Summer at Potter Manor
by Healer Pomfrey
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I am not a native speaker of English. Please excuse my mistakes.
'And I'm not going back to the Dursleys,' Harry swore to himself, as he sat between Hermione and the Weasley twins at the leaving feast after his second Hogwarts year. 'I'm going to spend the holidays in the magical world.'
"Harry, are you feeling all right?" Hermione suddenly queried. "You're very absentminded tonight."
"Ah I'm just looking forward to the summer," Harry replied in a voice, which only Hermione would be able to comprehend as completely ironic.
The girl let out a long sigh. "I wished I could help you," she whispered, casting him a compassionate look.
"Come with me," Harry replied and rose from his chair, noticing in relief that his best friend immediately followed him, while Ron merely looked questioningly, before he happily led his fork full of shepherd's pie into his mouth.
In order to be sure that no one could overhear them, Harry motioned Hermione into an unused classroom.
"What's wrong, Harry?" Hermione queried, casting a silencing spell at the door.
"I just had an idea," Harry admitted, unsurely. "I don't want to return to the Dursleys, so from King's Cross I'll just go to the Leaky Cauldron and ask for a room. Do you think anyone would find me if I remained there over the holidays?"
Hermione rolled her eyes in apparent annoyance. "Harry, that would be the first place, where Professor Dumbledore was going to look for you," she replied in concern. She remained thoughtful for a few minutes, before she spoke up again. "Harry, you told me that your parents left you several vaults, of which you can only access one right now. But did they not leave you any building like..." She scrunched her face in thought, before she continued, "I think I've read something about a Potter Manor in one of the history books."
'Wow, that's a great idea,' Harry thought. "Do you think the goblins would know if they had left me any houses?"
"Yes, they'd surely know, and if you speak with them and insist that they keep the information about your conversation for themselves, they won't give you out to Dumbledore or any other wizard," Hermione said, smiling reassuringly. "I think you can trust them. Oh well, I've never spoken to any goblin; it's just from what I read about them and their relationship to wizards and witches."
"All right, then I'll go to Gringotts and speak with them," Harry decided, absentmindedly rubbing his forehead.
"Harry," Hermione asked, sighing, "do you still have that headache?"
"Yes, but it's all right. It's not so bad," Harry replied, inwardly groaning in annoyance. 'Well, I hope that it'll go away soon, but there's no need to make a fuss about a mere headache,' he thought.
"Harry, just promise me one thing," Hermione spoke up again. "Take Hedwig with you and write to me every other day. Tell me where you are and if you're all right. Otherwise I'd be too worried."
Harry sighed. "Thanks Mione... for caring," he replied in a soft voice. "There's just one problem with that." Seeing the girl eye him with a questioning expression, he explained, "Hedwig would attract too much attention. Many people know that she's my familiar. No, you take Hedwig with you, and I'll find some way to contact you. In the worst case, I can just buy another owl."
"Hmmm, maybe rather a raven or something then, so that Hedwig won't be jealous like she'd probably be if you bought another owl," Hermione advised him, before she glanced at her watch, realising that it was almost curfew.
Harry spent the night sitting on his bed practising a shrinking charm in order to be able to easily take his trunk with him without attracting attention. It was almost morning when he was contented with the result of his efforts.
"Harry, what happened?" Hermione asked, worriedly. "You look awful. Did you sleep at all?"
"Ah just couldn't sleep much, but it's all right," Harry replied, resolving to use the train ride to get some much needed rest.
When the Hogwarts Express made its way into platform nine and three quarters, Harry could not help feeling uncertain and excited at the same time. Together with Hermione and Ron, he greeted the Weasleys, before he walked in the direction of the exit towards the Muggle platform and unobtrusively threw his invisibility cloak over himself.
'All right, everyone saw that I arrived here,' he mused. 'Maybe it would have been better to make them believe I wasn't on the train at all. Oh well, it's too late anyway. Now how to get to the Leaky Cauldron?' He carefully stepped out of the station, trying to remember where he had walked together with Hagrid almost two years ago.
To his relief, he fairly easily found the way to the Leaky Cauldron, which fortunately was not crowded yet at this time of the early evening.
"Excuse me, sir, may I speak with you in private for a minute?" he quickly addressed Tom, the owner of the pub, who nodded immediately and led him into an empty back room.
"I need a room," Harry said, hesitantly, "maybe only for a night, but maybe for the whole summer holidays, and none of the Hogwarts professors must know about it, please."
"Running away?" Tom replied, smirking.
"Yes, from my horrible Muggle relatives," Harry admitted in a small voice.
Tom nodded in understanding and gave him a small room with a window leading out into Diagon Alley.
Harry thanked the man profusely and instructed him to take the money for the rent from the Potter vault.
"You're welcome, Mr. Potter," Tom replied in a friendly voice. "If you want a meal in your room, considering that you're hiding from the Hogwarts staff, just call my house-elf Lisa. She'll be happy to serve you."
When Tom had left, after kindly enlarging Harry's trunk, Harry sat on the edge of his bed and pondered what to do. He still had a headache, but he was not tired anymore after sleeping through the train ride, so he decided to go and see if Gringotts was still open. Just to be sure that he remained unseen, he left the Leaky Cauldron under his invisibility cloak, heading first to the bank. However, to his disappointment, Gringotts was already closed. 'Oh well, I'll just have to come back in the morning,' he thought and walked in the opposite direction, straight into Muggle London to have dinner in a Muggle restaurant, where no one was likely to recognise him. 'Thank Merlin I changed some Galleons into Muggle money last summer,' he thought as he looked around the street with interest.
His belly full with some kind of Chinese food, which he had never eaten before but liked immediately, he finally returned to his room, where he went straight to bed.
After a night full of nightmares about basilisks and Potions Masters, who were chasing him around Diagon Alley, Harry made his way to Gringotts first thing in the morning.
"My name's Harry Potter and I'd like to enquire about my heritage, if possible in some kind of private environment, sir," he addressed the goblin sitting in front of him.
"How old are you, Mr. Potter?" the goblin queried, wearing a blank expression.
"I'm going to be thirteen next month," Harry replied, trying to sound more confident than he felt.
"One moment," the goblin replied, before he went to the back of the room and returned with another goblin in tow. "Buckbean will help you, Mr. Potter."
"Mr. Potter, please follow me," Buckbean instructed him and led him to a small conference room, where he motioned the boy to take a seat. "My name is Buckbean, and I'm responsible for all the Potter vaults and possessions," he introduced himself, sounding very business-like to Harry. "In which matter would you like to speak with me today?"
"I have a question, and I'm glad to know that you'll be able to help me, sir," Harry replied, smiling at the goblin, who seemed very friendly. "I'd like to know if my parents left me any house, in which I could live, for example during the summer holidays," he explained, hesitantly.
"Mr. Potter, please wait a moment, while I fetch my documents of all your belongings," Buckbean said, thoughtfully. "There are several houses, but it probably depends on your age when you'll be able to access these buildings." With that he left the room, returning about ten minutes later with a thick folder.
'Thank Merlin I came here,' Harry thought, feeling extremely grateful to Hermione. 'She always has the best ideas.'
"Look here, Mr. Potter," Buckbean brought him back to reality.
Harry looked at the parchment on the table in front of himself, seeing a list of at least six different buildings. 'Wow,' he thought, giving the goblin a questioning look.
"These buildings are all yours," Buckbean informed him. "However, this one," he pointed to the third in the list, "is in France, and the last one in Italy. These two you'll only be able to access from the age of seventeen onwards. In the other houses you could theoretically stay right away, with the exception of number five on the list, which is the house in Godric's Hollow, which has been destroyed to a great extent and is not safe to access."
"Do I have enough money to have the house repaired?" Harry queried, feeling slightly attracted to the house, in which he had lived as a baby.
"Yes, you can easily afford having the house repaired," Buckbean said, thoughtfully. "However, if you're looking for a place to stay during the school holidays, I'd recommend Potter Manor."
'Potter Manor sounds so big for just me alone,' Harry thought and asked, "Excuse me, sir, but why the Manor?"
A small smile played on the goblin's face, when he replied, "Because there are house-elves looking after the Manor, who'd happily serve you. It's better for a boy of your age to live in a place that is looked after by house-elves than staying just on your own."
"I have house-elves, sir?" Harry queried in disbelief.
"Yes, there are at least a dozen house-elves," Buckbean informed him. He remained thoughtful for a moment, before he asked, "Is it correct that Professor Dumbledore is your guardian in the magical world?"
Harry let out a long sigh. "Yes sir, but I don't want him to know about this. He insists that I have to stay with my relatives, but they hate me because of being magical, and I decided to not return there this summer. Professor Dumbledore mustn't know about our conversation here let alone about my whereabouts during this summer."
Buckbean smirked. "Yes Mr. Potter, I understand. Let me assure you that the goblins value their customer's privacy to a great extent. Therefore, no one at Gringotts will give any information about you to the Headmaster. We could even place Potter Manor under the Fidelius charm to prevent him or anyone of his staff from accessing the place. Do you know what the Fidelius charm is?"
"No sir," Harry replied, questioningly.
"You will need a secret keeper, and I'd cast a charm at the Manor, so that only those people can access it, who received the address from your secret keeper," Buckbean explained, patiently.
"Oh that would be awesome," Harry replied, thoughtfully. 'Who should I ask to become the secret keeper?' he wondered. 'Hermione, but she'd have to come to the Manor with us. I hope she won't mind.'
"You must choose a person, whom you trust completely," Buckbean instructed him, patiently waiting, while Harry let his most trustworthy friends pass in front of his mind.
"I'd like to ask Hermione Granger to become my secret keeper, sir, but her parents are Muggles, so it's not easy to contact her and ask her to come to the Manor," he said, pensively. "Alternatively, I could ask the Weasley twins."
"If your Muggle born friend doesn't mind, I can take you to her home to ask her, and if she agrees, we can go to Potter Manor together and set up the charm, either right away or any other day," Buckbean offered gently.
Somehow, Harry had the impression as if the decision was being taken out of his hand; however, on the other hand, he was grateful for the goblin's help. "This is so very sudden," he stammered, "but yes please. That would be great."
"Very well," Buckbean said, nodding contentedly. He once more skimmed the page about the buildings, before he closed the folder and brought it away. When he returned, he instructed Harry to firmly grip his arm. "I'll apparate us to Ms. Granger's home; however, you have to help me and concentrate on your friend in order for me to be able to apparate there."
"Excuse me, sir," Harry replied, already extending his arm to hold on to the goblin. "Will you also apparate us to the Manor? And how am I supposed to get to and from the Manor without you, sir?"
The goblin smirked. "You'll be able to use the Floo network from the fireplace at Potter Manor. I'm certain that the house-elves will be more than happy to assist you."
"Okay," Harry said, convinced, and held on to the goblin's arm. 'To Hermione please, my best friend and the most awesome witch of our year,' he thought.
An instant later, Harry found himself standing next to Buckbean in front of the Grangers' entrance door. He hesitantly rang the bell, hoping that the Grangers were at home.
"Harry!" Hermione shouted, excitedly, as she opened the door.
"Hi Mione," Harry replied, smiling. "This is Mr. Buckbean from Gringotts," he quickly explained. "I need your help."
"Of course," Hermione replied, seemingly happy at the sight of her friend. "Please come in. My parents will return from work in a few minutes too."
Harry quickly explained the reason for their visit, and Hermione immediately agreed to become his secret keeper.
"Mr. Buckbean," she finally addressed the goblin, "is there any possibility to connect our Muggle fireplace here to the magical Floo network or at least to the fireplace at Potter Manor? I'd like to keep an eye on my friend here."
"Show me your fireplace," the goblin demanded and took a close look at the fireplace, before he said thoughtfully, "It should be possible; however, I need your parents' consent for this."
Fortunately, the Grangers chose that instant to step into the room, and Hermione hurried to introduce Harry and Buckbean and explain everything to them.
Finally, Mr. Granger turned to the goblin. "My wife and I are both Muggles," he spoke up. "Would you please inform us about the exact advantages and disadvantages of all these suggested measures?"
"There are no disadvantages," the goblin reassured him and once again explained in his words about the Fidelius charm as well as the Floo network.
"Maybe you could set the Floo so that it's just connected to Potter Manor, and if you want to travel anywhere else in the magical world, you could go there from Potter Manor," Harry finally suggested. "Since Potter Manor belongs to me, you can access it at any time and even travel to Hogsmeade from there to meet Hermione on the Hogsmeade weekends."
"Aww Harry, that's an awesome idea," Hermione blurted out, giving her parents an enthusiastic smile.
"Very well then, please connect our fireplace to Potter Manor, sir," Mr. Granger instructed Buckbean, who had followed the whole conversation with an unreadable expression.
Ten minutes later, the fireplace flared green, and Buckbean announced, "You can now travel from here to Potter Manor. I suggest that Mr. Potter goes ahead, I follow him, and Ms. Granger leaves after me."
"Excuse me, sir, but Mrs. and Mr. Granger could come with us, couldn't they?" Harry queried, looking from one to the other.
"Yes of course," Buckbean assured him. "Would you like to join us?"
"Yes Mum and Dad, come with us," Hermione threw in, excitedly.
After several more minutes of convincing the Grangers, the whole group took the Floo to Potter Manor.
As soon as Harry stepped out of the fireplace, several house-elves popped up and gathered around himself.
"Master Harry! Welcome to Potter Manor!" an elder female elf greeted him. "I'm Gina, the head elf of Potter Manor, and we're all very happy to see you here."
"Thank you all," Harry replied and instructed the elves to not bow in front of him, before he introduced Buckbean and the Grangers.
'These elves seem really happy to see me,' he mused, noticing that they were all wearing the same light blue jump suit with an identical crest, 'probably the Potter crest.'
The goblin motioned the elves to take the Grangers to the parlour and serve tea, while he headed outside together with Hermione and Harry in order to cast the Fidelius charm.
"Will my parents be all right inside?" Hermione asked, worriedly, however, relaxed, when the goblin replied affirmatively.
'This house is enormous,' Harry mused, as he stepped outside and walked behind his best friend and the goblin like in a trance, taking in the large, three stored building with small towers at all four corners in surprise. 'It's like a castle. I'm going to get lost here just on my own.'
The goblin cast the charm, before he handed Hermione an empty parchment, a quill as well as a small parchment with an address on it. "You have to copy this address onto your parchment and show it to those, whom you want to be able to access this Manor."
Hermione obediently wrote the address and asked, "Do I have to show this parchment to everyone, or is it all right if I just write the address for them on a different piece of parchment?"
"The only important thing is that you must write the address," Buckbean explained, patiently. "My parchment, from which you just copied the address, wouldn't help anyone. You could also just tell someone the address; however, this might be dangerous in case someone overhears you."
"No sir, I won't do that," Hermione replied, nodding in understanding.
"Thank you so much, sir, for all your help," Harry said gratefully, when they accompanied Buckbean back to the fireplace.
"You're very welcome, Mr. Potter," Buckbean replied and handed Hermione a small box. "Floo powder. You'll need it at your parents' house," he explained upon her questioning look, before he stepped into the fireplace and returned to Gringotts.
"Harry, this is totally awesome," Hermione blurted out. "You've got a whole castle to live in."
"Yes, it's too cool," Harry replied, smiling at the excited girl. "I hope you and your parents can visit me every so often. Or maybe you could even stay with me for a few weeks, if your parents don't mind."
"Well, considering that they could just take the Floo to their practice, it shouldn't be a problem," Hermione replied, happily. "Let's see where they are."
"Gina," Harry called the elf, who had introduced herself earlier.
Instantly, the small elf appeared in front of him, bowing deeply. "What can Gina do for Master Harry and his friend?" she asked, eagerly.
"No Gina, please don't bow," Harry said, frowning. "This is Hermione Granger, my best friend. Could you please take us to Hermione's parents, and would it be possible to get something to eat?" he asked, uncertainly.
"Of course Master Harry, we'll serve lunch for you and your visitors in a blink," Gina promised and led the two students into the parlour.
"I'm sorry for all the ruckus," Harry apologized to the Grangers.
"No my dear, we're glad to see you," Mrs. Granger replied, gently. "Hermione has been speaking about you in every single letter, and since we only barely saw each other last year, when we met at the bookshop in Diagon Alley, I was hoping to be able to speak with you this summer."
"Harry invited us to stay here with him for a while," Hermione threw in quickly. "At least I'd like to stay and explore the Manor together with him. This is an absolutely awesome place."
"Is it a castle?" Mr. Granger enquired, curiously. "And it belongs to you alone?"
"It's a Manor, sir; however, it seems to be very large," Harry replied in confusion, "and yes, since I don't have any family left, I'm the only owner."
All of a sudden, a house-elf popped up, bowing deeply. "Nina is sorry to disturb Master Harry and his guests, but lunch is being served in the dining room. Nina would like to take you to the dining room."
"Thank you Nina," Harry said warmly, quirking an eyebrow at Hermione, as the four followed the elf through a huge entrance hall into what seemed to be the dining room. 'Wow, this is too impressive,' he mused. 'I love this place, although it's much too big for me.'
To his surprise, the table was full with different bowls and plates of all possible kinds of food, 'like at Hogwarts,' he realised and was just about to take a seat, when a stern voice suddenly spoke up.
"Whoever you are, don't you think it would be adequate to introduce yourself to us?"
Harry hurriedly turned around in shock, facing an older couple in a life size picture. 'It must have been the old wizard who just said that,' he realised and quickly apologized. "Please accept my apology, sir. I am Harry Potter, the son of Lily Evans and James Potter, and I just came here to this awesome Manor for the first time. Therefore, I'm very excited and forgot my manners. This is my best friend, Hermione Granger, and her parents, Mrs. and Mr. Granger."
"Very well son, I don't know how your father raised you, but it's custom to introduce oneself to all the portraits here on the ground floor when visiting for the first time," the old wizard said, grumpily.
"Now now Arthur," his wife threw in, soothingly. "You can see that the boy is very uncertain, and seeing that he's all on his own without any adult Potter at his young age, he probably doesn't have anyone to properly introduce him to wizarding behaviour."
Apparently noticing that Harry was unsure how to behave, she instructed him in a gentle voice, "Now first of all enjoy your lunch with your guests, and afterwards, you go and introduce yourself to your ancestors."
"All right," Harry replied, gratefully. "Thank you Madame." Exchanging an annoyed glance with Hermione, he thought, 'Let's just hope that my other many times great grandparents are not that unfriendly.'
After lunch, the Grangers returned to their home, stating that they had to go back to work.
"Mum, Dad, can we stay here for a few weeks?" Hermione begged them on the way back to the fireplace.
Seeing how excited their little girl was, the Grangers could not deny her request, however, explained that they'd only be able to stay overnight from the following week onwards, when they were on holidays."Did you not want to travel to France next week?" Mr. Granger asked his daughter.
"Oh well, I wanted, but staying here is at least as good as going anywhere, and I'd prefer the Manor over any other place," Hermione replied, happily, only to add, "But I can stay right away, and you can come and visit us after work?"
"Mr. Potter, are you sure that you want my daughter to stay with you, considering that she is a bookworm and an insufferable know-it-all, like she told us how the Potions professor calls her?" Mr. Granger enquired, giving Harry a sharp look.
"Mr. Granger, Hermione is my close friend, and she's the best of our class. I don't care what anyone calls her, because it's just not true, and the Potions professor is a git anyway," Harry replied, grinning. "I'd be more than happy to have Hermione here as well as you whenever you have time."
The Grangers agreed, smiling, before Mr. Granger stepped into the fireplace and accepted the Floo powder from Hermione. However, he suddenly asked, "What am I supposed to shout now?"
"Oops," Harry said in confusion. "Sorry, we completely forgot to ask Buckbean about that. Let me ask the house-elves." He called Gina, who appeared in a blink.
"Try 'The Grangers' home'. This should work," she advised Mr. Granger, who thanked the elf profusely, before he vanished in the flames, causing Hermione and Harry to exchange a relieved look.
"Mrs. Granger, wait!" Harry suddenly shouted, before he turned to Hermione. "Did you show your parents the parchment with the address? Otherwise they might not be able to come back."
"Oh no," Hermione groaned, quickly pulling the parchment out of her jeans pocket. She handed it to her mother. "Here Mum, take this with you and also show it to Dad. Afterwards please destroy it to prevent anyone else from gaining access here."
"Your parents are really nice," Harry said in a soft voice, "and I'm glad that they don't have grudges against the magical world like the Dursleys do."
"Yes, they're awesome," Hermione agreed, smiling happily. "And I'm very happy that you managed to get away from your horrid relatives and that we can spend the holidays together. This is just too good to be true."
"Yes, it is. Oh well, as long as Dumbledore doesn't find me," Harry replied, smirking.
"Well, he can't find you here," Hermione stated, smiling. "Is there anyone else, whom you want me to give the address though? Perhaps the Weasleys?"
Harry thoughtfully rubbed his forehead, unaware of the fact that Hermione cast him a concerned look. "Maybe better not the Weasleys," he then said. "I don't trust Mrs. Weasley to keep my secret if Dumbledore asks her."
Hermione let out a long sigh. "All right then, you can still think about it at a later time."
Harry nodded, contentedly. "Oh well then, we should probably go and introduce ourselves to my ancestors."
"Yes, that's true," Hermione agreed. "Are you all right though? You don't look well."
"Apart from that stupid headache yes," Harry replied, sighing.
"After greeting the paintings, we're going to explore the Manor. In such a huge Manor, there should be a potions lab, where we can brew a headache potion," Hermione suggested. "Let's go and get over with it then, or do you prefer to go and speak with your ancestors on your own? Maybe it would be better. Perhaps some of them don't appreciate you having a Muggle born friend."
"Nonsense," Harry replied, grumpily. "If they don't like you, I can't help them, and I think during this summer I'm going to have enough time to search for an efficient spell against a painting to keep its inhabitant on his or her edge."
Rolling her eyes in amusement, Hermione quickly followed Harry to greet his ancestors.
In spite of the two friends' concerns, Harry's relatives were all very friendly and seemingly happy to have someone who could tell them the news of the magical world. All of a sudden, Harry found himself standing in front of two persons, whom he had seen before. "Mum, Dad," he blurted out in surprise, knowing his parents from Hagrid's photo album. 'How cool; I didn't even think of the possibility of having a painting of them here,' he thought, happily surprised.
"Welcome to Potter Manor, son," James replied.
"Harry, I'm so happy that you finally made it here," Lily said, smiling. "I was so worried all these years, wondering why neither Sirius nor Alice introduced you to the Manor."
"Sirius? Alice?" Harry queried, giving his mother a questioning look.
"Your godparents," James threw in, impatiently. "Above all, introduce your girlfriend to us. You're mighty young to have a girlfriend though, aren't you?"
"I'm almost thirteen," Harry replied, slightly indignantly.
"James," Lily scolded him in obvious annoyance, playfully slapping his hand.
"Sorry Mum and Dad, this is Hermione, my best friend," Harry replied, blushing terribly at the thought of Hermione being his girlfriend.
"Hello Mrs. and Mr. Potter," Hermione said quietly, glancing at Harry. "Harry was so kind to invite me here. Is it all right for you if I stay here with him?"
"Of course, you're very welcome," James was the first to reply.
"Hello Hermione," Lily greeted the girl, smiling. "I'm more than happy that Harry has found such a fine friend. Are you in the same House at Hogwarts?"
"Yes, we're both Gryffindors," Hermione explained. "We've just finished our second year."
"And Hermione has been the best of our class in both years," Harry informed his parents, feeling somehow proud of his best friend.
"Harry, I'm sorry, but I just have to ask this," Lily suddenly spoke up in a sterner voice. "Do you not know your godparents?"
"No Mum," Harry replied in a subdued voice. "Dumbledore placed me with Aunt Petunia and her horrible husband, and they never told me about the magical world."
"They didn't even allow him to receive his Hogwarts letter, and Hagrid had to come and give it to him personally," Hermione threw in, sounding very upset.
"Dumbledore," James growled. "that stupid old coot."
Harry chuckled at his father's outburst; however Lily said sternly, "Harry, in one of the vaults at Gringotts, you can find our will, and it states explicitly that you're not to be placed with Petunia but with either of your godparents, or, if they can't take you in for some reason, with my other best friends, Minerva or Severus."
"Severus as in Severus Snape, the git of our Potions professor?" Harry blurted out in disbelief. "That man hates me with a passion."
"But he has always tried to keep you safe so far, and I'm sure he wouldn't be so bad if you got to know each other," Hermione threw in, smiling.
"He's just upset because I once saved his life," James explained, "and maybe also because Sirius and I made his life to hell during our Hogwarts time."
"But he was my best friend," Lily said, contemplating. "He's a very good person, even if he doesn't show it easily."
"I'll ask McGonagall about my godparents, when school is going to begin again," Harry promised, unconsciously rubbing his forehead and his eyes that had begun to ache as well.
Seeing that Harry seemed tired, Lily said in a lighter voice, "Oh well my dears, go and explore the Manor, it's a great place, and I hope you're going to have much fun here. If there's anything you need to know, don't hesitate and come to ask us. Or any of the other portraits," she added. "I'm sure everyone will be delighted to help you. Maybe apart from the couple in the dining room. They're your about 5 times..." She cast James a questioning look, who nodded, grumpily, "great grandparents, and he's not the nicest person walking on earth."
James laughed, and Harry and Hermione exchanged a glance. "Sorry for asking this, but when these five times great grandparents are so grumpy, why do they of all my ancestors have their painting in the dining room, where it's inevitable to see them every day?" Harry asked in a small voice. "Wouldn't it be possible to exchange their painting with yours?"
"Yes, I was wondering about that too," Hermione agreed. "The paintings here don't seem to be in a specific order now, are they?"
"No, they're not," James confirmed. "However, this stupid Uncle Arthur seems to have done something about their painting. In fact, I tried to remove it and put it up in the hall here; however, he kept shouting and annoying everyone so much that we couldn't do anything but put them back to where they're now."
"We didn't try anything else though," Lily threw in, thoughtfully. "You know we only had a few months as the owners of this place, before we were murdered, and we were living in Godric's Hollow, so that we only came here occasionally during the weekends."
"That's right, son. Try again. Maybe you can ask the house-elves if they can cast a silencing charm at him if he begins to shout again," James advised his son.
"Personally, I'd love to have our painting in the dining room," Lily spoke up, glancing at her husband. "We'd hear so much more about what's going on, so it would be much more interesting than being here, where everyone just passes by."
"Exactly, even without noticing us," James agreed, glaring at Harry. "We thought it had to be you, when we saw you pass in front of us earlier, but you didn't even bother looking around."
"Ahhh sorry Dad, I didn't even think there might be a painting of the two of you, otherwise I'd have been searching it from the beginning," Harry replied, truthfully.
"I can second that," Hermione spoke up, smiling at Harry's parents.
"I believe that, my dear," Lily said warmly, returning the smile, before she called one of the house-elves and instructed her to prepare the Master bedroom for Harry and the room next to it for his friend.
"Both rooms are already prepared for Master Harry and his guest," the elf replied, bowing, before she motioned Harry and Hermione to follow her to their rooms.
Hermione's room was extremely nice; however, the Master bedroom was the most beautiful room that Harry had ever seen. The wall opposite of the door consisted of glass that allowed a beautiful view on the park and a small lake. A door within the glass wall led out to a large balcony. 'This is beautiful,' Harry mused, letting his eyes wander around the room. The two side walls were painted in white, while the wall next to the door held a pattern of bright blue flowers on white ground. The same pattern found itself again in the curtains, which were draped around a large double bed that occupied the centre of the room. The furniture on both sides of the room was kept in different shades of blue.
"Totally awesome," Hermione blurted out, and Harry could only nod his agreement.
Apparently noticing that he was unable to take his eyes from the bed, which looked incredibly inviting to his achy head, Hermione instructed him, "Harry, lie down and try to sleep for a while. You look as if you need it. In the meantime, I'm going to take the Floo home and fetch my luggage."
"Oh no," Harry suddenly remembered. "I left everything at the Leaky Cauldron. I have to go there and fetch my trunk, too."
"It's all right, we can go there together later on," Hermione said in a soothing voice. "I'd love to go and buy our new school books as well as some other books anyway. But you need some rest first."
Unable to deny that he did not feel overly well, Harry complied, sighing in relief when his achy head came to rest on the most comfortable pillow. 'How strange to have a new home all of a sudden, and then being able to speak with my parents. I'm so happy that I came here, and thank Merlin Hermione is with me. I hope she'll be able to stay the whole holidays. We need to tell the elves to prepare a room for her parents too.' With that he drifted off to a much needed, undisturbed slumber.
Harry's mind turned back to awareness, when he felt a cold hand on his forehead. "Mione," he said, lazily opening his eyes.
"Harry, I'm worried about you," Hermione replied, giving him a sharp look. "You're a bit warm too."
"It's all right," Harry said, sighing. "Did you already go and fetch your luggage?"
"Yes, and I sent Hedwig to you. I wasn't sure if I could bring her through the Floo. My parents came with me by the way. They'd like to accompany us to Diagon Alley," the girl informed him, smiling. "If you feel up to going there at all?"
"Of course, I'd like to go, plus I need to fetch my luggage and speak with Tom anyway."
"Very well then, I'll wait for you in my room." With that Hermione crossed the room towards the door.
"No, sorry Mione, wait a moment," Harry called her back. "I'm wondering about these house-elves. Who is paying them for what they do? Do I have to do anything about them or about the food they cooked for us?"
Hermione let out a long sigh. "I'm sorry, Harry, but I know nothing about house-elves. Maybe it would be the best if we asked your parents on the way downstairs."
"No, you don't have to do anything," James informed him, thoughtfully. "They're all bonded to the Potter family. However, maybe it would be nice if you bonded the elves to you, just for the sole purpose to reassure them that they still belong to the family, even with you as the Head of the House Potter. Gina, the head house-elf of Potter Manor will be able to cast the bonding spell for you. As to the expenses for the Manor, they're automatically taken from the Potter vaults, but you needn't worry about it, as there's enough to last for a lifetime."
"All right Dad, thanks a lot," Harry replied gratefully, feeling very much relieved at the news.
Before Harry, Hermione and the Grangers stepped into the fireplace to travel to the Leaky Cauldron, Harry called Gina and instructed her to prepare the room opposite of Hermione's for the Grangers, in case they decided to stay overnight. He also spoke with her about the bonding, and Gina reassured that she'd be able to cast the spell at any time. Finally, Harry asked about exchanging the portraits of Arthur and his wife with that of his parents, and Gina promised to see what she could do about the paintings.
"I'm sorry to bother you so much," Harry apologized.
"Oh no no no, Master Harry. Gina is very glad to be able to do some work again after many long years," the elf replied with excitement, seeming really happy.
After collecting his belongings and shrinking his trunk again, Harry spoke with Tom and returned the key for the room, thanking the man profusely for his help.
"You're very welcome, little one, and whenever you need anything, feel free to come here," Tom replied in a gentle voice. "Did you find a nice place to stay?"
"I'm staying at Potter Manor," Harry whispered back, "but please keep this information to yourself."
"I will," Tom reassured him, smiling.
"I'm ready," Harry informed the Grangers, who were sitting at a table drinking butterbeer, while they were waiting for him.
"Let's go to Gringotts to exchange some money and then to Flourish & Blotts to buy our new school books," Hermione said in anticipation. "I can't wait to begin reading them."
Harry grinned, as he left the Leaky Cauldron together with the Grangers. 'In case we meet anyone, we can just tell them I came here together with them for the day to buy our school supplies,' he thought, feeling very relaxed in the company of Hermione and her parents.
Harry and Hermione gathered their third year school books, before they eagerly began to skim the shelves for interesting books.
"Maybe we shouldn't buy too many books, as Potter Manor surely has its own library," Hermione suddenly whispered to Harry, who returned a dumb folded look.
"No idea," he said, uncertainly, "but probably you're right." 'As usual,' he thought to himself, sliding the book, which he had just been looking at, back into the shelf. "We shouldn't make your parents wait so long anyway, especially since we'll be able to come back here at any time."
Hermione agreed, and the small group returned to the Leaky Cauldron to take the Floo from there. When they passed in front of the apothecary, Hermione couldn't refrain from asking if Harry wanted to buy a headache potion; however, Harry merely shook his head.
"Tomorrow, we're going to explore the Manor," he promised. "Then we'll see if we have a library as well as a potions lab."
As soon as Harry and the Grangers arrived back at Potter Manor, one of the house-elves appeared in front of them and announced that dinner would be served in the dining room in a few minutes. "Yous have enough time to returns to your rooms and get ready," the elf said in a soft voice, before she bowed and popped away.
Harry and Hermione stopped dead in their tracks upon entering the dining room, staring at the painting of Lily and James in amazement. The painting, which had been in the hall earlier, was now decorating the dining room.
"Aww, Mum, Dad, I'm so happy to have you here," Harry said, happily. "These are the Grangers, Hermione's parents. Mr. and Mrs. Granger, these are Lily and James Potter, my parents."
The Grangers and the Potters exchanged a few words, and the children listened quietly, before Hermione finally said, "It was a good idea to ask Gina about exchanging the paintings. I wonder what the elves have done with your Uncle Arthur though."
James chuckled. "My mother told us, when she visited us here earlier, that the house-elves had to cast a silencing charm on Arthur. Not on his wife though. She's very polite."
"Yes, she was nice to us too," Harry agreed, smiling at his parents, before he turned to the table.
Dinner was as delicious as it used to be at Hogwarts, and before Harry could even wonder how to spend the rest of the evening, James suggested to take his guests to the recreation room.
"The recreation room?" Harry queried, quirking an eyebrow at his father, who shouted for Gina and instructed her to take Harry and the Grangers to the recreation room.
"Your grandfather arranged the room and equipped it with a Muggle TV as well as some self updating TV games, which your father used to play together with his friends," Gina explained on the way upstairs. "There is also Wizard's Chess and several other magical and non magical games available."
"I thought Muggle devices wouldn't work in the magical world," Hermione spoke up, giving the elf a questioning look.
"Yes Mistress Hermione, that is correct," Gina replied in a soft voice. "However, Master Harold spent much time making these devices to work through a charm. He'd have done anything for little Master James."
The recreation room was situated in the tower at the end of the floor, in which their bedrooms were. It was a large, round chamber, equipped with several comfortable seats and sofas along with the devices and games, which Gina had promised.
"Harry, this room is as awesome as the rest of the Manor, at least the parts, which we've seen so far," Hermione blurted out, while Mr. Granger proceeded to switch on the TV.
While the Grangers watched the news on TV, Hermione and Harry began to play Wizard's Chess, which caught soon the interest of the adults.
"White queen to E5," Mr. Granger suddenly threw in, oblivious to the fact that he had spoken aloud, before the white queen indeed moved to the instructed position.
"Thanks Dad," Hermione spoke up in confusion. "Now that's strange, because I was sure that we make them move with our magic. I didn't think Muggles were able to play Wizard's Chess."
Seeing the girl look at him questioningly, Harry replied, "Maybe your father is a wizard."
"Harry," Hermione scolded him lightly. "By my parents' age, you'd think you'd have noticed if you were a wizard, don't you think so, Mum and Dad?"
Harry let out a snort. "I wouldn't be too sure about that. Maybe some people's magic only manifest later than others'. No idea though." He shrugged. "If you don't know if it's possible, then who'd know?"
"I'll ask Professor McGonagall," Hermione replied in determination. "Dad, would you mind continuing to play for me?"
"If it still works," Mr. Granger replied, laughing, and continued to play with Harry, who finally lost the game.
"Mione, wouldn't it be easier if you gave your father your wand and let him try if he could cast the Lumos charm?" Harry suddenly asked, causing Hermione to look up from her letter.
"Yes," she agreed. "That would definitely be better, as I can't very well tell Professor McGonagall that I was playing Wizard's Chess with you." She handed her wand to her father and instructed him how to cast Lumos.
An instant later, the tip of her wand lit, making Hermione and Harry stare at Mr. Granger in disbelief.
"Congratulations Mr. Granger, you're a wizard," Harry was the first to find words.
"This is just... amazing," Mr. Granger replied, glancing at his wife, who returned a proud smile.
Harry and the Grangers spent the rest of the evening speaking about magic and the wizarding world, and Hermione even managed to convince her parents to stay overnight and only return home in time for work.
In the morning, Hermione and Harry ate breakfast together with the Grangers in the dining room, before the two adults took the Floo home to head to their practice.
"Harry, are you sure that you don't mind having us all here?" Mrs. Granger asked kindly, before she followed her husband into the fireplace.
"Yes Madame, I'm certain," Harry replied, smiling. "I'm very happy to have you all here. These are my best summer holidays ever."
As soon as her mother vanished in the flames, Hermione turned to Harry in concern, having noticed that he barely ate anything at breakfast and that his face was extremely pale with dark rings under his eyes. "Harry, you look awful, even worse than yesterday if that's possible. Come with me to your bedroom and let me check on you, so that we know what potions to brew if we find a potions lab."
"No, I'm fine," Harry replied in annoyance. "Let's go and explore the Manor."
"Only after I check on you," Hermione replied firmly.
Harry opened his mouth to protest; however, he gave up all attempts the instant she placed her cold hand on his forehead. Feeling too miserable to fight with the girl, he obediently accompanied her back to his bedroom and stretched out on his bed.
"Harry, will I be able to call the house-elves, or does it have to be you?" Hermione queried, uncertainly, causing Harry to give her a questioning look.
"No idea, but just try to call Gina," he finally replied.
"Gina!" Hermione called the head house-elf, who popped up instantly.
"Good morning Mistress Hermione. What can Gina do for Mistress Hermione and Master Harry?"
"Thank you for coming, Gina," Hermione replied in a soft voice. "I think that Harry is not well and would like to check his temperature. Do you have a thermometer?"
"Yes," Gina replied and popped away, only to return an instant later with the requested item.
Hermione thanked the elf, before she proceeded to ask whether there was a potions lab and a library at Potter Manor, smiling when Gina reassured her that she could find both at the Manor and that she should just call for a house-elf in order to be taken there. "If you call Tipsy, she'll be able to assist in the potions lab," Gina informed her, before she took her leave.
"Harry, let me quickly check your temperature," Hermione whispered, seeing that Harry was almost drifting off to sleep. She coaxed the thermometer under his tongue, sighing when orange numbers emerged from its back side an instant later. "38.8 Harry, that's a fever," she said in concern. "Do you have any idea what causes it? Does anything hurt apart from your head?"
"My eyes," Harry replied, tiredly.
"All right then, stay here and try to sleep. I'm going to brew a fever reducer and a headache potion for you," Hermione decided, adjusting a cold cloth to his forehead, before she left the room and called Tipsy.
'Mione's so nice,' Harry mused. 'I hope she'll always stay with me. Maybe Dad was right and I should ask her to become my girlfriend before Ron does.'
The next thing he knew was that Hermione was sitting on the edge of his bed, lightly shaking his shoulder. "Here Harry, you need to sit up and take your potions," she explained, handing him the first of two small goblets.
Harry immediately noticed the effects. "Ah that's good. Thank you so much for brewing these for me," he said, smiling in relief as he felt his headache recede some.
"You're welcome," Hermione replied, smiling. "The lab is absolutely awesome, and Tipsy helped me the whole time. That's why I know that both potions are correctly brewed too."
Harry grinned. "I wouldn't have expected anything else from you," he assured her, before he suddenly quietened.
"What's wrong?" Hermione asked, worriedly.
"Nothing. I was just wondering if you perhaps would want to become my girlfriend," Harry blurted out, knowing that he wouldn't have the courage to ask if not right away.
Hermione cast him a warm smile. "Yes Harry, I'd love to become your girlfriend," she agreed, seemingly happy at the news.
Hermione and Harry spent most of the day in the library, which had almost the size of the Hogwarts library. 'If I'm ever looking for Hermione, I'll definitely know where to find her,' Harry mused, as he unobtrusively observed the girl, who was eagerly reading a book about the Animagus transformation.
"Harry, there's a potion, which we can take in order to know which animal we're most likely to become if we manage the Animagus transformation," she explained, excitedly. "Are you interested?"
"Of course," Harry replied immediately. "I'd love to become an Animagus. Shall we go and brew it right away?"
Hermione gave him a sharp look, before she decided, "No Harry. I want you to rest today. Your potions seem to have worn off already."
Harry had to admit to himself that without the influence of the potions he was not feeling well at all, which Hermione immediately understood from the lack of protest coming from her boyfriend.
Unfortunately, during the following days, Harry' s condition worsened on a daily basis, and on Friday evening, Mrs. Granger enquired, "Wouldn't it be better to call someone to help Harry? What about Madam Pomfrey? She's the Healer at Hogarts, right? She sent us a long letter, when you were petrified last school year."
Hermione and Harry let out a collective sigh. "Yes Mum, I think so too, but the problem is that no one at Hogwarts must know that he isn't at the Dursleys' anymore. Plus I'm not sure if Madam Pomfrey is at Hogwarts at all during the summer," Hermione explained, looking worriedly at the boy.
However, when she took Harry's temperature on Saturday morning, it exceeded forty degrees. "That's it, Harry," she said in determination. "I'm going to speak with Professor McGonagall. Stay in bed and rest. Mum will check on you if I'm not back shortly."
"Kay," Harry mumbled, feeling too bad to care what was happening.
Hermione knelt in front of the fireplace, shouting, "Professor McGonagall's office, Hogwarts."
After a little while, her Head of House's head appeared in the flames. "Ms. Granger," McGonagall said in surprise.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, Professor," Hermione apologized. "May I come through for a moment?"
"Of course dear," the teacher agreed, giving the girl a questioning look, when she stepped out of the fireplace. "Now that's a surprise, Ms. Granger," she said, smiling.
Hermione let out a long sigh. "Professor, can you promise me that you won't tell the Headmaster what I'm going to reveal now?"
McGonagall cast her a sharp look, before she said, "Usually I don't like such promises without knowing what it's about, but since it's coming from you, I believe that I can make the promise."
"I need your help, or better yet Madam Pomfrey's," Hermione began. "Harry is ill, and it's worsening every day in spite of the potions I've brewed for him."
"Ms. Granger, tell me everything from the beginning," McGonagall replied in confusion. "Where did you brew potions for Harry, and what exactly is ailing him? Why did his aunt not contact us?"
"Harry is not at the Dursleys," Hermione admitted in a quiet voice. "We're living together with my parents at Potter Manor."
McGonagall's eyes widened at the news, although her features softened some as Hermione laid a small piece of parchment on the table in front of her and explained, "The Manor is under the Fildelius Charm with me as the Secret Keeper. Please feel free to show this to Madam Pomfrey, but not to anyone else." She remained thoughtful for a moment, before she continued, "As to what is ailing Harry, I'm not sure. He has been having a headache since before we even left Hogwarts. But only recently, he got a fever, which is going up daily. This morning it was over forty degrees."
"Oh Merlin," McGonagall said, alarmed. "Let me see if I can contact Madam Pomfrey. She should be at her home." She headed to the fireplace and established a connection to her friend, who came through the Floo a few minutes later.
McGonagall informed Pomfrey about the situation, and both ladies decided to follow Hermione to Potter Manor right away.
Hermione led the two older witches to Harry's room using a short cut, which Tipsy had showed her a few days ago, to prevent the adults from becoming involved in possible conversations with portraits like the one of Harold Potter, who had turned out to be at least as talkative as his son James.
The two witches greeted a very sleepy Harry, and Pomfrey began immediately to wave her wand over him. Hermione observed in concern how she cast one diagnostic spell after the other, her expression becoming stern as she proceeded.
It was only after a few minutes of wand waving that Pomfrey finally spoke up. "Mr. Potter, have you been bitten by any animal?" she queried in a stern voice.
"I don't think so," Harry mumbled, looking at the Healer from half open, glassy eyes in confusion.
"Harry," Hermione blurted out, "did the basilisk not bite you at the end of the school year?"
"Yeah, but Fawkes healed me," Harry replied, unaware of the alarmed look that Pomfrey shot at McGonagall.
"That explains everything," the Healer said in a grave voice. "Mr. Potter, you're suffering from Veneficium Aurae, an extremely rare illness, which is caused by the bite of an either sick or poisonous animal."
"Excuse me, Madame, but what is the Veneficium Aurae?" Hermione enquired with apparent interest.
"The name is slightly irritating," Pomfrey explained. "It means that Mr. Potter's magic is poisoned."
"Is that bad?" Hermione asked, worriedly.
"Can it be healed with potions, Poppy?" McGonagall threw in with an equally concerned expression.
Pomfrey sighed. "No, not with potions. We need potions, but they have to go straight into his bloodstream either through an IV or through a shot." She remained thoughtful for an instant, before she continued, "I have to ask Professor Snape to brew the potion for me, and then I'll come here once a day and give it to Mr. Potter."
"Noo, not Snape," Harry mumbled, incoherently.
"Poppy, would it be possible that I give him the shots for you?" McGonagall asked.
"No Minerva, it's all right. I don't mind coming here to administer the shot at all, and that gives me the opportunity to check on Mr. Potter on a daily basis.
"Is there any way that I could brew the potion for Harry?" Hermione spoke up. "Harry wouldn't want Professor Snape to..."
"No Ms. Granger, it's an extremely difficult and dangerous potion to brew, clearly exceeding NEWT level. Professor Snape has to brew it for Harry, and he will do so," Pomfrey replied in a stern voice. "Mr. Potter, if your fever is as high as it is now, you'll need to stay in bed. At other times, you may do as you wish; however, you must not do any magic, because any use of magic would cause your illness to worsen again."
"Ah, is that why he suddenly got so worse?" Hermione enquired. "Because we read our new school books and practised all the spells listed in them during the last few days, since Harry's father told us that we could do magic here inside the Manor."
"Yes, definitely," Pomfrey agreed. "Considering that the illness is already very progressed, it might take up to two months, before you will be completely well again."
"All right Madam Pomfrey, thank you so much for coming and helping me," Harry said, gratefully.
"You're very welcome, Mr. Potter," Pomfrey replied, smiling. "Very well then, I'll return to Hogwarts and speak with Professor Snape. I'll come back as soon as he informs me that the potion is ready."
"Madam Pomfrey, you won't tell him where I am, right?" Harry asked, worriedly reaching for the Healer's cold hand.
"No my dear, I won't tell him, and you needn't worry anyway. Since the Manor is under the Fidelius Charm, no one, not even the Headmaster can find you here," she said in a soothing voice.
"Even if he knows that I'm here?" Harry mumbled, sighing in relief, when the Healer reassured him that he was completely safe.
"Madam Pomfrey, may I ask you something else?" Hermione spoke up, hesitating, seeing that Pomfrey was finished with Harry.
"Of course my dear," the older witch replied, kindly.
"The other day, we played Wizard's Chess and by chance noticed that my father can play it as well, and when I lend him my wand, he managed to cast the Lumos charm," Hermione explained, causing the two adults to smile.
"Then he must be a wizard," Pomfrey said firmly. "Are your parents here?"
"Yes, they're probably in the library," Hermione replied and instructed Harry to sleep, before she led her Head of House and the Healer to her favourite room in Potter Manor to meet her parents.
When Harry's mind returned to awareness, Hermione was sitting on the edge of his bed, reading a book.
"Harry," she said, excitedly. "Madam Pomfrey found out that Dad is indeed a wizard, and she and Professor McGonagall promised to come here and teach him every day. We asked your father, and he told us that there are rooms for practising magic on the second floor. How cool is that?"
"Totally cool," Harry replied, smiling at his excited girlfriend. 'As cool as it is that she's here with me the whole time.'
After a few days, Harry's condition began to improve. Since he was not allowed to cast any magic anyway, Hermione and Harry decided to concentrate on their summer assignments.
"So much about learning to become an Animagus," Harry once said in disappointment, causing Hermione to sigh.
"I know, sweetie, but I'm just glad that you're better by now," she replied in a soft voice. "Maybe they'll allow us to watch Dad's lessons with Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey. Seeing how he has about four hours of classes each day, he should have caught up with us soon, and perhaps we'll learn something interesting."
Both witches agreed immediately, although Madam Pomfrey gave Harry a warning look and reminded him that he was not allowed to do magic.
'Only watching is boring though,' Harry mused one day, when McGonagall was teaching Mr. Granger to conjure a parchment. Unbeknownst to his surroundings, he secretly began to practise the spells wandlessly, certain that he would not easily succeed and give himself out anyway.
To his relief, no one really paid attention to him, and the few times he managed to perform a spell wandlessly, he was always able to quickly vanish what he had conjured, before anyone noticed what he was doing. 'Thank Merlin Pomfrey always checks on me right when she comes and not after classes,' Harry thought, relieved.
One day, Professor McGonagall was very upset, when she arrived to take turns with Pomfrey teaching Mr. Granger.
"The Headmaster knows that Harry is not at the Dursleys anymore," she said in a grave voice.
"Why Professor?" Harry asked simply, giving the professor a questioning look.
"Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban, and Professor Dumbledore believes that he's going to go after you," McGonagall explained. "Therefore, he Floo called Mrs. Figg to instruct her to keep an eye on you, and she told him that you hadn't return home from Hogwarts."
"Did Albus not send you out to search Harry?" Pomfrey queried, grinning.
McGonagall rolled her eyes. "Well, he tried, but I told him that you and I were taking turns teaching Mr. Granger during his holidays, and he had to understand that I don't have time right now. He believes that we're teaching Mr. Granger at McGonagall Manor. I'm glad I always made the detour to the Manor before coming here, so as not to alert him about Floo connections between my office and Potter Manor."
"What if he goes to your home looking for you, Professor?" Hermione threw in, worriedly.
"He won't be able to do so, Ms. Granger, as I've warded my fireplace against incoming Floo connections," McGonagall informed her, grinning mischievously. "Therefore, no one but myself is able to travel to my fireplace or even Floo call me at the Manor."
"Oh that's cool," Hermione said, contentedly.
"Professor Dumbledore has sent out Professor Snape to search for Harry," the Gryffindor Head continued. "He was not very pleased to say the least, pointing out how many potions he had to brew for you."
"Thank Merlin that he didn't give us out by telling Albus that he just brewed a potion for Harry, which I requested," Pomfrey said, sounding relieved.
"Professor," Harry threw in, pensively. "I don't want Professor Snape to have to unnecessarily spend his time searching for me. I'll write the Headmaster a letter and tell him that I'm in hiding. Would you mind taking the letter with you to Hogwarts and give it to a school owl for delivery? I'm afraid to use Hedwig, in case he tries to attach a tracking charm to her."
"That's a good idea," McGonagall and Hermione replied, simultaneously.
"Dumbledore will be very upset, but I don't care," Harry said, letting out a long sigh. "Will he be able to send Fawkes here to fetch me though?"
"Harry, Fawkes will neither be able nor willing to abduct you," McGonagall reassured him, before she conjured a parchment and a quill and motioned Harry to write his letter.
Absentmindedly watching Pomfrey begin to teach Mr. Granger and Hermione a cushioning charm, Harry began to write his letter.
'Dear Professor Dumbledore,
Please do not search for me. You won't find me anyway. I am enjoying my summer holidays at a safe place, not at my relatives, who hate me with a passion. The house, where I am staying, is under the Fidelius Charm, so please do not even make the effort to try searching me by tracking charms or other measures. It just won't work.
Thank you for your understanding
P.S. Please give my regards to Professor McGonagall and Hagrid.'
Smirking, he handed the letter to his Head of House. "Is that adequate?"
"No, you should have mentioned your abusive relatives; this sounds far too good for them," Hermione commented after reading the letter over McGonagall's shoulder.
"They're not abusive," Harry contradicted in a small voice. "They just hate magic."
"Very well written," McGonagall commended him, showing the letter to Pomfrey, who nodded her agreement.
"Professor, I have a question," Harry finally remembered to ask. "My parents told me that I have godparents and asked why I didn't know them. Do you know...?" He slowly trailed off, seeing that McGonagall's face changed to a strange expression.
"Sirius Black is your godfather, Harry. Until yesterday, he was in Azkaban, because it was him who gave out your parents to Voldemort. He was their Secret Keeper," McGonagall replied, and Harry had the impression as if tears were welling up in her eyes. "Your godmother, Alice Longbottom, Neville's mother, is in the long time ward of St. Mungo's after being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange," the teacher continued. "I'm so sorry my boy. Both are unavailable. Otherwise, they would have taken you in when you were a baby."
"Ah it's all right," Harry replied, shocked by the news.
"That's strange though," Hermione threw in. "Why would the Potters ask about Sirius then? They should be aware of the fact that they died because he had given them out. Maybe someone else was their Secret Keeper."
"Perhaps they changed the Secret Keeper after their painting was charmed," McGonagall said, sighing. "We don't know that."
"No," Hermione contradicted immediately. "Harry's mother told us that she was a Seer and knew that they were probably going to die on Halloween. She said that she charmed the painting herself on the day before. The Potters also told us that they listed you and Professor Snape as possible guardians for Harry in their will but wrote explicitly that he was not supposed to be placed with the Dursleys."
The adults let out a collective sigh. "That was Professor Dumbledore's decision," McGonagall replied, thoughtfully. "I'll go and speak with Lily and James later on."
Harry and Hermione accompanied the professor to the dining room, curious to listen in to the conversation with Lily and James.
"No Minerva, Sirius was not our Secret Keeper," Lily informed her former teacher and good friend.
"We changed the Secret Keeper to the rat Peter a few weeks before we were murdered," James added. "Don't tell me Siri was made responsible for what Peter did?"
McGonagall sighed. "I'm afraid he was," she informed the Potters. "He was sent to Azkaban even without a trial. You should have told someone, at least Professor Dumbledore, about the change of the Secret Keeper."
"Minerva, please clear Sirius' name," Lily said firmly. "I've never overly liked him, because he was so childish and irresponsible, but he did not deserve ending up in Azkaban."
"I'm afraid that we'll only be able to clear his name if we find Pettigrew and can prove that he's alive; otherwise Sirius will still be made responsible for the murder of him along with thirteen Muggles," McGonagall replied, gravely.
"Harry," James suddenly addressed his son. "Write a letter to Sirius and add the address of the Manor, written by Hermione. Sirius will be safe here. He still has his room on the top floor, and since no one will be able to gain access here, it would be the best place for him to stay until his trial."
While Hermione wrote the address on a piece of parchment, to which McGonagall added a charm that would make it vanish into thin air as soon as it had been read by the recipient, Harry wrote his letter to his godfather.
I am Harry, your godson. My parents in their painting told me that you're innocent, and my father suggests that you come here and stay with me for the time being. The Manor is under the Fidelius, and no one will be able to find you here.
I am waiting for you and looking forward to see you.
"Finished," he said and handed it to his Head of House, so that she could send both letters from Hogwarts using school owls.
After the professor had left, Harry let out a long sigh. "What a mess," he said, smirking. "Mione, would you mind if I went flying for a while? I need some distraction. Maybe your father would like to come with me and try it out."
"Let's ask him then," Hermione replied, smiling. "Perhaps I could go to Diagon Alley with Mum. There's something I'd like to do," she said, thoughtfully, more to herself than to Harry.
Mr. Granger agreed immediately, and Harry inspected the brooms in the broom cupboard with skilled eyes and handed Mr. Granger a broom, before he fetched his Nimbus 2000 and a Snitch from his room.
To Harry's surprise, Mr. Granger seemed to be a very talented flyer, although it was his first time to sit on a broom, and soon the two wizards were completely engrossed in their search for the Snitch. Unfortunately, the Snitch seemed to be hiding between the low hanging clouds, from which occasionally a few drops of rain fell, so that it took Harry almost two hours to catch it.
"Well done," Mr. Granger commented him, smiling. "Shall we go again? Now I'll try really hard."
"All right," Harry agreed, although he realised that he did not feel overly well. 'Probably I shouldn't fly. It's magic, but I didn't even think about that, and I want to fly,' he mused, as he tried to concentrate on the task ahead.
However, during the next hour, he did not manage to catch the Snitch, and when Hermione and her mother returned from their trip to Diagon Alley, it only took the girl a glance into Harry's flushed face to know what the matter was.
"Accio Snitch," she called out and, seeing that the Snitch obediently hovered into her hand, called her father and boyfriend down.
"Apparently, flying belongs to the activities that you're not supposed to do," she said in a small voice, sighing.
"It's all right," Harry replied immediately. "We had a lot of fun, didn't we?"
"Yes, it was great fun," Mr. Granger agreed, looking very happy. "Thanks Harry for sharing this fun with me."
"Any time," Harry said, grinning.
If Harry had hoped for a quiet evening, which he could spend resting on the sofa in the recreation room, he was completely mistaken.
At dinner, the Grangers announced that they wanted to speak about something, and inwardly groaning, Harry followed Hermione and her parents into the parlour for the conversation.
"We'd like to hear your opinion on a matter, which we're currently thinking about," Mr. Granger spoke up, absentmindedly reaching for the tea cup that had just popped up on the table. Seeing that both children looked at him in expectation, he continued. "Two days ago, we had a longer conversation with Professor McGonagall. Apparently, she has convinced your Headmaster to offer both of us positions at Hogwarts."
"At Hogwarts?" Hermione blurted out in surprise. "But Mum isn't even magical."
Mrs. Granger smiled. "Yes, but the professor said that they need a new librarian, since the current one wants to retire, and for that position I wouldn't need magic at all. You know how I love books."
"I can imagine," Harry chuckled, glancing at his girlfriend.
"Very well, and for me they offered the position of the Muggle Studies professor. Professor McGonagall said that the current professor is a witch, who has only lived in the Muggle world for a few months, and they want someone like me in the position, who has spent his whole life in the Muggle world living like a Muggle but also knows the magical world, which I still have to work on of course."
"That's true," Hermione threw in, eagerly. "I heard some things about the current professor, and I'm sure you'd do a much better job, Dad."
Mr. Granger smiled at his daughter. "Very well; however, on the other hand, we own our own dental practice. I'd be willing to give up everything, as I'm now very intrigued in the magical world; however, I feel bad for your mother."
"No, it's fully all right, dear. Let's sell the practice and move to Hogwarts. I'd be happy to take part in Hermione's life, even if I'm not magical," Mrs. Granger objected.
"I have a better idea," Harry said thoughtfully, absentmindedly rubbing his forehead, which did not go unnoticed by his observing girlfriend. "Mrs. Granger, do you think you could teach Latin? If so, I'd like to try to convince the Headmaster to set up Latin as a new facultative subject, because I think knowing Latin would help a lot with new spells and charms, since most of them are in Latin."
"Harry, that's an awesome idea," Hermione agreed immediately, before she suddenly slapped her forehead. "Oh no, Harry, I completely forgot to tell you what Mum and I did at Diagon Alley. I bought a raven, so that you can easily send letters yourself without having to ask Professor McGonagall. It's upstairs in the owlery. Once school begins, we can either leave him here or take him with us, whatever you want. And I wanted to ask you something," she continued so fast and with so much excitement that Harry was unable to interrupt her. "I've seen a Kneazle cat at the Magical Menagerie, and I'd like to have it as my familiar, but would it be all right to keep a pet here?"
Harry looked at Hermione with amusement. "Of course, it would be cool to have a cat here," he replied right away, before he said pensively, "Wait, let me ask Gina."
"It's no problem, Master Harry. It's your Manor now, and you may do as you wish," the elf replied gently.
"All right then, I'm going to write to Dumbledore and McGonagall about the Latin classes, or maybe it would be better if you suggested it, Mione. You could tell them that your mother has offered to teach Latin, while I couldn't write such a thing, since Dumbledore doesn't know that we're living here together."
Hermione quickly set up her letter, and the two friends headed upstairs to the small owlery, where the raven was sitting next to Hedwig.
"Hi Hedwig," Harry greeted his familiar, before he turned to the raven. "A cool pair," he spoke up, chuckling. "One white and one completely black. He looks like Snape, cute though."
"All right my dear raven, your name will be Severus," Hermione informed the bird, before she fastened the letter to his foot and instructed him to fly to Hogwarts and hand the letter to the Headmaster or his deputy.
"Harry, you're not all right," Hermione said in concern, when their hands accidentally touched. "You're very warm."
"It's only because of flying for hours," Harry replied, sighing, "no big deal. Can we sit here and just look around for a few minutes? Your parents won't miss us immediately, will they?"
"Of course not," Hermione replied, chuckling.
The friends sat on the floor next to each other, quietly admiring the view into the garden and onto the lake. "I wonder if we can go swimming in the lake," Harry finally broke the silence.
"Why not?" Hermione asked. "It's a great idea." Noticing the heat that Harry radiated, she slowly pulled him over, so that his head came to lie on her lap, where he slowly drifted off to sleep.
All of a sudden, Gina popped up behind them. "Gina is sorry to disturb Master Harry and Mistress Hermione, but Master Harry must come to the entrance hall. Mr. Sirius Black has arrived, and we are waiting for Master Harry's instructions."
"I'm coming," Harry replied, wearily, and followed Hermione downstairs.
When they arrived in front of the fireplace, a black dog was standing there looking at them in expectation.
"Sirius?" Harry queried, causing the dog to waggle his tail.
"Mr. Black, you're safe here. No one but us and my parents are here, apart from the house-elves. Please transform back, so that we can communicate," Hermione said in a gentle but firm voice.
"Yes please," Harry agreed, observing how the canine morphed into a man.
His godfather was dirty and malnourished; however, he was wearing a genuine smile. "Hello Harry, I'm so happy to finally meet you. And who's that? Your girlfriend?" he queried, curiously eyeing Hermione.
"Yes, my girlfriend Hermione Granger. We're happy to meet you too," Harry replied, automatically returning the smile.
"However, Harry is ill and needs to go to bed now," Hermione informed the older wizard. "As far as I'm informed you know your way around the Manor, is that correct?"
"Yes," Sirius replied, smiling. "I've lived here together with James and his parents for several years.
"Very well, then I suggest that you go to your room, take a bath and ask the house-elves for something to eat. My parents and I will be in the recreation room if you're up for company."
"I surely am," Sirius said, grinning in anticipation. "Harry, I'd like to see you too though. Can you stay up for a little more?"
"Okay," Harry agreed, unable to deny his godfather with the broad smile anything.
Harry, Sirius and the Grangers talked until late at night, before Sirius went to speak with Lily and James and everyone else headed to bed.
At breakfast the following morning, Sirius informed the others, "Pettigrew is the youngest Weasley boy's rat. That's why I escaped from Azkaban. I need to capture him, but I need help for that."
"Sirius, the Grangers are still new to the magical world, and Hermione and I have only finished our second year at Hogwarts," Harry reminded him. "We need to speak with Professor McGonagall about the matter, when she comes to teach Mr. Granger later on. Or maybe Madam Pomfrey could help. She'll be here in about thirty minutes. Ron is our friend, but I don't think he'd take it well if I just went there and asked him to hand over his rat," he added, sighing.
"Okay Harry, I'll ask Poppy and Minnie," Sirius agreed, before he turned to Mr. Granger. "I was lucky and found my reserve wand in the drawer in my room. So I can teach you whatever you want, for example Defence Against the Dark Arts, between, before or after your other classes."
To Harry's chagrin, Pomfrey forbade him to attend classes but instructed him to rest the whole morning. 'Thank Merlin Sirius distracted her so much that she forgot to ask me what I've been doing yesterday,' Harry realised, inwardly grinning, as he had no intention of giving up flying for the time being. Fortunately, Sirius kept him company and told him many funny things about his time at Hogwarts together with his parents. 'Did they do anything else but play pranks on the Slytherins?' Harry wondered. 'No wonder Snape hates me with a passion, considering that I look like my dad. I must remind him of being pranked what seems to be on a daily basis.'
"The problem of all things is the Headmaster," McGonagall said thoughtfully, when everyone was having lunch together in the dining room. "He mustn't know that Harry is here, that Sirius is here, and that we're teaching Mr. Granger here. I'm not sure if the Weasleys are back from their holidays yet, but I'll try to Floo call them right after lunch. If I had to write a letter to the Weasleys, it would take a few days, since they went to Egypt for holidays. For the Headmaster it would be much easier, because he could just send out Fawkes."
"Professor, I don't care anymore if Professor Dumbledore knows where I am," Harry spoke up in determination. "This is my rightful home, and he can't throw me out."
"Mr. Potter, don't be too sure about this," Pomfrey threw in, sternly. "Since you're only twelve years old, he might insist that you have to stay together with a responsible adult."
"Yes, that's true," McGonagall agreed, "but considering that the Grangers are living here together with Harry, this condition is fulfilled."
"And if necessary, my wife and I would be happy to apply for the guardianship over Harry, provided that he wants it," Mr. Granger said, pleasantly.
"Thanks a lot," Harry said, gratefully. "I'd love that."
"Thank you so much, Mr. Granger," Lily spoke up in a soft voice. "I'd really appreciate it."
"Unfortunately Professor Dumbledore would never agree to this, even if I'd be very pleased about it," McGonagall stated, sighing. "He has a fixed idea that the blood wards that he erected around the Dursleys' house would keep Harry safe, complete nonsense if you ask me."
"Absolute nonsense," James bellowed from the painting. "Alone the fact that he left Harry with those awful Dursleys was illegal, since we explicitly ruled it out in our will. And then he sends him back to that hellhole every summer in spite of the fact that they abuse Harry verbally and physically? Who does he think he is? Great Merlin? But even that wouldn't excuse everything."
Everyone turned their eyes to the painting, seemingly amazed by the portrait's outburst. Harry smiled at his father, before his expression changed, and he looked at his Head of House.
"Professor, I'm beyond the point where I cared about the Headmaster's opinion," he said sternly. "He doesn't care about me, only when it comes to driving Voldemort or trolls out of the school, so why should I care?"
"If you're sure that you don't mind Dumbledore knowing that you're here, I'll go and visit Professor Dippet in his portait at Hogwarts and give Dumbledore a piece of my mind," Lily spoke up, sounding very upset.
"Thanks Mum," Harry replied in a soft voice. "I really don't mind, but maybe we should try to solve Sirius' problem first. The earlier he'll be able to get a trial the better."
Everyone nodded their consent, and Sirius laid his arm around Harry's shoulders. "Thanks a lot, Harry. I really appreciate it."
"Harry," McGonagall turned to him. "If I was able to catch Pettigrew and hand him over to the Ministry, this would only prove that Sirius didn't kill him and all these Muggles. However, the court might want evidence that he was not your parents' Secret Keeper. Would you perhaps allow Nymphadora Tonks access to Potter Manor? She's a former student of mine, a capable Auror, as well as Sirius' cousin, and if she was able to speak with your parents' painting, the court would probably accept that memory as evidence."
"Of course, Professor, no problem," Harry replied in a soft voice. "I know that I can fully trust you."
Right after lunch, McGonagall called the Weasleys, who were fortunately back at the Burrow, from where the Scottish lioness returned with a wooden rat that was missing a toe. After instructing Hermione to write the Manor's address, she Floo called Tonks and showed her Hermione's parchment, allowing the young Auror to step through the fireplace into the Manor.
Harry liked the young witch with the purple hair immediately, realising with amusement how her hair colour changed to orange and later to neon green, while she was talking with his parents.
To his chagrin, Pomfrey sent him to bed as soon as Tonks left, stating that he was still not well, and Harry decided to obey before she'd remember to ask about what magic he had done to aggravate his condition. When he woke up a few hours later, Hermione was sitting on the edge of his bed, eyeing him with amusement. "So much happened, and you just slept through it," she teased him, causing Harry to groan and mumble something like "not my fault."
"Sirius has been granted a trial, which is going to take place tomorrow morning," she informed him. "And Professor McGonagall said that if Madam Pomfrey allows you to leave, you should attend the trial as a witness. He's going to have the trial together with Pettigrew."
"Yes, I will attend, but I want you and your parents to accompany me," Harry replied, firmly, ignoring the questioning look that he received from his girlfriend.
Pomfrey only grudgingly let him go, since he was still running a fever, and Harry just hoped that it would be over quickly. He knew that Dumbledore would be at the trial; however, Gina had reassured him that if Harry wanted to get away quickly or if Dumbledore tried to abduct him, he only had to call her and she'd pop over and rescue him right away.
"Harry," the young Auror with bright blue hair took the seat on his right side, while Hermione was occupying the spot on his left. "I didn't have time to speak with you yesterday, but I want to thank you for all you've done for Sirius. You must know he's my cousin, and I know that he's a prankster, but he's not evil. He'd never kill anyone."
"I know," Harry replied in a soft voice. "I've only known him for two days, but I already like him, and my parents told me a lot about him."
The trial lasted very long in Harry's opinion. First Sirius was being questioned under Veritaserum, then Professor Dumbledore spoke as the first witness, before the judges watched Tonks' memory about her conversation with Harry's parents. Finally, Harry was asked if he had anything to add.
Harry rose from his seat and thanked the judge for the opportunity to speak in favour for Sirius. "During the last weeks, I've frequently spoken with my parents in a painting that has been charmed on the day before they were murdered. My parents told me not only that Sirius was not their Secret Keeper, but also that he was my godfather and supposed to become my guardian if anything happened to my parents. My mother was a Seer and knew that they were going to die the following day, which is why that painting was charmed at exactly that time. Had Sirius been the Secret Keeper and she knew that Voldemort would come into their house the next day, she wouldn't have told me that Sirius was supposed to take me in. As far as my mother told me, there was a will in my parents' vaults, which has been conveniently ignored by the responsible persons. Otherwise it would have been clear in the first place that Sirius was not the Secret Keeper. My parents' will also stated that if my godparents were not available, I should be placed with Professor McGonagall or Professor Snape but NOT with my mother's relatives, which was exactly where I was taken as a defenceless baby. I am very pissed off with the magical world at this stage, and I hope that you'll at least make everything up for my godfather and compensate him for his lost twelve years, which were also twelve horrible years for me due to the misjudgement about my godfather." With that he let himself sink back into his seat, fiercely rubbing his forehead.
With that Sirius' part of the trial was over, and Pettigrew was presented in his form as a wooden rat. In front of the audience, he was forced back into his human form, secured by a hurriedly cast spell that prevented him to transform into his Animagus form. From Pettigrew's answers forced by Veritaserum, it became evident that he was responsible for all the crimes, for which Sirius had been sent to Azkaban.
'Disgusting,' Harry mused, as Pettigrew was brought out of the room, and groaned inwardly, when the judge announced a thirty-minute break before the verdict was going to be announced.
Seeing from the corner of her eyes that Dumbledore was heading in their direction and that Harry was slumped in his seat, clearly feeling unwell, Hermione whispered, "Harry, Dumbledore's coming here, quickly call Gina and let her take you home. I'll come home as soon as this is over."
Feeling too miserable for a fight with Dumbledore, Harry for once obeyed and called Gina, who popped him home in a blink.
"Thank you so much," Harry said, gratefully. "I really didn't want to speak with Dumbledore now."
An hour later, Hermione entered his room. "Everything went well, Harry," she informed him, smiling. "Sirius is free, and Pettigrew has been taken to Azkaban."
"Thank Merlin," Harry replied.
"Harry, Professor Dumbledore said he wanted to speak with you, and I told him that you were ill and therefore left as soon as the most important part of the trial was over. He then said that Professor McGonagall would speak with you on his behalf later today."
"So he knows where I'm staying, right?" Harry queried.
"Yes, I think so; considering that you spoke openly about talking to a painting of your parents, it can only be one of your parents' houses. I don't know if he's aware that we're staying in the Manor though."
"Oh well, it doesn't matter," Harry replied, sighing.
"My father asked him if he could become your guardian, and Dumbledore said something like he didn't appreciate it and that he wanted to speak with you in private, before agreeing to any changes."
"That old coot," Harry growled, feeling very upset with the old wizard. "I'm not keen on meeting him at all."
However, a few days after the trial, Harry's condition had greatly improved, and Hermione and Harry decided to spend some time alone at Diagon Alley. 'I love having so many people around all the time, but I really want so do something just only with my girlfriend for a change,' Harry mused, as he happily trailed behind Hermione along the street, heading towards the shop, where she wanted to buy the Kneazle cat.
All of a sudden, however, someone stepped into his way. "Harry," he heard a well-known voice, before his eyes even registered what happened.
"Headmaster," he replied, inwardly groaning in annoyance. 'Oh no, what am I going to do now?' he thought, terrified, giving the Headmaster an annoyed look.
"Harry, how nice to see you," Dumbledore said kindly. "Would you mind coming with me to my office for a moment? There's something I'd like to discuss with you in private."
"Yes sir, if it's necessary," Harry grudgingly agreed, exchanging a glance with Hermione.
"Very well then, let's take the Floo from the Leaky Cauldron," Dumbledore said pleasantly and strode ahead, turning around every now and then to make sure that Harry was following.
"I'm going to go home and tell everyone," Hermione whispered to Harry. "Don't forget about Gina if necessary."
"Sure," Harry replied, before he stepped into the fireplace, shouting, "Headmaster's office, Hogwarts."
"Harry," Dumbledore came right to the point, without even offering the boy a lemon drop. "It is adamant that you return to your relatives. The..:"
"Never," Harry rudely interrupted the old wizard. "Even my parents stated in their will that under no circumstances I had to be placed with the Dursleys. There are enough people, who could and would be willing to become my guardians, sir. I will not return to such a place."
"Harry, the bloodwards, which I placed around the Dursleys' house, are keeping you safe, due to your mother's blood, which your aunt shares with you," Dumbledore said in a grave voice.
"Complete nonsense," an angry voice spoke up from right over the Headmaster's desk, causing Harry and Dumbledore to look up at the former Headmasters' portraits in confusion.
'Mum,' Harry realised in relief, seeing his mother looking down from the portrait of Godric Gryffindor.
"Mrs. Potter," Dumbledore greeted her friendly. "Please explain to your son..."
"No Headmaster," Lily interrupted the old wizard. "Petunia would never keep Harry safe. On the contrary, she'd happily hand him over to his enemy and ask what her reward was. Excuse me for asking this, sir, but who do you think you are? Willingly completely ignoring our will is not something that the Headmaster of Hogwarts as well as the Head of the Wizengamot is supposed to do."
"I completely agree," Godric Gryffindor threw in from his spot next to Lily. "A Headmaster of my school definitely has to play conform to the rules."
"Ah Professor Gryffindor, there are things, which are not known to everyone," Dumbledore said gravely. He remained thoughtful for a moment, before he turned back to Harry. "Very well then, Mr. Potter, you don't have to return to the Dursleys under the condition that Professor Snape becomes your guardian."
'Has he gone completely nuts or what?' Harry wondered, shooting the Headmaster a murderous glare. "You are aware of the fact that he absolutely hates me, sir, aren't you?" he queried in an upset voice.
"Ah no, my boy, Professor Snape doesn't hate you," Dumbledore contradicted immediately. "And he's one of the persons that your parents listed in their will, if I remember correctly."
"Yes sir," Lily threw in from her painting. "However, now Harry is not a one-year-old baby anymore, and he has discovered his ancestors' Manor, where he lives together with several people, including adults, who would make wonderful guardians for him. Since I saw him for the first time at the beginning of the holidays, he has changed to a much happier and more confident boy than he was, which is most important for me. Since the Manor is under the Fidelius charm with a Secret Keeper, who is absolutely trustworthy, he doesn't need anyone else to keep him safe. Knowing Severus and his grudge against James, I can't imagine that he would agree for Harry to continue living at the Manor as his ward."
"Thanks Mum. Exactly," Harry threw in, before Dumbledore had even the change to think of a reply.
"I suggest that we call Professor Snape here and ask him," the Headmaster finally decided and leaned into the fireplace to summon his Potions Master.
'He will be sooo pleased to see me during the holidays,' Harry mused, preparing himself for a dressing down from the Slytherin Head.
However, Snape stepped out of the fireplace with a blank expression. "Mr. Potter," he greeted the boy without malice in his voice.
"Professor Snape," Harry replied, equally friendly. "Thank you so much for the potion the other day."
"I hope it worked," the Slytherin replied, giving him a sharp look.
"Yes sir, thank you very much." Seeing Dumbledore look from one to the other in confusion, Harry inwardly grinned. 'See, you don't know everything,' he thought with amusement.
"I didn't know that you were in contact with Harry, Severus," Dumbledore finally queried, giving the professor a questioning look.
"Potter was ill and in need of a potion, that's all," Snape replied, causing Harry to grin upon realising that the Potions Master had no intention of revealing any more details.
"Severus, since Mr. Potter refuses to return to the Dursleys, I need to assign him a new guardian," Dumbledore continued, "and I know that you're the best to keep him safe."
"Albus," Snape groaned, "you know how my relationship to Mr. Potter is."
"Professor," Harry threw in, "during my first Hogwarts years, Professor Snape has always kept me safe, even though he wasn't my guardian. There's no need to bother him with something that he doesn't want."
"Thank you so much Sev, for looking out for my son," Lily finally spoke up, causing Snape to turn around to the portraits in shock.
"Lily," he said in surprise.
"Yes Sev, I'm finally able to travel to other portraits. Harry must have somehow managed to trigger something that enables me to do so," Lily replied, smiling.
"Maybe he was the first to speak with your portrait?" Dumbledore threw in, questioningly.
"Yes, that's it," Lily confirmed. "Professor Dumbledore, I suggest that you allow the Grangers to become Harry's guardians in the magical and the Muggle world. During all these weeks, they've already behaved as if they were his guardians. Even their daughter, who is my son's girlfriend, has done an amazing job looking out for him. Sirius would be an option too, especially considering that he's his godfather, but I believe that he's going to have enough problems adjusting himself to normal life, so that the guardianship matter wouldn't help either of them."
Dumbledore absentmindedly popped a lemon drop into his mouth, before he replied, "Very well then, Harry, I agree with the Grangers as your guardians, but only under the condition that Professor Snape and I will be allowed to gain access to the Manor to check on you at any time."
"No sir," Harry replied in a firm voice. Seeing both professors glare at him, he elaborated, "I don't mind allowing Professor Snape access, because I trust him, but I'm sorry to say this, sir, I don't trust you, Headmaster."
"Which is fully understandable," Lily threw in, sharply.
Suddenly, the Headmaster looked much older than before, as he admitted defeat, saying, "All right my boy. You may choose your guardians, provided that you stay in the Manor under the Fidelius charm. Severus, I trust you to keep Harry safe."
The Potions Master slightly inclined his head. "I'll try to do my best, Headmaster," he replied, giving Harry a pointed look.
"Thank you, sir," Harry spoke up, returning the view, smiling when Lily equally thanked the Potions Master. 'Oh no, I have to show him the parchment with the address that Hermione gave me,' he suddenly remembered, pulling a small piece of parchment out of his inner robe pocket, which he handed to the Slytherin Head.
Snape quirked an eyebrow upon receiving the note, however, nodded in understanding and returned the parchment after reading it. "Very well, Headmaster, if that's all?" he queried.
"Yes my boy, thank you," Dumbledore confirmed, tiredly.
"Lily, Mr. Potter, I'll see you," Snape greeted them and took his leave.
"Thank you, sir, for letting me choose my guardians. May I leave now?" Harry asked, thinking, 'My girlfriend is surely on her edge waiting for me.'
"Okay Harry," Dumbledore replied, "take care of yourself, and I'll see you on the first of September."
Seeing from the corner of his eyes that Lily vanished from Godric Gryffindor's portrait, Harry stepped into the fireplace, shouting, "Potter Manor."
To his surprise, Hermione was sitting on one of the sofas in the entrance hall, obviously waiting for him.
"Hi," Harry said, smiling. "I'm still alive, and I think I won. He agreed with your parents as my guardians. Thanks so much for sending Mum over. She was an enormous help."
"What happened? And I want to know every detail," Hermione replied, pulling him with her into the library.
Even after being free, Sirius continued to reside at Potter Manor, and one day he asked Harry if he might invite a friend, Remus Lupin, the other best friend of Lily and James. Of course Harry agreed, and just when Nymphadora Tonks decided to pay Harry and Sirius a visit, Remus came to the Manor to see Harry.
"Harry," he introduced himself, "I'm Remus Lupin. Your parents were my best friend, and I was devastated at the happenings at that time. I'm so sorry that I couldn't take you in or even get in touch with you. However, as you perhaps might have heard, I'm a werewolf, and I'd never have been allowed to gain the guardianship over you. Professor Dumbledore even forbade everyone to do as much as contact you, stating that he had to keep you safe at your aunt's home."
Harry let out a snort, before he replied, "You don't have to be sorry, sir. If anyone has to be sorry about anything, it's Professor Dumbledore."
Harry immediately liked Remus, who, like Tonks, became a frequent visitor at Potter Manor. One day, when Harry was talking to his parents, James suggested, "Why don't you invite Moony to stay here at the Manor with you all?"
"All right," Harry replied, immediately.
"There's one thing that you have to know though," James said, thoughtfully. Seeing that Harry gave him a questioning look, he explained, "Remus is a werewolf. Once a month he transforms into a wolf for one night. Therefore, during the night of the full moon, he has to stay in the werewolf room in the cellar. One of you has to accompany him there, before he transforms, and you must firmly lock the door."
"Is this safe for everyone?" Harry enquired, doubtfully.
"Yes, it's absolutely safe," James confirmed, causing Lily to give Harry a reassuring nod.
When all guests were gone the same evening, Harry spoke with Hermione, her parents and Sirius about the matter, and everyone agreed that he should invite Remus.
"He and Tonks seem to have taken a liking to each other," Sirius chuckled, causing everyone to laugh.
'It would be awesome if they could get together. I really like them both,' Harry thought, smiling.
Remus happily accepted Harry's offer and moved in during the following week, which was the last week of July, right after the full moon.
"Harry dear, what are we going to do for your birthday?" Mrs. Granger enquired one day, causing Harry to look at her in surprise.
"Harry never had a birthday party," Hermione explained to her parents, before she suggested, "Why don't we invite Neville, Ron, Ginny and the twins?"
Harry agreed and allowed everyone to plan his very first birthday party. However, before his friends and guardians could even begin to think about the big day, Harry received an owl.
'The first owl ever to come here,' he mused. 'I didn't even know that they'd find me here.' When he curiously opened the attached parchment, he realised that it was from Professor Snape.
Professor Dumbledore insists that I visit you once a week, and I'm afraid that we have to follow his orders. I will see you at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Please make sure that your guardians are available as well.
"What? He doesn't even ask when it would be convenient for you?" James blurted out, shaking his head in annoyance.
"Leave Snape in peace, Dad," Harry replied, sighing. "It's not his fault that he has to waste his time coming here."
"Harry, you should at least invite him for dinner," Hermione suggested. "Why don't you write back and ask him?"
Harry agreed and sent his reply with Severus, the raven, right after breakfast.
To his surprise, Snape accepted the invitation for dinner, and not only Remus and Sirius, but also James in his painting, behaved themselves well towards their former enemy. James even apologized to the Potions Master for his behaviour during their own time at Hogwarts. 'Thank Merlin they're really nice to each other. Snape and Remus even talk civically,' Harry mused, as he observed the adults interact with each other. 'Even the Grangers fit in well, as they seem to be about the same age as the others.'
"Thank you for a pleasant evening, Mr. Potter," Snape said, when he excused himself late the same evening.
"Thank you for coming, sir," Harry replied, smiling. "Same time next week?" he then asked.
"If that's all right with you and everyone else," the Potions Master agreed, smirking.
"Of course, sir," Hermione threw in, smiling at the professor. "We're looking forward to having you here."
Snape slightly inclined his head, before he stepped into the fireplace to return to his quarters at Hogwarts.
"I think he thoroughly enjoyed himself," Hermione spoke up, grinning. "It must be boring for him at Hogwarts with only old witches and wizards as colleagues but no one of his own age."
"That's true," Harry replied, pensively. "I've never even thought of that, but it'll get better now with your parents at Hogwarts."
Harry's birthday party was a huge success. Unbeknownst to Harry, Mr. Granger had invited Professor Snape for a Quidditch match adults versus students, in which McGonagall, Pomfrey, Snape, Sirius, Remus and Mr. Granger played against Ginny, Harry, Neville, Ron and the twins.
'I just have to catch the Snitch before Mr. Granger,' Harry thought and feverishly looked for the escaping ball, which he fortunately managed to catch each time, deciding both matches for the students.
'This was great fun,' Harry thought, feeling very happy. However, the highlight of the day were huge fireworks, which the twins started over the lake, having the fireworks change to life size animals in front of the dark sky.
"Beautiful," Hermione whispered to him, before she leaned over more and pulled him into a passionate kiss. "I hope you had a wonderful birthday."
"Yes, it was awesome," Harry whispered back. "The best birthday I ever had."
At one of the Saturday dinners, which Snape had made it a habit to attend, he suddenly asked Remus, "Lupin, have you ever heard of the Wolfsbane potion?"
"No Severus, what is it?" Remus queried, looking at the Potions Master with apparent interest, when he explained about a recent invention.
"I could brew it for you, provided that I had some assistance," Snape offered, glancing at the students.
"Of course, Harry and I would both be willing to help," Hermione spoke up, immediately. "This Manor has an awesome lab, which we could use, too. There are many ingredients, who seem to be under a refreshment charm."
'Snape will never agree to brew here with us,' Harry thought, inwardly grinning; however, he was mistaken. Apparently, the Potions Master liked the lab and preferred to use it instead of having the children assist in his private lab. It took almost a whole day to brew the potion, but after the full moon, Remus thanked them profusely.
"Severus, Hermione, Harry," he addressed the Potions Master and his assistants at dinner on the Saturday following the full moon, "I so appreciate what you did for me this week, and I'd like to ask you if you'd be willing to brew that potion again for me. In fact, Professor Dumbledore offered me the position as Care of Magical Creatures professor, and I'd feel much more confident to accept the position, knowing that I wouldn't endanger anyone at Hogwarts."
Seeing Hermione and Harry nod eagerly, Snape promised, "Very well, Lupin, we'll brew it for you every month."
Later, when Harry caught Snape alone, he thanked him profusely for offering to brew the potion for Remus.
Snape quirked an eyebrow, before he replied, dryly, "Mr. Potter, you're aware of the fact that I promised the Headmaster to keep you safe. Preventing a werewolf from endangering you by transforming into a monster every month certainly is an important step to achieve said goal."
During the following weeks, McGonagall, Pomfrey, Remus, Sirius and even Snape took turns teaching Mr. Granger, Hermione and Harry, and Harry really enjoyed having what seemed to be a huge family. For the first time in his life, he almost regretted that the holidays were going to end soon.
'Oh well, thank Merlin I'll still be able to see all of them during the school year,' he mused, 'Mrs. Granger as the Latin teacher and librairian, Sirius as the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus as the Care of Magical Creatures professor, and Mr. Granger will be there too, even if I'm not going to take his Muggle studies class. Latin and Care of Magical Creatures seem much more interesting. I'm even looking forward to the Potions classes, now that I know and also Snape knows that I'm not a dunderhead when it comes to brewing. I'm the happiest boy in the world, having such a huge family of humans and house-elves and a wonderful home like Potter Manor. I hope Mum and Dad will find a painting at Hogwarts, where they can visit me from time to time. But if not, I'll at least be able to see them again next summer at Potter Manor.'