Disclaimer: Schwartz and Rowling are responsible for this amalgam. I just had the idea. Paraquote from episode 1.02 'The R. Kelly Trial' from The Boondocks, which is the property of Aaron McGruder and Sony Pictures, as far as I know. Lyrics are from various sources, usually music I'm listening to while writing. I didn't actually use any for this chapter, even though I'm currently listening to at least twenty bands on an Alternative Press playlist I created quite a while ago. *shrugs*
Summary: "You've got rather a lot of explaining left to do, wouldn't you say?"
Fandoms: AU post-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix/The O.C., Season One. Though I've been reading the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini and have been thinking feverishly about dragons as a result. I can't let this turn into a crossover-palooza, because that way lies madness, but the books definitely give me ideas for later stories. *nods*
Timeline: The O.C. S1, specifically after 'The Rescue'. Post-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I should specify that in order for the two lines to sync up, I moved the start of 'The O.C.' back to the beginning of the summer as opposed to near the end.
Pairings: You know, given plot developments, this may turn into a Gen!Harry fic for now. I'll just go with it.
Notes: Bah, this chapter was rather hard to write.
Warnings: Possible spoilers for the first season of 'The OC' and both Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, but since this completely departs from canon, I don't believe it's anything earth-shattering. I'm trying not to go along with loads of things that happened during 'The OC, season one' -- a whole new plot. *nods*
Part XV: Precisely Those Things that Are Worst for Them...
"Wizards." Caleb was looking back and forth between Harry and Seth now, his eyes narrowed slightly before he glanced yet again at Ryan, Kirsten, and then Sandy, the latter of whom tried to keep his face as blank as possible.
Things had been made even more awkward by Hedwig alighting on Harry's shoulder and nipping his ear affectionately. Trying not to think about how odd he might look, Harry coaxed her onto his arm so that he could stroke her feathers and smile at her. He tried to give her a look that said as clearly as he could that he missed her and thanked her for delivering his post over a distance far longer than he'd ever asked of her before. She seemed to have understood because she took off and flew back into his and Seth's bedroom, the light from the living room playing off her feathers and making her seem like she was glowing.
Or Harry had missed her more than he thought, probably both.
"Yes, Granddad," Seth said as calmly as possible yet again. "We were born that way. Our biological parents were a witch and wizard, as well. We can both do magic, though Harry's better than I am at the moment."
Caleb sighed, still seemingly unwilling to admit this wasn't a joke. "I don't know what I'm supposed to say to this."
Harry sighed in return and bit his lip. He noticed his stomach was beginning to hurt. "To be honest, sir, you were never supposed to find out. If I was still under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Magic, I'd've been brought up for violating the International Statute of Secrecy. As it is, I think this might fall under the header of 'familial disclosure'. Besides, wizards have been working feverishly to convince Muggles -- er, non-magical people are called 'Muggles' -- that wizards don't exist for centuries."
Harry exhaled slowly, again, and looked at his balled fists where they lay on his knees. "I was expecting some post and it happened to arrive while you were here. I was ordering books from several stores in the magical shopping center where Seth and I bought our schoolbooks and things, our wands and stuff. Wizards use owls to send mail and I have Hedwig. She's been my post owl since I was eleven and she's Seth's now, too. I expect she also has the replies to letters I sent friends of mine from my old school. It'd be why she had to take such a long trip back to England."
Caleb turned to look at Ryan, who cringed and shook his head. "I'm not a wizard. They call us 'Muggles', apparently. I'm a Muggle."
Caleb ran a hand over his head and narrowed his eyes at two of his grandsons. "I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to think of all this."
Harry frowned slightly, at a loss for what to say. All he could do was nod.
"Do any of your friends know about this?"
Harry laughed aloud, as did Seth, and they grinned at one another. "Um, Granddad," Seth said, holding back a smile. "I'm fairly certain that if this town had any idea we were wizards, they'd either demand we teach them how, which is impossible, or they'd burn us at the stake -- you never know with these yuppie types. Also, Harry and I would each be prosecuted for violating the International Statute of Secrecy and from what I heard about the hassle the last time Harry had to go through it, it's just not worth my time."
Caleb's eyes widened and turned to face Harry fully, "You were prosecuted for..."
Harry scowled at the memory, frowning apologetically as he stood up and removed his sandals once again before sitting back down on the beach towel draped beneath him on the couch. "Last year, I almost got grassed up -- er, well, in the magical world, I wouldn't have been sent to prison -- sorry -- but I would have had my wand snapped in half. Anyway, I got in massive trouble for protecting our cousin."
Harry ran his hands through his wet hair, gritting his teeth to stop himself rambling, "Not that my Patronus was able to keep Dudley from harm..." Harry almost began to slip away in thought, but felt Kirsten's hand alight upon his shoulder and looked up at her.
"You've got rather a lot of explaining left to do, wouldn't you say?"
Harry bit his lip, nodding. "Yeah, sorry -- there've been complications since then. Er, since we're telling you all this, you'll probably find them out. But the point is, what I did shouldn't have been a problem. I don't want any parades but I didn't deserve to be sent up in front of the High Court for something perfectly reasonable."
Harry stood, wordlessly excused himself for a moment, and dashed into his and Seth's room to throw on a t-shirt. Willing himself to tamp down and ignore the glee he felt at seeing the pile of letters on top of his packages, Harry hurried back into the living room and sat again on his towel.
"This school you attended in England -- were there other...wizards and..." Caleb's eyes widened slightly. "Witches there?"
"Yes, sir. It's called the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Seth would have gone there, too, if we'd grown up together. The most I could tell you about it is that it's a secondary school in Scotland and students who don't transfer in or out attend from the ages of eleven to seventeen or eighteen, depending on when they were born. I...thought I'd spend the whole seven years there, but the wizarding world isn't..."
Harry sighed and his shoulders sank as he lifted his eyes to look at his new grandfather, "The wizarding world simply isn't flexible or abiding in any real way. I wonder how many Muggle-born witches and wizards leave after they graduate and find a world that, by and large, thinks they and their parents are, at best, pitiable and, at worst, less useful than livestock. It's demeaning and counter-productive. It's stupid, unfounded, and ill-conceived.
"Pureblooded wizards are either patronizing and ignorant or outright dismissive and I don't want to be a part of that world right now, if ever again -- not if I don't know myself as well as I'd like. It almost feels as if they're ready and waiting to shut off any objective thinking and all they need is the go-ahead -- and I don't want to make it seem like there aren't tolerant or progressive people in the Wizarding world, but they're few and far between and the overwhelming majority simply operate in this weird limbo where it's perfectly fine not to know things."
Caleb watched Harry's hands wringing themselves without his knowledge and nodded toward them, causing him to start slightly and blush as he stopped. He tried to smile comfortingly, "You've given this a lot of thought."
Harry laughed bitterly, "I've had to, sir. I've been their scapegoat and their savior off and on for the past fourteen years. It gets old, to say the least." Harry looked up at the ceiling and leaned back on the couch, "The Harbor School might be filled with self-involved t -- " Harry grimaced and stopped himself from saying 'tits' like he really wanted. "Toadies, but at least none of them would try to kill me, to my knowledge. Try to get me to try illicit substances, possibly, but I can always just say no."
Seth and Ryan both snorted, Kirsten giggled, Caleb and Sandy chuckled.
Harry gazed cluelessly around at them, "I...said something funny."
"'Just Say No' is a very long-running anti-drug campaign," Caleb affirmed, rolling his eyes. "One I don't imagine they had in England."
Harry shook his head, now perplexed. "So...I just mentioned something you've all been seeing for ages?"
"Yep," Seth snickered, leaning back against the side of the couch where Caleb sat and looking up at his grandfather with a falsely mollifying look. "Granddad, have you given any money to the War on Drugs?"
Caleb snorted, "I make it a rule not to sink funds into futile endeavors."
Sandy coughed falsely and loudly and Kirsten elbowed him in the stomach. Caleb shot Sandy a malevolent glare but otherwise didn't respond.
"Well," he said, getting to his feet again. "I'll...have to give this a lot of thought, but you have my word I won't tell anyone. I'd hardly like to see any of my grandchildren in jail on fallacious charges."
"Thank you, sir," Harry said, standing as well and shaking Caleb's hand. "It was nice to meet you. I'm...not entirely sure what I should call you..."
"Caleb or 'Granddad', as Seth insists, is fine. The same goes for you, Ryan," Caleb nodded in Ryan's direction and received yet another in return. "I'll definitely be back tomorrow, though I'd like to talk to Kiki -- "
Kirsten managed to hold back a groan, but still flicked a cackling Sandy's nearby hand, causing him to flinch as she began to walk away toward the kitchen. "Dad. Please. Some time in the next century. Stop?"
"No," Caleb responded concisely. "I love you."
Harry felt his cheeks puff out with the effort of holding in his laughter and made a concerted effort not to look at either his brothers or his father as he retreated to his and Seth's bedroom, followed by all of them.
Seth flopped down on Harry's bed and Ryan seated himself in Seth's desk chair as Harry picked up the stack of letters first and tapped them with his wand, breaking their Sellotaped seals.
He read them all while pointedly ignoring the stares of anticipation from everyone else.
"Erm, well, from the looks of it, no one can come right away because they're rather tied up in things, but they're all happy for me -- um, Hermione and Ron are downright chuffed -- hated my uncle, imagine that...they'll try to write me again soon -- Hermione'll email me -- she doesn't use hers, really, but she'll make it a habit for me."
Harry gave the letters a smile and tucked them away in his desk. "Last year, that news would have crushed me -- and I certainly wouldn't have had anyone to share it with."
He shook his head, "But this year is brilliant beyond compare so I don't have to dwell on the disappointment."
Sandy and Seth gave Harry beaming smiles while Ryan nodded in agreement and indicated the crates still waiting to be opened. "What's all this?"
"Books I ordered from Diagon and Knockturn Alleys," Harry said with a shrug. "I need information and with the way everyone assumes that just because you have it, it'll turn you Dark there was no way I could ask anyone for what I needed to know. They'd try to talk me out of it, saying I'm too young to know anything about it, but that's my -- and yours, Sandy, and Kirsten's decision to make."
Harry sighed, trying to get his thoughts to make sense. "The only things I've ever heard about our parents were that they were the nicest people who ever lived, but I know perfectly well from first-hand observation that James Potter was not a nice person, at least for most of his Hogwarts career. He was a bullying, entitled git who made Snape's life absolute hell. Sirius, too. They delighted in his pain and it was disgusting. Snape drove my mother away, which is his fault, but nothing he did excuses what he went through -- if anything, it definitely made it worse.
"I've bought as many books on James Potter and Lily Evans as I could find, everything I could gather on anything to do with magic and souls, as well. I need to know what Voldemort was trying to do the night he tried to kill Seth and I. I mean, I was his main target but there was no way he would have left Seth alive."
Harry pointed to his scar. "I've been told this is an unusual mark, even for a magical wound. I have dreams and flashes of Voldemort's feelings. I'm a Parselmouth, as you saw in the Pensieve. I need to know why if I'm ever going to come to terms with any of it. I can't get a grip on what I don't know. Assumptions simply aren't good enough."
Sandy walked up and placed his hands on Harry's shoulders, giving them a slight squeeze. "Do your reading, write down whatever you want to talk to us about. Write questions for all of us -- there's no reason this can't be a group effort."
Harry nodded in acquiescence, comforted that his decisions weren't dismissed out of hand as he knew they would have been if he'd discussed them with anyone else.
Harry pulled his wand out of the pocket of his swim trunks and pointed it at the first crate. Using a nonverbal Diffindo, he split the wooden beams that encased his books and began to pass the books around to the others.
"As much as I'd like to, I can't read all this by myself or even understand it all yet. Besides, every time I think of plowing ahead with a huge pile of books, I keep thinking of what Hermione did to herself our third year. She was miserable with so much time on her hands -- it still wasn't enough for what she was trying to accomplish. I don't want to make that mistake, too. That and she'd probably scold me for overtaxing myself. Hypocrisy aside, of course."
He began to pass the books around one at a time until everyone had a reasonable pile before sighing and stretching, a yawn being pulled out of him before he could stop it.
Sandy lifted an eyebrow at Harry and he nodded in reluctant agreement. His post wasn't going anywhere now that it was here and he could, should start reading in the morning. He didn't bother worrying about them all jumping ahead and leaving him behind. Besides, a lot of it was simply biographical accounts of his and Seth's birth family and, hopefully, wouldn't be that difficult to piece together.
He almost scoffed at the idea, but stopped himself, knowing that assumptions would just have him borrowing trouble.
When Ryan and Sandy left, Harry proceeded to change into his pajamas and climb into bed. He intended to start reading just a little, but was asleep before he'd turned the first page.
Seth stretched and let his feet hit the floor, immediately bumping into one of the discarded envelopes Harry probably left after waking earlier in the morning. His brother was currently in the shower and Seth waited, flopping back on his bed and staring around the room.
What to do? What to do?
Seth sighed and got up, puttering around in the sunlight when his eyes alighted upon Harry's desk. Seth scoffed slightly at his brother's atrocious HP -- maybe it's his initials that drew him over to the Dark Side... computer but hesitated when his eyes landed on Harry's open notebook -- one filled with what he now knew to be parchment, one he'd most likely gotten while attending Hogwarts.
Harry had used a quill and old-fashioned ink to write
Harry James Potter
The tiers of handwriting stretched down for three straight pages. Seth wondered if Harry had slept much at all over the past few days. Sighing inwardly, Seth shook his head and tried to focus on something else, but couldn't think of anything else.
It was difficult, trying not to think of the what-ifs, how-comes, the whys and everything else that had come roaring into his life over the past few weeks. It was hard to reconcile the memories of his own boring, spoiled life here in Newport with Harry's fight just to exist under the thumb of that asshole two streets away, say nothing of any of the random death threats he'd gotten since -- ever.
It disgusted Seth, the differences between them. He wondered how Harry handled all of it.
The worst thing he'd had to deal with was idiots peeing in his shoes and tipping his books and lunch tray. Little indignities, sure -- but no one had tried to kill him.
Not yet anyway.
Seth blew out a breath and decided to postpone his shower until after breakfast. There wasn't much to do today anyway.
Caleb flipped open the newspaper the owl dropped off and stared at the moving pictures, marveling that an entire world existed that most people knew nothing about. More than one, really. He thought he'd take the boys to breakfast tomorrow -- get to know Ryan and Harry, catch up with Seth. He only had so much time, after all.