"Threatened the readers about the ship. Check," muttered Alyx.
"Warned the canon nazis away. Check," she added.
"Called Rent-A-Llama. Check," Bob added helpfully.
Alyx blinked and narrowed her eyes at him, then she pulled out the shotgun she was going to use on the shippers. "What did you say?" she asked tensely, while loading the gun.
"Nothing dear," Bob replied, eying the double barreled gun nervously.
"Good, now shut up, I'm trying to figure out what I forgot. I know I forgot something," she answered, pointing the gun at him.
Bob edged away slowly, nodding in fear.
"Now what did I forget?" she muttered.
"Did you forget to order the see through lingerie for our heroine? Or maybe the trampoline for that sex scene if Dorothy allows it?" Bob called from the edge of the stage. He was ready to dive into the orchestra pit in a second if she lifted the gun again.
"Dolt! We don't write smut!" she screamed. She raised the gun and Bob dived into the pit, crashing into a kettle drum.
In the front row Harry turned to Ginny and smiled. "I see they're off to a fine start."
Ginny nodded wide eyed. This was her first time in the seat next to Harry, the seat of honor. "Yeah, but until they tell everyone that they don't own Harry Potter, they can't tell our story," she complained.
Bob bounced out of the pit and up onto the stage. "That's it! That's what you forgot!" he chortled at Alyx who huffed at him. She hated when he chortled, especially when he chortled because he was right.
"Well she said the words," she retorted bitterly, now she couldn't get Alan Rickman to do it for them.
"Yup, and on with the story. Oh and Harry? Don't get to chummy with the red head yet. You have a way to go before you get to grope red."
Ginny snickered at Harry's grimace.
Aftermath and Consequences
Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...
Sirius was dead!
Harry Potter staggered from Dumbledore's office. All the time that Dumbledore was trying to explain to Harry why the world saw fit to piss on him and him alone, the pain in his head had been steadily increasing, along with his rage. The pain built and one thing dominated his thoughts.
Sirius was dead!
And still Dumbledore droned on about how he knew the Dursleys would not treat him well, and it was all Dumbledore's fault. The pain steadily mounted and he refused to give the Headmaster the satisfaction of knowing he was in pain. He was used to pain; it was an old friend, a companion that he welcomed with open arms. It was Dumbledore's gift to him, something he had given him time and time again. Only this time, he had gone too far.
Sirius was dead!
He vented only a small measure of his displeasure, destroying the old man's office and his things. In among his physical rage, his magic popped and sputtered, aiding him in destroying objects that mere physical force alone could not have accomplished.
Sirius was dead!
Harry stumbled on the last stair and narrowly avoided falling to the floor. Just outside Dumbledore's office, he bit back a moan as the pain increased to new levels. He hurried to the nearest bathroom, knowing he was going to throw up.
Sirius was dead!
Tumbling through the bathroom door, he fell to his knees, then down to all fours, and groaned slightly. His muscles bunched and his brow beaded with sweat. Something was happening to him that he didn't understand. But how is this different from anything else in my life? he asked himself.
Something deep inside was responding to his rage, to his anger at the injustices in his life. Something deep within him was awakening. The air around him started to roil and churn from the magic flowing off him. He reared back up on his knees and his body burst into a blinding aura of golden light. Silently he screamed, as not one, but two sources of power awoke, fed by his emotional storm.
He keeled over on all fours again, breathing heavily, and looked at his arms in shock. They were transparent! Catching his breath, he sat back on his heels and looked at his hand in wonder. With no effort at all, he was able to change from solid to transparent.
Harry Potter was changing and the world would never be the same.
Had Dumbledore's instruments been working, they would have been screaming and sounding alarms.
Up in his office, the old man looked wistfully at the remains of his office and shook his head. It would take him many weeks to repair all of his instruments, if they could be repaired. His only regret was that he could not make Harry understand that the sacrifices he was forced to make were for the good of their world. Harry, he thought, isn't mature enough to make the connection between his sacrifice and the well-being of the wizarding world. It is a good thing I am here to guide him.
King's Cross Station, London (10 days later)...
Harry shut the car door and waited for the explosion to begin. He didn't have long to wait. The Order's attempt to bully Vernon was sure to backfire, but he didn't mind. He was planning on putting his relatives in their place this summer anyway. All this meant was that his timetable would move up somewhat.
"Boy!" snapped Vernon, his face was already mottling a bright red. "What lies have you been telling those freaks?"
"None, Uncle," Harry said with a slight sneer.
Dudley giggled and looked at Harry, making faces at him. He was sure his father was going to put the freak in his place this summer once and for all.
"I am sick and tired of your freakish ways, boy. And it's going to stop this summer. I am going to beat you until you beg to never go back to that school. Do you hear me?" snarled Vernon.
Harry looked at Vernon with contempt. He wasn't planning on taking any more abuse, not from Vernon or from anyone else.
"I hear you," Harry said contemptuously.
Vernon glanced up, looking at him in the rear view mirror. "Don't use that tone with me, you useless sack of shit! We should have drowned you when you were left on our doorstep. You and all your kind deserve to die. Your parents were a waste, on the public dole..."
Harry tuned Vernon out, letting his anger simmer. It could wait until they got back to number four. Then he'd teach Vernon a new tune.
To Vernon's dismay, Harry looked at him in the mirror and instead of seeing fear in the boy's eyes, he saw disdain and lack of respect. It wasn't a look he was used to getting from the boy. He'd have to change that!
Headmaster's office, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...
Dumbledore poured drinks for Minerva and Severus. "It's funny. I always look forward to the first day of school. Yet, once school is in session, I look forward to seeing them go home," Dumbledore said, amused.
Minerva took her drink. "Thank Merlin this year is over," she said tiredly.
"Yes, a most difficult year indeed," Dumbledore said softly. He looked around at the wreckage of what was his office. He had cleaned up and fixed what he could, but many of the more delicate pieces were beyond repair. He'd been able to put them back together, but they no longer functioned. It was a serious blow to the monitoring of his most important student, as he relied on those instruments for that purpose.
"Have you contacted Miss Granger's parents, Minerva?"
"I have, Headmaster. They do not have a problem with her attending extra classes during the week. They were planning on a series of day trips rather than an extended holiday this year and were happy to accommodate. And, of course, Molly doesn't have any problems with it either."
When Snape snorted and shook his head, Dumbledore turned to eye him. "You have something you wish to add to this conversation, Professor?" he asked.
"Yes. Training Granger and the Weasleys to fight? Why? They're just a bunch of impulsive Gryffindors, as bad as Potter himself," he said, barely repressing a snarl.
"Now, Severus, we've been over this before. Those three need the extra dueling training if they are to be of any use to the Order," Dumbledore said placatingly.
"And what of your golden boy, Potter?" he snapped. "Aren't you going to train him, as well?" Snape was worried. Reports in the newspapers were making disturbing references to Harry being 'The Chosen One' and he didn't like the implications of that.
"In time, when he is ready. He will see how far advanced his friends have become and ask for the same training for himself. For now, he is best left where he is," Dumbledore replied sagely.
"I'm still not comfortable with that, Albus," Minerva said. "The last few days of school, Mr. Potter became very withdrawn and uncommunicative. I could barely get two words out of him, even when I confronted him directly."
"I'm sure he'll be fine, Minerva. He's had a shock, after all. But he'll bounce back; he always does," Dumbledore replied. If there was one thing he knew it was that Harry would bounce back, like always. The lad was resilient.
Number Four Privet Drive, Surrey, England...
"Shut the door, boy!"
Harry closed the front door, knowing full well that once it was closed and it was just him and his 'family', the outside world would be of no help. He didn't mind. The last few days at school had been an eye opening experience and his relatives would reap the rewards of that experience. He knew now he was alone, and it didn't matter.
He wasn't going to put up with it any more. Harry Potter had a talent that the Ministry couldn't detect. Underneath his seemingly calm exterior, he seethed with anger and guilt. He had a towering rage which he was barely able to control and it was about to be unleashed.
He turned to face his Uncle. Vernon's fist had already reached its maximum velocity. With his considerable bulk thrown in for good measure, the blow would be substantial. And it was. Except that it never touched Harry.
The blow slipped right through Harry, exited the back of his head and crashed into the wall. Vernon howled as the bones in his hand shattered. He danced back from his intended target, looking at him fearfully.
Dudley ran back into the room from the kitchen, and seeing his father whimpering in pain, he balled his fists and struck at Harry, with the same – predictable – result.
Stupidity was a genetic trait in the Dursley household.
Harry looked at the two Dursley men in contempt. "Worthless Muggles," he spat. "Give me one good reason why I should let you live."
Petunia shrieked from the doorway to the kitchen. "You can't perform magic; they'll expel you!"
Harry turned to gaze at her. While he wasn't actively using his magic, it was responding in subtle ways. His eyes glowed eerily and there was a faint light around his body.
"It's not magic, you ugly bint. God, you are the stupidest shrew I've ever met. I can't believe you and I share a blood connection, and it's certainly not something I'd admit to in public. All of you, into the living room. We have a few things to discuss. Well? Move!"
He crossed to the center of the living room and glared at his relatives. The Dursleys timidly entered the room, trying to keep as much distance as possible between themselves and Harry.
"Now, I'll ask again. Why should I let you three live? What possible purpose would it serve to allow your miserable, worthless lives to continue? Ah, I know, it will keep those stupid wizards off my back. Can't let my jailers know something is wrong in the prison."
Harry walked over and sat in Vernon's favorite chair. Both Dudley and Vernon watched him fearfully.
"For fourteen years I have put up with your abuse and starvation. No longer. Here's how things are going to play out this summer. Leave me alone. I will cook my own meals, but aside from that, I won't bother you unless you bother me. Bother me, just once, and you won't survive the outcome.
"Dudley, instead of terrorizing the neighborhood this summer, will do all of the chores. All of them. In fact, I'll give you a list of them to do every day."
Dudley glared at him and shook his head, refusing.
Harry stood and walked over to his cousin. He reached out one arm and his hand sank into Dudley's chest. The fat blond trembled and immediately lost control of his bladder.
"One squeeze and I can stop your heart, Dudders," Harry said quietly. "To the rest of the filthy Muggles it will look like heart failure because of your weight. So take your pick. Do the chores, or die."
"I'll do the chores. Please! I want to do them," whined Dudley.
Vernon and Petunia cowered back in fear and Petunia whimpered.
Harry pulled his hand from Dudley's chest. He was bluffing about squeezing, but the Dursleys didn't need to know that.
"Excellent. Start by cleaning up the mess you made. Aunt Petunia doesn't appreciate your turning her white rug into a urinal."
Harry returned to Vernon's chair and looked at them.
"Are we all clear on what we're doing this summer? You 'freaks' leave me alone, and come summer's end, you'll still be alive. Annoy me just once and you'll have a war on our hands that you can't win."
The three Dursleys nodded frantically.
"Fine. I'll be in my room until dinner," he said. A strange sound echoed in the room. Then, with a small puff of smoke, Harry was gone.
The Dursleys stood in their living room slowly coming to realize that the last fourteen years of abusing Harry had come home to roost and they weren't going to enjoy the results of their actions. Petunia led the stampede to escape the house, with Vernon and Dudley tied for second place.
Alone in his room, the door locked from the inside for a change, Harry collapsed on his tiny bed and started to weep. Sirius, Snape, Voldemort, Dumbledore, the prophecy, it was all too much. His mind went around and around in circles trying to make some sense out of the disaster that had become his life. And as he considered it, his depression mounted to an unbearable degree.
Harry's plunge into the abyss was complete. If Voldemort were to show up on Privet Drive, he'd calmly surrender his wand and accept his fate.
The stress that released his new abilities wasn't finished with him yet. He buried his face in his pillow and wept in frustration. He was tired of it all. If he could stomach the Dursleys again, he'd risk going downstairs for a knife to kill himself. He hated being here, he hated Dumbledore for sending him here, he hated and despaired.
Unknown to Harry, and the wizards who had imprisoned him, his emotional storm was sending shock waves around the world. He had become an epicenter of powerful energies, magical and otherwise. His cries were being heard in a most unusual place and were setting events in motion that would rock the Wizarding world, signaling the end of an era.
Westchester County, New York...
Xavier smiled and waited. He could hear the sound of running footsteps approaching. He expected she was coming for the same reason he was here now. They both felt the massive surge in mutant energies and the emotional cry for help that rode that wave of power. He could still feel it echoing around the world. A powerful mutant had awakened and was crying out for help.
"Professor!" Jean Summers said, skidding to a halt in front of the entrance to Cerebro.
"I take it you felt the power, and the anger, in that cry for help?"
The woman nodded, her expression confused and worried. "But there's more, Professor. I know this mutant."
Xavier swiveled his chair to face his student. "Oh? How is that possible, Jean? Even without using Cerebro, I can tell he's far away, in another country."
"I know, Professor, but this mutant, his mind screamed of familiarity. I can't describe it. He seemed so familiar, and so lost. Even now, I can feel his despair. He's lashing out in anger because he doesn't know what else to do."
It was a common story among mutants. Misunderstood by friends or family, they were often abused and mistreated. It was something that Xavier worked hard to prevent, and it was the reason why Magneto had so little difficulties recruiting to his cause. Most mutants hated normals because of the way the normals treated them.
Xavier nodded, then motioned for Jean to follow him into Cerebro's chamber. Jean followed calmly behind the man she admired so much.
"What else do you feel from him, Jean?" he asked. He was powerful, in many ways outstripping Jean's abilities. But his power came from experience, while hers was instinctive and often more empathic.
"His powers are new, recently awakened. The shock that awoke his abilities has left him reeling. He has a lot of power, Charles, more than I've ever sensed before, and a terrible rage. He feels lost and alone. He's being forced into a dark path by forces outside of his control. He feels... so familiar and alone." She shivered in response to the echoing loneliness she felt from this mutant and it pulled on her. She could also feel the sensation of her own mind fighting to recognize something hidden from her. Whoever this mutant was, his cry had triggered something within her own mind.
Xavier nodded absently while he worked the massive computer known as Cerebro. Finally ,the machine gave him a clear location.
"Oh, my. Surrey, England," he said softly and somewhat regretfully.
He held up a hand while he pulled in more information, confirming his initial impressions. This isn't going to go over well, he thought sadly. He'd known this day would come, and had been dreading it for years.
Using Cerebro, he reached out to the distant mutant, pulling in as much information as he possibly could. What he could retrieve from this distance disturbed him and set him worrying.
He removed the helmet and placed it on the console, then turned to face Jean with a heavy heart.
"Jean, you were right about the source seeming familiar. Tell me, how much do you remember of your time before you came to me?"
"Not much, Professor, just bits and pieces."
Xavier reached out and gripped her hand. "Your memory was deliberately blocked, though not by me. However, I confess I stupidly allowed it to happen at the time. The call from this mutant has probably triggered your mind into assaulting the blocks on your memory. I think it's time we remove them, don't you?"
Nervously, she nodded. At least it explained why she seemed to be struggling for a memory just out of reach.
At her nod, Xavier deftly slipped into her mind, searching for the hidden memories and bringing them forward. The blocks placed upon her using magic were bypassed. The memories hidden for so long were now being freed, destroying the blocks in the process.
A minute later, Jean gasped and stared at the Professor. "Lily? Petty? My family? What happened?"
"Come to my office. We'll talk there," Xavier said softly, noting the tears beginning to slide down her cheeks. "There is much to discuss and little of it good, I'm afraid."
Jean wiped her tears away and followed Xavier. He had destroyed the blocks on her memory, releasing her past. She wanted to be angry at him, but the more she recalled, the more she realized that Xavier had not only been her mentor, he had been her savior. She realized that he had been maneuvered into letting her memory be blocked and when he realized it, he had very nearly set the mutants to war against another race of people.
A few minutes later, Jean and Xavier entered his office. He hovered around his desk and pressed a button to activate an intercom and called for Scott. After receiving a reply, the Professor told him to ready the Blackbird for a transatlantic trip they'd be taking in a few days and to inform Logan of the trip.
Once finished, Xavier looked at Jean carefully. "I know you're struggling with the return of your memories, and I will help you face them when you have the time. For now, I want to tell you a story of how you came to be in my care. It's not a subject we've talked about before and the memory block that was placed on you made it appear as if your earliest memories are from this school."
Jean nodded, concentrating on what the Professor was saying.
"When you turned eleven, you and your twin sister received a letter from two special schools; mine and one other. I used to visit many student's home, explaining what I had to offer. When I arrived at your home, there was already another gentleman there, explaining about a school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When I introduced myself and explained that both you and your sister were mutants, as well as witches, your parents and the man, one Albus Dumbledore, were shocked into silence.
"Your sister's mutant abilities were very minor and could easily be hidden as part of her magic, which was extraordinarily strong. On the other hand, your mutant abilities were extraordinarily strong and your magic only average."
"Magic?" exclaimed Jean.
Xavier smiled. "Yes, magic does exist; it's all around us. In fact, there's a whole hidden society of magic users in our world. In any case, it was decided that since your mutant abilities were so strong you'd be sent to my school, while your sister would go to the other."
"But, Professor, what does this have to do with that mutant I sensed?"
Xavier sighed. "I don't have all of the details, but from what I could find out, your sister Lily and her husband James were killed many years ago by an evil wizard. But before that happened, she gave birth to a son. His magic is very strong, and so are his mutant abilities, as strong as yours, but in a different way. From what I can discover, he's been in a bad situation most of his life and he's beginning to fight back against it now."
"Lily's dead? But I - I have a nephew?" she stammered.
"Yes. His name is Harry James Potter. The reason why he seemed so familiar to you and why you could sense him so strongly is because he is family. Because you and your sister were twins, you have a closer bond than normal with her son.
"What's happening to him, Professor? I can tell you've picked up something from his mind."
Xavier shook his head and looked down for a moment. "If what I have lifted from his mind is correct, your nephew has been used and abused most of his life. He recently lost the only adult figure he respected. He's in a bad way, Jean. Your other sister and her family have been abusing him since he was left with them, shortly after he turned a year old."
"Petunia?" Jean exclaimed angrily. "But why?"
"I don't know, but I do know that something has changed in the home. He recently returned from school and had some sort of confrontation with his family. I suspect he is using his mutant talent to keep them from abusing him further. Now they fear him and he is losing any respect for what he calls 'Muggles'."
Jean didn't like the sound of that at all. Many mutants lost any respect for normal humans in the process of defending themselves. Violence usually followed.
Xavier paused and looked at her for a long moment. "Jean, you need to consider carefully before you leap. Young Harry is desperate for someone to love him. You cannot just show up on his doorstep, spend a day or two and then leave him behind. If you intend to intervene, you will have to step into the role that your sister Petunia refused. She has shown the boy no nurturing or love."
Jean looked torn for a moment, then her expression hardened. "Professor, he's the son of my sister, and he's a powerful mutant who needs help. You wouldn't turn away a mutant who came to us looking for help, and I'm not going to turn away from him. He's family. He needs me."
Xavier smiled. "Good. But we can't rush into this. I don't know how long we'll be in England. There are elements of this story that are still unknown. Something very heavy lies on your nephew's shoulders. I just hope you and Scott are up to being parents to a troubled teenage boy."
Jean stood. "That's something Scott and I will have to find out, I guess. Besides, sooner or later we were going to have children of our own. Might as well get some practice in now."
And with that, she stepped from the room.
Xavier stared at the closed door for a while, then he turned and gazed out the window. "Albus, just what are you up to? Why are you doing this to young Harry?" he said quietly.
Four Privet Drive (early June)...
After Dudley and Vernon had their hands fixed by a doctor, the Dursleys returned to Privet Drive with the intent of forcing their old ways back on their hated nephew. From that moment on, a silent war raged within the Dursley household. A war in which one side was unarmed.
"BOY!" screamed Petunia.
A small puffing sound came from behind her and she whirled around. Harry stood there and she shrieked before falling on her ass.
"You bellowed, Muggle?" he sneered.
She climbed to her feet, enraged. She took two steps closer and swung on him. Her hand passed right through his cheek and out the other side.
He laughed and leaned closer to her. "Don't sleep too deeply at night," he whispered. "It's bad for your health. You might wake up dead."
She stumbled back away from him in fear, tripped over the foot rest and fell to the floor. "Why are you doing this to us?" she asked in a fearful whine.
"I'm only treating you the same way you treated me, Aunt Petunia," he replied mockingly. "What would your dear sister say about your actions? What will my parents say when you finally meet them again, I wonder? I warned you to leave me alone and you were too stupid to listen, now you'll pay the price."
"You can't do this! They'll throw you out of that freak school of yours," she stammered. He had explained this several times, but she kept coming back to it.
He sneered at her. "Not before I kill your marvelous Duddie Dumpkins Diddikins," he said in a sing-song voice. "Do you have any idea just how asinine you sound, saying that to a fifteen-year-old? You stupid waste of a Muggle. Killing you and your spawn would be a community service to the human race!"
He walked over to where she lay and bent over. His eyes glowed with suppressed power. "Killing you would be worth the expulsion," he hissed, then he stood and walked away.
He never noticed the twin red heads peering in through a window with wide, astonished eyes. They had appeared part way through the encounter and saw only Harry towering over his whimpering aunt.
Surrey, England (early June)...
"You've got nowhere to run now, Potter," spat Piers Polkiss.
"Gee, Piers, did you think that up by yourself or did you have help?" sneered Harry.
Harry had let Dudley's gang corner him on the gym rooftop. It wasn't a tall building and the exterior maintenance ladder had provided him with an easy way to get up on the roof when being chased. He could have teleported up here, but he wanted them to follow him. He was going to put the fear of Harry in them once and for all time.
Dudley's gang surrounded him against one edge.
He glanced over the edge behind him at the hard concrete eighteen feet below, then turned his attention back to the thugs menacing him. Dudley had somehow managed to make the jump to the bottom rung of the ladder and pull his bulk up, despite having his hand in a cast. Now he hung back, trying not to let the fear in his expression be too obvious.
"Well, Piers, are you going to sit there mouthing off all day? If so, I'll be off. I have better things to do," Harry said nonchalantly.
Piers growled and lunged. Harry smirked and never moved. Piers passed right through him, falling the distance to the ground below. There was a sickening thud and a low groaning sound coming from over the edge.
Harry looked at the prone figure on the ground. "Pity, he's still alive," he said, then he turned to the others.
The rest of Dudley's gang recoiled and he sneered at them. His eyes glowed with suppressed magic. To the Muggles, it gave him a demonic appearance. He was controlling it, barely.
"Run away, Muggles, lest ye die," he hissed in parseltongue. Inwardly, he winced. He knew it was corny and he could have easily asked if they'd like mustard on their ham sandwich, as long as it was in parseltongue.
Dudley immediately peed in his pants and fainted. That was all it took. The rest of Big D's gang fled as fast as their little feet could take them. Just to be annoying, Harry teleported to the bottom of the ladder so he could greet them when they climbed down.
His presence was enough to make them scatter in every direction. When they were all gone, he walked towards the park, whistling off key and chuckling to himself. Dudley was still unconscious on the rooftop.
"Harry?" said an anxious voice a few minutes later as he approached the park.
Harry turned to look at Tonks, one of the Order members set upon him by Dumbledore.
"What do you want?" he spat.
"Hey, Harry, looking good. Are you all right?" she asked tentatively. The magic rolling off the boy was making her queasy. She'd never felt anything like it before.
Harry looked at her and his eyes flashed with magic. "Go home, Tonks. I have nothing to say to you or anyone else that moron Dumbledore sends to me."
"But Harry, we need to make sure you're safe from You-Know-Who," Tonks said defensively.
Harry stopped walking and whirled on her, noting that she flinched back from his gaze. "You're pathetic," he sneered. "If you can't even say his name, how do you expect to fight him? Tell me, Nymphadora, what kind of mark does Dumbledork use to mark his followers? Dark Lords come in all types and sizes. You and the rest of the Order are working for one, just like your uncle, Lucius Malfoy."
When Harry turned and walked away, Tonks shuddered. She had to talk to Remus!
Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix (Later that evening)...
"I'm telling you, Remus, something is seriously wrong with Harry," Tonks said heatedly. "If you had seen him today, you'd know for yourself. And earlier I saw him push his aunt out of the way, nearly knocking her over. She flinched back from his touch like she was terrified of him."
Remus sighed and shook his head. "You aren't the only one telling me about this, Tonks. I've heard complaints from several others about Harry calling his relatives worthless Muggles. The twins are convinced he's deliberately sabotaging his Aunt's rose garden, and they saw him spike his Uncle's tires."
Tonks leaned back in her chair and folded her arms across her chest. "So, what are you going to do about it?"
Remus shrugged. "There isn't much I can do. The old man won't let us interfere with what goes on in that house. I'm not sure exactly what does go on there, but this is different than the previous years. If I didn't know better, I'd say his family is afraid of him."
"He wanted to know where Dumbledore had marked us, Remus. He said we're no better than the Death Eaters, then he called Dumbledore a Dark Lord," she protested.
Remus bowed his head and sighed heavily. "All right, I'll try talking to Dumbledore again, but I don't think it will do much good. Harry's not sending his letter every three days and Dumbledore didn't do anything about that."
"Why is he doing this?" Tonks asked plaintively.
Remus looked at her. "Who? Dumbledore or Harry?"
"I don't know," he replied sadly. From what he had heard from Harry's friends, Harry was furious with Dumbledore at the end of the term. He thought it might be related to Sirius' death, but he wasn't sure.
"I don't know," he repeated in a whisper. Suddenly, he had a real bad feeling about what was happening.
Surrey, England (late June)...
"Boo!" Shouted a voice.
"ARGH!" Vernon screamed, and the car swerved wildly. He glanced over his shoulder, but there was no one there. Turning back, he swung the wheel hard, just missing a tree. The car rolled to a stop and he laid his head against the steering wheel, his heart beating like a jack hammer in his chest.
"What's the matter, dear Uncle?" said a voice he hated.
He looked up to see Harry smiling at him from the back seat.
"Damn you!" he growled and tried to turn in the seat, but his seat belt was still on, pinning him in place. Harry smiled and opened a bottle of Scotch he had stolen from Vernon's liquor cabinet. With the bottle open, he upended it, pouring the drink on the front seat and Vernon.
Harry laughed and vanished in a puff of smoke.
Vernon screamed in frustrated anger, then he cringed. He smelled horrid, and the blue flashing lights blinking in his mirror told him the police had pulled up to his accident.
He ground his teeth, knowing the damn freak was untouchable. He had tried hitting him, he had even tried stabbing him, only to find himself suddenly staring at the knife he was going to use on the freak. Somehow the freak was able to take away any weapon he tried to use on him.
Petunia was no help. She was too distraught by the fact that somehow her roses were disappearing. And Dudley had retreated to Piers' house, saying he'd return when the freak was gone.
The Library, Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix... (early July)
Harry whirled when he heard the pop. In a flash, his wand was out and aimed. He had just finished placing a locking charm on the door to the library when he heard the pop.
Kreacher stood staring at him. "Nasty half blood master steals Mistress's books."
Harry straightened and stared at the elf for a moment, his expression filled with hatred. "I steal nothing. These are my books and you know it, otherwise you wouldn't call me master. I own this house and everything inside it."
"Filthy master lets his filthy friends stay here and abuse my mistress," Kreacher snarled.
Harry scowled. "Shut your hole, you traitorous elf! Do everyone a favor and go kill yourself!" he said in a fit of anger
Kreacher's expression altered, for the first time he looked like he was in pain, then he vanished with a pop.
Harry blinked in surprise and then shook his head. So the Order is still using the house? he thought. I wonder what they're doing here. I'll check after I get some new books.
Harry's trips to Grimmauld Place always took place after Moody had served his shift at Privet Drive. He knew the old Auror went home to sleep and wouldn't be in his Godfather's house.
He opened his bag and pulled out a number of books that had finished reading, placing them back on the shelves. As he put them back, he pulled other books down, taking anything that looked interesting.
With his bag refilled, he paused and considered his options. He could return to Privet Drive, or he could do a little snooping. He waved a hand, releasing the lock on the door. His wandless magic had been improving steadily, but he was still limited in what he could do. Dispelling a charm with a simple finite was easy to do wandlessly.
He grinned and his body turned transparent. It was the first step in his normal teleportation sequence, but he continued concentrating on the process until he looked like little more than roiled air in the shape of a person. Then he walked through the wall. It was time to see what the Order was doing in his house.
Hogwarts, Headmaster's Office...
"Albus, I think we may have a serious problem," said a voice from the fireplace.
Dumbledore looked up and spotted Moody's head in the fireplace. He waved his wand at the floo, then motioned for him to come through. The fireplace widened and grew taller, allowing the old grizzled Auror to enter. He stumped over to a chair and sat down.
"Alastor, what seems to be the problem? Is there something wrong with Harry?"
Moody looked at him for a long moment before speaking. "Potter is another problem and I don't think you're going to like what I have to say about it. But that isn't why I'm here."
"I can't figure out how, but books have been disappearing from the library at Headquarters. At first I thought it was that blasted elf, but the elf committed suicide. We found the body the other day. I figure he's been dead at least a week. No, there's a good chance we have someone working for the other side. Frankly, my money is on either Snape or Dung."
Dumbledore frowned. The library at Grimmauld Place contained many dangerous books on the Dark Arts and many rare and very valuable manuscripts. "Have you sealed the library?"
"Of course I have! I may be a bit beat up, but I'm neither senile, nor stupid. I've sealed the library, I've warded it, and still the count of books has been steadily dropping. A week ago there were 11,630 books. Now there are 11,590 books. The really strange thing is the number fluctuates, like someone is returning books when they're done reading them."
Dumbledore scowled. "I'll come to Headquarters later today and place some wards on the library. Is anything else missing?"
"I'm not sure. We didn't even start to inventory everything until a few days ago. There were a surprising number of cursed items, and some other interesting things in the room. Some things show signs of being moved recently, but it's impossible to tell if anything is missing. The books are the real treasure in that room. Some of those manuscripts are extremely rare, and proscribed by the Ministry."
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and tented his fingers. "Do you think Miss Granger might be getting into the library? I know we told her not to, but you know how she is around books."
"I don't see how that's possible. She's only in the building a few hours a day for her training, along with the Weasley pair. And that's another thing that I think is going to backfire on you, Albus. Training those three without training Potter is a mistake!"
"Ah, I wondered when you'd get to Harry. Now, tell me what problem you foresee with him?"
Moody sat back and rubbed his jaw for a moment. "It's nothing specific, but the guards have overheard him a few times and I don't like the direction he's going. Did you know he calls his family 'filthy Muggles' right to their face? Or that he's showing absolutely no respect for them anymore? Merlin knows they don't deserve it. But you keep sending him back and he's starting to hate all Muggles because of their influence."
Dumbledore smiled and shook his head. "He's just going through a teenage phase, Alastor. Harry has too much love in him to reject his family like that." He was aware of Harry's home life, but he firmly believed the boy cared for his family. He had stepped in on several occasions to tell them to tone down the physical abuse and, for the most part, they had complied.
Moody stood and grimaced at his friend. "If you say so," he replied dubiously. "I'll see you later at Headquarters."
Dumbledore nodded and watched his old friend leave via the Floo, then he leaned back against his chair and reached up to stroke Fawkes.
"No, Harry has too much love in him to go that route," he said to the phoenix.
If he and Fawkes could have truly communicated, he would have been surprised to find Fawkes not only disagreeing with him, but urging him to go check on Harry immediately.
Number Four Privet Drive, Surrey, England...
Harry sat on a swing in the nearby park, thinking. The past few weeks hadn't been too bad. While he wouldn't call it the best summer ever, it was better, so far, than many others. He had the Dursleys terrified of him, he had no chores to do, most of his summer homework was already complete and he had found two different ways around the underage magic restrictions.
He tried not to think about Sirius, or the prophecy, too much. Those particular lines of thought brought on a crushing despair that he struggled against continually. He laid the blame for Sirius at the feet of Dumbledore and Snape, numbers three and four on his 'must seek revenge against' list, right behind Bellatrix LeStrange and Voldemort. And that list was getting longer nearly every day.
After the strange event in the seventh floor bathroom, he had sought out answers in the school library. He drew a blank trying to identify the ability, but in his search he did find something nearly as useful. He found a spell that was supposed to tell him what kind of ability it was by monitoring the magic it used. To his surprise, however, it didn't use magic at all. And that caused him to develop a very smug grin.
He had an ability he could use over the summer and not get into trouble from the Ministry for using it. They couldn't detect him doing anything! Suddenly the summer looked a lot less bleak for him, and a lot more difficult for his 'relatives'.
Two days before they were supposed to leave for home, Harry had been walking along an empty corridor, doing his best to control his anger and grief, when he had been startled by a bright flash of light. Working on instinct, knowing he'd never dodge the curse in time, he'd partially 'phased'. He didn't know what else to call it.
The curse had traveled right through his body because he had become insubstantial. Hearing the sound of running feet, he had teleported to the floor above the one he was on.
Over the next two days he had discovered a few key facts about his new abilities. He could teleport himself to anyplace he had been before, even through the Hogwarts wards. He learned that by accidentally teleporting himself to Grimmauld Place. He could teleport objects, as long as he knew the object. That would come in handy to disarm people, since he could teleport their wands right out of their hands. And he could perform a partial teleport, halting the process just at the point where his body wasn't quite in this plane of existence. He even discovered that he had control over the level of transparency he had when he phased. He could look quite solid and still be insubstantial or he could fade until he was almost totally invisible.
His phasing gave him one crucial advantage. Solid objects, like a fist or bullet, would go right through him and never hurt him. Magic passed right through him as well.
Since his arrival at Privet Drive, he had visited Grimmauld Place several times, raiding the library. He also found a box of nearly thirty wands. Each wand was labeled with the name of the owner, usually a member of the Black family, and the date of their death.
The oldest wand was dated from 1407. According to the labels on the wands, none of them had Ministry tracking charms on them. Of the thirty, only two seemed to be a good fit for him, and not a perfect fit at that. He took the box of wands, depositing it in his trunk. He also helped himself to a foe glass, a small pensieve and a sneakoscope.
It wasn't theft in his mind. Sirius had told him that everything he owned, Harry could use. Then at the train station Remus told him that Sirius' will had been examined. Sirius had left Harry a lot of money, and everything, including Grimmauld Place. So as far as Harry was concerned, he was helping himself to his own property.
The other thing he had learned was that the Order was still using his home as their headquarters and using it to train his friends in fighting and defense techniques.
He was annoyed, at first. He didn't get angry at them until he received a letter from Hermione, telling him that she was sitting home, bored out of her wits and complaining because her parents weren't taking a vacation this year.
Ron sent a similar letter a day later, saying he was spending time at the Burrow working on his chores and practicing Quidditch. After that, he threw away any letters from his friends. He wasn't interested in reading their lies and he added their names to his list. He placed no value on people willing to lie to him and betray him.
Since that point, he spent most of his time reading the books he had taken from his library. Occasionally he'd experiment by casting some of the spells using a wand he had taken from the Black Library. His favorite book so far was one describing how to develop your talent in wandless casting, which he found to be easier than the book said it should be.
He sat on the swing and looked around. The day was warm and people were out and about. He could see kids playing and several couples walking hand in hand.
The atmosphere in Number Four forced him from the house on a daily basis. He couldn't stand the absolute hatred he felt coming from his relatives. It beat on him like a physical force, making him physically ill at times. That was something else that was new. He had begun to feel the emotions of people around him. And every so often, he would see tendrils of colored light surrounding objects. That particular thing scared him. He wasn't sure why he was having vision problems but it frightened him.
At least his hours in the park every day gave him some sense of peace.
He had frightened his relatives, and had done what he had to do to keep them frightened, but the simple fact was he had reached the point where he didn't care what happened to them. One could make a case that apathy was worse than anger, but he just didn't care. He'd defend himself from them, doing and saying whatever he needed to keep them afraid of him and that was it. Slowly but surely, Harry's 'saving people thing' was dying.
He pulled a book on Occlumency out of his pack and opened it. He tried to spend at least an hour a day working on this subject, and rereading the book he had found. He would never let Voldemort fool him again, and he would learn this subject, despite Snape. Despite his desire, his progress in this field had been woefully poor.
He closed his book and looked up to see Remus Lupin approaching. "Professor," he said, greeting the man in a neutral tone.
Remus looked startled by Harry's cold greeting. "Er... How are you?"
The expression on Harry's face plainly asked if Remus really was that stupid. "How do you think I am, Professor? I'm locked away in prison with those abusive Muggles again while my ex-friends lie to me about the training they supposedly aren't getting. Go back to Dumbledore and tell him he's making enemies at Privet Drive and I don't mean the filthy Muggles. Go back and tell him that Voldemort won't be the only wizard he has to worry about."
Harry stood and turned to walk away.
"Harry!" Remus said in a shocked voice. "Surely you can't mean that."
Glancing over his shoulder, Harry stared at him for a moment, then simply shook his head in disgust, turned away and began walking from the park. He had no patience for Dumbledore and his games. He had no patience for any of them anymore.
Remus scowled at Harry's retreating back. He had warned Dumbledore about sending the boy back to the Dursleys. He shook his head and wondered what he would be saying to the Order and to Dumbledore at tonight's meeting.
He looked down, then glanced back at Harry only to find no sign of the youth.
Number Four Privet Drive, Surrey, England...
Harry teleported back to his room, laughing inwardly at the confusion it would cause Remus. He had once liked the former Marauder, but Harry felt that Remus relied too heavily on Dumbledore. He was too loyal to the old man to be of any use to him.
He opened a book on elemental runes. It was a fascinating subject, but one he didn't dare try on Privet Drive. Elemental runes were normally used for wide area effects, such as bringing down a firestorm on an enemy stronghold. Harry considered it as a possible method of attacking Voldemort, but it was hardly something he could practice without being noticed.
He looked up when someone knocked on his door. His eyes narrowed and he fingered one of the spare wands he carried with him at all times.
"May I come in?" said the voice of a strange man.
Harry frowned, not recognizing the voice, and readied his wand. "All right, but keep your hands where I can see them."
The door opened and a man in a chair hovered into the room. Behind him was a man wearing the strangest pair of sunglasses he had ever seen.
Harry held both men at wand point, ready to teleport away at the first sign of trouble. He couldn't imagine a Death Eater in a chair like that; clearly it was a Muggle device. Unlike normal wheelchairs, this had no wheels. It made a soft humming sound as it glided over the floor.
"Did Dumbledore send you?" he asked angrily.
The man in the chair smiled. "No, Harry. In fact, Albus would be most upset if he knew I was here with my associates. Please, let me introduce myself. I am Professor Charles Xavier and this is Scott Summers. Right now, downstairs, Scott's wife, Jean, and another associate of ours are talking to your Aunt and Uncle."
"All right, if Dumbledore didn't send you, why are you here?"
"We're here to help you."
"Me? What are you on about?"
"We don't have a lot of time to explain, but you will be told everything, I promise you. Right now I just ask you to trust us. Scott's wife is a relative of yours, one that Dumbledore would not want you to meet. If all goes well, Jean has already convinced your Aunt to grant her custody of you. We'll take you back to America where you'll be surrounded by people who care what happens to you."
Harry backed up, his eyes widening. This had to be a trick!
Someone walked into the room. "I've got the signatures, Professor," the woman said, then she turned and Harry got his first good look at her.
He blinked and he started to tremble. "Mum?" he whispered. It was too much, all of it. With everything that had happened at the end of the school term and over the summer, his mind finally refused to acknowledge this new shock and it shut down.
His eyes rolled up in his head and he slid bonelessly to the floor. Scott leapt forward, catching him before he landed.
Jean seemed transfixed by the sight. He had Lily's eyes. Though he looked a lot like the image she had seen of James Potter in Xavier's mind, but his bone structure was softer, more like Lily's, especially around his eyes.
Jean stepped forward, staring at him and shivering slightly.
"What is it?" asked the Professor.
"Even unconscious, his anger and hurt are almost overwhelming, Professor. If only we could have found out about him sooner!"
"Be thankful we have him now, Jean. Let's pack his belongings. I do not think it will be long before a wizard comes to investigate what's happening here." Xavier said.
"What about the ones watching the house?" asked Scott.
Xavier smiled. "They are not seeing anything out of the ordinary, but that will not last. The more quickly we leave, the better off we'll be."
Jean opened Harry's trunk and started levitating everything she could see into it. Scott picked up Harry and carried him out of the room.
"What of his Aunt and Uncle?" asked Xavier.
"After I got their signatures, I did as you asked and removed all memory of Harry from their minds. When this is done, I think I need to bathe, repeatedly. My sister has become twisted and hate filled; the things I saw her do to her own nephew are appalling. If it weren't better that Harry come with us for now, I'd insist she and her husband be arrested."
"Sooner or later, their kind will pay for their crimes, Jean. But what about their son?"
She shrugged helplessly. "He's not here. And unless you want to spend the time tracking him down..."
"No, we have far more important things to do. Right now, let's concentrate on helping Harry and leaving this place behind," Xavier said. "We'll worry about the boy later."
She nodded and snapped the trunk closed. She picked up Hedwig's cage, handed it to Xavier, then levitated the trunk out of the room and down to the waiting limousine.
Ten minutes later, they were gone from Privet Drive. Petunia and Vernon had their memories erased in a way that no wizard could detect or understand. And the two Order members that had been standing watch never saw a thing, thanks to Professor Xavier.
Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix (Later that evening)...
Dumbledore walked into the large kitchen basement and he nearly staggered back from the noise. "What in the name of Merlin?"
He lifted up his wand and fired off a cannon blast charm, which effectively brought all the shouting to an end as all eyes turned to him.
He sat and surveyed the membership of his Order. "Thank you for quieting down. Now then, let's deal with some old business before I delve into what has caused such a commotion in here tonight."
Dumbledore turned to Moody. "Alastor, that matter we spoke of has been looked into and some new protections added. Hopefully it will be enough to either deter the individual in question, or at at least provide an alarm if it occurs again."
Moody's eye spun around several times as he looked at several people, but he nodded in understanding.
"Excellent," Dumbledore said, placing both hands on the table. "Now, just what has got so many people upset this evening?"
There was a moment of silence, then Remus stood. His chair made a loud screeching sound when it was pushed back.
"Headmaster, I went to see Harry today. You know he hasn't been sending his check in letters, and he ignored the letters sent by Ron and Hermione..."
Dumbledore arched an eyebrow and turned to look at the two students who had the grace to look embarrassed. "I thought I made it clear that Harry needed time alone to grieve and come to grips with what he's gone through?"
Remus looked annoyed at Dumbledore. "That was my doing, Headmaster. I thought perhaps Harry would respond to a letter from his friends, since he clearly wasn't responding to any from us. I asked Ron and Hermione to write him several letters."
Dumbledore frowned and motioned for Remus to continue.
"When he didn't reply to his friends, I went to visit him today. He told me tell you that you're making enemies on Privet Drive and that he didn't mean the 'filthy Muggles'. He also said he's aware that his ex-friends are receiving training, while he's held in prison."
Hermione's expression turned to one of horror, while Ron looked on confused.
"That's what I've been trying to tell you for a week Headmaster," exclaimed Tonks. "I tried to talk to him and he called me a bunch of names, then he asked to see my Dark Mark. The wild magic that was flowing off of him was enough to make me nauseous."
Dumbledore pulled his glasses off his face and pinched the bridge of his nose tiredly. "I never thought it would come to this point. He's rejecting everything we stand for."
George stood up, glaring at him. "Can you blame him? We told you three summers ago they were starving him, and had him caged like a wild animal. You ignored the problem, Professor. You ignored the problem and when he needed someone to help him the most, you sent him back to those Muggles who hate his guts and treat him worse than Malfoy house elves!"
Fred stood and pointed a finger at them all. "Honestly, how do you expect Harry to react when he's with those evil Muggles? You knew it, Headmaster! You weren't raising the Boy-Who-Lived, you were raising a bloody weapon, and now your weapon is saying 'enough' and refusing to take it anymore. We've done our shifts on Privet Drive. His relatives are terrified of him. I don't know why, but they are. I watched Harry lay into his Aunt last week until she was weeping on the floor and begging for mercy. Thanks to those people, and you, he hates Muggles. He doesn't call that place home; he never did. And you can stop lying about the blood wards. We know those became useless when Voldemort used Harry's blood during that ritual during the Tournament!
"Honestly, I don't know who's worse. Voldemort? All he does is hate and kill. You, Professor, pretend to care when you really don't."
"Enough, you two! Albus Dumbledore is a great man!" Molly shouted.
Both twins looked at their mother and shook their heads sadly.
"Boys, did you tell Harry what was happening here at Headquarters?" Dumbledore asked.
The pair exchanged a look between them, then sat down, looking smug. "We didn't have to, although we were tempted," Fred said. "He knows what's happening here. We don't know how, but he does."
George looked at Ron and Hermione. "You two are his friends. He would have been angry and hurt that the Order was training you, but he would have gotten over that. Instead, you had to lie to him on the orders of the mighty Albus Dumbledore. Ron I can understand; he's been jealous of Harry since first year. But you, Hermione? How could you be so monumentally stupid? What will Harry do now that he knows you've lied to him? Apply some of that vast intellect everyone claims you have and tell me."
Hermione refused to meet George's eyes. "He'll never forgive us. He'll cut us out of his life and never speak to us again," she whispered, then she started to sob. Ron, sitting next to her, looked stricken.
"Well, isn't this rich," Snape said from his corner with a low chuckle. "The Golden Boy isn't so golden after all."
"Severus, please." Dumbledore replied in a pained voice.
"The answer is simple, Headmaster. Just go over to the brat's home and Obliviate him. It's clear to me now that maybe the papers were right; he is the 'Chosen One' and you've been trying to toughen him up. Obliviate him, already. After all, he's just a weapon, is he not? Why should any of us care what our weapon thinks or feels?" Snape said, pouring salt into the wound. He was enjoying himself thoroughly.
"That is enough!" Dumbledore said firmly, then he stood. "I admit I have made grave mistakes with regards to Harry Potter, but I had my reasons for what I did, and it wasn't so I could raise a weapon. I think the answer is obvious. Remus, Tonks, if you would, please return to Privet Drive and bring Harry here immediately."
Remus and Tonks stood, nodded to Dumbledore and left the room.
He watched them leave, then turned back to the remaining Order members. "I confess I knew that Harry's home life was less than adequate, but the protections provided by his mother's sacrifice were worth it, I thought. Now I see that I was wrong. Placing him in an environment like that has not been helping him."
"I told you not to place them with those people," Minerva said scathingly.
"Yes, Minerva, and you were right. I should have heeded your warning. Now I can only hope that we will be able to help Harry and perhaps in time earn his forgiveness," Dumbledore said softly.
"Albus? What are you saying? What do you mean, 'less than adequate'?" asked Molly Weasley, her face ashen. It was finally dawning on her that everything wasn't all right with Harry, and possibly her errant sons were in the right.
Dumbledore sighed. "The Dursleys have no love for their nephew, Molly. I remember telling you that I would take care of it when you passed word along of Harry's confinement during the summer between his first and second years. But the truth is, I did nothing. The Dursleys had been physically abusive to him in the past and I did not want to provoke them into starting that again. I have spoken to them on several occasions, warning them to stop beating the boy. And they did, for a while. Most of the time they resorted to other, less physical ways of expressing their hatred for Harry."
"How abusive are we talking about?" asked Minerva in a frigid tone.
Dumbledore looked down at the now cold cup of tea in front of him, saying nothing. Finally he spoke. "I'm not really sure, I just know that they've beaten him, at least once."
Several in the group gasped.
"The first time he was sent to the infirmary I did a routine scan on him. Before coming to Hogwarts, he had broken at least a half dozen bones," Poppy said angrily. "And his back is laced with scars from a belt or whip. He's also suffered bouts of malnutrition throughout his life before coming to Hogwarts. I sent you notices to that effect every year, Headmaster."
Dumbledore sagged in his chair and covered his face in his hands. He had hoped that Poppy would not reveal that information. He knew that they would now ignore the fact that there were four attempts to kidnap Harry when he was younger, or that the wards had protected him each time.
"Why?" Minerva asked. "Why did you ignore this, Albus? Why did I let myself ignore it? All the signs were there."
"Minerva, what are you talking about?" asked Arthur Weasley.
"All the signs of being abused, Arthur. He always comes back from summer break very skinny, never has his summer homework done, he's painfully shy and hates to have anyone make a fuss over him."
Fred and George exchanged a look, then stood up. "We're leaving," said Fred.
"And quitting the Order," added George.
"Now, boys," Dumbledore began. The twins had just recently joined and their loss wouldn't hurt the Order except from a morale standpoint.
"We like Harry and have done our best to help him whenever we could. In a little while you'll bring him here," Fred said, interrupting the Headmaster.
"And he'll blame everyone here for everything that's gone wrong in his life," George explained.
The two looked at each other again and Fred nodded to George. George turned to the rest. "You know, I once thought that being like you guys was the greatest thing; fighting evil, righting wrongs. If only that were the truth of it. You're not fighting evil, you're fighting Voldemort, who wants to change the world. But your vision of what the world should be is not much different than his. And your methods are equally brutal, only you directed them towards one boy, rather than the whole world.
"Ron, Ginny and Hermione are just starting to realize what a mistake they made and how it might not be recoverable..." George paused. "I don't know why I waste my breath. Come on, Fred," he muttered.
"What he said!" Fred quipped, then he followed his brother from the room.
Molly opened her mouth to speak, but Dumbledore waved her to silence. "No Molly, your boys are right. In my rush to fight Voldemort, I forgot that Harry is a person with the same needs as the rest of us. My treatment of the boy has been one mistake after another, I see that now. He would have done far better had he been placed with a family like yours, rather than his Muggle relatives."
Dumbledore looked up to see Remus and Tonks enter the room; they were alone. His expression dropped.
"Remus? Where is Harry?"
"He's gone, Albus. Taken. And if that isn't bad enough, his relatives have no memory of him, or of the Wizarding world. Tonks ran a couple of tests on Petunia and found that her memories have been wiped entirely. Whatever was used to accomplish the removal of those memories was not an Obliviate."
Remus handed Dumbledore a sheet of paper. "We found that on what used to be his bed."
Dumbledore took the paper with a trembling hand and read quickly.
If you are surprised to be reading this, think about how surprised I was, having to write it. I honestly thought our paths would never cross again. Considering what happened the last time they did, I hoped we'd never meet again.
I want you to consider something, Albus. I want you to consider just how much pain, loneliness and anguish he had to be in, in order for me to sense him four thousand miles away. Then imagine my surprise when I discover he's the legacy of the girl I let you have.
You know, I've always felt that the decision of the wizards to isolate themselves was wrong, but in this case it worked out in my favor. It allowed me to gain custody of the boy, placing him in the care of his very surprised and very worried Aunt. Yes, his call for help started the process of burning through her memory blocks. I did as I promised and left them alone until she asked for my help in removing them.
Now, let me get down to business. The Dursleys have signed over all parental and custodial rights for Harry to his Aunt, Doctor Jean Summers. Jean wanted to see them arrested when she learned how he had been treated, but instead opted for wiping their memories. They no longer know about your world, or anyone named Harry Potter.
Harry's mutant abilities awoke recently due to some trauma which I haven't determined, but I intend to find out. When we last met, we had a strong mutant with a small amount of magic power, and a weak mutant with strong magic. Now we have a very strong magical mutant. And he is incredibly angry at you and others in his life.
Harry has come very close to crossing a line which he must not cross, and the simple fact is, Albus, you pushed him to this point, then pushed harder. He may never trust you again, but that is an issue which you will have to work out with him.
Here is the deal I am putting on the table, Albus. Back off. Let Jean, her husband and myself help Harry. If possible, we will try to convince him to return to your school come September. But right now he needs time to grieve and heal. And he needs time to learn what it means to be loved. If all goes well, we will come for a visit a week or two before school starts. Returning to Hogwarts will be Harry's decision. I will not force it on him, nor will his Aunt. And if this is to work, you will have to abide by his decision.
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.
The paper slipped from Dumbledore's numb fingers, falling to the table. One by one, people passed the letter around, while Dumbledore sat silent, refusing to look at anyone.
Finally Arthur coughed twice and Dumbledore looked up at him.
"Just what does this mean, Albus? What mutant is this letter talking about?"
"Mutants!" Ron said with a laugh. "They aren't real."
"Yes they are, Ron, very real," countered Hermione. "They are found in every country now."
Ron looked at her in surprise.
Dumbledore sighed heavily. The results of his actions were coming home to roost and he didn't see any good coming from this. Now it was time for honesty and all he could do was pray he could salvage something from the situation.
"Miss Granger is quite right. Mutants are very real, Mr. Weasley. But they have never been a problem for the Wizarding World. For reasons we don't understand, there have been very few mutant wizards or witches. Until I ran across a pair of twin girls over twenty-five years ago, I thought I'd never see magical mutants," Dumbledore said.
Remus stared at Dumbledore with wide eyes. "Lily?" he gasped.
The old wizard nodded. "One of the pair was a very powerful witch, with only a minor mutant ability. The other was a very powerful mutant, with only an average level of magic. I was in the midst of trying to convince their parents to allow them to attend Hogwarts when another man came into the picture. He represented a school for mutants, where the girls could be taught to control and harness their mutant talents.
"We verbally sparred for a while, then I foolishly tried to Obliviate the man. My spell had no effect on him. The next thing I knew, I was on my knees gasping for breath, while he lectured me on the dangers of attacking a fully functioning telepath. I had no control over my own body.
"In the end, he released me and we decided to split the twins up. I took the strong witch and he the weaker one. Before I left, I Obliviated the whole family. I know I shouldn't have, but I was unnerved by this man and his unusual abilities and did not think before I acted. The damage was done. Something unique in the makeup of the elder Evanses – perhaps the seed that resulted in the girls having both magic and mutations - prevented the spell from being removed. The other man was furious and threatened to assault Hogwarts.
"Eventually things worked out, after a fashion. But Lily's parents couldn't have their memories of their other daughter restored. I took away that little girl's parents. I orphaned her without killing anyone. In the end, I had to Obliviate her as well."
"This just keeps getting better and better," muttered Tonks. "So Harry is a mutant and a wizard. Next thing you'll say is he is the only person capable of killing Voldemort, like the papers claim."
Dumbledore jumped in his chair as if slapped and he stared at Tonks. His expression gave everything away. He knew that the papers had been speculating on Harry's role in Department of Mysteries fight and some had taken to calling him the 'Chosen One'. What he had not seen was the issue of the Prophet released today that speculated on Harry being the one destined to kill Voldemort. Tonks' comment caught him totally by surprise.
"We're doomed if we have to rely on Potter," Snape said, sinking his head into his hands. Inwardly, he was crowing. He didn't need to know the exact wording of the prophecy! This information would serve him well. "Doomed, I tell you."
"Harry's a mutant? Well then, good riddance to him!" Ron said huffily.
Hermione turned and glared at Ron. "You idiot! He's your best friend and you'd turn your back on him over this? You have more growing up to do than I thought, Ronald Weasley. I'm very disappointed in you."
Molly glared daggers at her son and told herself for the umpteenth time that he got the stupidity from Arthur's side of the family, then she turned to Dumbledore.
"Albus, we simply cannot allow these people to have Harry. We must go after them."
Dumbledore shook his head. "We cannot, Molly. Charles Xavier is a man of his word. He will help Harry, and so will Harry's Aunt - once Harry gets over the shock of discovering he has an Aunt who looks just like his mother. While not quite identical twins, they were remarkably similar in appearance. I have no doubt in my mind that they will help Harry through this crisis. But will Harry trust us again? That I cannot say."
"But will he be safe with these - mutants?" Ron asked. He said the word "mutant" distastefully, as if he didn't want to acknowledge what his friend was.
"I daresay he would be safer with them than where he was, Mr. Weasley. Some of Professor Xavier's mutants have abilities which we cannot defend against. Lily's sister, Jean, was a powerful untrained telepath when I met her. Her potential exceeded that of even Professor Xavier.
"No, I'm afraid we simply must give Harry the time he needs and hope that he will decide to come back to us at the end of the summer," Dumbledore said wearily. "A lot has been said today. I think enough damage has been done. I would caution you all that Mr. Potter's whereabouts and his role in this war are to be kept secret. Let us break for now. We will have our next general meeting at the regularly scheduled time."
Xavier's School for Gifted Children, Westchester County, New York...
"He's coming around," said a voice. It wasn't a voice he recognized.
Harry opened his eyes and looked around wildly. This wasn't the infirmary! A large rolling cart of high-tech equipment was nearby, beeping and buzzing softly.
"You're awake, finally. We were beginning to worry," the man in the wheelchair said.
"Where am I?"
"Ah, explanations. Yes, well, Harry... May I call you Harry?"
Harry nodded. He could call him anything he wanted, as long as he explained what was going on.
"Harry, you've suffered a bit of a shock and we were worried about you, so we brought you here. Now, if you'll allow me, I will be happy to relate the entire story to you. But it will take a bit, so why don't you have something to eat while I explain?"
Harry nodded and looked around. The door opened and the man with the strange glasses entered, carrying a tray with food and drinks on it.
"Go ahead and eat, Harry. You've been unconscious for two days. From what we can determine, you were suffering from a combination of exhaustion and mild shock, so we decided to let you sleep until you woke."
Harry looked at the man with the food. "I remember you, and there was a woman - My mother?" he turned and glared at the Professor.
Xavier hovered his chair in closer. "That is part of the story, Harry, if you will allow me?"
Harry picked up a sandwich and nodded at the Professor to begin. Something in the man's attitude made him willing to listen.
"First off, let's deal with things that are the most important to you. The woman you met is not your mother. Your mother is, as you know, dead. The woman's name is Jean Summers, formerly known as Jean Evans. She is your mother's twin sister; your Aunt."
Harry stopped chewing and stared at Xavier.
"Dumbledore, right?" Harry said slowly.
Xavier nodded in reply. He was shocked to see Harry delving to the heart of the matter so quickly. The lad's smarter than we thought.
Harry clenched his fists and a surge of anger rushed through him. The lights in the room flickered and the building trembled. The equipment on the nearby cart made a buzzing sound and the screens went dead. The acrid smell of burnt electronics wafted up, filling the room. He bowed his head and he started to glow with magic as his anger increased.
"Harry, you must not let your anger control you."
Harry looked up in surprise at Professor Xavier and the trembling ceased. Xavier's mental command shocked him silly. Up until that point he had hoped he had been making some progress on his Occlumency shields.
"I am like you and your mother, and your Aunt. A mutant."
"A mutant? But I thought..." Harry said, then he paused. "That explains why I could do those things and no magic was being expended, right?"
"It also explains how we found you in the first place. You see, we didn't know of your existence. Your Aunt had been Obliviated by Dumbledore, and no longer remembered her parents or sisters. I hope you will remember that when you finally meet with her. We know you're angry, but she is as much a victim in this as you are."
Harry took another bite of his sandwich and chewed thoughtfully for a moment, then he nodded. "Can I see her? Please?" If there was even a remote chance of finding family that actually wanted him, he was going to reach for it with both hands.
Xavier paused and smiled at him. "I suppose you can. I wanted to explain everything to you first, but I think the details aren't as important right now as reuniting family."
Harry looked at Xavier expectantly, but he did nothing. Then the door opened and Jean walked in.
Harry stared at her.
Jean took a few steps forward and hesitantly raised a hand. Harry's eyes filled with tears and he tried to blink them away, but there were too many.
"I know you're not my Mum, but you look just like her pictures," he whispered, trying hard to control his emotions.
Jean's eyes were filling with tears also. He was a stranger to her, but there was a strong family bond between them. She hadn't really been aware of the bond until recently, and now, with him here, awake in the room it flared to life, roaring in its intensity. "No, I'm not your Mom. But do you have a hug for your Aunt?"
Harry choked back a sob and nodded his head vigorously. Jean rushed to his bed and she wrapped her arms around him. Xavier and Scott quietly left the room, leaving them alone.
Slowly the pair pulled themselves together and separated.
Harry looked up at his smiling Aunt and shook his head. "I prayed for years that another relative would come for me. I had given up hope."
"I know," Jean replied. "We... I felt it when you gave up. I was afraid we wouldn't reach you in time. I wanted to leave right away, but the Professor made us wait, while he had his lawyers draw up the paperwork to transfer custody of you to me."
"I never have to return to the Dursleys?" he asked hopefully.
"No, Harry, you never have to return there. You don't need much in the way of parenting - you're nearly grown already - but Scott and I would like to provide that for you," Jean answered with a smile.
Harry looked down at his hands, his feelings conflicted. Someone wanted him? The concept was alien to him.
Jean placed her hand under his chin and lifted his face up to look at him. "Harry, you know I'm a full telepath, don't you? I can feel your emotions, and your confusion. You have some abilities in that area as well, which is why I'm feeling your emotions so strongly. You're broadcasting."
Harry recoiled from her touch, frightened and angry.
"I won't read your mind unless you let me, Harry. But right now you're broadcasting what you're feeling," she said trying to soothe him. "It may be a new sensation for you, but you are wanted, very much."
He took several calming breaths and tried to focus. "So what happens now?" he asked in a worried tone.
She sat down on the bed smiling at him. "First, we get you out of the infirmary, then we get you some better clothes than what the Dursleys gave you. Professor Xavier and I will help you come to grips with your abilities as a mutant. And hopefully by the time you're ready to return to Hogwarts, we'll be a family."
She winced slightly at the huge spike of anger and hurt when she mentioned Hogwarts. She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Harry, listen to me. You don't have to go back there if you don't want to. But you can't run from your problems either. Professor Xavier and I will help..."
"You don't know the whole story," Harry hissed. "I don't know who has messed my life up more, Dumbledore or Voldemort. But both of them are back there. And at least one of them wants me dead. Maybe both of them!"
Jean leaned back and her brows knotted in confusion. "Voldemort?" she asked. It was a name she wasn't familiar with.
Harry stared at her. "You don't know?" he finally blurted out.
She shook her head. "I'll only look in your mind with your permission," she said gently.
"Voldemort, he's why my parents are dead. He's the one who started this whole mess, and he wants me dead too," Harry said bitterly. "He's the reason why everyone hates me, or expects me to save them. I curse his name every night for not killing me, too."
Jean frowned and fought down her own spark of anger. "Will you let me see? It would be quicker than you retelling the story."
Harry looked torn.
"It would help me understand." Jean added in a hopeful tone. "I'd like to know how my sister died."
"I don't know," he replied hesitantly. A fear flared in his chest. "You'll probably hate me afterwards. I'm the reason she died."
She reached out a hand. "Can I see?" she asked softly.
He took her hand, nodding, but he refused to look in her eyes. She slipped into his mind with skill and a deft touch. He shuddered under her touch and she calmed him, helping him keep the panic from getting out of control. She paged through his memory, touching on key points of his life, the Dursleys, Hogwarts, Voldemort, Dumbledore. She saw the manipulations and the burden increasing until it became unbearable. She saw him in the depths of his despair, the only thing preventing him from killing himself was lack of a method.
Harry shivered and his mind tried to pull from her grip, but he lacked the strength. She surrounded his mind, comforting him and telling him he wasn't alone, nor would he ever be again. She followed the thread of Voldemort memories, coming to understand the threat he posed to both Harry and the Wizarding world. Finally, she withdrew from his mind, having tasted his experience and his life.
As soon as she pulled out, Harry released her hand and wrapped his arms around his knees. His eyes were closed tight, but that couldn't stop the tears flowing down his cheeks. She had reviewed his life and in doing so, he had been witness to it all over again. He shuddered and wanted to die from the shame. Between the Dursleys and what happened to his parents, he was certain she'd walk away in disgust.
Jean's eyes slowly focused and she fought the urge to lose her lunch over what she'd seen of her nephew's life. Things were far worse than she could have possibly imagined. She looked down at Harry on the bed and was startled by the change in him. She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. He stiffened against her at first, but slowly relaxed.
She rocked him, whispering words of comfort. Later, she would share what she had learned with Scott and Professor Xavier, but right now she had Harry to take care of. She admitted to herself that she could understand why Lily had been attracted to James Potter. He had been a handsome, dashing man, and their son, her nephew, combined the best of both of them.
Harry relaxed and just let himself be held. It was a sensation he had never experienced before. Molly Weasley's hugs were stifling and confining. This was comforting without being stifling. The emotional roller coaster was coming to an end for the day and he had exhausted himself.
Jean watched and monitored his state. He was still exhausted, and she could tell he was fighting to stay awake now.
"Sleep, Harry. We won't be far away," she said, pulling away enough for him to lie back down.
"You won't go away?"
"No, I'll be near and I'll know when you wake," she replied with a smile.
His eyes closed and he smiled slightly. Jean brushed the hair out of his eyes and kissed his forehead.
"Thank you for coming for me, Aunt Jean," he whispered.
He didn't see it, but Jean's smile lit up the room. "Sleep, we'll talk more later. You have family nearby."
Jean stood and walked from the room. Her entire posture screamed of her fury over what had become Harry's life. She had thought that her sister's behavior was bad enough, but this Voldemort problem on top of that added a level of burden that stressed Harry to the breaking point. No wonder he was lashing out, she thought.
Jean walked into Professor Xavier's office a few minutes later. Xavier looked up in alarm, sensing the level of anger radiating from the powerful mutant. Scott and Logan also looked at her in surprise. It was very unlike her to interrupt one of the Professor's meetings unless it was important.
"I don't know who to be more angry with at the moment, Professor. Your role in this isn't exactly snow white, you know," she spat.
Scott stood and walked over to her. He'd never heard her talk to the Professor in this way.
Xavier bowed his head. "Yes, I know, Jean. I should have fought harder to get Lily here, or at least let her know her heritage. My failures from that day have come back to haunt us, and I'm not proud of what happened. I promise you I will do my best to help Harry through this. Did he tell you anything about what triggered this crisis?"
She stared at him for a moment before nodding. Despite these revelations, she still trusted him.
"They are at war. The whole wizarding world stands on the hairy precipice over prejudices hundreds of years old and my nephew is the linchpin of the whole bleeding war! According to prophecy, he's the only one capable of killing the same monster who killed my sister and her husband. It's the same monster that is running this war. This Voldemort is their version of Magneto, only worse. At least Magneto still has a little conscience left. Harry's faced him more times than anyone alive and has survived, barely, each time. He's never been trained to fight properly and he's given up hope of living through this war of theirs."
Jean sat down heavily, her anger bleeding away as she felt herself infected with Harry's own sense of hopelessness. "The Dursleys were abusive and Dumbledore knew about it. He's also known about the prophecy since before Harry was born, but he kept sending him back to that house. Most of the abuse came from Vernon and Dudley, but my sister wasn't entirely blameless either.
"He feels betrayed by those he trusted and he feels like he's alone against overwhelming odds. He's also been mentally abused by several of his teachers. It seems that he's suffered through a string of ineffectual Defense teachers, some of whom were out to kill him, and one of his other professors has committed a sort of magical mind-rape on him. Repeatedly.
"As to his mutant abilities, he's only begun to scratch the surface. He's going to need help in several areas. I can help him tap into his powers. But I think it would do to have Scott and Logan start him on some physical regime. He needs to know how to protect himself in all ways."
"And his anger?"
Jean frowned. "That's going to take an entirely different approach. He's never been shown any sort of parental love before, and I'm not entirely sure that he'll accept it at this point in his life. But we can try," she said softly. "He was falling asleep when he shocked me by thanking me for coming for him. The idea that anyone could want him is something alien to him. The Dursleys have spent his whole life reinforcing the idea that he's worthless, and he believes it."
Xavier pulled away from his desk and looked out a window across the wide lawn. "Introduce him to Scott and Logan when he wakes. Logan, start working with Harry on how to defend himself. Scott, after Jean and I give him some memories, start bringing him up to speed academically. Jean, I think we should make the best of this. The boy is smart and I think we should see if he'd be willing to help you harness your own magic. He'll have new information coming at him from several people. Giving him a bit of control in teaching you to use your talent might help him from becoming overwhelmed and feeling under siege."
Xavier paused for a moment, then nodded. "Split his times between defense, classwork, mastering his powers and teaching magic to Jean. I'll work with him in the evenings, trying to help him overcome his past."
The three nodded and walked out of the office, leaving Xavier staring blankly out the window. Dumbledore wouldn't have allowed this to happen to the boy unless he had a plan. Now the big question was if Dumbledore would follow his letter and leave them alone for the summer. Would the wizarding world leave them alone?