Author's Note: For those of you who read Harry Potter and the Final Straw, the first three chapters of this story will seem quite familiar. I originally meant Straw to be a Harry Goes to America story, but as I explained part way through Straw, I changed my mind, and that led to the direction that I went with the fic. Now, while I search for a good approach to do a seventh year story, I'm revisiting what I was going to do a year ago, and that's to send Harry abroad. I think I altered enough of the first nine chapters (compressed here into the first three chapters) to make it worth it to re-read them, and then the action gets much different in Chapters Four and beyond. I repeat what you read in the summary, this story is AU from the get-go, and please read and review it (if you review) as such. Well enough from me, enjoy the show.
The ride home from Kings Cross Station had been a silent one, Vernon and Petunia weren't even speaking with each other. The threat of Moody and Arthur Weasley had actually penetrated even Vernon Dursley's stubborn mind and he had quickly come to decide that harassing Harry simply wasn't worth the trouble in would get him into, so he said nothing to Harry on the ride back to Little Whinging. Petunia Dursley was lost in her own thoughts as well, having seen the haunted look on Harry's face, she knew something bad must have happened. So each in their own way (Dudley was not along for the trip) decided to make the best of the situation and not invite more trouble upon themselves by abusing Harry.
Once home, Harry grabbed his trunk and headed inside, though he was slightly taken aback when Vernon, with a blank look on his face, held the front door open so he could get the trunk through. After Hedwig was brought inside, Harry, not paying attention to Vernon's looking around the yard (for freaks, one can surmise), would not leave the house again for over three weeks.
Harry sat in his bedroom at Number 4 Privet Drive and thought, something he had been doing quite a bit of in the two weeks since the Department of Mysteries and the death of Sirius Black. It had occurred to Harry on that drive home how little thought he'd actually given to his future. When he had done his career counseling session with Professor McGonagall he had pretty much plucked the idea of being an Auror out of thin air, thinking it would be a cool job to have, but he hadn't really considered it beforehand. Then there was the Prophecy to consider, Harry wasn't sure that he believed it, though he acknowledged Dumbledore's apparent faith in it. Harry found it difficult to believe anything Trelawney said as gospel, particularly something like this, three years of her teaching had often left him doubting whether she was really a witch or simply a squib with a decent imagination. That said, it explained a lot of Dumbledore's behavior over the years, such as placing Harry with the Dursleys…….though that did not make him feel any better.
Dear (insert name here),
I'm writing to ask that no one send me any letters for a couple of weeks, nor do I want any visitors. I need some time to sort things out about what's been happening, and I need time to grieve for Sirius as well. I know that there are people watching the Dursley house and I have no interest in doing anything remotely foolish, I just need some time to myself. I appreciate your understanding this.
Upon arriving at his "home" Harry had written this form letter to most of his friends, in the somewhat in vain hope of having some time where he didn't have to think about their views on his many issues. Harry didn't actually expect most of them to respect his wishes, and he was right, letters had come full bore starting the next day. Typical of them was Hermione's letter:
How are you? I know you must be hurting about Sirius, but you need to find a way to move on and live your life, that's what Sirius would want, and you know that. I hope you're practicing your Occlumency, you don't want anything like that to happen again, be sure to tell Dumbledore if your scar starts hurting again. If something happens please tell me, you know I want to help you.
Not for the first time Harry wondered if Hermione was informing on him to Dumbledore, and for how long. Hermione was one of his best friends, and truth be told she had probably been a better friend to him over the years than Ron had, but her devotion to authority bordered on the frightening. Somehow the old man always seemed to know what he was up to, so Dumbledore either had some good surveillance charms working in Gryffindor tower, or he had someone on the inside. Of course he didn't want to believe that Hermione was going behind his back, and he really had no proof either way……but the feeling wouldn't go away.
Harry's feelings about Dumbledore had gradually shifted over the weeks as well. Dumbledore had amazingly enough respected Harry's request for quiet, though he knew it wouldn't last (The old man and Neville were the only ones who were doing so, Neville had sent a two line note acknowledging Harry's letter and letting him know he was there for him when Harry needed him). The problem was, the more Harry took stock of his life, both at Privet Drive and at Hogwarts, the more dissatisfied he grew with it. The difficulties at Privet were obvious, a lack of anything resembling affection, and oftentimes a lack of food as well. Harry wondered what kind of threat Dumbledore had over Aunt Petunia to keep taking him back summer after summer, though next summer was supposed to his last there, since on his 17th birthday he would become of age in the wizarding world and be outside Dumbledore's authority, in the summer anyway. He had a sneaking suspicion though that the old man wouldn't let that get in his way and would find a way to confine him somehow, perhaps at Grimmaud Place. There had been a couple of times over the last two weeks that Harry had seen Aunt Petunia looking particularly pensive……but he had resisted temptation to doing any probing.
His life at Hogwarts was what really gave Harry pause, once he really thought about it. Harry knew he hadn't made that many friends in his five years there, but after he examined it he was shocked at how few there really were. Really his circle was limited to those who had gone with him to the DOM (Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, and Luna), and though he had friendly relations with Dean and Seamus (his other roommates), he was a bit sad to realize there was no one else. Harry knew that a lot of this was due to being "The Boy Who Lived", people either wound up star-struck like Colin Creevey, or disliked him because of it, not taking any time to get to know him. Harry also acknowledged that some of it was due to Ron and Hermione, not the 2 most popular people in Gryffindor tower. Hermione's bossiness and academic mania grated on most of their housemates (Harry could only wonder what most Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs thought of her, what the Slytherins thought didn't need much effort on his part), and Ron………The fact was, Ron wasn't a very bright wizard and tended to be a Gryffindor version of Draco Malfoy, very judgmental about those who did not fit his own ideals. The three of them had been so close for so long, that though others might have liked Harry, they just didn't want to deal with Ron and Hermione on a regular basis.
Each summer since he had been a wizard, Harry had had Hogwarts and his memories of it to hold on to, but the more he thought about it, the less he wanted to return to Hogwarts. Harry knew that he needed to make some plans, plans that couldn't done alone. He thought on this for another night, and then took his first step toward freedom………and in a rather unexpected direction too.
Dear Mrs. Longbottom,
I know we've never met before ma'am, but I'm a roommate at Hogwarts of your grandson Neville. First I'd like to say that I'm sorry that Neville got involved in the Department of Mysteries incident that I led, but you should know that he fought very well and I'm proud to call him my friend and ally. I'm writing to you because I need some advice, and I know from Neville about your knowledge and integrity. I need to hire a wizarding solicitor, hopefully one who has some knowledge of muggle law as well, and I was hoping there was one you could recommend to me. I have some issues that I need to take care of and I need that kind of help. I'm asking you and not someone at Hogwarts ma'am, because to be honest I don't want to hire someone under their control or influence, so I can get impartial advice.
I would appreciate any help you could give me, please give my best to Neville
"Here you go Hedwig, please see if Mrs. Longbottom will reply right away, and if so wait for it, ok girl?"
Hedwig gave a dignified hoot, as if Harry knew how to deliver mail better than she did: 'let the expert handle it' she seemed to say.
Harry wasn't sure if this was the right course of action to take, but he thought that to do what he was thinking of, he would need legal advice, advice that he couldn't trust the Order to give him, he could hear them now, "Oh let us handle that Harry." or "You don't need to worry about those things right now Harry." There was certainly no harm in asking Mrs. Longbottom, as he didn't think she was an Order member, and figured that Neville had likely spoken well of him over the years to her.
For lack of anything else to do in the meantime, Harry started in on his exercises. He was up, after two weeks, to 200 sit-ups a day, as well as 50 push-ups. Certainly not Olympic worthy, but much better than he could do when he started. Harry had been surprised at how out of shape he was, considering how skinny he still looked, even after 10 months of Hogwarts food and more than a couple of chocolate frogs. Plus, it helped kill the time, truth be told, Harry was a bit nervous about going outside the house, given what had happened last summer with the Dementors. He wasn't positive that the Order was watching Privet Drive (not that they would have told him if he'd asked), but he assumed that someone was on guard (hopefully not Dung).
After he finished with his exercises, he wandered downstairs to get a glass of water:
"Hello Aunt Petunia."
His Aunt looked at him and nodded, though not unpleasantly. Relations with her had been better than ever since he got back, though that wasn't saying too much. She and Vernon both looked like they were fighting some kind of inner battle while they ate dinner with Harry, the only extended times they were in his presence. Vernon's battle was reconciling 15 years of verbal abuse and threats, with the certainty of 'freaks' coming into his home and doing things to him. Petunia alternately looked nervous and sad when she was around Harry, as if seeing more and more of Lily in him, and remembering her fate and why he had landed with them in the first place. Harry hadn't seen Dudley more than once or twice since he'd been back, which relieved him somewhat. Dudley had gotten a summer job at a local cinema and was rarely home, and seemed bent on avoiding Harry when he was. Harry had been fairly worried about seeing Dudley again after the Dementor incident last summer, and what he might do to Harry if he still blamed him for it. Dudley's thoughts remained his own however.
In the back of his mind, Harry knew that if he wanted some legal freedom, he would need the cooperation of Vernon and Petunia. He knew that they were his muggle guardians of course, and he was fairly certain that they were in the wizarding world as well. The only alternative to them had been Sirius, who between Azkaban and being in hiding after his escape, had never been in a position to claim guardianship. The question was, how to get this cooperation? He knew that Vernon was the key, since Petunia would follow his lead. He could, of course, bribe them, but he shuddered at the thought of Vernon learning how much money he had in Gringotts, he knew his uncle's aversion to wizards wouldn't extend to money, though the idea of Vernon actually walking into Gringotts to claim it always put a smile on Harry's face.
Physical threats were another possibility, but Harry was loathe to go that route. He wasn't worried about whether he could do it or not, in fact he rather liked the idea of hurting Vernon, in the abstract anyway. For a few years time Harry had been occasionally daydreaming about his own 17th birthday present to himself , which involved a couple of hours fun with his wand and the Dursleys. The problem was, he couldn't rely on the fact that Vernon hadn't thought of this as well, and might decide to do a pre-emptive strike. Vernon Dursley was a blustery sort of man to those who didn't know him well, but Harry knew him very well and knew that hatred might make Vernon do things that both he and Harry would regret……if Harry was alive to regret them.
One thing was certain, he couldn't dare let Dumbledore learn that he was planning any of this. Harry's distrust of the Order wasn't simply resentment of Dumbledore, and all of the half-truths, lies, and evasions that the Headmaster had been feeding him all of these years. In a perverse way he rather admired the quite Slytherin way that Dumbledore operated (in his 3rd year he had asked McGonagall what House that Dumbledore had been in, she had replied icily that it was none of his business, so he assumed it was Slytherin)……at least he would have admired it if it had happened to someone else. Harry didn't trust Dumbledore at all with his future, given what he had done and not done. Harry still had trouble believing that the blood protection at Privet Drive was the only way to protect him, particularly from a wizard who went without a body for 13 years. Hearing the Prophecy only made his resentment of Dumbledore worse, "It would have been nice to have some warning, or perhaps even a bit of formal training." Harry knew that his only real training had been his haphazard adventures, where he more or less learned how to defend himself on his own, with the exception of Remus and his Patronus. Every time he thought about Dumbledore and his decisions, and then applied basic logic to them……..well it was a good thing he wasn't allowed to use his wand.
Snape, there was another reason to be suspicious of Dumbledore. The old man had to know how much Snape hated Harry's guts, yet he forced them together time and again. Harry hated Snape with equal venom, and he felt that Sirius would be alive if not for the grease ball's need to settle old scores. Harry had never forgiven Snape for interfering during 3rd year, giving Peter Pettigrew time to escape, denying Sirius his chance at freedom, and when he was being candid with himself, he acknowledged that it was a prime reason he hadn't been so eager to learn Occlumency.
As for the rest of the Order, Harry liked them enough as people, for the most part, but like with Hermione he was wary of their blind loyalty to Dumbledore. Harry knew that what he was thinking of doing would not go over at all with Dumbledore, and he would use the Order to stop him.
Remus in particular was another sticky point, Harry knew with Sirius gone that Remus was his last true link to his parents and their life……but that was the problem, Remus had never been terribly forthcoming about what his parents really were like, nor had Sirius been. It had not gone unnoticed by Harry that he had learned more about his dad from Snape's pensieve than from his dad's best friends. Harry also had come to resent Remus in part for his imprisonment on Privet Drive over the years, at the very least he could have come and checked on him every once in awhile, perhaps putting some fear into the Dursleys to get him some better treatment. But no, Harry had never so much as heard of Remus until he was 13, and that grated on him more and more. There also was the practical aspect of Remus needing Dumbledore much more than the other way 'round, that alone would have put Remus' loyalty into question.
Harry never even considered asking most of the Weasleys for help, he had seen the way Molly Weasley tried to baby her sons and try not to let them make any decisions for themselves, and while he was grateful that she considered him an unofficial 8th child, he felt certain that she would be even worse with him. Mr. Weasley was a kindly man who was much sharper than he was perhaps given credit for (since he had gotten to know Luna, Harry had very privately considered her and Mr. Weasley to be two peas in a pod), but Harry knew who ruled that household. Bill and Charlie were relative unknowns to him, though he liked them both, and Percy didn't even bear thinking about. Fred and George were possibilities, he knew that they genuinely cared about him and would look out for him if he needed it, but he didn't want them crossing their parents and getting any flack. He filed away the idea though, for later. Ginny, ironically, was the Weasley he trusted least (after Percy). Harry knew that her crush had receded somewhat over the last year, but it still made him uncomfortable to consider trusting her. If anything, she was the female equivalent of Colin Creevey, liking him for his fame without really knowing him.
Ron…….Ron was his best mate, but Harry knew that Ron would tell Hermione everything. Harry wasn't sure to this day if those two had become anything more than friends over the past year. It wouldn't surprise him if they had, though he would be disappointed if they'd kept it from him. Harry couldn't understand Ron's apparent romantic feelings for Hermione, she was attractive he supposed, in a no-nonsense way, but entirely too controlling. Harry himself wanted a girlfriend, not a boss. As it was he had been hard pressed over the past year to keep his growing irritation with Hermione to himself. He still liked them both, and knew that they only wanted what was best for him, but given his suspicions of Hermione and what she might tell their teachers, he simply couldn't risk giving anything away to Ron…..and he knew that Ron would be unlikely to forgive him if he kept anything from him…….something Harry had trouble understanding, since he himself had been nothing but loyal to Ron, a fact which the redhead could not reciprocate.
Not that he had anything to give away at this point yet, the plan was still only a vague one in his mind about getting some more freedom. Harry knew what the concept of legal emancipation was, and surmised that without Dumbledore's coercion, the Dursleys might have suggested it themselves this year, when he turned 16. He knew that Petunia knew more about the magical world than she had ever let on to him, and probably to Vernon and Dudley as well, this might have been one of those details.
Luna Lovegood was the one person he actually had corresponded with, he had specifically not included her in his 'leave me alone' letters at the beginning of the summer. They didn't talk about the DOM, but had just taken some time to get to know each other through letters, as in school they were in different years and different Houses (Harry had never had a class with any Ravenclaw in his own year). Harry wasn't quite ready to fill her in on his plans, but he always smiled when he read her letters…….which were more like streams of consciousness than anything structured, but he enjoyed them as a nice diversion from his troubles. Nothing romantic had been discussed though, and Harry had a hard time thinking of her that way……and she had mentioned that she and Neville were writing to each other as well, though in one of her more lucid passages she assured Harry that she hadn't told anyone they were writing.
When Harry wrote to Neville's grandmother he knew that to a point he was having to trust Neville a bit, but wasn't too worried. Neville had always kind of been the odd one out in their year, with Ron and Harry teaming up, and Seamus and Dean being close. Harry knew that Neville's confidence has risen as a result of their DA work, as well as what happened in the DOM. When Harry analyzed the events in his mind, in muggle video fashion, he was surprised to learn that Neville had put up the best fight after himself. Harry knew that he was responsible for a lot of Neville's new found abilities and felt assured that Neville would be grateful enough not to rat him out.
So who to trust? Harry trusted his friends, and most of the Order to a point…….but there was trust and there was trust, and Harry was beginning to learn the difference, a bit late for comfort perhaps…..but he decided to celebrate the fact that he made it to the party at all, rather than be considered with his tardiness.
Wednesday, July 18th, 1996
I was wondering if you would want to work for me? I don't need a lot of looking after, but I could use certain of your skills in my life right now. I realize that you probably like working at Hogwarts with all those people, and you might not want to move, but I hope you will think about this. As for money, I'll double what you make now at Hogwarts and you can wear whatever you clothes you choose to.
If you would like to talk with me about it, just come visit Privet Drive, but please oh please just pop right into my bedroom, my aunt and uncle would probably have heart attacks if they saw you.
Thank you Dobby,
This was somewhat risky, having the excitable house elf around him while in the muggle world, but Harry felt that the benefits far outweighed the risk. Harry was by no means confident of the Order being able to protect him if the Death Eaters launched a concerted raid on Privet Drive; after all they had missed two Dementors the previous summer, which is how this whole mess had started. Having watched Dobby in action against Lucious Malfoy after his 2nd year, he felt confident that at least Dobby could hold them off him while waiting for help. Harry knew that if he was forced to use his wand before he was allowed, the result might be similar to last summer, a trial where he was by no means confident of winning, particularly without Dumbledore's willing support. Dobby being around negated that risk thankfully, all he had to do was keep him away from the Dursleys……though now that he thought about it, Uncle Vernon might not be so volatile with Dobby available to banish him into a wall if he attacked Harry.
Hedwig had just come back with Mrs. Longbottom's answer:
Dear Mr. Potter,
That was quite a nice display of flattery in your letter, a bit too obvious maybe, but I take it in the spirit in which it was offered. First, I would like to thank you for the influence you've had on Neville, I did in fact notice the change in him since last summer, a hint of it even showed during the Winter Holidays. His father Frank (a friend of your parents I should add) was a late bloomer as well and I'm relieved to see that Neville has turned a corner.
As for your request, I found it interesting and quite practical. From what Neville has told me you grew up not even knowing of our world and probably do need some guidance in technical matters. Much of this you should have gotten in your History of Magic class, but if Binns is anything dead like he was alive, I'm sure you sleep through most of his classes.
The solicitor I use is wizard named Peter Tyson, he has an office in Diagon Alley near Quality Quidditch Supplies. He is very well versed in wizarding law; he handles all of my matters, as well as having a working knowledge of muggle law. If your intention is to gain some sort of legal emancipation (Harry's jaw dropped when he saw that she had figured it out so easily) he is the right man for the task. Get control of yourself Mr. Potter, it was very apparent what you wanted a solicitor for, particularly when you wanted someone outside of Dumbledore's sphere of influence, which Mr. Tyson is (like most solicitors he was a Ravenclaw, and is very intelligent and discreet).
I must say I am impressed that you are willing to go through proper channels to obtain your freedom Mr. Potter, and thus I am perfectly willing to keep this matter to myself. I did tell Neville what your letter asked for, but I will not reveal to him what I told you, though he figured out your purpose on his own. Do be careful young man, I am sure that you are aware that you are the most polarizing figure in our little world here; all eyes are forever on you.
I wish you well,
Harry took out his letter to Dobby and asked Hedwig, "You up to another trip girl? To Hogwarts this time?" Hedwig hadn't had much else to do for two weeks and gave a nod. "This goes to Dobby the house elf, he should be in the Hogwarts kitchens somewhere. You don't need to wait for a reply, he should be coming here. You remember who he is?" Hedwig rolled her eyes as she remembered all too well who Dobby was. Harry snickered and sent her on her way.
No sooner had Hedwig gotten out of the window than a large brown owl came through the window with a letter for Harry. Harry paused before opening it, listening for any reaction from downstairs if they had noticed an owl coming in during the daytime. There was no sound however, so Aunt Petunia either hadn't seen it, or chose not to say anything. Petunia's quiet around him had vaguely bothered him the last few days. Harry didn't especially want to be shouted at, but as with most people, anything that deviated from a long standing routine tended to be noticeable. The brown owl went right for Hedwig's water dish and food bowl, so it appeared as if a reply would be waited for.
There were two letters in the bundle, one from Remus Lupin, and one from Albus Dumbledore.
Harry chose to read Remus' first.
How are you doing Harry? It's been a couple of weeks since we talked and I'm sure you're still hurting over Sirius, I know I am. You didn't get him killed Harry, Sirius knew what the risks were a long time ago and he accepted that this might happen. You made him very happy by being in his life Harry, you gave him hope at a time when he had none, and for that I know I thank you.
On another subject, Sirius left a will that must be read and gone over. You, Tonks, and I are the beneficiaries, though I don't know yet which of us got what. Sirius was the official Heir of the House of Black, his mother died before she got around to changing her will (she died in an explosion in case no one told you, she was caught in Diagon Alley during an attack while we were all students at Hogwarts, in our 7th year if I recall it correctly). The will can be read anytime we are all able to get together; it is to be done at the Trusts Department at Gringotts. Dumbledore is not happy about the idea of you leaving your relatives right now, so it might have to wait a few weeks, but we will get it done sometime between your birthday and the start of Fall term.
I would like to come visit you soon; I don't want to come unannounced for fear of making things worse with your relatives, who I hope are treating you better. I would imagine our words to them had some effect, though I should tell you that Dumbledore didn't like it that we threatened them and made it clear that we were to harm them only in an emergency. Let me know via Hedwig when I can come see you, talk to you soon.
With this letter all of Harry's concerns about Remus were validated, the man was just too close to, or afraid of, Dumbledore to be any help to him. Plus the part about the threats, and the Order not willing to act on them enraged Harry; he only prayed that Vernon wouldn't put it to the test. The paragraph about blaming himself over Sirius' death he ignored once he had read it once, Harry didn't blame himself for what happened, he blamed Dumbledore and the Death Eaters themselves. Oh sure he had worn a mental hair-shirt at first, even after the old man had told him the Prophecy, but it had subsided the more he thought about it. Harry knew he had been duped by Voldemort, and was actually a bit proud over how he and the five students who he had more or less trained fought 12 Death Eaters to a draw.
If Snape hadn't done such a half-baked job of 'teaching' him Occlumency, he might not have bitten for the fake…..let alone him actually being told why he needed Occlumency in the first place. Harry could reasonably understand why Dumbledore had been unwilling to teach him, he certainly didn't want Dumbledore's memories available for Voldemort to download either, but the old man should have kept Snape on some kind of leash. Dumbledore's forgiveness for every one of Snape's peculiarities was mystifying to Harry, he wondered if there was some kind of family connection between the two. Surely Dumbledore didn't need a spy that badly did he? Particularly one so unpopular in the wizarding community, many of whom had either suffered through Potions at his hands, or listened to younger relatives' complaints about him.
Harry braced himself for Dumbledore's note, knowing that he wouldn't like what was in it.
I hope you are having a relaxing summer holiday so far. I have not had any notes from you about pain in your scar, so if that really is the case then I am very encouraged, Voldemort must be laying low after you and your colleagues routed his forces last month. Still, I do not expect this quiet to last, and I am afraid that we must restart your Occlumency lessons again. I'm sorry to tell you that again you must have them with Professor Snape, since my reasons for not be able to do them with you are still in effect. I have spoken with Professor Snape and he has promised me that he will try to put his issues with you aside so that the lessons will succeed this time. I also must insist upon a more concentrated effort from you to learn Occlumency quickly, as I expect our enemies to be very active in the near future. Professor Snape is currently away at a conference in Canada for Potions scholars, and will be back next week; he will be coming to Privet Drive a week from this coming Friday, July 27th.
We will remove you from your relative sometime in early August, probably to Grimmaud Place, as The Burrow is too well known to hide you out there, though we have it warded to the teeth now to protect the Weasleys. Also, your OWL results are scheduled to be mailed at the start of next week, you should have them either Monday or Tuesday, I'm confident you did well on them.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to owl me,
Harry had never hated Dumbledore more than after he read this letter, any hesitation he might have had about his planned course of action disappeared. Harry did not like one bit being a virtual prisoner in this house, especially this house. Far from a gilded jail cell, he felt anything would have been better than this, and now he was stuck here for another three weeks at least, he had been hoping to be sprung for his birthday. He wanted no part of Snape in this house, particularly with no other wizards around to stop his potential excesses. Harry knew that Dumbledore trusted Snape implicitly, but he did not share that trust, and knew that Snape was very capable of harming him if the spirit moved him.
Harming him wasn't the only concern, but taking him…..Harry assumed that Voldemort had some sort of price on his head, and that the Death Eater who delivered him would never need worry about his future within the Dark Side, certainly Barty Crouch Jr. had been counting on that after the Triwizard Tournament. Temptation is an awful thing for a man, especially one with no true ties to the light side, which described Snape quite well. Add that to the fact that no one in the world hated Harry more than Snape did, and Harry was fully aware of this.
Harry was glad that he had nine days to figure out how to get rid of Snape, and he hoped more than ever that he could convince Dobby to come work for him. Having a house-elf for a bodyguard might seem a bit ridiculous, but Harry wondered at the willingness of whatever outside guards the Order had watching him to interfere with Snape, who everyone in the Order knew was Dumbledore's special aide.
The brown owl hooted loudly, Harry looked up and took the hint that he should reply to his letters:
Things are fine here, there haven't been any issues with my relatives. The threats worked on Vernon apparently, and I haven't seen Dudley more than twice this whole time. I must tell you that it pissed me off to know that your threats were hollow Remus, I'm disappointed in you that you would be unwilling to stick up for me if it came to it, it explains quite a bit though. I know the Order is watching the house and I fully expect them to interfere if they hear me screaming in pain, Dumbledore or not.
I don't want to talk about Sirius right now Remus, except to tell you that I don't blame myself for his death. This is a war, and I'm all too aware that there are casualties. I miss him, and will always treasure the brief time we had with each other.
I am ready to hear Sirius' will at any point this summer, I know you need to wait for me to get out of jail, so I hope you and Tonks don't need the money too badly and can hold tight. I'm not ready to confide and confess to anyone right now Remus, so it would be best if we hold off any visit by you for the time being. If it makes any difference to you, I'm not ready to open up to anyone in my circle yet, it's not just you. I repeat, don't come inside this house without an invitation from me, unless it's an emergency.
Harry read this over, and realized he was being a bit snotty to Remus, but he still wasn't in a good mood and decided that Remus would have to suffer a bit. Harry needed some more information before he wrote to Dumbledore, so he decided to wait on that for another day. He sent his letter off with the brown owl and went to take a shower.
When he got back, there was a very happy looking house-elf sitting on his bed, deja-vu all over again……….