Bob and I don't own Harry Pott...Wait a minute. That's not right!
Alyx stared at her keyboard in bewilderment for a moment. Had she been about to write a Standard Disclaimer? Her mind shied away from the thought.
Taking a deep breath, she cracked her knuckles, then wiggled her fingers over the keyboard, chanting "Ooga chaka!" quietly under her breath, then began to type.
A tap on her shoulder a few moments later caused her to scream and spin around in her chair.
"What are you doing?" a raspy, choking voice asked menacingly.
"For the love of little green llamas, don't do that, Bob! And what's wrong with your voice?" she asked, scowling at her husband.
Bob coughed to clear his throat, then shrugged. "Sorry, I just woke up. So, what are you doing?"
"I'm writing a disclaimer for that story I finally finished," she told him proudly.
"Oh? And what are you disclaiming this time?"
"Well, it seems that the good folks who read fan fiction are a bit on the stupid side. Otherwise, we wouldn't have to keep remind them that we don't own...Harry...Pott... Um, Bob? What are you wearing?"
Bob looked down at himself and his expression quickly changed to shock as a flush spread over his cheeks. "What is this?" he whispered, running his hands over his chest, pulling at the cloth he wore.
"It looks like a bustier," Alyx said, trying to stifle a snicker. "My bustier, to be precise. Have you been rooting through my lingerie?"
"No! I don't understand what...Wait a minute. Are those my boxers you're wearing?"
She glanced down at herself and blinked. "Why, yes. Yes they are." Looking up, she stared at him for a moment. "I think I get it."
"What? Get what? What are you getting? And how the hell can you wear these things?" He shouted as he began to dance around, trying to pick the thong of her pink panties out of his butt.
Sighing, she spun him back around and smiled. "Now you're beginning to understand my part in these disclaimers, dear. Next time, though, I think I'll put you in 6 inch stilettos and nothing else."
"Oh, God, make it stop!" he cried, grabbing her by the arms.
Turning him slowly around to face the readers, she stood on her toes and whispered seductively in his ear. "Tell them, love. Tell them what they must know before reading the story. Then I'll teach you all about the proper way to remove a thong."
Nodding vigorously, he stared at the readers in near panic. "WE DON'T OWN HARRY POTTER!" he shrieked.
"Nicely done, honey. Now, come along," Alyx told her gibbering husband as she lead him from the room. In the doorway, she stopped and faced the readers once more. "Enjoy the story, everyone. Oh, and Dazza? Yes, this is really us. And if you don't believe me, you'll be the next one to prance around in one of my thongs in a disclaimer – only it will be made of rusty barbed wire!"
Number Four, Privet Drive, the first few weeks of summer...
Everyone assumed the summer after fifth year would be the same for Harry Potter as every other summer. They might have been right, had things not gone so horribly wrong at the Department of Mysteries.
Had Sirius lived, Dumbledore's revelation of the prophesy might not have garnered the reaction it did from the young man. Had the old man bothered to check on the Occlumency lessons Snape had been giving him, Harry might have been able to block the images Voldemort was sending him.
In the end, Harry had been sent back to the Dursley household and told to contact the Order every three days so they would know he was being treated well. What the Order wasn't aware of, since no one bothered to check, was that Vernon dictated what Harry wrote, so as to make sure to keep the "freaks" out of his house. The threats made at the train station had only increased the man's hatred of his nephew and Harry's treatment at the hands of his family was worse than it had ever been.
The first month of summer had been almost dreamlike for Harry. He was fed regularly, but otherwise left alone, except on letter days. On those days, Vernon stayed in Harry's room only long enough to dictate and read over the letter being sent to the Order, then left once it was sent off. The time alone allowed Harry to grieve for his Godfather in private. As the weeks passed, the pain eased, but he knew he would carry the guilt and regret for the disaster at the Department of Mysteries for the rest of his life.
At the start of July, his aunt and uncle began to "forget" to feed him. On letter days, meals were brought to him and he started to hide some of what was on his plate for those days when food was not forthcoming. It wasn't much of a hardship, as he'd become accustomed to meager rations during the summer holidays. The one time he mentioned to his uncle that the Order would not be pleased to know he was being forgotten at mealtimes, he'd earned a punch to the gut and a long lecture about "those sodding freaks" and how they'd never learn, or Harry would pay the price for their knowledge of it.
The next day, Harry discovered that he was to pay a price for his comment anyway. Returning from the bathroom that morning, his door was closed and locked. It remained that way until six in the evening, when his uncle let him out to use the facilities. When he was finished, he was locked in for the night.
Ten hours or more without the use of a bathroom became a serious problem. Harry was able to solve it, for the most part, by using the waste bin in his room. His aunt and uncle were not pleased with his solution, but when he pointed out that they could solve the problem by letting him out more often, he was shoved back into his room and told to keep his mouth shut.
That night, Harry's anger got the better of him and he was unable to sleep. After relieving himself in the waste bin around three in the morning, he scowled down at it for a moment before bending down to pick it up. If his aunt and uncle didn't like him carting the thing to the bathroom, he'd take care of that problem!
Marching to the window, open to catch any hint of a breeze, he popped the screen out carefully and dumped the contents of the bin into the flower bed below. Hedwig, locked in her cage by Vernon, clicked her beak disapprovingly.
"They don't want me carrying it to the bathroom, girl. Never say I don't mind my aunt and uncle," he told her, grinning.
Hedwig blinked at him before turning away and ruffling her feathers.
Shrugging, Harry put the bin down and replaced the screen. Flopping down on his bed, he smiled up at the ceiling and eventually drifted off.
When morning came, Harry took the bin into the bathroom to rinse it out. Aunt Petunia watched, her nose crinkled in disgust, but said nothing. When he was finished, he was locked in his room once more.
He continued to dump his waste bin into the flower garden each night and took great pleasure in watching the plants below die. The heat, however, worked against him. The scent of stale urine began to waft up to his window, and within a week, the neighbors were complaining of the horrible smell. As Petunia watched Harry carry the bin into the bathroom each morning, she could not understand where the smell was coming from, and eventually dumped the problem into her husband's lap.
Vernon, sure the boy was the cause, decided to "beat some decency" into the young man. When he left Harry's room that night, he took the waste bin with him.
Groaning in pain, Harry roused himself a few hours later and, in a perverse mood, dragged a chair over to the window. After popping out the screen, he stood on the chair and relieved himself out into the night, not caring if anyone saw.
That night, Tonks got the shock of her life. The smell around Privet Drive had now been explained, though in much more detail than she wanted.
She returned to Headquarters almost immediately and roused Remus. Telling him what she saw, he could only shake his head in confusion. When she insisted that he do something, he promised her that he would contact Dumbledore in the morning.
The Dursley Residence, the next day...
The sound of the locks on his bedroom door being opened woke Harry, and he sat up, wincing in pain. He stood up and moved toward the door, but froze when it opened to reveal the Headmaster.
"What do you want?" Harry asked coldly.
Dumbledore examined the young man carefully, noting the bruising around his ribs and upper arms. "I've come to check on you, Harry."
"Bit late for that, isn't it? Why the sudden concern?"
"Miss Tonks saw you last night," Dumbledore told him, waving a hand at the window. "And while it certainly explains the smell, questions have been raised."
"Such as why you felt the need to relieve yourself in such a way."
Harry glanced at his nervous aunt and snorted. "I'm only allowed out of my room twice a day to use the loo. And before you ask, no, I don't know why. For that answer, you'll have to ask my ever-loving aunt."
Before Dumbledore could asked anything else, Harry pushed past him, saying, "Now, if you'll excuse me, you're cutting into the time I've been given to use the bathroom and today is a shower day. She'll have Dudley drag me out, whether I'm finished or not."
The bathroom door slammed closed a few moments later and the sound of running water began.
Shaking his head, Dumbledore turned away from the bathroom door and looked at Petunia for nearly a full minute. The woman squirmed, but said nothing.
"Well?" the Headmaster finally asked, his patience wearing thin.
Straightening her shoulders, Petunia faced Dumbledore and scowled. "You've dumped the boy here and demanded we care for him. What more do you want?"
"And this is what you call caring for him?" Dumbledore asked in disbelief. "Allowed to leave his room twice a day to relieve himself? Bruises and hand prints all over his body? He's skin and bone, Petunia! Are you even feeding him? For Merlin's sake, he's your nephew!"
"He is my dead sister's child and a freak," she screeched at him. "I didn't ask that he come here to live. He was forced on us, by you. Never mind the danger you've put my family in by bringing the little menace here!"
"He is your family!" Dumbledore told her, his eyes snapping angrily.
"No, he isn't! He never was! I wish the little bastard had never been born. He's nothing but a burden to -"
"Enough!" Albus bellowed. "Listen to me, woman, and listen well -"
"Don't bother," a quiet voice cut in.
Petunia and Dumbledore both whirled around to see Harry standing in the bathroom doorway with a towel wrapped around his hips and his dirty clothes under one arm. He'd learned to shower quickly, as his cousin took great pleasure in dragging him of the bathroom, clothed or not.
"You'll never get through to her, you know," he said, his green eyes boring into the Headmaster's. "And even if you did, by some miracle, there's still my uncle and you'll never convince him."
"Harry," Dumbledore began as he took a step forward.
Holding up a hand, Harry shook his head. "No, I think that's enough. After all, didn't you tell me at the end of term that you knew you were condemning me to ten dark and difficult years? What you seem to have missed, Headmaster, is that every summer I come back here is a continuation of those years. My time at Hogwarts is a nice break from the oh, so loving embrace of my relatives, even with having to fight Voldemort or dealing with Snape -"
"Professor Snape," Dumbledore corrected automatically.
"Shut up and listen!" Harry hissed furiously. "Snape is a foul, loathsome man and you're the only one who trusts him. His Occlumency lessons left me more open to Voldemort's attacks, not less! He's bigoted, unfair and the worst teacher I've ever had. Sirius is dead because of him, and your trust in him!"
"Now Harry, that's not -"
Walking past the Headmaster, Harry could only shake his head. "Oh, go away, you old fool." Reaching his room, he tossed his dirty clothes on the floor and turned to face Petunia. "As this isn't a letter day, I'm sure I won't be getting breakfast. You might as well close the door and lock it. I'm finished speaking to the Professor and I wouldn't want to keep you from your busy life, Aunt."
Throwing himself down on the bed, he turned to face the wall and didn't relax until he heard the door close behind him. It wasn't locked.
Finishing dinner that night in his room, Harry thought that Dumbledore's visit had accomplished one thing. He was being fed again, but he wasn't counting on it lasting. Wrapping some food in his napkin, he put his plate outside his door.
Moving to Hedwig's cage, he checked her water and shared some of his dinner scraps with her. As Vernon had locked her in her cage, she was only able to hunt when she delivered his letters to the Order. He stroked her feathers through the bars of the cage, then moved to the window to gaze out at the coming twilight, wishing he, too, could fly free.
Turning away from the window, he heard his uncle bellow from downstairs and scowled. The words weren't clear enough to understand, but it was obvious he was angry about something. Hiding the remains of his dinner in his trunk, he waited.
The yelling continued for a few minutes, then pounding footsteps on the stairs told him he was about to find out what was going on, whether he wanted to or not.
When the door was pushed open, Harry blinked in surprise.
"Tonks? What are you doing here?"
"Seeing as how you've been using the flower beds for a loo, Professor Dumbledore felt we should take you on to Headquarters," she told him, her eyes dancing merrily.
"Did he?" he asked as he sat down on the bed and folded his arms across his chest. "To be kept a prisoner there, like Sirius was? Thank you, but I'll pass."
"What do you mean? Surely you can't want to stay here," she exclaimed.
He shrugged. "Better the devil you know...or however that saying goes."
"But we've all come to get you. Please, Harry, don't be difficult," she pleaded.
"I didn't ask you to," he told her simply.
"Tonks, what's taking you so long?" the voice of Remus Lupin called from the stairs.
"Harry doesn't want to come," she called back.
"What?" several voices bellowed.
More footfalls were heard on the stairs and Harry lay back on his bed, his head cushioned on his arms. He stared up at the ceiling and tried very hard not to smile.
"Harry," Remus began as he walked into the room, "what's this about?"
"Your friends have come to take you away for the rest of the summer, boy. Pack your things and go, now," Vernon demanded.
"Are you kicking me out, Uncle?" Harry asked. "Can I no longer call this house my home?"
Vernon shifted uncomfortably when Remus and Tonks glared at him. "I didn't say that," he began.
"Then I'll stay, thank you," Harry said politely.
"Harry," Remus tried again.
"It's no use, Remus. I'm not going. But I thank you for coming."
"What's taking so long?" yelled Mad-Eye Moody. "We've got a schedule to keep!"
Tonks looked questioningly at Remus, who shrugged.
"Let's leave it for now," he murmured.
"If you change your mind, Harry," Tonks began, staring at the boy on the bed.
"I'm sure my Uncle will allow me to add that to the letters he dictates for the Order," Harry quipped, watching Vernon turn a lovely shade of puce.
"Here, now, what's this?" the witch asked as Remus pushed her from the room.
When the door closed behind them, Harry closed his eyes.
So, Dumbledore thinks he can order my life for me? he thought. Listening to him has brought me nothing but pain and grief. The time has come for me to do things my way.
Two hours later, the door to his room was pushed open once more. Opening his eyes, Harry almost smiled. He'd wondered how long it would take before the Order members scurried back to Dumbledore.
"Hello, Harry," the Headmaster said as he entered the room. "Remus tells me we have a bit of a problem on our hands."
"There is no problem, Professor. I don't want to go to Headquarters," Harry told him simply.
"You would rather stay here with your aunt and uncle?"
"One prison is as good as another," the boy said, shrugging. "Besides, with the blood wards, this is the safest place for me, or so you keep saying."
"True, but I think Headquarters would be a better place for you now. You've been here long enough to fulfill the requirements of the wards. Besides, once at Headquarters, you'll be able to see your friends."
When Harry said nothing, Albus sighed and looked around the room. Spotting Hedwig, he moved to her cage and released the small padlock Vernon had placed on the door. Opening the cage, he waved his wand at the window, removing the screen and the Snowy Owl took flight. As she flew from the room, Harry glared at her.
"Traitor," he murmured softly, thought not really angry.
With a few flicks of his wand, Dumbledore had Harry's room packed, then turned back to the boy on the bed. "Shall we go?"
When Harry remained silent, the Headmaster took a pencil from the desk in the corner and made a portkey. The boy watched him very closely.
"This will take you to Headquarters," he said, holding it out.
Harry didn't move.
Eyes twinkling, Dumbledore moved to place the portkey in Harry's hand.
Understanding the old man's intent, Harry, in what he knew to be a rather childish action, removed his hands from behind his head and slid them under his body.
With a chuckle, Dumbledore placed the portkey on Harry's chest and tapped it with his wand. Harry's rather indignant squawk echoed through the room just before he disappeared.
When Harry arrived at Grimmauld, he set off Mrs Black. Stumbling on landing, he bumped into the wall and, cursing, slid down it to the floor, causing the drapes around the portrait to spring open and the shrieking to begin.
Footsteps pounded down the hallway and from somewhere overhead. Remus Lupin, with Moody on his heels, arrived a few moments before Tonks, who all but tripped down the last flight of stairs.
"Shut up, you old windbag," Tonks bellowed as she wrestled the drapes closed.
"Glad to see you, Harry," Remus said as he offered the young man a hand up.
Before Harry could react, his belongings suddenly appeared in the hall, pelting both Moody and Remus. Amide the cursing from Mad-Eye, the exclamations from Remus and the laughter from Tonks, Mrs Black's lovely shrieking began once more.
Harry laughed as he watched the adults scramble around him. Remus and Moody sorted his belongings, while Tonks once again wrestled with Mrs Black.
Pushing himself to his feet, he brushed past Tonks and went upstairs to the room he and Ron had shared. Once there, he slammed the door closed and grinned as the portrait started up again.
Several minutes later, the three adults looked at one another and Moody motioned them to follow him. Once in the kitchen, Tonks made tea and they all sat down at the table.
"Well, that didn't go over very well," Remus muttered as he ran a hand through his hair.
"I told you Dumbledore was making a mistake in forcing Potter to come here," Moody growled.
"It's not like we could leave him with those relatives of his, Mad-Eye," Tonks grouched. "They weren't feeding him, and he was locked in his room, unable to use the bathroom regularly!"
"So, he trades one prison for another," Alastor said with a careless shrug.
"This isn't a prison," Tonks protested, glaring at the old man. "Besides, here he'll be fed and be able to move about as he likes."
"So he'll be able to leave the house? Take a trip to Diagon Alley?" Moody asked as he pushed away the tea cup and reached for his flask.
"Of course not," Remus said tiredly. "It's too dangerous for him to leave Headquarters. You know that, Alastor."
"Funny," Moody said as he pushed away from the table and stood up. "That's the same reasoning that was used with Sirius. You might want to remember how that turned out." Turning on his heel, he left the kitchen.
Remus paled and looked at Tonks. "Are we making a mistake? Could Dumbledore be wrong?"
"Would you rather leave him with his relatives to be starved or beaten?" she asked. "Dumbledore knows what he's about." She stood up and stretched. "I've got to get back to the Ministry. Don't worry, Remi. Things will work out and Harry will be fine."
She squeezed his shoulder as she passed him, then left the kitchen.
"That's what we all thought about Sirius," Remus murmured.
The knock on Harry's door came several hours later. Bored, he rolled over on his bed. "Yeah, come in," he called.
Remus entered, levitating Harry's truck and Hedwig's cage behind him. "I thought you might want these," he told the young man. "Hedwig should be back by morning and I'm sure she'll want her cage."
Harry shrugged. "Maybe. Uncle Vernon had her locked in the cage while I stayed there so I couldn't contact the Order. She may not want any part of it now."
"Let's wait and see, shall we?" Lupin asked. Putting the trunk at the end of Harry's bed, he then placed Hedwig's cage on a small table in the corner and opened the window so she could enter when she returned.
Done with the domestic chores, he turned to face Harry and cocked his head slightly. "So, why did you want to stay with your relatives?"
"Like I told Tonks, better the devil you know."
"We would never hurt you, Harry," Remus told him earnestly.
"Maybe not purposely. But look at my history, Remus. I've been hurt more by the good intentions of those who are supposed to be on my side than I have by any five Death Eaters," he said, rolling his eyes. "At least with the Death Eaters, I know they're trying to kill me."
"Don't you think that's a bit of an exaggeration?" Remus asked.
"No, not at all." Scrambling off the bed, Harry went to his trunk and opened it. "I got bored and finished most of my summer assignments. Hermione's going to be shocked, I can tell you. Anyway, I didn't have anything else to do, so I wrote down everything I've been through since I started Hogwarts." He pulled out a small notebook and passed it to the werewolf. "It starts with my first year. Read it, then come back and tell me I'm exaggerating."
Taking the offered notebook, Remus looked into the young man's vibrant green eyes and nodded. "I'll get this back to you."
Harry shrugged. "It doesn't matter. I lived through it. I'm stuck with the memories of those events. A lost notebook won't change that," he said bitterly.
"Is there anything you need?" Remus asked as he slipped the notebook into the pocket of his robe.
"To leave," Harry told him. "I don't want to be here any more than Sirius did."
Pain and sorrow shone from the older man's gray eyes. "I'm sorry, Harry. The Headmaster wants you here, for your protection."
"That's what the blood wards at the Dursleys are for," Harry muttered.
"Harry," Remus pleaded.
"Yeah, fine, whatever. You're one of Dumbledore's loyal lackeys. Understood." Rearranging the contents of his trunk, he listened as Remus opened the bedroom door. "Oh, and Remus? I'm pretty sure Sirius would be very disappointed in you for this. He hated this house and wouldn't want me locked up here. You know that."
The door closed softly behind him and Harry kicked his trunk in frustration. Taking out the cloth napkin he'd hidden in his trunk earlier, he closed the lid and sat down on the bed to eat. Hedwig would be able to hunt for herself now, so there was no need to share.
Once he'd finished eating, he stretched out on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. He wasn't sure what time it was, but it felt late. Yawning, he rolled over and eventually drifted off.
The next morning, his stomach growling with hunger, Harry dressed quickly and made his way down to the kitchen. The room was empty, but it was obvious several people had been there. Tea cups were scattered all over the large table and dirty dishes were piled high in the sink. The stove was covered in dirty pots and pans that looked as though they hadn't been washed in several days.
Wrinkling his nose in disgust, Harry opened the refrigerator, then slammed it shut quickly. He wasn't sure what was in there, but whatever it was, was growing, and he could have sworn it blinked at him.
The Order members were slobs and it appeared as though Mrs Weasley hadn't been around in awhile. Harry knew she would never put up with such a mess.
He stood for a moment, his brow wrinkled in thought. He couldn't use magic, and didn't know what charms Mrs Weasley used to clean dishes anyway. It was obvious there was no food in the house, but tea would be nice. But with no clean cups, there was little choice.
Rolling up his sleeves, he opened the cupboard below the sink. Somewhat surprised, he found a bottle of muggle soap and a small, green scrubbing pad. Setting them on the table, he began to move the dirty dishes out of the sink and stack them on the table so he'd have room. Once the sink was empty of dishes, he cleaned it thoroughly, then filled one side with hot, soapy water.
Finding the cleanest dishtowels he could, he placed them on the counter next to the sink and began doing dishes.
Twenty minutes later, the kitchen door swung open and Remus entered the room.
Glancing behind him, Harry scowled. "You know, you people are pigs."
"What are you doing?" Remus asked.
"Looks like the same thing I did at my relatives house before the Order had words with my uncle. Haven't you people ever heard of clean dishes?"
"Move out of the way, Harry. I'll do those," Remus said, pulling out his wand.
"You're a little late," he said, holding up the last cup. "I've finished with this lot. I'll leave the pots and pans to you, though. It would take me a week to get them clean this way. I'm surprised no one's gotten sick from this filth."
Finished with the cup, he pulled the plug and watched the third sink full of dirty water drain away. "Oh, and you might want to think about throwing away the refrigerator. Something is growing in there and I don't think it has plans of moving out anytime soon."
Drying his hands, he moved to the table and sat down. He watched curiously as Remus cleaned the pots, pans and the top of the stove. The man's face was flushed with embarrassment and Harry could only shake his head.
When he'd finished, Remus faced him and tried to smile. "How about a cup of tea?"
"Tea would be nice. Breakfast would be better. Interestingly enough, you have neither in the house. Funny, but I could have stayed with my aunt and uncle and been treated better than this. True, they didn't feed me either, but this summer I didn't have to do dishes."
Raking a hand through his hair in frustration, Remus glared at him. "Enough, already. I get the point, Harry. You don't want to be here. However, I am not responsible for bringing you here and treating me as though I'm the enemy is unfair."
"Unfair?" Harry asked in astonishment. "If you read anything in my notebook last night, how dare you speak to me of fairness!" Shoving away from the table, he stood up and scowled at the older man. "How is being here any better than being at the Dursleys? Sure, I don't have to piss out the window, but everything else is the same." He knew he was grossly overstating the case, but didn't care much. "I still have to clean up after slobs, I've had nothing to eat and I'm still a prisoner! Tell me, Remus, when do the beatings begin?"
Lupin's fists clenched at his sides. Staring at the angry teenager for a moment, he took a deep, calming breath. "Mrs Weasley will be by later today to restock the kitchen with food."
"Are you unable to go to the store yourself? What's the matter, Moony? Did Dumbledore tighten your leash?" Harry asked scathingly.
Remus took one gliding, menacing step toward him, then froze when he saw satisfaction light the young man's face. "I'll go to the store and pick up a few things to hold us over until Mrs Weasley arrives," he said quietly.
Shrugging, Harry sat back down. "I'll wait."
Several minutes after Remus left the kitchen, Harry climbed the stairs and listened. Hearing nothing, he turned down the hallway and entered the library. There, just as he remembered, were the heavily laden bookshelves.
Quickly scanning the titles, he skipped over the darker texts, unsure if they were being monitored. He did take the books on Occlumency, several on shielding, and two interesting tomes on dueling dark wizards.
Leaving the library with his stolen bounty, he raced up the stairs. Entering his room, he moved quickly to his bed. Dropping the books on the floor, he lifted the mattress with one hand and used the other to stuff the books beneath it, one at a time.
When he was finished, he straightened the blanket and stood back to examine his work. With a nod, he turned on his heel and returned as quickly as he could to the kitchen.
Seated once again in the chair he'd left only minutes before, he grinned to himself. If Remus was that easily riled, he wouldn't be much of a guard. Not that Harry minded, of course. It fit in perfectly with his plans.
Pushing his plate away and leaning back on his chair, Harry smiled at Remus. "I'll say this much. You may be a slow starter, but you sure know how to finish properly! Thanks for breakfast. It was great."
Remus took the dishes to the sink and set them to cleaning before refilling his cup with tea and sitting down across from the young man. "I'm sorry, Harry. I honestly didn't expect Dumbledore to bring you here last night. I thought Molly would have time to restock the pantry before you arrived."
"What about you and Moody? Don't you two eat?" Harry asked curiously.
Remus shrugged. "Alastor doesn't live here and rarely stays for meals unless Molly's cooking. I cook for myself, but when supplies run low, I usually settle for take away."
"Wouldn't it be easier to just go shopping?"
The older man grimaced. "Probably, but I hate doing it. Look, Harry, if you don't mind, I'd like to talk to you about the information you gave me last night." He reached into the pocket of his robe, pulled out Harry's notebook and slid it across the table to the teen.
Harry shrugged, took the notebook and shoved it into his pocket. "Sure. I figured you might."
Leaning forward, Remus crossed his arms on the table. "The information is pretty self explanatory and you gave a great deal of detail," he began.
Harry grinned. "Yes, Professor. Five years at Hogwarts will teach one to be thorough when doing assignments. Are you going to grade me, Moony?"
With a wry grin, Remus shook his head. "Sorry. That did sound a bit professor-ish, didn't it? Now, for the moment, I only have one question and I can't get past it."
"Did you ever tell Sirius about the Dursleys?"
Harry's eyes darkened. "No," he said, flatly.
"Why? Harry, he would have been outraged over what they were doing to you. He knew you didn't like it there, but he thought it was only because you weren't allowed to go out much and couldn't visit with your friends. He wasn't happy about that, but he understood the reasons behind it. Had he known what they were doing to you, the physical stuff, he would have done everything he could to prevent it."
Harry closed his eyes and his hands, resting on the table, fisted tightly. "Sirius was dealing with his own problems. Had he know what was happening, he would have charged in. We both know that would have caused more problems for him and I didn't want to be the reason for it. Besides," he added, opening his eyes and looking down at his hands, "I was embarrassed. I'm a wizard, but couldn't defend myself against a bunch of muggles."
"That's the Ministry's fault, Harry, not yours. Their restriction on underage magic prevented you from defending yourself in that way." He fiddled with his teacup for moment, before looking at him again. "Why didn't you tell Dumbledore?"
"I did," Harry said quietly. "He knew, but said I still had to go back. After Sirius died, Dumbledore told me that he'd always known what life would be like for me at the Dursleys, but felt it was still the safest place, regardless of what I had to go through while staying there."
"I find that hard to believe," Remus breathed.
Harry shrugged again. "Most people would. Look, you can ask Fred, George or Ron. In second year, they pulled the bars off my bedroom window so I could leave the house. Ron and Hermione know the Dursleys don't feed me much over the summer. They send me food sometimes, and Mrs. Weasley usually sends me something to eat for my birthday. I managed. At least when I was in the cupboard under the stairs, I could sneak into the kitchen at night and get something to eat. But when they put the locks on the door of my bedroom, that changed."
"Did they starve you?"
"Of course not," Harry snapped. "They just didn't feed me much."
"And the physical abuse? When did that start?" Remus asked.
"I'm not sure. I can remember Uncle Vernon breaking my arm when I was little, but I don't know how old I was. Usually it was a slap, or a kick. Sometimes Aunt Petunia pulled my hair or shoved me. Dudley liked to push me down the stairs a lot. The heavier stuff didn't start until I'd moved into the bedroom upstairs."
Using a finger to doodle on the tabletop, Harry tilted his head slightly in thought. "I've always had nightmares, but after fourth year they were really bad. I woke up everyone in the house several times and Uncle Vernon tried to show me the 'error of my ways', as he put it. He was careful not to break bones, and the bruises usually healed before school started."
"And you're telling me Dumbledore knew all of this?" Remus asked in disbelief.
"Yes. Although, now that I know about the prophecy and what it said, it makes a little more sense to me. I'm not willing to forgive him for it, though."
"The one about Voldemort and me."
When older man only stared at him blankly, Harry sighed, then rattled off the contents of the prophecy. It wasn't something he was likely to forget anytime soon.
"Wait," Remus said, holding up his hand. "You're telling me that you're the only one who can kill the Dark Lord?"
"His name is Voldemort, Remus..and stop flinching whenever you hear his name! He isn't a "lord" of anything. He's a bigoted half-blood who's not even human anymore. If you can't bring yourself to call him Voldemort, call him Tom. That's what he was called when he went to Hogwarts - Tom Riddle."
"And you're the only one who can kill him?"
"That's what the prophecy says. Dumbledore said that Voldemort... Damn it, Moony, would you stop flinching? It's just a name, for Merlin's sake. What? Do you think he'll suddenly appear if you say his name too many times? Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldemort! Hey, what do you know? He isn't here!"
Grimacing, Remus shook his head. "I think you've made your point, Harry, but it's going to take a bit of getting used to."
Rolling his eyes, Harry leaned back and blew out a breath in frustration. "Anyway, Dumbledore said Voldemort only knew the first two lines of the prophecy. He was desperate to find out the rest, but couldn't go to the Ministry himself to find out, so he managed to trick me into it by sending me visions of Sirius."
"But what about your Occlumency training? I thought that was supposed to be helping you?"
"With Snape teaching it to me? Come on, Moony! It doesn't take a genius to figure out how well that was going to work. Dumbledore's a fool."
"Professor Snape," Remus reminded him gently.
"Not you, too. Look, the man's a sadistic moron. Anyone who can follow a recipe can brew a potion. The understanding of ingredients and their reactions to each other can be learned from a book, as can the knowledge of how to prepare them. The actual brewing process is a simple step by step recipe. Don't believe me?" he challenged when the werewolf looked ready to argue the point. "Then tell me how Hermione managed to brew the Polyjuice potion in our second year! She could probably brew your Wolfsbane, if you asked nicely."
"Second year," Remus breathed.
"Snape is a teacher at Hogwarts because he needed a cover for his spy work. Now, if you think objectively and disregard whatever Dumbledore has told you, I'm willing to bet that most of the stuff Snape brings to the Order is garbage. Now, ask yourself this. What is Snape telling Voldemort?"
"Harry, I'm sure Professor Snape isn't..."
"Of course he isn't," Harry said sarcastically. "That's why he ensured my mind would be more open to Voldemort after each Occlumency lesson, right? Because he thought it would be character building, I suppose?"
"Open your...Wait, Harry. What are you talking about?"
Sighing, Harry leaned forward again. "What do you know about Occlumency training?"
"Just the basics, really," Remus began, frowning. "There's a lot of studying to do. You have to learn to meditate and clear your mind of memories, then learn how to shield your mind. Eventually, you have to put the two together – clearing the mind, keeping your shields in place – all the while remaining aware of what's going on around you. It's a difficult skill to master and takes a lot of reading and practice."
"Right. Well, Snape's version of teaching Occlumency is a bit more straight forward. A shouted command to clear your mind, then casting Legilimency on you and invading your mind, tearing away at it like a dog with a bone. After every lesson I had excruciating headaches and was barely able to remember my own name, let alone keep Voldemort out."
Looking down at his hands, he shook his head. "Had Dumbledore assigned a proper teacher, Voldemort wouldn't have been able to send me visions. I never would have gone to the Ministry and Sirius would be alive today."
"Oh, Harry, you don't know that," Remus said quietly.
"I do know. What's more, I think Dumbledore knows, too. The Headmaster blindly trusts Snape, Moony, but even he realizes that the Occlumency lessons only made things worse, not better. Anyone could have told him that when he assigned Snape as my teacher." Harry snorted. "Any first year who's spent a single week at Hogwarts could tell you that Snape teaching anything to anyone is liable to cause more harm than good. The man is a menace and I doubt he's as loyal you all want to think.
"You know, if you think about it, that makes your typical Hogwarts first year smarter than Dumbledore," Harry said after a moment of thought. "And this is who you choose to follow? This is the man who leads the light? Maybe I should just surrender to Voldemort now."
"He isn't as bad as all that."
"I know Voldemort isn't as bad as everyone makes him out to be, Moony. After all, I've managed to face him six times and live...something unheard of, according to the press."
"I meant Dumbledore," Remus protested, a hint of alarm in his voice.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yes, I know. I was being facetious. Dumbledore may not be as bad as I think, but neither is he as good as the Order believes."
Shaking his head, the werewolf leaned forward, his eyes earnest. "Harry, Dumbledore may not be perfect, but he's always protected you."
"Right," he drawled sarcastically. "If he keeps it up, I'll be dead before I reach my seventeenth birthday."
"That's not -"
Harry raised one hand and made a slashing motion. "Enough," he said, cutting Remus off. "If he's so interested in protecting me, explain to me why my first year Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was a vessel for Voldemort and the Headmaster didn't even know it."
"It's not like he checks under every turban he comes across," Remus protested.
"He apparently can't tell when one of his teachers is acting oddly, either. Great powers of observation from the mighty Albus Dumbledore, don't you think? No!" he said fiercely when Remus tried to reply. "Leave it for now. Explain instead how Dumbledore could know about the Chamber of Secrets, yet never find the entrance to the thing."
"Only a Parselmouth could have done so," Remus said, a little calmer now, as he was sure of his facts.
"No, only a Parselmouth could open the Chamber. Any schmuck could find it and that schmuck was me, in my second year. Due to Dumbledore's negligence, both Ginny Weasley and I could have been killed. And for all his vaunted knowledge of complicated wards, he never managed to erect one to detect dark objects? Had he done so, the diary would have been found before any of it started.
"But let's not stop there," Harry continued, his green eyes boring into Moony's. "In my fourth year, he allowed a Death Eater into the castle to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. He allowed Unforgivables to be cast in the school. Rather than canceling the Triwizard Tournament by proclaiming a four way tie and restarting the thing, he made me compete. Nor did he bother to find out who put my name in the cup in the first place, assuming I did it and just wouldn't admit to it. Had he done any of those things, Voldemort wouldn't have a new body right now and Cedric would be alive.
"In fifth year, we got Umbridge and I wouldn't be surprised if the ugly toad was actually a Death Eater. We all know how much our oh, so efficient Minister of Magic enjoys their company. Dumbledore was so busy saving his own ass that he threw me to the wolves." Holding up the back of his right hand, he showed it to Remus. Permanently etching into the flesh were the words 'I must not tell lies'. "A gift from the new Defense teacher, via a blood quill. And I wasn't the only one to experience it."
Remus' eyes widened. "But they're illegal! Did you tell anyone?"
"Who was left to tell? Dumbledore was hiding and all the teachers were so busy trying to keep their jobs that they didn't bother to do their jobs! McGonagall specifically told me to keep my head down and my mouth shut. Not that it would have worked. Umbridge sent Dementors after me over the summer, before she'd even met me! That woman had it in for me from the start."
Running a hand through his messy hair, Harry sighed. "Look, this is all in the notebook I gave you. If you didn't believe what I wrote down, why I am I trying to convince you now? You'll follow Dumbledore, no matter what I try to tell you, and you'll continue to shit yourself every time Voldemort's name is mentioned. Merlin help you if you ever have to face him.
"But think about this. I've faced him, in one way or another, six times, twice in my first year at Hogwarts alone. Six times, Moony, and I'm still alive. Me, a fifteen year old kid. What does that tell you about the 'most powerful Dark Lord ever'? Most people, when they're face to face with him, panic, get stupid and end up dead. It's the same when they face his Death Eaters.
"He's not completely human anymore, but neither is he a god. Dumbledore may think that I'm the only one who can kill him, but that doesn't mean others can't injure him. I'm betting, however, that Dumbledore won't allow that. The Order and the Ministry don't take the fight to Tom or his Death Eaters. They simply react to his attacks and it's usually too late to save anyone. When the time comes for me to face the bastard and try to kill him, I'm going to be facing not only him, but his servants."
Pushing away from the table, Harry stood up and looked down at Remus. "I'm pretty good at Defense, but what do you think the odds of me surviving a fight like that will be? I wouldn't put any money down on it, if I were you."
Tired and defeated, he walked out the kitchen door, leaving Remus to his thoughts.
Mrs. Weasley arrived that afternoon, bringing supplies to restock the pantry. Her entrance caused Mrs. Black to sing her lovely song of pure-blood supremacy and blood traitors once again. Hearing the commotion from his room, Harry grinned and began to hum a tune he thought complimented the shrieking rather well.
Hoping to see Ron and Hermione, he put down the book he'd been reading – part of the stash he'd pilfered from the library - and went downstairs to greet Mrs. Weasley. After arriving in the kitchen and escaping her notorious hug, he smiled and asked about his friends.
"I'm sorry, dear, they couldn't come," Molly said, not meeting his eyes.
"Oh, well, you know how these things are," she said, opening cupboards and putting groceries away.
"No, I don't. Why couldn't they come?"
"Because Dumbledore wouldn't allow it," Alastor Moody said as he walked into the kitchen. "Said it was too dangerous for them."
"Alastor!" Molly gasped, her eyes darting to Harry.
"The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix is too dangerous?" Harry asked intently.
Moody shrugged. "That's what Dumbledore said."
"Too dangerous for what?" Harry asked, staring at the man.
"Kids, apparently," he replied over Molly's objections.
"What am I? A small adult?" Harry asked snidely.
"Dunno, Potter. You'd have to ask the old man."
"Mrs. Weasley?" he said softly, turning to look at the woman.
"I'm sorry, dear. Dumbledore told me not to bring them. Believe me, they both wanted to come. I thought I'd have to cast a silencing charm on Ron, he was yelling so much," she said, shaking her head in dismay.
"But they haven't written to me or anything," he mumbled, looking down at this feet.
"No mail, except school related," Moody grouched. "Look, Potter, I'll be truthful with you. I think Dumbledore's making a mistake with his handling of you."
"I don't need 'handling'!" Harry snarled.
"I agree. I've told Dumbledore I don't agree with what's happening here, but he won't listen. Didn't listen when I told him he was making a mistake with Black, either. That didn't turn out so well, did it?"
"Who knows about this no friends, no mail business?" Harry asked.
"The Order," Mrs. Weasley said quietly.
"All of the Order? Even Remus?"
"Yep, all of us," Moody told him. "Made Snape happier than I've seen him in ages."
"I'll just bet. Great greasy bastard!"
"Harry!" Mrs. Weasley admonished. "Watch your language!"
"I can only do that when I'm writing, and as I don't intend to give up verbal communication any time soon, you'll have to forgive me if I refuse your kind instructions," Harry said snidely.
Mrs. Weasley's eyes widened at his comment, but Moody laughed.
"That's it, kid. Tell it like you see it," the man cheered.
Shaking his head, Harry turned to leave. "Oh, yeah. You might want to avoid the refrigerator. It bites," he called over his shoulder as he left.
Climbed the stairs from the kitchen, he heard the muffled scream from Mrs. Weasley and a shouted expletive from Moody. Knowing they'd just discovered the creature living in the refrigerator, he grinned.
Reaching the landing for the ground floor, he turned for the stairs. Spotting Mrs. Black's portrait, he stopped for a moment. Humming the tune he'd made up, he punched the painting. Just as he expected, the curtain sprung open and Mrs. Black began to sing. Cursing from the kitchen told him the adults would soon be up to quiet the old crone.
Running up the stairs to his room, he tried not to laugh. Sure, it was childish, but it was amusing, too.
Entering his bedroom, he closed the door and spotted Hedwig. She was perched on the headboard of his bed, glaring at her cage.
"Don't worry, girl. I won't force you into it," he told her as he approached. Reaching out, he caressed her feathers gently and she nipped at him affectionately.
He turned away from the owl with a sigh and went to his trunk. Having nothing better to do, he rummaged around until he found the last of his summer assignments. Dragging books, parchment, quill and ink over to the desk, he sat down and organized his workspace, something that would have shocked Hermione, had she seen it.
After sharpening his quill, he uncapped the bottle of ink and set to work.
A knock on his bedroom door sometime later had him looking up in confusion as he focused on something other than his Transfiguration essay. He was almost finished with it and wasn't happy to be interrupted.
"What?" he called irritably.
The door opened and Remus walked in, smiling and carrying a tray of sandwiches and a pot of tea. "I brought you lunch. There's some owl treats for Hedwig, too."
"Why didn't you just call me down?" Harry asked as he put down his quill and massaged the writing cramp from his hand.
"An Order meeting is due to start in half an hour or so. You'll have to stay in your room, I'm afraid."
When Harry scowled, Remus put the tray on the desk and held up a hand. "I know it's aggravating, but it won't last long and it will give you time to eat and finish your homework," the older man said with a gentle smile.
Shrugging, Harry picked up the pot of tea and filled his cup. "So, when are Ron and Hermione going to be here?" he asked casually.
"I'm not sure. It shouldn't be too much longer, though," Remus said, looking away.
"Liar," Harry hissed as he put down the teapot. "Moody already told me they're not coming!"
Remus grimaced. "I'm sorry, Harry. Dumbledore said -"
"Oh, right, Dumbledore said. I guess it must be true, then." Standing, he faced the man. "Careful, Moony. If you and the rest of the Order shove your heads any further up Dumbledore's ass, people will mistake him for a Hydra!"
"Harry," Remus began.
"Get out," Harry said quietly, his teeth clenched.
"We should talk about all this anger you have toward -"
"I said, get out," Harry repeated. Reaching into his pocket of his jeans, he pulled out his wand.
"You can't use magic, Harry," Remus exclaimed, alarmed.
"If you reach for your wand, you'll find out just how good I am at Defense," Harry snarled as the werewolf's hand twitched toward the pocket of his robe. "And if you're not out of my room in two seconds, you'll regret it."
"You'll be expelled," Remus all but shouted.
"I don't want to go back to Hogwarts, anyway," Harry said. "Oh, and that's one."
"Don't be foolish!"
"And that's two!" Pointing his wand at the man, he snarled, "Expelliarmus!" Catching the man's wand easily, he shoved it into his back pocket. "Silencio! Incarcerous!"
Moony's eyes widened in shock as he found himself disarmed, silenced and immobilized before he'd quite realized what happened.
"Not all harmful spells have to be black, Professor," Harry said, imitating Remus' lecturing style. "You see, the intent behind the spell can be just as harmful."
Looking at the older man with utter disgust, he shook his head. "You know, I honestly don't know who's worse; the Order or Voldemort and his inbred morons! If you're an example of what the Order has to offer, I might as well give myself over to the next Death Eater I see.
"Because of some prophecy that old bat, Trelawney, spat out, I'm supposed to kill one of the most powerful Dark Lord's our world's ever seen? Me? A sixteen year old kid, who's had no training? That's Dumbledore's great plan and you're all following behind him, merrily marching me off to my death!"
Harry's shoulders slumped and he rubbed a hand over his face tiredly. "I don't know why I'm bothering to talk to you. You can't see past Dumbledore's beard long enough to see that the son of one of your best friends is being set up to die. And the worst part is, you don't care, do you? So long as I do my job and save this world – a world I'm not sure is worth my life to save – you'll tell any lie, take away any choices I may have.
"I want you to know that I didn't plan any of this," he continued, waving a hand toward the bound man. "But when Dumbledore brought me here, I couldn't stand it. All I can remember is how much Sirius hated being here. Then, having you lie to me, it's just too much. I won't go so far as to say you caused all of this, but you certainly didn't help matters. Remember that, in the days to come."
Harry's eyes narrowed slightly in thought. "Now, to set the trap. Wingardium Leviosa!"
Remus' feet left the ground and Harry smiled impishly. "Who knew werewolves could fly? Ah, well, come along then!"
Guiding the floating man out of the bedroom, he turned toward the stairwell. With a few flicks of his wand, he had Remus over the rail, dangling helplessly.
"This is going to hurt you a lot more than it will hurt me, Moony. Enjoy the ride," Harry taunted.
Remus' eyes were wide and frightened. He opened his mouth, and Harry was sure he was screaming. Waving his wand, he ended the spell, and the man fell.
The crash at the bottom was loud, as Remus had managed to land on and break the table in the hall. Mrs. Black began to shriek, and shouting could be heard from the kitchen.
Crouching down on the stairs, Harry took aim through the rails.
Mrs. Weasley came charging up the stairs from the kitchen, muttering to herself. Seeing Remus trussed up and sprawled on the floor, she froze for a moment. It was all Harry needed.
"Stupefy!" he said quietly.
Mrs. Weasley hit the floor, unconscious. Standing, Harry quickly bound her, then floated her closer to Remus.
Couching down again, he waited. Expecting the arrival of the next person to come from the direction of the kitchen stairs, he jumped when the front door opened.
"Remus? Molly? What's going on?" Tonks cried as she rushed to them.
"Stupefy!" Harry hissed, then watched as she fell. Binding her like the others, he went back to waiting. He'd have to watch both entrances, but it shouldn't be too hard.
Over the next twenty minutes, he managed to stun and bind ten Order members, whether they came in through the front door or up from the kitchen. He took the greatest pleasure in capturing Dumbledore and Snape.
Examining the rather large mound of bodies he'd managed to stack up like cord wood, he realized someone was missing.
"I haven't enjoyed such an amusing display in a long time, Potter," Mad-Eye Moody called from the kitchen stairs.
Harry ducked down, trying to find cover.
"Don't be foolish, boy. Had I wanted to take you out, I'd have done so before now. I've been watching you take them down one by one, after all."
"Are we going to fight about this, Moody?" Harry asked curiously.
"Of course not, Potter. But you can't leave me unmolested. It would look a bit odd, don't you think? Now, listen carefully. I don't like what Dumbledore is doing. I've told you that. Unlike the rest of the Order, I know what the prophecy says. Are you listening?"
"Yes," Harry said, a bit puzzled.
"Good. Now, when I come up, you'll need to stun and bind me like the others. Go easy, kid. I hate having to replace this blasted leg. It takes forever to break them in. Once I'm out, remove us from the house. Stack us up in the backyard, or toss us out on the front lawn. It makes no difference to me. Once we're gone, call the elf."
"Elf? What elf?" Harry asked.
"The crazy one! Kreacher! Tell him to ward the house against us."
"Why would he listen to me, a half-blood?"
"You own the house now, Potter. Didn't Dumbledore... No, I guess he wouldn't. All right, listen. Sirius left you everything. The house, his money, all his possessions are yours, including that blasted elf. When we're out of the house, command the elf to bar us from re-entering."
"I understand. It still seems a bit odd, you helping me and all," Harry told him.
Moody climbed the last few stairs, becoming visible to Harry. He grinned, and held both hands up, showing he was unarmed.
"Dumbledore's getting more foolish with each passing year and he's dragging down the collective intelligence of the Order with him." Moody shook his head. "You caught Dumbledore as he entered the house. Didn't you wonder why no one asked me to have a look around with my eye? No one had to leave the kitchen to investigate, but they're all as foolish as the old man."
"I can't argue with you there," Harry said. "Accio Moody's wand!"
"Smart, kid," Moody told him. "Though you should have done that as soon as you saw me."
Scratching his ear with his wand, Harry nodded. "I know. I was so busy thinking about what you were saying that I didn't -"
"Stop!" Moody bellowed. "You want to blow off your ear? Lower your wand, Potter!"
Training his wand on Moody again, Harry scowled. "I wasn't going to cast anything."
"Accidental magic has caused more than one mishap. Remember, constant vigilance!" he barked.
"Yes, sir," Harry said, trying not to roll his eyes.
"Okay, it's time to clean house, kid. If you need any help with Occlumency or Defense, send me an owl. I'll do what I can to help you, or find people who can. And you can guarantee they won't be Order members!"
"Thank you, sir," Harry said quietly. Casting a quick cushioning charm, he stunned Moody and watched as he landed on the floor, though much more gently than the others. Binding him, he levitated him to the front door, opened it, and floated him out to the weed choked lawn.
One by one, the other Order members followed, all bound and unconscious. Dumbledore he dropped to the ground from a greater height than the others. Snape, he bounced out the front door.
He eyed the mass of bodies, thinking. Then, ducking behind the front door, he peeked around it and trained his wand on them. "Accio wands!"
Ten wands shot through the front door and skittered down the hall. With a few flicks of his wand, he managed to collect them all and dump them into the umbrella stand where he would collect them later.
Looking outside again, he smiled evilly when he spotted Snape. Waving his wand and muttering, he stripped the man naked and tattooed the words 'Hug Me!' on his forehead.
Not quite done, Harry lifted his wand and wrote something in fiery letters in the air in front of himself. Then, moving the burning sign to hover over Snape's head, he modified the spell to not only follow the Potion Master wherever he went, but twisted it so that only the Potion Master himself could dispel it.
Examining his handwork, he decided that the sign was a bit too hard to read in the bright sunlight. Changing the color of the flames slightly, the words 'I'm a Death Eater!' now shown a bright yellowish red. Hermione was right. It was amazing what a few hours of concentrated reading could teach a person.
Nodding once, Harry closed the front door and leaned against it. Taking a deep breath, he called out for Kreacher.
With a small pop, Kreacher appeared in front of Harry and bowed low. The elf refused to look at him.
"Nasty, half-blood master call Kreacher?"
"I did, yes," Harry told him. "I'm about to make your day, Kreacher. I want you to reset the wards on the Noble House of Black. From this day on, no member of the Order of the Phoenix is allowed to enter this house. Only I, or those I designate, will be allowed entrance."
The aged elf looked up at Harry with rheumy eyes. "Filthy master would do this for Kreacher?"
"No, your filthy mas...Er, your master is doing this for both of us," Harry told him.
"No more hairy werewolf? No more blood traitors?" Kreacher asked, his eyes wide with surprise.
"That's right. Seal the house. For now, only I may enter. Set the wards so that only those I invite into the house can cross the wards. Everyone else is to be forcefully ejected!"
Kreacher's face split into the ugliest smile Harry had ever seen. The elf's teeth were rotten and black, and his breath, when he let out a whoop of excitement, nearly bowled him over.
Raising his gnarled arms, the elf mumbled something under his breath, then clapped twice. The house shook violently and dust rained down on them. Harry grabbed the door frame behind him to steady himself and wondered if the old house would collapse around them.
When the shaking stopped, Kreacher hopped twice and spun around. "We be free of filthy, traitorous wizards," he exclaimed. Then he looked up at Harry. "Except you, master. We still have you," he muttered.
"And I'm afraid you're stuck with me, Kreacher," Harry said, blandly. "Now, then, a few new rules. You are not allowed to leave the house, for any reason, unless I tell you to go somewhere. Nor are you allowed to communicate with anyone outside this house, unless I've given you permission to do so."
"I'm afraid it's going to get worse before I'm done," Harry told him, amused. "Mrs. Black's portrait will be removed."
"No!" the elf protested, loudly. "Filthy new master can't remove it!"
"I'm not going to remove it. You will. In exchange for doing this, I'm going to give it to you. Take it to your room and keep it."
"New muggle loving master will give Mistress to Kreacher?" he asked, his ugly face full of hope.
"Yes, but there will be a small modification made to it first."
Turning, he approached the portrait and pulled back the moth eaten curtains. Mrs. Black began her harangue and Harry did roll his eyes. Lifting his wand, he applied the tip to Mrs. Black's screeching mouth and whispered a spell.
Canceling the spell, he stepped back and frowned slightly. The spell had worked. Mrs. Black's mouth had been burned away. But the tip of his wand was larger than the area he'd meant to get rid of. As a result, Sirius' mother now had no nose and very little chin left, but at least she was silent.
Sighing, Harry stepped away from the painting and waved Kreacher closer. "It's yours, now. Take it down and get it out of here."
The elf wasn't happy with his new master for many reasons, not the least of which being that he'd mutilated his mistress! Grumbling under his breath about ugly scar-headed masters, he reached up and grabbed the painting.
A sound much like fingernails on a chalkboard rang through the hall and Harry clapped his hands over his ears. When the portrait finally came loose with a sucking pop, the frightful sound ended and Kreacher turned to face him, the painting held tightly to his small chest.
"Kreacher will be taking this away," he said in a grumble. "Mistress would be very displeased by Kreacher's actions. Kreacher much punish himself now."
"You will not punish yourself," Harry commanded in disgust. "Now, go. I'll call you when I need you again."
Kreacher bowed again, or tried to. The portrait made it rather awkward. He muttered to himself as he turned and popped away with a loud cracking sound.
Harry frowned. He'd have to be very careful what orders he gave the elf. The evil tempered creature was sneaky, and he knew if his instructions weren't specific, Kreacher would interpret them as he chose.
Shrugging the problem away for the moment, he bound up the stairs and walked into one of the front bedrooms. Moving to the window, he opened it carefully, pulled aside the filthy curtains to look down at the lawn. What he saw nearly made him laugh out loud.
Most of his victims were awake and struggling with their bonds. Mundungus Fletcher had obviously arrived late for the Order meeting and now stood on the sidewalk, holding his sides and howling with laughter.
A harsh word from Dumbledore had the squat, shabby man straightening and waving his wand. He released the Headmaster first, then moved on to the others.
When Snape stood up, he tried desperately to cover his nakedness. Tonks, seeing the flaming words hanging above the dark man's head, covered her mouth and pointed to it.
Everyone turned to stare. Snape, not sure what was happening, looked up and his eyes widened in horror.
"Headmaster!" he shrieked, doing a fine imitation of Mrs. Black.
"Dung, give Severus your coat," Dumbledore ordered. Then, checking several pockets in his robe, he scowled. "I seem to have misplaced my wand."
"Harry has mine," Remus muttered angrily as Snape wrapped himself in the filthy overcoat Fletcher gave him.
"Mine is missing, too," Elphias Doge growled.
"And mine," Tonks said, glancing back at the house.
Hestia, Emmeline, Kingsley, Molly and Dedalus all confirmed that their wands were missing.
"Alastor?" Dumbledore asked, hopefully.
"The kid disarmed me when I came up the stairs," Moody replied.
"Isn't that interesting," Snape sneered. "How is it your magical eye didn't see what the brat was doing?"
Moody shrugged. "It did."
"Why didn't you warn us?" Molly asked angrily.
"Because you didn't ask," he growled. "You kept sending people up to check on those missing like a group of first years afraid of the dark. I must say, I found the whole thing very amusing."
When Snape took a menacing step forward, Mad-Eye tensed. "The aurors are going to get you, boy. And about damn time, too," he snarled, staring the flaming words above the man's head.
Snape spun towards Dumbledore. "Headmaster?" he asked fearfully.
"Dung, dispel that, won't you?" Dumbledore asked, pointed at the floating words.
"Shouldn't it have disappeared when I untied him?" Dung asked, scratching his head. When the Headmaster only continued to stare at him and wait, he shrugged and raised his wand again. "Finite Incantatem!"
Dung stared down at his wand for a moment, gaping.
"You must not have done it right," Snape said, gritting his teeth. "Try it again, you fool!"
Several attempts later, Dung lowered his wand, giving up. "It's no use."
Moody laughed. "All right, Potter! What did you do?" he yelled.
"I tied the spell to his own magical signature," came the answer.
The members of the Order all spun around. There, in the upper window, stood Harry Potter, grinning impishly.
"Very good, Potter. That's some tricky spell work," Moody complimented.
Harry shrugged. "It's amazing what one can pick up in books."
Moody slapped his knee and hooted with laughter.
"Alastor, do you mind?" Molly hissed.
"Harry, where are our wands?" Tonks asked.
"Here, in the house. I placed them all in the umbrella stand," he replied.
"Underage magic is strictly prohibited. You'll be expelled for this, Potter," Snape ground out, though his eyes gleamed with pleasure.
"I don't see any Ministry owls, Professor," Harry commented. "Interestingly enough, the Ministry doesn't seem to be able to detect the use of magic from Headquarters. Must be that pesky Fidelius charm."
Smiling grandly, Dumbledore strode forward. "This has all been very amusing, Harry. But we do have a meeting to attend today. I'm afraid this game will have to continue another time."
Reaching the front door, Dumbledore grasped the knob. The sound of a thunderclap rang through the yard and the Headmaster was thrown back ten feet from the house. He crashed into Emmeline Vance and both fell to the ground, hard.
Into the silence that followed, Harry's laugh rang out.
"I don't think so, Professor," he called down from the window. "It's my game, after all, and I want to keep playing."
Shacklebolt and Tonks helped Dumbledore to his feet. Emmeline scrambled up on her own and brushed the dirt and dead grass from her robes.
Dumbledore looked up at the boy in the window, his eyes wide. "But how?"
"It's simple really," Harry told him, leaning against the window frame. "I own the house now. I can't do anything about the Fidelius charm yet, but the other warding was easy enough to change."
"How did you find out about that?" Snape asked.
"I told him," Alastor said.
Dumbledore spun around and faced the man, his gaze fierce. "Why? Why would you do such a thing when you knew the boy was angry?"
"There was no reason to hide it," Moody countered. "You've all kept him in the dark, kept him a prisoner. Am I the only one who sees how wrong you've all been?"
As the argument on the lawn continued, Harry turned away from the window and called for Kreacher. Several minutes later, he leaned back against the window frame and braced himself.
When the house began to tremble again, those out on the lawn watched fearfully.
"Harry? What's going on?" Molly asked, alarmed. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Mrs. Weasley. Oh, and by the way, here are your wands," he called back. Then, one by one, he snapped them and tossed them out the window until there was only one left in his hand.
Several Order members cried out and rushed forward, but there was nothing they could do.
Rolling a piece of parchment into a tube, he then slid it over the last wand and gently levitated it out the window. Floating it down to Mad-Eye, he lowered it enough that the man could reach out and pluck it from the air.
Sliding the parchment off his wand, Moody unrolled it and read the note quickly.
You've been truthful with me and I owe you a great deal for the information you've given me. I may take you up on your offer of help in the coming days. I think I'm going to need it.
The wards on the house have been reset and you are allowed to enter. You will be evicted, violently and automatically, if you raise your wand on me, so be warned. As you say, constant vigilance!
After incinerating the note, Moody looked up, a grin on his face. "Understood, Potter!" Turning away, he moved toward the sidewalk.
Nodding, Harry reached up to close the window. "This has been fun, but I do have other plans." Laughing heartily, he slammed the window shut and let the drapes fall closed.
"Where do you think you're going, Alastor?" Dumbledore demanded.
"Home, old man. I've got things to do," Moody replied before apparating away.
"Now what do we do, Albus?" Molly asked, worriedly. "Harry's all alone in that house!"
"No, he has Kreacher," Dumbledore murmured, his eyes narrowed as he turned around and stared at the house.
"Just like Sirius," Tonks murmured quietly to Remus.
Wrapping his arms around himself, Remus closed his eyes. New battle lines had been drawn, and he was very much afraid he'd chosen the wrong side.
Entering his bedroom, Harry spotted the tray Remus had brought up earlier and realized how hungry he was. Sitting down at the desk, he grabbed a sandwich and began to eat. When he finished, he filled a cup with lukewarm tea and sipped thoughtfully as he glanced down at the homework still spread across his desk.
Putting his cup down, he stacked his homework to one side, then reached into his pocket and pulled out the small notebook Remus had returned to him. Flipping through it quickly, he found where he'd left off, and reached for his quill. If he was going to keep a record, he figured he might as well update the thing to include the events of the last few days.
Ollivander's, Diagon Alley, later that afternoon...
The Order members arrived outside Ollivander's wand shop. At Snape's urgings, Dung had managed to transfigure his overcoat into something that resembled a robe. He'd also managed to blur the fiery sign over Snape's head and the tattoo. It was still there, but at least no one could read it!
Opening the door, Dumbledore led the way into the darkened shop. Mr. Ollivander's head popped up from behind the counter and his moon-like eyes widened at seeing how many people had entered.
"Albus?" Mr. Ollivander breathed. "What has happened to bring you and your group to my shop?"
"Gabriel," Dumbledore said with a nod. "I'm afraid we've run into a spot of trouble."
Gabriel Ollivander's eyes narrowed as he scanned the group. His gaze stopped on Snape and his lips twitched. "Nice sign work," he commented. Turning back to Dumbledore, he smirked. "I see you've had a run in with Mr. Potter."
"How did you know?" Molly exclaimed.
Snape's jaw tightened. Tonks, standing next to him, shuddered. She could hear his teeth grinding.
"That brat has snapped our wands," Snape snarled.
Snape's eyes snapped to Dumbledore's, then down at his feet.
Turning away from his potion master, Dumbledore smiled at Ollivander. "It was simply a game that got out of hand," he explained. "I'm afraid we'll all need new wands."
"Game?" Ollivander asked. "You are mistaken, Headmaster. The remnants of Potter's anger surrounds you. No, this was no game."
Albus frowned and straightened his shoulders. "We haven't much time, Gabriel. If we could begin, please?"
"Let's begin with you then, shall we?" Ollivander asked. When the Headmaster nodded, he shuffled toward a shelf and began to mutter to himself. "Hickory, I believe. Twelve inches..."
Early morning, Tonks' apartment...
Remus rolled over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. He'd made his home at Grimmauld, somehow thinking it brought him closer to Sirius. When Harry had evicted the Order, he'd quickly found himself homeless. Tonks had offered to let him sleep on her couch and, having no place else to go, he'd accepted.
They'd both decided to call it an early night, but Remus was unable to sleep. He'd been shifting around on the uncomfortable sofa for several hours as thoughts of Harry careened through his mind.
Dumbledore had stood up for him for so long, even going so far as to give him a teaching position, that Remus felt he owed the man. But after reading Harry's notebook and seeing Dumbledore's highhandedness for himself, he found himself doubting the leader of the Order for the first time.
He'd been shocked at the depth of Harry's anger, but as he thought about it, he realized how naive he'd been. The young man had been through hell, and not just at home with his relatives. His experiences at Hogwarts alone would have been enough to cause any fifteen year old to lash out. Yet Harry had handled everything thrown at him with a maturity and levelheadedness not normally found in one so young. He'd managed to survive each meeting with Voldemort, something not many adult, fully trained wizards could claim.
But at the end of Harry's fifth year, the events leading up to and including Sirius' death had caused a profound change in the boy, and Remus wasn't so sure anymore that Harry wasn't right in making those changes. Everything Harry had said about both the Ministry and the Order's reactions to Voldemort's return were correct. They really weren't doing all they could to prepare Harry, or to take the fight to the Dark Lord.
Fear might have had something to do with it, at least when it came to the Ministry. But Remus couldn't wrap his mind around Dumbledore being afraid of Voldemort. They'd always been told it was the other way around!
And why hadn't Dumbledore begun training for Harry? Remus didn't count Snape's Occlumency lessons as any sort of real training. If what Harry said was correct, the man only made things worse and may have been one of the reasons Sirius was now dead.
Remus closed his eyes tightly at the thought of Sirius. He would be more than disappointed if he knew that Remus had sided with Dumbledore over his godson. He didn't want to think about what James and Lily would have said.
When the bedroom door opened and Tonks walked into the living room, Remus realized he hadn't noticed the steady lightening of the sky through the window. Frowning, he sat up tiredly, startling Tonks.
"Damn, Remus. I forgot you were here," she exclaimed, clutching a hand to her heart.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
She waved his apology away and looked at him carefully. "You look like shit. Didn't you sleep?"
Shaking his head, he ran a hand through his graying hair. "No. I couldn't stop thinking about Harry."
"Don't worry. Dumbledore will figure out how to get him out of Headquarters. I still can't believe he snapped our wands! I know he had it rough at home, but that's no reason to take it out on us. We've done everything to help him and he's treating us like we're the enemy," she groused as she walked into the kitchen. With a few flicks of her wand, she had tea ready.
"I think we might be," Remus told her quietly.
"What? Remus, you can't be serious!" she said, coming out of the kitchen with two cups of tea. "What have we done that's so terrible?" She handed him one of the cups and sat down next to him on the couch.
He sipped his tea, then looked at her. "He didn't want to come to Headquarters. Why would he? Most of his memories of that place are tied up with Sirius. His godfather has been dead for a few short weeks. Why would he want to be reminded of that?"
"I loved him too, Remus," she said sadly. "But you don't see me throwing a fit and hurting the people trying to help me."
"No one forced you to go to Headquarters against your will, either. How many people asked how you were doing after Sirius died? How many people have checked on your well being in the last few weeks? No one bothered to do that with Harry. Dumbledore insisted he needed to be left alone to grieve."
"Everyone grieves differently," she explained.
"Yes, but if Harry had been allowed visitors, we would have known about his situation at home much sooner. Haven't you ever wondered why Dumbledore insisted that no one speak to Harry? Not just this year, but every year since he started Hogwarts?"
"Not really. I assumed he had his reasons," she said, shrugging.
Remus closed his eyes and shook his head. "Now I understand what Harry meant."
"When? What are you talking about?"
"Never mind," he said, standing up. He put his cup down on the table next to the couch and stared down at her. "Thank you for the use of the couch, Tonks."
"You're leaving?" she asked, puzzled. "Don't you want to shower or something?"
"No, I need to leave," he said, walking to the front door and opening it.
"Will I see you tonight?"
He turned to face her. "I don't think so. I'll find somewhere else to stay. Goodbye, Tonks." Walking out, he closed the door softly behind him and made his way to the nearest apparation point.
Tonks frowned at the closed door. Unsure of what she'd said to chase him off, she went back through the conversation in her mind. Unable to figure it out, she sat back on the couch and took a sip of tea.
She wasn't sure when she'd fallen in love with Remus. It had been so gradual, she almost hadn't noticed it. She'd invited him to stay with her in the hopes that she'd be able to make him see that she wasn't just a girl with a crush, but a woman who understood what real love was.
Sitting forward, she put her cup on the coffee table and all but growled. The situation with Harry had ruined her plans and she wasn't pleased.
Standing, she walked toward the bedroom. The Order was going to meet today to discuss the situation. Perhaps Dumbledore would come up with a solution.
If your fingers are itching to hit the review button to tell me all the things I screwed up in canon, bite me. If you've ever read any of our stories, you know better than that.
Did I screw with canon? Yep, and very happily. Why? Because it suited my perverse sense of humor. See, I like to imagine all those canon freaks out there frothing at the mouth, ready to point out every instance where I "got it wrong", only to keel over onto the floor, throwing a tantrum to rival a four year old when I nod calmly and say, "Yep, and I did it on purpose, so neener, neener, boo, boo!"
You know the drill, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, perverts and prudes! Review, or no cookies for you!