Finally! It's UP! *Happy Dance*
Okay, make sure to leave a review and tell me how you think I did. This is my first official attempt at a reading the books chapter. Also, there are clues to Harry's illness throughout the story. Cookies to whomever can figure out what it is first. It's not cancer.
I do not own Harry Potter. Especially not anything in bold.
The teachers were already in the Great Hall when they arrived, none looking too pleased. To everyone's surprise, Cornelius Fudge and Madam Bones were also in attendance. Harry sat in his usual spot next to Ron. He had one hand clutching his rib cage which was exploding in pain from the walk. He tried to breathe as evenly as possible to avoid anyone noticing, mostly Hermione, that something was wrong with him. He just knew that today the pain was going to be a lot worse than normal. He stifled a few small coughs behind the sleeve of his robes while everyone was distracted, glad that they were black so you couldn't see the blood.
Once all the students were settled, Umbridge stood up to announce why she had summoned everyone.
"Hem, Hem. Good morning everyone. Today we are finally going to expose Potter for the attention seeking liar that he is. Earlier this morning I was sent an interesting book from a devoted Unspeakable who claimed the book contained everything in Potter's life and that each book detailed a year at Hogwarts. They contain truth spells and are protected against tampering. The first book is title 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' and details Mr. Potter's first year."
Harry had gone paler and paler with each word that came out of the horrid toad's mouth. He felt sick and faint.
'NONONONONONO! That would mean that everyone would find out about his home life! He didn't want to re live everything. Once was more than enough! What had he done to deserve this?'
Ron heard Harry whimpering and looked down. Harry was sheet white and trembling in horror and fright.
"Harry? Hey, it's going to be alright. They will find out that you're telling the truth." The soothing words had no effect on the traumatized boy. Harry looked up at Ron through thick lashes and turned so he was staring at the table, ignoring every attempt at making him feel better. Harry's reaction was making his friend a nervous wreck and Ron wasn't sure how much more of this he could take before he snapped and chained Harry to a bed in the hospital wing, permanently.
Unfortunately Umbridge had decided that she would be the one to begin reading, completely oblivious to how irritating her voice was to listen to.
"Hem, Hem! Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived"
Mr. And Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn't hold with such nonsense.
"How ridiculous! Harry your family sounds awfully boring." Neville said, frowning. Harry just continued to stare at the table, his whole body stiff and trembling and his face sickly white. 'He was so screwed!'
Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills.
"What are drills?" asked one of the pureblood students.
"They are small devices that muggles use to put holes into and to help them build things." Explained a younger muggleborn from Ravenclaw. The muggle studies teacher took out a piece of parchment and a quill and began making notes on muggle terminology that she could cover during her next lessons.
He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache.
Harry shuddered at the description of his Uncle and scooted closer to Ron. Ron looked down at him in worry but Harry didn't notice. His mind was filled with his Uncle's yelling and the beatings that usually followed. No one knew that Harry had a slight fear of men, especially when there was fighting or yelling involved. Ron was one of the few that he wasn't usually afraid of. Snape was one of the worst. He trusted that the Potions Professor would never actually strike him but he was so scary. Harry was usually left trembling after an encounter with an angry Snape.
Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors. The Dursleys had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.
The Weasley twins looked shocked, looked at each other, then burst into hysterical laughter, both at Dudley being called 'small' and at the Dursley's stupidity when it came to their son.
The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn't think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters.
The students and staff looked confused. What was wrong with the Potters? Ron frowned, angry that Harry had to grow up with such hateful people. Problem was, he had no idea how bad it really was as Harry had never been particularly inclined to talk about them. Boy was he going to get a nasty shock quite soon.
Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley's sister, but they hadn't met for several years; in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn't have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as un-Dursleyish as it was possible to be. The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the Potters arrived in the street. The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him. This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away; they didn't want Dudley mixing with a child like that.
Many people looked surprised that these people were Harry's relatives. Ron and Hermione scowled at the Dursley's attitude. Noone else seemed to notice the temperature drop around the trio except Neville and the twins. Ron growled in anger,
"There is nothing wrong with Harry!" He put a strong arm around Harry's small, delicate waist and pulled him closer, frowning in worry and suspicion when the small boy didn't react at all and remained practically catatonic.
When Mr. And Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country. Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work,
The twins shook their heads. There was no hope for this one.
and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair. None of them noticed a large, tawny owl flutter past the window. At half past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek, and tried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls. "Little tyke, " chortled Mr. Dursley as he left the house.
"What a horrible child! How can they raise their son like that? They should be embarrassed!" Professor Sprout said in shock.
"I can't believe that Dudley was ever considered little." Ron muttered to Hermione who looked like she agreed fully. Ron hugged Harry to his side, trying to offer some form of comfort. Harry leaned into him slightly, forever grateful for his amazing best friend.
He got into his car and backed out of number four's drive. It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar - a cat reading a map. For a second, Mr. Dursley didn't realize what he had seen - then he jerked his head around to look again. There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn't a map in sight. What could he have been thinking of? It must have been a trick of the light. Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at the cat. It stared back. As Mr. Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his mirror. It was now reading the sign that said Privet Drive - no, looking at the sign; cats couldn't read maps or signs. Mr. Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind.
'Stupid, pathetic Muggles!' Many of the purebloods thought. It was ridiculous how they went out of their way to ignore anything that did not make sense in their perfect little world. They were oblivious and simple minded and were not worth the trouble of trying to make them understand their ways. There were eye rolls and sneers and dark mutterings to neighbors all over the hall. Even those who always sympathized with muggles were quickly becoming annoyed and less tolerant of the Dursley's attitude.
As he drove toward town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day. But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn't help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about. People in cloaks.
"Why is that strange?" A young pureblood asked, completely confused.
"Muggles stopped wearing cloaks a very long time ago. It would be highly unusual for someone to be walking around in a cloak nowadays." Hermione pointed out.
Mr. Dursley couldn't bear people who dressed in funny clothes - the getups you saw on young people! He supposed this was some stupid new fashion. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdos standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together. Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them weren't young at all; why, that man had to be older than he was, and wearing an emerald-green cloak! The nerve of him!
"How dare he! He should be ashamed!" cried Fred, pretending to be scandalized.
"Wearing an emerald-green cloak! Completely the wrong shade of green for his hair! Of all the nerve!" George declared. Both twins then burst out laughing along with most of the student body.
But then it struck Mr. Dursley that this was probably some silly stunt - these people were obviously collecting for something... Yes, that would be it.
There were more eye-rolls at the simple-mindedness of this particular Muggle.
The traffic moved on and a few minutes later, Mr. Dursley arrived in the Grunnings parking lot, his mind back on drills. Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor. If he hadn't, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning. He didn't see the owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the street did; they pointed and gazed open mouthed as owl after owl sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at nighttime.
Many students looked alarmed. Never seen an owl before? How on earth did they deliver mail?
Mr. Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning. He yelled at five different people. He made several important telephone calls and shouted a bit more.
"A very productive day, I'm sure" Hermione sniffed in disgust. She looked over to Ron's side and saw that Harry had buried his face into the redhead's chest and was clinging to him desperately. The larger boy had one of his muscular arms around his small friend possessively and was glaring at Umbridge in a way that suggested that he would like nothing more than to rip her throat out with his teeth and set her on fire.
He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he'd stretch his legs and walk across the road
Harry's head snapped up and his big green eyes widened in shock. He did not just hear that!
to buy himself a bun from the bakery.
'And the world is sane again' He thought, exasperatedly and rested his head back against Ron, shivering miserably with chills. He should have stayed in bed.
He'd forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a group of them next to the baker's. He eyed them angrily as he passed. He didn't know why, but they made him uneasy. This bunch were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn't see a single collecting tin. It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying. "The Potters, that's right, that's what I heard yes, their son, Harry"
"Oh no…!" Professor McGonagall put a hand to her mouth, just realizing what day it was. Nearly everyone at the table turned to Harry in horror. Harry, himself had by now done his best to hide under Ron's robes in an effort to get away from the staring and kept his eyes tightly shut to hide the tears. Ron was holding him tightly, too tightly. His chest was starting to hurt and he desperately tried to conceal a harsh cough. Thankfully those who did hear it seemed to mistake it for a sob and didn't say anything.
Mr. Dursley stopped dead. Fear flooded him.
'Serves you right you bastard!' Harry thought vindictively, 'I hope he gets attacked by an owl.'
He looked back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it. He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone, and had almost finished dialing his home number when he changed his mind. He put the receiver back down and stroked his mustache, thinking... No, he was being stupid. Potter wasn't such an unusual name. He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry. Come to think of it, he wasn't even sure his nephew was called Harry. He'd never even seen the boy. It might have been Harvey. Or Harold.
Harry scrunched up his cute little nose in disgust. He wasn't overly fond of 'Harry' either but it definitely beat something like Harvey.
There was no point in worrying Mrs. Dursley; she always got so upset at any mention of her sister. He didn't blame her - if he'd had a sister like that...
There was a lot of outrage over this. Especially from those that had known Lily Potter.
No one saw the unadulterated rage in Professor Snape's eyes at the insult to Lilly Potter. 'Who did this fat, useless lump of lard think he was? Someone like her would be an honor to have as part of the family.' Snape thought, thinking of his beautiful childhood friend. Only years of spying had kept him from showing just how pissed off he was at the bastard. He looked around and saw that Minerva's lips were thinned so much you could barely see them and her eyes were flashing in fury. Many of the other teachers were not much better off.
But all the same, those people in cloaks... He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon and when he left the building at five o'clock, he was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.
Ron looked down as Harry flinched and ran a hand down his back soothingly.
"Sorry, " he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and almost fell.
Harry once again looked up in alarm. "Oh Merlin! It's the first sign of the Apocalypse!"
It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak. He didn't seem at all upset at being almost knocked to the ground. On the contrary, his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passersby stare, "Don't be sorry, my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last! Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!" And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off.
Harry was shocked, 'did this man have a death wish!' He tried not to think of what his Uncle would do to him if Harry dared to hug him, not that he would want to anyway.
Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot. He had been hugged by a complete stranger. He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was. He was rattled. He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn't approve of imagination.
Harry shook in fear. 'Uncle Vernon would have killed me after something like that!' He always got in trouble when ever his Uncle had a bad day because he was usually blamed for it. Unfortunately Ron had noticed this reaction too and Harry suddenly found himself in his much larger best friend's lap with two big arms holding him securely in place.
As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw - and it didn't improve his mood -was the tabby cat he'd spotted that morning. It was now sitting on his garden wall. He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes. "Shoo!" said Mr. Dursley loudly. The cat didn't move. It just gave him a stern look. Was this normal cat behavior? Mr. Dursley wondered.
McGonagall's face answered Vernon Dursley's question rather quickly. She had not been impressed with the Dursley male's attitude.
Harry let out a small giggle. He had a pretty good idea of who that cat was. Unfortunately this just instigated another round of harsh coughs that he couldn't hold back. He put his hand in front of his mouth to hide the blood splatters as his frail body wracked with an agonized coughing fit. His lungs felt like they were being torn apart and his eyes were streaming from the pain.
Ron was in a panic! Never before had he felt so dreadfully and utterly helpless. He could do nothing but hold Harry and wait the attack out. He rubbed Harry's back soothingly and whispered nonsense in his ear. He glanced around and saw that many of the students around them were looking at Harry in alarm and concern but it didn't seem that the fit attracted anyone else's attention besides those that sat nearer to them.
Finally it was all over and Harry collapsed into Ron's arms, gasping for breath and whimpering from the pain in his chest. He was so exhausted that he didn't even notice when Ron reached up to carefully wipe the blood from Harry's lips. He reached out and took the cool cloth that a teary-eyed Hermione handed him and began to wipe at Harry's clammy forehead. He wasn't paying attention to the book at the moment; he was far more concerned about the delicate boy in his arms.
Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house. He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife. Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, normal day. She told him over dinner all about Mrs. Next Door's problems with her daughter and how Dudley had learned a new word ("Won't!").
The professors were not impressed by this. How could anyone want their child to grow up with no manners or common courtesy? McGonagall's lips thinned and Snape sneered dangerously, both very glad that they did not have to put up with the brat.
Mr. Dursley tried to act normally. When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report on the evening news:
"And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation's owls have been behaving very unusually today. Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundreds of sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise. Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern." The newscaster allowed himself a grin. "Most mysterious. And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather. Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?"
"Well, Ted," said the weatherman, "I don't know about that, but it's not only the owls that have been acting oddly today. Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire, and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they've had a downpour of shooting stars! Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early - it's not until next week, folks! But I can promise a wet night tonight."
Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair. Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight? Mysterious people in cloaks all over the place? And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters...
Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea. It was no good. He'd have to say something to her. He cleared his throat nervously.
"Er - Petunia, dear - you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you?" As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. After all, they normally pretended she didn't have a sister.
"No," she said sharply. "Why?"
"Funny stuff on the news," Mr. Dursley mumbled. "Owls... Shooting stars... And there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today... "
"So?" snapped Mrs. Dursley.
"Well, I just thought... Maybe... It was something to do with... You know... Her crowd."
"What is that supposed to mean?" asked Hermione. "He makes us sound like criminals !"
"What an arse!"
"Ronald!" Harry tried not to laugh at his friends. His chest still hurt too much.
Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips. Mr. Dursley wondered whether he dared tell her he'd heard the name "Potter." He decided he didn't dare. Instead he said, as casually as he could,
"Their son -he'd be about Dudley's age now, wouldn't he?"
"I suppose so," said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.
"What's his name again? Howard, isn't it?"
"Harry. Nasty, common name, if you ask me. "
"Actually, your full, legal name is Hadrian Azrael James Potter. It is pureblood custom to have two middle names but they are rarely used on a day to day basis. They are usually reserved for formal events and announcements." Surprisingly, it was Malfoy who had offered this little known fact. "Some people choose to use their full name but it is not legally necessary. If a name is not actively used the easiest way to find out is by looking at someone's birth announcement or certificate." Harry was looking up at him, wide eyed as were many other half bloods and muggleborns who were unaware of this.
'Azrael? Where had that come from?' He thought, and then shrugged. 'I like Hadrian better.'
"Oh, yes," said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly. "Yes, I quite agree. "He didn't say another word on the subject as they went upstairs to bed. While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and peered down into the front garden. The cat was still there. It was staring down Privet Drive as though it were waiting for something. Was he imagining things? Could all this have anything to do with the Potters? If it did... If it got out that they were related to a pair of - well, he didn't think he could bear it.
Many in the hall looked like they were about to blow up in fury. Who was this poor excuse for a man to act like having magic was a disease or a crime against nature?
Harry looked down, trying to hide the tears in his eyes. Even after everything the Dursleys had done to him, it still hurt to hear that he never had a chance for them to see him as real family. Ron rubbed circles on his back, trying to comfort him and leaned down to kiss the top of his head.
The Dursleys got into bed. Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind. His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near him and Mrs. Dursley.
"Wonder if he's got a handbook on all the stuff that is normal and can't possibly exist." Seamus muttered darkly. No one was in the mood to crack jokes anymore. Seamus felt bad about all of the lousy things he had said to and about Harry. He just hadn't worked up the nerve to apologize yet.
The Potters knew very well what he and Petunia thought about them and their kind... He couldn't see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on - he yawned and turned over - it couldn't affect them... How very wrong he was.
Harry gave a vindictive little smirk that was hidden by his redheaded teddy bear. He felt no remorse at all at having ruined their picture perfect, pathetic little lives. For the longest time he was hurt and sad that the Dursleys couldn't be bothered to show him an ounce of kindness, but he had finally come to the realization that there was nothing he could do and that was just the kind of people they were. It hurt and he was very bitter towards them but he no longer blamed himself or longed for something that he could never have.
Mr. Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It was sitting as still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn't so much as quiver when a car door slammed on the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead. In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.
"Creepy" The Wealsey twins said in unison.
Mr. Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness. It was sitting as still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn't so much as quiver when a car door slammed on the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead. In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all. A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you'd have thought he'd just popped out of the ground. The cat's tail twitched and its eyes narrowed. Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt. He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice. This man's name was Albus Dumbledore.
The students looked up at Dumbledore, wondering what he was doing at the crazy muggle's house in the middle of the night. Harry, his face mostly hidden in Ron's robes glared darkly at Dumbledore through long black eyelashes. He had been quite angry at Dumbledore for ignoring him but he hadn't realized that he was the one to leave him at the Dursleys! Harry was not going to let Dumbledore get away with not explaining himself!
Albus Dumbledore didn't seem to realize that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome.
"There were more important things that night than my attire." Dumbledore said as though he were commenting on the weather. His eyes however, had dulled their twinkling. He felt a feeling of foreboding the longer these books talked about the Dursleys. He desperately hoped he had not made a mistake in placing Harry with them.
He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something. But he did seem to realize he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street. For some reason, the sight of the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered,
"I should have known." He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with a little pop. He clicked it again - the next lamp flickered into darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn't be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement.
The twins eyes widened excitedly, "Professor how did you do that!" Dumbledore chuckled,
"It is a rather fantastic device of my own invention." He looked at the two mischief-makers in amusement. He had a feeling he would be lynched by his own staff if he were to tell the boys how his Deluminator worked. Fred and George looked enviously at Dumbledore. Oh, the mischief they could cause with such a splendiferous device!
Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn't look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
"Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall." He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes. She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun. She looked distinctly ruffled.
Harry giggled. He could never imagine Professor McGonagall looking ruffled. He hadn't known she had been with Dumbledore that night.
"How did you know it was me?" she asked. "My dear Professor, I've never seen a cat sit so stiffly."
The Headmaster popped a lemon drop into his mouth, innocently, deliberately avoiding the annoyed Transfiguration teacher's gaze.
"You'd be stiff if you'd been sitting on a brick wall all day," said Professor McGonagall.
"All day? When you could have been celebrating? I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here." Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.
Harry glared bitterly. How he hated that everyone celebrated the day Voldemort was defeated, albeit temporarily, when it was on that day that he lost his family. It made him sick when he saw the festivities on Halloween. From the candy gorging children to the drunken adults; none of them remembered the people that lost their lives that night or those whose families were torn apart. They just celebrated!
"Oh yes, everyone's celebrating, all right," she said impatiently. "You'd think they'd be a bit more careful, but no - even the Muggles have noticed something's going on. It was on their news." She jerked her head back at the Dursleys' dark living-room window.
"I heard it. Flocks of owls... Shooting stars... Well, they're not completely stupid.
Malfoy coughed innocently and smirked.
They were bound to notice something. Shooting stars down in Kent - I'll bet that was Dedalus Diggle. He never had much sense."
"You can't blame them," said Dumbledore gently. "We've had precious little to celebrate for eleven years."
"I know that," said Professor McGonagall irritably. "But that's no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumors." She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn't, so she went on." A fine thing it would be if, on the very day You Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?"
"It certainly seems so," said Dumbledore.
Harry's face dropped even further but Umbridge looked positively gleeful as she crowed out that sentence.
"We have much to be thankful for. Would you care for a lemon drop?"
"A lemon drop. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of."
"No, thank you," said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn't think this was the moment for lemon drops. "As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone -"
"My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name? All this 'You-Know-Who' nonsense - for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort." Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice. "It all gets so confusing if we keep saying 'You-Know-Who.' I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort's name."
"I know you haven't," said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring. "But you're different. Everyone knows you're the only one You-Know-oh, all right, Voldemort, was frightened of. "
"You flatter me," said Dumbledore calmly. "Voldemort had powers I will never have."
"That's only because Dumbledore would never use them." Hermione said quietly.
"Only because you're too - well - noble to use them."
"It's lucky it's dark. I haven't blushed so much since Madam Pomfrey told me she liked my new earmuffs." Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said,
"The owls are nothing next to the rumors that are flying around. You know what everyone's saying? About why he's disappeared? About what finally stopped him?"
Harry stiffened in Ron's arms, really wishing he was somewhere, anywhere else. He didn't want to listen to this.
It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she was most anxious to discuss, the real reason she had been waiting on a cold, hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did now.
It was plain that whatever "everyone" was saying, she was not going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true. Dumbledore, however, was choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.
"What they're saying," she pressed on, "is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric's Hollow. He went to find the Potters. The rumor is that Lily and James Potter are - are - that they're - dead." Dumbledore bowed his head. Professor McGonagall gasped.
Harry gave a gasp and a tiny whimper, struggling to hold in tears. Ron ran his hands through the smaller boy's long, inky black hair soothingly. His temper was boiling just beneath the surface; he had never felt as much anger towards anyone as he felt toward Umbridge right now. That…woman…was a monster!
"Lily and James... I can't believe it... I didn't want to believe it... Oh, Albus..." Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder.
"I know... I know..." he said heavily. Professor McGonagall's voice trembled as she went on.
"That's not all. They're saying he tried to kill the Potter's son, Harry. But - he couldn't. He couldn't kill that little boy. No one knows why, or how, but they're saying that when he couldn't kill Harry Potter, Voldemort's power somehow broke - and that's why he's gone." Dumbledore nodded glumly.
"It's - it's true?" faltered Professor McGonagall. "After all he's done... All the people he's killed... He couldn't kill a little boy? It's just astounding... Of all the things to stop him... But how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?"
"We can only guess," said Dumbledore. "We may never know."
Harry glared at Dumbledore again. Oh he knew alright, he just refused to tell him. He still thought the whole 'power of love' thing was ridiculous. How many mothers had sacrificed themselves for their children, only for it to be in vain? It just didn't make any sense.
Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles. Dumbledore gave a great sniff as he took a golden watch from his pocket and examined it. It was a very odd watch. It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge. It must have made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his pocket and said,
"Hagrid's late. I suppose it was he who told you I'd be here, by the way?"
"Yes," said Professor McGonagall. "And I don't suppose you're going to tell me why you're here, of all places?"
"I've come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle. They're the only family he has left now."
There were a lot of glares aimed at the headmaster now. Hermione looked like she was ready to use those killer birds on him and Professor McGonagall's lips were so thin you could barely see them at all.
"You don't mean - you can't mean the people who live here?" cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four. "Dumbledore - you can't. I've been watching them all day. You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son - I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets. Harry Potter come and live here!"
"It's the best place for him," said Dumbledore firmly.
"That is complete hogwash!" Ron growled angrily. "He could have gone anywhere! Any wizarding family would be glad to take him in!" He held Harry tighter, only loosening his arms when Harry went into another coughing fit. Ron rubbed his back in apology and glowered at the table.
"His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he's older. I've written them a letter."
Hermione's eyes widened at that.
"Did he really think that you could just explain something like that in a letter?" She said, incredulously.
"Dumbledore isn't exactly known for his consideration of others Hermione." Harry mumbled softly. She looked over at Harry sadly. He looked so pale and tired and was pretty clammy looking as well. She had been researching his symptoms but had yet to find anything that really made sense yet.
"A letter?" repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall. "Really, Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter? These people will never understand him! He'll be famous – a legend - I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future - there will be books written about Harry - every child in our world will know his name!"
Harry grimaced. He hated being famous.
"Exactly," said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses. "It would be enough to turn any boy's head. Famous before he can walk and talk! Famous for something he won't even remember! Can you see how much better off he'll be, growing up away from all that until he's ready to take it?" Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind, swallowed, and then said,
"Yes - yes, you're right, of course. But how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?" She eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry underneath it.
Harry's face fell. He had hoped that McGonagall would have put up more of a fight against him going to the Dursleys, but it seemed that she had just followed along with what Dumbledore thought was best, just like everyone else. Usually at his expense.
"Hagrid's bringing him."
"You think it - wise - to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?"
"I would trust Hagrid with my life," said Dumbledore.
"I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place," said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, "but you can't pretend he's not careless. He does tend to - what was that?" A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them. It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky - and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them.
Harry's eyes widened. It wasn't really a dream! The flying motorcycle was real!
If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing to the man sitting astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide. He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild – long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trash can lids, and his feet in their leather boots were like baby dolphins. In his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets.
Harry pouted when most of the females around him started cooing.
"Hagrid," said Dumbledore, sounding relieved. "At last. And where did you get that motorcycle?"
"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sit," said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got him, sir."
Harry smiled when Sirius was mentioned. This confused a lot of people who still thought the man was a mass murdering, treacherous, raving lunatic.
"No problems, were there?"
"No, sir - house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin' around. He fell asleep as we was flyin' over Bristol."
More cooing. Harry hid in Ron's arms again in embarrassment. Ron was chuckling at Harry.
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of blankets. Inside, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep. Under a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.
"Is that where -?" whispered Professor McGonagall.
"Yes," said Dumbledore. "He'll have that scar forever."
"Couldn't you do something about it, Dumbledore?"
"Even if I could, I wouldn't."
Harry looked at Dumbledore, extremely upset. 'He didn't even try!'
"Scars can come in handy. I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground. Well - give him here, Hagrid - we'd better get this over with." Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned toward the Dursleys' house.
"Could I - could I say good-bye to him, sir?" asked Hagrid. He bent his great, shaggy head over Harry and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss. Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog.
"Shhh!" hissed Professor McGonagall, "you'll wake the Muggles!"
"S-s-sorry, "sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it. "But I c-c-can't stand it - Lily an' James dead - an' poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles - "
"Yes, yes, it's all very sad, but get a grip on yourself, Hagrid, or we'll be found." Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door. He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry's blankets, and then came back to the other two. For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid's shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from Dumbledore's eyes seemed to have gone out.
"Well," said Dumbledore finally, "that's that. We've no business staying here. We may as well go and join the celebrations."
"Wait! You mean you just left him there?" Ron shouted, his control finally snapping. Hermione looked like she wanted to start shouting along with him. Only her respect for authority kept her from actually addressing the professors in such a way.
"Anything could have happened to him! It was November for bloody sake!"
"Mr. Weasley! You will watch your language!" said Professor McGonagall indignantly.
"No Minerva, he is right. I admit it was a short sight on my part. We were very careless leaving an unattended baby on a doorstep in the beginning of winter." The Headmaster said. He truly looked guilty but he still refused to look at Harry at all.
"Yeah," said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, "I'll be takin' Sirius his bike back. G'night, Professor McGonagall - Professor Dumbledore, sir." Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and off into the night.
"I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall," said Dumbledore, nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply. Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the street. He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.
"Good luck, Harry," he murmured. He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone.
'Gee, thanks Professor!' Harry thought bitterly.
A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs. Dursley's screams she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley... He couldn't know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices:
"To Harry Potter - the boy who lived!"
Umbridge put the book down with a sour face. She wanted dirt on that brat! She scowled as Dumbledore stood to address the students.
"I am sure that you are all hungry, so we will take a 1 hour break for lunch and to stretch your legs." He waved his arms and food appeared on the tables.
I am soooo sorry! This should not have taken as long as it did! I want to know if you would rather I got through the whole book or went more into the plot and just see how far into the HP book they get. I think I may do chapters without reading in it to get the story moving along. There is a poll on my profile.
Please review! :-)