Disclaimer: My house belongs to the bank, my work belongs to my boss and my money is always confiscated by my wife. And Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling... Damn...
Rocking the boat
Chapter 1 – The last straw
***June 27th, 1996, early afternoon, King's Cross***
Most people thought he was just moody. Some people, who thought they knew him, probably thought he was sad; but only one or two people in the crowd here at Platform 9 ¾ might be able to see how he really felt. Angry - so angry, it hurt.
Of course, his face didn't show it. His upbringing had taught him to pretend he was moping when he in fact was furious. After all, Harry being sad was a welcome sight; however showing his anger would have earned him a beating. Kids learn fast.
'He lied to me. And now Sirius is dead.'
That was the only thought he had and it plagued his mind and soul. His thoughts alternated with memories of Sirius, memories of Dumbledore, and how looking back allowed him to view past events in a new light. For example, on his first trip to Hogwarts the train had been filled to the brim, yet oddly enough Harry had found himself in an empty compartment until Ron stumbled in. One could only wonder. The Mirror of Erised had only been used for safeguarding after Harry had learnt about its secret. And all those obstacles keeping the stone safe? They were first year curriculum problems with chess thrown in, probably because Ron could help him there. Also, Dumbledore had known that Harry would meet Voldemort down there. The Headmaster had even told Hermione so when she found him. Then the basilisk – he supposedly knew everything that goes on in the Castle, but a huge snake isn't noticed? The incompetent defence teachers he hired every year, Snape – who counted as an atrocity all on his own - and all the systematic trouble with the Slytherins. And then to top it all off that damned prophecy, which he'd only just found out because he was somehow deemed 'Ready' to hear it, now!
"He used me; it was all a game to him. He lied, all the time and now, because of it, Sirius is dead." Harry mumbled sunder his breath.
So there he stood, stoically, watching his minders of the Order of the Phoenix trying to threaten his Uncle Vernon. 'Good idea. As soon as you are gone, he will take it out on my hide. Thanks a lot.'
The entire ride home, Harry prepared for the worst. Vernon's skin glowed red with a hint of purple, a clear 9 on the uncapped Mt. Vernon scale. While the vein on the right temple was only pulsating - not throbbing - which indicated a mere 7. This was a bad sign -with a pulse that low and a blood pressure that high, Vernon would probably react violently. A higher pulse than blood pressure would indicate a good yelling. Harry knew all the signs by the time he had turned six. It was a good thing Lockhart had vanished the bones in his arm – the newgrown bone was straight and didn't ache in the cold.
Right now, Harry was alternating between being angry at Dumbledore, being angry at the Order members for enraging Vernon and just generally being sad over Sirius's death. Of course, Voldemort and his merry gang of killers got their share of cussing, too, but still, the disappointment over Dumbledore's lies was firmly in lead.
'All the time he knew why Voldemort was after me, he knew that he would come back. He certainly knew about the Dursleys. Was he just setting me up for his games? What else is he keeping from me? And of course, he'll keep me imprisoned in this house, just like he did to Sirius.'
Again, the thought of Sirius left him adrift in a sea of despair. Sirius was the only one who always helped him, the only one who was there for him, the only one caring for him. And then it dawned on him, in all his loneliness; there was still one beacon of light. There was another one, who always helped him, stood by him but liked him enough to challenge him if it was to protect him from harm. Someone who was there for him unconditionally and still stood up to him. Someone he could disagree with, but talk things over still remain friends in the end.
Someone he could count on.
"Boy! Get your worthless hide in, now!" Vernon suddenly bellowed at him.
Harry hadn't even noticed that they were already there. Quickly, he got out of the car and hefted his trunk out of the boot. Hedwig was still in her cage, napping. With the Dursleys already inside, he dragged his stuff into the house, put it down and reached behind him to close the door. As he turned to head into the living room a ham sized fist greeted the left side of his face followed by a stinging impact. The second thing that greeted him was a nice assortment of stars, blinking merrily in his view.)
Harry was by no means bulky, but he was an athlete now and his pain threshold was much higher then it was when he was smaller.
So instead of being thrown back into the wall like he would have been before, only his torso got turned to his right. And then the pain hit him. Not much, but enough to clear the cobwebs from his head. No one who ever endured a Cruciatus would ever again call a slap in the face pain. Then he noticed something - a coppery taste in his mouth - blood, his blood. Aright then, at that moment, something inside of him snapped.
His vision blurred, and suddenly he saw himself and his friends once again in the Ministry, fighting for their lives, and every time they managed to down an opponent, his friends would wake him or untie him just as quickly. And when they got up, they retaliated with all they had. Harry was sure that he had stunned one of his opponents at least three times, while all his friends were attacked by potentially lethal curses. The Order had done no better. It had seemed as if they all were playing a kid's game, while the Death Eaters were in it for real.
With that realization, Harry knew that the kid gloves had to come off. Shaking his head, he reconnected with reality and heard Vernon yell something - probably a rant about Harry - before winding up for another hit. But it never came, because Harry did something he had never even considered doing before.
He hit back.
Now Harry was not what you would call strong, but holding onto a broomstick while making multiple-g turns definitely tones the muscles in your chest and arms. All this sinewy muscle was, thanks to Vernon's love tap, in full tension. Harry pulled back with all the power he could muster and let his arm snap forward, pushing all of his weight behind his fist.
The punch was fast and to the point, and maybe even aided by some accidental magic. His fist connected with his uncle's jaw, knocking the man over and to the ground. Thanks to all the chins his uncle sported, Harry didn't even hurt his hand.
There was a second of silence, only interrupted by the angry screeches of Hedwig in her toppled cage. Vernon was on the floor, shaking his head to clear the haze, Petunia was staring at her nephew and Dudley just blinked at him stupidly. Then Petunia shrieked, waking Dudley from his stupor. The boy instantly charged at Harry, like a lame bull on crutches, though Harry, thought he might be insulting the bull with that comparison.
Knowing fully well that 'Ickle Duddykins' could flatten him with a single hit, he dodged the slow punch – everything is slow when you are used to dodging iron balls while speeding around at sixty miles per hour – and took a step to his left. Using his momentum, he pulled his right leg up and kneed Dudley in the crotch. Surprisingly, he actually hit something that small.
Meanwhile, Vernon had somehow managed to get onto his feet again, sporting a perfect bruise on his cheek, and started moving towards him. Harry finally had enough and drew his wand.
"Stop! Or lose your head!" he yelled, pointing it straight at his uncle's face.
That was unexpected. Vernon jumped backwards, staggering, as his belly wanted to continue in motion. He came to a halt in a grotesque state of animated stillness, his gut wobbling around wildly. Petunia stopped screaming and Dudley, well, he moaned a bit quieter.
"You can't use magic! You'll get expelled!" Vernon reminded him in an angry voice, though his face showed the fear that normally only shown in his eyes, for the first time in Harry's memory.
"And you would still be dead. Couch, now!" Harry retorted as he kicked Dudley to gain his attention. "You too! Move it!"
Harry took one step backwards towards the door - finding safety in the distance - and waited for the Dursleys to assemble in the sitting room. He waited till they were seated before he followed, keeping an armchair between them for security. All the time, his wand never veered off target.
"All those years, you, you…" he began, trying desperately to find suitable words. Finally they came to him - and they fit so well.
"Yes, there is simply no other word for it," he stated with a feral grin, before laying in on them. "All those years, you freaks had nothing better to do than make my life hell." he ranted, only to notice Vernon's reaction to their new title. The fat man had jumped, as if stung.
"What's the matter, uncle Vernon? You don't think you are a freak? No? So normal people put a kid into a cupboard? They let their son beat that kid up and cheer him on? Make the kid do all the work in the house? Let him rot in his cupboard for days with a broken arm? Is that what normal people do?" Harry asked, savouring the moment his relatives' expressions fell. Vernon nearly looked like a bulldog when his cheeks sagged like that.
Now Harry knew how Hermione must feel all the time. Using logic against dumb people – to make them see the error in their ways - was simply priceless. This feeling was great.
"They don't. So if you are not behaving like normal people, you must be freaks. Live with it." He finished; knowing that no Cruciatus could ever hurt them more that that knowledge.
"You're feeling mighty strong now, with your stick and hocus-pocus, aren't you?" was all Vernon could retort. Petunia was close to tears, and Dudders was still curled up on the couch, hoping for the pain to end.
"Remember, Uncle, I knocked your lights out while you didn't even rock me and I did so without my 'stick' or my 'Hocus-pocus'. But as is, I don't want to dirty my hands any more on you freaks!" Harry spat, knowing that he was channeling Malfoy, but he didn't care. He continued glaring daggers at his Uncle.
"And what are you going to do now?" Petunia interrupted their staring contest. Looking at his aunt, Harry noticed a new side of her. He'd never seen her so afraid before.
Harry stared into her face for a full minute, not saying anything. Then he started looking at all three Dursleys in turn. For at least 5 minutes, he just stared, silently considering their fate. Even Vernon was wise enough not to anger him any further. Frankly spoken, he didn't look as though he would dare to.
For the first time in his life, he was afraid of his nephew. Harry stood there, only his head moving, as he watched his relatives. His posture was rigid, and his face was cold. Deep inside, Vernon knew that he had finally gone too far, and Harry was about to settle the bill. Petunia wept silently, having come to the same conclusion. Dudley had not realized the danger, but was still enough in pain to keep quiet.
Just as the silence grew unbearable, Harry sighed. His shoulders fell and he turned away from them. Talking to nobody in particular, he simply addressed the room.
"I'll settle for my second biggest wish. I'll go and grab my things, and then I'm gone. I'll never return here again. And if I ever hear about you getting captured to bait me, I won't even raise a finger. We are done."
With that declaration, Vernon exhaled a breath he didn't even knew he had held, and Petunia broke down against his shoulder, weeping.
As Harry turned to leave, Dudley was stupid enough to call out. "And what is your biggest wish, freak?"
Harry stopped and slowly turned back around to face them again. He fixed his eyes on Dudley, the cool anger he felt pouring out. The fat boy had the presence of mind to gulp. Vernon and Petunia looked at Harry with pure terror etched into their faces, both expecting the worst.
In a very low whisper, Harry let his cousin know what he would like to do, most of all, right now. Then he turned and left the house, all his worldly belongings still in his trunk, and Hedwig still in her cage, as his last words still echoed in the minds of his relatives, never to be forgotten.
"To kill all of you."
And so Harry left what had been his own personal hell, for as long as he could remember. At least, he intended to. He made it all the way to the sidewalk, when a familiar face crossed his path.
"Where do you think you are going, Mr. Potter?" Obviously, Mr. Diggle was not pleased to see Harry leave the premises.
"My own way!" Harry declared roughly trying to push past he diminutive man.
"Dumbledore told you that you are not to leave that house!" was the answer he received, indicating that Diggle hadn't understood the second implied meaning in Harry's answer.
Harry was certainly not taking orders any more, and challenged those new ones immediately. "On what authority does he get to say so? School is out, and I can't see any legal cause to keep me under house arrest."
Diggle paled a bit at that statement. "But, but, but…" he stuttered, before he got himself under control again. "He is Albus Dumbledore!" he exclaimed, as though that should explain everything.
"Which gives him no right to keep me under arrest!" Harry quipped, once again trying to step past the man.
"He is the leader of the Order!" Diggle tried reasoning as he moved to block Harry.
"Of which, I am not a member, as you certainly know." Harry said while he smirked at the man, stepping to the other side.
"I can't let you leave!" Diggle retorted, finally resorting to intimidation after having run out of arguments. His attempt was rather laughable as his head only reached Harry's shoulder.
"You see this shiner?" Harry asked, making sure to turn his head to make it more visible. "That was the welcome I received from my uncle after only 10 seconds of being in that house. I am not going back in there."
Diggle didn't back down. "Dumbledore said you must stay here!" He yelled at the teen.
"And I won't listen to that old lying bastard any more!" Harry said, and again stepped aside to continue his path, but Diggle grabbed his arm.
"Now see here, you can't talk about Dumbledore like that! You are going back in there." The man said with a note of finality that rankled Harry's temper.
Harry shrugged him off and gave him a shove. "Mr. Diggle, you've got exactly ten seconds to leave here, or I will have you arrested for trespassing and kidnapping. Wouldn't that be nice after I just got hailed as the savior of the wizarding world - at least for now - and probably just have toppled a minister?"
That statement really made an impact on Diggle. Being threatened by a teen didn't go down to well, and he reacted like any small-minded suck-up would. He got mad.
"Stop that childishness! And now get in, or I'll make you!" Diggle snapped, and drew his wand.
Daedalus Diggle had never, ever been on an Order combat mission. For good reason, it seemed - because Harry had grabbed the man's wand and snapped the top half off before Diggle had even finished the draw or had even noticed the move. The fierce right hook to his stomach however, was more than noticed.
While poor Daedalus was soiling the street with the contents of his stomach, Harry grabbed his stuff and left.
The last thing Diggle heard as he laid groaning on the ground was Harry yelling over his shoulder, "Tell the old bastard that I've had enough of his lies. I'm gone!"
As soon as he was out of sight, Harry opened the dented cage and released Hedwig. He discarded the now useless cage in a dustbin, since it was only dead weight now. After thinking about his situation, he made a quick decision - Harry told Hedwig to fly to London, and to wait for him at Hyde Park, by the lake. He reasoned that it might take a while to find her there, but it was a public place and she wouldn't stand out too much there.
His next move was to take the first bus he found and rode around Surrey for some time, always taking the first available bus, to keep moving in case he was being tracked, until he finally got into one heading to London. Taking the train would have been faster, but he expected the Order to catch him right as he was leaving the station. He didn't expect them to check all the bus stops. Anyway, he could use the time to refine his budding plan.
First, he had to find a place to stay, and he had to keep out from under the Headmasters thumb.
He needed help, that was sure.
Sitting in the back of the bus, he surreptitiously got some parchment and his utensils out of his trunk and began writing a note to the only person who might help him now.
This is the start of my first really long fic. Bear with me, you'll like it.
For people noticing that Harry has a light type of PTSD - Yes, that was my intention. It would be expected after the things he went through a few days ago. In his case, it won't be permanent, but it has changed him.
I would like to thank embirsiphonelilathia (*puh, that is mighty hard to type correctly – now try it three times in a row*), who has given me invaluable advice while betaing this stuff for me. I could not ask for a better beta, since she has about the same preferences and style, but due to a different chromosome pattern, has a different sight to some scenes than I have.
Also pfeil, my second beta, a human spellchecker. If there is any error slipped in this document, it is my fault for not transferring his corrections to the final document.