Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all of it's characters belong to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing.
A/N: Sorry it's taken so long for an update, but I'm doing my best to keep everyone in character so it takes a bit longer to write. Thanks for waiting and please review!
Harry Potter and the Sword of Gryffindor
Chapter 4: Petunia's Secret
Nobody moved for almost a full minute. Uncle Vernon stared at them with his bushy moustaches quivering and a vein throbbing in his temple.
"You're really in trouble now," muttered Ron, and Harry had no choice but to give a weak nod of agreement.
After several moments, Uncle Vernon finally managed to find his voice. "You-"
"I can explain," said Harry quickly. "Actually, we were just about to-"
"What are you doing in my house?" roared Uncle Vernon at Ron and Hermione.
Harry winced, but Hermione merely crossed her arms and gave Uncle Vernon a stern look.
"So rude. That's no way to treat a house guest," said Hermione with a sniff.
Uncle Vernon blinked, looking a little taken aback, and Harry felt a sudden crazy urge to laugh.
Hermione's look of dismay had been replaced with a no-nonsense expression that seemed to have left Uncle Vernon temporarily speechless.
Hermione straightened her shoulders and stared Uncle Vernon directly in the eye. "We have come to take Harry away from here for the last time."
"Yeah, you should be thanking us," Ron muttered.
"Now wait just a minute!" roared Uncle Vernon. "You can't just walk into my house and-"
"Vernon, what's going on in there?" called Aunt Petunia from the living room.
She came into the hallway with Dudley lumbering along behind her, and it was all Harry could do not to let out a loud groan.
Dudley glanced around eagerly, obviously expecting Harry to be getting into trouble for something, and froze at the sight of Ron and Hermione.
Ron eyed Dudley with a grin on his face, his hand moving towards his wand, and Dudley quickly leaped behind Uncle Vernon. This did not exactly help much, considering Dudley's size.
Harry expected Aunt Petunia to let out a scream of horror, but instead she merely stared at him, her face white.
"You're leaving," said Aunt Petunia, her voice sounding a little odd.
Harry nodded, watching her closely, but he remained silent. Ever since the day that Dumbledore had sent his aunt a Howler, he had found himself wondering just how much she knew about the wizarding world.
"That's right," said Hermione. "Harry is leaving, and he won't be coming back this time. I'm sure that will cheer both of you up considerably. Dumbledore must have been appalled at the way that you've treated him for all these years! You should be ashamed of yourselves!"
Ron, who had been edging closer to Dudley, suddenly froze and turned to gape at Hermione.
"This definitely tops punching Malfoy and walking out on Trelawney," said Harry weakly. He felt a sudden need to sit down.
"Can't argue with you there, mate," said Ron with a nervous laugh.
Hedwig hooted at Hermione with what sounded like approval, and Harry's knees finally gave out.
He sat down hard on the steps with Hedwig's cage in his lap and found himself wondering if maybe he was the one who had gone mental instead of Hermione.
"How dare you speak to me like that in my own house!" shouted Uncle Vernon, his eyes almost popping out of his head.
Harry flinched. His uncle's face was so red that it looked ready to explode. They had gone way past the danger point by this time.
Hermione chose to ignore Uncle Vernon's words. "Now if you'll excuse us, we have more important things to deal with at the moment," she said.
"And where do you plan to go?" asked Uncle Vernon, fixing Harry with a nasty smile. "You're not going to have your godfather around to protect you this time. He's dead, which means that there'll be no one to take you in."
"Shut up!" shouted Harry, leaping to his feet and fixing his uncle with an angry glare. His blood was boiling with rage, and it was all Harry could do not to take out his wand and hit Uncle Vernon with a particularly nasty curse. "Don't ever talk about Sirius like that! He was more of a family to me than you lot ever were, and I barely even had that much time to spend with him!"
"Are you going to go live in his house?" asked Uncle Vernon, his beady eyes filling with greed.
Harry whipped out his wand, but Hermione grabbed his arm to stop him.
"Harry, no," she whispered. "You still have a week before you turn seventeen. Ron and I will take care of any wand work. We can't afford to have the Ministry on your heels."
"Come on, lets go," said Harry in disgust, jumping down the rest of the stairs and turning his back on the Dursleys.
"They had a chance," whispered Aunt Petunia so suddenly that Harry froze in his tracks and slowly turned to face her.
"What did you say?"
Aunt Petunia's eyes took on a far way look, and Harry's heart pounded in his ears. His aunt's horsy face was pale, and she gazed at the ceiling as if lost in memory.
"She knew Voldemort was after them. That's the reason they went into hiding. She told me, and she asked me not to say anything."
Harry stared at her with his mouth hanging open, unable to look away. It was strange hearing Aunt Petunia say Voldemort's name. He had suspected that she might know something after he and Dudley had been attacked by Dementors two years ago, but he had never expected something like this.
"Petunia, are you alright?" asked Vernon, staring at her as if she had grown an extra head.
After all, Aunt Petunia never talked about her sister if she could help it. That qualified as part of the Dursley's rule about avoiding anything magic related.
"Dad, has Mum gone mad?" asked Dudley, his voice barely above a whisper.
Harry watched his cousin peek around Uncle Vernon's shoulder and stare at Aunt Petunia in fear.
"My Mum told you that Voldemort was after her?" asked Harry in disbelief.
"I think she was worried that something might happen to her, and she wanted to make sure that you weren't left alone. It was almost as if she knew what was going to happen," his aunt whispered. "She believed him."
Harry's own voice was barely above a whisper, and his fingers tightened around his wand.
"The man who had come to warn them. Something had happened to make her trust him. I don't know what, but it must have been important. Your father didn't believe him, but they went into hiding anyway, just to be safe."
"My dad didn't believe Dumbledore?" askd Harry in shock.
"It wasn't Dumbledore," murmured Aunt Petunia, her eyebrows narrowing into a frown. "She said that Dumbledore had a lot of spies working for him. One of those spies tipped Dumbledore off about Voldemort coming after her. She believed Dumbledore, but her husband was skeptical. Later that same day, the spy came to them in person and told them what he knew. I don't know if Dumbledore ever knew about that. She told me that her husband refused to believe the spy, but she convinced him to. They went into hiding that night."
Harry stared at her, transfixed. So much about his parents past still remained a mystery to him and now, all of a sudden, it was all coming out.
"They were barely there a week before they ended up dead," whispered Aunt Petunia. "In fact, my sister had contacted me just hours before she died. I remember that she was worried, but she wouldn't say why."
"How could she have contacted you if she was in hiding?" asked Harry.
Aunt Petunia shook her head. "I don't know. That night the spy had offered to stay with them until morning. It was almost as if he knew something was going to happen. She told me that her husband turned him down. Maybe if the spy had stayed they would still be alive..."
Harry's eyes stung with sudden tears, and he quickly looked at the ground. Someone out there had wanted to protect his parents. If only they had listened.
"Thank you for telling me," he whispered.
Aunt Petunia finally looked at him, and her eyes were filled with sadness. "Don't get yourself blown up, okay?" she whispered.
"You had better not!" snapped Uncle Vernon. "I don't want my Dudders to have to end up looking after any freaky kids you might have!"
"Don't worry," snorted Harry. "I would never dream of sending any kids I might have to live with him! See you later."
"Was there anything else?" asked Harry, turning to his aunt.
She shook her head. "That's all I know, and, Harry? Good luck."
Harry turned to look at his friends who were gaping at Petunia and smiled.
"Thanks," he replied. "Come on, you two. Lets get going."
As he left the house with his friends right behind him, he heard Dudley let out a sudden shriek and laughed. Ron had managed to get Dudley in the end after all.