The Ministry Guard
I want to give everyone a few more notes about this story, just to get questions about these things out of the way - like I did about the "no dead characters will be coming back" and the "no fanon!Draco" things I did at the start of Chapter One. Having gotten further into the writing of this story, I don't think knowing these things (now) will spoil anything. So:
1. There isn't going to be a slayer-witch. I will admit, for a while during the outlining of this story, I did toy with the idea of making a witch at Hogwarts a slayer. (But I wont say who. ;D) But then, as the mythology I was planning for the story began to grow, I realized that it would not only be too much to do - but also, in the end, it didn't really go anywhere. Plus, it conflicted totally with one of my later plot-points, and therefore didn't work. So I cut it out. (And which is why I'm telling you all about it now.) So don't look for Hermione, or Ginny, or any other Hogwarts teen to be a slayer.
2. Dawn's key-ness will
play a part in the story. A big part, actually, though not the only big part.
Again, all reviews - excepting flames - are wanted. It's the only pay we fanfic writers get. ;)Extra Note:
I am having some computer problems right now, so there will be slightly more of a wait for the next chapter, as I will be spending this weekend not writing, but trying to fix whatever is wrong. (No worries though, back-ups of all files containing this story have already been made).
* * * * *Chapter Four: The Ministry Guard Clear your mind.
Dawn's bus would be arriving in little more than half an hour, but Harry didn't even move to get up from where he was laying on top his bed. He was dressed, but his glasses were off, lying on the bedside table where the small alarm clock that he had just glanced at was sitting.
His scar was still tingling slightly, less then twelve hours having passed from when it had first exploded with heat and pain.
Voldemort was angry.
Harry could only guess as to why . . . probably having to do with the raid last night. All he really knew through was that he'd been trying to sleep, and then all of the sudden his head had exploded in white-hot pain, waking him from the half-sleep state he was in. The pain had been ferocious, even as feelings of hate, and a deep desire to kill had built up in him. It had reached such a fever pitch that, looking back on it now, he almost couldn't believe that such a level of hate actually existed in another person . . . it was a level of such dark emotion, that it had left Harry panting and physically ill, even after it began to subside.
He had felt that kind of hate only once before, but last time it had only been for a second. When Voldemort had looked out of Harry's own eyes and into those of the only man he had ever feared - Albus Dumbledore.
Harry had laid on his bed, still shaking for almost half and hour afterwards, feeling absolutely sick to his stomach. When he'd finally recovered a little measure of his strength, he's gotten out of bed, sat down at his desk, pulled out a small roll of parchment.
When his scar had hurt before in the past two years, he'd written to Sirius about it. But he couldn't do that anymore.
And this was much more than just his scar hurting.Professor Dumbledore,
I felt what Voldemort was feeling again. He was very angry about something. So much so wanted to kill them - and I know the person he wanted to kill wasn't one of his followers. What should I do?
He had wanted to say more . . . a little about the room he'd seen Voldemort in, and all the books that were piled high in the place . . . but he didn't know if Hedwig would get the letter to Professor Dumbledore without it being intercepted first.
Especially with Ministry Security watching him now.
He'd sealed the letter and had had to wake up a cranky Hedwig, giving her a treat, before she would go off and deliver the letter.
Now he was waiting, trying to clear his mind as best he could. Waiting hopefully for a reply - and for one soon.1:07 PM.
Hedwig's cage wasn't empty, even though she was off delivering his letter. Ron's Owl, Pig was fluttering about, waiting for Harry to compose a reply to the two letters that had arrived for him late that morning - one form Ron, the other from Hermione.
Apparently, they had both been told about what happened last night. Or most of it at least.
Harry supposed either Kingsley or Tonks must have told them about it. Hermione's letter pretty much warned him to try and stay closer to home from now on, just until Professor Dumbledore said it was okay for him to leave the Dursleys again. She also pointedly asked him what he was doing bringing a Muggle so near the Leaky Cauldron.
Ron's letter had not been one warning him of caution, however. His
just mostly focused on Harry's mystery girl - and how come Harry had never told them about her? And was she really a Muggle, and if she was pretty.
Once again, Harry was thankful for Ron's ability to focus on the more interesting matter, to his mind anyway.1:13 PM.
Tonks and Kingsley hadn't completely laid into him when he'd finally explained how he and Dawn had come to be there in the first place. Kingsley had looked at him with disapproval of course, and Tonks shook her head in exasperation - before telling him that he really wasn't the first teenage wizard to have tried to sneak an unauthorized Muggle into the Leaky Cauldron. Apparently, such things were common enough among Muggle-born teenagers and, apparently, there were wards that prevented an underage wizard from actually bringing
a Muggle - other than ones own parents - into the Leakey Cauldron.
All Harry would have been able to do was bring Dawn into a hall with series of never-ending doors, if he had tried to enter with her, and they would have just had to go back outside again.
Harry had felt completely humiliated after Tonks had told him that.
Not to mention his stupid and reckless move had ended up putting Dawn in danger . . . just as the one he'd made a few weeks ago with Sirius.
Buffy had had every right to be angry with him.Clear your mind.
He wasn't going to go and meet Dawn's bus. He knew that. Plus, after last night, he wondered if he would even be able to actually leave the house anymore, now that he knew the Ministry of Magic had been the ones guarding him all this time. Would they try and stop him from going anywhere other than around Little Whinging and Privet Drive - before he returned to school again - after last night?
Tonks had told him that once the Order had gotten the information that the Ministry was moving to take it upon themselves to guard him, the Order had thought it best not to try and interfere, or risk getting exposed. Fudge was still paranoid about Dumbledore wanting to take over his job, or raising his own army. It was not at all the right time for him to find out that Dumbledore already had a secret organization not only to fight against Voldemort, but to guard Harry as well. It was too much of a risk.1:33 PM.
Dawn's bus had most likely come and gone by now. Had she even gotten off when she hadn't seen him waiting there for her?
More to the point - after last night, had she even gotten on
the bus to come and see him?Well, she'll be going to Italy for school in a few weeks anyway,
he thought sadly. Maybe its better that I don't see her again. I can just think of the great times we had the past week and a half, and leave it at that I guess.
He sighed, not really believing what he was trying to tell himself.Clear your mind.
Harry drifted a little, trying to empty his mind of all thoughts of emotion as he'd been told to when Snape had been trying to teach him Occlumency. But every few moments, his thoughts would go back to Dawn. He'd see her in his mind, laid out on the ground after she'd been hit by the body binding hex . . . but this time her eyes were more glassy than they'd been before, more like Cedric's had been, and instead of being warm, she was cold . . . .
Harry shook his head. She's not dead, she's alright and she's with her sister - who apparently has super strength. She's fine, she didn't get hurt.Clear your mind.
This isn't working,
Harry thought sitting up and rubbing his tired eyes in frustration. He reached over and took up his glasses to put back on, just as he heard the front doorbell ring downstairs.1:41 PM.
Harry got up from his bed and went over to the open window and leaned out, staring at the sky, desperate for any sign of Hedwig.
The sound of voices from downstairs carried up to him."- you?"
His thoughts drifted back to the incident with his scar. Voldemort hadn't been seething with rage towards any of his Death Eaters. There had been a few there in that room with him, but he hadn't taken his ire out on any of them. And that rage hadn't been about Harry himself either. Voldemort's wrath had been directed at someone though, Harry was sure of it. As if something had surprised him greatly, and that surprise wasn't pleasant in the slightest.
He hadn't felt anything from Voldemort in weeks, not since that night at the Department of Mysteries. He didn't think Voldemort was trying to purposely show him anything though, to mess with his mind as he had for most of last year, sending Harry images to try and manipulate him. Not this time."Get out now!"
his Uncle's voice - muffled slightly by his closed bedroom door, but still loud - came drifting up, breaking Harry's thoughts. A second voice now, only slightly as raised as his Uncle's, answered back.
". . . shout
about it! Geez! Just . . . ."
A girl's voice. A girl he knew.
Without thinking twice, Harry turned and rushed out of his room towards the top of the stairs. He was there just in time to see his Uncle roughly closing the front door in the face of one Dawn Summers.
"Dawn! Wait!" Harry called, hoping she could hear him though the close front door and hadn't started to leave yet.
"What do you think you're doing boy?" Vernon said, blocking Harry from the front door, as he reached the bottom of the stairs.
"I'm trying to let my friend in, that's what I'm doing!"
"Well, she's already left, gone. So back up to your room!" Vernon said smugly.
"You didn't even tell her I was here, did you?" Harry said, anger bubbling up in him.
"Doesn't matter what I told her. She's gone. Now go up!" Vernon said, and roughly shoved Harry in the direction of the stairs - just as a very loud knock sounded on the front door.
"Harry? Are you there? It's me, Dawn," Dawn's raised voiced - muffled by the front door - called out. "Don't lie to me again Mr. Dursley, I know he's in there! I can hear his voice!"
Vernon was too busy sputtering about Dawn having - loudly and in front of his own house - called him a liar, that he didn't stop Harry from darting around him, and quickly wrenching open the front door.
Her hand was raised in a fist, as if she had been planning to knock again. She quickly lowered it when she saw who had answered the door this time. "Hey," she grinned at him. "You weren't at the bus stop. So I thought I'd stop by your house, see if you were okay."
"I'm -" Harry broke off, and looked around. He didn't notice anyone on the street, but now that he knew Ministry people were watching and guarding him, that didn't mean there wasn't anyone there.
He took Dawn by the hand, pulled her inside, and quickly shut the door. "We shouldn't talk outside. Come on," he said, not letting go of her hand as he headed for the stairs.
"Now see hear boy - !" Vernon said loudly, having finally recovered from his sputtering fit; he stepped in front of Harry and Dawn to block the way upstairs.
His Aunt Petunia entered the hall from the kitchen, at the sound of her husband's loud voice. "Vernon dear, what -?" She stopped as she caught sight of Dawn. "Who's she?" she asked with unamused surprise. Harry knew that his Aunt could probably guess who Dawn was, but was most likely just being disagreeable.
"Aunt Petunia, this is Dawn. Dawn, my Aunt Petunia," Harry said shortly.
"Hello," Dawn said just as shortly in greeting. She was polite, but wary after having to endure Vernon at the front door.
Aunt Petunia wasn't polite, and didn't even return Dawn's greeting. She just looked at her husband. "What's she
doing here?" she hissed.
"She's here to see me,
" Harry said, not caring that his tone was turning snappish as he tried to lead Dawn around Vernon and up the stairs.
Again, Uncle moved into their path. "And just where do you think you're headed with her?"
"To my room. You told me to get back up there," Harry said smartly.
Vernon's face had gone completely red. "To your room? I should think bloody well not!
Do you honestly think your Aunt and I are just going to let you take this girl
up there, so you can get up to God knows what under our very -!"
"We're just going to talk!
" Harry explained angrily, but felt his face turning red. He didn't look back at Dawn as he was now thoroughly embarrassed.
"Talk eh! If you think I'm stupid enough to believe -!"
Harry restrained himself from pointing out that his Uncle believed it when Dudley said so whenever he'd go to take Nancy up to his room - and that showed he wasn't
smart; but he stopped himself.
He'd just thought of something else.
"Alright then!" Harry said, suddenly feigning pleasantness. "Dawn, could you wait here for a minute?" he said looking back at her, but keeping and eye on his Uncle out of the corner of one eye. "I've just got to go up and dash off a letter to my friends. They've been very interested lately on how I'm doing. You know, making sure I'm being treated alright and such." He looked back at his Uncle again, this time with a bright - and knowing - smile.
His Uncle's face seemed to have turned from beet red to a sickly pale in under half a second, his Adam's apple bobbing as he gave a choking swallow.
"Uh, sure," Dawn said, sounding slightly confused. "I guess I -"
Vernon turned and moved away from blocking the stairs, and pulled an obviously stunned Petunia back into the kitchen with him.
Dawn looked even more confused as Harry gave a self-satisfied smirk and led her up the stairs to his bedroom.
He closed the door after they entered, and sighed as he leaned back against it. Then, he looked over at her as she stood in the middle of the room, across from him. His bedroom was untidy as always - clothes and books lying on the floor and desk - but she didn't seem to be taking much notice of the cluttered mess. "Sorry about that," he told her with a sigh.
"About that?" Dawn said pointing in the direction of downstairs, and then shrugged. "Don't worry about it. He was actually -"
He just looked at her.
"-much worse in person than I ever imagined he could be," she finished ruefully. "You handled him pretty well though."
Harry shrugged. "It was nothing."
Dawn smiled. "Well, if you ever discover that he's not really human or anything, just call my sister. She'll be happy to take care of him for you."
Harry gave a short snort of laughter. Then, there was a sudden awkward silence, ad the two of them just looked at each other for a few moments. By mentioning her sister, Dawn had - whether on purpose or not - brought the subject around to what had happened last night.
"Oh my God, he's so cute!" she exclaimed suddenly. She'd caught sight of Pig, who was still hooting and fluttering around in Hedwig's cage. She went over to the cage and wiggled a finger at the small Owl. "Hiya little fella."
Pig hooted and fluttered about happily, and then playfully nipped her finger. She gave a little squeal of surprise, but didn't look angry or anything.
"What's his name?" she asked with amusement.
"Pigwidgeon, but everyone calls him Pig. He belongs to Ron."
"Oh yeah, your best friend . . . who's a wizard too?" Dawn asked mildly, turning her head slightly to look back at him. Part of her long hair slightly veiled her face as she did so.
"Yes," Harry said simply, after a pause. "Ron's a wizard too."
Dawn looked at him for a moment longer, and then turned back to Pig. When she spoke up again, she wasn't talking to Ron's owl, however. "How come you weren't at the bus stop?" she asked quietly.
Harry didn't say anything. What could
he say? Because I'm embarrassed about what happened? Because I didn't want to see you blaming me for putting you in danger? Because I still don't really know what to say?
When it became obvious that Harry wasn't going to say anything, Dawn spoke again. "By the way, I told some of those Auror guys about those two - Death Eaters? That's what there called, right? Well, I told them about the two we caught in the alley. They took them away before Buffy and the rest of us left," she told him as she moved away from Pig and sat down on the bed, facing him again.
"Oh," Harry said with mild surprise. "I'd forgotten all about them."
"Yeah, I did too for a minute, what with all that was going on. And trying to keep an eye on that Miller guy, who really looked like he wanted to zap us with that stick of his, even after you left."
"I guess if he had tried, your sister would have just done what she'd threatened to do through, huh?" Harry said distantly.
Dawn gave a short laugh. "Oh yeah. Unlike the rest of us, he was keeping his eyes away from Buffy. Making her mad? Not a good -"
"I'm sorry Dawn," Harry interrupted quietly looking down, unable to meet her eyes anymore.
Dawn paused, her smile fading as she looked at Harry's solemn face. "Sorry?" she asked worriedly. "Sorry about what?"
"About last night." He shook his head, still not meeting her eyes. "I shouldn't have tried to bring you there. It was a mistake."
"A mistake?" she said, pausing slightly before she spoke. Her voice sounded funny to his ears; as if she had something in her throat.
"Yeah. It was against the rules. And you could have gotten hurt because of it," he sighed. "I'm sorry."
There was a very uncomfortable silence. A very long one it seemed to him, and something that had never happened between them before. Then, finally, she asked in a low voice, "Why did you take me there then?"
Harry stuffed his hands in his pockets, keeping his eyes downward, "Because I was stupid," he muttered in self-hatred.
"I think we've partly established that
already," she said coolly. Harry did
look up at her at that, and she was looking at him now with a slightly cold gaze. "What was the other reason?"
"I wanted to know . . ."
He gave a frustrated sigh. "Know how you might react to the idea that there might be strange and - different - things. Different - people - in the world."
"You mean like . . . wizards and stuff kind of people?" she said, her cool look fading a little.
"Yes," he tiredly. "Like . . . that."
She was quiet for a moment, thinking. Then, she gave him a small smile. "So . . . you were trying to tell me? About what you are?"
Harry felt as if he had a huge stone in his stomach. "In a way I thought I could, yeh," he chocked out honestly. "But I didn't think . . . and you could have gotten hurt because of me. Because I . . . anyway, I'm sorry."
She didn't say anything, just looked at him curiously for a few moments. Then, she stood up and moved the few steps necessary to stand directly across from him.
What happened next was so incredible, Harry felt as if his whole mind would explode from the sheer excitement of it.
She leaned up slightly, moved forward a little more, and kissed him. Softly, lightly and gently, on the cheek, near the corner of his lips.
Harry could only stare at her as he felt an utterly goofy grin begin to spread across his face. She gave him a shy smile in return, and moved a little away from him again. "Thank you," she said gratefully.
"For what?" he choked out, still slightly in awe and barely aware of his own voice. She was moving back to sit on the bed again . . . and all he wanted to do was reach out, take her hand, and pull her back near him.
"For wanting to tell me the truth," she said happily.
* * *
Harry was still leaning against his bedroom door, (mostly to make sure his Aunt or Uncle didn't try to barge in on them), as Dawn told him everything about what he'd missed after he'd been taken home by Tonks and Kingsley last night. She and her sister and friends had stayed about an hour afterwards, talking with a few of the Aurors as the clean-up of Charing Cross Road went on.
"I still can't quite believe your sister is the actual Vampire Slayer," Harry said in wonderment, having just mentioned a few of the things he'd read about the slayer in his Defense book to Dawn, including some of the myths said about her.
"Yeah, well I still don't think that Miller guy believes it," Dawn said chuckling. "The few times he didn't notice I was looking, I caught him muttering 'Nonsense!'" - she had put on a fake and stuffy British accent as she'd said the word - "once or twice as he was rubbing his wrist!"
"Well, it is
pretty astounding," Harry noted. From the things Kingsley had told him on the way back to Privet Drive last night, Harry had found out that the existence of the slayer was actually the subject of much heated debate in the Wizarding world. There was no record of any witch or wizard in their world having actually met one. Some argued that the Watcher's Council was full of nothing but a bunch of Muggles who practiced Dark Earth Magics, and used the Slayer as an excuse to try and spy on the going-ons of the Wizarding world.
Dawn was giving him a strange look. She'd looked hedgy for a while now, and seemed to be dying to say something that was on her mind. "I don't think so," she said eyeing him now. "Truth is, I think the story I heard last night about 'The Boy Who Lived' was much
more - astounding."
Harry stared at her, numbly. Oh brilliant!
he thought exasperatingly.
Dawn was quiet now, peering at him, trying to gage his reaction to what she'd just said to him.
"No," he finally replied dryly after a few moments. "It's not
Dawn gave him a wry grin. "Alright," she said simply. "If you say so."
He sighed, knowing there was no getting around this. "Well, what did you hear?"
"Your basic hero-worship stuff," she said off-handedly, then gave him a sly look. "Giles realized he'd already heard some of it before - and we kinda went into research mode when we got home and looked up the rest."
"And?" Harry asked, pursing his lips together as he crossed his arms.
"And? You tell me?" she asked evenly. "How accurate is Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century?
Harry didn't say anything for a moment, as he recognized the title she'd given as one of the books Hermione had told him he was mentioned in, back in their first year. Finally, he just shrugged. "I don't know," he said nonplussed. "I haven't read it."
"Really?" she asked, slightly surprised.
She paused, looking thoughtful for a moment. Then noted, "But that's why you have security, and people watching you and stuff, right? Because of that Wal-Mart-wizard guy?"
Harry could stop himself from letting out a short snort of amusement. "Voldemort," he corrected her.
And what's the deal with his name anyway? Last night, all anybody would call him is 'You-Know-Who', and Buffy was all 'No, actually we don't.
Harry didn't know if she was purposefully tying to make him laugh, but he couldn't help chuckling none the less. "Lots of people are afraid to say his name," he told her. "Ron winces every time I say it."
"People are afraid to say his name?" she asked incredulously.
"And now this same badass wizard guy is back? After you first defeated him, when you were just a baby?"
defeat him when I was a baby," Harry told her moodily.
"But the spell he tried to kill you with didn't work, right?"
Harry couldn't help but feel slightly weird as he found himself talking with Dawn about all of this. Ever since he'd found out about being a wizard, he never had to tell anyone about who he was, or what had happen to him as a baby, or especially who Voldemort was. Everyone had already known those things. In fact, it had been he, Harry who'd been in the dark about all of it after he'd found out what he was.
"The curse rebounded. It's unblockable but . . . anyway. All I got from it was this," he said softly, rubbing the scar on his forehead. The slight pain it had been burning with seemed to have all but receded now.
She looked at the scar on his forehead and nodded, as if understanding. "And . . . and he's the one who killed your parents?" she asked carefully.
He didn't say anything, but the look in his eyes as he held her gaze must have given her his answer. "I really don't mean to pry or anything," she said softly, glancing away embarrassed. "I'm sorry."
Harry shook his head. "No, its okay," he reassured her. "It's nothing anyone else in the Wizarding world doesn't already know."
She was still looking away, awkwardly, when a faint waffle of music cut through the air, and an electronic sounding version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" began to play.
Dawn shook herself slightly, and reached over for her purse, pulling out the ringing cell phone inside.
"I thought that got broken," Harry noted.
"Willow fixed it for me," she told him as she pressed one of the buttons to accept the call, and then put the phone to one ear.
"Hey Buffy," she said into the phone, already knowing who was calling. Harry gestured at the door, offering to leave and give her some privacy, but she waved him off, telling him he could stay.
"Yeah," she was saying into the phone. "I am . . . no, he told me and that's not why he brought me there. I told you I was right," she said, giving Harry a rueful smile. Harry closed his eyes and groaned; he didn't really want to know what Buffy had just said about why she thought he'd been bringing Dawn to the Leaky Cauldron for. Guess she's angry with me again.
"No . . . uh huh . . . I will. Is that all?" Dawn asked into the phone, glancing at Harry again. Then her face took on a curious look. "What happened?" she asked, listening closely to whatever her sister was telling her. Then, she said in surprise, "Oh! Harry's got an Owl here! He said it's his best friends' . . . there were letters attached to their legs?" she asked unbelievingly.
Harry looked at her shocked. "Your sister got an Owl Post?" he asked, completely astonished.
Dawn glanced up at him. "Buffy, apparently they're called Owl Posts . . . ." The reply on the other end caused Dawn to roll her eyes, and placed a hand over the receiver. "She said she figured it was mail of some sort, since they had envelopes addressed to her and Giles attached to their legs."
"They?" he queried.
"There were two Owls that came, apparently."
"Well, who were they from?" Harry questioned, intrigued.
"Buffy? Who were they from?" Dawn listened quietly for a few moments. She gave a small snort, then queried, "And the other one?"
"Huh," she finally said, after listening quietly again for about a minute. "Weird name. But Giles has heard of him? . . . Oh. Okay . . . yeah, I'll be back later. Okay, bye." She pressed a button to hang up the phone.
" Harry asked, curiosity eating away at him.
"Well, the first letter was a bunch of weird looking parchment contracts and stuff from that Miller guy," Dawn reported. "Buffy says they were asking us to write down everything we remembered about last night and stuff, and to send them back as soon as possible. She says the Owl is still in the room, as if waiting for us to get them done."
Harry thought for a few seconds, and grew slightly suspicious. "I don't think any of you should write anything on those parchments," he told her. "You can charm a parchment to make things happen to anybody who writes on it," he said, remembering how Hermione had done such a thing to the DA membership list last year, and what had happened to Cho Chang's best friend Marietta when she had ratted on the DA to Umbridge.
Dawn was nodding. "Buffy thought as much. Willow's checking them all over right now, just to make sure."
"Willow?" Harry asked, puzzled. "I know you said she was into hacking and computers and all but - can she actually use one to check them for a spell or something?"
"Oh yeah," Dawn gave him a slightly embarrassed look. "I forgot to tell you. You see, Will -"
Loud cracking sounds, accompanied by a scream from downstairs cut Dawn off, and startled them both.
"What the hell?" Dawn exclaimed jumping up from the bed, where she had still been sitting. "Isn't that the same sound -?"
"As when the Aurors Apparated in front of the Leaky Cauldron last night, yes," Harry said utterly mystified, turning, and headed out the bedroom. Someone had Apparated right into the house - lots of someones by the sounds of it. From what Dumbledore had told him of the protection charm he knew it couldn't be Voldemort, but he tried to keep to the side of caution anyway as he grabbed his wand and quietly made his way into the upstairs hallway with Dawn, and then down the stairs.
His Uncle Vernon was shouting, probably loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear at this point."GET OUT! YOU CAN'T DO THIS! YOU PEOPLE IN MY -!"
On the stairs, looking over the railing, Harry could now see what had his Uncle in such a fit.
About ten official looking people stood around downstairs, some milling around looking into other rooms. Others were standing quietly, as if they were waiting for an order to move. One person Harry recognized immediately as the mousy-looking assistant from last light. He was standing in front of Vernon, holding out a roll of parchment at him and was looking at Harry's Uncle as if the man's screaming unnerved him utterly.
His Aunt Petunia was hiding behind her husband's large frame, looking absolutely terrified at the people who'd just appeared out of thin air into her immaculately clean living room.
Standing in the center of the living room was Regnum Miller, a priggish expression his face as he looked at the still yelling Vernon.
HOUSE, DO YOU HEAR - !"
"What the heck is he
doing here?" Dawn whispered. She'd followed Harry down the stairs, and was now looking over the rail with him at the commotion in the living room.
Harry was about to suggest that maybe Dawn should make for his room before Miller spotted them, when one of the men near the entrance of the living room spoke up.
"Mr. Miller. He's right here sir," the man said, nodding in the direction of the stairs.
He and Dawn glanced at each other, and then both stood up. There was no point hiding anymore. Together, they made their way down the rest of the stairs, as Miller came over to them, walking in a way that made Harry think of a moving yardstick.
"Ah, Mr. Potter, there you are," he said in a clip voice. "Now, if you will just gather you school things please, we can be on our way, completely on schedule."
"YOU HAVE NO RIGHT! NO RIGHT
"On our way? On our way where?" Harry asked, trying to ignore his Uncle's bellowing.
Miller reached into his robes and held up an official looking letter. "Until further notice, you will be placed under the full guard of the Ministry of Magic, until such time as You-Know-Who has been captured."
" Harry exclaimed utterly perplexed.
"We were just informing your guardian of the situation -" Miller glanced back a Vernon, who had not let up with his yelling; his face was now turning a nasty shade of purple. Miller looked at Vernon as if he were a curious forging animal, before tuning his attention back to Harry. "- but I suppose it doesn't really matter, as I'm sure he has your best interests at heart."
"You don't know my Uncle," Harry couldn't stop from scoffing. "Anyhow, I can't just leave."
"Nonsense," Miller said condescendingly. (Harry suppressed a smile - Dawn impression of him earlier had actually been quite accurate). "You will be much safer under guard at the Ministry than here with these Muggles," he noted priggishly.
"OUT I SAY! OR I SHALL CALL -!"
Harry glanced at Dawn, who Miller hadn't even taken any notice of. She was taking in the entire scene with a look of disbelief on her face.
"But -" Harry started to argue again, but Miller cut him off with a snap.
"Mr. Potter, my office does not have the staff or resources at this time to guard you here twenty-four seven. And after happening upon last night's unfortunate event, I put forth that it would be much easier to guard you if you were removed from here. Minister Fudge himself signed the order himself this morning," Miller said, tucking the envelope back into his robes.
Just then, there was a knock on the front door. One of the people who had been milling around - Harry assumed they must all be Ministry guards - peeked out through the front hall curtain, and then gave Miller a short nod.
Miller returned the nod. "The car is here. Please gather your things," he said, turning away and heading for the front door.
Dawn looked after him, utterly flabbergasted. "Can he just do
that?" she asked.
"CAN'T JUST APPEAR IN PEOPLE'S -!"
Harry's eyes narrowed at Miller's retreating form. He was just as flabbergasted as Dawn was, but much
more angry. Fudge and the Ministry had just spent a full year denying his claim that Voldemort was back, having the Daily Prophet
call him dangerous and disturbed. And Fudge and Umbridge both trying, more than once, to have him expelled from Hogwarts. Umbridge herself going so far as to set the Dementors on him.
it seemed as if they were acting like all that was just forgotten, and they had only his best interest and safety at heart!
Before Harry could say anything, one of the guards open the front door to reveal two people standing on the steps. One of the people appeared to be just another guard.
The other person was Arthur Weasley, Ron's father.
"Mr. Weasley!" Harry sighed in relief.
Mr. Weasley smiled as he stepped inside the house. He wasn't dressed in robes, but as if he was trying to dress like a Muggle. However his purple plaid trousers clashed horribly with his orange and green checkered shirt. "Hello Harry. How are you?" he greeted him pleasantly.
"NO MORE! NO MORE
I SAY -!"
"Oh will you please SHUT UP!
" Dawn finally shouted at Vernon in utter exasperation. "God! You're giving me a headache!"
"And me," Harry muttered in agreement.
Vernon stopped shouting finally - and began sputtering instead.
"Th-This is my
house girl, and - and I shall do -"
"Oh, Miss Summers," Miller said - turning slightly as he finally took notice of Dawn. "I hope you, as well as your sister and her companions' will all return the forms I sent to you as soon as possible." He didn't bother waiting for an answer from her as he turned back to Mr. Weasley, who was standing just inside the doorway. "Mr. Weasley. I see you've come then."
"I said I would Miller," Mr. Weasley said, remaining pleasant. "Harry should have someone he knows come along with him, so he feels comfortable and all."
Miller sniffed. "Highly irregular. But what's done is done, I suppose. Mr. Potter was just headed up to pack."
"Well, we arrived at the perfect time then!" Mr. Weasley said brightly. He put a hand on Harry's shoulder and guided him in the direction of the stairs. "Come along! Let's go up, and I'll help you get ready."
Dozens of questions were racing through Harry's mind but, now facing away from Miller, Mr. Weasley gave Harry a guarded look, as if warning him not to say anything. "Wait till we're upstairs," Mr. Weasley whispered out of the side of his mouth, confirming Harry's suspicion.
"Don't worry," Mr. Weasley said over his shoulder at Miller and the other guards, with the same pleasant tone as before. "We'll be back in just a moment!"
" - dare
she try and tell me, in my own house
* * *
is going on?" Harry exploded the minute they were upstairs in his bedroom. Dawn had followed him and Mr. Weasley upstairs, and she closed the door quickly.
"It's Fudge," Mr. Weasley said grimly. "There's a lot more to it that I have time to tell you right now but - needless to say, a lot of blame came down on him after that incident at the Department of Mysteries a few weeks ago."
Mr. Weasley sighed, and crossed his arms. "He seems to think trying to go above and beyond now is the best way to keep his job and position at the Ministry - especially in the face of some people calling for his resignation now. And he thinks showing his dedication to protecting you as one of the keys to that."
"This isn't even about wanting to protect me from Voldemort then," Harry stated, growing even more irritated.
Mr. Weasley shook his head. "No, not all of it."
"Well, I'm not going!" Harry said vehemently, and parked himself onto his bed. He had no desire to want to stay with the Dursleys of course, but he had even less of a desire to be just one of Cornelius Fudge's little political game pieces again.
Mr. Weasley shook his head. "I know how you feel Harry, but - it's best right now to just bide time for a while. And I'll be there every day, so you won't be completely isolated. Professor Dumbledore is working on something right now, but we should have you back out of there again in just a few days, that's all."
"Did you say -" Dawn started to say, but Harry interrupted her, not letting up just yet.
"Well what's he's doing that so important?" Harry snapped, not even bothering to hold his anger. "And what about the protection charm? He said I had to return here
every year, or -"
"Don't worry," Mr. Weasley reassured him. "I've been assured that you've been here long enough for the charm to still be in effect. If you hadn't, we would have had to find some way to head Fudge and Miller off about this, but -"
"So? Why should Harry still have to leave?" Dawn broke in, questioning.
Mr. Weasley seemed to finally come to the realization that not only was Dawn in the room, but that she was also a Muggle.
"Oh!" he said quite surprised. "How do you do? I don't believe - Harry, may I ask -?"
"Mr. Weasley, this is Dawn - Dawn Summers," Harry told him. "Dawn, this is Mr. Weasley. He's my friend Ron's father."
"Hi," Dawn said, holding out her hand to shake.
Mr. Weasley was looking quite ecstatic as he took the offered hand, even going so far as to give a slight hop. "Oh my! You're the young lady I heard about from Tonks. The sister of the Vampire Slayer!"
Dawn raised her eyebrows in slight surprise at his display. "Uh, yep. That's me."
"I'm sorry," he said, releasing Dawn's hand and looking between her and Harry. "It's just - I find the whole idea of a magical muggle quite extraordinary! Tell me," Mr. Weasley asked her enthusiastically, "is it true she has wooden stakes for hands?"
"Huh?" Dawn said, completely dumbfounded.
Harry shook his head, slightly amused despite all that was going on at the moment. "I've met the slayer Mr. Weasley and she's got two regular hands, same as you and me."
Mr. Weasley actually looked slightly disappointed at this news. "Oh. I always imagined . . . well, never mind. We should get you packed now Harry," he said returning to the business at hand. He looked around at the slight mess in Harry's room, then took out his wand and gave it a short flick.
Harry's clothes and the schoolbooks stacked on his desk flew to his open trunk and began packing themselves inside.
Dawn looked at the packing items with a wide smile on her face. "So
"Where am I supposed to be staying there anyway?" Harry groused, as his last few items arranged themselves as neatly as they could in his trunk.
"The Ministry has guest flats for International guests and dignitaries," Mr. Weasley told him. "They're going to put you up there. At their own
expense at that," he added, rather sardonically.
Harry sighed wearily. He didn't want to do this - but if Dumbledore thought it best to just humor Fudge for the time being . . . .
He hated not having much - if any
- say about this though.
"It's only for a few days, right?"
Mr. Weasley gave him an assured nod.
"Alright then," he said resigned. He looked over at Dawn - and suddenly realized he didn't know if he ever would get back to see again her before she left for school in two weeks.
Dawn too seemed to realized this could be the last they saw each other, quite possibly for a long time. "You never gave me your school address," she told him, trying to hide her growing sadness. "And let me give you mine. You did promised to write to me, remember?"
"Don't need addresses," Harry told her with a slight melancholy air. He went over and picked up Hedwig's cadge, Pig still flittering happily about in it. "Owl Post. Owls can find someone wherever they are, and deliver a letter to them. My Owl Hedwig is off delivering a letter right now, but when you see a snow white Owl at you're window, you'll know it her, okay?"
Dawn nodded in understanding.
"Mr. Weasley! Mr. Potter! We must leave now if we're to remain on schedule!" Miller's dry voice called from downstairs.
Mr. Weasley gave both of them an understanding smile, then cleared his throat. "Well. Come on then Harry. We'd better go down now, before Miller begins to combust," he said and, with another flick of his wand, Harry's school trunk closed and locked with a snap.
When they all finally got downstairs again - Mr. Weasley carrying Harry's school trunk and Firebolt for him - Vernon was holding his throat and acting quite strangely. His face was still red, and his mouth was moving as if he were still yelling, but no sound was coming out of it.
"Vernon? Vernon, what have they done to you?" Harry's Aunt was crying worriedly, fussing over her husband.
Mr. Weasley looked at Miller with raised eyebrows.
"Standard silencing charm," he said simply. "Couldn't be helped. Had he continued, he would have fully attracted the attention of every Muggle who lived on this street. Come along, the car is waiting."
coming in the car with us?" Harry asked dully. If he actually had to share a car ride with this pompous - !
Miller sniffed. "No, I
will be Apparating; along with the advance team to ensure you arrive is without incident. There will be other guards who will be riding with you in the car."
Behind them in the living room, Petunia was still sniffling over her husband.
Mr. Weasley nodded, feigning pleasantness again. "Right then! Let's go Harry. See you later then Miller."
Harry looked over at Dawn as they both stood just inside the doorway. She gave him a sad smile, but didn't say good-bye. Instead, she leaned over and wrapped her arms around him a warm hug.
Harry's heart raced as he wrapped his arms around her and hugged her back, Hedwig's cage - with Pig still in it - in one of his hands, so he could only really return the hug with his left arm.
She kissed the side of his cheek again as she pulled back. "Good luck," she said softly.
His stomach gave a pleasant-feeling flip-flop as he gave her a grateful smile, then he and Mr. Weasley headed out the door and towards the car.
"So Harry, tell me," Mr. Weasley said quietly as they headed down the path. "Is the slayer really
almost as tall as a giant?"
"Uh, no," Harry said, slightly taken aback. "Actually, she's uh, kind of short really."
Mr. Weasley shook his head in complete wonderment. "Astounding!"
* * * * *
Thanks goes out to my beta crew, Arieanna and Bean. Thanks for fixing my atrocious grammar slip-ups guys!
Next up - Chapter Five: Alliances