Disclaimer: HP et al belong to JKR et al. Don't sue. I own nothing of any importance and all you would get for your trouble would be a bunch of court costs.

A/N: BE FOREWARNED! This is an AU fic. This follows canon only to the point where Hagrid shows up in the shack on the rock in the sea, July 31, 1991 (for people who don't want to try to puzzle out that date, it's Harry's eleventh birthday, meaning that this tale diverges from canon in book one.) However, once the story gets going, elements of the books will surface. Also, as this is an AU tale, OC's will show up from time to time. There may or may not be references to SLASH, I haven't decided just yet. If any of these ideas bothers you, feel free to use that wonderful little back button on your browser; that's what it's there for. If you choose to ignore this warning and read onward, then decide to flame me, please note that the flames will be used to roast marshmallows. I do, however, enjoy hearing if I'm doing a good job and I rarely write chapters in advance, so if you have ideas you want to see show up in the story, drop me a line (this means to review.)

One last bit, this first posting will cover both the prologue and chapter one. They would have been posted separately, but the prologue is really short. It's likely throughout this tale that the chapters will vary in length considerably from one to another. If they're really short, though, they will either be posted together or in the same day.


"Absolutely not! He's not going, and that is that!" Petunia was adamant.

"An' I'd like ter see muggles like yerselves try an' stop 'im." Hagrid replied.

Petunia took a deep breath, her nose pointed up at the massive man, "We are the boy's legal guardians; if we say he's not to go to that horrid place, he won't go. And that is final." She glared at the man and crossed her skinny arms over her bony chest.

Harry didn't know what to think. He'd been told time and time again that there was no such thing as magic. For all the large man before him was an impressive sight, he had thus far seen no evidence to support that this was anything more than a cruelly elaborate hoax - most likely concocted by Dudley; after all, the Dursleys had never denied the little pig anything else, why should this be any different?

Harry watched as the enormous man dug through several pockets in his shaggy coat, all the while glaring at Harry's aunt and uncle. He withdrew a long feather quill and a roll of parchment. He scribbled something down, folded the paper, and reached back into the coat. This time he pulled out a rather rumpled brown barn owl. "Take this ter Dumbledore, girl, an' be quick abou' it." All Harry could do was blink as the owl delicately took the folded-up parchment in her beak and flew out one of the glassless windows.

Several silent, strained hours later, the owl returned. The grey light of predawn cast everything in a gloomy grey light. Dudley snored, having fallen back asleep once the adults' conversation had petered out. Hagrid retrieved the note the owl carried, read it over, and scowled. He then turned to Harry with a grim smile. "Harry, Dumbledore says yer aunt 'as the law on 'er side, an' we can't force 'em ter let yeh go ter Hogwarts. But iffen yeh ever need us, all yeh need do is ask." His smile broadened at the bewildered and sleepy eleven-year-old.

Harry shook his head, It's official. This is the weirdest day of my life.

Chapter One: Years Later

The years passed slowly for Harry. Wearing his 'elephant-skin' uniform, he attended Stonewall Secondary School. Though Dudley attended Smeltings, Piers Polkis remained Dudley's best friend and was more than happy to continue the crusade to keep Harry friendless. Harry didn't mind; it wasn't as if this was a new situation for him. Besides, how could he miss what he'd never had?

Harry spent most of his free time studying, mentally preparing for that blessed day he would finally be able to leave No. 4, Privit Drive firmly in his past. He excelled at mathematics and science, however his true talents lay in art and, ironically enough, his Living Skills class. The Living Skills class covered topics such as cooking, sewing, balancing a checkbook, and how to purchase a house or car. The most obvious result of this class was that Harry's uniforms started fitting much better during his second year than they had before. The Dursleys, as well, benefitted from the class; meals Harry made became more complicated and tastier as the years wore on.

On Harry's fifteenth birthday, Uncle Vernon demanded Harry obtain an after-school job to 'help pay for his upkeep.' Harry didn't bother arguing; if there was one thing he had learned from the Dursleys, it was that arguing inherently made life more difficult. Three days after the decree had been handed down, Harry found himself employed at Kellerman's Service Shop - a car-repair center.

During Harry's interview, Allen Kellerman - the owner - had asked Harry why he wanted to work. Harry had replied that his uncle wanted him to help with the bills. Allen had assumed that this meant Harry's family was rather poor and so had hired Harry on the spot. He hadn't wanted anyone to live through the hardships he had endured when he was Harry's age. His misconceptions were cleared up when Vernon arrived in his brand-new company car. He further learned of Harry's home life over the course of the next four days. His wife was more of a gossip than Petunia could ever hope to be, and the Kellermans lived only a couple of blocks from Harry's family, on Wisteria Walk.

After having spoken to Harry, not to mention having seen the results of the standard pre-employment criminal and background checks, Allen knew that the rumors of Harry's supposed delinquent status were nothing more than hogwash. He had the suspicion that the rumors had been started by Harry's family, but couldn't prove it. Allen decided that he would do all that was in his power to help the quiet and polite teenager whenever he could. It came as somewhat of a shock to Harry when, on his first payday, Allen handed Harry half of his pay in cash and the other half in check. Since Harry wasn't eighteen, he wouldn't be able to open a bank account without Vernon or Petunia co-signing. As he handed Harry his pay, he nodded at the teen and mentioned, "There's a small travel-safe under the front desk that never gets used. The combination is seven - five - one - nine.

Harry could only respond with a heartfelt, "Thank you, sir," understanding that Mr. Kellerman was allowing him a means of eventual escape from the Dursleys.

During the course of the following two years, Harry managed to save enough money to be able to attend a two-year vocational school, and if he managed to keep his grades up, he thought he might be able to get enough in supplemental scholarships to attend a real university. He had no idea what, exactly, he wanted to study; but that didn't stop him from wanting to further his education. His art teacher had suggested he might be able to get an art scholarship, if he applied to schools in the US. Harry felt rather partial to that idea. At least, it would get him as far as possible from the Dursleys' home.

During that same two-year period, Harry found himself virtually adopted by his boss and the three other men that worked at the shop. Allen and his wife had been unable to have children of their own and looked on Harry as the son they never had. Harry also had three unlikely older 'brothers' in his coworkers. Tim Marshfield was thirty-five and was something of a science nut. He belonged to a local amateur astronomy club, as well as the Model Airplane and Rocket Association. Mike Peterson was the youngest of the three mechanics, at twenty-four, and spent much of his spare time running around after his three-year-old daughter, or hiding from his petite wife. Nigel Smythwick was perhaps the oddest of the bunch, however. He absolutely refused to give anyone his age, always stating that he was 'old enough to know better, but still too young to care' whenever asked. He had an innate grasp of how things fit together and could tell what was wrong with a car just by listening to the sounds it made. He also built wooden furniture in his garage, selling it on the internet for quite a hefty sum.

During the summer Harry turned sixteen, Nigel showed up for work in a severely battered old pickup truck. He nicknamed it 'Viridian' for reasons he refused to disclose. Allen told Harry the next day that he was going to start spending half of each of his workdays working with the guys on Viridian. Harry shrugged, assuming that his boss wouldn't want him learning on a customer's vehicle. He didn't mind; he liked learning new things and was rapidly becoming bored in the monotony of the office paperwork. That summer, as further part of his training, Mike taught Harry how to drive. It was a tense situation for Harry. They were using Mike's car, and Harry really didn't want anything to happen to it while he was driving, and thus responsible for the car's safety. He never breathed easy until he was allowed to park it back at the shop. The really funny thing about it was that though Harry never put so much as a scratch on the car, Mike managed to clip a street sign during a particularly foggy night. It broke one of the headlights and made a rather impressive dent in the red metal.

Harry was the only one at the shop that was unaware that the truck they were training him on was going to be given to him as a graduation present, even though that lay two years in the future. Viridian was a mess, after all. Almost everything needed replaced or repaired in some fashion. And Tim, as the only one of the four that had seen some of Harry's artwork, was keen on seeing if he could reproduce some it in a custom paint job, though that would be the last step.

Two weeks before Harry's seventeenth birthday, Harry found himself the first one at the shop. He unlocked the door to the office and had just turned the computer on when the phone rang. Harry jumped in surprise before he realized what had happened. He answered after the second ring, "Kellerman's Service Shop, Harry speaking."

"Hey Harry. This is Mike."

"Oh, hey Mike. Whacha need?"

"Allen in yet?"

Harry shook his head, then remembered that Mike wouldn't be able to see it. "Sorry. Not yet. You sick or something?"

Mike laughed a little, though the sound was more sarcastic than humorous. "You could say that. I tripped over one of Ashley's toys this morning and broke my bloody arm."

Harry grimaced, "Urg. I'll let Allen and the guys know you won't be in today."

"No, no. I'll be by, probably around three or four."

"You know, Mike, I somehow doubt you'll be getting much done if your arm's broken."

"I know. However, I still want everyone to sign my cast." There was a sigh. "And give Allen a bit of time to yell at me properly. You can't yell at someone properly over the phone."

"Too true." Harry chuckled. "See you later, then."


The call ended just as Allen walked in. "If that was Davies, did you tell him the Olds won't be ready for another three or four days? That damn filter is on back-order again..."

"No, it wasn't Davies. It was Mike. Wanted to let you know he probably won't be in today until afternoon. He said three or four."

Allen stowed his lunch in the small refrigerator in the corner of the office. "Did he mention why?"

Harry nodded, "Yeah. He managed to trip over one of his daughter's toys and broke his arm."

Sighing, Allen let out a mirthless chuckle, "I always did suspect that small children were hazardous to one's health." Harry snorted in reply, before getting started on his work for the day.

When Mike showed up that afternoon, he told Allen that his doctor had told him he wasn't to work until the cast came off. Allen groaned at the revelation. "Six to eight weeks? You did this on purpose, didn't you? You know the summer months are our busiest!"

Mike grinned at his boss, Harry had the random thought At least we know his painkillers are working properly. Mike spoke up before Harry could descend into the laughter he so wanted to, "Look on the bright side: We may be busier in the summer, but very little of it's body work. It's mainly tune-ups for folks going on vacation. It's not like winter, when every other car needs some sort of ding or dent patched up. I'm sure Harry'll be able to handle most everything. If there's something major, call me in and I'll personally supervise him. This just means that you need to hire a temp worker to fill in on office-duty until I can come back."

Allen conceded Mike's point, acknowledging it as a good idea, and placed an advertisement in the paper the following morning.

Harry's seventeenth birthday fell on a Thursday. This was good, because the shop closed early on Thursdays and Sundays. Of course, Vernon didn't know this. Petunia might have known, but if she did, she didn't say anything. As Mike wasn't working anyway, he set up reservations at a local pizza parlor for a party that afternoon. The guys from the shop knew Harry had never had a birthday party before and were determined to give him an afternoon to remember.

Oblivious to the planning around him, Harry went about his birthday just as he had in the past. He stayed up until midnight and wished himself a happy birthday with the comforting thought Only 365 more days until I can leave this place forever. He then fell asleep. He awoke that morning at seven o'clock, and went through his normal morning routine of a shower, shave, and getting dressed for the day. At seven-thirty, he started breakfast. The cooking food roused the rest of the household. By eight-fifteen, Vernon and Dudley had finished their meals and left for the drill company where Vernon had been promoted to senior vice-president and subsequently secured a summer internship for Dudley, further proving Harry's long-held belief that nepotism was the only way his cousin would ever be employed.

Once they had left, Harry finished cleaning up the breakfast dishes. He hurried back upstairs and grabbed his coverall for work. Poking his head into the lounge on his way out the door, he told his aunt, "I'm not sure what time I'll be back this evening, aunt. We've been a bit busy since one of the guys broke his arm. If it's not too late, I'll make sure to mow the lawn tonight. If it is, I'll do so tomorrow morning." Harry had a vague notion to spend the afternoon at the library or to maybe go see a movie. Petunia just nodded to show she had heard Harry, not even bothering looking up from her crossword puzzle.

A half-hour walk later, Harry arrived at the shop, where he was greeted with a pair of cheerful 'Happy Birthday's' from Nigel and Tim. Harry smiled, "Thanks, guys. Where's Allen?"

Nigel shrugged, "In the office, I'd imagine. Oh, by the way, old Mrs. Figg left you a fifty-pound tip for the work you did on her old beater."

Tim let out a low whistle, "Christ, Harry, what did you do to earn a fifty-quid tip?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively at Harry, but Harry interrupted him before he could voice whatever filthy joke he'd intended.

"Don't even think it, Tim! She used to babysit me when I was little. She probably realized by birthday was coming up; or - and this is more likely - she mis-read the note and thought it was a five." Harry frowned, "In fact, I should stop by and ask her about it this afternoon after work."

Tim blinked before remembering that his young friend and de facto little brother wasn't used to random displays of affection. "You don't have to do that, Harry. I asked her about it when she was in yesterday, and you were right the first time. It's, and I quote, 'a birthday gift to make up for the ones I missed before.'" he pulled off a believable impression of Arabella Figg that had Harry giggling.

Harry shook his head and wandered to the office, letting his smile fade. I should still ask her about it. She couldn't possibly have meant it to be so much! Harry opened the door to let Allen know he was there. Allen was sitting at the desk, speaking to an older, haggard-looking man. "Morning, boss."

"Happy birthday, Harry." Allen greeted Harry while the teen clocked in. "This is Lupin. Today, I want you to show him what to do with the computer and how to handle the paperwork. He's your replacement until Mike gets that damn cast off."

Harry nodded, "Sure thing. I'll be out front when you're ready."

Harry had just finished booting up the computer when the door to the office opened up, "It's good to have you aboard, Mr. Lupin. Harry here will make sure you know what you need to do." Allen shook the man's hand.

Lupin smiled, "Thanks again, Mr. Kellerman. This really means a lot to me."

"Don't mention it. And call me Allen, please. We're all rather informal around here."

Lupin nodded, "Of course."

Allen looked to Harry, "He's all yours, kiddo. I'm going to be working on the Anglia if you need me." Allen disappeared into the garage, leaving his two newest employees to get to know one another.

Harry offered his hand to the newbie, "Hey. I'm Harry Potter."

The man shook Harry's hand, his amber eyes flickering to the lightning-bolt shaped scar on Harry's forehead. "Remus Lupin. Pleased to meet you."

Harry laughed. "You wouldn't happen to have a brother named Romulus, would you?"

Remus grinned, "No, sorry to disappoint. I was an only child."

"Well, shall we get to work?" Harry gestured to the computer.

"After you, mon ami."

"You're lucky we've been slow this week; there isn't that much paperwork to catch up on." Harry proceeded to show Remus his job duties.

At one o'clock, while Allen closed up the shop and Tim and Nigel took off, Harry turned off the computer. "And that's about all there is to it."

Remus chuckled. "Doesn't seem too difficult."

"It isn't." Allen said, putting the keys to the shop back in their hiding spot - a fake brick in the back wall of the building. "Harry?"


"The guys and me are all meeting up over at Carrington's for dinner tonight. You want to come? You, too, Remus."

"Eh, why not?" Harry shrugged, "What time?"


Harry grinned, "I'll be there."

"And you, Remus?"

Remus nodded, "As I've nothing better to do, I may as well."

"See you there, then." Allen paused by his car. "Either of you need a ride anywhere?"

Harry shook his head as Remus replied, "No. Thank you, anyway, though. It's too nice a day not to take advantage of it."

"Alright. See you at Carrington's." Allen got into his car and pulled away.

Remus turned to Harry after checking his watch. "It looks like we've a few hours to kill."

"Seems so."

"Though it's been a while since I've been through these parts, I seem to recall a quiet little pub down the street. Care to see if it's still there?"

Why is this always happening to me? I mean, I know I'm a bit smaller than average, but why do men feel the need to hit on me all the time? Harry coughed to clear his throat, "Remus, I'm flattered, really, but you're not my type."

It took a moment for Harry's comment to sink in, but once it processed, Remus was overcome with howls of laughter. Once the laughter had calmed - which took a good few minutes - he looked up at Harry. Harry was standing a few meters down the sidewalk with his arms crossed over his chest and glaring at him. "Morgana's bootlaces, Harry! I haven't laughed like that in years!"

"Glad I could amuse," Harry dryly replied. "I take it I took your offer in a way it was not intended?"

Remus snorted and squashed the urge to break into laughter again. "Obviously. I just thought we could sit and chat for a bit, as neither of us has much else to do... At least, I assume not?"

Harry shook his head. "No. Pardon the assumption, it's just that some of the older guys in the area have been a bit off the mark about me. I apologize."

Remus waived his hand. "Don't worry about it. Quite a few people in the past have assumed similarly about myself."

"I guess that explains the laughter. I can see how it would be amusing, in an ironic sort of way."

"Of course. Shall we to the pub and a pint or two?"

"Lead onward."

Ensconced in a corner booth at O'Malley's Pub, Remus and Harry sat chatting over a couple of beers. Once Remus thought Harry'd had enough to listen to him - about two and a half pints - and he'd had enough to be willing to talk about what he had privately dubbed 'the topic of doom' - likewise about three pints - he took a deep breath and caught Harry's eye. Surprisingly, Harry, though slightly tipsy, managed to pick up on his companion's suddenly serious manner. "Harry, I did have an ulterior motive in talking with you today..." He trailed off, unsure, exactly, as to how to explain what he needed to, without alienating the teen before him.

He took a deep breath, deciding that the best way forward was the Gryffindor one. "I knew your parents, Harry, and I've been recruited - for lack of a better term - to bring you information about your inheritance."

Harry blinked, stunned. He shook his head, as if to clear it, once the information processed. "Inheritance? You're joking. My aunt and uncle may not be the best of people, but if I had an inheritance coming to me, I'm sure they would have mentioned something by now. Either that, or found a way to get it for themselves."

Remus shook his head, "Ah, but you're assuming that they knew about it, or even wanted anything to do with it if they did know."

Harry quirked an eyebrow. "How could they not know? And I doubt there's anything money-related that the Dursleys wouldn't want to be a part of."

"Money is only a small portion of it, Harry."

"But property, stocks, interests, and the like can all be sold, so just lump that all under 'money,' okay?"

"No, Harry, well..." Remus sighed, "there are some properties involved, but that's not what I'm talking about. There are some things that just can't be sold."

Harry snorted, "Almost anything can be sold, Remus. Just about the only thing that can't are hereditary titles of nobility - and I'm sure Petunia would have mentioned if I was set to inherit something like that."

Remus took a drink of his larger. "I'm beginning to see that I'm approaching this from the wrong angle. Let me try a different route. What do you remember about your eleventh birthday?"

Harry shrugged, "Not much. Why?"

"Humor me."

Harry drained his glass and cast his mind back over the years. "I remember that Uncle Vernon had been acting really odd all week and we ended up spending a couple of days away from the house. It all started because of some silly prank - Dudley had sent me a letter. But on my birthday, Vernon was fine. We came back to Privit Drive and life returned to normal."

Remus scrubbed a hand over his face. This wasn't turning out at all like he'd hoped. "You don't remember Hagrid?" He chuckled a little, "I always thought he was rather a memorable bloke. How many men are that size and wander around wearing moleskin coats?"

A wisp of a memory tickled the back of Harry's mind. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of the Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts... Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry... Yer a wizard... He's not to go to that horrid place... We can't force 'em ter let yeh go... Harry jumped when Remus shook his shoulder. "Harry?"

Harry's eyes were rather glassy. "I thought it was a dream. I mean, Aunt Petunia said-"

"And that, dear Harry, is the heart of the matter."

Harry squeezed his eyes shut. "So it all comes down to my relatives." He scoffed and met Remus' gaze. "Why am I not surprised?"

Remus smiled, "Well, I've got good news, then. First things first, though, among our kind, you're a legal adult as of today. You don't have to go back to them if you don't want to."

Harry broke into a grin, "Really? Excellent. A full year ahead of schedule. You mentioned an inheritance?" Remus nodded. "Good. I assume there's a house in those properties you mentioned, as well as cash?"

Remus chuckled again, "Yes and yes."

A thought suddenly occurred to Harry. He looked at Remus suspiciously, his grin fading. "I trust you can prove you are who, and more importantly what, you claim?"

"Of course." He glanced at his wristwatch. "However, it is getting a bit late; we told your boss we would meet up with him. We can continue this conversation afterwards."

Harry shook his head. "Not likely. I've some things to do this evening back at the house. I need to get that out of the way first."

Remus finished off his own beer. "I know your - and I use the term loosely - family wouldn't be too happy to see me; I also realize it would be difficult for you to sneak out; therefore, I propose something of a compromise. Do you have your own room at the Dursleys'?"

Harry nodded, "Yeah. It's the smaller of the two bedrooms that face the front of the house. It's the upper left window, if you're looking at the house from the street. Should I make sure the window's unlocked for you?"

Remus smirked, "No need. Just be in your room at ten tonight and try not to yell if I show up suddenly."

"Will do." Harry stood up. "We should probably get going."

Remus nodded, "Of course."

They arrived at Carrington's at four-fifteen. Remus held the door for Harry, and Harry wandered into the small restaurant. His jaw dropped when he saw that his boss and coworkers had set up a little party for him. There was even a banner along one wall that read 'Happy Birthday, Harry!' Harry was a little choked up and had to clear his throat repeatedly before he could say anything. "Wow. Thanks, guys."

Mike grinned. "No problem, little brother. It was the least we could do."

Harry shook his head, "No, really, this is more than I expected."

"But no more than you deserve, kiddo." Allen grinned. "I'm glad you decided to come by. You were late enough the boys were starting to get a little worried. However, the pizza should be out, soon. You like sardines and pineapple, right?"

Harry's face screwed into an expression that clearly stated what he thought of that combination. "Don't sweat it, Harry, he's pulling your chain." Nigel grinned. "Come on, presents, pizza, beer. What more could a guy ask for?" Nigel pulled Harry to a table where three shoddily wrapped gifts surrounded a much nicer wrapped gift.

"Well, you gonna open them, or just admire them?" Tim asked.

"Here," Mike shoved his gift in front of Harry, "open mine first."

Allen waived Remus over to the table, "Come on, Lupin. Wouldn't have invited you to just stand around and watch. Pull up a chair."

Harry tore through the wrapping paper, which appeared to be the comics section of the Sunday paper. "Couldn't get Amy to wrap it for you?"

"Nah, she didn't much approve of the gift in the first place." Mike tried to hide his smirk as Harry opened the box. Harry stared for a moment at what was inside before blushing and quickly replacing the lid.

"Ah, hell, Harry. It can't be that bad!" Tim said, reaching for the box. He opened it and started laughing. "Mike? You alright in the head? Somehow I don't think Harry here will ever use a hundred-quid pass to a strip club."

Remus laughed along with everyone else. "Go on, Harry. They can't all be that bad." He pushed another of the gifts to him.

Harry read the tag. Well, he read 'To Harry, From Nigel' that was written in black magic-marker on the plain brown paper. "Somehow, I think you guys' paper got mixed up..." Nigel snickered and the other guys just looked confused for a moment. Harry tore the paper off and saw a rather intricate wooden box. The top of the box were alternating squares of a light yellow wood and a dark reddish wood. He opened it and found it was a hand-made chess set. The pieces were in the same woods as the top of the box. "Wow... Thanks, Nigel. You made this?"

Nigel nodded, "Yeah. It's the thirty-second set I've done, and I think it's the best one so far."

Harry replaced the lid-cum-playing board. "Thank you." He reached for the next present, saving the one that was obviously from Mr. and Mrs. Kellerman for last. This one was wrapped in a generic blue-and-green 'Happy Birthday' paper. It was from Tim. After the previous two presents, he couldn't even guess what might be in this one. The box was the biggest and when he opened it, he found two sketch-books of different sizes, an assortment of pencils, paint and brushes, and a small airbrush starter kit. "It's fantastic, Tim. I knew I shouldn't have let you see my projects for art class!"

"Come on, kiddo. You're good. You deserve better than that cheap stuff they use at the public schools. There's a gift-voucher in there for canvasses from that art-supply store over on Pinecrest. It should be taped to the inside cover of the smaller sketchbook." Tim waived a waiter over to refill his mug.

Harry carefully sat the box of supplies aside and grinned as Allen pushed the final present across the table. It was wrapped up in dark green paper, tied with a gold bow. The box was the smallest, only a few inches to either side. "This one's from all of us, Harry." Harry missed the questioning glance that Nigel shot to Allen.

Harry tore the paper off and opened the box. A key-ring with three keys on it fell into his hand. He looked up at Allen. "Keys?"

Allen grinned, "Observant as ever, Harry. Look closer."

Harry examined the keys more closely. There were two that were obviously car keys, and one that looked like a house key. He blinked when he recognized the car keys. "You don't mean..."

Allen shrugged, "Viridian's up and running. All she needs now is some body work, electrical tweaking, and a coat of paint."

"But I can't possibly -"

"Yes, you can, Harry. You've done more work on that truck than the rest of us combined. I had Nigel pick it up from a junkyard for next to nothing. She's yours, now. I do expect you to continue working on her until she's in showroom condition, though." His smile grew broader.

"What's the other key, then? It's not a car key."

"Simple, really. I talked it over with Jennifer, and if you ever need it, we've got a spare room for you. I know you want to get out of the Dursleys' place. Frankly, I don't blame you."

Harry swallowed thickly, "Thank you, Mr. Kellerman, it's really nice of you and Mrs. Kellerman, but it's too much, really."

"Nonsense! Harry, you're a good kid. You shouldn't listen to what those creatures you live with tell you. I know your aunt is all caught up in 'what the neighbors think,' well... I've half a mind to go over there today and tell her. You don't realize it, Harry, but the Dursleys are almost universally despised by everyone in the neighborhood. It's only been some fast money on your uncle's part that's kept your cousin out of jail. People aren't blind and they need to realize that. We can all see that you're a great kid, but they treat you like dirt. Half the neighborhood would take you in in a heartbeat, if you'd let them."

Harry coughed, "I really don't know what to say..."

"Thanks is always nice," Tim said.

Harry chuckled, "Yeah, thanks." He met Allen's gaze. "You really didn't have to."

"We wanted to."

After the party drew to a close, Harry returned to the Dursley residence. It was still relatively early, only seven, so Harry set about mowing the grass. He also weeded the flowerbeds in the back of the house and made sure that the hedges didn't need trimming. He collapsed on his bed in Dudley's second bedroom just as the last light of the day faded from the sky. His thoughts kept running around themselves, chasing each other. He had a lot to take in; from Remus' conversation that afternoon to the unexpected gift from his boss. He hadn't realized he'd fallen asleep until a hand shook him awake. He blearily opened his eyes to see Remus standing beside his bed. A glance at his clock showed that it was ten. "Sorry to wake you, Harry, but we really do need to finish up our chat from earlier this afternoon."

"Shh! They'll hear you!" Harry whispered.

Remus smiled and shouted, "NO, THEY WON'T!"

Harry jumped at the sudden noise, but when Vernon's distinctive footfalls didn't start towards his room, he relaxed. He noticed his glasses were rather blurry and took them off to polish clean on his blanket. "How's that?"

"Silencing charm." Remus explained, "Magic's rather useful for things like that." He smiled and pulled the rickety wooden chair up next to Harry's bed from it's position by the desk.

"I don't mean to sound rude, but could I get a more... obvious demonstration?"

"Of course." Remus pulled his wand out and pointed it at Harry. "Occulus reparo." Harry jumped again as the large quantity of tape holding his glasses together disappeared, revealing the thick, plastic frames to be completely unmarked. Remus then stood and repeated the reparo charm on the desk chair and grabbed a pencil from said desk. The pencil morphed into a serving tray and Remus sat it on the bed, next to Harry, before conjuring two cups of tea and a porcelain tea pot. "Do you take sugar, lemon, cream, or honey?" Harry just shook his head. "Enough demonstrating?"

"Yes." Harry reached for one of the cups, as did Remus. "I can do that?"

"After some training, you should be able to do that and a whole lot more."

"My parents could do what you just did?"

Remus chuckled, "Yes, Harry."

"So, this is what you meant when you said some things that are inherited can't be sold..."

"Precisely. While we're on the topic of money, though, I do have some paperwork you'll have to sign. Like I said before, legal age for a wizard is seventeen, and we do need to get through most of this before midnight."

"Why midnight?" Harry asked as Remus dug into a satchel he'd brought with him that Harry was just now noticing.

"Because... Well, to be quite frank, no one from the wizarding world has been able to confirm your existence for the last six years. We've only had vague information from Albus Dumbledore that you were still alive and well. Nothing that would hold up in a court, so-to-speak. Since that last contact anyone had with you was on your eleventh birthday, there are laws that state you can be declared legally dead after six years. If that were to happen, all the properties and money your parents left you would become government property. Hence, why I was sent to locate you."

Harry shook his head. "How could they declare me dead? I'm rather alive at the moment."

"It has to do with what I said about no one having seen you in six years. When your aunt kept you from going to school at Hogwarts, there were repercussions. Look, I'll go into more detail about the how's and why's later. What you need to do is read through this and make sure you sign everywhere it says to." He handed Harry a pile of parchment scrolls. "Don't worry about the legal jargon too much right now. Just scan through them. If you hurry, we should have just enough time."

Harry shrugged. He trusted Remus, now that he'd proved he was what he claimed. He reached for the first scroll and started unrolling it. "Will I get copies of all of this?"

Remus nodded, "These are your copies. Once signed, duplicates will appear in the proper places in the government, as well as at Gringots."


"The wizard bank."

"Oh." Harry turned his attention to the scroll before him. He reached the first place his signature was needed, "Pen?" Remus handed him a fountain pen. Harry dutifully signed his name. A few moments later, he signed it again. And again. One-by-one, the parchment scrolls were signed, flashed gold to indicate the copies had been delivered to their proper locations, and set aside. Harry's hand was cramping as he signed the last scroll. It flashed and he set it aside, massaging his wrist. "Is that all?" He'd kept count. He had signed his name five hundred, eighty three times.

"Yes, Harry, that's all of them. Just in time, too," Remus said, indicating the clock. It now read five minutes until midnight.

"Fantastic." Harry yawned.

"Looks like the rest of our discussion can wait until the morning, Harry. Sleep well."

"See you tomorrow, Remus."

Remus nodded and took down the silencing charm just before apparating away. Harry barely noticed; he set the alarm for the next morning and was asleep before his head hit the rather lumpy pillow.

A/N2: I know I have a boatload of unfinished fics to work on, but most of them I know the ending to, I just haven't had the time to write the ends yet. This one crept up on me and even I don't know precisely where it will go. I just have a general idea as to some of the things I want to include. If any of you would like to contribute anything, let me know. If your idea gets used, I'll mention who sent the idea and what the idea was in the AN of the chapter it's included in.

Remember to let me know what you think, in any case.