Hi everybody, here is the next update for this story. Happy reading.


Growth

Time Skip Harry age eight

Harry read his report card happily. He had got A's in all of his classes except Art, there he had got a B. He was incredibly proud at this. He could see that his teacher / surrogate father also gave him a proud smile. Ever since he had found out about being a wizard, Keith had taken over more and more the job of raising Harry. While Harry still officially lived at Number Four Privet Drive, he spent most of his time at Number Fourteen. He even had his own room there. That room was decorated how Harry liked it and there he stored most of his precious things. He knew that thanks to the notice-me-not charm his things were safe in the bedroom, but there was still some fear that the charm might stop working suddenly and his treasures could be destroyed by Dudley or his aunt and uncle.

Harry didn't want to risk that. His fear of losing the things he finally had went so far that Keith procured a magical backpack in Diagon Alley that let you shrink the things you put inside. That way Harry could always carry his most precious things like his husky plushy Blacky and his self-drawn pictures around with him. The other things in the room could be replaced, but those not. Keith was more than happy to do that small thing for Harry. The boy gave so much and asked for so little in return. He really wished that he could adopt Harry. He had grown to see him as a surrogate son.

Keith was in a relationship with another muggleborn witch right now that had left the wizarding world thanks to all the stones that were put in her way. Sometimes he had the feeling that those muggleborn witches that didn't mind staying at home to mind their children weren't that bad off in the wizarding world as the others. But he could understand that many witches were repulsed by the thought of being reduced to housewives and mothers, when they were as talented as their male and pureblood counterparts in the subjects that they needed for the careers they wanted to pursue. It was a sad fact that many only saw muggleborns as ways to bring fresh and hopefully powerful blood into the old lines. Well, for those lines that didn't buy into the pureblood supremacy nonsense.

Keith was carefully telling Harry the truth about the discrimination in the wizarding world without making the boy totally resent magic. Keith managed to point out the difference between the mistakes and misdoings of a few powerful and rich people and blaming a whole people. Keith knew that Harry could possibly bring some change about with his heritage and his status as the Boy-Who-lived, but he wouldn't pressure Harry into it. Harry was eight years old right now and the only thing he should be worried about was school, his friends and having fun.

Jessica, Keith's girlfriend, was also very taken by Harry's personality. She fully supported Keith in making sure that Harry had a happy childhood. The two planned trips for the weekends as a family, made sure that Harry got all his shots, both magical and muggle and overall treated Harry like a normal boy.


Arabella Figg was smiling seeing little Harry Potter with his surrogate family. She had at first been concerned when Harry spent more and more time over at Keith Brackwood's house, but the boy had become happier with each day he got to spend in the company of the young teacher. She was confused why, whenever he was in company of one of the Dursleys, they behaved as if Harry didn't exist, but as it was only a massive improvement to the previous situation, she didn't mention it in her reports. She didn't agree with Albus leaving Harry at Petunia's. She had seen how she emotionally abused the poor child all those years. It was all well and good thinking that the blood wards that Albus put so much importance on would keep out You-Know-Who and his followers, but to let a child grow up properly you needed more than simply a place to sleep. You needed love and care and that was not given at the Dursleys.

She suspected that either Harry had, in a bout of accidental magic, made the Dursleys ignore him completely or that Keith had put a charm on him. She had noticed that he was a wizard when he had one day given Harry a clearly enchanted backpack for his things. From what she had overheard from the others in the neighbourhood over the years they first had wondered a bit why Petunia and Vernon didn't complain about Harry anymore, but thought that the boy must have got better after starting school. Once the focus about wrongdoing was off Harry, they noticed other things that had previously been overlooked. Now they were talking about what a terror Dudley was.

Really how Petunia could raise her son that badly was a mystery to her. At first she had thought that she spoiled Dudley too much to make him feel more loved than Harry, but now that Harry basically was only a thought in the back of her head, that should have ended. But she still catered to her son's every whim. The boy would never get anywhere with her behaviour. Next to that the obvious neglect towards Harry also was a large topic among the housewives of Privet Drive and the surrounding streets in the neighbourhood. It had started around the time of Harry's first Sports Day at school when parents had seen how Petunia had lavished attention on her son, but completely ignored her nephew. And leaving him behind to get home by himself while she drove her son home by car also didn't sit right with them.

Petunia was faced with a massive drop in invitations to tea parties, others not taking her invitations with different excuses about not having the time and neighbours now gossiping about her son's obvious problems with weight and behaviour. Parents of children in his class confronted her to get her son to leave their children alone and not hurt them or they would take action and involve the authorities. Petunia tried denying that her son was the aggressor in any of those situations, but the overwhelming mass of parents against her was hard to deny. Arabella knew that Petunia had complained to Vernon more than once, but in this situation, when all teachers had watched Dudley and had to intervene several times on the playground to stop him from beating other children that mocked him or which he felt mocked him, they had no ground to stand on.

She wondered if she should tell Keith the minimal amount of time that Harry had to spend at the Dursleys' house. After all, she could see how much Harry wished to fully live with Keith and Jessica. He still came over occasionally when Keith and Jessica were too busy and she enjoyed those visits a lot. Now that she didn't have to fear that the Dursleys would forbid Harry coming over she could be much nicer to him. Albus had told her that in order to keep the wards up when Harry went to Hogwarts he needed to stay there for three weeks each summer to have them fully powered. And the alarms that were built into the warding scheme would only be triggered if Harry left the area of three kilometres around Number Four for more than a week at a time. She could inform Albus about family vacations and nothing would happen. Probably for Harry it would be best if she worked something out with his new chosen family.


Keith was really surprised to get a phone call from Arabella Figg, the old woman that had babysat Harry whenever Petunia Dursley didn't want to take her nephew with her on trips or vacations and two or three times since he had taken over raising Harry. She told him that she wanted to talk to him about Harry and tell him some things that would be important for him to know. While he was slightly confused, he knew that she was no witch and so he agreed to meet with her the next Saturday afternoon. Harry would be over at the Cornell's for Jack's birthday party and they would be able to talk freely. He organised for some tea and cake and at three brought Harry over to the birthday party. Harry was greeted happily by his friend and handed over the wrapped present before running inside to play with the other children that were invited. He asked Jack's mother when he should get Harry and was told that they planned to end the party around eight after dinner.

Once back home he set everything up for tea and at half past three the bell rang. He went to the door and saw Mrs Figg standing there.

"Good afternoon, Mrs Figg, please come in," He said politely.

"Thank you, Mr Brackwood," She replied. "Thank you for seeing me."

"You're welcome," He said and led her into the living room and served tea and cake.

Mrs Figg complimented the decoration of the living room and he could see that her eyes often rested on the photos he and Jessica had put up with the two of them or the two of them with Harry when they were at the zoo or an amusement park. Had she not known the truth she would have said that Harry was Keith and Jessica's child. The room definitely looked as if Harry belonged here. She was really happy that Harry had found somebody to love him like he deserved. Finally Keith turned the conversation to the reason for her visit.

"Well, this might come as a surprise for you, but I know everything about Harry. You see, when Harry was placed with his aunt, I was asked to keep an eye on him and regularly report to Albus Dumbledore how Harry was doing. I am a squib and as I knew James and Lily, Harry's parents, fairly well, I accepted making sure that Harry was well. I noticed quickly that Harry wasn't loved at his Aunt's place, I noticed clear signs of neglect and verbal abuse, but Albus refused to act in any way. I hated that I couldn't do more, I couldn't even really give Harry a nice time whenever he was over at my place when I babysat him because then the Dursleys wouldn't have let him come over anymore," She explained.

"I wondered about that as Harry told me that these days it was much nicer to visit you than when he was sent there by his aunt. So you know that I am a wizard?" Keith asked.

"Yes, I deducted you had to be when you gave Harry that enchanted backpack for his precious things. That was a really nice thing to do. In the past, whenever Harry got a present, as small as it might have been, like a small plushy or a box of crayons in a marketing event, where things were given out to all children around, he never got to keep them or Dudley outright destroyed them. Petunia and Vernon never punished Dudley for anything. Harry was always the scapegoat for anything that didn't go to their liking," She explained.

"Did you tell Professor Dumbledore about me living here?" Keith asked concerned.

"No. I only found out about you being a wizard recently and I can tell that Harry loves you. It would be wrong to inform Albus and have him meddle with things again. He is delusional in thinking that Petunia would ever put her hatred of magic aside and treat her nephew like a second son. I don't want Harry to lose the happiness he has now if Albus tried to force him to stay over at the Dursleys more often again or even lift that effect that makes the Dursleys ignore Harry. He is better off with how things are right now. And if he did something that made you move away I don't think Harry would be able to take the loss of another parent. I guess you told him about magic?" She asked.

"Yes, after an accidental bout of magic against a substitute teacher, I explained to him how he was a wizard and how his parents were magical as well. I didn't really know James and Lily. I only told him what I had observed at school. I was five years above them and in Hufflepuff. Being muggleborn I didn't find a good job after graduation so I returned to the muggle world and caught up with my normal education. I got a degree and now I am a teacher. I haven't hidden the flaws of the magical world from Harry, but I also made him realise that not everybody was that discriminating against muggles and muggleborns. I simply don't want that he is too entranced by the great things the magical world has to offer to overlook the nasty sides." Keith said.

"That's probably a good thing. Have you told Harry how famous he is in the wizarding world?" She wanted to know.

"Not yet. He knows the truth about how James and Lily died; I didn't want him to continue believing the rubbish about the car crash that his aunt had made up, making his parents look like drunks that couldn't be bothered to stay with him. I didn't tell him yet how You-Know-Who tried to kill him too and vanished because the killing curse backfired for some reason. He is too young to comprehend that a whole people has placed him on an idiotic pedestal for something he can't even remember properly. I know that he sometimes has nightmares about that night, but he doesn't know what they mean and I won't tell him for as long as I can. He is a child and deserves to be protected," Keith stated.

"I'm glad he has you. If you want, I can tell him a bit more about James and Lily. I was part of the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation that fought against You-Know-Who and which they were also members of. Being a squib I obviously wasn't involved in fighting Death Eaters head on, but I collected information and helped brewing potions to treat the injured. Potions is one area of magic that squibs can use as the magic is in the ingredients and not in the person that does the brewing. You only need a miniscule amount for basic potions and I have that much," She said.

"I would appreciate if you could tell him a few more stories. I would also like it if you could help him understand wizarding culture a bit better. I don't want him to have to appear clueless when he goes to Hogwarts," Keith said.

"Of course, I can do that. What I also wanted to tell you is the way the blood wards around the area are working. In one of my talks with Albus I asked him how long Harry had to stay with his relatives over the summers, once he went to Hogwarts, so that they would be at full power. He told me they needed three weeks of his presence to be fully powered again. And any alarms that he has placed go off when Harry leaves the area three kilometres around number four for more than a week at a time and I don't inform him about vacations that the Dursleys go on. So in case you plan on taking Harry with you on vacation, I would appreciate being told that I can make sure that Albus stays away. While he isn't evil, he likes to manipulate circumstances to his liking and I don't want Harry to be caught up in his newest shrewd plan. It is necessary to make sure that Harry isn't found by Death Eaters, which the wards prevent perfectly, but there is no need to have Harry suffer under the Dursleys' care," Mrs Figg declared.

Keith nodded. This was valuable information that he had tried getting for some time. He and Jessica had discussed taking Harry with them on vacation on not only on weekend trips, but with how the wards were unpredictable it was too much of a risk in their eyes.

"I'm sure we can arrange that. It will also please Harry to no end that he doesn't have to stay over there more than those three weeks. I have placed a notice-me-not charm on him that is only keyed to anybody with the surname Dursley and have added a few more individuals that treated him badly, because they believed the lies the Dursleys spread about Harry, later on. Another notice-me-not charm is on the door to Harry's bedroom, which before was Dudley's second bedroom," Keith explained what he had done.

"That's simply brilliant. It isn't harmful at all and still does what needs to be done. Especially as through you Harry has an adult he can ask for help and who cares for him. And you wouldn't even get in trouble with the Ministry as you didn't do anything to bait the muggles," Mrs Figg praised.

"Thank you. And the one spell performed in the house was so low level that the Ministry wouldn't pick it up if they observed the area more closely which I fear they do," He said.

"Not really, Albus has refused to reveal where Harry is staying using the argument that too many supporters of You-Know-Who were never truly revealed and for Harry's protection his location needs to be kept secret. The Minister has tried getting the location for years, but Albus is stubborn," Mrs Figg corrected the assumption. "I think the trace monitors will only be set up once he is enrolled at Hogwarts and the address has to be registered with the Ministry as is the law."

"That's good to know. I don't want to direct attention to Harry. In that part the idea of hiding him in the muggle world was a good one. Just the family with whom he was placed is the worst kind imaginable. The things my colleague Jane, who is Dudley's homeroom teacher, tells me. The boy is in serious danger to fail this year and have to repeat it," Keith said.

"I didn't figure anything else. Dudley is rude, lazy and used to getting his will all the time. He never learned how to do anything himself. Petunia has him spoiled rotten. He will never amount to anything if she doesn't stop babying him and teach him right from wrong," She scoffed.

Keith had to agree with her. Thanks to Dudley's behaviour he had the biggest file of any child at the school. If he continued bullying the other students and got into major trouble one more time, he would get suspended for a week. And no private secondary school would take a boy who had a massively negative file. Not even Smeltings, the school Vernon Dursley boasted of having attended.


Harry enjoyed playing in the sea. Keith had explained to him that, thanks to Mrs Figg, they now knew how long he had to stay under the wards each year to keep them up and that alarms would only be triggered if he stayed away from the area the wards covered for longer than a week. This was really great. Keith's house was within the wards so Harry brought all of his things over to his bedroom at Keith's house. The room at the Dursleys was still kept under the notice-me-not charm to not have to explain things when the Dursleys suddenly regained their memories of the room and wondered why Dudley didn't use it anymore and where the repaired furniture came from.

They planned that Harry would power the wards up for a week on end during the nights and then return to Keith in January, March and November. During the colder months it wasn't that much of a sacrifice. The days he was at school most of the time anyway, so Harry didn't mind as much.

Right now, after telling Mrs Figg that they would spend two weeks in Italy for a family vacation, Keith, Jessica and Harry were residing in a four stars hotel at the Adriatic Sea. The city closest to their hotel was Ancona. They had all got language courses at Flourish & Blott's in Diagon Alley, an option Jessica had overheard two of her roommates in Ravenclaw talk about when she had been in fourth year. It was an option that wasn't revealed to muggleborns to disadvantage them more. After all, positions in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, including sought after ambassador positions, required knowledge of several languages and even wizards couldn't learn so many of those without using magical means. So for two galleons per language unit, which could be used by up to five people until it had to be replaced, you got perfect knowledge of the language you had chosen within two weeks. And that knowledge stayed with you all your life.

The patchwork family had chosen to get Italian for their vacation, French, because Jessica loved going to ski in the mountains of France, something her parents had done once a year during winter break, and German because if you bought three language packages you got a one galleon discount and knowing German couldn't hurt in Keith's opinion. You had to wait between the language uploads, as Jessica called them, for a week to let your mind get used to the huge amount of knowledge it suddenly got. They played it especially safe and waited for two weeks considering that Harry was still a child. They had travelled to Italy by plane and rented a car for trips around the country.

Harry had been fascinated by the sights in Rome, Venice and Naples. They had first gone to Rome, skipping a visit at the Vatican because none of them were really into the Christian religion, even if the churches were a sight to behold, and had instead used the time to see the other sights of the Eternal City. And there were so many. The Colosseum, Pantheon Temple, Trevi Fountain and so many more. Harry would have a lot to tell his friends at school when they went back including masses of photos he could show them. He had got into the habit of taking lots of photos on his trips and then putting them all into photo albums when he got them developed. They had spent the night in a hotel there as seeing Rome in one day was impossible. And tourist groups that tried tended to be chased around by their guides without being able to stay and take pictures. They had simply bought a City Tourist Guide and visited the impressive relicts of times past at their own pace.

Naples had a history because of its close proximity to Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano but thankfully there hadn't been an eruption since 1944. It was also a city that had been targeted massively in World War II, the catacombs under the village had helped people escape the bombs sometimes, and there were other impressive sights, Jessica especially liked strolling through one of the beautiful gardens. Venice was famous for the water passages that crossed all over the city. The three had travelled through Venice in a gondola and got to see unique parts of the city which were hidden if you didn't use the waterways.

Right now Harry was building a sand castle. He had played in the water with Jessica for half an hour before tiring and deciding that a sand castle was what he wanted to do now. He also knew that Keith and Jessica should have some time for themselves. He had found another boy a year younger than him who wanted to help him and so the two young boys were determined to create the best sand castle ever. They used water to make the sand hold together better and created tunnels with shells as doors. They were busy for an hour before their parents called them back. And Harry secretly saw Keith and Jessica as the closest thing he had to parents. He knew that Keith couldn't adopt him thanks to the problems the wizarding government would give him, but Harry could live with it as long as he was treated like Keith's son. And Jessica, since she had joined their family, had become the mother figure he had wanted for so long.

Harry was very happy that his life was so good right now. It wasn't perfect, but loads better than before Keith had used the charms to make the Dursleys basically forget him.


And cut. Till next time.