After events of the Chamber of Secrets.
Ginny is in the infirmary.
Harry freed Dobby. Then he is sent to be checked by Madam Pomfrey.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley are staying in the Hospital Wing in Hogwarts. They do not want to loose sight of Ginny. They tremble any time that they remembered all the danger she was in the last year. As the Little-Red-headed-girl is asleep Molly leaves her husband sitting beside her bed and looks for Madam Pomfrey. The nurse is in her office, she was enjoying the peace an quiet of her infirmary, now that all the petrified students were well and in their own houses. She had a cup of warm tea and was reading from a magazine. She heard the movement before the plump woman walked in.
"Something wrong Molly?" The efficient nurse was ready for action,
"No, thank you, Ginny is asleep still, I wanted to ask you about Harry, how is he?"
Pomfrey though about the only other occupant of one of her beds.
"He has a lot of scraps and bumps, but nothing serious. The worst is the basilisk's bite, but it seams to be healed completely, phoenix tears are wonderful, any way I am keeping him here just for the night, after all that he went through, I can't believe he is all right."
"I am worried about him." Poppy appeared a tea cup for her guest and Molly sat with the school nurse sipping her tea.
"Young kids, get well with enough sleep. I wont let him out of my sight until I am sure that the poison would not dissolve his body. He is well enough."
"I do not worry for his health, not now, I mean, you would see that he is sound enough before releasing him, I worry because.... I... Last summer he spent some weeks in the Burrow with us, Ron and the Twins practically broke him out of his relatives house, they said that they were starving him and had him locked up in a room with bars in the window, and were not going to allow him to come to Hogwarts any more. He never mentioned anything, poor thing, he was so happy to be with his friends, and he is always so polite, but...my mother's instinct tells me something is very wrong with that family. Haven't you noticed anything?"
The nurse shook her head, she had tended Harry from all his mishaps and may be had seen something, but she had not.
"Nothing that I can point my finger on, Molly. He had always been almost too thin, he is short for his age, and he is uncomfortable when he is injured or sick, like he wants to be left alone. And even if he is injured and hurt, he doesn't want to make a fuss. I thought it was just that he wanted to be stoic, you know that growing boys are too 'Macho", sometimes I have wondered….. I may do a history scan of his body, to determine if there are signs of mistreatment. That way we'll both be sure."
"You must know what to look for. I have talked with my husband and he agrees that we have to do something, not just now because of what he did for our girl. We have talked about his situation, if he is no well taken cared of, we can not let him continue in that situation, we know that it would be very messy if we were to go to children services, as we all know how the Ministry would respond. After all, he is "Harry Potter" But I believe that he shouldn't go back to them again."
Poppy Pomfrey knew when she had to intervene, and she shared some of Molly's worries, so she said, finishing her tea cup." I'll do the scanning and then we'll see. I'll inform you about my findings."
Professors Snape and McGonogall met at the door of the infirmary. They both had been required to meet with the school nurse. They went directly to her office and found that the small room was a little crowded. Professor Dumbledore, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Poppy were already drinking tea from a floating tray.
'Minerva, Severus, is so good that you could join us! Albus Dumbledore exclaimed with his perpetual good humor.
'We were finishing with the end of term reports Headmaster." Said Severus Snape. Once again wondering the reasons for this meeting. He hoped it would not take too long, he still had to write some comments about his students and wanted to owl them before the children arrive home for the Summer. He knew that the Nurse was the one calling for it, and she usually did not drone, she was always on the point. But the meeting was strange, why were not the other Head of Houses here? and why were the Weasley parents here also?
"Even if you cancelled the final exams, you did not cancel the paperwork Albus. We have to sent it for this year OWLS." Cooperated Minerva also surprised by the people in the meeting, was something still wrong with Ginny?
"I know, I know, You have a lot of end of term responsibilities, but Poppy has something very important to tell us. And she promised to be quick about it. Won't you Poppy?" Dumbledore was curious but his eyes twinkled merrily. Surely nothing too bad was happening.
"Of course Headmaster, we all have a busy day ahead of us"
"Well, we are here, you may proceed Madam... "Said Snape, already feeling claustrophobic between so many people in the small office.
"I want to talk to all of you because I have gathered some evidence of mistreatment of one of our students. The child has never talked about it, I just run some tests, not the routine ones, as he presented some unusual injuries, and what I found disturbs me. The child had been hurt for a long time, it is not that he had several broken bones, those injuries are minimal, and may be explained by the normal accidents of a child, his magic help in the mending. But what I found is different, there are signs of malnutrition, and beatings."
"Are you sure they are unusual?" asked Dumbledore. "Couldn't there be other explanation? Why did you run them in the first place?"
Poppy knew that she should state her case complete before informing who the child was. "An overactive child may present twisted ankles and wrists or broken bones." Explained the nurse. "I have not confronted the child in question, he may have a good explanation for them, but battered children do not talk about it. And if confronted would deny it, they believe that it was their fault or accept it as the way they live. Most of this injuries are the result of punches and strokes. Not really explainable as accidents." She started distributing some parchments. They started looking at it, "This is a detailed description of what I found. The scan that I did, is used by the Ministry, it is something like a previous incatantem in a magic wand, its magic works with the muscle and bones memory and the limbic system of the body, it shows the injuries in a chronological order, along with the age of the subject when they were received. I haven't removed the injuries sustained at Hogwarts, the child does get hurt a lot, but you may see that it looks like it started when this child was less than two years old, it got worse with the years, the worst was last summer, here are some lines that showed that he had been dehydrated in several occasions, and that his malnutrition is chronicle. This last things are quite recent, but we know that was not caused by his relatives."
All in the room fell silent.
"We should have detected it at the beginning of the year, I suppose that we have to remove him from his family." Said McGonogall.
"We have to inform the ministry, formal charges should be presented for them to allow the removal." Said Mr. Weasley.
Snape wondered again what were the Weasleys doing here. Arthur work in the Ministry but not in child services…. Unless they already knew who the child was…
"Why are we learning this now? Who is the child?" Asked Snape. He had a feeling that he knew who he was.
"Harry Potter." Said Molly Weasley quietly.
"Molly here expressed her worries because of last year happenings. And I have to share them now."
"What happenings?" Asked Snape, "The scandal with the boy arriving in a flying car? His family did not even send a note after we inform them of the trouble the child caused."
"Before that," Explained Mr. Weasley "our children used said transportation to brake him out of his relatives house. They were worried because Harry was not answering any owl, they had to pull some bars from the window in his room, with the car. He was locked up in the room and they were feeding him through a cat's flap."
"The poor child was thinner than ever. He stayed with us until the school term started, his relatives did not even look for him, or report his disappearance." Continued Molly.
"Abduction, I would call it." Said Snape.
Molly only gave him a look that make him feel like a teenager in disgrace and he closed his mouth.
"I told Poppy that we should do something before the end of the term. Arthur and I would like him to live with us. We wanted to talk to you before going to the ministry, we do not want to place the child at risk. But we do not want him in that house any more. "
"Molly and I trust that you would do the best for Harry. We could have taken him along with our children at the train station. But I told her it would create havoc if that particular child just were to disappear."
"No one said anything last summer, Arthur, even his booklist was owled to the Burrow, we would take care of him."
Having stated their argument the Weasleys sat back and allowed the teachers to arrive to a decision.
"Please Molly, there is no need to take Harry like that..!" Dumbledore said, "we will help Harry. But his relatives house is the safest place from the Magic world."
"I guess that you would be able to conjure enough wards to keep him safe Albus, those Muggles should not be allowed to have him any more. You know our son is an expert in breaking curses, he can help you to test them around our house. Harry will be well with us. We may place the demand in the Ministry today."
One of Albus Dumbledore's worst nightmares was turning real. Loosing control of the Child, the Ministry of Magic would not hesitate to remove the chilld from his muggle relatives and keeping the custody. He wanted Harry safe, but not living in the Magical world, there were still so much danger to come, and he was the only one that knew to expect it. Poppy continued.
"Albus, these are the medical records, we have to act accordingly. Child services should be involved."
"The ministry would represent a bigger danger. Fudge would want to take him. We may talk to the relatives." The solution was not to remove the child from his house he wanted to shout… "We must allow them to change their ways…"
"Anything shorter than a curse would not make them change their ways." Said McGonogall.
"You must understand I want the best for the child, I see that his relatives are a danger for him, but he needs his mother's blood protection, that is what kept him alive as a baby and also last year with Quirrell, he is an unusual child. He needs to stay within the blood wards to keep his mother's protection."
"If he needs that house in particular, I know of some ways that we could get rid of the Muggles. They would not know what hit them." The present could not be sure that Snape was joking.
"He needs the House with his relatives there." Said Dumbledore.
"I thought that that, was why you brought me to this meeting Madam. Otherwise I do not understand why do you need me here."
"Severus please." Said McGonogall.
"Severus, I called all the Head of Houses, Prof. Flitwick and Pomona had been called out for family reasons, I will fill them later on what we decide. –Albus the child has survived for 12 years in that environment, I believe he deserves better."
"We may find other ways to protect him there....the blood wards are…"
"The most powerful but they are not the only kind of wards." Said Arthur Weasly.
"It wont do to leave the boy there Albus. Harry received a notice for practicing under aged magic there last year. And has had accidental reactions. His magic is more in control now. I can not imagine that his magic wont protect him, sooner or later it would react if they harm him. Do you want to wait until they kill him or he blows them up? The Ministry wont stay out if that happens." Continued Madam Pomfrey.
"We have to be sure that the Mistreatment is real, may be Harry has a good explanation…. If what you suspect is real, we will have to think of something.…"
"As I told you before, only in rare cases the children accept the mistreatment, for them it is dangerous to do it and is their way of life. They have to keep living with the abusers."
"He has asked several times to stay in Hogwarts for the Summer." Said Prof. McGonogall. "He was really worried that we would have to close the school for the winter…"
"We have to get more than suspicion to remove a child from his family…"
"Some times it es easier to dismis the suspicion Albus… What would make you believe? Fresh bruises? I know for a fact that you wouldn't even act then… and there was not a Blood wards excuse then…"
"Severus I never ment that to happen…"
"We may ask Mr. Potter, he would not try to hide it from us, he knows that we care for him." Said Minerva, aware that Albus and Severus needed to focus back on the situation.
"We should talk with the child." Accorded Madam Pomfrey. "I will bring him in."
Harry was brought to the reunion. He was still wearing the blue pyjama and slippers from the Hospital and was anxious to be in the middle of so many people. Was he so sick? If we was he would not be allowed out of bed... Would he?
"Mr. Potter, please take a seat." Madam Pomfrey told him.
The only empty chair was beside Madam Pomfrey's desk. He sat down and looked around him, it was disquieting to have so many adults looking at him. He knew he was not in trouble as they all had passive faces. Professor Dumbledore's eyes were almost sad. Mrs. Weasley looked like she had cried. Her husband had his arm around her. Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonogall were also bright eyed. The only one that was as impassive as always was Snape. He looked at all their faces not knowing who would begin. He was sure that they would give him bad news. He had seen Ginny just a moment ago and she was fine. And the rest of his friends had visited him earlier, he brace himself for bad news anyway.
Mrs. Weasley saw that no one was ready to begin and the child was getting nervous.
"Harry dear... you know we care about you?"
"Yes. Ma'am." Strange question he thought.
"We have to know about your family life Mr. Potter. How are you treated by your relatives? Asked Madam Pomfrey.
This was a trick question. One of the first things he learned with the Dursleys was not to talk about his family life. There was no problem. He was happy, all was fine, always.
He breathed deeply and started talking calmy, everything would be alright if he tell the right answers. Intrested in the floor he said. "They took me in as a baby," he started carefully, biting his tong, breathing carefully, they do not need to know, "they took care of me, I have to be... I mean, I am grateful, its hard and expensive too.. Money is not found in trees...."
"Hagrid told us that they were not giving you your admission letter. And we know that they do not handle magic well.... Started Professor McGonagall. May be the child would open up if he knew that they already knew of his situation….
"They do not like magic..."He admitted "Its understandable, after what happened with my parents, and then the accidental magic that I.... well this summer Dobby didn't help, I guess. The dinner with my uncle clients was a mess...and I....
"Mr. Potter, we are not here for the tea and biscuits, we have medical records of what has been happening. You had been abused for a long period of time, we may stop it, if you just tell the truth." Snape snarled and saw the truth sink in the boy.
"You know nothing..."
"Harry" Mrs. Weasley looking tenderly at him said. "Ron told me that this summer you were locked in that room and they were not feeding you...."
"Is that the truth Harry?" Asked Professor Dumbledore
"They were upset about the dinner.... They feed me canned soup once a day."
"I knew that those Muggles were of the worst kind, but I hoped they would take care of their family." Said Minerva McGonogall to Albus quietly.
"I do try to behave as they want, they want me out of sight, but some times... They could have sent me to an orphanage... you know? A child is expensive... I have to earn my keep...I have chores and they do have their own child, they would not take things from him....I wouldn't want that. I deserve it when they punish me. Most of the time…"
"How do they punish you child?" Mrs. Weasley.
"Well, the usual way I think, they send me to my room, or I have to go to bed with out dinner, or with out dessert….. some times a spanking…, I do deserve them…. They are raising me…. I have to learn to obey…. I am expensive enough…"
"They told you that?" Said Mr. Weasley.
Harry just nodded, this was getting really scary. He had not other place to go.
All look at Dumbledore, he had to take the decision.
"Harry, your parents left you provided for." He stated.
"I know about their vault. Sir, I took money from there and bought my supplies for school. My Aunt and Uncle, would not allow me to come if they had to pay for it."
"Not only that Harry, a monthly allowance has been given to your relatives since the moment they took you in." Cleared Dumbledore. "More than enough for your keep, your food and clothes. You were not an extra expense for them. They would only have to care for you."
"I didn't know that! Nobody told me!" He said, exasperated with so much attention. "And your are acting like you just find out! You did know about it! My first letter from Hogwarts was directed to the cupboard under the stairs, you knew! that's where I slept all the time, it was my room until before the first year here. They changed me to my cousin's second bedroom after that! Just because they thought that someone over here knew and they would be in trouble for keeping me there. They had been paid to have me…?, and they had made me wear Dudleys cast offs…. and they begrudge me a piece of fresh bread…? They had never liked me! I have always been a freak for them. They do not like to be my relatives. They said that my parents were good for nothing bumps and that they were killed in a car accident....!"
Mrs. Weasley, stood up and went near him, wanting to hug him. He move out of her reach and continued "It doesn't matter now!! It's not like there is a lot of people who would have wanted to take me in, or you wouldn't have left me there! Would you? I am used to them...
"That's why we are here Harry." Said Madam Pomfrey "we can not let you go back there, they are not good for you, we care about you…"
"It would have been better if you had not placed me there in the first place…."
"That's spilled milk Potter..."Harry only looked at Snape... what was he doing here? he was not his head of house, nor his favorite teacher... Snape only sneered as if he had read his mind, and Harry looked at the floor. He felt a small flame of hope inside him, may be he wouldn't have to go back to the Dursley's.
"May I stay in Hogwarts then, professor?"
"That is not possible my boy, the rules of the school do not allow for any student to stay for the Summer.... And even if you could, you are a child you need to be taken care of, that is more than only a place to sleep..."
"He may come with us."
"We would love to have you Harry...."
Harry hopes soared, he could go to Ron's family? that would be great, better than Hogwarts in Christmas!
"As we told you Albus, we are going to Egypt this summer, Harry is welcome to come. We have made the arrangements for the trip, his place is already...."
"I know that Molly, we have talked about it, and as much as it would be good for Harry to be with your family, we must not forget that he needs special precautions, there are still Voldemort followers that would take any chance to get him, and while traveling it would be almost impossible to keep him and your family safe."
Harry felt his hope break. It hurt. He explode.
"THAT IS ALWAYS THE STORY!" said Harry standing up, "YOU ARE SORRY! YOU CARE FOR ME, BUT THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE MY LIFE! I CAN'T GO TO THE BURROW! I CAN'T STAY IN HOGWARTS! I WONT GO TO AN ORPHANAGE! I AM A FREAK…. MAY BE A CIRCUS WOULD BUY ME….!" Harry recovered his breath. "Do not worry... I have survived the Dursley's for eleven years. As long as I could come back to school here, it does not matter. Three months once a year wont kill me. I'll stash some food or my friends will owl food to me, and now that I know about the money they receive for me I would ask them to buy me clothes, my cousin's clothes had never fit me. Harry left the room.
To be continued