Of course, no copyright infringement is intended.
"Daaad! Why can't we have any bacon? We always have bacon at Hogwarts!"
Harry winced at the whining voice of his eldest son, James; it was seven o' clock in the morning, and Ginny was never pleased if someone woke her up before she was good and ready on the weekend. He stirred the finger sausages around in the frying pan methodically, not turning around as he said, "Because you can eat bacon at Hogwarts. What's the point of having it here?"
"Well we can eat sausage at school too, but that doesn't stop you from making it," Al, his second child, pointed out innocently. Harry could imagine Lily, the youngest, nodding in agreement, her big eyes following her brothers' impatient pacing around the kitchen.
"Sit down, James, Al," Harry said, choosing to ignore Al's argument. The noise level would quickly rise in the house if he let this conversation get out of control. Why his children decided to get up this early on a Saturday in the summertime, he had no idea, but being the loving father that he was, he was persuaded out of bed to feed them.
Harry still liked cooking in the Muggle fashion. All those years of cooking for his relatives had given him a fairly good skill set at the stove, and, though Ginny had been watching her mother for years, his wife was really a horrible cook. He placed the cover over the frying pan, and grabbed the toast as it popped up from the toaster, setting the slices on a plate before handing them to Lily at the table to pick her slice before the two boys dove in.
"But, Dad, come on, you're the only person on this earth who doesn't like bacon!" James said as he spread jam on his toast, having snatched a slice from the plate as soon as Harry turned his back on the table. "You make us eat stuff we don't like," he whined. Honestly, Harry thought, the oldest should be setting a better example; whining to his father at seven in the morning—really.
"You should be grateful you have something to eat, even if you don't like it," Harry said, checking the sausages and deciding they were done. He turned off the stove and brought the food to the table, taking his seat with his children, all still clad in pajamas.
"I think you're being silly, Dad," said Al. "You've never cooked us bacon, not once."
"Dad, I'll eat some of Mum's sandwiches if you eat some bacon," said his daughter, a bit of jam lingering in the corner of her still childlike mouth. Now that was a bargain: bacon for Lily to eat some of Ginny's cooking. Lily hadn't touched one of her mother's culinary creations (simple as some of them were) in years, sneakily shoving bits onto James' plate or into her napkin when her mother was preoccupied. Lucky for her that Harry cooked ten meals to Ginny's one.
"Your mother's cooking isn't that bad, Lily," Harry said, knowing that he only ate his wife's dishes to continue living in a state of happiness. How a witch could make scrambled eggs taste terrible he hadn't the slightest clue. "And it's not that I don't like bacon—"
"Then what is it?" cried James, bouncing on the edge of his seat. James couldn't stand a mystery. Come to think of it, his children had probably been conspiring this breakfast; it would explain why they were up so early.
"I just don't want to cook it. If I trusted your mother on the stove, you kids could have bacon every day for all I care." Harry sipped his coffee while his children mulled this new development over silently.
"But how hard could it be, really, to cook bacon?" asked Al. "It can't be that bad; Aunt Hermione does it all the time!"
"You forget that your Aunt Hermione is a very smart witch with far more skills than your dear old dad," Harry said as the kids eyed him.
Al raised an eyebrow, his green eyes narrowed. He didn't buy it for a second. "You mean to tell us that the head of the Auror office can't cook a pan of bacon?"
James quickly caught on. "What else can't you do, Dad? How long has it been since you got on that old broom of yours?"
Lily, more merciful than her brothers, chimed in, "I'm sure you could do it if you tried!"
Harry sighed, rolling his eyes. His knew his kids would not let the matter drop. They were bored during the summer, though he could see why. James and Al had both spent the last year attending Hogwarts, where excitement followed them from the moment they woke up, and Lily was used to being entertained by her Muggle friends, all of whom seemed to have gone off on holiday this summer.
"Would you really like to know why I won't cook bacon for you?" Harry asked, fingering his mug. The children stared at him wide-eyed, all three of them on the edge of their seats. They must have put a great deal of thought and planning to solve the "mystery."
Well, no getting out of it then, Harry thought. He had been thinking about dropping in on them anyway.
The following Saturday, Harry loaded the kids into their old car at six; Ginny was still asleep, but she had wished him well the night before. No telling what would happen once they got there, but she supported him. "Maybe it'll teach them a life lesson or some such thing," she had told him idly the night before.
The drive wasn't all that long, much shorter than Harry expected it to be. The quiet little village the Potter family resided in only ended up being an hour away from Surrey. He parked the car in the driveway a bit past seven, examining the house through his windshield. It looked the same as ever, an exact replica of the houses surrounding it and across the street. The flower beds were still well cared for, and nothing looked out of place. It was as normal as normal could be.
"Where are we, Dad?" asked Al. "Whose house is this?"
"This, kids, is where I grew up. Number 4 Privet Drive. You're about to meet your great aunt and uncle," Harry said, not moving to take off his seat belt. How would they react to him? The Dursleys had not seen their nephew in over twenty years; he didn't even know if they were both still alive, though judging from the name on the mailbox, at least one of them was.
"How come we've never heard about them?" asked James, unbuckling his seatbelt and peering at his father from the passenger seat. It was true that Harry had never spoken of the Dursleys to his children. He made sure his family was well fed, that none of the kids were favored over the others as Dudley had been over Harry. None of his children were punished unjustly.
"Son, you'll find out soon enough. Who knows, maybe Aunt Petunia will slam the door in our faces when she sees me and we can eat out instead." It was a very real possibility.
Harry climbed out of the car, his children following in slight confusion. They had never seen their father in this nervous state, no matter how well he thought he was hiding it. It was unbalancing; Dad always did things with confidence.
With only a slight hesitation at the door, Harry rang the bell and stepped back, waiting. He cast around for a topic to puncture the pregnant pause that had developed, and his mind fell on his cousin. "You know, when I was fifteen, my cousin and I were attacked by dementors a few streets away from here. I carried the big lug back here and he threw up just inside this door." He shot a quick smile Lily's way, whose face had contorted into a comical grimace. She hated puke.
"Dementors?" asked James, but before Harry could explain, the knob started rattling as someone undid the locks from inside.
The door swung inward, and there stood Petunia Dursley, still in her night gown and bath robe. His aunt had not aged well in the twenty years since they had laid eyes on each other. Her once blonde hair was now an ugly, dyed yellow, and her skin was pulled tightly over her bony face. She was hunched over, and her hands, now empty of the milk bottles she had been holding, here curled and wrinkled.
Harry moved his children back as the glass bottles shattered at their feet, and Petunia let out a muffled shriek. "What—what are you doing here?" she hissed, craning her neck to see past the Potters into the street, probably to pick out the innumerable amount of neighbors she imagined were watching them.
"Aunt Petunia, it's nice to see you," Harry managed to say with a straight face. "These are my children, James, Albus, and Lily." Petunia flinched at the sound of the little girl's name. "We were in the neighborhood and thought we might stop by to say hello. Might we come in? The milk man should be coming around soon, right?"
Petunia seemed to weigh the options of arguing with her nephew and letting him in against the chances of the small party being seen on her doorstep. Her shrewd eyes narrowed and she gestured them inside. "Get in quick! Before the neighbors see you!"
"Thanks, Aunt Petunia," said Harry. He lifted Lily, who was wearing sandals, over the broken glass, and stepped inside the too-clean house for the first time without the late Lily Potter's protection over him. "Let me get that for you," Harry said, indicating the broken bottles. He took his wand out and silently repaired them. Harry reveled in the look on Petunia's face in reaction to his magic, but put his wand away quickly. He didn't want to push her too far.
The woman was already stumbling up the stairs; Harry assumed she was running to fetch her husband. A moment later, an interesting roar was heard from the second landing, and a thunderous foot fall came from where Harry remembered the master bedroom was. A moment later, Vernon Dursley appeared at the top of the staircase, looking livid.
If Petunia had not aged well, Vernon had completely fallen apart. He was now almost completely bald, his head red and shiny where there used to be hair. He appeared to have gained the weight that elderly people usually lost as they aged and their diets changed. He had liver spots peeking out from under his night shirt; where his wife's skin was stretched over her face, his hung lankly off it from the sheer amount of wrinkles.
"What the blazes are you doing here, Potter?" his uncle demanded, his voice booming down the stairs. Petunia was shielded behind him as she and Dudley had been when Dumbledore stopped in back in '96.
"Thought I'd just drop in with the kids, Uncle Vernon," Harry said casually. "Apparently your breakfast time has changed; otherwise we would have come later."
"And what makes you think you'll be staying for breakfast?" Vernon demanded with his hands clamped on the railing. Neither Dursley moved from their perch at the top of the stairs.
"Oh, well my kids were just wondering where I got all my cooking skills the other morning. I figured I'd show them as long as we were driving through," Harry said, letting a smirk creep onto his face. Good thing the kids couldn't see his expression; he was supposed to be their nice and polite father after all.
"If you think that you're welcome in this house, you've got another thing coming, Potter," Vernon snarled, his voice cracking slightly. He probably didn't do much yelling these days.
Harry laughed. "As if I ever was," he said. Lily snaked her hand into her father's. Behind him, she had her forefinger pressed to her bottom lip, an old habit. James had his hands clenched, ready for a confrontation with these strange Muggles. Al's eyes were darting back and forth from his father to his great uncle.
"Get out! Get out of my house!" Vernon yelled, his face purpling as it always had in Harry's younger days. The vein on his temple still throbbed. "I never want to see you here again!"
There were two options that he could choose from, and Harry weighed them quickly in his mind. On one hand, he could threaten his uncle with magic that he could very legally perform (but in all likelihood would not), or he could leave now and find a diner in town, as he had assumed from the start they would be going to. Lily squeezed his hand and shifted her weight, still behind her father. Harry decided on the latter option.
"Well, I'm glad to see you're well, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia," Harry said as politely as he could muster. "I would have loved to stay to chat, but it seems that won't be an option today. Give us a ring if you ever want to stop by."
With Vernon still fuming at the top of the staircase and Petunia looking fearful, Harry ushered James, Al, and Lily out of the door, keeping his eyes on his uncle in case he decided to throw something. Once the three were outside, Harry said quietly, "Get in the car," and closed the door behind them, leaving himself alone with his relatives.
"And just what do you think you're doing?" Vernon demanded.
"Oh, don't worry, I'm still leaving. Got to feed the kids, right?" said Harry as he shrugged. "I just wanted to let you know for all the hard work you two put into making me miserable, I've turned out okay. I've got a wonderful family, great friends, a good job…we're all very happy. I can only hope that Dudley's doing just as well. Tell him I'd like to speak with him; we're in the phone book if he wants to look us up someday." Ignoring the astonished looks on the Dursleys' faces, he left Number Four once again, nearly stepping on James' feet as he stepped over the threshold. Of course he had been eavesdropping. Harry shut the door quietly and gave his children a look that quite plainly said 'we're leaving.'
Fifteen minutes later, when the family had been seated at a table in a busy restaurant a few miles away, the ever inquisitive Al asked what was on all of their minds. "What just happened?"
Harry pushed his glasses up his nose, looking up from the menu he had buried his face in. The expressions on his children's faces were all identical, each one bearing a sort of fearful curiosity. "Kids, as I said, that was where I grew up." And so, he explained how he had come to live on Privet Drive. He told them about how families were not always happy like theirs, that some children were not as lucky to grow up with loving adults to feed them and care for them and protect them. That they may come to meet children at Hogwarts with the same habits that he used to have—not going home for the holidays, being surprised at the notion of food, unsure of who to trust and go to with their problems. "Not everyone is happy at home. I know it's scary to think about, that it's hard to accept, but life isn't as fair to some as it is to others."
The children drank in his every word, and Harry saw that they were all turning it over in their minds, each coming to the conclusion that he realized was inevitable. "But," said James, "you're Harry Potter. You're the most famous wizard in Britain! How could people have left you there?"
"Because I didn't say anything. I don't think anyone really realized how bad it was, except your grandparents and my godfather probably, but my headmaster wouldn't hear of taking me away from there. I was protected from Voldemort there, and that was the 'greater good,' even if I was a bit skinny or beat up when I turned up at Hogwarts again.
"Lots of people don't say anything because they think that no one will listen to them; it's not true. Someone will listen, and that someone might just be one of you some day. I want you three to remember that it's okay to go to an adult, even if that person says they don't want you to. 'Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it,' but you might have to do the asking for them."
Harry saw that James, Albus, and Lily had absorbed the message; before he could say any more, their waitress returned with their orders, and the family ate in silence for few minutes, mulling over what had happened that morning. It was a lot considering that they had only been awake for about four hours.
Finally, Al broke the silence after eying a piece of crispy bacon between two fingers. "So what did this have to do with bacon?" he asked, and James stopped shoveling pancakes into his mouth to stare at his father, Lily holding her orange juice halfway between her mouth and the table.
Harry grinned, the dreary mood that hung over the table starting to clear. "I never much fancied watching Uncle Vernon and Dudley pork it down. But…I think we can indulge ourselves tomorrow morning."
Well, finals are almost over, my essays are written (mostly), and I finally finished something that I wanted to upload. Please review-I'm always looking for feedback on my work!
A huge thanks to Demophobic and Spark Writer for beta-ing this for me. I highly recommend both of them if you're looking for someone.
Good luck to anyone else getting to the end of their semesters, and if you're procrastinating (like me) get back to work! Or don't, whatever...