The explosion had rocked the entire street, buckling up the pavement and sending large chunks of debris high into the air. The larger pieces went spinning off into the air and then came crashing down on the nearby houses while the smaller pieces were blown outwards and shattered nearby windows and punctured cars. The houses within a one mile radius all felt the shockwave that pulsated outwards from the central point and on the outer limits of the shockwave the windows were still rattled in their frames and a few of them cracked ominously.
In less than a minute the house that had once stood at Number Four Privet Drive, was vaporized, leaving little more than a shell of its former self. The bottom level was nearly crushed by the weight of the top, pressing down against it when the support beams were gone from the ceiling and the walls. The houses on either side felt the heat of the blast, scorching the siding of Number Six and pressing in the living room wall of Number Two. It happened so fast that most of the neighbors had no idea what was going on until the ringing in their ears stopped and they could come outside to view the destruction for themselves.
It would take several hours for the complete search of the house that extracted three burnt bodies and one barely alive from the rubble of the house. The effort was hindered by the neighbors hemming in on all sides wanting to look at the family that they had all observed for the past several years. Immediately most of them began to talk about how tragic it was that such a nice family like the Dursleys would die in such a horrible explosion; this was immediately followed up by how it had to be that rotten Potter's fault. Even though everyone knew that the boy that lived with the family was their nephew, the boy of only seven years old was regarded in much the same as a leper of biblical times.
There was little surprise then when, a few weeks later, and after several letters to the editor, the police began to question the neighbors about the character of the boy in question. The public outcry was such that the local authorities had to send out more units to get down everything that people wanted to say about that "rotten no good boy." In the end, and mostly because it was an election year, the mayor of the region had to come down and give an impassionate speech about local terrorism and what the government was going to do to stop it. The Home Office was also responsible for coming out and interviewing a number of people on what they thought constituted a possible terrorist plot against the United Kingdom.
The people came out in droves to the speech and listened raptly as what they thought was going to happen was finally going to be coming to pass. The Mayor himself promised that the person responsible for this "blatant and terrible act of terrorism" would be brought before the magistrate and made to see justice. This got the response they wanted and the people quieted down somewhat, letting the government officials put pressure on the police constabulary to work faster and harder. It was mostly this pressure that resulted in the outcome.
Only two weeks after the explosion that demolished a house and put damage against several in the area, young Harry Potter was formally arrested and charged with the crimes of endangering the public at large as well as the deaths of the three Dursleys. He was taken from his hospital bed against the wishes of the doctors there and brought to a jail cell where he would wait for a number of days before his formal hearing before the magistrate. It was in this time that more circumstantial evidence was being collected about where he was during the explosion and what might have caused it.
At the beginning of the trial, the magistrate providing Harry with his Barrister considering he was a minor and had no means to pay for one, it was brought to light that the explosion originated in the smallest bedroom of the house. The prosecution contended that this must have been Harry's room as there was ample physical evidence to show that at one point in time there were numerous toys and furniture in the room. Witnesses, mostly Dudley's friends, testified that the two parents had one room and Dudley's was on the left side of the house leaving the guest room and the smallest bedroom on the other side. It was the supposition of the prosecutor that since all other rooms were accounted for, that the smallest bedroom had to be Harry's and since that is where the explosion originated that it was he that did so.
Even with the Barrister acting on his behalf, Harry was not about to admit in open court in front of hundreds of people that his actual bedroom had been under the stairs the entire time. The man appointed to him did point out that all of this was circumstantial evidence and there was no physical proof that the young man in question was anywhere near the explosion when it took place. This of course only fueled the argument, however, because if Harry was no where near where the explosion took place, as he was found under rubble on the first floor with very minimal damage, then he must have known that the explosion was eminent and was trying to get out of the house when it went off.
After this came the character assassination piece of the prosecution of Harry James Potter. Neighbors were lining up outside the courtrooms to testify that he was a "nasty rotten little boy" and "a layabout with no common decency." They pointed at his decrepit clothes and his state of being as proof that he was a criminal. The defense did a good job of countering many of these arguments by simply asking if the person had ever actually interacted with Mister Potter, or for that matter even been in the house in question. Most of the neighbors could not answer this as they had always simply listened to what the Dursleys told them. It was the revelation that the Dursleys were "good honest hard working people that always paid their taxes and Mister Dursley always had a new company car every year" that created the first break in the possible court case.
Inland Revenue was called in to look at the books for the Dursley family as well as a five year audit of Grunnings, the drill company that Vernon had worked for. While not strictly part of the case, the prosecution and the defense both figured that it might help their cases if the files were opened and examined more thoroughly. It was discovered, through testimony of a Grunnings official spokesperson, that Vernon Dursley was working in a merely sales manager type of role and was not given the pension or salary to support such a lavish lifestyle that the family seemed to flaunt to their neighbors on a daily basis.
The Dursley records, both of their own personal accountant as well as the records filed with the Inland Revenue every year showed up more glaring inconsistencies. Going back as far as six years, the records did not add up with what they had known to be the family's income based on the fact that only Vernon worked for the family. On six consecutive returns, Inland Revenue showed that the family gained more money in income than they were claiming. A further investigation, lasting only a few days of the trial, showed that Petunia had been accepting monthly stipends from the account of one Harry James Potter, as well as a large deposit on a bimonthly basis.
An account in the name of a minor is normally monitored by a third party that is selected by the family in question and watched carefully for fraud. In this case the account was in Harry's name, but the account was watched over by an unknown individual. All inquiries into the account proved unyielding and even Inland Revenue was unable to figure out who it was that had been sending money to Petunia through Harry's account. The prosecution for the Crown used this as the basis for what he considered "the murder of a good family" asking for the fullest extent of the law possible to be leveled at "such a vicious criminal that will undoubtedly do it again."
In an effort to get things back on track, and hopefully to get himself exonerated for at least causing the explosion, Harry asked his defense Barrister to call the one person he felt would give an accurate account of his life. Arabella Figg, whom most regarded as batty and smelled of cabbage, dressed the perfect part of an elderly woman in smart dress when she came to the stand to give her testimony. True to prediction she painted the Dursley family as the evil bastards that they were as well as saying that Harry was a sweet young man that would help her out around the house when the family was gone; this seemed to help slightly as it showed that the family would routinely leave him alone on vacations and not take him anywhere on holiday.
While Figg's testimony bolstered the defense, the prosecution merely used it to his own advantage as well. He touted that this was more and more motive for the direct killing of the family and that this woman was not in her right mind. Other neighbors testified against her and tried to show that she wasn't fit to give a proper testimony, but she still held firm in her belief that it was the family that was at fault and not Harry in the least. In the end, the judge had to stop the influx of neighbors because most of them would simply shout what a horrible little monster Harry was; there was nothing new being added to the case with each passing witness and it would seem that things were stacked heavily against the young man.
The last piece of evidence that was to be admitted to the case did not come until well after the conviction of the young man. It was the court clerk that brought the file to the attention of the judge just before the formal sentencing of the young man; he had already been found guilty of not only providing a menace to society, but as well as causing the explosion that destroyed the house. The clerk came up to the offices of the judge personally with the manila envelope clutched tightly in his hands.
The evidence turned out to be the final coroner's report on the death of the Dursley family. Due to the burns all over their bodies it was evident that they were upstairs in the main part of the house when the explosion had actually gone off. The report showed that Petunia had been standing the closest to the explosion, most likely within the same room, while Vernon was a little further away with Dudley with two walls between him and the explosion. In the end it was decided that while Petunia was in the room that Vernon was most likely out in the hall and Dudley was in his bedroom across the hall from where the explosion came from. The last sheet of paper in the file was what had been so alarming.
The normal toxic chemical screen on the bodies had been hampered by the amount of damage and the small amount of useful blood that they could found on the bodies. What they could take was so badly deteriorated that it was hard to get a more detailed scan, but what it did show was that Petunia had been severely doped out when she died. Her blood showed high levels of methamphetamines and opiates while Vernon showed a smaller amount. Dudley was shown to be clean, but it wasn't assumed that a child of seven would be using drugs to the heavy extent that his parents seemed to have been.
Given the extent of the drug usage that the parents were displaying, it was determined that they might have died and not even felt anything at all. The severity of the explosion also added more credence to this theory as the top half of the house had been vaporized rather quickly. Taking all of this into account, Harry was sentenced to a juvenile detention center until he turned eighteen where he would be moved to prison. There was a possibility of parole when he turned fifteen, but that was the only real hope that he had.
As he was taken from the court room reporters took his picture and shouted questions to the silent boy that was lead to a nearby police cruiser. The car took him to the facility that would be his home for the foreseeable future. It would be the one place where he received three square meals a day and a nice mattress to stretch out on. It was the one place that he felt was truly home where he could make friends that had no real expectations of him and didn't expect him to act a certain way. The guards weren't heavy with the regime, but still forced the inmates to exercise and do a form of discipline. They were to be taught rudimentary things in a primary education so as to facilitate some of the less dangerous one's back into society at the end of their terms.
Harry's cell mate was a young boy by the name of Patrick O'Clanohan who had burned down his grandparent's house. The kid was nice enough, chipper and talkative on the outside while his hands fiddled with a lighter that was no longer there. Turned out that his parents and grandparents had left him alone most of the weekend to his own devices while they went out to some society function, got drunk and passed out. Little Patrick had entertained himself with a silver flip lighter that he had found in his grandfather's locked desk. This of course led to the eventual fire and the arrest; never mind the fact that the adults in the situation were found hours later naked smelling of alcohol and in a large pile of other naked bodies.
Life in the detention center settled into a nice routine for Harry, whom was used to the occasional meal being skipped or the beatings that some of the older inmates would inflict on him. The rule of law was basically gang war within the walls of the center, the olders on top and the youngers having to cower in fear. At first visitors were few and far between for some of the less violent inmates; Harry had a few neighbors come to cuss at him and threaten to sue for damages, but that slowly petered out to nothing. His only constant visitor was batty old Mrs. Figg.
Arabella Figg had started to come to the center a few years before Harry had even been put there to try and straighten out some of the younger boys and dealing with a few of their issues. Once Harry was within the walls she came more often to speak with him. Through the first four years, she would speak occasionally about how he would get out of there and how someone with a white beard was going to come and rescue him. Even after the first few months of being in the center, she started not to believe her own words and after the first year she stopped saying it altogether. In fact, there seemed to be a change over the old woman after the first year of Harry being there.
He noticed it slowly at first, her stance becoming more straight instead of hunched over and her manner of speaking becoming more clear. Once the first four years were up she spoke to Harry about moving out into the countryside with her sister and spending time with some distant relatives that she had out there. While he would miss her visits, Harry knew that this was the best for her. On her last visit she told him that if he still got the mail he might get something interesting on his eleventh, but if he didn't that he shouldn't' worry about it. His eleventh birthday came and went without a single letter or odd occurrence, and that was the norm for the detention center.
Harry pulled himself up from the crouched position that he had fallen into from the beginning. Using his arms he pushed himself from the dirt of the outside area and pulled his mangy black hair out of his eyes as he let the scar above his eye shine slightly in the light. He kept his fists down near his thigh as he looked up at the man that was towering over him, or at least attempting to do so with the smaller frame.
Edward Valarie was an older inmate of the detention center that had been sent there for a few months for beating up on a store clerk during a botched robbery. He had quickly tried to cement himself in the center as one of the few gang leaders with the older kids and started to push around the younger years to the satisfaction of the others. The guards paid little attention to the kid and he was allowed to do as he pleased for a time that was until he started to really lay into the younger years.
Just that morning he had tripped a girl of ten, knocking her to the ground; this was a normal occurrence for the center, but it was what happened next that got the others attention. Two of the thugs that Valarie had employed picked the girl up to her feet and the boy threatened to take her back to the basketball court and use her body for his own personal play toy. A seventeen year old talking that was about a young girl barely into her teens made Harry mad and found himself in the current predicament.
Harry moved as the kick destined for his midsection sailed past him and he twisted out of the way. His lithe body had never fully grown into a muscled mass like some of the other teenagers, but he had grown into his own skin. He was still fast and able to dodge, or to take a punch when it came to it. Just past his fifteenth birthday, Harry could move rather fast than some of the older kids and had made a name for him in standing up for the younger ones; when he could get away with doing it stealthily. Dodging another fist, Harry pushed the arm away from him, letting the momentum off balance the older boy.
"Come on, Potter, can't you fight like a real man." Edward sneered as he threw another punch that went wild and a kick that forced him to move closer to Harry. The two boys had drawn a crowd now as both the younger and the older kids had a vested interest in the fight; if Harry won it would be a victory for those younger and if Edward were to win then it would make the older kids more powerful. "Stop dancing and fight!"
The truth was, Harry was avoiding him and waiting for a very specific point in time. This came when the other boy's foot caught in the dirt and he stumbled forward ever so much while throwing another punch. Harry twisted his body and gripped the other boy's wrist, pulling him off his feet and sending him crashing to the ground onto his back. Not giving the older boy enough time to recover, Harry followed up the move with a swift punch to the solar plexus that had the kid wheezing on the ground.
A shout drew the attention of the edges of the crowd of children, forcing them aside. "What's going on here? Break it up, break it up." The large imposing figure of the solitary female guard came wading through the sea of children, forcibly pushing most of them out of the way; she was a stocky woman that filled out the shoulders and the girth of a male uniform with the height to carry it all off. "What do you think you children are doing?"
"Potter….attacked me.." Valarie wheezed on the ground, clutching his stomach as if he was going to die. This might have worked on the playground of his old school, but Harry was well known and liked here, not to mention had learned things about confidence.
"He was going to rape a little girl, ma'am." Harry's pronouncement caused everyone to stop and listen to what was going on. Sure they had heard there was a fight, but not about what. "I've got witnesses to back me up that he threw the first punch." Some of the teens nodded their heads confirming what Harry was saying.
"Very well, you both are coming with me to the warden's office." The woman leaned down and picked up Valarie off the ground as if he were a rag doll. She was going to clock Harry over the head to do the same when he obediently followed behind her towards the familiar grey building of the administrative section of the center.
While the place touted itself as a juvenile detention center where the children there were to learn to become more productive members of society, in reality the set up was much the same as used in national prisons. The complex consisted of a series of squat grey two story buildings that held everything from the "dorms" to the offices of the administration. For the most part, and on public records, the center was owned by a small trust of people that were referred to as "The Council." In reality, the mysterious owners had never actually been to the facility that was rimmed in high barbed wire topped fences with security checkpoints just to get into the front gate.
The female guard took the pair of them into one of the short buildings and through a series of hallways that were all painted the same tope color. They say that the color is soothing and supposed to invoke feelings of security, but for most of the people there it was merely a reminder of where they worked. After passing through another security checkpoint where the guards scrutinized the boy in the woman's arms as well as the one that was following they were lead down a short hallway to a glass door with the words "Paul Stevenson Warden" painted on the frosted glass.
"Come in." The rich bass voice boomed out at the knock of the door. He didn't necessarily have to say this as he could see that someone was there, but it was for show for the most part. Stevenson was an older man in his sixties that had started loosing his hair at an early age and opted to simply shave it all off rather than have it go gray and then fall out completely.
His office, much like the rest of the complex was painted in the same soothing color and the grey carpet. The walls were covered in some photos of the center as well as some well known inmates that had gone on to prison directly from the hallowed walls that the children now endured. There were no pictures of family or any sort or friends that would adorn the walls of offices around the country; there was no real indication that this man had a life outside of his job at all. The office was simply where he did work with a large mahogany desk polished to a dark sheen with two very uncomfortable metal chairs that stood in front of it.
"Ah, come in. I see that there has been another incident." He set down the reading glasses that he had precariously perched on the bridge of his nose as he looked down at the document that he had been going through. The large woman had come through the door and set the young man, barely conscious now on the ground as Harry took up the other chair without being told to do so.
"These two were fighting; I think Valarie here passed out on the way over." She remained standing, stiff at attention like she were in the military; some of the inmates and the guards alike postulated that she used to be a man that served in the Gulf not too long ago.
"Very well." Stevenson paused, tapping a folder on his desk for a moment before slowly closing it and surveying the young man seated before him. "Put him in solitary, maybe he will learn something this time." Harry visibly rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything outward as the guard picked up the unconscious boy and carted him out, closing the door behind her. "You disagree with my methods, Mister Potter."
Harry stared at the man for a moment and then shrugged. "I don't really care what you do with the other inmates here, but you know that it's not going to work." The man started to shake his head, but Harry wasn't finished. "You sit back and take a purely reactive stance on everything, waiting for something to happen instead of doing something about it before it becomes an issue."
"There will always be fighting amongst different minded people, I cannot change the minds of people that easily." Stevenson spread his hands out on the desk in a placating gesture, but Harry still shook his head.
"You're not trying to change them at all. You simply say that it can't be done and forget about it. If the other children had outlets to the aggression they are feeling then that would be different; even to stop the cyclical nature with the gangs from reoccurring."
The man nodded thoughtfully, pulling the glasses from the bridge of his nose. As he chewed on one of the stems of the glasses he sat back in the chair and stared at Harry. "You mean that the children that grow up under the gangs are more likely to become a part of them when they are older?"
Harry nodded a little and sat back as well, relaxing his legs out in front of him just short of propping them up on the edge of the desk itself. "Yes. Think about it this way; when younger children are introduced here they are left to fend for themselves. There's no one to really help them learn what to do or who to talk to, so they get beat up by the older kids."
"There's you." Again, Stevenson tapped the folder on the desk with a meaty finger and kept his eyes boring into the young man before him. "I've gotten quite a few reports saying that you've been talking to the younger kids, helping the new ones and even standing up for a few of the others."
Harry decided not to outwardly respond to such a statement and stared at the carpet for a moment. When he did speak again it was on the same track as before, as if the man before him hadn't said anything. "When the younger ones are beaten almost every day they become accustomed to it, that this is the way that life is supposed to work and they can't do anything to change it. Conversely they also begin to resent those around them, the childhood innocence lost."
"So when they become the aggressors they do what they feel is the norm and to take out their anger on the people they see are the real problems. They feel that those that would not stand up for themselves when they were children are why they are still there and turned out the way that they did." Harry gave a thoughtful nod, still staring at the carpet. "All this philosophical talk has me thinking I should just do your psych profile right now."
Harry groaned a little at the statement while the man chuckled slightly and pulled the folder down into his lap before opening it up. The psych profiles were talks that some of the doctors and the occasional psychologist would have with the individual children staying at the center. It was designed to help re-educate and indoctrinate the children for when they went back out into the real world beyond the barbed wire fences. In reality the profiles were done on such a sporadic schedule that most people couldn't keep up with what was going on and didn't really care all that much about the children to do check up on them on a more regular basis. What it boiled down to was the fact that a real trained psychologist was just too difficult to come out to the center and it usually fell to guards and others that had merely taken a class in the subject in college.
"You've been here for eight years now, how do you think that we're doing in your possible release and re-education?" He didn't look up from the folder, making idle notes on the side of a piece of paper.
"I think it's a piece of crap to be honest with you." The man looked up half from his paper and over the glasses that had appeared back on his nose at some point. "I mean, you don't really care about the inmates here, we've already established that and I can't imagine that a re-education effort would work with someone who doesn't need it."
"Why do you say that?"
"I was innocent of everything that I was charged with. All the evidence that both exonerated me and put me here was blown up in the explosion and it was merely public opinion and the politicians need to be reelected that caused me to be here in the first place."
"Everyone thinks that they're ultimately innocent when they come here. I can tell you that so many of them are definitely not innocent."
"And yet they all get to leave from here."
"You've got a parole hearing coming up here soon." Stevenson looked down at the sheet of paper on the left hand of the desk and ran his finger slowly down a column before stopping midway down the paper. "Next week according to the schedule."
Again Harry shrugged noncommittally. "Not like it's going to do any good." At a raised eyebrow he crossed his arms over his chest and continued. "Even if the slim margin that I do…pass…the parole hearing and you open the gate to let me out, then what? I have no living family members to take care of me until my majority which means that I would go to an orphanage. In addition because of the way that the media works they'll make it out like you've released some dangerous psychotic killer on the loose which will only start the public outcry again and I'll be back here within a week."
"You don't think that after eight years, the public would have forgotten about your case and what the evidence was that pointed to you?" Here the man leaned forward, putting his hands on the desk and looking at the young man more closely. In the past it was this tactic that allowed him to get information out of the most stubborn children and even a few adults.
Harry, unfortunately, recognized the tactic and gave a small smile. "Don't play games Paul, I've known you too long." He laughed a little at the incredulous look on the man's face. "Come on, I actually enjoy being here. I get three square meals a day, get to interact with other children my own age and no one really expects anything out of me."
"You like being here? That doesn't sound like a very sane position to take if you really want to stay here." He continued to make a few notes, turning the piece of paper over as he started on the backside.
"I didn't have a lot growing up in the Dursley household. I lived in the cupboard under the stairs so actually having a place to stretch out is rather nice. Since they rarely fed me, unless someone was coming to check up on them, I get to eat what I want here and I like that."
"I'm sure that you're just exaggerating, Harry." He waved a pen in the air as if he was a conductor of an orchestra, but it only caused Harry to roll his eyes again. "Regardless of that, I have been contacted by a Nymphadora Tonks claiming to be some sort of distant relative of yours."
The man handed over a yellowed piece of paper that looked like it had been rolled out of the 19th century only a few days before. The letter was handed to Harry whom perused it slowly to take in each of the words and then set it down on the edge of the desk. "It doesn't really change anything, but thank you for telling me."
"Do you want to write her back and see about setting up an appointment on the next visitor day?" He was already reaching for a stack of stationary on his desk and a pen when Harry spoke up.
"No need really." Stevenson dropped his hand and stared at the young man before him. "I mean, there's really no point in her coming down here is there? It's not like they ever cared about me before." His voice was neutral as he spoke, waving his hand a little. "If this Tonks woman was really any family of mine she would have come to help me with the appeal seven years ago." Again he shrugged and kept his eyes locked on the older man's. "If that's all I think I should be getting back to the dormitory section, dinner will be served shortly."
"Actually…" Stevenson smiled a little sardonically and stared at the young man before him. He gave a small pause in the span of time it took him to lean back a little and tent his fingers together. "I wanted to ask you about your relationship with Eva Martin and if I should be warning the infirmary." Harry groaned and rolled his eyes again as the older man gave off a light chuckle.
Visitor days were always a hectic time for the inmates as well as the administration of the center to organize and get ready for the influx of people. The days were scheduled rigorously and required an appointment to see some of the inmates that had been there for quite some time. The most violent one's, those whose crimes would normally land them straight into the state penitentiary, would receive notes that people had come to visit them, but would not get a chance to actually speak to these people. Because of all the regulations, mostly to keep the center from looking bad to the public, most people didn't visit and simply wrote letters to those inside that they wanted to keep in contact with.
In the eight years that Harry had been at the center he had only ever received visits that first four years from Mrs. Figg before she moved away. After Patrick was released, serving three years of his five year sentence, the boy kept up a sporadic correspondence with his former cell mate. The last letter he had received told him that Patrick had moved out to the country somewhere, more than likely somewhere remote where he could work out his aggression against his parents on the unsuspecting trees that needed to be logged. It was because of this rather consistent fact, that no one wanted to see him, that he was momentarily surprised to find that a young woman was there to see him.
Visitors more than often stayed in the small administrative section since it was the closest to the main gate. Lawyers, those that the families of children could afford, were allowed further into the complex to converse in private with their clients, but for the most part outsiders did not go very far into the complex of buildings. The room where visitors were asked to remain while their family members, or those that they wished to see, were retrieved was a large cafeteria style room with round tables placed sporadically throughout the room that could easily seat five people; the chairs were either bolted to the floor or to the tables themselves after a rather violent outburst a few years ago.
The room was painted in the same color scheme and held no other things other than the heavy table/chair combinations. The floor was white tile and had to be replaced every few years as it would chip and that would offer some sort of weapon to the inmates at least that was what the official party line was for the constant renovations. This was the room that Harry was lead into. Several families were already gathered around tables talking to their family members in orange jumpsuits. A few families here and there were hugging one another and even one in the corner seemed to be playing some kind of board game.
The guard that had come to collect him led him over towards a single table that held a prim and proper looking young woman possibly in her early twenties with pinned back brown hair and glasses perched on her nose. She was rather attractive even with the severe looking black and coal suit that she wore. Harry could see the heels that she wore as well as the stockings that disappeared into the black pencil skirt that hung to just above her knees. A brown leather case was sitting next to her on the table and she seemed to fidget slightly like the suit was new and she was not used to it just yet.
"Miss Tonks?" The guard asked, at a nod from the woman the man pushed Harry forward. "You have half an hour until the end of the time, call one of us if there's any problems." The guard turned and with his back to the woman smiled and winked at Harry before he shuffled off through a wrought iron door that lead back to the yard.
"You must be Harry." The woman, Tonks, stood up smoothing her skirt down and offering her hand. "Please, call me Tonks."
Harry detected something and smiled a little. "Very nice to meet you, Nymphadora." At the flinch he smiled even wider and slid down into the seat offered to him after a small handshake. "I wonder what you think you're going to accomplish by coming here."
"I just wanted to get to know you a little better." She spread her hands out on the table and gave a small weak smile.
"Arabella was the only one that ever really cared about me, so I fail to see how you could have just now realized that I was here." Harry crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in the chair as best he could.
"Arabella, some girlfriend of yours from back home?" The woman tried a small smile, but dropped it at the look from Harry. "I just found out that you were here, I'm sorry that I couldn't have come sooner, but some things have happened recently that I thought you should know about." Harry gave her a nod to show that he understood before she pulled something from the case at her side. "About three years ago a man by the name of Sirius Black escaped from prison and began to head in this direction. When he had heard of the explosion at your former residence…..he was found dead several days later."
Harry leaned forward and saw sadness in the woman's eyes as she sagged slightly against the table. "I'm sorry, he must have meant something to you for you to react so strongly to him like that."
She smiled a little and wiped away the tears that were not coming at her eyes. "Yes, well, he was my cousin, but also your godfather." She pulled a photo from the case and slid it across the table to Harry. The photo showed a haunted face and sunken eyes, pale pasty white skin and black hair that hung in a matted nest about his shoulders.
"My godfather?" Harry stared down at the photo and could have sworn he saw the man's eyes move slightly to look at him.
"Yes, he was imprisoned shortly after your parents died. It was assumed that he had a hand in their deaths in point of fact."
Harry shook his head a little. "I don't understand. My parents died in a car crash, so unless he was the one driving…" He stopped as the woman was giving him an open mouthed stare, her tongue working to form words and nothing coming out.
"You…they…..you didn't get your letter, even here?" She leaned forward and looked Harry in the eyes in a serious expression coming across her face. "Have you ever made things happen when you were sad, or angry, something you couldn't explain afterwards?"
Harry shrugged, a little confused by the non sequitar he answered truthfully. "Sure I have, but I've learned in the last few years that getting upset around here isn't going to do anything." He waved his hand around noncommittally at the rest of the inmates speaking with family and friends. "As you can see I don't get very many visitors, so I still fail to see why you're bothering to come all the way down here to tell me that I have a dead godfather."
Tonks fidgeted a little, sliding the glasses off of her heart shaped face. Harry could clearly see the green eyes now. "I'm not supposed to say, Dumbledore….well, he's my boss and he wanted me to come down here and convince you to go to a special school." She sighed and pushed the glasses back onto her face. "The point is that you're special, Harry, and I'm supposed to offer you a place in a school for gifted children."
Harry sighed and shook his head keeping his arms crossed over his chest. "Look, I already told Paul that I rather like it here. No one is trying to starve me to death or beat me to a bloody pulp." He cocked his head to the side as Tonks gave a weak laugh thinking that he was joking. "There's something about you…" She gave a start and stared hard at him. "You're not really who you look like. You're hiding yourself."
Tonks fidgeted a little more and Harry could see the edges of her eyes flicker from brown to green and back again. He smiled a little and shook his head. "Listen Harry…" She spoke in a soft tone. "Just think about coming to the school, I know that you didn't do what they think you did and we might be able to help with that." She held up her hands before he could protest again. "I'm just asking you to think about it. If you want to stay here and be locked up for the rest of your life then so be it, but just think about it. It's a boarding school so you would still have somewhere to eat and some of the best food around. I went there myself."
Harry nodded a little and smiled a charming smile that he had used on Eva when he first met her. "Where will I be staying before going to school? With you?"
Tonks was able to fight down a blush before she slid the papers back into the case and latched it shut. "If that's permissible then yes, otherwise you'll be relocated somewhere else."
"Very well, but I do have a few things that I should mention." If Harry timed this right he could do it when the guard came to collect him. Tonks gave a nod and Harry continued speaking. "First I want full disclosure about what you know about me."
Once again, Tonks chewed on her lower lip for a moment and then gave a small nod. "I'll have to speak to the boss about it all, but I suppose that it might be possible to tell you some of the things you should have already been told."
Harry could hear the heavy footfalls and the wrought iron door behind him already opening. He could time this just right. "Next I want to see what you really look like." Before she could speak he was already standing next to the guard. "Finally, I should warn you that I prefer to sleep with another warm body in the nude, preferably a female."
He was already turned around and near to the door when she seemed to realize what he had said. He didn't get to see her reaction, but did hear a rather large shout and a crash that signaled something heavy hitting the tiled floor. He ignored it as the guard next to him chuckled and led him back towards the dormitory building near the back of the complex. The man didn't keep a grip on Harry's arm like they usually did to be sure that the prisoner wouldn't run away, but he did speak a little to him once in a while.
"You've got a way with the ladies there, Potter."
"You need some help with catching that special lady, Bob?" Harry grinned as the man chuckled a little more as he pulled a key ring from his belt. Using a large old looking key he unlocked a metal door and held it open for the young man.
"Yeah, right, like I'm going to take advice from a kid more than half my age." He shrugged a little as they headed down the main level before taking a spiral staircase up to the level that over looked the open courtyard. "Although you do seem to have quite a few bed infractions against your record."
Harry shrugged and smiled a little. "What can I say; I like to stay warm at night." The pair of men shared a laugh as Harry was lead into his room that had been his home for a number of years.
It had been a week since the odd woman had come to see him and Harry wasn't expecting anything to come out of the meeting with her. He was surprised the first morning after the meeting when a package came through the security gates for him claiming that it would help him in the end with something that was coming up. The letter that was written on the top of the package was of an old heavy parchment like paper and even the wrappings were browned and seemed weathered. The package itself turned out to be an old worn book with faded lettering on the spine.
Flipping to the front page, Harry had seen that the book was called Culture and common laws of the hidden world and seemed to take many things for granted. As he read through the book, Harry picked up on some of the old English grammar and syntax being used; things he hadn't encountered since his early grammar school days when reading about Shakespeare. Once past the language some of the terms were ambiguous at best and described technology woefully out of date around the world.
The second day he received another book, this one was slightly newer, but still faded with silver lettering detailing that it was about something called potions. Reading through it made more like a cookbook, but it was still interesting to Harry to go through the recipes and to see what he could make with various obscure plants. Given the fact that there wasn't much else to do at the center, Harry continued to read late into the night and even sometimes on the days outside.
Most people left him alone during the days, a few of what he could really consider friends would talk to him, but for the most part he was left alone. Valarie came out of the infirmary not willing to talk about what had occurred after he was carted away, but scowled at Harry whenever he went past with one of the old books in his hand. Harry knew that he was planning something and therefore kept his guard up constantly when around a large group of people; he remembered how easily it was for a knife to slip through someone's ribs while being jostled about by a large crowd.
For that week the books continued to arrive on various subjects ranging from something called Herbology to simple etiquette and customs of some hidden world. The word magic was used frequently as well as other terms such as wand, but Harry shrugged and read it up as much as possible. He didn't really believe in much of these things anymore, but he did take note that things have been happening to him off and on for the last fourteen years that he could remember. He had done things that were unexplainable for various reasons, but he had always brushed it off as nothing until that Tonks woman had said that he was special.
At the end of the week he had a small stack of books that he had been going through intermittently when one of the normal guards came up to the small room that he was appropriated. A few years ago he was given his own place seeing as how he was a somewhat model inmate of the center; he still got into a few fist fights, but most of those were from standing up to a bully or instigated by another one of the kids. The guard tapped on the door and then opened it slowly, not being locked much during the day and on the general population wing of the center.
"Potter, you got a hearing in a few minutes." The guard looked over the books for a moment and then turned back towards the door. "You might want to get a little cleaned up."
"Know what it's about?" Harry set aside the latest book that he had been reading, only getting it the day before he was already three quarters of the way through the heavy thing. The guard groaned and shrugged.
"Why would I know? They never tell us anything in this place." He continued to grumble as he left the room and headed up the cell block back to his normal rounds.
Harry set the book down on the stack of the others and got up, pulling out his meager toiletry set that he had been given every month for this purpose. As a general rule nothing was given to the inmates that would possibly give them a weapon, hence soap bars were out, but body wash was available in small hotel sized shampoo containers. Clothing wasn't much of an issue either seeing as how they all wore the same jumpsuits and were given two sets of them so that if one was dirty they could wear the other while they waited on the weekly laundry to be done.
The bathhouse was exactly that, a large building filled with various shower stalls and a large tub sunk into the ground. When the center was built sometime in the late seventies the free love movement was still going on and the bath house consisted of one large open room where men and women would bathe together. At the time it was thought that it would be more of an adult living community, like a commune, than an actual prison. When it was converted to a juvenile detention center, walls were put up to separate out the areas so that the boys and the girls would be bathing separately.
That's not to say that there were ways of getting around these protections to a girl's innocence. The girls had come up with an ingenious system here and there of getting into the boy's showers to join their boyfriends or lovers, depending on the week. As of yet, the boys hadn't figured out how to do the opposite as the more protections were from the boys side over to the girl's and not the other way around. It was because of this that Harry was never surprised to see a girl sneaking out of one of the private shower stalls and slipping back outside.
For the most part the boy's section, and by extension and imagination the girl's, consisted of several individual private stalls near the front of the room cordoned off with flimsy stall walls. These were usually reserved by the more important of the inmates, or those that got there early in the morning. The rest of the large room was open with several shower heads along one wall with urinals and a large depressed tub in the middle of the room. It wasn't uncommon to just see people lounging about in towels or nothing at all and enjoying the heat provided from the constantly flowing hot water.
Once Harry was cleaned up, taking care to keep his things separate from the group of kids running in and out of the room, he changed into the better looking of the two pairs of jumpsuits and stepped out into the sun. There were guards and inmates freely walking from one building to the next, being the summer with the slight heat wave a few of the boys had stripped off their tops and gone sunbathing. A few teenage girls looked at them envious wanting to do much the same, but knowing that it wouldn't happen.
A guard took Harry personally from the door to the bath house across the yard towards the grey administrative building. Since it wasn't a usual visitor day the building was locked up tight and required a few security codes to get in. They passed the darkened visitor room on the way down the same grey carpeted tope covered wall hallway to a small room. The room was set up like a conference room with a long table in the center just in front of a large window that looked out to the barbed wire topped gates.
The room was much of the same grey carpet and tope covered walls, but what made it different was the furniture. The only furniture in the room was the long table with several chairs around it. In fact there were five chairs on one side and one on the other. The guard pointed to the solitary chair for Harry to sit in, although it didn't take that much to figure it out from the way things were set up. Once he was seated the door opened again and a series of people came in to fill in the chairs on the other side of the table.
He recognized the balding head of Paul Stevenson from his meeting the past week, but some of the others were unknowns. There was a woman that he vaguely recalled seeing walking around the grounds one day with a clipboard and taking various notes as children ran around her. She had grey hair that was pulled up tight into a bun that seemed to make her face pull tight as well. Her face was dead set in a grimace as she looked Harry over and set a file down on her side of the table. The next unknown was a man in a crisp business suit that carried a leather attaché case that he set against his seat once he sat down. The final was a young woman in her early twenties that had flowing red hair and bright green eyes.
"Mister Potter, you've been called here today for a formal parole hearing." Stevenson started, setting leather bound file folder on the table as well as a tape recorder. Pressing the red button he spoke clearly and with conviction. "Let the record show that Mister Potter has arrived prompt and apparently clean for his first parole hearing."
"Must we go through all of this official language, I have places to be." The man in the suit drawled importantly on, looking at an expensive looking silver watch on his left wrist.
"Mister Pemberton, it will take as long as it does. Considering this is the first that Mister Potter has ever had in the years he has been with us is a rather important step." Stevenson smiled gravely towards the man as he rolled his eyes. The man crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his chair apparently unconcerned with everything going on around him.
"For the record…" the woman with the grey hair leaned forward putting her arms on the table so that she could look across to Stevenson more clearly. "…why are we convening this hearing?"
"Besides the fact that he's never had one?" Stevenson smiled at Harry while leveling the glare that he got from the woman. "Fine, his last living relative, a second cousin has requested that we review his file so that he might be given into her custody."
"Nonsense." The man in the suit leaned forward and pulled out a sheaf of paper from the case before snapping it closed. "Given the list of this boy's crimes he would do well to stay behind bars for the rest of his life as per the judge's orders."
The woman on the end, the one with the red hair and green eyes pulled a sheet of paper from her own small file on the table, speaking for the first time. "Interestingly even the most horrid of gangsters and criminals get at least one parole hearing and yet you condemn this child to such a title." She gave a smile to Pemberton as he glared at her. "Be that as it may, the original sentencing called for him to be evaluated before movement from this facility to a more permanent home at the state penitentiary."
Stevenson tented his fingers as he listened to the others and kept his gaze locked on Harry, whom held his gaze just as seriously. During the entire conversation Harry had not moved at all, simply sitting straight backed in the chair and staring at Stevenson. "What do you think, Harry?" His booming voice cut through the conversation around him.
Harry smiled and shrugged before leaning back and seeming to relax. "It doesn't really matter now does it?" He got confused looks from most of those across from him with only Pemberton sneering. "You all still think I did it as does the rest of the country, so even if I do get out of here now I'll only be blamed for something else later on to be right back here again."
Pemberton huffed as he looked over a piece of paper in front of him. "You had ample time for an appeal, boy, and yet you let the date lax. Clearly you're just as guilty now as you were then and have no remorse for your actions."
Harry flinched at the term boy, which only the woman with the red hair took any notice of. "Tell me, Mister Pemberton where I was to get the funds for the appeal, much less the public support." He smiled at the others as he broke contact with Stevenson. "I'm sure you all were handed my file only moments ago so I'll enlighten you about a certain fact. I was arrested, tried, and convicted in less than a week on weak circumstantial evidence because a politician wanted to win an election. I was taken from my hospital bed without letting me heal properly, a fact of which I have to live with to this day."
The redhead had looked up sharply when he had said this. Sliding the silver rimmed glasses down the bridge of her nose she looked at him over the top of the lenses. "Exactly what do you mean, Mister Potter? When you were brought in your medical examination showed nothing out of the ordinary besides a few cuts and scrapes from the explosion."
Harry nodded as he moved to the side a little and peeled back his hair. Along the hairline looked to be a silvery substance that was a quarter of an inch in thickness and running down the side of his face. Moving his shirt aside there was another large black spot on his side that looked like a bruise that never healed. Combined with the lightning bolt scar on his forehead this all added up to an interesting collection of scars that he had. Even at a young age and in the center he understood that the amount of scars that he had was not normal.
Pemberton was the first to recover as he stared at the point on Harry's side where the shirt was now covering the black spot. "What exactly is that on your torso there, Mister Potter?"
Harry switched his eyes to look at each of the individual members of the panel. He ended up looking at the redhead on the end, tilting his head slightly to the side. "Shrapnel from the explosion. I was told by the doctors that the force pushed a piece of electrical wiring into my head, took quite some time for my hair to start growing back in. As for the spot on my side I was originally told that it was just a bruise and would heal over time, obviously they were wrong."
The people on the other side of the table looked back and forth between themselves and then across at Harry. They seemed to be thinking something quickly and with no words passing between them. Pemberton and Stevenson looked at opposite sides of the table at the two stern looking women that looked back coolly at Harry. The redhead, whom still had not been named, chewed on the end of the glasses while the other salt and pepper haired older woman was looking at him with a little more than she had at the beginning.
"While your injuries do give some merit to your possibility of parole, particularly if you plan on getting them taken care of; there is a question as to whether or not they affected your mental state after the explosion." The stern woman on the end spoke with a curious tone and a slight edge to her voice.
"As you said, I was checked over by the medical team here when I arrived and they determined that the wire and whatever this is, hasn't affected me." He swept his hand over the clothed part of his body where the black spot was located. "I was told that the wiring might interact with my optic nerves, but I have not had any problems thus far."
"I believe the question was about your psychological health and not your physical abilities." Pemberton spoke slowly as if to a child while tapping the end of his pen on the file folder seated in front of him.
Harry shrugged as he looked down the line at the people once more. "I wouldn't really be able to comment on that considering I have never talked to a psychologist while being here. I know that the Dursleys never held any love for me and I have my own suspicions about this so called cousin that has suddenly appeared out of nowhere now and not several years earlier." He shrugged again as he rubbed his right arm a little bit. "Regardless of your decision here, you'll have to put it on record that I'm free and I'm sure that there will be those people out there that will not want to see me alive for very much longer."
Once again, each person on the panel looked from each other and then back at Harry before they settled back in their seats. It would take some time for them to really talk and come to a consensus, but at that moment Harry didn't really notice much of anything else in the room. His eyes wandered over the people as they talked in hush tones as well as the rest of the sparsely decorated room. It did not take long for them to come back to the discussion at hand and brought Harry back into the fold.
"We have one last question, Mister Potter, before we make our final decision on this matter of your parole." Stevenson was talking as he leaned forward in the seat, resting his elbows on the table as he stared at Harry. Once he had the boy's full attention he leaned in a little further. "If you get out, what exactly do you plan to do?"
"Given the chance, I'll probably just go to school." He shrugged a little and smiled slightly at the confused looks from the panel members. "My…cousin, told me of a boarding school that I might be accepted at even given my situation here."
In the end it was the panel's decision that he would be remanded into the custody of this mysterious cousin. There was very little information on the woman other than the fact that she lived somewhere in the downtown parts of London and seemed fairly well off. He had seen the small folder of paper that they could gather on the woman and it showed the general area that she lived in, but not the specific address. It wasn't commented on even as the folder was given to Harry to study before he was to meet the woman at the end of the weekend; she had to be notified to come up and gather him before too long.
He had gotten the admission for going to Scotland while on his parole as long as he sent letters to a parole officer every week and kept his nose clean. It wasn't difficult to get these concessions out of the panel as they seemed to be rather eager to get rid of him after everything about his medical conditions had come out. While they had not said it out loud, it was understood that it had been a serious lapse in the Ministry of Justice to remove a young boy from medical care when he was still being treated and it might have turned out differently for young Harry should he have had the time to heal properly.
The center was much like a school in the fact that rumors and secrets were never kept that way for very long. It had taken only a day before rumors were flying that he was going to get out and that there was going to be changes made to the rest of the inmates at the center. The younger children became restless, shifting about and moving in packs while the older teenagers were menacingly smiling at him as he passed in the hallway. He ignored most of this for as long as he could, but on the morning of his departure something happened that he had to take some notice.
He was in his room packing up the small belongings that he had accumulated over the years from being there; most of it was from former roommates or friends that had left things behind for him to keep. Flipping closed a lighter that Patrick had left behind for him to remember him by he looked up at the knock at his door. Since he was in the non secure wing of the center most of the doors were remained unlocked during the daylight hours and the inmates were free to move around as they pleased. This helped him in the past when he was bed hopping or trying to stay out of trouble.
Standing in the doorway was one of those girls that he had visited sometimes late in the night. Her hair was to her waist now pulled back in a long braid that she had refused to cut for anything; briefly Harry remembered a few things that he had done with that braid that had made her happy at the time. She was in the normal orange jumpsuit with the zipped pulled down slightly to show the white shirt underneath. Leaning against the door frame she stared at him for a moment before speaking.
"So it's true then, Potter?" Her voice was soft with a small edge to it, but there was something more just under the surface.
"Yeah, I'm getting out of here for good." He paused as he put one of the many old books into the rucksack that he had been given to clear out what he wanted to keep. The pile of old clothes on the bed were what he had come in with and he was ignoring them for the time being.
"I won't say that I'm going to miss you. You were a good lay, but we both moved on." She was fighting her emotions that much he could see as she shook slightly. Her hands balled into fists as she banged one against the opposite wall. "Damn it all, why do you have to be the one to leave, and now?"
He smiled a little as he came to her and lightly touched her shoulder; years of being on the inside prevented him from doing much else at the moment. "You'll be fine, as you said, you moved on. I heard you were with Mike nowadays." She gave a small snort and he smiled as he turned to go back to his packing.
"That's not exactly what I meant, Harry." She used his first name, it was that serious. "The teenagers are talking; with you gone there won't be anything to keep them in check and off the younger ones."
Harry shook his head even as a small girl peeked around the corner of his doorway. It was the little girl that he had defended not very long ago, her bright brown eyes sparkling slightly with shed tears. He could see the tracks along her cheek as she came around to the door frame and looked in. Her thumb was firmly planted in her mouth as she stared up at the two older teenagers. Popping her thumb out for a moment her quiet voice still carried across to them.
"Harry, why are you leaving us? Why are you leaving me?" She tried to put her thumb back into her mouth, but stopped and gripped her small hands into fists.
Harry sighed as he came and knelt down in front of the little girl, gently putting his hands on her shoulders even as they shook. "You'll be fine, remember what I told you before." Try as she might the girl nodded slowly even as a soft sob came out. "You've got to be strong, you don't need me anymore." With a wicked grin he leaned in and whispered something to the small girl.
The girl's eyes light up like it was Christmas before pulling him into a tight hug. "You mean it?" At his nod she squealed a little and rushed out of the door, presumably to tell the others.
"You always did have a way with the ladies, Potter." Eva was still standing at the doorway with her back against the frame. "Would you…..do me a favor when you get out?"
Harry looked the girl up and down for a moment and then nodded, cinching up the rucksack as he moved to stand across from her. "Sure thing, Eva, what is it?"
Her hand shook slightly as she slipped it into a pocket and pulled out a worn yellow envelope with an untidy scrawl on it. Her hand still shaking she handed it over to him and released a long sigh. "See that this gets posted, or even deliver it yourself."
Turning the envelope over in his hand he smiled a little and nodded. Throwing caution to the wind he moved forward and gently embraced the girl. It was awkward for a moment as she stood there staring just over his shoulder, but after a time her arms came up and gently held him close. They stayed like that for a moment, lightly hugging one another before he slowly backed off enough to stare into her eyes and give a small wink. This brought a smile to her face even as he turned away from her towards the pile of clothes on the bed.
"Think these might finally fit me, it's been eight years." He held up the massive shirt and pants that he had come in wearing. They were still stained slightly with blood and by the looks of it would still be quite large on him. Her laughter was broken by the sound of a guard coming up the catwalk towards the room.
"Potter, come on, get dressed, your cousin is going to be here soon." He smiled to Eva before moving off down the line of cells towards the next block on the route that they were to take on patrol.
Harry shrugged and started to undress with Eva still in the room and the door wide open. She had seen him do this countless times before, granted there was more incentive to get naked completely in the least amount of time, but she still cocked her head to the side a little when he pulled off the shirt and pants. He left the boxers on as he finished dressing, doing up the broken trainers as well as he looked down at himself. He turned this way and that to get the best possible angle, but no matter where he turned it looked the same.
"I guess it finally fits, only took eight years of growing." Both teenagers bent over slightly with laughter as Harry finished up putting things away in his rucksack. Eva helped him to carry it for a moment and then paused at the door.
"I am going to miss you, Harry." She leaned in and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek before turning and moving away. If he didn't know any better he could have sworn that she was swaying her hips a little more than necessary.
He shook his head and headed down the catwalk that circled the second floor and down the spiral stairs. The middle of the building was a large open area that was used as a lounge for the inmates to congregate and to eat in on occasion. Currently there were a few people here and there as he made his way to the main doors and then out into the sunlight. Just as before there was a guard waiting for him and started to escort him towards the main gate.
As he got closer to the gate he could see a lone figure standing at the end of the small drive where the barbed wire fences ended. It was the outer perimeter of the center and where visitors would have to be checked and guided in on a normal basis. From a distance he could make out that it was Tonks with her brown hair done up in a bun again and wearing what appeared to be a black dress that came down to her knees. When she saw the pair of them coming out of the building she seemed to fidget slightly, moving from her right to her left leg.
"She's been like that all afternoon." The guard grumbled besides him. "Hasn't said a damn word, but has been fidgeting for quite a while." Harry shook his head as he was led up to the gate and the guard handed him a few papers to sign.
Both Tonks and Harry had to sign a few things and he was given a business card that had a number on the back he was supposed to call after a certain period of time. Turning back he looked at the center, noticing a few glares and stares coming his way. Edward was with his usual group glaring at him with a smirk on his lips, but what he didn't see was the group of children behind him wielding a few kitchen utensils. Harry smiled and waved at the groups before turning to face Tonks.
"Ready to go, cousin?" The woman said as she held out her hand. Her nerves showed through from the shaking hand.
Reaching out Harry gently took the hand and gave it a comforting squeeze. "I don't know what you're so worried about, I've spent the last fourteen years being disciplined to clean and cook." He shrugged as he moved towards the parking lot, not looking back to see the surprise look on her face.
Catching up to him she put her hands behind her back a little and walked away from the center towards the parking lot. "I told you before that I would explain a few things about how special you really are as well as a little more about the school that you're going to be attending in the fall."
"Yeah, you made it sound like the X-Men or something." Harry rolled his eyes at the confused look from the woman as he smiled and pulled the rucksack higher on his shoulder. "So, which one is your's?"
"Which car belongs to you?" His hand swept across the expansive parking lot. There was a dumpster in the middle of it that seemed to hide half of the lot from the view of the center itself. The dumpster was left over from the construction done to modernize the facility done several years ago that no one seemed very inclined to move anytime soon.
Tonks worried her lip a little between her teeth as she looked down at the young man before her and then around the parking lot. She gripped his sleeve and pulled him behind the dumpster before pulling out a length of rope. "Listen, this is one of the things that I have to explain to you, but I'm not sure if I can do it here." She looked around a little and then pushed the piece of rope into his hands. "Take this, and when you land don't lock your legs and you'll be fine."
Before Harry could say anything about the absurdity of holding a piece of rope in the middle of the parking lot he felt a queer sensation start just below his abdomen. He felt a jerking sensation just behind his navel and then his feet seemed to be pulled out from under him. He tried very hard to stop the feeling and even felt himself start to slow down a little as the whirling colors around him seemed to slow down a little more. He was pulled along still though and remembering what he was told loosened up his legs just before he landed, feeling the concrete form under him was an odd sensation.
His feet hit the ground and his instincts and training over the years had him standing up straight and looking around in no time. The scene around him had changed. He was standing on the front porch of an old looking townhouse in a rundown looking small town square. The streets were littered with garbage and the trees were gnarled and falling apart. A few benches here and there were written on in spray paint and mostly broken. It reminded him a little of the playgrounds at the center after they had been used for a long time.
Turning to the side he saw Tonks standing there staring at him just standing near the stairs. She took a step forward as if to say something or going for the door, but her balance was off putting slightly. Her feet started to slip backwards and it was only Harry's hand on her dress that pulled her back to her feet and kept her from falling backwards down the stairs. She blushed a little as she moved around him to open the door.
"All right, what the hell was that and where the bloody hell are we?" Harry asked as he looked around at the door that they were now facing.
"Not here, I'll explain when we get inside, just be quiet until we get into the lounge." Her voice was lowered as she pushed open the door and stepped inside. She waited only long enough for Harry to come inside before pushing the door closed with a silent click.
The hallway that they had come into was small, only about four feet across and covered in sickly looking wallpaper. Harry could see that at one point in time the wallpaper had been a vibrant dark green, but it had faded from the sun and disuse as it was peeling slightly. The floor creaked and moved slightly as they moved up the hallway and there were parts where it appeared that the floor itself was starting to cave in. Along one wall that they passed slowly and silently was a curtained off portion with large thick black curtains; as Harry moved past it he could swear he heard breathing from behind the curtains, but didn't venture to find out what it was.
The first door that they came to was open and several people were sitting in it. Several of them were redheads with a set of twins off in the corner talking to one another about one thing or another. They barely looked up as Harry and Tonks passed by them. Harry could see that the two youngest did look up when they heard something, but the boy quickly looked away while the girl stared at him for a moment until he was out of sight.
Tonks led him up the creaky stairs and to the first floor landing. The rooms were set up the same as the first floor with the same peeling wallpaper and paint coming off the ceiling. She turned into the third door on the left and pulled it open to show a nice looking room with a large queen sized bed in the middle with green drapes along the outside of it. The décor was relatively dark and the room itself had the smell that it hadn't been used in years. Once again, Tonks led Harry into the room and then closed the door behind him with a silent click.
"Are you going to start explaining now or should I just call Bedlam?" Harry hissed as he set the rucksack down against the side of the bed and sat on the edge of it.
"All right, when I said that you were special, I wasn't kidding, but what I left out was why you're special." Tonks moved to the side of the room where the dresser was located and pulled out a thin looking stick. She waved it over the spot a few times and a chair appeared out of nothing.
It was only Harry's years of keeping his emotions off his face that allowed him not to fall off the bed in shock. "Those books spoke of magic, I guess it's real?"
Tonks smiled as she sat down in the chair that she had made, crossing her legs easily. "You catch on pretty quick." She gave a wink to the boy and smiled a little more. "Did you read everything that I sent you?"
Harry nodded and then looked around at the room that he was in. "So you think that I can do magic?"
"I don't think, I know. Remember I asked you about your emotions, if you had done anything when you were angry or embarrassed. It's usually small things like that."
Harry leaned back on his elbows in thought as he went over what he had done over the last eight years. Several incidents came to mind, but nothing that he wanted to say out loud. They hadn't stopped and indeed the most recent was the day before. "All right, I believe you, and you're what….sending me to a school to be trained to use this?"
Tonks smiled and nodded once before her hair morphed into bubblegum pink. "Yup. We'll have to take you to get your school things in a little while, but I don't see why you wouldn't fit right in with the others at Hogwarts. There are a few current and former students here at the house right now."
Harry nodded as he thought back to the people that he had seen in the lounge at the first floor. "About that, who's house is this anyway?"
Tonks bit her lip a little and it took quite a lot for Harry not to come and put his arms around her. "It belonged to a second cousin of mine that died. Your godfather in fact." She shook her head a little. "It's a little difficult relationship, but my mother was his cousin and when he died he left my family the house to use as we see fit."
"If that's true then how are we cousins?" Harry indicated between him and her. He smiled at her slight blush that reached up into her hair slightly.
"Ok, so I lied to get you out of there. You're not really my cousin, more like some distant third or fourth relative, who knows." She sighed and waved her hand a little as she stood up and cracked her back. Harry stared at her a little, cocking his head to the left.
"You still haven't gotten into my conditions that I told you about when I said that I might consider coming with you." Harry smiled as he sat up and tented his fingers in front of him.
Tonks turned around as she looked at him and then put her hands on her hips. "What conditions? I thought that you would be grateful to get out of that place."
Harry smiled and stood up as he moved to her, putting his finger on her lips. He could feel her shudder slightly at the contact, but he kept his eyes locked on her own. "Ah, I said that I would like to see what you really look like, and the fact that I rarely sleep alone." He smiled and was rewarded as her hair and face turned beet red.
The week that he had spent in the house was getting on his nerves. It wasn't so much the house itself but the people that came and went within it. All right, there was some of it that was attributed to the house itself, but that was just because he was told on the third day that he was not to leave the house under any circumstances. He had gone to drop off the letter from Eva into the nearest box and when he returned he found that several adults were searching for him and asking the neighbors questions. He had walked past them confident and strolled right up to the door and back into the house followed by everyone else.
After that he was told to remain in the house and that he was to be watched at all times should anything happen. He wasn't told specifically that he was being spied on, but the man that had told him so implied that he was always being watched. That was the biggest rub of them all; some old guy with a beard down to his belt buckle was the one that ordered him to stay in the house and not Tonks. When he had tried to ask her about it she changed the subject and said that he should just follow orders and do as he was told.
The people were another thing that he had tried to get used to living in the house and not the center. He was used to people coming and going all over the place and to not have very much privacy, but these people took it to a whole new level. On Wednesday he wasn't allowed in the kitchen for several hours and neither were the other teenagers. They sulked on the first floor landing staring at the door as if it would move if they concentrated hard enough; for his part Harry was unsure if this was because they had always known about magic and figured it would work or if it was just them being childish.
He had met a few people that came in and out, some of his future professors that would look at him and then stare at the scar on his forehead. Everyone that he met stared at the scar on his forehead before saying anything to him, most gushing about how great it was to meet him. One person in particular nearly fell over herself to say hello, and it wasn't Tonks. The people and the staring were starting to get on his nerves, but thankfully the house was relatively empty tonight except for the family of redheads, himself and Tonks. Unfortunately, Tonks still hadn't taken up his offer to warm her bed, or taken care of his other condition.
He was sitting in the library reading over some of the textbooks that he would be expected to know later on during the year. He had spent a great deal of time reading in the library trying to catch up with what he figured was the rest of the world; he had already made it through a few years of charms and was going to start on recent history before too long. While no one would tell him what he would be taking he simply picked up a random book and started reading, going over the wand movements with a stick he had found outside when he was able to sneak about. The creaking of the front door signaled that someone was coming in, and the resounding crash told him that it was Tonks.
He had been there only a few hours when Tonks had first knocked over the umbrella stand and caused the curtains to flutter with obscenities. He was told that it was a portrait that no one was able to remove and would shout at anyone that tried to do it. He got up from his chair and made his way downstairs, seeing that Tonks had once again sprawled out on the floor covered in umbrellas, but it was what she was wearing that caught his attention. It looked like she was wearing a black robe over top a pink spaghetti strap corset that tied up along the side. Her midriff was bare with a small star just above her navel and wearing short black shorts. Harry swore he could see the straps of a green thong before she pulled herself together and stood up, pulling the robe tight around her.
The rest of her outfit consisted of a set of fishnet stockings that came up to her thighs and a pair of black combat boots. It looked to Harry that she was wearing mismatching socks as well; one was stripped while the other was white. Her hair was a dark purple done up in twin pigtails on the side and what looked to be a black leather chocker completed the outfit. Once she was on her feet the portrait was still screaming at her, but Harry had an idea.
Strolling over to the portrait he pulled the curtains back and slipped inside of them. Tonks could only see the bottom of his legs and his feet as he was concealed within the curtains. After a few moments the screaming stopped and then there was a loud thud as the gold frame of the portrait hit the ground and then leaned back up against the wall. Smiling, Harry came back out into the hallway pulling the curtains closed.
"Harry, what did you do?" Tonks asked with wonder in her voice. She had pulled the robe closed, but Harry could still see a little of her tight toned stomach.
He shrugged and made for the stairs again as he looked back down at her. "Consider my offers and I might tell you how I got the old bat off the wall." For her part the Auror flushed red again just before he was out of reach and back up towards the first floor once more.
As he was walking down the hallway towards the library he could feel at least one pair of eyes on him and tracking him as he moved towards the door. It was a useful skill to have in the center, knowing when you're being watched and expecting an ambush at any point in time. Reaching the door he turned back towards one of the bedrooms and could just make out a pair of bright brown eyes staring at him through a curtain of red hair before the door flipped shut and the lock was thrown. He shrugged and sighed as he headed back into the library and picked up a history book that he had left lying around.
Flopping down into his favorite chair and kicking off his shoes he left his legs hanging over the arm of the chair as he flipped to the most recent section of the book. The back of the book, and indeed most of the books that he had gone through, usually consisted of the most recent renovations to spells and the like. It made him think that people simply annotated a book and then just put it out on the shelves again to be sold without rewriting all of the things that were disprove at the beginning; he had found this frustrating as the end of the books would more or less contradict the beginning sections. One passage in particular caught his eye as he was reading through it, however.
Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived
Not much is known about Mister Potter besides the fact that he is famous for his defeat of You-Know-Who. Every witch or wizard knows the story of how the dark wizard hunted the Potter family for months finally cornering them in Godric's Hollow after they were betrayed by their secret keeper Sirius Black. What followed was a spectacular fight between the elder Potters that unfortunately ended with their deaths. Then, the most feared dark wizard in a century turned his wand against the infant son of James and Lily Potter. The killing curse rebounded off the small infant and struck the caster, banishing the dark wizard's body to ashes and destroying him completely.
Arguably the most famous wizard in recent history, Mister Potter disappeared from the magical world on that night that his parents were killed and he was given the infamous lightning bolt scar on his forehead. It has been theorized in recent years that the rebounding killing curse had an adverse effect on Mister Potter's mental state and had caused him to go into seclusion these many years. Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as the Head Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, has repeatedly been asked if he knows of the whereabouts of the savior of the magical world. In a rare quote from the aged mage he was found to say "Mister Potter is as safe as he is where he currently is located and that is all I will say on the subject."
Mister Potter was due to arrive at Hogwarts to start his first year September first 1991 after he had turned eleven, however it was reported that no such student was on the train nor at the sorting ceremony. Rumors continue to fly as to where Mister Potter is located currently and whether or not he would subscribe to the current delusions of Dumbledore that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has indeed returned. Given the current facts and what is known of Mister Potter it is unlikely that he will stay out of the public eye for very long.
Growling slightly Harry slapped the book closed and threw it down on the table in front of him. The table groaned slightly, but didn't move as the impact of the book came to it. He stared at it for a moment with loathing before he finally turned his head towards the window that looked out onto the street below. Even with his head turned he could still hear the footsteps and the door opening behind him. He didn't want to look around at whoever it was that was interrupting his solitude, but kept his eyes turned towards the window.
"Harry?" Tonks leaned against the door frame a little nervously as she looked over her shoulder down the hallway and then back into the library at the young man. "Professor Dumbledore would like to talk to you about going to the Alley to get a few things for school." Harry sighed as he turned to face the young woman.
"How is it that the entire magical world knows more about my life and my parents than I do?" He waved his hand at the book that was left forgotten on the table as he stood up and stretched his arms behind his back.
"Everyone knows your story, Harry…"
"Yes, but why?" He stared at her as she opened and closed her mouth for a few seconds as he came towards her. "Think about it, Tonks, if someone was there when my parents were killed then why didn't they help? How is it that everyone just accepts that I have a lightning bolt scar on my forehead?" He moved his bangs to show the scar in question, but also revealing a few others along the side of his head. "Why didn't you tell me about this when you came to get me?"
Tonks chewed on her lip for a moment and would not look Harry in the eyes. "I was told not to…that you would know…" He barked out a harsh laugh and shook his head.
"Forget it, I am used to being left in the dark." He brushed past her and headed down the stairs, not even listening to her calling him back.
Walking downstairs he passed by a few of the redheads, the girl and the youngest boy. Both stared at him openly with mouths working up and down and looked to want to say something, but neither of them had said anything to him since he had been in the house. He was nearly to the door of the kitchen when he felt a slight push against him, like there was something that wanted him away from it. Pushing towards the door he could feel a mild compulsion to go and do something else, but still he moved forward until he was able to knock on the door fully. Normally the kitchen was only ever closed on Wednesday nights, but this seemed to be one of those times.
The door was wrenched open a few seconds later by the matronly looking mother of the redheads. She was using a dish towel on her hands and Harry could see several people seated around the kitchen table. "Oh, Harry dear, dinner will be ready in a bit, we just have a little meeting to take care of. Why don't you run off and play with Ron or Ginny?" She made a shooing motion with her hands, but Harry didn't move.
"I was told to come down here by Miss Tonks, said that some Professor needed to talk to me about the upcoming school year." He stared the woman down, easily a head taller than her.
"Ah, Harry, my boy. I didn't expect you to be so prompt." An aged man, the same that had told him to stay in the house in fact, came into view wearing an outlandish purple dress; Harry knew that they were robes, but still hated the thought of wearing something so constricting. "Our meeting will be done shortly and I will meet you in the lounge area so that we might discuss your upcoming year."
"About that, Professor, I still haven't agreed to coming to your school. Moreover, I find it a little rude that you seem to monopolize the kitchen whenever you see fit." His voice was level and he kept his hands behind his back at all times.
"Arrogant, rude….just like your father…" A man in black with greasy hair and a hooked nose pulled the door open wider so that he could stand next to the other two. "You will wait and do as your told."
"Pardon me, Sir, but I find it rather rude and insulting that you would think that you know me without even introducing yourself. Since I never knew anything about my parents…" He saw the other two winces slightly at the tone of his voice, but he continued. "…I cannot speak to their attitudes and how I might be acting like or unlike them. As it is, I spent six years locked in the dark before being accused of murder." Dumbledore looked ready to say something, but Harry cut him off as he looked directly at him. "It's rude on your part, Sir, taking up the only kitchen in the house. If you need somewhere to meet why not use one of the larger lounge rooms on the ground floor. By the looks of it, you might need the extra space."
Several people in the room, at least those that he could see, were shifting uncomfortably on the wooden chairs or standing along the walls. He could see that numerous people were standing and very uncomfortably so. The greasy haired one was speaking again. "You will wait your turn, Potter, and I will make sure that your ego is deflated enough at school."
Harry simply shrugged and smiled at the man before him. "If you whole heartily believe that I have an ego to deflate then you really know nothing about me at all and should not be speaking to me."
"Harry…" Dumbledore cut off the greasy haired one as he was reaching for his wand. "You should not provoke Professor Snape. As it is however I wanted to speak to you about your school supplies. Would you please wait for me in the lounge, we are almost finished here?"
Again, Harry simply shrugged and turned on his heel heading towards the lounge. He kicked the gold frame of the portrait that was still leaning against the wall on his way inside and a small squeal could be heard from behind the curtains, but not the usual yelling and spitting biting insults.
Harry didn't have long to wait as the aged man came into the room not a few minutes after he had entered. He pulled a long wooden stick, a wand Harry had to remind himself, and waved it at the door and the walls for a moment before joining Harry by sitting on a loveseat across from the couch that Harry was sitting on. After a moment the man simply stared at Harry and then leaned backwards to tent his fingers.
"I should hope that you will apologize to Professor Snape when you get to Hogwarts."
Harry shrugged and sat back as well. "I see no reason to do so as he was the one that insulted me to begin with. He made an assumption that I was arrogant like someone that I know nothing about. Curious that he would think that I would act like a father that up until an hour ago I had believed died in a car crash."
"Come now, Harry, I'm sure that your family told you the truth when you were old enough to understand death."
Harry let out a harsh laugh as he gripped his side. When he did the shirt rode up a little to show the large black spot on his side. "Come now, Professor, surely you are not that arrogant to assume that they are my family." At a raised eyebrow he smiled a little and shook his head. "I was never told anything of my parents only that they had died in a car crash after my father got wasted and beat my mother."
Dumbledore's face actually faulted slightly as his fingers slipped, but he simply folded them in his lap. "I'm sure that they had their reasons for saying such, but that does not forgive you for talking bad about them."
"They were never my family." Harry took a few calming breaths to push down his anger. It was a tactic he had to learn while behind bars so that he didn't escalate a fight. "I wonder, Whiskers, if you ever came after me that you might have seen what actually happened in that house. As it is, the house and those inside of it no longer exist so I see little point."
"Whether or not your Aunt and Uncle loved you is not what we are here to discuss." He waved his wand and a tea set appeared on the table before him. He poured two cups and sipped at his own as he sat back. "I wish to discuss your schooling now that you are back with us."
Harry rolled his eyes at the words and did not touch his tea. He didn't trust anyone here and probably wouldn't for quite some time. "I find it interesting that you simply assume that I'm going to go to this school of your's."
"Why would you not? It was the greatest wish of your parents when they were still alive that you might attend."
"And I only have your word on that. Like I said before, I never knew them, and I'm sure that they wouldn't have wanted me to be locked away for something I didn't do for eight years while their world simply forgot about their child. A child, I have come to learn, is supposed to be famous."
"There were protections on your home that made it impossible to find you. After the house was destroyed it was made even more impossible to find where you might have gone."
"Interesting." Harry leaned back in his chair and surveyed the man before him over the tops of his tented fingers, doing his best imitation of the man. "Considering the entire neighborhood knew where I was, or was going to be, and it was covered in all the major newspapers, I find it odd that someone didn't simply pick up the paper and read it for themselves."
Dumbledore looked over the top of his glasses into Harry's eyes for a moment, but waved his hand in a flippant gesture. "That is neither here nor there. We are here today to discuss getting your supplies for the coming school term."
Harry shook his head again and sighed. "There you go again. I honestly think that you're the arrogant one in this room. You continually assume that I even want to go to this school of your's. I was given to the custody of Miss Tonks, not you."
Dumbledore stared into Harry's eyes and he could feel a slight push against his mind. For some odd reason he could feel it, but it didn't seem to do anything to him. Harry waved his hand in front of his face breaking the contact even as Dumbledore spoke again. "You will be going to school, it is important that you learn to utilize your magic."
"I see it as pointless considering I was supposed to start four years ago. Since I did not then I would be completely behind everyone."
"You'll be set up with study partners for each class and will be taking them with the rest of the fifth years." Dumbledore smirked as he sipped at the tea, nearly draining the rest of his cup while Harry still had not touched his own.
"I see that logic is not one of you people's strong suits." Harry shook his head a little and put it in his hands. "Very well, I'll attend your school, but there are some conditions."
"The rules are non-negotiable, Harry, you are supposed to follow them the same as everyone else. You would be seen as having special treatment due to your fame, and you don't want that, do you?"
"I didn't even know I was famous, and thanks to you it was beaten into me daily for the first six years that I was different." He took a steadying breath once more and surveyed the room. "You're the one that wants me back there so badly. All I want is the ability to send messages both magical and non to a few friends."
While he didn't show anything on the outside the comment about being beaten daily had made Dumbledore start once more. He simply brushed it off as the boy exaggerating and focused on what he was being asked. "Very well, I'll set up something with the local post office for muggle mail. You can get your own owl when you go shopping so that you can send magical things. Will that be sufficient?"
"That's all I ask." Harry pushed himself up from the couch and moved towards the door. "When are we doing this little shopping trip anyway?"
"This weekend should be just fine, I know that Mrs. Weasley will want her children to get their supplies as well, perhaps you can go with them." Harry cringed at the idea, but his back was to the old man. "You should get to know them, Harry, especially the two youngest."
Harry shook his head as he moved to the door. He felt the same pressure that he had on the kitchen door, but this was easier than before and he pushed through it. Grasping the door handle he pushed it aside and stepped out into the hallway, pushing the door closed behind him. He didn't hear the muted mutterings of the old man as he examined his wand and the door that the young man had just left out of. Out in the hallway he could hear another thud and squeal coming from the portrait on the ground, but then there was creaking on the stairs.