Chapter Eight

An: It's been two months, I know, I suck. I'm so sorry! But, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to write more, so yay for writing! (Yes, I understand New Year's resolutions are not often followed through with, but I am trying my best. Thanks for being such patient readers! :D) I hope you all had wonderful holidays, if you celebrate, and stay warm! Anyways….enjoy! I really hope this makes up for your waiting!

Hermione was greeted by the sharp opening of the Dursley's front door, opened so quickly she was forced to blink and take a step back. When her vision had focused once more, she found herself facing none other than Mr. Dursley, holding the door open with a curious leer that she was immediately wary of. She had been hoping she would have never had to meet Vernon Dursley, but she supposed she should have known better. Vernon was a business man, that much was easy to tell. And as little as he cared about his "freak" nephew and as eager as he'd be to see him go, he still wanted to be there to make sure he got the better end of the deal. No, Hermione was very much displeased Mr. Dursley was to be involved, but nevertheless, she shook his proffered hand, (wary of that too, he must know she was a witch, so why would he shake her hand?) and led herself into their small sitting room, followed by Mr. Dursley and Mrs. Dursley, who was clutching the already fat Dudley who squirmed and wailed lustily in her arms before she set him down in a play pen and sat down by her husband on the love seat across from Hermione's perch.

There was silence for a few moments, before Hermione finally said, "Well, I would assume you are Mr. Dursley?"

She already knew that, but she figured as horrid as he was, Mr. Dursley would still perhaps be slightly more hospitable if she didn't immediately get to the point of her having came.

Vernon, who had been leaned back into the loveseat, stroking his large moustache, leaned forward with a slight sneer and said, "Yes, I am. And I suppose you are 'Lucretia Lestrange'?"

Hermione's back immediately straightened. He had said her alias like it was, well, an alias. Her mind ran unchecked and blurred for a moment before she answered cautiously, "Yes, I a-"

Vernon jumped up, a gleeful, slightly manic grin on his face as he pointed wildly at Hermione, who was taken quite aback. Still on the couch, his wife cringed, and opened her mouth to say something, but her husband's roar drowned her out.

"NO YOU'RE RUDDY WELL NOT!" Vernon cried out. "NO…YOU'RE…NOT!"

Hermione held up her hands in protest, her mind running in circles now in terror. How could he have figured it out? Her plan was surely not so flawed an ignorant muggle such as Vernon Dursley could figure it out? Surely…

"I KNOW EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE," Vernon continued happily. Hermione swore she could see him foaming at the mouth as she hunched down and prepared for the worst.

"YOU'RE A RUDDY GOVERNMENT TEST!" He shouted in triumph.

"I…I…what?" Hermione sputtered, eyes wide and a hand clutching her chest.

"Don't you try denying it!" Vernon said, wagging a thick finger at her. "I suppose you're some type of test set by your people's government to see if we're fit to raise our freakish nephew! After all, why would you just dump him here with not so much as a bloody letter?"

Hermione sat gob smacked, mouth hanging open as Vernon began pacing the small sitting room, finger in the air, held up as if to exclamate all he was saying.

"And I suppose you've deemed us 'unfit' and that's why you want to take him. Well, fine. He's yours. Get the little freak off our hands. But I'll bet this is also all some clever ploy to get money from us, isn't it?"

Vernon took a deep breath and drew himself up to his full height.

"WELL WE WON'T PAY A RUDDY DIME, HEAR? He isn't ours, and he is not one of us. I've got mouths to feed as well and I'll be damned if I have to feed another as well, so just take the boy and go!"

Hermione was left shell-shocked by this tirade, and frozen to her seat, before finally realizing what had just happened, and, thinking quickly while thanking her lucky stars, drew a deep, resigned, obvious breath, and said, "Well, you've caught me. I am indeed a government test. But however did you find out?"

Vernon sneered. "Petunia got curious and looked through old files. There's no record of a Lucretia Lestrange anywhere. And the parentally-appointed guardian-in-steed was some bloke named Sirius Black, not Lucretia Lestrange."

Hermione bit her lip. This was what scared her. If the Dursley's of all people could figure out her made-up character was indeed made-up, who was to say no one else could figure the same thing.

"Well, alright then. Yes, I'm with the government. Yes, I've come for Harry. No, we don't want any money from you and your wife." Hermione said, clasping her hands smartly behind her back.

Vernon opened his mouth to dispute, but Hermione held up a finger, and Vernon fell silent. "With all due respect, Mr. Dursley," Hermione casually made her way closer to him, until her was squirming and blinking in discomfort, cringing slightly away from her in his innate fear of magic and all thing abnormal. "Young Harry has quite a large trust fund tucked away for him. We hardly need any of your, ah….help."

Vernon's face reddened and then went to purple, but he simply glared and stayed silent. Hermione swept away from him and turned to Petunia instead, crossing her arms.

Petunia cowered slightly, looking indirectly at Hermione.

"Now, Mrs. Dursley. Young Harry, if you please."

Petunia snuck a half-glance at her husband, shrugged very slightly, and scurried to the cupboard under the stairs. A moment later she came back bearing Harry, who was sleeping, and a bag.

Hermione gently took the baby from Petunia, as not to wake him. She could not help but briefly look down into his face, at the closed eyes and vivid scar, before tearing her gaze away to see Petunia, who was offering her the bag. Hermione took it as Petunia said,

"It's old baby things of Dudley's. I supposed you may need it."

"Thank you," Hermione responded, nodding slightly at Mrs. Dursley.

"Now," She continued, "I believe that all in order."

There was a long silence, before she finally said, "Well, goodbye then. Have a…well, a nice rest of your life."

Vernon merely grunted. Petunia didn't look at Hermione. So, Hermione hoisted that bag over her thin, bony shoulder and cradled Harry close as she set down the hallway, out the front door, and down the drive, and was about ready to apparate when she heard,

"Wait!"

She turned back to the door to find Petunia standing there, breathing heavily as if she'd ran.

"Yes?" Hermione called back.

Petunia stared at Hermione for a long time, before she said, "He'll be safe?"

Hermione felt a stirring of something warm in her chest. She smiled at Petunia, who looked rather taken aback. "Yes, he will."

There was another long pause before Hermione called, somewhat hopefully, "You can come visit him sometime…you know, if you'd like."

Petunia shook her head no, but Hermione had already known she would.

"Just…look after him." Petunia said.

"I will," Hermione promised.

Petunia gave a little wave. Hermione waved back, and the apparated, Harry nestled in the crook of her arm. His eyes opened from sleep at the very last second and the last image they had was of Petunia waving goodbye, for good.