Obligatory disclaimer: Harry Potter and all associated creative properties belong to Scholastic Publishing Company and J.K. Rowling. I don't claim any said property as my own, and I make no monetary profit from this fan-made story. All creative property not associated with Scholastic Publishing Company and J.K. Rowling belong to me, and their use is limited to my express permission. Thank you.
Okay, so this story stemmed from a little thought that occurred to me: What if, after witnessing his nephew not only ruin his great business deal but then escape from his punishment and humiliate him in the process, Vernon Dursley was so sick of Harry Potter that he simply refused to even let him back in the house? Well, I explore this.
Little Whinging, Surrey
On a certain summer day in Little Whinging, Surrey, a certain boy was the subject of a struggle. On one side of the struggle was a certain trio of redheads, and on the other side was a certain fat slab of a man who called himself the certain boy's uncle (at least for a short time longer).
Harry Potter's life had never been particularly normal. He'd grown up the subject of nothing but scorn from pretty much every human he'd come into contact with, and on his eleventh birthday he'd been informed that he was a wizard. Following one of the strangest educational years of his very short existence, he'd gone back to the mundane world of Little Whinging, where he was once again treated with scorn, at least until an incident involving floating pudding, a small elfin creature, and a woman who had very recently developed ornithophobia. Following this, he was treated with downright contempt.
Which brought him to his present struggle. Harry Potter was now the rope in a tug of war between his Uncle Vernon (the principal supplier of the contempt towards him) and the Weasley brothers, Ron, Fred, and George; all of this was part of a rather poorly planned escape attempt on the part of the latter three.
"Let me go!" Harry shouted at his Uncle Vernon, whose enormous meaty hand was clamped around his nephew's ankle. "Get off!"
At this point, his uncle finally seemed to realize something.
"Fine!" he shouted. "You want to leave so bad! Go! And don't come back! Stay with your freak friends, 'cause you're no longer welcome in this house!"
With that, he released his nephew's ankle, laughing maniacally at the sky as the light blue Ford flew into the night.
"Vernon, why would you let him leave?" Petunia asked, and Vernon turned back to his wife, his manic grin still in place.
"Don't you see, Petunia?" he whispered. "He's gone! Away, and we're well shot of him! Haven't we always said life would be so much more peaceful without him? Well, now it can be. Clear out his room, clear out his cupboard, chuck it all in the car, and I'll be off to the dump tomorrow. He doesn't want to be here? Fine. He's no longer welcome here."
Little did Vernon Dursley know that this single statement would have far-reaching consequences….
Platform 9 ¾
"Bye, Harry!" Ron said. "Don't let the Dursleys keep you down!"
"I'll see you later, Ron!" Harry said, waving at the massive Weasley family as they left the station. The twins stopped at the door, turning to Harry.
"If we don't hear from you in a week, Potter – "
" – expect another car ride."
"Fred and George Weasley, if you lay a hand on that car – "
"Just kidding, Mum," they said in unison, though as soon as Mrs. Weasley turned away, they shot Harry identical winks.
"So," Hermione said, as the Weasleys exited, "your family's running a bit late this year, aren't they?"
"Yeah," Harry said, looking toward the entrance. "I guess they had something important to do and figured I could wait. What about you?"
"I called Mum and Dad," Hermione said. "They had an emergency surgery, so they'll be a bit late."
"Well, then I'm glad to have some company," Harry said, and Hermione smiled at him, moving to sit on a nearby bench. She patted the spot next to her, and Harry sat, sighing.
"Two years down," he said, staring at the ceiling of the station, and Hermione nodded.
"Five to go," she added. "Any idea what you want to do when you graduate?"
Harry shook his head with a chuckle. "I don't even know what wizards do when they finish Hogwarts. I'm just hoping I graduate."
"Oh, you'll graduate just fine," Hermione said with confidence. "You're a great wizard."
Harry blushed under her praise. "I'm not near as smart as you, though."
Hermione also pinked a little. "Well, I have a natural curiosity. That's what my parents always say, anyway. You have a natural trouble streak. You'll probably make a fine auror."
"Like a magic special forces," Hermione explained. "There's the Department of Magical Law Enforcement; that's like the muggle police. Then there's aurors, who usually go after dark wizards."
"Could've use a couple of those this year," Harry said with a wry smile, and Hermione nodded.
"Probably," she said. "I guess they figured they wouldn't need them, since they had Hagrid locked up."
"Well, I don't know if I want to work for the ministry, then," Harry said. "They don't seem to be the smartest people."
Hermione laughed. "Maybe you'll go in there and revolutionize the way they work. Who knows, maybe you'll be Minister for Magic," she laughed.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yeah, right."
Hermione bumped him with her shoulder. "Well, you've got five years to figure it out."
They lapsed into a comfortable silence, Harry scratching Hedwig on the head between the bars of her cage. Passerby stared at the strange pair with the white owl, but bore them to mind; King's Cross was a place of coming and going, not stopping and staring.
"Oh," Hermione said after nearly a quarter hour of waiting. "There's Mum and Dad." She waved at a couple that had just entered the station. The woman, Hermione's mum, waved back enthusiastically and ran for her daughter, her father following at a trot.
"Hey, sweetie!" Mrs. Granger said, and Hermione stood and ran for her mother, who enveloped her in a hug. Harry smiled as he watched them, his grin growing when he saw the look of joy on Hermione's face as she hugged her mother.
Mrs. Granger was rather petite, only about a head taller than Hermione, and she shared her daughter's unruly brown mane of hair. Her eyes, though, were hazel. Mr. Granger had straight black hair (a gene that had clearly skipped Hermione) and bright brown eyes, just like his daughter's. He was a tall, lean man, and Harry guessed that he did a lot of swimming.
Hermione broke away from her mum and ran to hug her father, who ruffled her hair as she pulled away. "Hello, kiddo. Have a good school year?"
"Yes," Hermione said with a smile, smoothly glossing over the murderous snake and two months spent petrified in the hospital wing. "Mum, Dad, this is Harry Potter, from school. Harry, my parents, Dan and Emma Granger."
"Ah, you're Harry Potter," Emma said, smiling and pulling Harry into a hug as well and smiling down at him. "I want to thank you for being a good friend to my daughter. You and that boy Ron were all she could talk about last summer, I daresay."
Dan stepped forward, extending a hand, and Harry shook it; as he suspected, Hermione's father had a very firm grip. "Harry Potter. It's a pleasure."
"Pleasure to meet you both," Harry said.
"Mum, Harry's family hasn't come to pick him up yet," Hermione said. "Can we give him a lift home? He just lives over in Surrey."
Dan and Emma shared a look as Harry turned to Hermione. "It's alright; you don't have to trouble yourselves over me. I'm sure Uncle Vernon'll be along soon. In fact, if I could borrow some change, I could give them a call."
Minutes later, Harry was leaning against the side of a phone booth near the entrance to King's Cross while the Grangers waited patiently outside.
Harry hesitated before speaking; the voice was unfamiliar. "Um…is Vernon home?"
"Vernon…oh, you mean the Dursleys?"
"Yes," Harry replied, confused. Who was this guy?
"The Dursleys no longer live here," the man said. "They moved out months ago."
"What?" Harry asked, shocked. "Wait, they moved?"
"Yes," the man said kindly, laughing indulgently. "Apparently, he made regional manager at that drill company of his and moved up."
"This…this is number four Privet Drive, right?"
"Yes, it is," the man said, sounding slightly concerned now. "Were you a family friend?"
"In a manner of speaking," Harry said, disbelieving. Was this some sort of joke? He was half-expecting Dudley to jump on the phone and yell "April fool!". Though, for the first time since he'd heard them last summer, Uncle Vernon's words rang in his head: Stay with your freak friends, 'cause you're no longer welcome in this house!
Perhaps Vernon had decided to separate himself completely from his nephew….
"Are you still there?" the man asked, and Harry snapped back to the present.
"Yeah, sorry," he said. "Um, did they leave an address where they could be reached?"
"Sorry, lad, they didn't," the man said apologetically. Harry nodded.
"Right," Harry said. "Thanks. Sorry for the bother."
"Not at all," the man said.
Harry hung up the phone, sighing and leaning against the side of the booth. He could perhaps go to Little Whinging and see if this was all some sort of cruel joke, but something about the whole scenario told him he'd be wasting his time.
There was a tap on the glass, and Harry jumped, standing and seeing Hermione on the other side with a worried look. Sliding the door open, he exited and gave her a smile.
"What?" Hermione asked, uncomprehending. Harry gave a brief explanation of his phone conversation with the man, and Hermione's expression changed from confusion to shock, then to anger.
"They just left you?" she asked, and Harry shrugged.
"Unless it's a joke," he said. "But I don't think the Dursleys would ever go to so much trouble even to make a fool of me."
"But…but…how could they just do that?" Hermione asked, shaking her head. "You're their responsibility! They can't just…ditch you because they got tired of you."
"Well, I was sort of forced on them," Harry said with a shrug, and Hermione gaped at him.
"You're defending them?"
"Well, honestly, Hermione, I can't say I'm too torn up that I'll never see them again," Harry said. "They weren't the nicest sort of people. My biggest concern right now is finding a place to stay."
"Begging your pardon," Dan interrupted. "I couldn't help but overhear. Would you like to stay with us, Harry? At least until we can get all this sorted out?"
Hermione beamed at her father, then at Harry, who looked between the two. "I wouldn't want to impose…."
"It's no imposition," Dan insisted. "We have a spare bedroom from when Hermione's aunt Lucille used to visit. We've just managed to get the last of her perfume scent scrubbed out."
Harry laughed, and Hermione smiled at him, moving to grab her trolley as he did the same with his own.
"Today's the day we were supposed to pick up the boy," Petunia said as she cooked dinner. Vernon grunted, making his way across the kitchen to the second fridge (Dudley was currently emptying the first straight into his mouth) to grab a beer. "I wonder if he's still waiting at the station."
"Probably," Vernon said with a laugh. "Probably sitting out front like a little lost puppy. Runt deserves it for causing me no end of grief."
"And we're really finished with him?" Petunia asked, peeling another potato. Vernon nodded emphatically.
"If I see that boy on my deathbed, it'll be too soon," he said. Meanwhile, a massive belch came from the fridge, where Dudley shut the door, a hunk of chocolate cake still in his mouth as he sauntered back to his room, where Vernon and Petunia had had a fifty-inch screen television put in for him to watch (he was still trying to convince them that he needed his own fridge right in his room). Vernon chuckled as he popped the tab on his beer.
"Someone's going to have a stomachache later on," he said, taking a swig and moving back to the living room, leaving Petunia staring out her kitchen window. It looked like the neighbors' daughter had a male visitor in the hot tub, and they were clearly enjoying a private moment. Engrossed in what had the potential to become a juicy bit of gossip, all thoughts of her sister's only child left her as she watched for anything "indecent".
Harry looked away from the television to Hermione, who was standing at his door, already in her pajamas.
"Hey," he said, gesturing at the TV. "TV in the guest bedroom. Pretty ritzy."
Hermione giggled, climbing onto his bed and kneeling near his feet. "Aunt Lucille couldn't stand to be without Drop the Dead Donkey. Dad hates the show, so he got Auntie her own TV for when she visits. What are you watching?" she asked, glancing at the screen.
"Whose Line is it Anyway?. It's actually really funny, but I don't get many of the jokes."
"I expect you have to know a lot about pop culture to get it," Hermione said. "That's not very good for those of us who spend months on end in a secluded castle in northern Scotland."
Harry chuckled, and Hermione laughed as well, shifting so that she was sitting cross-legged and looking at him. Harry smiled at her.
"You're parents are awesome, by the way," Harry said, and Hermione nodded.
"I could've told you that," she said with a laugh. "They just love helping people. That's why they're dentists, so they can make sure people keep their teeth in good shape and live comfortably."
"And your mum's cooking could give Mrs. Weasley a run for her money," Harry said, patting his still full stomach, which was bursting with third helpings of Mrs. Granger's turkey meatloaf, and Hermione giggled then fell silent.
"It's strange, having you here," she said, and Harry nodded. "I mean, for me, the magic world and muggle world were always separate. My parents visited Diagon Alley with me once, but that was about it. Now, I've got my best friend from Hogwarts staying in my guestroom."
Harry laughed. "At least I grew up muggle, so I know how things work. Imagine if Ron was the one staying here."
"He wouldn't have a clue what to do," Hermione said with a giggle. "He'd probably start talking to the television thinking it was a portrait."
They fell silent again, staring at the actors on the television screen. Occasionally they would chuckle at a joke they understood, or burst out laughing at a particularly funny moment.
"So…" Hermione said as a commercial began, "do you think you'll be staying here a while?"
"Getting sick of me already?" Harry asked jokingly, and Hermione rolled her eyes at him, poking his stomach, and he recoiled with a chuckle.
"Of course not," she said. "But it's always good to a have a plan. Playing it by ear has never really gotten us anywhere good."
"True," Harry agreed. "Your parents said they'd be at the office all day tomorrow; I was planning on taking a bus to Privet Drive just to make sure this isn't all some kind of joke."
"I'll go with you, then," Hermione said, and Harry shook his head.
"No way," he said, and Hermione gave him a hurt look. "Look, I'd like you to come along, but if my family is still at Privet Drive, I'd rather you not have to meet them. They're not exactly the nicest people."
"Harry, I'm not leaving you to deal with those horrid people yourself," Hermione said. "Besides, even if it is a joke and they're still there, you're still coming back with me, and I'll have my dad call the police. No matter how you look at it, this is child abuse."
Harry sighed. "All right, but consider yourself warned."
Hermione shook her head. "When will you realize that I'm not leaving you, no matter what?"
He smiled at her, and Hermione crawled from his bed, smiling back. "Well, I'm going to bed."
"I thought you said you weren't leaving me," Harry said jokingly, and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Would you rather we share a bed tonight?" she asked, giggling as Harry's face reddened. "Goodnight, Harry."
"Goodnight," Harry said his face still warm, and Hermione left, closing the door behind her with a snap. Harry looked back at the television, though now that he was alone, he couldn't seem to stop thinking about the Dursleys' apparent abandonment of him, the fact that he was now a guest of Hermione Granger, and what this meant for a future that now seemed Dursley-free.
Shaking his head, he reached for the remote and switched the TV off, followed closely by his beside light, and settled into his covers.
There would be plenty of time to think tomorrow.
Hopefully, I'll be able to stick with this one, as the plot flows more easily than a couple of my other ones.
Review, if you please.