Disclaimer: I don't own anything of Harry Potter.
Note: Thanks for the reviews. I am glad that you liked the last chapter so much, I know that there may have been some overlap in chapters and I apologize for that. I have just been so busy lately with my new job, the master I have applied for and have been accepted to that these details slip through. Since then I have moved to a new country and I am currently typing this in my own apartment. Bear with me cause the next few months are going to be busy cause I will be starting my master program. Anyway let's begin.
Rubeus Hagrid liked his job as a groundkeeper at Hogwarts. Hogwarts was the only home he had known and he liked doing his job that made a difference. He liked his job anyway. He liked being outside and interacting with the students. He cared very little for how they regarded them. He knew that they assumed he was stupid because he was a groundkeeper and had been kicked out of Hogwarts. However they did not know the real story behind it and he preferred to keep it that way.
His time at Hogwarts had been one of the best times in his life but he preferred not to think of that dark time when he was kicked out. His wand had been snapped and it had felt as a part of himself had died. He had been lucky that Professor Dumbledore had argued with the Headmaster and offered him a job and a place to stay. He would not have liked to imagine his life if Professor Dumbledore had not done that. He may have ended up in Azkaban.
But he hadn't and it wouldn't do to dwell on it. He was here and he had build a good life for himself. He was at a place which he loved, had a decent job that took him outside most of the time and he had made friends with most of the staff members. True they did not visit him often and he was not often in the castle because most of his duties did not take him into the castle but there were times during the term when he visited the Professors, such as Minerva, the Headmaster or any of the other Professors. However it was not all that many times that people visited him so therefore he was pleasantly surprised when he noticed Professor McGonagall and the new defense Professor Remus Lupin walking towards his cabin.
He grinned and opened the door, calling out "Hello, care for a cuppa?"
Professor McGonagall looked grim but Lupin's lips twitched into a smile. He glanced at the other Professor before nodding, in what almost seemed relief.
"I suppose tea would be a good idea to have with this discussion." Hagrid frowned but stepped back to invite them in. He walked to the kitchen to fill the kettle before he put it over the fire. He would need to build the fire again. He glanced over at his pink umbrella but he could not in good conscious do it with the Professors here.
"Shall I get the fire?" The young Professor asked and Hagrid nodded. Magic was easier but he had paid his price for it. He had learned to do things in a different way as well and that was not all that wrong.
"So, Professor, back for more mischief?" He grinned at the other man and Lupin had the good grace to blush. He glanced back at Professor McGonagall and she shook her head and snorted.
"I fully blame you, Black and Potter for giving me all these grey hairs."
"I am sure that it is not entirely our fault, Minerva. Surely there were some other students who had something to do with this."
"You were certainly the worst."
"One can argue that…."
"Was there one week or even one day which one of you did not spend in detention?" Hagrid sat back and enjoyed the bickering between them. He had always enjoyed that and it felt good to hear it, to be a part of it.
"Well if you are using this as the basis for your opinion then I cannot fault your reasoning. However I still argue that there are worst students out there but I think that we may need to agree to disagree on this. However we were never expelled from Hogwarts." Hagrid nearly poured the hot water from the kettle over his hands as he poured the tea.
"That was not a very smooth transgression, Mr Lupin. I believe that we shall have to work on your skills whenever you are discussing a topic. However you did get us to the point rather quickly and for that I would almost give Gryffindor points."
Hagrid passed the tea around and sat down, letting his own mug cool off as he spoke. "Guess I know the nature of the visit now… And here I thought ya'll came for chatting."
"We are sorry, Hagrid, we would have come for a visit if the situation was not so dire. I am not sure if you have heard of the latest events regarding Professor Quirell?"
"I believe that the whole school knows what happened during the duel with Professor Snape. Is he alright?"
Professor McGonagall shared a look with Lupin and answered. "As far as we know yes he is. However he has decided, that for the time being, it is safer that he is away from Hogwarts with Harry. In the mean time we have captured Professor Quirell and he is being kept in a magical induced coma due to safety concerns…"
The Professors shared another look and then Lupin said. "We may as well be truthful with him if we expect him to be of help to us. I find that being truthful and honest is the quickest approach. Quirell is not alone. He is sharing his body with the spirit of Voldemort. Severus touched him after the duel and found this out the hard way. We are keeping him in statis so that Voldemort cannot escape and cannot use Quirell as a means of transportation to find and kill Harry. But we are kind of stuck. We can't keep him at Hogwarts where he is now and we need to find a place to keep him long term. Now in our research we have come across the Chamber of Secrets, however the location and the way to open it are in fact, well, secret. Now we do know that during your time at Hogwarts the Chamber was rumored to have been opened and that this was the reason you were expelled. So yeah, it is the reason why we are here."
"Aragog had nothing to with the Chamber!" Hagrid had not forgotten how he had been framed by that Tom Riddle. He was quite sure that the nasty man had been behind the attacks on the muggleborn students at the time. It hadn't hurt so much that he had been expelled from Hogwarts but what had hurt more was that people thought he had been capable of hurting innocent people because of his mother's nature.
"Aragog?" Hagrid flushed at the look on Professor McGonagall's face, despite being older then her she still made him feel as a first year student.
"It was my pet acromantula during my years at Hogwarts. I gave it a name and raised it from the time it arrived. I hid it in a cupboard…"
"But surely not that is not the rumored monster that lives in the Chamber?" Lupin leaned forward and Hagrid shook his head.
"No, I mean I am sure that the Chamber has been opened before and students were attacked. Besides Aragog would never hurt anyone living at the castle. Besides most victims of the monster were found to be turned to stone and while Aragog can do a lot, he can't do that…"
"No, I would not think so. But how many victims were there?"
"Oh, now don't go and ask difficult questions. I don't know but I am sure that Professor Dumbledore can help you. He was teaching the Transfiguration class during that time. However I do know that after that girl was killed in the girl's bathroom Hogwarts was going to be closed until he turned me in."
"Who is he?"
"Tom Riddle…He was always at Hogwarts because he had no home….So I guess he would not benefit from Hogwarts closing. "
"You said Tom Riddle?" Both Lupin and Professor McGonagall leaned forward. Hagrid could not read the look on their faces but he nodded, taking a sip of his cooling tea he said.
"Yeah, he was a Slytherin prefect during my third year. He always watched me. That bloke was creepy. He had a special relationship with Headmaster Dippet. He was different when he was in front of a Professor. He almost appeared as though he was a…I don't know how you call them, oh yeah now I remember, an actor."
"Or you mean like he had a secret identity?"
"Yeah exactly. I am sure that he is responsible for opening the Chamber."
"It would fit right into the alley of something Lord Voldemort would do. Why not experiment on students by opening an age old Chamber and releasing on students before you try to take over the Wizarding World." Remus finished his tea and he sat the mug down hard. The man actually growled before he got up to pace and continued.
"But where is the entrance to this thing? It must be near where this girl was killed. Monsters are rare but they cannot walk about unseen through Hogwarts, especially through the girl bathroom. It is a particular place for a killing. But who could it be and where?"
"Well such a violent death could possible lead to a person being stuck as a ghost, unable to move on, however it is rare that this happens. Perhaps Albus knows more about this. However I do think that we need something stronger then tea, Hagrid, if you would be so kind." Professor McGonagall looked grim as she took sat her tea mug down.
Hagrid grinned and said. "Course, Professor, I have just the stuff." He went to one of his cupboard and took out a bottle of Ogden Firewiskey. He had been saving this bottle for a special occasion or for when he needed it. This sounded like the perfect occasion.
He uncorked it and poured each of them a generous two fingers. Professor McGonagall toasted them and took a sip, her face pinched as the stuff burned its way down her throat. Hagrid could almost imagine the burn, especially when he took his own sip. He grimaced before setting the mug down. He held out the mug to the still pacing Lupin but the other man was muttering to himself, lost in thought.
"Remus, please sit down. You are driving me mad watching you pace like this." Professor McGonagall put her empty mug down and Hagrid wordlessly filled it. The alcohol had put two spots of color in the elderly witch's cheek. He wondered what kind of days she had been having if she drank the stuff down this quickly. To make conversation he asked.
"How is young Harry doing?"
"As far as we know he seems to be doing well. He is at a secure location together with Severus so I suppose that it counts for something. However we are unsure of how he is really doing with all of this. A lot has changed for him in the past few months and he must be feeling overwhelmed."
"Yes, I am sure he is. I told him that he was always welcome for a visit. But I do think that Professor Snape is an excellent candidate for a guardian for Harry. He may not be willing to admit it but he is just what Harry needs and that goes the other way as well."
"Don't let Severus hear you say that. He will deny it with the last breath in his body. Though anyone who sees how he fights for Harry will know the difference. But then again Severus always has been a very private man. I think Harry would benefit most from that alone…"
"Yeah, if I know Harry Potter he does not like being in the spotlight. Why can't they just leave the boy alone…" Hagrid knew that Harry was famous, who wouldn't be after killing the Dark Lord when they were just a baby but really, Harry Potter was an 11 year old wizard who just wanted to make friends and live a normal life, well as normal life was going to get when going to a wizarding school in order learn magic.
"The wizarding world has always been fascinated with people who can do the impossible and they need their little celebrities, and Harry was responsible for the disappearance of one of the darkest wizards of all time. It is no wonder that they are so obsessed with him. The public is keen to know what else Mr Potter is capable of.
"Well I understand if you can't say where Professor Snape and Harry are right now, Professor but if they need help all they have to say is the word. I got some contacts out there on the content that are more then happy to help out." Hagrid poured them each the last of the Olgen. The bottle was gone but it was for a good cause. Lupin was still pacing and had not even touched his mug. Hagrid was contemplating dividing it between Professor McGonagall and himself when Lupin turned with a shout, seized the cup, drained it and said.
"I got it! And this stuff burns.
"By Merlin, man", spit it out!"
"It it is Moaning Murtle. She was the one who got killed."
Arthur knew better then to floo directly into one's house, it was not proper manners so instead he placed a floo call to Lucius' office. He was not sure if the man was in or away on business but he had to try. What he had discovered, he needed to share it as soon as possible.
"Lucius?" He called out.
The footsteps that came his way made him realize that Lucius was in fact in. The man crouched down in front of him a moment later as he said. "Arthur, what is the matter?"
"We need to call everyone in here because I have discovered the identity of the person who has laid a claim against Severus' guardianship."
"And pray tell, who is this person?"
"I would rather tell it to everyone at once but since you asked it is our beloved Minister for Magic. Could you go and collect Severus and Narcissa? I shall go and fetch Molly and Professor McGonagall if they are available. Can we make use of your library again?"
Lucius swore, for a moment not the composed gentleman that he usually appeared as. Arthur understood how he felt however, it was something that he had done when he had learned the identity of the one who was behind this. Lucius ran a hand through his hair and took a second to compose himself as he turned away and said.
"Yes of course. However if I may be so bold, perhaps I should prepare an owl to send to my lawyer on the continent in case we need legal advice. I have studied law myself but not nearly enough in this subject to help us through this particular situation."
"It would be a good idea to draft the letter before we send it out. Yes, I do think that you are correct in this assumption. I shall firecall Minerva and Remus to see if they are available. Shall we meet back here in about an hour?"
"Yes, that sounds like an excellent plan. I will make certain that the wards will let you through." And with a last nod, Arthur his head out of the floo. He glanced around at his office and quickly found a piece of parchment on which he wrote that he was out of the office before flooing home. It was easier to fire call Hogwarts away from the Ministry. He was never sure if his fire calls were monitored and there was no reason why he would need to contact a Hogwarts Professor?
The floo journey home was uneventful but Molly immediately came out of the kitchen. His wife wrung his hands as she asked. "Arthur! You are home early, is something wrong?"
"No, Molly, everything is as well as can be expected. However if you are not busy I would ask you to accompany me to the Malfoy Manor."
"The Malfoy Manor, whatever for? I know that we are working together with them to protect Harry and Severus but honestly there is no reason to suddenly be friends with them."
"Oh, it is not for any friendship kind of reasons. I may have told you that there was claim laid against Severus' guardianship of Harry and I did some digging and I found out the identity. But I would prefer to have this conversation with everyone involved without repeating myself a few times." He smiled at Molly's eye roll and leaned in to give her a kiss.
"I am your wife!" Molly put her hands on her hips and glared at him.
Arthur laughed and said. "I know, darling but it is easier if everyone gets angry all at once. Prepare yourself while I floo call Minerva and ask if she can join us."
However when he floo'd Minerva's office there was no one there to answer. He frowned, it was around lunchtime and normally he caught her at her office but apparently she had other business to attend to. It must have to do with Quirrelmort and while Arthur agreed that it was an important matter he preferred to keep everyone in the loop. However they each had their task to protect Harry so he would do his. In the meantime he would send a letter after they had all come together. He glanced at Molly and said.
And at his wife's nod they floo'd to Malfoy Manor
"Severus?" Severus glanced up from the book he had been pretending to read in the library at Lucius' voice. He was bored and frustrated, unable to focus. During the term he would have killed for a moment to simply think and read however after a few days of being in Lucius' home and he was bored, Merlin forbid.
Harry it seemed was not bored because he was happy enough to explore the Manor grounds. The grounds were well guarded and protected and since Severus intended to give Harry a lesson later this afternoon it was in his interest to let him release some pent up energy. It made for an easier to handle ward and hopefully a less then frustrated Severus.
"Arthur asked for a meeting. He found out the identity of the person who has made the claim for Harry's guardianship." Now that peaked Severus interests. He closed the book and rose to his feet.
"And he wishes to discuss this now? He is quick to discover that. That man must have friends in amazing places." He gestured to Lucius to proceed him. He had wondered who had laid a claim against his guardianship of Harry. Not everyone could just do such a thing. He may not know a lot about this sort of thing but surely not everyone could apply for guardianship. In fact, he was not even sure if he would be a suitable guardian.
I may not be the most suitable guardian for Harry but I am a better guardian than anyone else. I know him and I have been in a similar situation so I know how to deal with him. Plus I can offer him the protection necessary from the Dark Lord. If I have learned anything from my days as a Death Eater it is how to keep one away from the Dark Lord.
However that was a discussion for another day. He would not hesitate to take Harry and leave the country, formal guardianship be damned, if the situation demanded it. However if he would like to have a shot at a future then he needed to make the proper formal arrangements and that meant seeing it through to the end, including the hearing.
Severus entered the library and frowned at seeing both Molly and Arthur Weasley. This many Gryffindors gathered in one room usually did not mean anything well for Slytherins. However it was distributed pretty evenly with Lucius and Narcissa present.
He nodded at Arthur and Molly and took his seat next to Narcissa.
"I am sure that you have recovered?" Molly smiled at him.
"Yes, sleep and some proper food goes a long way."
"And how is Harry doing?"
"Harry is as well as can be expected at this moment. He is as energetic as a teenager can be. He misses his friends though but that cannot be helped at the moment. However I do not believe that we have all been called together to discuss Harry?" He accepted the cup of coffee Narcissa poured him.
Arthur cleared his throat and said. "Well Harry is part of it but we are not here to discuss Harry per se, more so that it relates to him. I have been doing some digging in whoever laid put in a request for guardianship of Harry and it yielded some interesting and unusual results I should say."
Severus frowned but he forced himself to be patient as Arthur took a sip of his tea. There was no point in rushing the other man.
"I started out by tracking down the application itself. Everyone has a right to see a copy of the application the moment it is send it. The name on the application was that of Sirius Black…"
"Black?" Severus spat. He nearly trembled with rage as he growled. "That mutt promised that he had no interest in becoming Harry's guardian. If he thinks that I am going to willingly put Harry in the paws of a man who spend the past 12 years in Azkaban and who has not matured ever since then he has truly gone insane…."
He would have continued if Arthur had not held up his hand and said. "Severus, please, allow me to continue before you get angry. Trust me, you have every right except you are angry at the wrong person. My first thought was the same as yours so I went to Azkaban to confront Sirius. He told me a very interesting tale about a particular visit he had from our beloved Minister for Magic."
That broke through the red haze of fury that had nearly overcome Severus. He had been plotting to kill the mutt in different ways but he frowned and focused on Arthur's words.
"And pray tell, what was discussed during that visit?" Lucius nearly purred. If Severus had not known the other man so well he would not have caught the steel in the cultured voice.
Arthur sighed and ran a hand through his hair before he set his cup down. He leaned forward and said. "Nothing we are going to like very much. Fudge came because of the fact that Peter Pettigrew was discovered which means that Fudge is in part responsible for sending an innocent man to Azkaban without a trial. Now I can think on how that is going to reflect on him the moment the general public finds out. So therefore he visited Sirius to do damage control. He made Sirius an offer because he knew that he was Harry's godfather to apply for guardianship. Sirius turned it down. He is brighter then you give him credit for and he knows that there is a high chance he may be released from Azkaban, he is not what Harry needs in a guardian. However, apparently Fudge went behind his back and put in a request for guardianship of Harry in Sirius' name since only one with a lot of political power can make such a request in the name of one who is incarcerated. So if it is granted then Fudge will have full access to Harry because it could be months for the trial to take place to decide if Sirius is released or not. And all this time Fudge can do whatever he wants with Harry, including taking him out of Hogwarts and placing him at another school."
There was silence when Arthur finished talking because honestly, what was there to say? The picture the other man described was one that could very likely happen. How was he going to proof that he was the best choice of a guardian for Harry?
Fudge had the full disposal of the Ministry behind him while Severus stood alone, he was a known Death Eater who had turned spy and a thoroughly unpleasant man. How was he going to proof that he knew what was best for Harry and that he could provide for his ward.
"Fudge is not doing this out of the goodness of his heart. He is only doing this so he can say that he is the guardian of the famous Harry Potter. He does not care for Harry and he certainly does not know what a boy needs let alone one who has been through what Harry has been through." There was such venom in Molly's voice that Severus was reminded of how protective she was of those she called her own. Apparently Harry and I have been included in her bunch of children as well.
Normally that would bother him more but he knew he needed every help he could get. His temper was already flaring and he growled.
"Oh he will not get away with this! That man is unfit to take care of a plant, let alone an 11 year boy with severe abandonment issues who has been abused by his relatives. I struggle with Harry and I know what he is going through." He rose to his feet, ready to storm to the Ministry, demand entrance and show Fudge what he thought of his ridiculous idea.
However before he could even so much as take a step Lucius rose to his feet in a swirl of his robe and said. "Sit down and calm down…"
"Do not tell me to calm down, Lucius!" Severus snapped. His temper was frayed thin and he was ready to blast anyone."
"Storming over there is not going to help your case, my friend. Take a deep breath and try to think rationally, no matter how hard it is right now. Here have another cup of coffee. I have already send a message to my lawyer on the continent for advice on the situation. Hopefully we shall have an answer soon on how to legally play this. We will have to proof that Fudge would not be a suitable guardian for Harry, no matter the situation and that Severus would be. Which I am sure is doable."
"I am a Death Eater, Lucius, one who turned spy and who teaches Potions at Hogwarts and uses fear as a teaching tool! I am not know for my sunny character." Severus bit out. He drained his cup. It had helped some.
Lucius laughed and said. "Oh we all know that. But it is not your past or your sunny character here that we need but this is about what is best for Harry and that my friend is you. We all know that you are highly suitable as a guardian. Not only because you have been in a similar situation as Harry but also because you are able to protect Harry to any of the dangers will he face. Fudge does not understand that. If the past has taught us anything it is that Fudge is a coward who would rather stick his head in the sand then take action. And you are not like that! Therefore you are already a better suitable guardian."
"Perhaps it would be wise to take a small break? Why don't you take a walk, Severus and see about Harry? I think tempers are frayed for each of us." Narcissa did not betray any emotion but one could see the fury behind her cool appearance. Feeling like he was being dismissed as a child, Severus instead took a deep breath and nodded. Yes it would be good to see about Harry.
The Malfoys sure have a big garden. It is no wonder that Draco was always bragging about it at Hogwarts.
The thought caused Harry to sigh as he stretched out on the bench he had been sitting on. Even Malfoy's company sounded good right about now. Merlin, he was bored as in like really bored. The Professor had promised him a lesson this afternoon and even that sounded good.
He perked right up when he noticed the Professor calling his name and walking towards him. He grinned and bounded up towards his guardian.
"Hello, Severus, is it time for our lesson?"
"I cannot believe that you are actually asking me this but no not yet. I merely stepped out from a meeting I have been having with some people."
"Like who?" Harry was practically bouncing on his feet and Snape rolled his eyes.
"You are very curious for a child, have you never heard that curiosity killed the cat? Perhaps I should ask you to run a lap since you seem to have so much energy." Snape did not seem so irritable though so Harry merely grinned.
"I'll promise to behave myself if you simply tell me."
"Fine, Mr and Mrs Weasley are here. There happy now?"
"But why are they here?" Harry frowned. It didn't make any sense. Mr Weasley surely had to be at his job for the Ministry or whatever it was that he worked. And Mrs Weasley had things to do as well, like take care of Ron's sister and whatever it was that she did during the day.
He glanced up at Severus to see the older man's face was a mask. He had never been able to read the Professor but in the past few weeks as he had spent more time with the man and had gotten to know him he had learned to see the little signs that the Professor was unable to hide. Like when the man glanced away briefly before he said.
"We are discussing the situation with the Dark Lord…"
"That is not all is there?" He didn't like it when people lied to him. Snape had never lied to him.
"It is not something that you need to concern yourself with, Harry."
"But it is for my own safety then why shouldn't I concern myself with it as you said…" Harry ground out. He hated being kept in the dark, literally and figuratively. His eyes narrowed into a glare at the Professor as he said. "You promised never to lie to me…"
"I do not recall ever making that particular promise, Harry." The Professor put on his Potions Master's voice. The one that was silky and dangerous and would have made any first year shake in his trousers but Harry was his ward. He wasn't so easily scared by the man. He refused to be scared of his ward.
For years he had been scared of Dudley and uncle Vernon but not anymore. He would not settle for being afraid of his guardian.
"Fine, perhaps you didn't promise per se but please, can you please tell me?"
"I really do not see any reason why you would need to know. We are very capable of protecting you, Harry and there is no reason for you to do anything else but follow my orders when I tell you something."
"But you would always explain why? It makes it easier to follow your orders as you say if I do know the reason behind it." Harry sighed and stared up at his guardian. He hoped he was persuading the Professor. He glanced down at the floor.
The Potions Master's sigh ruffled his hair and the man finally said, placing a hand on Harry's arm. "Why is it that you must always choose the moments to be wise that I cannot use. Fine, I will explain what is going on. You would hear about it anyway soon enough. Come along." Snape pulled him to a bench in the sunshine where they sat down. Harry's stomach sank. He had a feeling that he was not going to like this.
Snape ran a hand through his long hair as he glanced out across the yard. Harry swung his legs and waited. He knew better then to rush the Professor.
"As you may be aware I have applied to be your guardianship. Before one is granted guardianship there is a probation period if you wish of about two months. Within those two months one who can proof that the guardian is unsuitable can lay a claim against the guardian and a hearing is called into place. A few days ago I received a letter saying that there is a claim laid against me. The hearing will be in a few weeks. "Snape paused and Harry's heart sank.
His fingers clenched in the Professor's robes as he said. "But I don't want anyone else as my guardian. I want you! You have been good to me and I love you…"
Snape ran a hand over Harry's head as he said. "Breath, Potter! Let us not get ahead of ourselves. Now calm down…"
"But what if I lose you?"
"Then we shall deal with that when the time comes. But you will not get rid of me that easily…"
"But who would lay a claim against you?" Harry forced himself to take a breath. He didn't want to lose Snape. The Professor was good to him and well maybe not kind he was quite sure that the Professor loved him, in his own way.
Why does it always have to be like this? I just found a family, a family of my own, someone I don't have to share who can take care of me and somebody is trying to take it away from me.
"It appears that the Minister for Magic has taken a sudden interest in your wellbeing and he wishes to secure the guardianship for you for your godfather."
Harry's mind was spinning with information. Why would Fudge of all people be trying to become his guardian? He had never met the man and certainly had no desire to be living with the Minister for Magic. That man sounded boring. No he would rather be with his Professor and live a life at Hogwarts.
"And that is the only thing you are keeping from me? I mean but why would he want to be my guardian? He doesn't even know me."
"It is not about being your guardian, Harry. It is about the power that comes with that. Fudge would like to be in charge of the one who defeated the Dark Lord and…"
"But he isn't dead."
"Yes, well Fudge does not quite believe in that. He is a man who prefers peace then combat and he will do anything to protect that peace. And I mean anything. Even apply for guardianship in the name of your godfather."
"But my godfather is in Azkaban. He can't properly take care of me." Harry rose to his feet and paced the length in front of the bench. He could not sit still.
"True. Even out of Azkaban it would be a bad idea. Besides the fact that your godfather is unable and an unfit guardian this hearing will most likely be attended publically, which means that any followers of Quirrelmort will know to target you."
"Does he still have followers? After all these years?" Harry was glad that Snape was being honest with him but perhaps he would rather not know what was going to happen. What was that saying again, ignorance was bliss?
"Harry, calm down! Whatever is going to happen, we will deal with it, together! The Dark Lord may still have followers but you have people who protect you! I will take care of you and I will protect you" Harry embraced his guardian as if holding on for dear life. The Professor's arms closed around him a moment later and Harry heard the man's voice rumble through his chest. "Nobody is going to take you away from me without a fight. This is my promise to you! And it can be one that you may remember forever, regardless if I am to be your guardian to you or not, I will always be there for you!"
And despite Harry's fear the promise of the Professor did manage to ease his worry a little bit, his Professor would not give up on him without a fight.
Vernon had been having a good day. His day had started out well when the newspaper was on time, Petunia had cooked him an excellent breakfast, that dratted freak was still out of the house and everything was just normal. He had thoroughly enjoyed going out for his normal bacon and egg roll, perhaps even sharing some jokes with his colleagues before heading home to a home cooked meal by Petunia. It should have been a perfect normal day.
However until that one phone call. The phone call he had never and should never have received. The phone call that put him on his way home as soon as possible.
His assistant Nancy had said that he had an urgent call from his wife. Normally Petunia never called him, therefore it was surprising that she did so now. However this was a phone call that he had to take. He had stormed out of the office a moment later and was in his car, breathless as he pulled away from his parking spot.
That damned boy is still trying to punish us. We fed him, clothed him and gave him a roof over his head. If he were here now I would…
Okay let's calm down, Vernon, there is no reason. We haven't done anything wrong and the police will see that it is a mistake instead.
He forced himself to breath evenly and pay attention on the road. He needed to get home first before he could do anything else. He pulled into his street a few minutes later and parked in the drive way. Getting out of the car he straightened his tie and clothing and then took a deep breath before he walked towards his house. He pretended that he was not in a hurry even when he noticed the police car in front of his house.
The neighbors were already watching and he was not going to provide them with any further gossip by hurrying home. No instead he waved and nodded before he opened the door and called out. "Petunia, I am home."
His wife came to him quickly as he closed the door behind himself. She was anxiously wringing her hands as she hissed. "It is that boy. He has done this! I thought that we got rid of him once he was off to that school and we could finally live our lives in peace. If he thinks that he is welcome here then he is wrong…"
"Hush, we can always deal with that later. Now what exactly did the police say?"
"Mr Dursley, is that you? Would you mind coming in here?" The door was opened by a woman. She didn't smile at his greeting but merely extended her hand and said. "My name is Carolyn Smith and I am the liaison for the police with child services. I am here because we have been contacted by someone about the treatment concerning your nephew. Your wife mentioned that she would call you and I am glad that you could come her on such a short notice."
"And you have a permit to search the property?" He drew himself up to his full height. The woman merely regarded him coolly and said.
"Why? Would I need one?" She shot back and held the door open before she said. "It is just a chat, Mr Dursley. However if you refuse to speak to me, and you have that right then I will have the police arrest you on suspicion of abuse."
Vernon nearly sputtered and growled. "We have never abused the boy…."
"We shall see about that." She merely said. Vernon's temper rose but he forced himself to remain polite and calm. Only the boy had managed to get under his skin so much but he could never handle being accused of something he knew he had never done.
He turned to Petunia and said. "Would you be so kind to bring us all some coffee, my dear while I entertain your guests?"
He patted her hand and then went inside. Mrs Smith was seated in a chair while the two policemen stood in the corner. They glanced at him but otherwise made no movement towards him. They merely returned his nod and Vernon sat down in his favorite chair. He felt out of his debt and he didn't like feeling like this, not in his own home.
"So where shall we begin?" He fixed a smile on his face that he was quite sure looked fake but he didn't care. He wasn't here to make nice with the police but to get the truth across.
Mrs Smith shuffled some papers that were on her lap and said. "Perhaps we can wait for your wife. It is easier for me to do the questioning in one regard then it is to do the both of you. The police officers will act as witnesses. Vernon grit his teeth but he forced himself to breath and be calm. He had clients who were determined to get under his skin. He refused to give them the satisfaction and apparently this woman did not know who she was dealing with, well if she thought that he could be so easily scared then she had another thing coming.
They sat in a tense silence until Petunia returned with a tray filled with coffee cups, sugar and milk. She put the tray down and passed the coffee around before sitting down in the chair next to Vernon. Vernon bit back a smile when he noticed that Petunia had not put out any biscuits. These people didn't biscuits as far as he was concerned and he was glad that his wife agreed.
"Thank you for the coffee, Mrs Dursley." Mrs Smith began before she put her cup down on the coaster that Petunia had put down on the table. His wife hated when there were scratches on the table. "Now, we have received an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen that your nephew who lived with you has been abused and we always take these mentions seriously and follow up on them. Therefore I have prepared some questions for you that I would like honest answers to. If I suspect that you are lying I will take you into custody for child abuse. I am going to record this session."
She put a recording device on the table after speaking into it. Vernon leaned forward and said.
"I want it put on the record that I have never abused my nephew. He is a troubled child who has acted out on many occasions and who does not abide by any rules that we have set before him. The boy does not have any regards for authority…." He was just gathering steam when Mrs Smith coldly interrupted him and said.
"Just answer the questions, Mr Dursley." Vernon fell silent, fuming.
"You were the home address of one Mr Harry James Potter, the son of your sister Lily Potter and James Potter who died in a car crash on the 31st of October 1981. Your nephew came to live with you on the first of November 1981?"
"Yes, that is correct."
"Did you receive money from the council to take care of your nephew?" Vernon glanced at Petunia. She was responsible for keeping details on the money that came in and went out and she would know the answer to this question. She pushed her lips together and said.
"Yes, we did. I used it to give the boy clothing and feed him."
"So the account that we received that the boy was obviously malnourished are not true then?"
"And from who did you receive this account if I may ask?"
They had certainly never taken the boy to a doctor. Why would they?
"From Dr Poppy Pomfrey. She is a school nurse at the school Mr Potter attends and during the physical exam that is required she found that he was underweight for his age and had some growth problems that can only be contributed to not receiving the proper nourishment when he was growing up. There were also signs of old bruising and broken bones that did not heal properly, not to mention the state of Mr Potter's appearance and his glasses which were hanging together with tape."
"Well, teenage boys grow so fast that it is hard to feed two very hungry boys plenty to keep energized and happy. Plus as mentioned before Harry got into a lot of fights and his glasses were damaged now and again. We do not have the money to keep repairing his glasses or getting new ones…"
"No, but you will let him do chores that he should not be performing such as cooking and cleaning for your entire household from the age that the boy was four years old?"
"And who told you that?" Vernon knew that this was a mistake when he uttered the phrase. He could almost see how the police officers started as he rose to his feet to tower over the other woman. He sat back down and merely said. "That was obviously a false account…"
"I do not think so, Mr Dursley. Have you ever seen the need to disciple Mr Potter for any misbehavior?"
"No more so then any other child."
"So you deny any claims that the boy could not walk on occasion after you were done with disciplining him?"
"Yes!" His temper was close to a boiling point and he snapped out. "I have only seen the need to raise my hand to the child when he disobeyed my orders or refused to listen."
"Plus whenever Harry was mean to my other son Dudley." Petunia added. She reached out to touch his hand and Vernon knew it was to calm him down. His temper was still simmering but he took a deep breath and forced himself not to blurt anything out.
Mrs Smith didn't say anything but she wrote something down and then said. "I would like to see Mr Potter's bedroom." Vernon nearly swore. He was glad that they had moved the boy when those dratted letters kept coming.
"Yes that is agreeable." Petunia smiled tensely and rose to her feet. Vernon decided to follow them. They had not managed to get a decent bed for the brat since the letters had kept arriving. He wanted to make an excuse when the door to Dudley's second bedroom was opened.
We can say that we were remodeling the room but….
"So this is Mr Potter's bedroom?" He could almost hear the disbelieve in Mrs Smith's voice. Vernon didn't step into the room but he smiled at her as she came out of the room and he said.
"Yes, we were just waiting for his new bed to arrive. He outgrew the old one and we already sold the other one….sadly our money does not grow our trees…." He joked and smiled at her but the look she gave him could have frozen the artic as she said.
"You fully expect me to believe that you do not have the money to provide your nephew with a proper bed but he does have all of these expensive toys?"
"Those toys are not his! They are for Dudley! That freak is not allowed to touch them." Vernon grabbed Petunia's arm as he smiled at the blond woman and said.
"I am sorry, my wife suffers from anxiety and a lot of stress can bring these on. Have you taken your medication yet, my dear?"
"No, I believe that for the first time your wife is speaking the truth." She snapped, not believing a word he was saying. "Show me his real bedroom."
Petunia pulled herself away from Vernon and hissed. "You want to see where we let that unwanted burden sleep! Then come along and I'll show you. I told that man that we didn't want anything to do with my sister's family. She married that freak and got herself killed, why should we have to care for her offspring? My life was perfect before that brat came along. I had a perfect husband and an absolutely sweet child. He ruined it all. Why should we be responsible for clothing and feeding him? I thought that we were rid of people like her the moment that she left for her that school but no, the moment she needs something is the moment that she thinks of me but I am not even worth a Christmas card…."
The moment that Petunia opened the door to the closet under the stairs was the moment that Vernon knew it was all over. The police officers appeared the moment Mrs Smith spoke the words. "Mr and Mrs Dursley, I am arresting you both for suspicion of abuse on your nephew Harry Potter."
And Vernon knew that sometimes Karma was real and it was a bitch.
I hope you liked it. That is it for now. So that was a long chapter to make up for the lack of updates. I don't know when is the next time I'll be able to update since I am starting my master degree but hopefully soon. So bear with me, review of course.
In the next chapter: Remus and Minerva go to visit Moaning Myrtle to ask her about her death and may finally get a breakthrough in the whereabouts of the Chamber of Secrets. With the guardianship hearing moving closer and closer, Lucius and Severus are moving on with a plan as Narcissa comes up with an unusual backup plan. The hearing causes Severus to reach out to ask a favor of an Albus Dumbledore. Can Dumbledore for once do the right thing and not manipulate the situation to his own advantage. That and more in the next chapter.