is chaotic. Its no fun, people get hurt all the time. No matter how well you plan, as soon as the shooting starts your plan gets tossed out the window. The big difference is a well trained group can always overcome an unorganized mob."
Sighing, Jack shook his head and continued. "I remember my dad talking about it. He described a wizard fight like a wild west show with spells flying everywhere, no one coordinates so its pure chaos. Putting order to that chaos would require training, teams designed to work together. Each person needs to know exactly what their job is and how to do it."
Harry thought about this for a while then nodded. "Can we talk about this more again sometime Jack? You have given me an idea that just might be useful."
"Sure kid, if you want to listen to this broken down warhorse talk about the glory days, I'll go along with it."
"Well its getting late Jack, if you don't mind I'll leave the Butterbeers here. Uncle Vernon doesn't like to see that kind of stuff in his house. See you tomorrow Jack!"
Harry grabbed his box and headed back to the Dursley's.
Hurrying home Harry crept into the house. He was in luck; the Dursley's weren't home. Harry slipped into his room and sitting on his bed he examined the note and box carefully. The note didn't say much, just "FOR HARRY". He couldn't even tell whose handwriting it was. The box was just a box. It was fancy inasmuch as it had the Potter crest carved onto the top, but it didn't seem special. Strangely enough there didn't seem to be anyway to open the box. There weren't any visible seams, just the crest on one face of the box. Tracing his fingers along the crest his thumb dipped into a barely noticeable indentation. The box started to vibrate, then the top slid silently open revealing a letter addressed:Harry Potter
4 Privet Drive
Dudley's Old Toy Room…
Under the letter, lay a book.
Harry pulled the letter from the box wondering whom it was from. Sirius? Opening the envelope, Harry pulled out the letter and sat, uncomprehending for a moment. It was blank! But slowly, as if a hand were writing the letter in front of his eyes, words started to appear in a flourishing, very feminine script.Harry,
I must say I am surprised it took you this long to find the family vault. Why you were not told of its existence before now is puzzling, although I have my suspicions! But I will come to that in a bit. First, there are things you must know.
First and foremost, your father and I are very proud of you, Harry. Not for what you are, but for who you've become. You need to understand that while you may not be able to see us, we can see you.
The script stopped as Harry's vision grew blurry. The rational, logical part of his mind told him that his parents were gone. But he'd always secretly hoped that his parents had watched over him, even though they couldn't be with him.
Using his sweatshirt to wipe the tears away, he looked down at the letter in his hands, and the script started to appear again.
We've watched you grow and adapt to the wizarding world of which you knew nothing before your 11th birthday. We watched you struggle to accept the awesome responsibility that's been laid upon your shoulders, through no fault of your own. We've seen you play Quidditch and your father can't stop talking about what a Seeker you are! James, I can't write this and listen to you at the same time! The way you handled that Umbridge woman last year in forming the DA? Wonderful! Oh, and tell the Weasely twins that we very much enjoyed their portable swamp, although my favorite were the charmed fireworks.
Harry stopped in shock. His father was there as well? Holding the parchment tighter, he reread the paragraph. His father was there! He grinned stupidly, and then started to laugh. The portable swamp had been a stroke of genius. Even Flitwick loved it!
Now we must move on to less pleasant things, love. This is information you must know, Harry. And while painful, it is necessary for you to understand, so that you may protect yourself. James, don't you scowl at me. We both agreed he must know this!
I watched, frantic and angrier than I've ever been when Dumbledore sent you to live with the Dursleys. Your father and I left specific instructions that under no circumstances were you to live with my sister and her husband!
Harry started to scowl. Dumbledore. Oh yes, there were many things Dumbledore had done that he was sure his parents wouldn't have approved of. But what difference did it really make? They were gone now. And Dumbledore played Harry like a puppet on the strings, dancing to the tune the Headmaster set, never mind how Harry felt about it!
Realizing he was dangerously close to crushing the parchment, he went back to reading.
Sirius was to be your guardian, it was his right as your godfather and I have no doubts you would have been happy. After he was blamed for our deaths and sent to Azkaban, Remus Lupin would have become your guardian. Mind you, this was all planned before we left for Godric Hollow, well before all that anti-werewolf legislation nonsense! But Dumbledore ignored our wishes in this and refused, flat out, to allow you to go anywhere but Privet Drive. He may patter on about "Blood Magic" all he wants, and while it IS powerful protective magic, it was NOT meant to keep you locked up in an abusive environment! He knew this, and knew what type of people he was leaving you with.
Oh Merlin! His parents saw that? They saw what Uncle Vernon had done to him? Feeling the tears slide down his face, he didn't try to stop them. Memories flashed through his mind of every slap, punch and kick he'd received from his uncle and cousin. Every harsh word, every insult to his parents rang in his ears. And he'd done nothing to stop it. He'd done nothing to defend his parents! Well, there had been Aunt Marge, but that was an accident.
Wiping his face with his sleeve, he turned back to the letter.
Harry, you stop that right now! You are not at fault for what the Dursley's did! You were a child, for Merlin's sake! Now pay attention, my green eyed devil. Did you know I used to call you that? Well, I did. Now, to continue…
Perhaps Dumbledore thought he could look out for your interests at Privet Drive. I do not know. If that was the case however, he failed miserably! If I could be there now, I'd use your Ginny's bat bogey hex on him. And don't give me that look young man! You may not be ready to tell Ginny how you feel about her, but that doesn't mean you can hide it from your mother!
Harry was shocked at his mothers comment. My Ginny? Well, it was true that he'd taken a much greater interest in Ginny over the past year. Who wouldn't? She was beautiful. Feisty too! And she was so gorgeous when she was angry. And for some reason he couldn't seem to stop looking at her red hair.
Shaking his head, he realized he must look pretty stupid, going cow eyed over a girl who wasn't even in the room. Sheepishly, he dropped his eyes to the parchment and the writing continued.
Be very careful who you trust, Harry. Not everyone around you is looking out for your best interests, no matter what they may tell you. Ron and Hermione are loyal to you, as are Neville, Luna and your Ginny. Never doubt that. Remus thinks of you as a son, and would never betray you. Trust his instincts! Your friends will be your greatest source of strength, Harry. You will need them more in the coming years than ever before. Do not push them away. Lean on them, listen to their counsel and hold them close.
Now, to the book! Your father left this for you, and while I wasn't happy about it then, I must concede that you may find many things within its pages to be helpful and enlightening. Yes, yes, James! I'm telling him, now shut up! I'm not sure if Remus knows that James placed the book in the vault. He may have thought it was lost over the years. If necessary, he can help you with much of what you'll find in it. Show it to him if you like. It may cause him some pain, but I think the happy memories will far outweigh any sorrow he may feel. Study the book careful Harry. It may help you find the answers that you seek. Sirius, will you shut up about the pranks? There are more important things in that book! I'm sorry Harry; did I forget to tell you Sirius is with us? Yes, I did sneak that in on you, didn't I?
Harry gaped at the parchment. "Sirius", he whispered, grief stricken.
The flowing feminine script was suddenly cut off, replaced by bold, blocky characters.
Yes, Harry, I'm here. Listen to your mother now. Ouch! Lily, that was uncalled for. OUCH! Okay, okay, here! Take the quill back then! Cya Harry…
Grinning, Harry could almost picture his mother hexing his godfather. A moment later, his mother's handwriting returned.
Its Mum at the quill again, Harry. Sirius is rather put out with you for blaming yourself about what happened at the Ministry of Magic. It was not your fault…Yes Padfoot, I'm telling him, now be quiet! Merlin, those two together again is enough to drive me mental! As I was saying, Sirius' death was not your fault, and he's a little exasperated with you for thinking it was. So the blame stops here young man, do you understand me? Good!
Never doubt our love for you, Harry. Your father and I did nothing so well as when we brought you into this world. You are our joy and everything we could have wished for in a child. Know that your father, Sirius and I continue to watch over you, and that while we may not be able to respond, we do hear you when you speak to us. Be strong, keep your friends close and know that we love you.
Oh, and Harry dear, talk to your Ginny about the nightmares. She'll know how to help.
All our love,
Mum, Dad, and the flea bitten Padfoot.
PS. Ginny, take care of Harry!
PPS. Moony, get over it! Harry is going to need your help, so stop blaming yourself. Look after the cub for us, please. SB.
As the words stopped, Harry stared at the parchment; afraid the words would disappear if he looked away. His eyes started to burn and he realized he hadn't even blinked. Clutching the letter tight, he closed his eyes. "They can hear me, they never really left me. Sirius was right."
Cautiously, he opened his eyes and looked again at the parchment. The words were still there! He read it over again, then once more.
What could Ginny do about the nightmares? That made no sense. And what about the postscript from Sirius? Did Remus blame himself for Sirius' death? That was just stupid! It wasn't Remus' fault!
"I was the one who let myself be lured to the Ministry! It was my fault, not Moony's," Harry muttered to himself.
He jerked, as he felt the parchment warm in his hands. Looking at the letter, the words "It's not your fault" glowed golden for a moment, before fading back to plain black ink.
Harry wasn't sure how long he sat there before he folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. Tomorrow was Sunday; he might even be able to get some extra sleep, if only the nightmares would let him. Emotionally drained Harry curled up on his bed; his precious letter carefully folded up and placed under his pillow.
At Jack's House…
Jack sat at his kitchen table, reaching into the case of chocolate frogs he pulled one out and popped the container open. With a lunge he snagged the frog before it could leap away, and started munching on it while he looked over the material he had picked up in Honeydukes. There were several pamphlets, which looked like government publications.What To Do In The Case Of A Death Eater Attack.
The Emergency Floo Broadcasting System: How It Works.
Quick Evacuation Kits: What To Pack If You Have To Leave In A Hurry.
Common Household Charms Which Can Be Used To Stall Attacks Until Help Arrives.
Pushing them to the side, he pulled out the copy of the Prophet and scanned the headlines.MUGGLES SLAUGHTERED IN COVINGTON
YOU-KNOW-WHO SIGHTINGS ON THE RISE
MINISTRY IGNORES CALLS TO INCREASE AUROR FORCE
Settling on the last article, he read:
MINISTRY IGNORES CALLS TO INCREASE AUROR FORCE
By Rita Skeeter
Despite public calls, the Minister of Magic is maintaining that the current force of Aurors is adequate to handle the threat of Death Eater attacks. Anonymous sources from within the Ministry have admitted that only one of the past five Death Eater attacks has been thwarted. And that attack didn't involve any members of the Auror force. The first attack, which involved Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, Ron and Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood took place just over a month ago and resulted in the capture of eleven Death Eaters. Since that first attack there have been four others resulting in fatalities of 3 wizards, 2 witches and 14 muggles.
Despite the upswing in Death Eater attacks, Ministry spokesmen maintain the Auror is more than enough to handle You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. The Minister of Magic is so confident in fact he has decided not to cancel his planned vacation to the south of France.
Jack put the paper and thought for a moment. Harry Potter? Could it be?
He looked down at the paper when the Chocolate Frog package caught his eye. Looking closely he saw there was a collectors card on the package. Turning the card over, he nearly dropped it when he spotted the smiling face of Harry Potter staring back at him.
Oh kid, you've got yourself into a heap of trouble, more than what's going on in your home, he thought.
For a long while Jack Parsons sat at his table, thinking carefully about what he just read. Slowly his face took a determined look and he came to a decision.
Harry jerked awake, his sleep still plagued by nightmares, he groggily looked around.
"BOY! GET DOWN HERE NOW!" roared Uncle Vernon.
Dressing quickly Harry hurried down the stairs. Vernon was standing at the front door glaring at him, and then glaring at a smiling Remus Lupin.
"Remus!" Harry cried and hugged his friend.
Laughing Remus clutched at Harry, and then said, "Hiya Cub, what do you say we take a walk for a bit and have a nice talk ok?"
"Sure! Let me just grab something I want to show you!" With that, Harry dashed back upstairs. He grabbed the book which he still hadn't looked at and then carefully picked up his letter from Lily. After a moments debate he decided he'd follow mum's advice. With that he ran back downstairs.
It was only a short while later when Remus and Harry found themselves seated on a nearby park bench. They chatted for a while, talking mostly about non-important stuff, like would he be Seeker this year or not and how Ron and Hermione were doing, when Harry finally asked. "Remus? Can I ask you something? Promise me you won't get mad at me ok?"
"Harry you can ask me anything you want, I'm not going to get mad. I promise."
Harry stood up and started pacing, muttering, "Mum said I should do this, and there was a message for him in that letter."
Remus stared at Harry in confusion. "Harry settle down, and what's this about your mum?"
Harry stopped suddenly and gave Remus a piercing look. For a brief moment his eyes glowed with raw power. Remus was startled.
"Remus, can I trust you? I mean, even if it means withholding information from Dumbledore and the Order? Will you give me oath as a wizard, a Marauder and friend of both my parents and Sirius that you will not tell Dumbledore what I'm going to tell you?"
Remus rocked back in shock. A wizard's oath would have been magically binding, but Harry wasn't willing to just accept that. He wanted far more. He sat silent for a moment, and then sighed.
"Harry, I don't know what has gotten you all worked up, but if it will make you feel better I promise not to reveal anything to anyone, on my word as a wizard, a Marauder and my friendship with James, Lily and Sirius."
Sitting next to Remus, Harry explained about his trip to Diagon Alley and the mistake made by the Goblin, who brought him to the Family Vault, instead of his normal fault. Then he talked about the box he found there, explaining that it contained a book and a strangely enchanted letter. He told him how the letter seemed to write itself as he looked at it.
Leaning back on the bench, Remus murmured, "Lily was one of the best charmers around, even better than Professor Flitwick. If anyone could have enchanted a letter like that, it would have been her. I assume that's the letter you have there? And the book?"
"Yes. Would you like to read the letter? There's a message in it for you, as well."
Remus nodded shakily and accepted the letter from Harry. His hands trembled and his eyed welled up with unshed tears several times. By the time he was done with the letter Lupin's shoulders were shaking. Harry put an arm around him and the two friends wept together for what had been stolen from their lives.
Regaining his composure, Harry wiped the tears from his face, and then looked carefully at Remus. It was obvious that a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, only to be replaced by a cold anger. The revelation of what had been taken away from him, what both he and Harry had lost, touched Remus deeply. As Harry watched, the anger turned to rage, and for a brief moment, Harry could see the homicidal gleam of the werewolf within Lupin's eyes, before he regained control of himself. The anger remained, but it was manageable now.
Remus eyed one shaking hand, then reached up and brushed the hair out of his face before clearing his throat. Turning to look at Harry, he asked, "So, where do we go from here?"
"I have an idea, and I need to talk to my squib friend Jack Parsons about it, but if I'm right, it may make this war a whole lot easier for our side. I'll let you in on my idea after I've worked out the details. Unfortunately, I can no longer put any faith or trust in Dumbledore, or the Order, Remus. If there are any people in the order that you think we can trust, I'll go along with your judgment. Mum said I could trust you and your instincts. Maybe Tonks? I know she fancies you, Remus."
Remus turned a bright red and choked out, "She what?"
Harry laughed, then said, "Come on Remus, anyone can see she's got her sights set on a certain, rather dashing, if tattered wolf. Even I can see that!"
Remus looked guilty, if somewhat pleased, and then decided it was time to change this topic. He was not about to discuss his relationships with a teenager! "Harry, what did your Mum mean about an abusive environment?"
Harry's mood suddenly changed. He stared down at the ground and muttered, "It's nothing. You know how they are. They hate magic, they always call me names and put me down, or insult my parents and friends."
Remus placed his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Harry look at me."
Harry had trouble meeting his eyes.
"Did they ever hit you?" Lupin asked softly.
Harry could see the concern in Remus's eyes. The shame he felt was enormous. There he was, the Bloody-Boy-Who-Lived, a powerful wizard, but he couldn't handle a muggle. Turning away he stared down at the ground, his eyes tearing up. "Sometimes," he whispered.
"Harry, I promise you this much, this is going to be the LAST BLOODY SUMMER you spend with the Dursleys," Remus growled angrily. "If Dumbledore has a problem with that I'll make him regret it! You believe me right?"
Wiping tears from his eyes, he smiled shyly and nodded his head.
"Now Harry, let's look at this book that Lily talked about."
Harry handed the little black book to Remus. There was no title, and all the pages were blank. Harry looked puzzled, sitting next to Remus. Remus handed the book back to Harry and got up to pace. "Let me think about this a moment, Harry."
Holding the book Harry noticed for the first time how comfortable it felt in his hands. Without really thinking about it he whispered, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!" There was a funny tingling in his fingertips and words started to appear on the cover. "Remus?"
Remus stared in shock, could it be?
Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Are Proud to Present
The Marauders Manual
"Harry, what? I… Oh Merlin! I thought that book was lost when the house at Godric Hollow exploded! Wait a second. Harry! You needed a wand to do that!"
Harry looked up, puzzled, and then shrugged, "Are you sure? I don't always use my wand on the Marauders Map."
"Both the map and the book required wands, Harry. You did wandless magic! Even the most powerful wizards are barely capable of it. The enchantment on the map and the book are very strong and you seem to be able to activate the book with no problem at all. Do you feel tired? Drained?"
"No Remus, I feel fine, really. So, what's in the book? Pranks? That could be useful for next semester."
"Harry, it has a lot more than just pranks. The four of us, then eventually your mother, all experimented with a lot of different types of magic. You'll find notes in there on animagus training, wandless magic, stealth and confusion charms and, of course, prank charms, hexes and curses. We never could get very far with the wandless magic. James was the strongest of us in that aspect, but even he couldn't activate the book with it."
Lupin stopped for a moment, and then grinned. "Harry, I'm going to transfigure myself into your Professor for a moment; I want you to study the section on wandless magic and animagus training. The two are very closely tied together inasmuch as they don't require a wand at all. You don't have to worry about the ministry complaining about underage magic if you can do wandless magic. They can only detect the use of a wand. That's why accidental magic rarely causes any legal problems for people. Hmm, let me think about this for a moment."
As Remus paced, muttering to himself, Harry looked down at the book. Well, this is summer work I don't mind receiving from a professor! He glanced back up when the mutters stopped, to find his friend eyeing him with an amused smile.
"I think, Harry, that I'll come visit you every Sunday from now on. I want to see how well your doing and my showing up every week will help keep the Dursleys at bay. If you can do wandless magic, you'll be able to protect yourself, and the exercises needed for it are the same as Occulmency."
For the first time in over a month, Harry felt a seed of hope grow in his heart. His idea for the coming war, wandless magic and Animagus! He might even be a stag like his father!
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