The Boy Who Lived
The Boy Who Lived
Thanks to the freakily hot and muggy summer that had descended on England, Privet Drive was warm and quiet in the afternoon heat, just as Harry Potter liked it. Lying in the rose bed under his aunt and uncle's front window, he didn't appreciate people and cars making a lot of noise as he tried to listen to the six o'clock news inside.
"Seen the boy around today, Petunia?" he heard Uncle Vernon ask as he too waited for the news.
"No. Why?" his aunt snapped in reply, obviously not happy discussing her delinquent and messy nephew.
"He's been acting stranger than normal after coming back from that freakish school of his. Wanting to watch the news, of all things. Dudders has never wanted to watch the news in his life. Quite unnatural for a boy his age to want to, as far as I'm concerned. I mean, what's he up to? All he does is mope around in his room all day and then try to watch the news. Freaky, it is."
Harry rolled his eyes at his uncle's muttering, which was thankfully cut off by the start of the news on the TV. However, today, like every other day, brought no new items of interest that could have anything to do with activities on Lord Voldemort's part. When the local news started half an hour later, Harry knew there was no point in lying there any more. With a sigh, he crawled out from under the window and stood up out of sight of the Dursleys in their living room. Then, his wand tucked safely into his belt, he went for a walk.
His distracted footsteps took him to the local park, where he sat down on the only swing his cousin Dudley and his gang hadn't vandalised yet. 'Why has nothing happened yet?'
he thought to himself, absently swinging backwards and forwards. 'Why did Voldemort come back, kill Cedric and try to kill me, only to remain completely silent for over a month?'
Of course, this wasn't the first time he'd thought about this. He'd even sent letters to his friends asking these very same questions, but all he'd received in reply were cryptic hints that Ron and Hermione were together with the Weasleys somewhere and that he shouldn't be so open in his letters. Along with the advice to sit tight, behave and wait for them to arrange for his removal from the Dursleys', this had only served to annoy Harry mightily.
He was brought roughly from his musings by the sound a bicycle being wheeled along the path past the swings. Harry's eyes snapped open and he glared in the direction of Dudley and his friends, but none of them seemed to notice that they were being overheard as they strolled casually home. As soon as they had rounded the corner, Harry got up and began to follow; as far as the Dursleys were concerned, arriving home even a second after Dudley was too late. Therefore, when Piers Polkiss and the others left Dudley at a shortcut back to Privet Drive, Harry quickly jogged to catch Dudley up at the alleyway. "Dudley!"
The bigger boy spun around and glared as Harry caught up. "What do you want?" he asked menacingly. Dudley had filled out over the last year as he had taken up, as Uncle Vernon called it, 'the ancient and noble sport of boxing', and so the clenching of his fists would have caused most of the neighbourhood kids to back off and surrender their pocket money (as they had been doing all summer). However, to Harry it was just a harmless gesture, as he knew that he could duck a swing from Dudley as long as he didn't have his gang to back him up.
"Just thought you'd like some company. Dark evening like this, a little boy like you could come to harm, out on his own."
"What're you talking about? 'Dark evening like this…'" But as he spoke, Dudley seemed to realise the truth; the twilight that normally existed early on a summer evening had completely disappeared. Along with the stars and the moon, every light source the boys could think of had disappeared from the alleyway. "What're you doin'? You can't do magic in the summer. That freak school will expel you!"
Harry looked quickly from one end of the alley to the other, realising that he could no longer see more than a metre away and even that was disappearing fast. "It's not me, Dud."
But Dudley wasn't listening. "Dad'll throw you out of the house!"
"Dudley, calm down. I said it's not me. It's…" And then it dawned on him; he could hear a faint screaming in the back of his mind, and his breath fogged the air in front of his face just as the last of the light disappeared. "Dementors!" he realised, pulling his wand from his belt and pointing it into the blackness in front of him. "Dudley, clamp your mouth shut. No matter what happens, do not open your mouth. Don't let them kiss you."
But his desperate advice fell on deaf ears; Dudley had collapsed to the ground, his hands over his ears and a small whimper escaping his lips. Harry sighed and pointed his wand at the spot where he could hear something drawing a rattling breath. "Expecto patronum!
" he cried. The silver stag burst from the end of his wand and charged at the Dementor before returning to Harry and dispatching one at the other end of the alley. Smiling, Harry waved at the Patronus as it began to dissipate. "Thanks, Dad."
Looking down at Dudley, he began to put his wand back in his belt when he heard hurried footsteps approaching the alley. He spun around and looked straight into the terrified face of Arabella Figg, his batty old neighbour. "Dementors in Little Whinging!" she shrieked. "I am going to kill
Mundungus Fletcher when I get my hands on him!"
Stunned that she should even know what a Dementor was, Harry froze and stared at her. "Huh?"
"Dementors, boy, Dementors! Don't look at me like you don't know what they are. You should know, of all people." She rolled her eyes at him, and then knelt down beside Dudley, who was just now becoming coherent.
Harry shook his head to recover from his shock and helped her pull Dudley onto his feet. When the larger boy swayed dangerously, Harry tucked his wand more securely into his belt and then swung Dudley's arm over his shoulders. "Of course I know what they are. Question is, how do you?"
Mrs Figg began shuffling off towards Privet Drive, her carpet slippers scuffling along the pavement. "I'm a Squib, so get your wand back out. If there are more of them about I'll be about as useful as a chocolate kettle. Oh, Mundungus Fletcher just wait until I get my hands on you!"
At the sound of his name, a small, foul-smelling man appeared in front of her and promptly fell over. He reached into his mouldy brown coat and pulled out a bottle, from which he took a long swig. "Ah, Figgy! Good t' see you, old girl! Whassup?"
Mrs Figg's face immediately became dark and stormy. "What's up? WHAT'S UP? I'll tell you what's up! Dementors! On your watch! On the day you decided to shirk your duties and go to the local boozer! Harry's had to do magic, you imbecile! So get your drunken arse over to Hogwarts and alert Dumbledore! Go!"
Desperately batting away the bag of cat food that Mrs Figg was hitting him with, Mundungus looked up at Harry, blinked, and was gone. Stunned, Harry turned to Mrs Figg. "Who was that?"
"The man who was supposed to be guarding you today, the lazy swine. Ah, here we are." She looked at the gate of number four and waved Harry towards it. "Get the both of you inside and stay there. I've got to go home and await orders." And with that, she was gone.
Harry stared after her for a second before he too moved. He shifted Dudley's weight higher up onto his shoulder and turned down the front garden path to Number 4. At the door, he knocked and stepped back to allow Dudley to lean weakly against the doorframe. The door opened a moment later, light spilling from the hall out into the dark street.
"Duddikins!" gasped Aunt Petunia when she saw the sweaty and unhealthy pallor of her son's face. "What happened to you?" And she grabbed him by the shoulders and gently hustled him into the kitchen, leaving Harry to quickly dart into the hall before she could slam the door in his face. Hoping to avoid any unpleasantness if he was connected to Dudley's condition, Harry quietly made for the stairs. However, his hopes were dashed when his Aunt requested an explanation from Dudley and all the fear-stricken boy could mutter was one weak word.
Harry winced as the enormous figure of Uncle Vernon leant out of the kitchen doorway. "Boy! Get in here and fix whatever you've done to my son!"
"It wasn't me," he explained as he joined his relatives around the kitchen table. "It was a pair of Dementors. They have a nasty effect on people and feed on your happiness. Give him some chocolate and he'll be fine."
Looking at the way his uncle was turning purple, this explanation wasn't enough for him. However, his eruption was cut short by a grey owl swooping in through the open kitchen window and dropping a letter on Harry's head before quickly flying out again. "Bloody owls!" screamed the outraged man as he stormed over to the window and yanked it shut. When he turned back to the room, Harry was already reading the letter from the Ministry of Magic. He looked up from the end of the letter, threw it to the floor and drew his wand. "What's the letter about boy? And put that away before someone sees!"
"The ministry's expelled me for using a spell to get rid of those Dementors. They're coming for my wand. Not that I intend to be here when they arrive." Harry turned to leave, but at that moment another owl crashed into the window. Reacting purely from habit, Harry went to the window, opened it and retrieved the unconscious form from the windowsill. It was Errol, the Weasley family owl, with a short scribbled note clutched tightly in his beak. With a sigh, he placed the pathetic ball of feathers on the draining board and read Mr Weasley's frantic scrawl.Harry,
Do not surrender your wand! Albus has arrived here at the Ministry and is trying to sort everything out, but somebody is desperate for your blood; a team has already been dispatched to Privet Drive. They will be there within moments, but you must stay there according to Dumbledore. Do not leave, but do not surrender! Assistance is on the way.
With a frown, Harry looked up at the front door just as there was a knock on it. "Damn!" he muttered under his breath, and grabbed his uncle's shoulder as he made to open it. "No, it's a team of wizards!" he said, hoping he could appeal to Vernon's hatred of all things magical to stop him letting them in.
Uncle Vernon turned to him with a maniacal grin. "Yes, but they're after you
." And with that, he wrenched his shoulder from Harry's shocked grasp and turned to head into the hall...
...Only to be stopped by a man blocking the doorway, leaning on the quarterstaff in his left hand. Looking around 18 years old, the blonde turned a pair of startling blue eyes towards Vernon Dursley and shook his head. Then he straightened and turned on the heel of his boot, his leather duster swinging around his black trousers and T-shirt and revealing four pistols, one on each hip and under each arm, and faced the front door. Slung across his back from his left shoulder to his right hip was a sniper rifle, while a katanna hung from his right shoulder to his left hip. "Who's there?" the stranger asked the front door in a voice that sounded both kind and deadly at the same time.
"Magical law enforcement! Open up, Mr. Potter. Don't make this harder than it has to be."
With a smile, the stranger reached across his body for the gun on his left hip and pointed it at the door with his right hand. "Wrong answer. Reducto!
" And he pulled the trigger. To Harry's astonishment, as he stood paralysed with shock in the kitchen, the reducto
curse flew from the barrel of the semi-automatic pistol and hit the front door, blowing it clean off its hinges and throwing the two wizards outside to the floor under a hail of splinters. Holstering the pistol, the young man stepped forward and stood in the now empty doorway, looking down on the two men as they recovered their senses. "My name is Michael Gabriel, representative of the Council of Elders, envoy of Eternity and guardian of reality, and this boy is under my protection. Leave now before you do something you'll regret."
The more alert of the two was able to see from his stance that this was a kind offer, not a declaration of combat, but his partner was on his feet before he could stop him, his wand pointed at Michael's head. "Is that a threat?" asked the slightly dazed MLE.
Less than a second later, he fell to the ground again, his wand nailed through his right hand and into the garden soil. Over his screams, Michael bent down and offered his hand to the other magical law enforcer. "Your friend is relatively uninjured and considerably luckier than he thinks. Had I been slower, my sister would have buried a knife between his ribs." And he nodded towards a black-haired young woman standing in the garden gate, similarly dressed to her brother but carrying a bow and quiver instead of a quarterstaff, a hunter's crossbow instead of the sniper rifle and a pair of sharpened three-pronged sai daggers instead of pistols. She also had several slim silver throwing knives in a pair of straps around each thigh below the daggers tucked into her belt, one of which she held in a throwing motion over her right shoulder. She raised an eyebrow at Michael, but when he shook his head she relaxed and sheathed the knife.
Turning back to the upright MLE, Michael smiled and motioned towards his sister, who stepped out of the way. "You and your partner will be able to Disapparate from the road. I suggest you check the laws you're being ordered to enforce, next time; the ministry cannot expel a Hogwarts pupil, and you are not allowed to snap a suspect's wand, merely confiscate it until trial. Since Harry has not had a trial and used the Patronus charm to defend himself, I suggest you find someone else to bother." He snapped his fingers and the wand flew from the prone enforcer's hand and into his own. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Perfectly." The enforcer accepted his partner's wand, cast a levitation charm on the unconscious man (he had fainted from the pain) and walked towards the gate. As soon as he was gone, Michael spun around and caught the letter that was falling from the sky behind him.
"Here, Harry. I believe this excuses you, probably until a hearing because someone at the ministry really hates you at the moment for some reason. We will have you out of here shortly. Until then…" At this, he turned to Vernon Dursley, who was standing in the ruined front doorway with his hand gripping the back of Harry's neck. "…I suggest everybody try to get along nicely, or at least civilly. My sister and I would hate to have to come here to sort out any fights or to make sure that Harry was allowed to stay." And with that, he pointed his pistol once again at the doorframe, but this time cast a simple reparo
charm. The splinters leapt up from where they'd landed and formed back into the front door, but not before Vernon caught sight of the black-clad young woman playfully throwing a dagger at his face. A moment after the door was repaired there was a solid-sounding thunk from the other side, and then the sound of someone wrenching the dagger from the door. "Oh please, Mary. I was trying to be civil and you have to go and scare him into behaving. What am I going to do with you?"
As the conversation between the twin siblings faded into the distance, Vernon looked up the stairs just in time to see his nephew retreating into his room. Well
, he thought. They haven't frightened me. Not at all. He's going, if he's going to attract violent characters like that and these dementoids. He's a danger to my family.
Then he cast a nervous glance over his shoulder towards the front door. Maybe I'll give him just one more chance, all the same. Not that they scared me at all.