A New Beginning
This story was written for one of the NaNoWriMo I was involved in. It was pointed out that I never posted it. Time to change that.
I wonder if those idiots knew that would be the result? Harry thought as he lay quietly in his bed at Number 4 Privet Drive. He was quiet because moving too much hurt after the beating that Vernon Dursley had given him.
There had been points in the past where he or Petunia had struck Harry, but only once in his past anything ever been broken, and that had been caused by Dudley. He had never mentioned it to Madam Pomfrey, but he was glad for that idiot Lockheart vanishing his right arm bone, because the arm had never set perfectly.
Vernon had stormed home and proceeded to beat Harry severely right after that chewing out by Order members, and had informed him that if any message other than an 'I'm fine, write later' type of note went out, he'd never survive to return to school.
Hedwig was apparently being held prisoner at the school's owlery, based on the message that Dumbledore had sent him:
I regret informing you that I must leave you at the Dursley home for the entire summer. The protections are weakening more than I would have expected, and to ensure your safety, we must leave you there.
Since the danger from Death Eaters is so strong, I fear that I must keep Hedwig here at the school for her safety, as well. She is a strikingly beautiful owl, but unfortunately startlingly recognisable. Even an incompetent Death Eater could follow her and get a good idea of your whereabouts, and while the protections are important, if they get too close, the wards would not hold up against a full scale assault.
You are smart enough to also realise what this means for mail this summer. If possible, I will collect mail from your friends and have an Order member drop it off in bundles occasionally.
Vernon's going to kill me before this summer is out, Harry thought. And with that prophecy about me, I need to stay alive.
He thought for a while before gingerly getting to his feet and looking out the window. He pulled it up and leaned out it, looking around as if bored. His actual purpose, however, was to see if he could solve who was watching him this night.
To his annoyance, it was not Mundungus, but rather some woman he didn't know. I can wait a few days until Dung is on duty, or I can make a concerted effort to get out of here tonight, before Vernon can kill me. He thought for several minutes and then carefully removed his book bag from his trunk and removed all the things he felt he could stand to lose. It wasn't really much, just his photo album, since his Firebolt was at the school still, and his invisibility cloak had too many uses for him to want to leave it behind. He packed a change of clothing and his Hogwarts robes into his book bag, along with his cloak, and carefully put the album under the floorboard. The rest was packed back in his trunk and placed in the corner, as out of the way as possible.
He looked at his clock and saw that it was now around eleven at night. It wasn't too much longer that he'd have to wait for Vernon to start snoring, at which point he would be able to leave his room and head downstairs.
As if that had been a cue for the man, the wall began to shake slightly as the nominal head of the Dursley household dealt with one of the side effects of being grossly overweight - he snored, in this case sounding like a herd of rutting walruses. Harry could only assume that Petunia used earplugs, because there was no way that an unprotected pair of ears could sleep through that if the faint rumbling he could hear was any indication.
Backpack over his shoulder, with the cloak on the top, he gently opened his door and stuck his head into the hallway. Good. No one up here. He carefully made his way down the stairs, avoiding the trick step, and made his way to the back, where the sliding door to the back garden lay.
Here's where I discover whether or not there's a guard in the back as well. He slid the door open and stepped into the back garden, setting his bag down as he did. He closed the door and pulled out his invisibility cloak. He flipped it on, picked up his bag, and started to walk toward the front of the house.
He moved carefully past the guard, who was looking bored. He wondered a bit why she was standing in plain sight, but chalked it up to the perversity and weirdness of wizards in Britain. He ghosted down the street in the opposite direction from Mrs Figg's home before he finally called for the Knight Bus.
He pre-empted Stan's spiel and told him that he needed to get to Diagon Alley as fast as possible, and dropped five Galleons into the fellow's hand. He was barely able to get seated before the bus exploded into motion.
It seemed only moments later that the bus came to a stop in front of The Leaky Cauldron. He jumped from the vehicle and listened to the crack as it disappeared again before he turned to enter the building.
He sped through the raucous atmosphere and into the opening behind the pub, where the familiar brick wall stood. A few moments later, her was in the Alley and walking to Gringott's.
He'd been right - while the Muggle world had something called banker's hours, the goblins looked at every moment of every day as being banker's hours. The bank was still wide open and waiting for another chance to make money. Given the hour, Harry had no wait for a teller.
"Key please," the goblin demanded.
"I do not have it. It was given to Molly Weasley to get money from my vault for me. Is there a possibility of getting a replacement or a duplicate key, after proving that I am Harry Potter?"
"Potter," the goblin said. "Just a moment." With that, the goblin's head disappeared and he heard scurrying. About a minute later, several more goblins arrived with the original teller.
"You claim to be Harry Potter," one of the goblins stated.
"Yes I do. Is there a method of proving this claim that doesn't require my key?" he asked a little nervously.
"Yes, but it could be painful, or even fatal if you are not who you claim to be."
"Well, since I am Harry Potter, I'm willing to undergo this process. Assuming, of course, that it's not expensive. Right now I have very little money on me, which is why I needed to get to the vault."
"Understood. Come with us to the ritual room."
He followed them into the room in question, where they turned and smiled at him, a more than slightly disconcerting thing. "You humans are truly stupid, are you aware of that? You blindly follow us into a room where we could kill you and no one would be the wiser."
"Wouldn't be all that good for business, now would it?" Harry asked hotly. "All I want is access to my vault."
"Well, that could be a problem, since you have no key, and we need the permission of your wizarding guardian to grant you a new one. Your wizarding guardian has not and will not authorise such a situation."
"How do you know?" Harry asked.
"Because we have instructions for just such an occasion from him. Albus Dumbledore has told us to ensure that you do not receive another key, and that we are to inform him if you arrive to retrieve a new key."
"Thank you, gentlemen," came the familiar voice of the Headmaster of Hogwarts from behind him. "Time to return you to your home, Harry." A moment later, Harry was unconscious.
He awoke to discover that his bag was gone and with it the cloak. He was also in his bedroom in Number 4 Privet Drive.
Do not leave Privet Drive again.
He snarled as he saw the note and knew that if he tried to leave again today, he'd be seen and Stunned again. He'd have to wait at least a week or so to try again.
Vernon acted smug and happy for the next few days, which actually pleased Harry. When he was happy, the beatings didn't happen. Therefore, Harry acted as subservient as he could manage, and explored carefully during those errands for Petunia that took him away from the property. One of the businesses he walked past made his eyebrows rise, and a plan began to form.
Four days after his attempted escape, letters arrived, having been forwarded from Hogwarts. The first he opened was in Ron's scrawl.
You've got 'em in an uproar here. That stunt you pulled of going to Gringott's has 'em scared that you're gonna try it again.
Given the way they talked to me, I'd expect that they'll go spare if you try it again.
Please don't. If you do, they'll likely prevent you from coming to the Burrow this summer, and I'd like to play Quidditch with you at least once before school starts.
Speaking of Quidditch, the Cannons have started their new season and are doing their best. This could be their year!
Ah, Mum needs me to de-gnome the garden. (Another reason I wish you were here - you could help.)
I'll send another letter later.
He raised an eyebrow at the letter. Something was off about it, but he couldn't tell what. Maybe it was Ron asking him not to break the rules, he thought with a small laugh.
He moved to the next one.
What were you thinking, Harry?
The Death Eaters are out and about, going after families, and you're gallivanting around Diagon Alley, hoping to get more money for the upcoming school year? They're trying to find you to kill you!
Grow up and realise that the adults have your best interests in mind.
Ooo, I'm too angry right now to write a coherent letter. I'll write another one when I calm down. But don't be childish and leave again!
He raised an angry eyebrow at the letter. There were ink spatters across it, as if she'd been writing at high speed. Who is she to tell me how to live my life? he growled. See if I'm willing to tell her anything else this year.
The last letter startled him when he touched it. It suddenly turned red and leapt from his desk, splitting open into the standard Howler format.
HARRY JAMES POTTER!
WHAT KIND OF HARE-BRAINED STUNT DID YOU THINK YOU WERE PULLING BY LEAVING LIKE THAT? PEOPLE ARE GUARDING YOU, AND YOU GO GALLIVANTING AROUND DIAGON ALLEY? I KNOW THAT YOU CAN BE SELF-CENTRED SOMETIMES, BUT THAT TAKES THE CAKE! HOW MANY MORE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO DIE TRYING TO KEEP YOU SAFE?
It ended with a huff, a uniquely Ginny sound. Considering it was Ginny's voice that had delivered the message, it only made sense.
Vernon slammed the door open. "What are you doing up here, you freak? What's all the screaming?" he punctuated his question with a closed fist blow to the side of Harry's head.
"Ginny Weasley sent me a letter. I didn't know it was going to turn into a Howler!" he replied, shaking his head. "I didn't even think that was possible! I thought it was an all or nothing deal!"
"I told you about you and your unnatural ways!" Petunia shrieked from the doorway. "Teach him a lesson, Vernon!"
Harry knew that this was going to be a bad one when he saw the belt coming out of Vernon's trousers.
He awoke some indeterminate time later in his bed. A painful tearing sensation tore at him when he tried to sit up, and when he had finally managed it, he looked at the bed and saw why. He had been dropped in the bed, bleeding, and the wounds had scabbed over with the bed linens attached. Getting up had reopened several of the wounds.
Okay, he thought. When I leave the house this time, I do not go anywhere that wizards congregate regularly. I might have to disappear to France or something, and disappear from there. I am not going to survive this if I stay here.
He looked and realised that it was late at night, but he had no idea how long he'd been out. He stood and headed to the door and then to the water closet. He cleaned himself up as best he could at the sink, and performed his standard ablutions, then pulled new linens from the cupboard and made his bed.
A quick check out the window showed another guard, right where the previous one had been. He couldn't understand why they insisted on standing in plain sight. He narrowed his eyes as he glared at this guard and suddenly realised that he could see something shimmering around them. Is that an aura? Let me go check.
After putting on some trousers - but leaving his back uncovered - he headed downstairs carefully and out the back door, as he had before. "I've just got to get some air," he murmured as he walked around front. "I won't leave the property, 'cause I'm sure the old fart has guards on the place to make sure I don't leave again, but I just had to get outdoors for a while." He stopped near the guard, who he noticed in his peripheral vision was looking at him as he looked into the night sky.
He narrowed his eyes as he looked skyward and saw the aura fade in again. It didn't seem to be covering the guard as a spell, but rather like a cloak would. "Bastards. I hate being locked into this place. Vernon beats me, and I have to put up with it." He lowered his face to look as if he were looking next door, and then turned in the direction of the guard. He focused on his guard, and it took the guard a moment to realise that Harry could see him. Harry used that moment of shock to drive an open palm into the nose of the guard, which managed to knock the man out. As he fell, the man's cloak shimmered, and Harry grinned. Don't know why I can see through them, but I'm not complaining. He covered the man up by dragging him into the bushes, and then he ran back to the house. In just two minutes he had a shirt and his money pouch with him, and he was escaping from the Dursley home once more.
He had ground to cover and he knew it. He hit the road with the cloak over his body and began the trek to Great Whinging. The Knight Bus was out of the picture, because he was fairly certain that Dumbledore and company had informed them that he was not to be picked up, or if he was picked up, that he was to be delivered either to him, or back to Number 4 Privet Drive.
Great Whinging was actually a smaller town than Little Whinging, but it had one thing that Little Whinging didn't - people with no knowledge of his supposed status as a criminal. He was pleased that the temperature that night wasn't overly hot or cold, because it made his travels go better. He was at the outskirts of the town by the time the sun started to rise in the East.
Once in the town, he walked the town and learned something of its layout. On its High Street, he saw just what he would need in a while. The one thing that might work against him was his clothing, but he hoped that it would not count too badly against him.
He found a spot where he could reach into his money pouch, and he pulled out two Galleons and five Sickles. This should get me enough money to get somewhere else for a while. Maybe I'll do this in a couple more towns, even. He began to craft a story about where these had come from.
At about nine that morning, the shop he was waiting for opened. He waited another ten minutes and finally walked through its door. "Good morning, young sir. How can I help you?"
"Well," Harry began, jumping into his story, "I'm hoping you can help me. I was going through an old trunk rescued from my attic, and found a pouch at the bottom. It had these in it, and I was wondering if they're made of what I think they are."
The gentleman looked at the seven coins and raised an eyebrow. "Coins, obviously," the man murmured, "but none I've ever seen before." He looked into Harry's eyes. "Do you know where the trunk came from?"
"My great-uncle, I was told. It's all that's really left of my family, from what I can tell. Most of the stuff is old cloth that seems like its falling apart - even the pouch these were in was falling to pieces." He laughed a little. "To be honest, given the condition of everything else in there, I was surprised to find these in a good condition. The fire didn't help any, either." He motioned at his clothes as if by explanation.
The man nodded sympathetically and then scraped a tiny amount off the edge of a Galleon. He put it in a dish, and then put a drop of some liquid onto the scrapings. The reaction made the man smile. "Well, if you thought the two golden coins were gold, you were right." He put them on a small scale and weighed them out.
"Well," he finally said, "I've got two options for you. I can give you what the gold in them is worth, or I can try to sell the coins themselves on consignment. I'm pretty sure that I'll get a good deal more for them doing it that way, since I've never seen this kind of coin before in my life, and some crazy numismatist will decide that he simply has to own something unique."
Harry bit his lower lips as if thinking deeply. "Honestly, as much as I like the idea of the extra money from the consignment, I need the immediate money more." He motioned at his clothes again. "I've got a couple more of the gold coins, and probably another ten of the silvery ones, so I might come back once I'm more settled and have a more permanent address."
The shop owner nodded and looked at the Sickles, then tested them as well. "Yep. Silver. Let's see, current price on gold this morning was £245 per ounce, and silver is at £3,24. They're an ounce apiece, so I can give you . . ." The man tapped away on a desk calculator for a moment before finishing. "I can sell these at considerably more, I will admit, so I'm going to give you £500 for the two gold coins and another £16,25 for the five silver coins, for a total of £516,25." He punctuated the statement by giving exactly that amount to Harry.
"Thank you, sir. I expect it won't be too long before you see me in here with the rest of them for consignment. I've no use for an old coin, since I can't exactly spend those, so I might as well get some real use out of them."
"Makes sense. Not really a keepsake sort of fellow?"
"Didn't even know the great-uncle. He died before I was born. Maybe they'd have been a keepsake for someone else, but I ended up with the trunk, so -" He shrugged, leaving the rest unsaid.
"Understood. I look forward to seeing you again, sir," the owner said.
Harry tipped a non-existent hat as he exited the store, and headed down the street further, stepping into a convenience store to find the nearest station that could get him to London, and found that there was a bus that could get him to the Guildford station due shortly.
While Harry was in Great Whinging looking for the bus, the search for him was now in full swing. It had begun at half five in the morning, when Nymphadora Tonks came on her Harry watching duty.
"Dickens, where are you?" she whispered. "If I find you've done a Fletcher and fallen asleep or walked off, then I'm going to flay you." She explored the lawn, getting angrier as she looked, until she heard a soft moan under one of the bushes between Number four and Number six. Moments later, she was field healing his broken nose and was waking him up. "What the hell happened?"
"Dunno," he said groggily. "I was doing the usual boring crap you get overnight when the little punk came out to enjoy the night, I thought. He walks around a little, talking to himself, and stops near me, looking up at the sky. He was whinging about the fact that Dumbledore wants him to stay here, and moaning that the Muggles beat him. He was bleeding, I'll give him that, but nothing serious. He finally looks down and turns as if to walk into the house, and then looks right at me. In the second that it took me to realise that he could see me somehow, his hand shot out and caught me in the nose, open palm. Little prick stole my fucking cloak, too."
"How'd he see you, Dickens? I know you're too good with the cloak to get caught that way."
"Don't know. He owns one himself, so he might be used to the smell of one, if they've got a smell. Could be that he was so close that he saw a shimmer. Could have been luck for all I know. But he made me, and took me out, damn it."
"Well, we'll catch him. You go to St. Mungos and get that nose looked at better than my field healing can do, and I'll contact the old man."
A few minutes later, Albus Dumbledore stood on the lawn of Number four Privet Drive. "So what precisely happened?"
"You'll want to talk to Dickens, but as he explained it to me, the little bastard got lucky and saw him. He'd been walking the lawn boo-hooing about how Fatso in there hits him. Apparently hit him yesterday in fact, probably after that Weasley Howler. Well, the kid walks outside on the lawn for a while, happens to stop by where Dickens is, and just before turning to go back in, makes him and flat palms Dickens' nose. The blow knocked Dickens out, and Potter stole the cloak and left."
"Thank you, Nymphadora. I'll check the usual places. If you could stay the day in Godric's Hollow, it would be appreciated. If I happen to have missed him at Gringott's or the Cauldron, then he is likely to head to Hogsmeade, Grimmauld Place, or Godric's Hollow. He might go to the Burrow, but a simply conversation with the Weasleys will ensure a quick call to me."
"One nice thing about keeping him stupid," Tonks laughed. "It lowers the number of places we need to check."
"Very true," he replied with a small smile.
Four hours later had left Dumbledore in a much different mood. Stan Shunpike had not seen Harry this time, and he had verified that with Legilimency. Tom had not seen him either, and the goblins commented on just how stupid Harry would have to be to show up after the last time he had been to their doors.
Lupin had seen no sign of him, and promised to contact Albus the moment that Harry arrived. Tonks had not yet seen any sign of him at the remains of the home in Godric's Hollow, and the Weasleys were now beside themselves wondering where Harry might be.
He nearly stomped up the walkway to the Granger home. Hermione opened the door before he had the chance to ring the bell. "Headmaster!" she exclaimed. "What's wrong?"
"I need your help. Harry has gone missing once more, and has not gone to any of the expected places. Where might he be?"
She scowled. "May I ask a few questions to make sure all the bases are covered?" He nodded. "You've checked the Knight Bus and the Leaky Cauldron?" He nodded. "Have you checked the Muggle sources? Taxis and buses? He might be going to Godric's Hollow the Muggle way, which would involve a rail trip that could take hours. Assuming he could get to King's Cross station by nine this morning, or even about now, at noon, he could be on a train that could easily take eight to twelve hours to get to the Tintagel area, sir. And sending an owl is useless because they're trained not to deliver into largely Muggle areas, so he certainly couldn't get an owl on the train." Her scowl deepened. "I can only think to tell you that I'll find a way to notify you if he comes here, and tell you that you'll likely need people at the stations. King's Cross would be a good one, and wherever it is that is closest to Godric's Hollow. I know it's near Tintagel, but beyond that, I don't know the closest station. Also, there may be a station where he'll have to change trains, so you might want to drop someone there as well."
"Miss Granger," he said angrily, "if he comes here, please hurt him badly. I don't want him running off, and I will clear the offence with the Improper Use of Magic office. Bludgeon his legs or something, but do not let him escape you. Is that understood?"
She blinked at him twice and then said, "Yes," she said slowly. "If he shows up, you want me to take him down hard."
"Excellent. I shall return shortly with a small jar of specialised Floo powder. It was formulated to be used in emergencies at any fireplace. Throw it in and call for me through the bright purple flames." She nodded her understanding, and he left her home.
Unknown to Hermione, Harry had not chosen to go to where she had expected him to. By noon, he was at King's Cross station, purchasing a ticket to Brussels, Belgium, where he would catch another train to Amsterdam. By the time that Dumbledore got people to King's Cross station in positions to see Harry entering the station, he was already waiting aboard the train that would take him to the continent.
It was early evening by the time that Harry reached Amsterdam, and he set about converting two hundred Pounds Sterling into guilders. Okay, he thought, now to find a place to stay. Maybe get some new clothes, and a pack to carry everything in, and be very careful with the cash I've got to hand.
He was pointed quickly in the direction of a youth hostel, and on his way there passed a department store, where he slid inside and purchased a pack and some clothes. His wallet lighter for the purchases, he was better off than ever before.
The next morning came, bringing some serious annoyance to a number of people. "There's been no sign of him, Dumbledore!" Tonks growled. "Do you have any idea how cold and creepy that damned house is now that it's got no roof?"
"There has been no sign of Harry on any of the trains. It is possible that he is walking, which means that your presence is not needed there for some time, Nymphadora. I appreciate your putting up with the discomfort overnight."
"It's nothing compared to the discomfort he's going to feel when I'm done with him. He's staying still when I find him, and Pomfrey can reattach his fucking legs later. I'm getting a hot cuppa and some sleep, in that order. I'll be available again by early afternoon." With that, the fireplace went back to normal.
He is not helping his cause any by running, Dumbledore thought. He is but a pawn in this game of fools, and I will have him play his proper part. The Potter money is paying for the war effort, and should be properly under my control by the time he turns seventeen.
He sat back in his chair. The world gawks at him right now, but they need a better hero. A new Merlin, as it were. One who understands the need for controlling the new blood that enters this world every year. Yes, we need the new blood, but they will not destroy our traditions, as they try so hard to do.
Reports from everywhere showed that Harry was nowhere to be seen amongst the various searchers. He had not gone to any of the places that so obviously he had to head. I guess the only thing left is to send the child an owl with a Portkey.
Harry had just climbed off the bus on his way to the Anne Frank House when the owl swooped out of the sky at him. He took the message from the bird and looked at the handwriting as the owl flew away. "Dumbledore," he growled.
He borrowed a lighter from a man just lighting a cigarette and proceeded to set the unopened letter aflame on the ground, carefully watching the letter turn to ashes, and preventing any embers from escaping. He was intrigued to see the thing spit and spark for a moment when the flames were at their strongest, and wondered if he'd just watched an enchantment go away. When it was done, he carefully spread the ashes to make them cool quicker, and then scooped them into a bag and deposited them in the trash.
"Must not like the sender," a woman said from near him. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone take a letter from a delivery owl and set fire to the letter." The voice was accented - obviously a native of the area - but spoke English.
"I know what the sender is saying, and I don't want to hear it. And I wouldn't put it past the sender to try to force me to listen to it if I open it." He turned to the speaker as he spoke. With a small chuckle he added, "And there's no reason to take it out on the owl, either."
"I've always wondered if there was more legend than truth to the story of Albus Dumbledore," she said.
"Hard to say. I know so little of the wizarding world, and it's his fault."
"How so?" the woman - not too much older than him - asked him.
"I don't know what my parents' wills read, but I was supposed to be given to Sirius Black. When Dumbledore insisted that I be given to himself instead, Sirius went off after Pettigrew, who was the real traitor. Pettigrew killed all those people and framed Sirius for it."
"Are you sure?" she asked, unsure that he might not be a little bit insane.
"I've met them both. Pettigrew is alive and reasonably well. Sirius is now dead, after fighting his cousin Bellatrix Lestrange at the British Ministry for Magic in June. Pettigrew, the little bastard, is of course still alive."
She shook her head. "Look, if you distrust Dumbledore, then you need to do a few things. First is get to the bank and see about your money. After that, you need to see about wand privileges in the civilised world."
He snorted. "When I went to Gringotts, the goblins called Dumbledore and I woke up back in my old bedroom. I don't know if they're simply following the law directly or not, but to be immediately called stupid when I walk through the door is not a sign that they're willing to work with me as a customer."
"I know you probably get a lot of this in England, but would you be willing to come with me? I'd like to learn more about this, and I think you need to speak to the gnomes." He raised an eyebrow at that, and she laughed. "Only the British call those little garden pests gnomes. The ones I refer to are in charge of money for the majority of Europe. Are you free to go to Zurich and talk to them?"
"Until the old bastard finds me again, I'm free to do anything." He started. "I'm sorry. I should not be swearing in front of a lady, no matter how angry I am."
She laughed. "Anger makes us all do things that we normally wouldn't. So, how about it? I can get you a good meal, and we can talk a little more."
"I'm low on cash, but I should pay for my own meals. It's just good manners."
"And I think it's good manners to help someone low on cash. So, which one of us will win the war of wills?"
"I can throw off an Imperius," he said with a small chuckle.
Her eyebrows rose, but she quivered her lower lip and said, "I can cry at you, though." To prove it, a tear leaked from her left eye.
He blinked and then laughed. "You win. That's fighting dirty."
She grinned brightly. "Yup! Fighting dirty is my middle name, I think the Americans say."
"That must make for a long name," he replied with his own smile. "Ending up with a name like Anna Fighting Dirty Johnson must have gotten you some weird looks in school, too."
She laughed loudly. "I like you. My name is actually Kaatje Houghtailing - no middle name - and I'm treating you to lunch." She held out her hand.
He shook it once, and then, on a whim, turned it palm down and kissed the back of her hand. "Harry Potter, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance."
"You, sir, are a gentleman," she said with a smile that made Harry happy that he had done the right thing. She crooked her arm, and he took it, letting her lead the way.
Angelina and Derek Granger returned home from their early day at the office to find their daughter stomping around the house. Derek took his life into his hands with his first words.
"Pookie-pie, what's wrong?"
"Daddy!" his daughter screamed, but her next reaction startled both of her parents. She burst into tears, threw herself at him, and sobbed uncontrollably.
He patted her back in worry until she was able to calm herself somewhat. "Now, can you tell me exactly what's wrong, honey?"
"Everything! The situation with Harry is getting out of hand!"
"What's happened now?" Angelina asked.
"Dumbledore came over to talk to me because Harry left the Dursley home again." She stopped and shook her head. "He wanted to know where Harry might have gone. I told him, and he . . ." She stopped and took a deep breath. "I didn't realise until he told me what to do if Harry showed up here that he's been using the Imperius on me!"
"That's that mind control spell, right?" Derek asked.
"Yes. I was taught to fight it off at school, but one of the drawbacks to fighting it is that you have to want to. The original order he gave was to help him keep Harry safe. I want to keep my . . . uh, Harry safe. It was when he told me to hurt him if he showed up here, in order to keep him until Dumbledore could arrive, that I started to fight it and broke free. I want Harry safe, but I don't want him hurt!"
"Can you act well enough to convince him that you're still under, if he shows up again?" Angelina asked.
"I think so. Basically, I'd just need to tell him that I haven't seen him. If he asks why Harry did something, I can honestly say that I don't know."
"What will you do from here, though? How will you warn Harry?" Derek asked.
"I don't know if I can. My last letter was berating him for being childish and leaving. he might have had a good reason, and would see that letter as a betrayal." She sniffed. "Dumbledore might have lost me my best friend."
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