by Herman Tumbleweed
Disclaimer: Ain't mine, all I own is a ten year old truck Just in case you didn't already know, this world belongs to the amazing and marvelously magnanimous Joanne K Rowling. I'm just borrowing her characters and situations to have a little fun with them. I promise to return them in reasonably good condition and not to use this to make any money whatsoever, not that I make any in any other way either, but hey a guy needs a hobby no matter how broke he is.
READERS PLEASE NOTE: This work of fanfiction is primarily a PARODY of the work of many other fanfic authors whom I admire greatly and whom have given their permission to be spoofed at bit. I intend to tell a good and fun story while using PARODY to have a little fun at the expense of some friends and colleagues. Please keep in mind the word PARODY if you think some things in this farce seem over the top. THEY ARE INTENDED TO BE!
Dudley Dursley would never be accused of being the sharpest tool in the shed, or the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, or any of those other clichéd methods of describing dim-witted cruel arseholes… er, those of less than stellar academic standing with slightly sadistic tendencies. Fortunately for Dudley, he didn't know this. However he did know he was a spoiled, self-indulging, self-centred, mean prat; well, except for the prat part which was a subjective label and didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.
There were a few things the fat, er… portly and well muscled that is, young man was quite good at. He had no idea you could never make a living playing Mega Mutilation Part IV, or Extreme World Domination, or even by memorizing How to Charm the Knickers Off Any Woman from Wild Whanger Publishing Ltd. He also didn't know the odds against him becoming the world heavy-weight boxing champion, but these were concerns which didn't really penetrate his conscious thoughts. He'd managed to keep good enough marks in school and score well enough on his GCSE's last year to continue. Naturally Dudley had not achieved any of this on his own, but rather through an ingenious combination of intimidation, bribery, bullying, and outright cheating; most of which he'd learned of on the internet. No, Dudley wasn't exactly scholar material, but he was rather good with computers, the internet, and bullying. And he had a plan. In his opinion that more than made up for any of his other, er, difficulties.
Now this was a plan by which he could spend the rest of his days in hedonistic glory, and never have to worry about getting his pig-like… er, that is, handsome, round face bashed unrecognizable becoming a boxing champ. He'd conceived of said plan in its initial forms shortly after his freak cousin had gotten him mixed up with those Dementoid thingies two summers before. And it had then come into full bloom in his mind last summer when that barmy old codger had accused him of being more abused than The Freak. Subsequently, The Plan had been altered, revised, changed, researched, changed again, further researched, altered further, and finally approved in a board meeting consisting of he and his Honeys, all forty-three of them, who adorned the walls of his room both at home and at Smeltings. He carefully moved them each time he came home or went back to school. They had all, naturally, agreed with Chairman Dudley. But then, being nude centrefolds, they seldom said much anyway.
Yep, Dudley had The Plan and it was currently encrypted on the hard drive of the laptop computer he'd badgered, er, convinced his father to buy him for last Christmas. He'd booby trapped the hard drive of said laptop to self-erase if his encrypted files were ever compromised by someone attempting access without the proper codes. He'd scanned countless nerd websites and found how to do this; it was perfect, his plan was perfect, he was perfect, or he would be when he charmed the knickers off sweet, gorgeous, sexy Betty Forseburg down on Magnolia Crescent after his plan was complete. Then he would be a man in every sense of the word, and life would be good. First, of course, he needed to complete The Plan. And he believed that The Plan could then be sold on the internet for big bucks.
So now Dudley was all set. He had the means, he had a window of opportunity, he had plenty of motivation, and he had The Plan. Said motivation had numerous zeros attached to the end of it. In his father's desk, in a drawer with a very poor lock which he'd found how to pick on the internet, was all the interesting paperwork which detailed all those really, really good reasons. The day was at hand. He had the bag all packed, he had the implement purloined from his father's closet, he had his visitor all set and primed, and he had The Plan memorized, his lines learned, and his act perfected. All that was required now was the star of the show. Sitting in his bedroom as he once more blasted alien star ships to oblivion, his face held an evil smirk, and as a part of his mind dwelt on the coming evening he gave forth a truly evil cackle of glee. "The Plan Is At Hand" was his mantra as he destroyed countless more aliens. It didn't bother him in the least that this was actually rather poor grammar.
Harry exited through the usual column from platform nine and three quarters looking around for his relatives as he chatted with his friends, making plans for the summer. He spotted his uncle Vernon standing alone waiting impatiently for him. This was odd, since normally the whole family came along. He didn't think too much about it though, since he only had to spend about a week with the Dursleys. After that he would never have to see them again. Hermione had wanted him to formally meet her parents, so the two went and talked with them briefly. He shook hands with them and was invited to visit for as long as he'd like anytime this summer. Hermione hugged him and kissed his cheek, and only then did he approach the florid faced bully.
Harry walked up to his uncle and looked around somewhat surprised. He asked, "Where are Aunt Petunia and Dudley?"
"None of your business Boy! Get your things and let's go," Vernon ordered.
Harry felt rather than saw a small crowd move up to flank him. He could tell from Uncle Vernon's eyes that the group included at least Moody, and probably Remus as well. Harry looked over his shoulder to see pretty much the same crowd as last year moving up. He stepped back as once again, Moody, Tonks, Remus, and Arthur had a few brief words with Uncle Vernon, who assured them the boy would be well looked after. He turned puce in the process of doing so, but didn't argue with them even a bit. That seemed a tad odd to Harry, although it wasn't all that different from last year.
Harry followed Puce Face out to another new car; it looked as if Vernon's company was doing even better now. Having loaded his things in the boot, he got in the passenger seat as Vernon started the engine. They soon found their way out of London and onto the motorway toward Surrey and Little Whinging. Nary a word was said between the two in the hour it took for the drive, although Harry was surprised that his uncle didn't seem to be in a particularly bad mood. Actually the perpetually angry man was almost cheerful and strangely didn't yell at a single other motorist. Since this relatively good mood usually boded ill for Harry he looked askance at the man frequently, wondering what the git was up to. He resigned himself to some kind of evilness when they arrived home, but was consoled that it would only be a few days before he could leave. He'd certainly had it much worse in the past. Besides which, Ron and Hermione had assured him they would come and stay with him the last few days he was there. First, of course, they had to spend a few days with their families.
Uncle Vernon parked the car and got out, going directly into the house, leaving Harry to deal with his trunk and Hedwig's cage. This was normal, so he didn't even think about it. He'd asked his beloved owl to fly down this year, which she was happy to do. She was probably hunting, since she wasn't waiting outside for him. His surprise came when he struggled with his burdens through the front door only to be greeted with a very nasty sight indeed. There, ensconced happily with a highball, in her favourite spot in the lounge, was none other than 'Aunt' Marge. He blinked. Twice.
"So," she barked at him, "come to take advantage of these hardworking folks for another summer have you?"
Harry was stunned. He stood there gaping at the ugly woman who had so plagued his younger years. She looked, if possible, even more immense in girth than he recalled. Oh just what I needed, he thought, the amazing moustachioed woman, hmmm, looks bearded now too. He hadn't thought it possible to feel any worse about having to come here again. On the other hand, now he knew why his uncle had seemed almost happy on the drive down. Oh shite, he thought, after everything else in the past week, how am I going to deal with this?!
Aloud he said, "Hullo, Aunt Marge," his voice cheerful, "It's nice to see you again."
It was a total lie, but he didn't really care anymore. He just wanted to spend his week here and get the hell out. Besides, he thought, it might be interesting to play some mind games with her, Vernon, and Petunia; and Dudley of course.
"Don't take that tone with me Boy," she growled. "I'll have you whipped into shape by the time I leave; you can take that to the bank! I'll not see my dear brother and his wonderful wife cursed by your unruly behaviour! You get your stuff put in Dudley's second bedroom and drag your skinny little backside back down here. We're going to have a talk."
"Yes, ma'am," Harry said, doing his best to appear cheerful.
He was thinking, however, Now what could she possibly have to say that I'd want to listen to. This day couldn't possibly get any worse! But as he carried his stuff carefully upstairs and put it quietly in his room he got a playful smirk on his face. This might actually be fun, he thought. He opened the window but still didn't see Hedwig, so he put some owl treats out for her and filled her water dish anyway, knowing she'd be along soon.
He bounced, although quietly, back downstairs. Crossing into the lounge, he politely sat opposite the Bearded Woman and Puce Face, and smiled happily at them.
"What did you want to talk about Aunt Marge," he sounded as cheerful as possible, looking forward to messing with her less than agile mind.
"Now you listen here Boy, don't think you can fool me with that act; your uncle either for that matter. I'll have you know he told me that you are the reason your school had to let out early this year. Seems some of your instructors came to have a very serious accident and we've no doubt you were behind it. So don't get all happy to see me, you useless spawn of the devil."
Harry's smile widened; this was going to be even more fun than he thought. "You are right Aunt Marge. I suppose I should be more depressed than I am, what with the death of the Headmaster and all. But I'm just so glad to be home for three whole months, that I just can't contain the joy. Yes," he went on internally smirking at Vernon's horrified look at the three months comment, and went on in a rush, "it was highly unfortunate that my headmaster took a header off the tallest guard tower, and yes there was that one student death, and yes one of the instructors and another student did leave in rather a bit of a hurry as I chased him out the gates, but really it wasn't my fault at all. Some other students were all ganging up on me and my friends and we just couldn't have that; now could we? So see, it really wasn't my fault at all. And as for the headmaster, yes I was there but it was really that other instructor who knocked him off the tower. But that was really because of the ferret, er that's what we call one of the other students, anyway the ferret let a bunch of really bad guys in to invade the school and it was all that that caused all the problems really, and you see I was just standing there watching when it all went to hell in a hand basket. So anyway, I chased some of the bad guys after the headmaster took his header, and then some of my friends chased them too, and we kinda won, but then we had to chase the bad teacher out too, but he got away, along with the ferret. And so you see, it really wasn't my fault at all."
He beamed innocently at Marge, who was looking at him with her mouth hanging open. Since she didn't respond right away he switched his attention to Vernon who seemed to be cycling through various shades of red, purple, puce, green, white, and even a tinge of blue a couple of times. Harry was actually rather worried about him; he didn't look well at all. He waited to see what they would say, but more than a minute went by and he was still waiting.
Finally, when his patience ran out, which wasn't all that long, he asked, "Was what you wanted to talk to me about really important, or should I go see if I can help Aunt Petunia. I haven't seen her yet, and I really should give her a hug and see what I can do to help her. I know how hard she works keeping the house up and all, and that's not to mention Uncle Vernon and all he does to make sure we have food to eat and this nice house to live in. Why even Dudley does his part, I suppose. I've always had all these nice clothes to wear that don't fit him anymore." He pulled out on the sweatshirt which was so big on him it looked like it came from a tent maker, and went on, "I mean I don't think I've really shown my true appreciation in the past for my fine family, so I really, really want to do that this summer. I plan to stay home every day the whole three months and see what I can do to make the yard a real award winner, and I thought maybe I could do some painting on the sheds and such, and maybe I can help Dudley train, and I think I need to wash your car tomorrow Uncle Vernon, cause it got a bit of dust on it coming home I noticed. Oh and I can't forget to do most, if not all the housework so my dear aunt can relax for the too short time I'm home."
Harry was beginning to wonder if the Creevey brothers had died on the way home and he was channelling their spirits. "So anyway, what was it you wanted Aunt Marge? Can I get you another drink, or maybe a blanket, it is kind of cool in here. Er, maybe you'd like to have the hassock under your feet; your legs look a bit swollen so maybe you should put your feet up for a while until dinner is ready." He hurried over and moved the hassock to her, cringing inside as he lifted her feet onto it. All the while he kept up his monologue, "And you Uncle Vernon, is your chair comfortable, would you like me to get you a pillow? How about you Aunt Marge, with your feet up like that you probably need a pillow." He took a throw pillow from the end of the couch and jammed it behind her head. "Uncle Vernon, you didn't answer. Would you like me to get you a drink now, perhaps a bit of brandy? I mean, that really was a long drive for you to come all the way to London to get me and all. I really wish you didn't have to do that. Maybe when I go back to school I could just take the train from here. I checked one time and I would only have to change once to get a train into King's Cross, and it really wouldn't be all that difficult, only takes a couple hours and that way you wouldn't have to do that. And it only costs a few pounds, so if you paid me say a few pounds a week this summer for doing all that work, maybe I could save enough up to take the train, and then it wouldn't even cost you anything, and besides, if I do all that work you won't have to hire someone else to do it. So what do you think?"
It was taking an incredible amount of energy to keep this up, but the effect was well worth it. When neither of them said a single solitary word for another minute, just stared at him in utter disbelief, he decided it was time for the coup de grace. "So, I don't guess you need me for anything else, so I think I should go now and help Aunt Petunia. Can I get you anything at all? No? Well, please just shout for me if you do need something and I'll come straight away. I'll be happy to get you anything you need." And with that he bounced out of the room and hurried down the hall where he set upon his aunt.
This, he thought, could be almost as much fun, maybe more. Entering the kitchen he bounded up to his aunt, who turned with a startled look on her face. "Aunt Petunia, I missed you when you didn't come with Uncle Vernon to get me at the station. We could have had such a nice talk on the way home, but I suppose with Aunt Marge here, you needed to stay and keep her company. I just don't understand why Uncle Vernon had to come all the way up to London to get me though. I could, as I was just telling him, have just taken the train home, it really doesn't take all that long, and it's not like it costs a lot either. I think I could have scrounged up enough to do that. You should have written and told me Aunt Marge was here."
All while he was saying this he'd grabbed her and hugged her tightly, and planted a big sloppy kiss on her cheek. Now he stepped back and asked, "So what can I help with my dear aunt. I'm sure there must be so many things to do. I know how hard you work to keep up the house, so would you like me to finish dinner? Or maybe you just need me to wash up the rest of the preparation dishes, clean around a bit and dump the bin. Is there anything else I can do at all for you?" While he said this last he was running water in the sink and started washing up the few thing she'd dirtied in making dinner. He kept up a rapid prattle all about what he could do this summer while she sat on a chair gaping at him, for the few minutes that took, then grabbed the dust bin and went out the back, calling over his shoulder, "I'll be right back Aunt Petunia. You think of what you need me to do next while I just get rid of this, I'll wash out the bin while I'm out here, looks like it hasn't been washed since yesterday; don't want it to smell bad do we."
He hurried across the yard, knowing Petunia would be watching through the window. He whistled a happy tune he'd heard on the WWN last summer, as he dumped the bin and cleaned it. He was actually feeling rather proud of himself. So far he had cut off Marge at the knees before she could even think of starting her rant, had sidetracked Vernon so effectively it would probably take him until bed time to figure out what he'd said, and had Petunia so flummoxed she didn't even appear to have recognized him. That all made him even happier, as he grabbed a clean rag from the shed and dried the bin carefully.
Re-entering the house Harry carefully replaced the bin in its spot, putting the lid on gently so he didn't make a lot of noise. Turning to Petunia, he asked, just as bubbly as before, "So did you think of what you needed me to do next Auntie? I'm sure there must be something." He waited about a heartbeat and a half, then said, "No? Nothing to do until after dinner? Well, I suppose I should go check on Dudley, see if he needs me for anything, and if not then I should get all my things put away before dinner. Idle hands are the devil's playground and all that. Waste not want not, either, so I shan't waste any time this summer, oh did I tell you I plan to stay all three months? I think Uncle Vernon was just astounded that he'd have the pleasure of my company and me to so willingly work around the house. I did mention that I wouldn't mind a small allowance, and he seemed to think that was a good idea, that way I can pay for new trainers for myself this summer, before I go back to school, and you don't have to buy them and besides that I can take the train back to King's Cross on the First of September so I won't be a bother to you. So, I guess you don't have anything you need me for then so I'll go check on Dudders and make sure he's okay, need to make up for some of the hard times I've caused him over the years." He was already almost to the door when he turned to look fondly at his gaping aunt and said, "Please call me if there is any little thing I can do for you Aunt Petunia. I really want to help this summer."
Now it was time to go and bug his whale of a cousin, as he hurried up the hall. He could hear low voices in the living room, it seemed they had come out of their stupor, and thought he heard Marge say something about how it had to be drugs. He chuckled, let her think what she wanted; he was going to do his best to drive them all bugfuck in the few days he was here. And if anyone tried testing him for drugs, he would have the last laugh. On the other hand he did have to be careful not to wind up in the loony bin.
At the top of the stairs he turned in at the door of Dudley's room only to find it closed. He listened at the door, fairly sure what the whale was up to, and sure enough could hear a rhythmic slapping sound and his cousin's rapid breathing. Trying the handle, he was half surprised to find it unlocked, but smirked evilly enough to give Lucius Malfoy jealous fits as he eased the door open.
Sure enough there was 'Big D', he chuckled as he thought, Hmmm, maybe we should change that to little d instead, with his pants around his ankles and 'spanking the monkey' for all he was worth. Harry plastered a surprised look of chagrin on his face, and said, "Oh, sorry Dudley, I didn't realize you were busy. Can I get you anything? A towel and flannel maybe? I don't think you'd want me to help you clean yourself up, but I'd be glad to get you those things. Would you like a drink from the fridge when you're done? Or maybe you'd like some tea to help relax you. You do look awfully tense."
It was all he could do to maintain his look of surprise and helpfulness, because inside he was dieing to let escape a huge laugh at the look on the whale's face. This went well beyond shock and for a moment he wondered if the boy was about to have a heart attack. His mouth was working like a goldfish low on oxygen, his hand was stuck in the upstroke position, though it looked as if Willy was wilting, and his face was alternating between the red of embarrassment and the white of fear in knowing he'd just given his cousin ammunition to use in the neighbourhood. It was obvious he didn't know whether to shite or go blind.
Deciding to let his pig-in-a-wig cousin off the hook, Harry backed out the door for the time being. "Hey, just let me know what you need Dudley. I'll just be over in my room," he jerked his thumb over his shoulder to indicate the direction, "putting my stuff away." He smiled jovially one last time and softly closed the door, stepping across the hall into his own room. It was all he could do to hold in the laugh that was making his sides hurt until he could grab an old t-shirt out of his bureau and hold it over his mouth. Only then did he allow a highly muffled and very extended series of guffaws to escape. The whole thing had been perfect. Marge had set him up ideally and he'd managed to escalate from there. He was now poised to really enjoy the rest of his time here.
When his laughter finally subsided, he began putting his things away, being very careful not to leave anything magic related out of his trunk, except for his wand which he always kept on him. It was when he went to hide a few things under the loose floorboard beneath his bed that he got a real surprise, though. He found what looked like some kind of drugs in plastic bags there. He knew the one was marijuana, but the other was a white crystalline powder and he had no idea what it was. He hadn't been around Muggles much in a long time, so he didn't know what they were using in the drug scene these days. After a moment's thought he decided to ditch the stuff. He'd probably get a ration of crap out of the whale for doing so, but he didn't care. It looked like the slimy git had tried to set him up for something.
Checking the hallway and seeing Dud's door still closed he eased down the hall to the bathroom. Ginning fit to burst, he flushed bags and all. He flushed a second time just to make sure. Knowing he didn't want any residue on him, he washed his hands very well, even his arms up to his elbows, and flushed the toilet one more time just for good measure. He smirked at himself in the mirror and went back to his room to finish putting his things away. He'd see who had the last laugh.
The family gathered around the table and everyone ignored Harry who sat quietly and ate the small portion he was served. He was accustomed to being ignored here, preferred it in fact, so he sat quietly after he finished eating and waited to be excused. He'd had so much fun earlier, he'd decided be politely quiet all through dinner and see their reaction. Dudley ate the rather larger portions his parents gave him, though it was a much healthier meal than in the past. He was doing his best to maintain a steady weight loss, or so he claimed, although Harry could see no difference. Marge allowed as how he was looking very fit. Harry thought he still looked like a pig in a wig, or rather a hog on a log perhaps, now that he was so much bigger. He wanted to get his weight down, or so he also claimed, to fight in a lower weight class and be almost assured of winning. Marge commented that it was always best to fight a weaker opponent.
Marge made sure Harry wasn't dismissed early from the table even though he'd politely asked to be. She told Vernon she wanted the boy right there where she could keep a keen eye on him. He grinned inside, two could play that game. Meanwhile the three adults had all had a couple glasses of wine with dinner, and when everyone had finished Vernon reached back and snagged the brandy off the sideboard. As he poured generous amounts for all three, it was clear they were all well on their way to being at least mildly inebriated. Unusual as this was for Petunia, it was not totally out of the norm for her to get sloshed. Them becoming drunk was not, on the whole, a good thing, in Harry's opinion. It was what had led to his burst of accidental magic directed at Marge that other time. He was better at controlling his temper now, but it was still an iffy thing at times. He decided to plaster a small smile on his face and just stare at Mount Moustache as he'd dubbed his pseudo aunt.
Harry didn't know what the hell was going on here though. Normally Vernon wanted him to hide out in his room when Marge was visiting, especially after that disastrous episode four years ago. This time Marge, it seemed, wanted to keep him even closer than she had then, and Vernon seemed to be encouraging it. He was bored though, so he quietly started clearing the table. He really hated to give up his smile torture which was obviously making Mount Moustache nervous, but desperation calls for desperate acts.
Harry really needed to visit the loo by the time he finished clearing the table, but Dudley was taking his time in there at the moment. The hog had even politely excused himself, at which Petunia and Vernon had beamed proudly and Marge had crooned over heartily, gracing the hog with her furry smile. When he heard his cousin exit the downstairs W.C. he politely asked if he might be excused to use the facilities and Vernon waved a hand in approval. He slipped down the hall, wondering where Dudders had got to, used the toilet, and when he was finished decided he'd best go clean up the kitchen. At least he'd be away from Mount Moustache for a bit. Then he could go back to messing with their booze fogged brains. He had just started back down the hall when he heard a noise behind him and his world exploded in pain as everything faded to black.
When Harry came round, some indeterminate time later, it was to find the house crawling with police and Paramedics. He didn't know what to make of it, since he was currently being strapped onto a transport gurney and then was moved into the kitchen. A female medic shone a light in his eyes and asked several questions about the date and day and such.
She told him, "It looks like you have a mild concussion," then asked, "How do you feel?"
"Head hurts," was all he could reply.
"Any nausea, feel like vomiting?"
"No ma'am, just hurts like the devil."
"The Detective Inspectors want to speak with you before we take you to hospital, can you hold out a few minutes?"
"Yeah, I've been hurt worse than this at school; sports and the like," he added as an afterthought.
She took Harry's blood pressure, and checked his pulse and all those thing one sees these folks do on the telly, then stood back to make a brief report into her radio. "Shouldn't be much longer now, and we can get you out of here," she told him kindly. He shakily nodded his head in acknowledgement, and closed his eyes, just resting on the gurney.
He could hear voices talking in the hall, and it sounded like they were saying that all the adult Dursleys were dead and that he, Harry, was the suspect. He didn't know how they could think such a thing, but reckoned it would all be straightened out after a bit. Mostly, his head hurt and he really wished for Madame Pomfreyand some of her healing potions. Now he knew he was well immersed in the wizarding world, if he could wish to be swallowing those foul things.
Three people approached from the hallway, two men and a woman, all at least middle aged. The woman, who was rather attractive for her age, pulled a chair out from the kitchen table and sat near Harry, while the younger of the two men stood nearby with a pen and notebook at the ready. The older man stood against the wall just watching.
"Hello lad," she said in a friendly, but neutral tone. "I'm Detective Inspector Alyx Philpot, this is Detective Inspector Bob Higgins, my partner," she waved at the man behind her. Indicating the older man she added, "This is Detective Chief Inspector Jamie McGonagall." Harry looked sharply at the older man and wondered; he did seem to bear a resemblance to his transfiguration professor, though it was hard to tell through his bent glasses and a pounding headache. The lady went on though, drawing his attention back to her, "We're here to investigate what appears to be the murder of your relatives. Is there anything you'd like to tell us?"
Harry was having a little trouble focusing, mostly because of the pain, but also because of his glasses. But he valiantly tried to tell them what he could. "I…I don't know…don't know what happened." And then he bowed his head and groaned as a wave of pain washed through his head. Finally able to continue, he said, "I… my uncle picked me up at the station, in London, from the school train, and when we got home Aunt Marge, who is actually my uncle's sister and not really related to me, wanted to talk to me. I put my stuff from school in Dudley's second bedroom where I sleep now when I'm here, and came downstairs. She wanted to talk and we had a nice conversation for a few minutes. I think she was concerned that I wasn't holding up my end of things about the house and like that. I made sure she knew I planned on being very helpful this summer, my uncle too, since he was there. And then I went and helped Aunt Petunia for a bit, then went upstairs to unpack. I looked in on Dudley for a moment, but he was busy so I went on into my room to put my things away. I finished that, then Aunt Petunia called us for dinner. The adults were all getting a bit tipsy after dinner, so I cleared the table and asked permission to go to the loo. I came out and was walking back toward the kitchen, and then I guess something hit me in the head 'cause I blacked out. That's about all I remember. Well, except that Dudley had kind of disappeared, but I reckoned he was upstairs playing computer games. He does that a lot."
He'd been looking at her as best he could while he talked, but it was difficult so he didn't really try to focus on anything or anyone. He could see now, though, that she looked at the older man—Detective Chief Inspector he thought she'd said—and it looked like the man nodded at her.
"Do you mind waiting a few minutes? We'd like to have a word with your cousin before you get carted off, if you wouldn't mind."
"No, I'll be okay I guess. Like I told the medic, I've been hurt worse in sports at school."
They went down the hall and he could hear them speaking with Dudley. The hog seemed to go on for a few minutes, then answer a few questions, but he couldn't hear what was said. Then the three returned.
"Lad, I'm going to need your close attention for a moment," the lady told him. "Could you look at me?" Harry looked up, still barely able to focus. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to place you under arrest for murder," she stated. Could you tell me your full name please?"
"Har…" his voice cracked, so he cleared his throat and started over. "It's Harry James Potter." This could not really be happening to me, could it?
"Harry James PotterI arrest you on suspicion of the murders of Vernon Dursley, Petunia Dursley, Marjorie Dursley. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you fail to mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say will be given in evidence. Do you understand all of this?"
"Yes. I understand." What the fuck?
"Right, now just a couple more questions and we'll get you off to hospital. What is your age?"
"And your birth date?"
"Thirty-first July, Nineteen Eighty."
"Do you know what day it is today?"
"And the date?"
"First of June"
"Okay. That was just to confirm you are lucid. We'll send you off now." She nodded to the uniformed officer who explained he had to handcuff him to the gurney, which he promptly did. The two medics wheeled the gurney out the front door and as they passed the dining room he saw the three bloody bodies of his adult relatives still sitting in their chairs, and passing the living room he saw Dudley sitting in his dad's recliner. Then he was being carted out to the ambulance and didn't see any more of Privet Drive for a long time.
Harry was in pain, not that this was anything new for the young man. It seemed to be one of the constants in his life; that and being in deep crap on a regular basis. The policeman had taken the handcuff off his wrist while he was being examined, but stood by all the while watching. He had no idea what had happened in the house, only that somehow the adult Dursleys were all dead and he was being blamed. Well, he was used to being blamed for things he had nothing to do with, but he realized this might be a bit more serious than his normal brand of deep doo-doo. He snickered internally at the ridiculousness of that thought; talk about understatements! At least they'd taken off the handcuffs again and it was only the door to the rather barren room he was in that was locked.
Whatever happened, he had friends and that was the best thing in the world. He might have lost many of the people he was close to, but there were still others who loved him; of that he had no doubt. He'd get through this the way he got through everything else: with as much grace as possible and by sticking to his principles, his internal code of honour, which had never let him down. He just wished they'd give him something for the pain.
Finally the door was unlocked and a police officer came in and stood off to the side. He was followed by a nurse carrying a little paper cup and a plastic flask. "This will help with the pain," she said as she handed him the little cup containing two pills. She poured him some water in a plastic cup and he swallowed the pills and all the water. He still wished for some of Madame Pomfrey's foul potions, he knew they worked faster and better.
The nurse said, "That will likely make you sleepy, but at least you won't feel the pain. I'm going to take your glasses and get our optician to straighten them if he can. Is there anything else you need?"
"No ma'am," he replied. He hated being without his glasses, but handed them over to her so he'd be able to see out them eventually. He wished for Hermione and her Occulus Reparo charm right then. He really missed his friends at that moment, especially the bushy haired one and the fiery redhead who snogged so delightfully. He wondered if he'd ever see them again as he faded off to sleep.
It wasn't the first time Harry'd ever been locked up, considering the Dursleys, and certainly not the first time he'd been unfairly charged with a crime, thanks to the Ministry. It was, however, the first time he felt absolutely no hope of getting out of his predicament; there was no Dumbledore to save him now. His court-appointed solicitor had just left, and the news was not good. He'd been here in the Surrey jail nearly a week and still had no idea whatsoever what had happened that night. He suspected Dudley was behind it all, but just couldn't see his fat bully of a cousin having the balls to murder his own parents and aunt. It just didn't make any sense.
He had tried and tried to remember what had transpired that night, but all he could remember was messing with everyone's heads, having had to listen to Marge's ramblings over dinner, and watching the three adults get pissed after. Everything after that was a blank until the police officer—Detective Inspector, he corrected himself—had told him he was under arrest for their murders. . With horror, he recalled the scene in the dining room. He'd seen Dudley's look of hate as he was carted past the living room door and he was sure he remembered the hog on a log had smirked for just an instant. It was a very fleeting thing, but he was sure it had happened He remembered the ride in the ambulance and how coolly and efficiently the nurses and doctors had treated him. He recalled being brought here to the jail two days later, booked, and strip searched, that he for sure never wanted to experience again, and being told he would be held incommunicado and in solitary confinement for the time being. But for the life of him he still didn't know how the Dursleys had died.
The solicitor had promised to have more information for him on her next visit, but for now Harry was just lost. He couldn't watch telly since he was not allowed in the common areas of the jail as a solitary confinement prisoner, which was not entirely unlike living with the Dursleys. At least he had some reading material from the library cart which one of the prisoners wheeled by every day. They were mostly old novels, and he could only have two at a time, but they kept him entertained and his mind off his problems, if only temporarily. He occasionally was given a newspaper which was usually several days old and appeared to have been read many times. The worst part, though, was that he was not allowed any visitors except for his solicitor. He'd never heard of that before, but supposed it must be something to do with being charged with Premeditated Murder. That was what he was told by the solicitor, when he met her today, along with a host of other charges. He'd asked why he couldn't have any visitors and the young woman didn't know, but would try to find out.
It seemed odd to have a very attractive young woman as his legal representative, but at least she was pleasant, if somewhat harried, and seemed to be on his side. She'd asked him to tell his version of the story and he had, what there was to tell. She'd taken copious notes, told him she'd get copies of the police reports to go over with him, and that she didn't see any way of getting him freed before trial, even on bail, since he had no assets. Well, that wasn't exactly true, but he didn't think the Crown would accept galleons and he had no way of getting to Gringott's anyway. For that matter he didn't even know if he had enough Galleons to exchange for enough Pounds to make bail, even if they'd let him.
Harry was sinking ever further into despair. With the headmaster dead and him being framed for murder, he had no idea what to do. Would someone else pick up the mantle and come to his rescue? Would anyone in the ministry even care? He'd certainly not endeared himself with Minister Scrimgeour, so that avenue was most likely dead to him. He'd no idea what to do, no inkling what fate he might suffer now. He supposed that, like Sirius, he'd most likely wind up unfairly imprisoned for a long time. It wasn't a pleasant future to contemplate. And that was ignoring the fact that if he was locked up, no one was going after the horcruxes. Further, since he was prophesied to bring about the snaky git's permanent demise or die trying, there was likely no one who could now. He briefly wondered what would happen to the Wizarding world, to the whole of Britain for that matter, if nobody could stop Voldemort. It worried him a great deal, especially what would happen to his friends. He was most worried about Hermione and Ginny. They were probably, of all his friends, the most vulnerable and highest on the list to torture, rape, and kill of all the people he knew, except for maybe Ron who'd be right up there as well.
Sitting in his solitary cell the next day, Harry was trying to read a novel, but not concentrating on it as his mind kept being drawn back to his problems. Abruptly, he was informed by a gruff guard that his solicitor wanted to see him. He was taken to a private meeting room where he was seated across a grungy table from the solicitor.
"Mr. Potter, I'm afraid I have even more bad news for you," she stated flatly. "The police found both methamphetamines and marijuana on your person when you were arrested."
Harry felt the floor drop out from under him and thought he might be sick. It took him a few moments to get himself under control, at which time it all became clear to him. He knew exactly what had happened: it seemed that Dudders had bigger balls than he had thought. It was the only way any of this could have happened; the only way the drugs could have gotten there, and twice at that. Big D had finally shown his true stripes, or he was under the Imperius Curse, but he'd shown no signs of that.
"Ms. McDonnell, I know you probably hear this all the time, but I did not do this. Those drugs were not mine, and I sure as hell didn't kill anyone."
She sat back and looked sceptically at him, obviously thinking. "Mr. Potter, I want to believe you, but like you said I hear that a lot. The good news, is that they found no trace of chemicals or alcohol in your system from the blood tests." She was thoughtful for a moment. "Would you be willing to take a psychological examination? It wouldn't necessarily help you.
"I think I should think about that."
"Yes, I would advise you to think about it for a day or two. I'll be back to see you again soon. The prosecutor has your arraignment scheduled for the end of the week. I'll come and talk with you again before then at least once."
"Alright," he sighed, "I suppose I can only do what you advise. I will think about the psychological eval in the meantime. It's just that… well, I know I didn't do this, any of it, but I think I know who did."
Her eyebrows rose considerably at that statement. "Who do you think?"
"My cousin, Dudley. I don't know why he would have, but it's the only thing that makes sense to me. Is there any way you can check into that or get someone to?"
"I can't myself. As you can guess, they keep me quite busy. I will have a word with the prosecutor and try to get him to put a bug in the Detective Chief Inspector's ear. That's the best I can do."
Harry sighed deeply again. It looked like he was in another uphill battle, and he was just so tired of always having to fight. "Thank you ma'am, I guess that's the best I can ask of you."
"Harry, for what it's worth, I believe you. I will do everything I can to clear your name and free you. But I have to be honest; if your cousin set you up for this, he did a masterful job."
Harry laughed humourlessly, "Yeah, kinda looks that way. Who would have thought ol' Duddikins could have that much intelligence?"
Ms McDonnell sighed. "I have to go now, Harry. I'll see you again.
"Yeah, thanks. I really do appreciate what you are trying to do. By the way, could you get me something to read that would explain the process I'll be going through if I have to go to trial?"
"Good idea Harry. There actually are some pamphlets, but I'll try to find some books that are not too heavy on the legal jargon for you as well."
"Thanks, Ms McDonnell. Anything would help."
Over the next weeks Harry saw Ms McDonnell several times, and at her next visit was introduced to Barrister Ian Jeconais, who would be leading his defence because of the seriousness of the charges. Both were present at his arraignment hearing where he was charged with three counts of murder, three counts of use of a firearm to commit a felony, possession of controlled substances, possession of a firearm, and public endangerment. When he'd undergone the psyche eval, his social worker had been present, as well as Ms McDonnell. She returned the next week and glumly told him the results had been as she'd feared, and the psychiatrist had said he was in full control of his faculties. All in all, she told him, it didn't look good. The prosecutor had too good a case, with considerable direct evidence, and a supposedly squeaky clean eye witness.
Now Harry had been in jail for nearly seven weeks, and still he'd had no contact with anyone but Solicitor McDonnell, Barrister Jeconais, and Mrs Nonjon. Ms McDonnell and Mrs Nonjon both had told him they'd been visited a couple of times by Hermione, and one of those times Ginny had been with her. He really wished he could see them or Ron, or Remus, or even Professor McGonagall. Somehow, he knew that Scrimgeour was behind this, at least in part, because neither Ms McDonnell nor Mr Jeconais had any clue as to why he was not allowed visitors or communications. Neither had ever heard of a situation where even a murder suspect was not allowed to see anyone. They only knew that the orders had come from high up in the government and there was nothing she could do about it. Even they and Mrs Nonjon weren't allowed to bring letters to him or take his out, although the women had assured him the girls had had a stack with them when they'd visited last week. Ms McDonnell had, however, passed on a few messages from them.
She'd shaken her head, saying, "I've never known anyone to inspire such loyalty in their friends Harry. When I visited with Hermione and Ginny, they said to tell you that they love you dearly and will be waiting for you and trying to get you freed, no matter how long it takes."
He'd just smiled sadly and said, "That sounds like them. Didn't Ron come with them though?"
She'd looked grim at that and sighed like she was reluctant to say something. "I promised I would give you this message, but I'd prefer to spare you feelings. However here's what they said about your friend Ron. They said to tell you Ron is being a prat, just like during the tournament, whatever that means, but they assured me you'd know, and that he has refused to commit to believing you innocent."
Harry had grunted and frowned. That was not what he'd wanted to hear about the man he thought was his best friend.
"But," she'd continued sounding cheerful and obviously trying to cheer him up, "you shouldn't worry too much because those two girls are wholeheartedly on your side, as are a Remus Lupin and a Nymphadora Tonks. They came to see me yesterday and both offered to testify on your behalf. He told me that a Mrs. Arabella Figg also said she would do so; she was your minder when you were younger?"
"Yeah," Harry'd smiled again a bit, "she's one of a kind, Mrs. Figg. At least she could give you and the court some less biased background on me than Dudley and the neighbours will."
They'd gone on and talked a bit longer, and then just as she was leaving she added one more thing. "I almost forgot to tell you, Harry. Hermione said to tell you not to worry about Hedwig. She's taking care of her, and that she seems to miss you a lot."
"Thanks Ms McDonnell, that means a lot to me. In some ways Hedwig is my best and truest friend. She's been my pet since I was eleven and we've sort of grown up together, just like Hermione and me." He had a tear in his eye then as he thought about his feathered friend. He missed her terribly, not to mention the bushy haired brunette who was caring for her.
Ms McDonnell left then, saying, "I'll be back tomorrow".
The next day Harry, Mr Jeconais, and Ms McDonnell were once more in the grimy interview room and he was slated to go to trial the day after. Mr Jeconais told him, "It seems like the Crown has moved very fast to get you into court. It is almost unheard of for them to have gotten such a quick court date. As you know I've tried to have it held off for a bit longer, but I just couldn't really show the court a good reason to do so. I tried again this morning, but the judge wouldn't even talk to me."
"I know, sir. I guess it really doesn't matter. Better to be done with it and move on."
"Well we prefer to have a little more time for the dust to settle, so to speak, but we've just no other options now. We do have the defence witnesses who will testify on your behalf, but unfortunately they can only act as character witnesses, and just the three of them."
"That's Mrs. Figg, Hermione, and Remus, correct?"
"Yes, Miss Tonks wanted to testify also, but as she's only known you for about a year, I didn't think she would help much. Ginny wanted to but she's under sixteen and would need her parent's permission, which she said they wouldn't give for some reason."
"Yeah, there are others we could probably call, but that would have essentially the same problems. Either too young or just don't know me well enough."
"Believe me Harry, I had one of our investigators try to find someone in the area who could give some kind of damaging testimony against Dudley, but he said they all either didn't know anything, or wanted nothing to do with it.
"Dudley probably threatened them with bodily harm," snorted Harry.
"I'm afraid you may be right Harry. If there was anything else I could think of to do, I would, rest assured. However, let's move on to your testimony." They spent the next hours going over what he would say when it was his turn on the stand, and how he would answer potential questions from the prosecutor.
Harry knew that Mr Jeconais and Ms McDonnell had done their best and were being as positive as they could, but it was obvious her cheer was forced and she didn't hold out much hope for his case. His hopes weren't any better than hers.
The next five days were the absolute worst Harry had ever experienced, as the prosecutor presented a veritable mountain of evidence showing how he had obviously planned the murders, expecting to get very high afterward. They'd presented neighbours as witnesses who said how he always looked scruffy and had often damaged homes and play park equipment, all of whom claimed to have seen him do those deeds. For a motive it was proposed that he had always hated his family, which was also borne out by testimony.
And then there was the star witness, Dudley. When he got to the stand and had been given the oath to tell the truth, Harry had snorted under his breath. He knew what was coming, and wasn't disappointed, as the Hog on a Log gave a masterful performance. It started with the prosecutor simply asking Dudders to state what had happened that night. "Okay," the Hog related, "my cousin got out of school early this year. Seems they had some kind of trouble at the school and sent everyone home early. I don't know what that was about. Anyway, I just got home Wednesday myself from Smeltings, that's where I go, and my Aunt…" his voice cracked, and he blinked away some tears. "My Aunt Marge came the next day to spend a week or so with us, and…and…" he left off and put his head in his hands.
The prosecutor said in a soft voice, "Just take your time Dudley, no hurry here."
Dudley gulped and started again. "Anyway My…my dad went to pick up Harry at the train that afternoon, and they got home around five-thirty. Harry, he didn't like Aunt Marge at all. I don't know why. She was always kind and gentle, raises bulldogs you know. Anyway, as soon as he came in and saw she was there he went off on some kind of rant, like he didn't think she had a right to be there. My mother…" he choked off a sob. "My mother got him to calm down, then he put his stuff up in his room and came back down. My dad and him and Aunt Marge went in the living room to talk. I think Dad was trying to get him to be nicer to Aunt Marge. I had gone up to my room and when I came down once he was sitting there glaring at the two of them, while they pleaded with him to explain why he was so angry. Anyway, I went and got a drink and went back up to my room."
"After that it was maybe half an hour and my mum…" he choked again, "Mum, she called me for dinner. I think Harry came upstairs once before that, or at least someone did. I'm sure it was him 'cause he always walks kinda weird, like he's trying to be real tough like. But I thought it might be my dad too, 'cause it sounded like whoever it was went in my parent's room for a minute. Then I think he went in his room for a minute too, I don't really know."
"So, we had dinner then and Mum asked him to clear the table, we kind of take turns on that, and since I'd already been home a couple of days it was kind of like his turn. He got kind of huffy then but he did it anyway. I asked to be excused, since Mum…" he again choked off a sob, "and Dad, and…Aunt Marge were having a brandy and I went to the loo. It sounded like Harry went up to his room for a minute, then came right back down. I kind of had a bit of the trots, since I got home, so I was in there a while. So anyway, just as I was washing up, I heard a loud bang, and a bunch more loud bangs, then I ran out to see what was going on, and there's Harry standing in the doorway with a gun shooting…Oh God," he sobbed. It took him a minute to bring himself under control. "I'm sorry…" he sobbed again.
"That's quite alright Dudley, just take all the time you need," the prosecutor said kindly.
"Okay, so he was… he was shooting at them, and…and I ran up behind him, I don't think he heard me 'cause he was pulling the trigger as fast as he could, and I punched him in the back of the head. I think I grabbed him then to make sure he was out. He went out like a light, I'm an amateur boxer, see. So anyway, I threw him down then I went…" he gave another convincing sob and rubbed his eyes for a few seconds. "I, er, I went and looked…at…at them, and… and they… they were…Oh God, they were, they were dead," he wailed. He put his hands to his face again. After about a minute of sobbing, he went on, "Then…then I called emergency and then when the officers got there all I wanted to do was run away. But they made me stay and tell them what happened, and…and then the ambulance came and then more police came and that's about it, I guess."
The prosecutor went on to ask about how the two boys had grown up and how Harry had been treated. Dudley had lied through the whole thing, but even Harry had to admit the Hog sounded convincing. Mr Jeconais and Ms McDonnell had tried valiantly to shoot holes in their case, especially in Dudley's testimony, and at times it seemed the jury was somewhat swayed by her arguments and clever questions.
The lovely young woman with bushy brown hair who testified on his behalf was balm to his eyes and his heart, but he was given no opportunity to speak with her. He could only sit in the dock and exchange loving looks with his pretty friend. The same was true with Remus and Mrs. Figg. The gaunt man looked good, but Harry could see the hopelessness in his eyes as he too tried vainly to show Harry was a good person. Mrs. Figg was as batty as ever, but told nothing but good things about the boy she'd minded, and outright called the neighbours who testified against him liars. That outburst, unfortunately, was stricken from the record when the prosecutor vehemently objected. Tonks had sat in the gallery, tears in her eyes at the times when the worst was said about him. She hadn't testified, but she had been great moral support.
In the end it took the jury all of two and a half hours to return a verdict of guilty. As he was led from the court he looked at the sad, tear streaked faces of his four friends. He mouthed "Thanks, I love you, all of you," to them. The door closed behind him and he realized that he, too, had tears on his face. Five days later he was given life imprisonment with the possibility of parole in thirty years; ten years for each murder. However, the judge then added twenty years for the drug charges and another thirty for the firearms charges. Q.C. Jeconais had explained that on the lesser charges he'd be eligible for parole after serving half the time on each. It meant he would be eligible for parole when he was sixty-six years old, and that only if he was the most model of prisoners would he get out at that time. Remus had looked absolutely shocked, Hermione, Tonks, and dear old Mrs. Figg were sobbing out loud as he was led away. He was returned to his cell and spent a sleepless night in utter shock and disbelief.
The following morning he was given over to the custody of some men who seemed familiar, but who did not speak except to give him orders. They placed some odd looking manacles on his wrists and ankles and a belt around his waist which were all connected by chains. He could hardly raise his hands above his waist and walking was only done at a shuffle. He was then ordered into a car and they drove him to London and into an underground car park. The car drove into a lift and went down what seemed like a long way. He was taken from the car and placed in a small holding cell where his manacles were removed so he could use the toilet and sink in one corner. He cleaned himself up some and then lay on the cot wondering what would happen next. He didn't think this was the prison, so it must be a secure holding facility, he reckoned.
About an hour later a guard came and opened the cell door and pitched some scratchy grey wizard robes in to him. "Put those on and be quick about it," the man ordered while he stood in the doorway holding a wand on Harry.
Harry thought, Shite! I know where I am at least, but did as he was told. When he had the robes on, he was again bound in what he assumed were anti-apparation manacles, though this time the guard did it with a wand Two guards led him through a series of passages into a small antechamber where he was told to sit. One guard stood behind him until the door was opened from the inside by another and Harry's manacles were removed. He was escorted into a depressingly familiar chamber with seats galleried above him. He was pushed into a chair which was just as depressingly familiar only this time the chains wound around his arms legs and chest.
Looking up at the gallery he saw only four familiar faces, and they were not ones he had ever really wanted to see again. There was a panel of five people in plum coloured Wizengamot robes directly in front of him on the first level of seating, but he didn't recognize any of them. To the left of the judges, a little ways apart, sat none other than Percy Weasley who was apparently acting as court scribe again. However the sight which chilled him to the bone was the group of three people a couple of rows up behind the judges. Rufus Scrimgeour was flanked by Cornelius Fudge and Dolores Umbridge. Harry's heart sank even further, if that was possible. Had his hands been free he'd have buried his face in them; as it was, he just hung his head in defeat.
"Harry James Potter, you stand accused before the Wizengamot," intoned the centre judge and Harry raised his head to face them, "of having killed three Muggles in cold blood. How do you plead?"
"I plead not guilty," he stated, but not as defiantly as he intended. He knew he had lost before he ever walked in here.
"Mr. Potter, despite your claim of innocence you have been found guilty by a competent Muggle court and sentenced to life imprisonment, plus fifty years. This court has reviewed those findings and fully concurs with their judgment. Therefore, you are hereby sentenced to life imprisonment in Azkaban Prison plus fifty years, such sentence to begin immediately. The wizarding world does not allow prisoners to be paroled. Do you have anything further you wish to say to the court?"
Harry looked up again, but only glanced at the grim looking judges. His gaze settled on the three corrupt politicos and his eyes hardened in hate. Filled with the injustice so often heaped upon him by the Wizarding World that he'd tried to love and which had repeatedly shat on him, he merely stated flatly, "You shall pay for your crimes!" Then he spat on the floor and said in a haunting voice, "Happy seventeenth fucking birthday Harry!"
Scrimgeour reached out in front of himself and picked up a wand, which Harry instantly recognized as his own. With a look bordering on glee the man broke the wand over his knee and threw the pieces over the heads of the judges and onto the floor at Harry's feet.
His head dropped back to his chest, and he felt hands grab him as the chains loosened and withdrew. He was shackled again and dragged from the courtroom, though he saw nothing. He did not attempt to walk, making the guards half carry and half drag him along. He was taken to a windowless room and seated on a hard chair. A roll of parchment with a cord through it was hung around his neck and the shackles removed. He dimly watched a wand tap the scroll and felt the tug of a portkey whisk him away.
He landed in a heap on a stone floor and a cold voice ordered, "Git yer arse up Boy!"
Harry didn't move; there didn't seem much reason to until a boot kicked him, literally, in the arse. He slowly got to his feet, head still hanging. The scroll was taken roughly from around his neck and he heard it unrolled, followed by silence for a few moments. He assumed the person was reading the scroll.
"So, the great Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One," the voice sneered, "has come to live at our little garden spot. How nice. Look at me Boy," the voice ordered again.
Harry looked up into a cracked, lined, hard eyed face. If he thought Moody looked hard done by, this man looked, impossibly, even worse. There was absolutely no softness in his face or his eyes. He looked almost as soulless as Voldemort, but the eyes were black, though he was nearly as lipless as old snake face.
"You'll get no sympathy here; no one will coddle you the way Dumbledore did. If yer a good little boy and don't make no trouble, you'll be fed regular and have warm blankets. Once a day you get to walk the length of your corridor twice. Once a week you get a half hour outside. Be a bother and these things will be withdrawn. Understand Boy?" Harry nodded. "Speak up Boy!"
"Yes… yes sir, I understand."
"Good." Then he rattled off a list of rules which Harry only half paid attention to. The man finally wound down and added, "These gentlemen," someone snickered behind Harry, "will escort you to your new accommodations." The snickering got louder bordering on guffaws. Hands grabbed him from behind, and forced his arms back. They were roughly shackled together and he was shoved toward a door. He didn't even bother to look around what seemed to be an office, it didn't matter at all. Harry knew his life was over.
The hands roughly dragged and pushed him along on stumbling feet for what felt like miles through twisting passages and down several flights of stairs. They had to wait several times for gates to be unlocked. Finally they stopped in front of a metal door with a small, mesh covered window at eye level and a slot in the bottom. The door was unlocked and Harry, again roughly, shoved inside. His shackles were removed, and then the door slammed behind him. Harry just stood there, not knowing how to feel or what to think.
Not having anything else to do, he took stock of his surroundings. He was in a stone room roughly eight by eight feet. On one side was a cot attached to the wall with a couple of blankets and a thin pillow stacked on a thin mattress. On the opposite side was a metal toilet, with a metal sink and metal mirror next to it. There was a small towel and flannel folded on the tiny shelf above the sink. Toward the front of the cell was a small table and chair combination, all welded together and attached to the floor and wall. Above that was a small shelf on the wall, which appeared to be for books or whatnot. He turned completely around and discovered that, other than the door, that was all there was to see; not that he'd expected more, just that he had hoped for a book or something. There were three torches lighting the cell, one on each of the walls except the one with the door. They looked to be of some sort of indestructible type, like were in Hogwarts castle, and appeared to be stuck to the walls with a permanent sticking charm. They actually lighted the cell fairly well, which rather surprised him. He'd always pictured the place as being dark and dingy. He also realized it would be hard to sleep with the torches lit, which was likely the purpose.
He stepped over to the bed, and sat down. It felt just like the one in the Surrey jail so he spread out the blankets, kicked off his shoes, and lay down, there didn't seem to be anything else to do. He didn't sleep, just stretched out on his back and let his mind wander. It didn't settle on any one thing, just scanned through the images of what had happened over the past two months. He idly wondered how his friends were, what they thought about his conviction. He was sure that Remus, Tonks, Hermione, Ginny, and Mrs. Figg thought him innocent, but no one else had been there, and he didn't know why. He'd half expected a large Weasley contingent to be at the trial, or Mad Eye, or Shacklebolt, or someone. He wondered why Professor McGonagall hadn't come. Harry thought he had been largely ignored by the Wizarding World, but he was very grateful for the four of his friends who were there. It might make the next however many years bearable to recall their sad faces over the long days and nights.
It wasn't particularly cold in his cell, wasn't warm either. He was glad he had the muggle clothes on under the robes. None were all that comfortable, but at least he was reasonably warm enough. Actually, he was too warm with the blankets so he threw them off. He didn't know how long he lay there like that, but just as he was getting hungry, he heard footsteps outside and a cart being moved along and what sounded like trays being slid on the floor. Soon enough the footsteps stopped at his door and a tray of food was shoved through the slot at the bottom. He got up then and retrieved the tray, moving to the table and chair. He looked forlornly at the food. There was plenty of it, but it sure wasn't Hogwarts food. Tentatively tasting the gravy poured over some kind of meat he decided it was passable. All he had to eat with was a spoon and a fork, not even a table knife, but he managed to cut the mystery meat into small enough bites and ate his meal in a desultory manner. Again, he wasn't really thinking about anything, just chewing the meat, mashed potatoes and peas. At least it's hot, he thought idly, must be a warming charm on the tray.
There was a small bit of thick custard on one corner which he saved for last and savoured each tiny bite of. He thought of it as his birthday cake. I guess there'll be no cake from Mrs. Weasley or Hagrid this year, he thought. That further depressed him, but then he realized that he hadn't felt any dementors. Oh yeah, he reminded himself, they went walkabout with ol' snake eyes. It might be prison but at least it wouldn't be the horror it had been when Sirius was here, without the soul sucking creatures that had guarded the place for so long.
When he'd finished his dinner he pushed the tray back through the slot, then went to lie on the bed again. For a minute he pondered whether he should try to keep himself in some kind of physical condition, which he'd tried to do in his cell in Surrey. It seemed like a useless thing, but he reckoned he didn't have much else to do, so he'd take regular exercise three times a day. He didn't know how often he'd be fed, but assumed it was three times daily. He determined to exercise about an hour after meals by doing the various callisthenics he'd learned in primary school. If he was only fed twice a day, he'd work in another period, perhaps just before bedtime. Not that it mattered much just that it was something to do. He'd work out a schedule as time went on.
Then he thought, I will eventually get out of here! He was determined in that. Someone had to rid the world of snake face, and he was most likely the only one who could. One thing he'd noticed in the Wizarding World was that the majority eschewed physical fitness, relying on magic to do most things. He reasoned that someone who was in good condition might stand a better chance in an all out fight. So, he would get in the best shape he could under the circumstances, and maintain it as best he was able.
A few hours later, after he'd put his plan to work and had a nice workout with lots of jumping jacks, sit-ups, pushups, and anything else he could think of, Harry heard a loud voice. The speaker was obviously using a Sonorous charm or something similar, the way it echoed through the prison, and made some innocuous threat to be good little lads and lasses or else, and then announced lights out. The torches lighting his windowless world were extinguished. There was still a small amount of light coming in through the openings in the door so he got up and stripped down to his boxers and tee shirt, folding his clothes carefully and laying them on the table. He used the toilet, washed his face, and lay down to try to sleep. He missed his friends especially Hermione who had always been so special and good to him. And he missed Dumbledore, the barmy old grandfatherly rascal who had taught him so much.
That's when the voices started. Coming from outside in the corridor, it sounded like the other prisoners were talking to one another. He thought he heard his name a couple of times, then someone shouted, "Hey Potter, that you, the fish they brought in today?" He didn't answer. There didn't seem to be any sense to.
"Yeah," someone else yelled. "Saw the scar and everything when he went by. He don't look so cocky now as he did a year ago in the Ministry."
This was followed by raucous laughter, and then a voice he knew only too well said, mockingly, "So what did you do Potter, get one too many mutts killed? Did you cry so hard over the Mudblood lover that they had to lock you up to keep decent people safe?" It was Lucius Malfoy, and he was as arrogant as ever. He didn't know who the other voices belonged to, but they all sounded like Death Munchers and he sure as hell wasn't going to be feeding their overweening egos by answering.
From what sounded like just across the hall, he heard a whispered, strained voice ask, "Tha' choo Harry Potter? Wha'd the Ministry sen'joo here for? I thought you was suppose' be th' Chosen One." There was more raucous laughter and various insulting cat calls from both ways down the corridor. That whispered voice, though, had sounded like Stan Shunpike so Harry got up and looked out through the opening in the door. It was indeed the rather careworn looking former Knight Bus conductor looking out of the door opening across from him.
"So the bastards still got you locked in here eh Stan?" He looked sadly at the other young man.
"Yeah, I still don' know what it was I was 'sposed to've done to wind up in here. Motherfuckers won't tell me a bleedin' thing."
"Well don't feel lonesome Stan, there's others here that don't deserve to be."
"Yeah, figured 'at. 'Course they's others wha' surely deserves it, if ya know wha' I mean."
"Yeah I do Stan." This set off more loud comments from the low-lifes down the way, but Harry ignored it. "I think the Professor was trying to get you out, but Scrimgeour was adamant that he had to been 'seen to be doing something'. I wish there was something someone could do for you Stan."
There were more cat calls and whistles from the peanut gallery, but Stan said, "Thanks, 'arry. I alus knew ya was a stand-up sort. Why you 'ere fer anyway?"
"They say I killed some people, but that isn't what happened. I was set up for it, but there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it right now."
"Sucks to be you sometimes, don' it 'arry."
"Yeah, that it does Stan, that it does. 'Night Stan."
"Night 'arry. Don' pay no 'tention ta them arseholes, they jus' blowin' farts in the wind."
The Death Babblers, as he now dubbed them, continued shouting insults at him and Stan for quite a while, but Harry was able to tune them out. He'd read some books about meditation while in the Surrey jail and used some of those techniques now to find his centre and calm himself. It worked reasonably well as he lay in the semi-darkness and tried not to think about Hermione and Ginny and Ron and all the others.
Once more he had the same thought that had struck him earlier in the day. He whispered, "Happy fucking birthday Harry." Then he went into his meditative state again to block out those angry thoughts.
As he sank into his meditation, finding his centre, he could have sworn he heard phoenix song. He wondered if it was just the memory of his friend Fawkes. But then it seemed to get louder and grow in intensity. Harry's heart lifted and it beat with gladness. He knew that Stan and a few others would feel the same thing; remembered from Care of Magical Creatures class that the rest of the prisoners, the one's who'd earned their stay in Azkaban, as well as some of the guards, would feel just the opposite. To those, it would feel worse than a dementor attack; it would be like their souls were being wounded.
But Harry's soul was soaring as he sat up and listened to the most beautiful sound in the world. Then there was a flash of fire and gorgeous red and gold phoenix with a blue tinge at the tips of its feathers emerged from the flash and settled on the chair in his cell.