LbN: Come one, come all! Step right up to the most cracktastic thing ever attempted by yours truly. I'm warning everyone now, this will quickly devolve into cracky goodness, and will be a case study in HP cliches. Me, respitechristopher, and Chelseyb1010 will be making a team effort of this, goaded on by our awesome friends in the Teacher's Lounge. Another fair warning: flames will be ridiculed mercilessly in subsequent chapters' author's notes. Hope you have a fun ride. I know we will ;).
Harry sat staring at his uncle, not quite believing what he was hearing. "Let me see if I've got this right…" he said. "You want me to stay here longer?"
"Yes," Vernon said, sweating. It sounded like he was having trouble forming even simple words. "You write to this…this Dumblewhatsits. You tell him your cousin is sick and that you want to stay another week."
"Don't talk back!" Vernon snapped. "Just…do as you're told."
Harry was so confused that he actually went to get out of his seat. Then an idea hit him. "Okay, Uncle Vernon. But I know you don't really want me here. Who's talked you into this? It can't be Dumbledore."
His uncle turned purple.
"If it was a wizard, you could be in danger. You don't have to say a name. Just tell me if it was a friend—one of my lot that you've seen before."
"Yes," Vernon grunted. "But she said she'd have my... tenders if I told you anything."
"Right," Harry said, thinking hard. "Thank you. I'll go write to Dumbledore now." He strode out of the kitchen, trying to figure out what was happening. Someone wanted to keep him from Dumbledore, but who? It couldn't be a Death Eater. They'd have just attacked him on his way to or from the house. But maybe they had something else…. He shook his head to clear it. He had to make the decision. He got to his room and took out a piece of parchment. Thinking for a moment, he asked Dumbledore for another three nights, instead of a week. "Hedwig," he called, signing the letter. She flew over to his desk and hooted softly. "Please be careful," he said. He couldn't shake the feeling that this was some sort of trap.
She nipped at his fingers affectionately and took off through the open window.
Releasing a worried breath, Harry began to pack his things, just in case.
He heard the clock beep. It was two in the morning, and someone was in his room. And they sure were making a lot of noise.
"I could've killed you by now, if I could use magic here."
"Tonks?" Harry asked, sitting up. "What are—"
"Listen, Harry, we don't have much time." She tossed some jeans and a shirt at him, not bothering to avert her eyes as he climbed out of bed. "I needed Dumbledore to agree to let you stay, just in case I couldn't get to you tonight."
"Listen! Please, we have to hurry." She stacked his bag and Hedwig's cage on top of his trunk and moved it towards the door. "I'm sure, after your little chat with Dumbledore, that you've realized you're being kept in the dark about certain things."
"I was…but he said he was telling me everything," Harry said slowly.
Tonks snorted. "That figures. There's too much to explain right away, so I'll give you what you need to know right off. I'm taking you to a safe house. Tomorrow, Remus and I will go get Hermione and Ron. Fred and George know about this, but no one else. Not yet at least. Dumbledore's latest plan…well, let's just say we're tired of him expecting the world of you and not giving you any help in the slightest."
Harry's mind was racing. He'd only ever had Dumbledore looking after him—only ever trusted the old man. But after Sirius's death, he'd done a lot of thinking—and Dumbledore's protection had started to feel like a curse. Still…he wasn't sure about this. He pulled out his wand.
"No magic!" Tonks hissed. "The Ministry will be up both our arses."
"What charm did Nymphadora Tonks attempt the first time she came to rescue me from Privet Drive?" Harry asked.
She sighed. "You really should've done that first, but no matter. I'll have you trained in no time. To answer your question, I tried two charms. The first was scourgify, and the second was an abysmal attempt to fold your socks."
He lowered his wand. "What do we do now? And if you used magic then—"
"That time, Dumbledore knew we were here. Now that You-Know-Who is out in the open, if anyone even sniffs magic around this place the entire Ministry will be here within a minute. So, downstairs is a portable Apparation point. We're going to carry your things down. I'll send them on to the house, and then we'll scramble out of here before anyone shows up to rescue you from being rescued. Let's get to it." She gave the back of his neck a gentle squeeze.
It only took a few minutes. Harry didn't have too much to move. Once they were downstairs, he paused to look around. He had a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach, and somehow knew that this was the last time he'd see this place.
"Take my arm." Tonks tapped the luggage.
Immediately, there were loud noises outside indicating the arrival of a Ministry team.
"Time to go," Harry said. As soon as he did, he was taken by a feeling of intense tightness. It felt like he was being stretched, or perhaps pushed through a very narrow tube. A second later, his feet were on solid ground again. "Eurgh…."
"Easy," a soothing voice said. "You're safe."
"Remus," Harry groaned. "What the hell is going on?"
"Here, sit," Remus said, guiding him into one of the kitchen chairs. "What's going on, in the briefest sense, is that Dumbledore told us a lot of things. Turns out, telling Tonks and I was the worst choice he could have made."
"Why?" Harry asked warily.
"Because even though we're loyal to him, we're not blinded by that loyalty, as some are," Tonks said, sitting next to him. She put an arm around his shoulders. "We're more concerned about you—getting you through this war. And there are things in motion now that…well, frankly keeping you alive while following Dumbledore's orders is nigh on suicide."
"What did he tell you? What's he keeping from me this time?" Harry asked, beyond aggravated. He'd been promised honesty. Dumbledore had said he'd learned from Sirius's death. And now it turned out that the Headmaster was keeping things from him again? He was tired of being played.
"We'll tell you just one thing, and then you should get some rest. I promise, when Ron and Hermione get here tomorrow, we'll sit down and go over everything. Tonight," he took out his wand, "we need to unbind your magic."
"You need to what my what?"
"When you were small, the Durseleys complained about the magic you were shooting off," Remus explained, motioning for Harry to stand. "Dumbledore bound your magic. He should have taken it off, but he didn't. You've been running on half tank, so to speak, for years."
"That was Remus's reaction as well," Tonks said, smirking.
"I've never been able to protect you, Harry," Remus said, moving his wand in a T shape over Harry's body. "Partially because of my condition, but also… I thought you were better off. But then…" he trailed off. He continued the spell quietly for a moment. "I want to help you, Harry. Not trail after Dumbledore, hoping for the greater good. There," he said, smiling. "You're about to feel very tir—"
He didn't even finish the sentence before Harry sank to the floor. "Merlin," Harry whispered.
"Nope," Tonks said cheerfully. "Harry Potter. Free at last."
"I'll help him to bed," Remus said.
"Wait…You said Ron and Hermione…."
"They'll be here tomorrow," Remus said as he half carried, half dragged Harry to one of the rooms. "Easy now." He dumped him into bed as gently as possible.
"Dubble'or's gonna go round the twist when he 'inds ou'…" Harry muttered through a yawn.
"You leave him to us. Get some sleep."
Harry closed his eyes. He was asleep before Remus turned out the light.