Chapter 1: Expelled
Harry, with Dudley hanging limply over his shoulders, trudged up the garden path to the front door of number four Privet Drive.
Through the little window at the drop of the door, Harry could see that the hall light was still on. Hopefully that meant his Aunt and Uncle hadn't gone to bed yet.
Sticking his wand inside the waistband of his jeans, Harry leant Dudley against the doorframe so he could ring the doorbell. He watched as Aunt Petunia's outline grew larger and larger, as she approached the door.
"Diddy! About time too; I was getting quite - quite - Diddy, what's the matter?"
Harry glanced over at Dudley's swaying form propped against the doorway and ducked out from under his arm just in time. Dudley swayed for a moment on the spot, his face ashen and clammy. Then he opened his mouth as if to answer Aunt Petunia and vomited all over the doormat.
"DIDDY! Diddy, what's the matter with you? Vernon? VERNON!"
Harry's uncle came galloping out of the parlour room, as fast as his rotund form could waddle. His walrus-like moustache twitched in agitation, and his face was truly flushed by the time he arrived in the entryway.
Uncle Vernon hurried forward to help Aunt Petunia maneuver a weak-kneed Dudley over the threshold while avoiding stepping in the pool of sick that was seeping into the entryway rug.
"He's ill, Vernon!" Aunt Petunia shrieked.
Uncle Vernon hoisted Dudley a little higher, "What is it, son? What's happened? Did Mrs. Polkiss give you something foreign for tea?"
Dudley's silence and ashen face was their only reply as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon hauled their son down the hall towards the kitchen.
"Why are you all covered in dirt, darling? Have you been lying on the ground?"
"Hang on - you haven't been mugged, have you, son?"
Aunt Petunia screamed, "Phone the police, Vernon! Phone the police! Diddy, darling, speak to mummy! What did they do to you?"
In all the kerfuffle, nobody seemed to have noticed Harry, which suited him perfectly as he managed to slip inside before his uncle could slam the front door. He watched as the Dursleys made their way noisily down the hall towards the kitchen, and carefully crept towards the stairs.
As his aunt and uncle sat Dudley gingerly in one of the chairs around the kitchen table, Uncle Vernon gave Dudley a little shake. "Who did it, son? Give us names. We'll get them, don't worry" Uncle Vernon promised as Aunt Petunia fussed.
"Shh! He's trying to say something, Vernon! What is it, Diddy? Tell Mummy!"
Harry was a quarter of the way up the stairs when Dudley finally found his voice.
"Him" he rasped.
Harry froze, foot on the stair, trying to make as little sound as possible. He knew what was coming next and braced for the explosion.
"BOY! COME HERE!"
With a feeling of dread and frustration, Harry slowly climbed back down the stairs and walked towards the kitchen. After years of this, Harry had learnt it was just better to let them yell at him. The punishment was always worse if he tried to run or hide; even if it wasn't his fault.
The scrupulously clean kitchen gleamed as Harry entered. Dudley was sitting at the kitchen table, quivering in his seat while Aunt Petunia ran her long bony fingers through his hair. Clutching Dudley to her chest, Aunt Petunia whispered calming words in his ear as she rocked him back and forth.
Dudley still looked rather clammy and nauseous, so Aunt Petunia's rocking was only making him look even more ill as he struggled not to throw up the contents of his stomach over the sparkly kitchen tiles.
Uncle Vernon, meanwhile, glared at Harry from where he was standing by the sink with his meaty arms crossed over his chest.
"What have you done to my son, boy?" Uncle Vernon said in a menacing growl as he stormed towards where Harry was standing in the doorway, towering over him threateningly.
"Nothing," said Harry, knowing perfectly well that Uncle Vernon wouldn't believe him.
He was right.
Before Harry could do anything to defend himself, Uncle Vernon seized him by the throat and pinned him against the kitchen wall.
Harry gasped for breath and tried to pry Uncle Vernon's hands from his throat.
"Let me go," Harry wheezed as he struggled to break out of his uncle's grip.
Uncle Vernon's hands only closed tighter around his neck in retaliation, "Now, what have you done to my son, boy?" Vernon demanded as he shook Harry by the neck.
Harry was struggling to breathe, and block spots were starting to cover his vision. Gasping, Harry weakly tried to kick at his uncle. If only he could get Uncle Vernon to loosen his grip just a little so Harry could breathe.
Harry felt one of his kicks connect with his uncle's middle and Uncle Vernon roared in rage. Squeezing his hands even tighter around Harry's throat, Uncle Vernon gave Harry another shake, "I asked you, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY SON, YOU FREAK?!"
The black spots were expanding in size and Harry knew he was seconds from passing out due to lack of oxygen. In a last-ditch effort, Harry flung out his fists and began feebly beating at his uncle's arm; trying to do anything to loosen his uncle's grip on his throat. However, his Uncle only snarled and squeezed his hands even tighter about Harry's throat.
Harry could faintly hear Aunt Petunia screaming at his uncle to stop, but it seemed like Uncle Vernon was too furious to hear her.
Harry felt the black spots closing in, but just before he lost consciousness, he reached out his fingers towards his uncle and thought 'Reducto'.
From somewhere deep inside him a coil of magic erupted violently.
Suddenly, a sharp pulse filled the air as Uncle Vernon was flung across the kitchen and smashed into the opposite wall.
Harry could hear Aunt Petunia and Dudley's screams as he opened his eyes. The tile floor of what was once Aunt Petunia's pristine kitchen, was now broken up into chunks and scorch marks littered the walls.
"Vernon!" Aunt Petunia screamed in fear as she huddled Dudley tighter to her slight frame, "Vernon, are you alright?!"
Uncle Vernon groaned from his crumpled position on the shattered tile floor and began trying to stand.
Meanwhile, Harry was on the other side of the kitchen, slumped down on the floor, dragging in desperate gasps of air. Relief surged through him. He was alive. His magic, or something that felt like his magic, had saved him from his uncle.
His uncle who had just tried to kill him...
Looking at his relatives, Harry saw all three of them staring at him in a mixture of fear and hatred, which filled him with a surge of resentment. He had just saved Dudley's life from Dementors, and in thanks, his uncle had strangled him.
"Nothing," said Harry with a glare in his uncle's direction as he shakily got to his feet.
"What was that?" Uncle Vernon asked as he too staggered to his feet.
"I said, nothing," Harry repeated. "I did nothing to Dudley other than save his miserable life."
"And you expect me to believe that do you, boy? After what you just did to me?!"
"To be honest? No," Harry snapped, "I knew perfectly well that none of you would believe me. You never have, and I gave up on the idea of you lot being my family a long time ago."
A tense silence settled in the kitchen of number four Privet Drive. Neither Harry nor his relatives seemed to know what to do.
The silence was broken with a resounding shriek as a screech owl swooped into the room through the open window above the sink, narrowly missing the top of Aunt Petunia's head as it soared across the kitchen to perch on the back of one of the dining chairs. Clutched in its beak was a letter addressed to Harry.
With a furious bellow of "OWLS!", Uncle Vernon stormed towards the now startled screech owl, his face turning a blotchy puce in his rage.
Harry dashed towards the owl and snatched the letter, hoping to stop the owl from being strangled by his enraged uncle.
Once Harry had grabbed the envelope, the screech owl quickly flapped its wings in a flutter of feathers and soared back towards the open kitchen window; its talons scratching the top of the fridge in its haste to escape the enclosed space and loud voices in the Dursley Family Kitchen.
With the owl flying off across the garden and out into the night, Harry breathed a sigh of relief only to be stopped by his uncle shouting, once again.
"OWLS! AGAIN! I WILL NOT HAVE ANY MORE OF YOUR FREAKISHNESS CONTAMINATING THIS HOME! AND THERE WILL BE NO MORE OWLS IN MY HOUSE!" Vernon bellowed as he waddled towards the kitchen window to slam it shut with a resonating BANG.
Meanwhile, Harry was ripping open the parchment envelope and swiftly pulling out the letter inside, his pulse racing frantically as he read the contents of the letter.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past nine this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area and in the presence of a Muggle. The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand. As you have already received an official warning for a previous offence under section 13 of the International Confederation of Wizards' Statute of Secrecy, we regret to inform you that your presence is required at a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic at 9 A.M. on August 12th.
Hoping you are well,
Improper Use of Magic Office
Ministry of Magic
'This can't be happening' Harry thought as he began to read through the letter a second time. As he was reading, he was becoming steadily paler and paler until he reached the end of the letter for a second time.
'This is real. This is really happening', he thought as his brain and body began to become icy and numb. He could vaguely hear his aunt and uncle talking in harsh whispers in the background.
One fact seemed to penetrate Harry's self-induced shock like a bullet to the brain. He was expelled from Hogwarts. It was all over. He was never going to be allowed back. He'll never see his friends or professors again. He'll never get to play quidditch, or hell, argue with that prat Malfoy ever again.
'Maybe they will let me stay at Hogwarts and be Hagrid's assistant,' Harry thought as he remembered the time, back in his first year at Hogwarts when he thought that he would be expelled for saving Neville's Remembrall from Malfoy. His stomach once again twisted in discomfort at the idea of trailing behind Hagrid, carrying his bag. 'Oh, Merlin! What am I going to do?' he thought, 'How will I escape Voldemort if I can't use magic...'
That last thought caused an avalanche within his mind. Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand. That was what the letter had said. There was only one thing that he could do; he would have to run.
'Perhaps I can be on the run with Sirius...' his mind plotted as the severity of the situation slowly sunk in. 'It doesn't matter where I go, as long as I'm not here when they come to destroy my wand.' Because there was one thing that he knew for certain: there was no way in hell he was letting anyone snap his wand. He would die without it; and whether he was at Hogwarts or outside it, he needed his wand if he wanted any chance at surviving another fight against Voldemort.
With these thoughts rushing through his head, Harry sprinted out of the kitchen and into the hall to the sound of Uncle Vernon shouting, "Where do you think you're going, boy?!"
Leaping up the stairs, taking them two at a time, Harry reached his room as he heard his uncle bellow, "I haven't finished with you, boy! Get back here and explain what you did to my son, you freak!"
Even an outsider could tell that this room either held many secrets or something dangerous by the numerous padlocks and deadbolts on the door and the small cat-flap located at it's base. The cat-flap had been put in by his Uncle in the beginning of the summer before Harry's second year at Hogwarts and it was usually used by his Aunt to push the leftover scraps, through the door for him to eat.
Bolting through the door to his room, Harry began to gather his meagre possessions and stuff them, unceremoniously, into the old backpack that Dudley had gotten for his thirteenth birthday and then had ripped a week later. The backpack had been left in Harry's room the summer before his third year, when Aunt Petunia graciously gave it to him to fix. However, a week later, the backpack had still not been asked for and Harry decided to keep it instead.
Harry first rummaged through the small cupboard in his room, pulling out the few clothes that fit him and stuffing them into the waiting backpack. Harry then rushed over to his broken and slightly crooked desk to retrieve his school books. 'At least this way I will have something to learn, even if I have been expelled,' Harry thought as he scooped up his school books and placed them next to the backpack.
"Bollox" said Harry when he realised that not all of his textbooks would fit inside the small backpack. Then it hit him; he was a wizard; he could use magic.
'I'm such an idiot.' Harry thought as he began shrinking his textbooks and clothes.
Hedwig meanwhile was beginning to buffet the sides of her cage with her wings as she flapped them in agitation, causing her cage to rock back and forth precariously on Harry's desk.
"Yes, I know girl. Just a second," Harry said as he finished packing his, now shrunken school books into the backpack.
"Alohomora," said Harry, unlocking the padlock on Hedwig's cage. "We have to go girl. I've been expelled from Hogwarts. Do you think you could go and stay with Hermione for a little bit?" Harry asked Hedwig as she hopped out from her cage and onto his extended arm.
Hedwig let out a soft coo as she climbed up his arm and proceeded to nibble affectionately on his earlobe.
"Thanks, girl," said Harry, smiling at the understanding Hedwig was showing.
"I really wish I could bring you with me but if I'm going to be hiding from the Ministry, I'll need to hide in the Muggle world. It would probably look a bit odd for an ordinary person to have a snowy owl in the middle of Muggle London." Harry said as he opened the window.
With one last affectionate nibble on the ear, Hedwig was shooting out the window and gliding away into the night. "Goodbye, girl," whispered Harry into the never-ending darkness.
Forcing himself to turn from the window, Harry returned to packing. Moving over to his bed, Harry dropped to his knees and reached below his bed for the lose floorboards which held his treasures.
From beneath the floorboards, Harry pulled out his father's invisibility cloak, the photo album that Hagrid had given him and a pouch full of galleons. With these treasures in hand, Harry closed his hidey-hole and placed the photo album and galleons in the backpack before zipping it, and slinging it onto his shoulders. He then fastened the invisibility cloak around his neck, avoiding the bruises which were quickly forming there, and pulled the hood of the cloak up over his head, rendering him completely invisible.
Now invisible, Harry silenced his feet with a quick "Silencio" and walked back into the upstairs hallway. His uncle was at the foot of the stairs. He was trapped.
"BOY! GET BACK HERE, THIS INSTANT!" Vernon bellowed up the stairs, not knowing that Harry was only a few metres away, standing at the top of the stairs.
When there was no audible reply to his bellow, Uncle Vernon snarled and began to storm up the stairs, a look of murderous intent upon his face.
Harry knew that while his uncle couldn't see him, he could still run in to him, so as his uncle laboured up the stairs, Harry tucked himself inside the doorway of the bathroom and waited.
"BOY! IF I HAVE TO DRAG YOU DOWNSTAIRS, I WILL THROTTLE YOU TILL YOU SEE STARS!" Uncle Vernon shouted as he thundered past the bathroom door on the way to Harry's bedroom.
With the way free, Harry quietly slipped down the stairs and down the hall to the kitchen. From the hall, Harry could see Aunt Petunia was still fussing over Dudley but she had an anxious look on her face as she glanced upstairs when Uncle Vernon roared in rage.
"THE BOY'S GONE AND VANISHED! HE'S NOT IN HIS ROOM!"
Harry knew he only had a few seconds to get out of the house before his uncle returned downstairs, so with a flick of his wand and a quiet "Alohomora" the lock on cupboard under the stairs popped open and Harry quickly grabbed his firebolt and threw a "Reducio" at his trunk before popping it in his pocket.
Aunt Petunia must have noticed movement out in the hall because she was soon screaming.
"Vernon! Vernon, the boy's in his cupboard grabbing his things! Hurry, Vernon!"
Harry could hear his uncle thundering back down the stairs behind him as he ran into the kitchen, past his aunt and threw open the back door.
"Mum!" Dudley shouted as he pointed at the sliding door, "The freak's escaping!"
The second he was outside; Harry threw himself onto his firebolt and quickly rose into the air. His heart and head were pounding and it took a while for the adrenaline, which had been pumping through his system, to wane.
For a while he just flew up towards the moon, watching as the lights of Little Whinging faded below him.
When he reached a high enough altitude, Harry began to follow the strip of lights which had to be the motorway. He sighed as the summer night air brushed past him, drying the sour-smelling sweat stuck to his skin. The hood of his invisibility cloak had slipped back onto his shoulders during the climb into the air so he knew he would have to remain at this altitude so Muggles wouldn't see a floating head.
Harry had no idea where he was going or what he was supposed to do now. All he did know was that out of a choice between a life on the run with his wand, or a life without his wand only to die at Voldemort's hand because he couldn't defend himself... He knew he would choose the life on the run.
Continuing to follow the lights of the motorway, Harry decided to just see where it took him. He was honestly too exhausted and sore to think about where he was going.
Unfortunately, a tired old barn owl named Errol was a few kilometers behind Harry and struggling to keep up. Errol had been tasked with delivering a small roll of parchment to Harry Potter but after being buffeted about by a summer storm, Errol hadn't made it to the boy's house in time. Now he was stuck frantically flying a behind the boy, trying in vain to deliver a letter which could have prevented all of this.
Meanwhile in London, in the depths of the Ministry of Magic, Dumbledore was frantic. However, you wouldn't know it by looking at him. On the outside, Albus looked perfectly calm, his grandfatherly mask firmly in place as he tried to convince Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, not to snap Mr. Potter's wand, expel him from Hogwarts or send him to Azkaban as the Minister was currently ranting about at the moment.
On the inside however, Albus was fuming.
'You idiotic boy' Albus thought as he tried to calm the Minister. 'How on earth am I going to get you out of this mess?' Albus mentally snarled as he thought of the upcoming battle of wits against the Wizengamot that he would have to face, simply to prevent Harry from being sent to Azkaban. 'The things I sacrifice for the Greater Good.'