It wasn't a very big cabin; just a handful of rooms, really. But it kept the two occupants feeling nice and cozy. And on the rare occasion when company came over, it just made the atmosphere even moreso. A living room that had an attached kitchen was what greeted visitors, with a hallway in the back that immediately turned to the right and led to the bathroom and two bedrooms. A few pictures lined the walls, most of a trio of family members, one of whom no longer took up residence in the house.
It had happened over four years ago, mostly due to a certain incident that had happened. Neither of the two remaining thought about it too much, as it only resulted in a longing setting in. The two were, however, quite happy when they didn't think of the past. Though the family's income wasn't great, it let them live a pleasant life without want. And, due to the protection on the house, they lived in peace at the edge of the forest.
Or rather, they lived in peace most of the time.
"Solieyu Dietrich Reinhardt!"
Wincing, the boy looked up through his eyelashes and into the face of his mother. Despite her rather...bubbly nature, the woman could definitely be a force when she got up a head of steam. And hearing of all that had happened to her son during his previous year at Hogwarts was just the thing to get her going.
"What on earth were you thinking? You know you can't do that around other people!" Cried the woman, who was staring down at her seated son.
Solieyu, from his spot on the couch, sighed and broke his gaze away. "They would have been killed if I hadn't, mother. And... Harry and Tonks have both told me that, whatever condition I have, they don't care. I couldn't let them die."
Despite looking as though she wanted to say more, Solieyu's mother let out a sigh of her own and sat down beside her son. She tried putting an arm around his shoulders, but he jerked away from her. "...I understand that, dear... but what if someone else had been there? What if someone had seen you returning? What would they have said!"
Still looking off, Solieyu's voice slipped into much colder tones as he replied, "You think I can't tell where people are? My senses haven't dulled, mother. On the contrary, they're growing stronger."
The two sat for awhile, Solieyu with his arms crossed, back stiff; his mother trying to work out exactly how she should go about expressing what she had been trying to say. Unable to put into words what was going through her mind, the woman got back to her feet and headed off into the kitchen.
"Sometimes I wish you weren't so much like your father... He always took things the wrong way, too." She said, staring out the window over the sink and into the beautiful forest that lay just outside. Getting no reply from the boy, she added, "You should know that I just want you to be safe, honey... Think about what would happen if someone found out..."
"Harry and Tonks will." Stated Solieyu, finally looking back towards his mother. "Harry already made a very calculated, yet incorrect guess. And I've already said that if he doesn't work out the proper answer by Halloween, I would give the information to them both."
Solieyu watched his mother carefully. She had gone almost rigid and went visibly pale. Aside from that, though, he could tell no change in her. He almost smirked - she was getting better at hiding her true emotions around him.
"And if they try hurting you? If they tell others?" Asked his mother, quietly.
Solieyu winced once more. Though he and his mother had never been on the best of terms after his father had left, they still got by alright. Most of the time. It was only when his condition came into the equation that Maria Schneider dropped her airy attitude towards things. She had resumed using her maiden name after she and his father, Trevor, had seperated. Solieyu had never quite forgiven her for this, going so far as to keep his father's last name in a show of stubbornness. It was all quite a headache to even think about, especially since it was because of Solieyu that his parents had begun to argue so much in the first place.
Through all of it, though, Solieyu could never quite stay mad at her if she switched gears on him and started speaking in soft tones. It was almost worse than her scoldings. Solieyu was quite certain that his mother could take down a small horde of rampaging, male wizards if she was irked enough.
"Mother... Listen, please." He said, finally standing. Walking into the kitchen, he stood behind Maria, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Harry and Tonks are... different. But I suppose you'll need to meet and judge them for yourself before you believe me. Have them over for dinner one night. Let them stay the weekend or something... Watch how they act around me."
"I know I should be more considerate, honey, it's just--" Maria began.
"It's just that they're the only friends I've had since the accident and you're worried. I know. I was unnerved when Harry began putting the pieces together, as well. He's smart, mother. Even if I wasn't planning to tell the two of them, he's smart enough to go back, re-examine the clues, and figure out the right answer." Solieyu murmured, glancing out the window, too. "I want them to know. I want to be myself around them. I'm so tired of having to cover everything up... to hide who and what I really am."
Sighing after an extended moment of silence, Maria glanced over her shoulder, smiling wanly at her son. "Dinner, huh?"
Nodding, one corner of his lips turning up, Solieyu responded, "Yes. It's all I ask. Get to know them like I do. They're both good people. They've saved Hogwarts two years running now."
"Yes, yes, you've told me." Maria said, turning around to face Solieyu. "At least you didn't get involved in that whole basilisk fight. Imagine, something like that getting loose in a school..." She clicked her tongue a few times.
"I was incapacitated at the time." Solieyu scowled. "I was in no shape to walk properly, let alone fight. I had very few options. Rest assured, if I had been feeling more myself, I would have been right beside them."
Finally, a response other than tiredness and frustration crossed his mother's face. Unfortunately for him, it was a calculating glare. "Yes, I've heard about that, too. Poppy Pomfrey sent me a good, long letter concerning your not wanting to visit her."
"You wouldn't want to, either. Not only is she possibly the snarkiest mediwitch on the planet, that stuff tastes awful. Even if flavor could be added to it, I wouldn't want to take it." Solieyu said.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Solieyu?" Began Maria, shaking her head. "If you don't take it regularly, first your strength will go, then your mind will start to follow, and then..."
"Yes, I'm very aware of what comes next, mother." Spat Solieyu. "We both know quite well what comes next."
Crossing her arms, Maria surveyed her son briefly. "Then that settles it. I know you don't like it, but you have to take the potion. I won't have something like that happening in a crowded place like Hogwarts. Do it for me, if nothing else. I don't want to live alone, Solieyu. I don't want them to haul you off to Azkaban for spreading it."
"My willpower's strong enough to keep me away from the vile stuff for over a week. I know my limits. I take it when I absolutely have to and not a moment sooner." Solieyu said, turning and heading off towards the hallway. "I'm not stupid, mother."
"You act it, sometimes." Maria said. "There's no other alternative to the potion. You know that. It's the only way to keep it in check. And if you still refuse to do it for me, then think of these friends you seem to hold in such high regards. What would your loss of control mean to them?"
This stopped the boy in his tracks. He stood in the doorway leading to the hall, head hung slightly. His reply never came.
"ONE BLOODY MONTH?"
Andromeda Tonks flinched, clasping a hand up to her right ear and shooting an annoyed glare at her daughter. "Nymmy, please quiet down... I'd rather not lose hearing on one side."
"Sorry... but still!" Said Nymphadora Tonks, who was sitting cross-legged on the couch next to her mother. She was shooting a fierce glare towards the fireplace, where the disembodied head of Albus Dumbledore danced in the flames. "Why does Harry hafta stay at those awful Muggles' house for a whole month? He'll end up in the same condition he was in last year when he made his way here!"
"It is most unfortunate that Harry's family does not hold him in high regards. And I must again state that if Harry comes to harm any further, I will personally speak to Mr. and Mrs. Dursley about it." Said Dumbledore. "Understand, however, that the blood magic that keeps Number Four, Privet Drive so very well warded must be renewed once a year. And, as tends to be the case with such old magic, it takes a good while for it to do so..."
"So we do what? Just owl Harry and say, 'Oh, guess what, you're gonna be stuck there until the first of August, so try not to get yourself killed'? You're off your nut!" Tonks declared, crossing her arms in a huff and staring off at a patch of ceiling.
"Nymphadora!" Cried her her. "Watch your mouth! ...Honestly. I'm sorry, Albus. She's been antsy ever since she got back in. All she's talked about is how we're going to get Harry away from his relatives."
"I quite understand, Andromeda." Said Dumbledore, smiling slightly. "And I wish that I could speed the process of renewel up. However, attempting such magic could negate the blood magic entirely, leaving Number Four unprotected..."
"What's he got to be protected from, anyway?" Tonks asked, still staring off at the ceiling. "Afraid that greasy-haired git in the dungeons might sneak in and poison him in his sleep?"
"Alright, young lady, that's quite enough from you. Up to your room! No, no 'buts' - go!" Andromeda said.
Tonks glared at her mother, then to Dumbledore, before getting up and stomping her way out of the room and up the staircase.
Watching her leave, Andromeda sighed deeply before turning back to the headmaster. "I really am sorry for her behavior, Albus. But I do have to admit wondering about what he needs protection from, as well..."
"There are many people who would wish to do harm to him... Lord Voldemort's former Death Eaters no doubt still hold some sort of grudge towards him." Said Dumbledore, his tones turning a bit more serious. "In addition, something is happening at Azkaban at the moment..."
"At Azkaban?" Andromeda repeated. "What is it?"
"We aren't sure yet... but it seems as though the Dementors have been acting a bit strange." Dumbledore replied. "The Ministry is, of course, looking into it. I've heard that Cornelius himself will be paying a visit later this week, in fact."
"I wonder why I haven't heard anything about it." Andromeda wondered out loud.
"It has been kept very quiet." Dumbledore said. "I, myself, have only recently learned of it."
"You don't think the Dementors could get loose, do you?" Andromeda asked, eyes widening.
"No, I don't think it possible." Said the headmaster. "The Dementors are, as far as anyone knows, quite happy residing in the prison."
"As far as anyone knows." Repeated Andromeda. "That's the key sentence, isn't it? Suppose they did want out, though..."
"And leave behind barely mobile sources of 'food'? It's highly unlikely that even a single Dementor would escape, let alone appear at Number Four." Dumbledore said, his smile returning. "Such a thing would require a good number of things to go right... or wrong, as the case may be."
Blowing out a breath, Andromeda leaned her head back, groaning. "Nymmy's going to be hell to deal with this month." She said.
Chuckling, Dumbledore replied, "As most young girls have a tendency to be at one point or another. I quite remember a moment in your youth where you got two months' worth of detentions after nearly blowing up poor Argus' office..."
"That... is a completely different thing altogether." Andromeda said, blushing and scowling at the same time. "And I'd rather not remember it, thank you."
"As you wish. And now, as I have much yet to do, I must bid you a good evening." Said Dumbledore, his floating head lowering in a bow.
"Alright. I'll let you know if anything happens." Andromeda said.
"I can only hope that I receive no bad news. We seem to get a fair amount of our own here at the school, after all." Said Dumbledore. And, twinkle in his eyes and all, his head vanished from the fireplace, leaving Andromeda alone with her thoughts.
Upstairs, Tonks was laying on her stomach in bed, face buried into her favorite pillow. A few minutes later, she heard her bedroom door crack open. She made no move to acknowledge her mother entering, but didn't do anything to stop her, either. She felt the side of her bed tug down, followed by a hand rubbing at her back.
"I don't like it either, Nymmy." Andromeda whispered.
"It's not fair." Said Tonks, her voice breaking as she spoke.
"I know it isn't, sweety." Andromeda said. "Few things in life are..."
"Why can't he stay here? We can protect him from anything... he fought a basilisk by himself! He can protect himself from anything..." Tonks said, her speech broken by a few ragged breaths here and there.
"I'm starting to wonder that, myself." Admitted her mother. "We've got to trust Albus, though... If Harry shows up hurt again, I'd hate to think of what he'd do to Harry's aunt and uncle..."
A silence filled the room, broken only by Tonks' occasional sniffles. When she finally sat up to wipe at her eyes, she was tugged into a tight embrace by her mother. She was quick to lean into it, feeling quite silly for breaking down and crying as she was. "Will you write him the letter, mum? I dunno if I could handle it right now..."
"Of course, sweety." Said Andromeda, stroking her daughter's hair soothingly. "He'll be alright... Like you said, he fought a basilisk by himself. He's tough."
"Yeah..." Tonks said, shutting her eyes. "An' he kept telling me that he's the hero, whether he wants to be or not. An' heroes always come out fine in the end, don't they?"
Nodding once, Andromeda smiled down at her daughter. "They do. Tell you what. Instead of being down over something we apparently have no control over, let's figure out how we're going to get him away from the Dursleys next month... and what we're going to do once he's here. You don't suppose he'd mind having a slightly delayed birthday party, do you?"
Despite how she felt, Tonks grinned faintly. "I think he wants another one of those cakes... y'know, like you made that first summer..."
"Well, that's easily arranged." Andromeda said. "He drop any hints about wanting anything else?"
"Aside from being free from his relatives' house? I don't think so..." Tonks said.
"Well... one out of two then, huh? At least for now. Come on, let's go downstairs and think about how we're going to bust him loose once the time comes." Said Andromeda, letting go of her daughter and standing up. She held out a hand for Tonks, who took it and stood up as well, wiping at the corners of her eyes again.
"Can I set their rear ends on fire?" Tonks asked.
"No. No firestarting." Answered Andromeda.
"Aww. Okay, um... can I... whack 'em with toilet seats?"
"Toilet seats?" Andromeda exclaimed. "Where on earth did that come from?"
"Ooh, I never told you?" Tonks said. "Alright, well, you know when we went to Diagon Alley last year...?"
As Tonks and her mother left the bedroom, she told the story of how Arthur Weasley had clocked Lucius Malfoy upside the head with one in their fight. And while it gave her cause to laugh, it also somehow managed to plant an odd sort of seed in Andromeda's mind. A seed that, once it had been watered a bit, would eventually bloom and become the plan they would use to free Harry.
Author's Notes: I cant' keep away from you people! It's like 4:25AM, I've been writing for over an hour - mainly because I kept pausing to think on what I'd like to have the characters say or do.
Anyway... Here's our little prologue chapter 1 to begin PoAR! I hope you guys don't mind my not including Harry in it. As I said, I wanted to give a little insight into Leon's home life. And I hope I managed to give a fair amount of detail into it. I also figure I should go ahead and just admit that, 'Dietrich'
aside, all the names used to create Leon's family were taken from various Castlevania games. Leon's middle name came to me when I was watching Trinity Blood. I thought it would fit in nicely with his first and last names. I think his full name rolls off the tongue well, anyway.
As for Leon's relationship with his mother... all will be explained on Halloween! After that, I figure there's not a lot to flesh out. And good lord, it was hard to skirt around the 'condition' without BLATANTLY just stating what's with him. Ach. Though I think I've clearly pointed in the obvious direction on what it is now. Maria Schneider isn't a woman to trifle with, though she is and will be a bit of a bubblehead when she ISN'T all frazzled an' stuff. And I only just realized that Trevor's also Neville's toad's name. But as no one's spotted Neville in awhile, let's just say that he and his toad fell into a toilet and got stuck,
shall we? Neither are important... but Trevor Reinhardt isn't exactly a major character, either. As of this moment, I have no plans to bring him back into the picture.
And, as I've given up through the arrival at Hogwarts a timeline, I can finally declare how long poor Harry's gonna be stuck at Number Four this year! Poor guy. And don't forget... guests are arriving soon.
That's enough blathering from me. I'm not entirely sure how I'm gonna pad out the next chapter. But it's going to take some creative writing. I may have Harry be lonely and all introspective on certain things. I'll find a way. I've got to keep chapter 2 entirely secluded to Number Four. I don't wanna break my chapter guide on the SECOND chapter, after all. Until next time, folks!