Potter's Resistance 1: Breaking Ties

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury, Scholastic, and Raincoast Books, and Warner Brothers Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to Harry Potter.

Start of the story notices

o - Summary

Post-OotP. Harry escapes Privet Drive and goes off to learn about the world on his own. Hunted by all sides of the war, he must rely on his wit and cunning to survive. Independent!Harry.

o - Pairings

None planned for now. As for future prospects, only two things are certain: no H/Hr, no H/G and NO slash.

o - Canon

This starts after Book 5, but will also contain spoilers from Book 6. Still, only books 1 to 5 shall be considered as canon. There will be no spoilers from other HP publications (' Quidditch through the ages', etc.), HP sites or interviews with JKR.

o - Rating

Rated - R - Swearing and violence. No explicit sex scenes.

o - Grammar warning

English is not my native tongue, so there will probably be some grammatical errors.

Chapter 1: Sound the alarms

Remus Lupin was standing under a tree in the Surrey park, watching over dishevelled person sitting on one of the few undamaged swings. His tall but skinny frame was hidden behind overlarge, ragged clothes. His messy black hair completely covered famous bolt-shaped scar on his forehead. Remus amusedly noticed that only his shoes were new and different than the rest of his appearance.

Probably trying to buy him off, muggle bastards, he growled.

Remus was hidden under an invisibility cloak, but he doubted his charge would have noticed his presence even if he weren't. His emerald eyes, that used to be vibrant and mischievous, were now dull and empty, almost stupid, staring at nothing.

Harry, Harry, what are you doing with yourself? We are all mourning, but you shouldn't give up living your life in the process. Sirius would never want that.

Remus sighed. Several times he had argued with Albus about approaching Harry and helping him through his grief, but the Headmaster stayed adamant in his request to leave the boy alone for the rest of the summer. He even went as far to set up mail filters around the premises, ensuring total communications blackout.

"He has a lot on his mind right now," he would say. "He needs time and space to grieve away from the world that had caused him such duress."

Bullshit, Moony thought. Harry needs friends and human contact right now and that is the exact thing that is being denied to him.

It was easy to memorize Harry's daily routine. He would spend exactly an hour each day trudging around the neighbourhood, lost in his thought. He would then disappear inside his room and nobody would see him again until tomorrow.

Like a prisoner on a daily walk, Remus growled. They are probably locking him down for the rest of the day.

He suddenly realized that tomorrow was Harry's birthday.

And Harry would spend it dragging himself around depressed, he thought. He won't even get any presents, with this mail blackout routine in place. Remus clenched his fists in resolve. Not if I can help it.

Just when that decision hit him, Harry came out of his stupor and looked at his wristwatch. He yelped when he saw the time and hurried back towards Privet Drive. Moony followed him at brisk pace.

It seems that Harry's happy hour is almost up, he thought.

When they entered abandoned dark alley near the Privet Drive, Remus looked around and decided to make his move. I'm sure Albus knows what he's doing, but enough is enough. Harry is the only Marauder child and it is my duty to protect him, he affirmed. He pulled off his cloak and called out, "Harry!"

Harry just kept on walking, as if he hadn't even heard Remus yelling his name. Remus called him again and suddenly Harry stopped, as if just realizing something. He turned around and inspected the older man thoroughly. His brow furrowed, like he was in deep thought.

"Rebus?" he asked, uncertainly.

Merlin, it hasn't been THAT long, Remus thought.

"Remus," he corrected Harry. He took a deep breath and plunged forward. "Harry, how are you doing?"

Harry looked a bit miffed, but hurriedly answered, "I'm fine, everything's fine, no need to worry about anything. I just want to be left alone. To grieve. Yeah."

Remus' instincts were screaming at this reply and there was no way he would let this go. "Harry, are you sure? Are the muggles treating you well?"

Harry looked almost insulted by this. "Of course they are! They took me in, gave me shelter, clothed me, fed me. I am grateful for all they've done for me!" Taking a note of Lupin's wide-eyed look, Harry clamped his mouth shut, obviously realizing he had said more than he should have. "Err, look Reb... Remus, I really have to go, I have... chores to do, yeah. Well, see you around." He then glanced at his watch and quickly walked away, down the alley.

It took few seconds for Remus to realize that his charge had dismissed him. Something is seriously wrong here, he mused. Harry must be more grief-stricken than we thought. Remus ran after Harry and caught up with him near No.4 Privet Drive.

"Look, I know that his death must have hit you hard, but that's no reason to shut out people who care about you," Remus panted.

Harry glanced at the watch again, and distractedly said, "That's right... death, nasty business."

Remus tried again, "Sirius wouldn't want you to feel responsible for his death. He was a grown up man and his choices were his own."

"Yeah, I know, everyone make choices."

"Harry, it wasn't your fault!"

They were already at Privet Drive. Harry gave Remus perplexed look and said, "Why would it be?" He then went down the walkway towards the door.

Remus never felt so confused in his entire life. Whatever he expected when he confronted Harry, this certainly wasn't it. He tried to logically collect all the facts he had: Strict daily regime... witch Harry obediently follows... Hardly remembers my name... Likes his relatives... No emotional reactions whatsoever... except when he thought he was going to be late...

Suddenly, it all clicked together. Muggles didn't have magic but they had other mind conditioning techniques. He once saw a TV show about such techniques - sleep deprivation, combined with various hallucinogen drugs, combined with occasional beating...

Fucking bastards brainwashed him!, he mentally screamed.

His inner wolf growling with outrage, Remus pounced after Harry and caught his arm just when he was about to open the door.

"Harry, what have they done to you!?"

Harry looked at Remus confusedly. "Nothing, Rebus. Let me go now, I have..."

"Harry I'm not letting you go until we find out what those bastards did. Don't worry, I'm taking you with me to see Dumbledore, he'll find a way..."

As soon as he heard about leaving, Harry started struggling against the werewolf's grip. "No, let me go, you freak!"

"Harry, you don't know what you are talking about, let us help you..."

"Let me go, freak, I'm not coming with you..."

Suddenly, Harry's arm started inflating, surprising them both. On reflex Remus let it go, sending both him and the boy tumbling on the pavement. Remus watched in fascination as Harry's messy black hair turned into a short yellowish one, while his body inflated, snugly filling in his overgrown hand-me-downs.

"Oh, shit!" cursed Remus, his eyes bulging at the boy who moments ago looked like Harry Potter. He instantly activated the Order Of The Phoenix's communicator and sounded code red.

"Well, I guess the game is up, huh," said Dudley Dursley.

Albus Dumbledore was sitting in his office, finding it strange that he didn't have anything to do.

At this time of year, he would normally be going through lists of at least marginally qualified Defence Against The Dark Arts instructors, trying to persuade another poor fool into taking the post. But this year, he seemed to have an abundance of professors at disposal. Not only did Alastor agreed to teach again, but the Ministry insisted on sending their own batch of auror instructors, in an effort to "prepare our youth for the struggle against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

Well, students were always complaining about poor quality of DADA classes. Let's see how they handle a bunch of paranoid, hardened auror instructors putting them trough paces, he snorted at the thought.

Dumbledore was interrupted from his thoughts when a code red alarm was sounded on his Order Of The Phoenix pendant. He briefly froze when he saw the location and then quickly checked newly repaired silver instruments on his desk. When he saw that no intruder alarms were sounded at No.4 Privet Drive, he sighed in relief.

It was instrumental for his plans that Harry stay isolated and safe at his relatives' house. With no one to talk to during the summer, he would close up and isolate himself from the rest of the world. Then Professor Dumbledore, the ever-gentle grandfather, would come in and rescue him from isolation and boredom. Harry would, naturally, at first be angry at him, but Albus would quickly appease him with a few carrots, such as private tutoring and training with the elite Order members. In his desire to get back into the thick of things, Harry would be quick to accept the offer, thus alienating himself even further from the rest of Hogwarts populace. The only exception would be his two friends, but Albus already had the two of them in his pocket. In time, Harry's brief spat whit Albus would be all but forgotten and he would have his weapon back under his control.

That's why it was necessary for Harry to stay safe during the summer. Albus knew that the Blood Wards would keep Riddle away from Surrey, even though their effect wasn't as strong as before Voldemort's rebirth. For protection against his minions, Albus had to rely on ordinary wards and the Order guards, all of which could be broken with enough effort.

If the Death Eaters, by some miracle, do manage to breach Privet Drive's defences, the Prophecy would probably protect Harry's bare life, but he would have to be relocated to another location before the time was right. Harry would undoubtedly be mad at Albus for leaving him at his relatives' place, even though he wasn't as safe there as he was led to believe. Even worse, upon relocation, Harry would be put in a position where he could interact and strengthen his ties with certain Order members, and especially one Remus Lupin. Dumbledore briefly shivered. Sirius Black had been bad enough. Now that he was finally gone, it would be disastrous for another rouge element to take his place.

Albus mentally shook himself. All that was irrelevant now, since the wards obviously weren't breached. It was probably just Harry venting some of his stress on his relatives, the little devil. Albus suddenly realized that this could even work to his advantage, especially if Harry would need another rescuing from Fudge.

Some of my political influence when he needs it the most, followed by a few kind words and more apologies... Yes, that would help bridge the gap even faster, he mused.

Still planning and scheming, Albus walked out of Hogwarts grounds and apparated to Privet Drive.

What used to be a quiet living room of No.4 Privet Drive was now a scene of chaos. The Dursleys were sitting at the kitchen table and fearfully watching wizards and witches running around, as if they were some rare but dangerous species. Mad-Eye Moody was stalking around the house, inspecting every detail of it in a futile hope of finding some trace of their wayward charge. Nymphadora Tonks was pacing in front of the muggles muttering to herself, her hair flashing through all the colours of rainbow. Severus Snape was standing in a dark corner like a wrath, scowling at other occupants of the room. Remus Lupin was sitting in a couch, his greying hair in his hands, dejectedly answering occasional question of other occupants. This was the scene that Albus Dumbledore found when he entered the house.

He briefly inspected occupants, who were all looking at him expectantly. He surveyed the room again and then asked question that was on everyone's mind. "Where is Harry Potter?"

All the Order members started talking at the same time, throwing around accusations, excuses and theories. They were interrupted by a small voice from the table where the Dursleys were sitting. All the wizards shut up at once and whirled towards the cowed Muggles, glaring at them like a pack of wolves at prey. Albus walked forwards, Order members forming an eerie half-circle around their leader. He leaned forward, looking at the shivering Dursleys with hard eyes, and asked politely, "Excuse me?"

Dudley gathered all his courage and answered a bit louder. "Gone. He's gone. Been for a while."

The Order members started yapping again, but Albus stopped them with raised hand and then gracefully sat at the other side of table.

"What did you do to him?" he asked Petunia pointedly, his hard eyes and dangerous tone unmistakably demanding a prompt and truthful answer.

"Nothing, we did nothing!" yelled scared Petunia. "That little whelp left on his own!"

"Left on his own? How curious. I'm listening," Albus raised an eyebrow, his polite voice carrying a demanding undertone.

Petunia sat a little straighter and cleared her throat. She briefly looked like she was at one of her gossip parties, and not being interrogated by a bunch of very irritated wizards.

"Well, you see, as soon as we arrived from the station, back in June, he gathered all of us around, at this very table, and told us that he is leaving and never coming back."

"Like hell he isn't," muttered Snape, but shut up at Dumbledore's distracted hand gesture.

Petunia continued, "Well, that was perfectly fine with us. I mean, we never wanted him in the first place." She made a small dramatic pause and then leaned in conspiratorially. "But then, he demanded we help him trick the other fre... magicians who might come looking for him once he's gone. He even claimed it was our duty to help him out," she hissed in an outraged tone, as if talking of some horrifying crime.

"Preposterous," snapped Snape, unable to contain himself any longer. "That brat is getting more and more arrogant by the minute!"

"Exactly our reasoning, thank you very much," said Petunia, who was obviously in same mind with Snape concerning Harry. "I mean, we took him in when no one wanted him, gave him shelter under our roof, and food from our table... and after all that, that ungrateful ruffian had the audacity to actually demand..."

"What changed your mind, Petunia?" asked Albus politely.

Vernon forestalled her answer. "Well, see here, the boy was always polite... for a freak, of course. And quiet too, when he wasn't having nightmares..."

"Yes, dear," Petunia caught on, "and he did do a chore or two during summers..."

"And he never actually ate all that much, now that I think about it..."

"And he is my flesh and blood; After all, it has to mean something..."

"3,000 pounds," blurted in Dudley. "Thousand quid each. Half now, half when we do our part." His parents gave him reprimanding looks, but didn't deny.

"Now, see here," Vernon blustered, "just to be clear, we took the money and did our part of the deal, fair and square. We'll answer your stupid questions, just because that brat advised us to do so, so we wouldn't have any more problems with you freaks... But we are not giving you back any money!"

"Please do calm yourself, Mr. Dursley, we are not interested in money," said Albus, although he was actually very interested in just when did Harry withdrew all that cash from his account. "Would you mind telling us what happened next?"

Petunia continued. "Well, after we made sure the money wasn't stolen, we asked what he would have us do. Then he gave us ten vials of some vile tonic, a little bag with hair of all things and a notebook."

"May we see them?" asked Albus.

Petunia stood up and retrieved a muggle notepad and a plain-looking white pouch. "Vials are in his old roo... I mean, cupboard under the stairs. Few days later, he sent us a package with another 50 vials, since we needed one per day."

Albus motioned for Snape, who immediately stalked down the corridor towards the cupboard. Mad-Eye inspected the pouch and growled out, "Hair. Potter's most likely."

Albus opened the notebook and gasped when he saw files of every Order member that Harry knew about. Each page had the member's photo, cut out from some larger photograph, his or hers name and some general info. Albus was amused by some of the facts Harry had fabricated, like "Has tendency to transform into a monster if he sees a combination of red and gold" for his description of Professor Snape. Better keep this away from Severus, thought Albus with a chuckle.

"Polyjuice, all of it," spat Snape as he strolled back from the corridor, levitating a pack of potion vials behind him. "The first batch is a fairly good student work, probably that Know-It-All Granger. Those that came by mail are commercial grade, medium quality. Bought in Knockturn alley, most likely."

"Damn!" Tonks blurted out what was on everyone's minds. THE Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived, saviour of the Wizarding World and all assorted hogwash, gallivanting around the Knockturn Alley? If the press gets a hold of this...

Petunia cleared her throat and continued her story. "So, the boy gave us all those things and explained that Dudley is to learn everything from that notebook and impersonate him for an hour each day. Of course, I wouldn't let my Duddydums drink that vile freak concoction, with hair of all things, so he picked a single strand from Dudley's hair, put it in one of the vials and drank it."

"God damn freak business," grumbled Vernon, obviously remembering Harry transforming into a perfect copy of his own precious son before his very eyes.

"Yes dear, exactly," sniffed Petunia. "Anyway, since the brat unfortunately didn't drop dead or came down ill, we reluctantly agreed to honour our end of the agreement."

"And get the rest of the money," muttered Tonks.

"So," Petunia said forcefully, giving Tonks a sour look, "Vernon drove him back to London while he was still looking like Dudley. To that freak place, Cauldron something-or-other. And that's it," she said forcefully. Than her expression mellowed as she saw her son. "Poor Duddy-drums had to drink that stinky juice every day for a month, didn't you dear?" She was petting Dudley's pig-like head, while he was alternating between nodding eagerly and making hurt faces.

"Did he ask anything else of you?" asked Albus, years of experience preventing him from grimacing at display.

"Yes," said Petunia, "He had us sign a bunch of papers. Something like parental permissions for your freak kind."

Albus paled. 'Muggle guardian permits' were a series of permission slips, which would allow underage Muggleborns to take over variety of privileges and responsibilities from their appointed Magical guardians. And Harry had most likely taken them all, seeing as Albus had appointed himself for the job of Harry's magical advisor. With this move, Albus would lose much of his legal authority over Harry, like the privilege to screen his mail, oversee his finances and restrict his movement in magical enclaves. It wasn't exactly emancipation, but it was the closest thing Harry would get until he was 17.

At this point, Dudley was discretely prodding his mother with his elbow, which made her grimace in pain. Then she remembered something and said, "Oh yes, with that package delivery, he included a letter for you."

That got the attention of the Order members, who were leaning forward expectantly. Petunia walked out of the room and brought back a plain white envelope. She gave it to Albus, who was planning on reading it discretely and then giving the others a censured version if needed. But as soon as he opened the envelope, a red howler popped out and started speaking in a loud but calm voice.

• • • • •

I am Harry Potter.

Professor Dumbledore told me why I wasn't chosen for a perfect, along with a few other interesting things, in his office, right after he had portkeyed me back from the Ministry Of Magic. This confirms my identity.

I left Privet Drive on my own free will. I was not kidnapped, tricked or kicked out.

Dursleys are helping me on my request, this is all my idea. They are instructed to tell you all they know. DON'T BULLY THEM, even though they deserve it.

I will not be controlled any more.

Don't look for me, I am not coming back.

I will see you all at September 1st.

• • • • •

As soon as the speech ended, the howler burst out into flames. Reactions from the crowd were mixed. Albus was looking pensive, while casting various revealing charms at the envelope. Tonks was again flashing colours, looking apprehensive. Moody grunted approvingly at forwardness of the letter. Snape, on the other hand, was hardly containing himself from falling into another 'arrogant Potter' rant. Remus was just looking tired and worn-out, lost in his thoughts.

"Very well," Albus said abruptly, putting the envelope in his robes. "We shall now retrieve Harry and bring him back home." Dursleys started protesting but Albus gave them a hard stare and continued. "You will, of course, get the rest of your money when Harry returns. And then, we shall discuss further arrangements for the rest of the summer. Good day."

He and the rest of the Order briskly left the house, giving the cowed family dirty looks. As soon as they were outside, Dumbledore cast a temporary muggle-repellent charm and then a locator spell.

"You have the little bastard tagged?" asked Snape with an evil smirk.

Dumbledore nodded as he performed a more precise sweep. His wand glowed brightly and pointed right at Snape. He frowned and walked towards the confused potion master. Snape moved out of the way and Albus saw that his wand was in fact pointing at the rack of Polyjuice vials that Harry had sent few days after his escape. The boy had obviously somehow removed the tracking charm from himself and placed it on the rack with vials.

"Obnoxious little brat," Snape murmured irritably, but Remus and Mad-Eye looked quite pleased with Harry's ingenuity. Albus just shook his head, as if he would at his favourite puppy that had just peed outside of its appointed sandbox.

This means that Harry somehow managed to bypass underage magic restrictions AND learn all about tracking charms in only a few days... or that he found some help, he mused.

Albus waved his wand in a complicated circular pattern and pointed it at the rack. It was a spell that should reveal magical signature of a person that had handled the relocation of Harry's tracking charm.

Unlike fingertips, which stay the same for the lifetime, magical signatures are always gradually mutating, changing completely every several months. That's why any sort of signature database needs to be constantly updated with fresh readings. Since this is a rather cumbersome, not to mention irritating process, the Ministry was known to keep tabs only on the recently released or paroled criminals. Albus Dumbledore, on the other hand, kept up-to-date file of every person staying at Hogwarts during the school year. This wasn't exactly legal, but the opportunity was simply too good for his meddling nature not to take an advantage of it.

The gathering process was surprisingly simple, which made the whole scam so appealing in the first place. On various feasts during the year, the Headmaster would simply lace all the drinks in the Great Hall with a signature-reading potion, slaved to a charmed parchment in his office. After the feast, he would retreat to his office and neatly sort out the newly made readings into appropriate categories. He would also make a point of memorizing signatures of anyone whom he decided to keep a closer eye on. Harry's signature was, of course, one of them.

Albus was eagerly awaiting results from his signature-reading spell. He was only slightly disappointed when it didn't return Harry's signature. Still, he carefully analyzed a myriad of colours the spell had created and nodded in grim satisfaction. He was only an average signature analyzer, but even a novice forensic apprentice would easily recognize crude telltale traces of a cheap Occlusion amulet. He was somewhat relieved that it wasn't the model the Order members were issued with. It would be a disaster if Harry had received help from the Order itself. Something like that could easily create dissent within the group, maybe even splinter up a part of it. On the downside, simple Occluders such as this were commonly used by novice Death Eaters or Knockturn alley riff-raff.

Albus wasn't happy with this revelation. This could destroy 15 years of hard work he had spent carefully conditioning Harry into the pawn he needed.

Albus grudgingly admitted that at the root of this whole problem was his own screw-up with the last-year's experiment. It all started with Minerva's report about Harry's desire to become an Auror after graduation. Such position would have moved Harry too far away from Dumbledore's area of influence. In addition, Fudge was already planning to offer Harry a few boons, such as permission to do underage magic and preliminary Auror training, in exchange for his support. Albus just couldn't allow something like that to happen. That's why he decided to completely alienate Harry from the Ministry of Magic, effectively destroying any desire he might have to ever work for them.

At first, everything went by the plan. Using his patented subtle manipulations, Albus managed to convince Fudge that Harry was a serious political threat to his position. Fudge, idiot that he was, bit the hook, bait and sinker. He foolishly decided to attack Harry with everything he had, instead of approaching him with his offer. Albus intentionally pulled all of Harry's adult allies away from him, including himself, leaving the young man to deal on his own with kangaroo courts, press slandering and Umbridge's abuse. At the same time, he used Hermione to carefully push Harry towards forming his own DADA club. Harry would have hopefully grown to love teaching and gladly accepted the teaching post after his graduation. Instead of being the Ministry's auror, working Merlin knows where, Harry would have become the youngest DADA teacher Hogwarts had ever had, leaving him isolated most of the year under the Headmaster's authority. The plan was simply brilliant - Albus would have kept his pawn under control, permanently solved the problem of DADA teacher and maybe even saw a glimpse of this mysterious 'Power' he had been searching for so long.

But just as all the pieces were starting to fall together, the whole fiasco at the Department of Mysteries happened. In retrospect, Albus realized that he had put too much faith in Hermione's ability to keep Harry on a tight leash. She did try to stop him from going on with that whole rescue operation, but in the end, she only ended up getting dragged along with the rest of the kids. During the ensued chaos, what Albus feared the most finally happened - Harry learned about the existence of a prophecy regarding him and the Dark Lord. Even worse, Voldemort learned that Harry had no knowledge about any such prophecy, a possibility he had honestly completely overlooked.

All this unfortunate events forced Dumbledore to reveal to Harry the full contents of the prophecy, least Voldemort did it first in an attempt to create a rift between his two greatest adversaries. Albus made a big show of apologizing for keeping it from Harry for so long, but truthfully, he would have gladly kept it forever, if given a chance. After all, such knowledge offers the chosen one a powerful leverage against both Albus and the rest of the Wizarding society. The other unforeseen consequence of the fiasco was that Harry redirected his rage from the Ministry and Fudge, as Dumbledore had planned, to Albus himself. His perfectly orchestrated and carried out plan spectacularly backfired right into his face.

The only good thing that came out of that whole mess is that Black is finally out of my hair for good, Albus mused. Ever since his escape, that man had been a constant thorn in Albus' side, persistently challenging his authority over Harry's wellbeing. With him gone, Harry was finally ripe for picking by a true mentor figure. And Albus had every intention of being the one Harry would choose.

But now, just as his damage control scheme was in place, Harry had to play teenage rebellion and run away from home. Not only did he visit Knockturn Ally, which was already bad enough, but he also spent a significant amount of time interacting with its occupants. Who knows what sort of things he heard from them, what information he gained.

Harry must be found and retrieved at all costs, Albus decided firmly. I can't allow some street lowlife messing around with my project.

Albus looked up and saw his minions standing around him, patiently waiting for his decision.

"Very well," he said resolutely. "We'll have to do this the hard way. I'm calling in the Order meeting in half an hour. Meet me at the Grimmauld Place."

"Err, Sir..." said Tonks timidly. "The headquarters are no longer at Grimmauld Place, remember? The house locked itself down after Sirius... you know."

"Oh yes, thank you, my dear. Silly me," said Dumbledore in his distracted, senile-like voice. Of course, he knew perfectly well that Headquarters were relocated to a different location after Lord Black's signet ring disappeared, along with its bearer, behind the Veil of Death. Albus carefully honed his senile persona because it made people underestimate him and put their guards down around him. Not to mention it was awfully funny seeing powerful witches and wizards taking orders from a seemingly crazy old codger. "To the cabin, then," Albus said resolutely, as if trying to cover his 'blunder'.

Order members nodded sadly at their distracted leader and disapparated. Albus activated his Order pendant, set it to 'full meeting right now' and sighed.

Harry, Harry, what shall I do with you?, he mused. This situation required careful handling. On one hand, he had to punish Harry and prevent any further insubordination on his part. On the other, he still had to play the role of a good-natured, lenient grandpa. Some hard words and a few new restrictions but with a couple of boons along the way, he mused. Carrots and sticks, carrots and sticks... that tactics always works... Especially if someone other than me holds the stick. Maybe the Ministry... or Severus. Yes, I will have to think further on this, he decided and apparated away.

The old man said 'arrangements' but Dursleys knew he actually meant 'punishments'. For them or for their wayward nephew, they didn't know, and hoped they would never find out. They watched as wizards walked out of their home, giving them dirty looks. They waited for a few minutes and then heard popping sounds, which they associated with freaks arriving or departing.

There was a brief silence in the living room of No.4 Privet Drive. Then Vernon looked at his son and said, "Do it."

Dudley pulled out a newest model of cellular phone, which his parents gave him for his last birthday, and typed in a SMS message. When he finally pressed the 'send' button, there was a palpable air of relief in the room.

"Our part is done," Vernon grumbled. "That brat better live up to his end of the bargain."

"Who is for an early supper?" chirped Petunia and the life at Privet Drive went back to a blessed normality.

Author notes

EDIT: This chapter had been edited after the posting of chapter 8. I've rewritten a lot of it to match my current writing style, but the plot remained the same.

o - About Privet Drive wards

Blood Wards protect Harry's home from Voldemort only. Otherwise, they would have protected him from Dudley's friends beating him up and Dementors in book 5. Also, he wouldn't need constant guards around the house. When Voldemort took Harry's blood, he somewhat weakened them, but they still work around the house.