Disclaimer: JKR owns everything in this story except the plotline, and I'm not even sure if that's mine …
Flame Policy: (In case you haven't figured this out yet, I write these for amusement value). I have a crazed psycho killer at my house. His name is Ken. He's an assassin. I assign him targets. Enough said.
Pre-author's notes: Thanks for all the reviews! I will try to always put up a part every few days, or once a week, unless I'm really busy. If you're having trouble reading the format, you're probably using a Netscape browser. I'm saving this fic in HTML format, and since it's a Microsoft writing program, it saves in an IE-friendly format … my apologies.
MORE pre-author's notes: About the last chapter: I support Vernon's actions (as far as the gun and phone call go) this way: didn't he pull a shotgun on Hagrid? And he was really enraged by both the letter and the phone call in the second and fourth books? I just needed to add that. Thanks.
* * *Chapter 4: How It Comes Together
At the Burrow Harry was immediately descended upon by Mrs. Weasley, Ron, Fred and George, Ginny, Percy, and Hermione, all pelting him with questions. Mr. Weasley ordered calm and order, and when he finally made his wand whistle loudly and shot green sparks into the air, he got it. "It seems Harry was in quite a predicament, and the thing he needs most now is medical attention and rest!" he announced. "Molly, would you take care of him? I need to contact the Ministry immediately …" Giving Harry a final, gentle pat on the shoulder, he pushed past his family and plowed into the house.
Mrs. Weasley instantly took on a role not unlike Madame Pomfrey's, Harry couldn't help thinking as she shooed everyone off ("yes, you too, Ron, I'm sure Harry can tell you all about it in a bit") and helped Harry inside. He was grateful; the Portkey had left him vaguely disoriented, his broken arm was giving him a lot of grief, and now that the adrenaline of his predicament and rescue had worn off, he was exhausted too.
Mrs. Weasley lowered him onto a couch and gasped. "Harry! What on earth…?" She lifted her fingers to trail for a moment against Harry's cheek, tracing the fresh scar there, and shook her head at his black eye. "Why didn't you ever write and tell us?"
Harry suddenly realized that that probably would have been the best thing to do and flushed embarrassedly. "I didn't think to … I wrote to my –" he cut off; no one knew about his godfather except Ron and Hermione, and of course Dumbledore. He hastened to cover his mistake. "Well, Dumbledore seems to think that there's some kind of protection from Volde – er, You-Know-Who – at my relative's house, so I thought that as long as Uncle Vernon didn't try to kill me, I could, you know, handle it myself …"
"Oh, Harry …" Mrs. Weasley made an exasperated noise and squeezed his arm reassuringly – his broken arm. Harry cut off his cry by clenching his teeth and letting his breath out in a hiss. Mrs. Weasley jerked away. "What is it?" she cried.
"Broken arm," Harry gritted out. He couldn't blame people for not noticing right away – Dudley's clothes were so huge Harry almost drowned in them, and they concealed his arm so completely that there was no doubt it was impossible to see the damage done.
"Oh!" Mrs. Weasley looked so distraught that Harry was tempted to tell her that it wasn't so bad, he could get along with his arm broken, but of course that would have been absurd. "I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed. "Here, let me see that …" She carefully rolled up his sleeve and examined his upper arm, which had swollen considerably. "Well, no bone is visible …" She conjured up a splint that bound itself to Harry's arm; that alone was a bit of relief, and Harry said as much, but Mrs. Weasley didn't seem pleased. "That'll have to do until I find my book about healing spells again," she sighed. "In the meantime, why don't you get some sleep? Here, I'll make you a bed on the couch for the moment. Accio blanket! Accio pillow!" The fluffy pillow on the other couch and the blanket that rested on it flew into Mrs. Weasley's arms, and she pushed Harry into a supine position so she could tuck him in.
Harry, however, tired as he was, realized he had a few questions. "What's Mr. Weasley going to do about my relatives? Does Dumbledore know where I am?"
Unfortunately, Mrs. Weasley would have none of it. "Don't worry about that! Get some sleep; I'm sure Arthur will explain when you wake up." With that final word, she left the room.
Harry spent approximately thirty seconds in perplexed silence, resting his head on the pillow, before exhaustion won out over curiosity and he fell into a dreamless sleep.
* * *
Harry awoke to the pleasant aroma of hot cocoa and buttered toast. Opening his eyes, he found said meal just under his nose. He looked up to see Ron and Hermione standing over him, worry etched in their features. Neither spoke. "Hullo," Harry said, sitting up. His arm no longer hurt; he pushed up the sleeve of his shirt to see that the broken arm was completely healed. "How long have I slept?" he asked incredulously.
That seemed to break some sort of barrier between him and his friends; Ron exclaimed in an affronted voice, "How come you never wrote?" and Hermione gasped, "Oh, Harry, are you okay?"
Harry plucked the tray carrying the toast and hot cocoa out of the air (someone had used a Hovering Charm, it seemed) and placed it on his lap before launching into his story, during which Ron and Hermione listened raptly with only occasional inserted exclamations ("Well, your uncle should go to jail for that!" Hermione said hotly when Harry explained the scar on his face. "That's child abuse if I ever saw it!"). "Sorry," he apologized to Ron afterwards. "I probably should have written, but I had Hedwig busy going between Sirius and myself … which reminds me! Did you see Snuffles with us when we teleported here?"
Hermione shook her head, but Ron, who had come out sooner, nodded. "He was already darting into the bushes when we got out of the house," he said. Harry was relieved; Ministry officials would be swarming all over 4 Privet Drive by now, and Sirius definitely didn't need to be in their vicinity.
"Er … so how long I have been asleep anyway?" Harry asked.
Ron shrugged and Hermione told him, "You slept until morning. It's July 31st."
Harry decided to ask the rest of his remaining questions. "Why was Mr. Weasley calling? I thought Dumbledore was going to end up making me stay at the Dursleys until I went to Diagon Alley after all. Does he know I'm here?"
Ron opened his mouth to answer, but just then another voice said from the doorway, "Actually, yes; Dumbledore had asked me to come get you, Harry." Harry twisted on the couch to see Mr. Weasley in the doorway. He walked in and sat across from Harry on the sitting chair. Harry thought he looked harrowed and tired, and he felt a stab of guilt. He'd put everyone through a lot. "I thought I ought to give your relatives fair warning, so I tried to use a tellyhone – felephone – er …"
"Telephone," Harry filled in patiently.
"Yes, that's it. Telephone." Mr. Weasley looked delighted for a moment, but then he was sober again. "I tried to use the telephone to let your uncle know. I suppose I did something wrong; he was quite upset and hung up on me, so I decided I would just come over directly.
"Now, here's the odd part: that dog appeared almost exactly where I Apparated to, and he was quite distraught, barking furiously at me …" Mr. Weasley frowned. "And I couldn't help remembering that Molly had said something about Sirius Black being an animagus that turned into a big black dog …"
Harry remembered all too well the conversation at the end of the last school year when Sirius had transformed in front of Snape and Mrs. Weasley. He shifted uncomfortably and waited for Mr. Weasley to explain.
"Well, Ron here had explained everything about Sirius to us. I guessed the dog might be Sirius looking out for you, and I followed him up to the Dursley's door – not a moment too soon, it seems now. And of course, you know the rest, Harry." Mr. Weasley smiled again, a tired smile that reminded Harry of Dumbledore.
"What about the Dursleys? What happened to them?" asked Harry, a bit nervous. Will Dumbledore be mad if I they won't let me back next summer?
"The Accidental Magic Reversal Squad got to 4 Privet drive before those – er – please-men," said Mr. Weasley. Harry smiled, but didn't bother to remind Mr. Weasley that they were policemen. "I told them to take Vernon Dursley to inquire into his behavior, but your aunt and cousin have had their memories modified. They think your uncle is on a business trip and know that you're here already."
Harry frowned. "Why did you take Uncle Vernon? He was just beating me up because he hates me, I'd bet." Out of the corner of his eye he saw Ron nodding furiously.
Mr. Weasley shook his head. "Dumbledore thinks it's magic."
Hermione immediately gasped. "Do you think it might be the Imperius Curse?" She looked horrified; Harry remembered that the Imperius Curse had caused Victor Krum to act in unexpected ways last year. It never crossed his mind to wonder how Dumbledore knew everything that had happened to him; Dumbledore just knew things like that.
"I don't know," Mr. Weasley shook his head. "But if it's a cursed item, it'll be a load of paperwork for me …" He stood again and stretched. "Well, I've really got to get back to work. Lots more work to do with You-Know-Who back … though who knows if Fudge will ever come around to see the truth."
Harry reached out to stop him from Apparating. "Mr. Weasley! Er … thanks a lot, for saving me."
Mr. Weasley smiled again, and Ron broke in, "D'you really think we could have left you with the Dursleys? They're almost worse than You-Know-Who!"
"You're welcome, Harry," Mr. Weasley said more mildly. "See you at dinner." With that he disappeared, almost certainly to appear at work an instant later.
There was a short moment of silence as Ron, Harry, and Hermione digested the new information, before Harry suddenly decided he didn't want to think about the past month for now. "So," he asked casually, "How has your summer been?"
Instantly Hermione began to gush about Victor Krum; Ron groaned as if he had heard the story far too many times already, and Harry grinned while he munched on the last of his toast. This is the way summer should be spent, he thought, putting Uncle Vernon and Voldemort from his mind.
* * *
Author's notes: First, to Prodigy: could you give me your e-mail address? I need to justify some things with you. ^^x Thanks so much for your comments.
This chapter was a bit shorter than the last one. Erm, I apologize for the lack of action. But for the future: why on earth did Dumbledore ignore Harry for the first month of the summer? What's Sirius up to? Will Draco Malfoy ever cease being an annoying git? Stay tuned for Chapter 5: Trip to Diagon Alley, in which these questions are mused on or answered.