When circumstances force Harry to adopt his cousin Dudley's daughter, he calls on Hermione for help. Will their friendship bloom into something more?
Chapter 1 - Meeting the New Kid
BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BE -- thunk!
Harry groaned as he slapped his alarm clock off, covering his face with his hands to block out the light. After rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and slowly rolling out of bed, he slid on a pair of sweat pants and a grey tee-shirt before shuffling out of his room. He shuffled past one particular door on his way down the hall and gently rapped on it.
"Ted, you awake yet?" Harry asked hoarsely, still not quite awake.
"Just a second!" a voice yelled from behind the door. A few seconds later, the door swung open to show seven-year-old Ted Lupin, Harry's godson and charge. He used to be watched by him and his grandmother, Andromeda Tonks, but when she died from dragon pox when Ted was three, Harry gained sole custody of him. Currently, Ted was sporting red shorts, a yellow shirt and electric blue hair.
"Are we colorblind today?" Harry asked jokingly, cocking an eyebrow. "The usual today?" he asked as Ted squeezed past him and went down the hall.
"Yep!" Ted yelled excitedly. Harry chuckled as he shook his head and followed his hyper godson downstairs to the kitchen. When he got there, he saw Ted digging through the refrigerator, pulling out the butter and pumpkin juice. With some help from his best friend Hermione (as well as a few favors called in by her father), Harry's kitchen was now decorated with magic-compatible Muggle appliances. Harry placed several pieces of bacon in the hot pan before cracking some eggs, Ted watching in innocent, wide-eyed fascination.
A few minutes, Ted was devouring his breakfast like it was the first time he had ever eaten, Harry watching in amusement.
"Slow down, Ted, or you'll give yourself a stomachache." When Ted slowed himself down to a reasonable pace, Harry began digging into his own plate. About halfway through his breakfast, the phone rang. Harry stood up and answered it.
"Hello?" Harry greeted.
"Boy," grunted a voice that Harry hoped he would never have to hear again. Suddenly, Harry lost his appetite, and nudged his plate to Ted, who dug into it greedily.
"How did you get this number?" Harry growled.
"I found it," Vernon Dursley said. "I found it in Petunia's belongings, and I have a proposition for you." Harry had to suppress a laugh.
"It must be really big if you're willing to call a freak like me," Harry said sarcastically.
"Don't take that tone with me, boy," Vernon spat. "As it is, it is big. Petunia died in a car accident a few weeks back, no doubt due to some unnatural freakishness," he muttered, but Harry did not hear him; he was too shocked to hear that Aunt Petunia had died. "As you probably know, we've been taking care of our grandchild, but in the past few years, she's been displaying...freakishness; the same things you did. So the way I see it, you can either take the brat, or I'll boot the freak out on the streets."
"I'll do it," Harry said instantly. "I'll be there in ten minutes." Before Vernon could respond, Harry hung up and turned to Ted.
"Ted, do you mind staying with Auntie Molly and Uncle Arthur for a few hours? I have something to do," Harry asked urgently. Ted nodded vigorously, and ran up to his room to get ready.
Five minutes later, Harry and Ted climbed out of the Knight Bus and walked to the front door of the Burrow and knocked. Within seconds, an old, round woman swung the door open.
"Oh, Harry," Molly Weasley gushed, pulling Harry into a hug. "How are you and Teddy doing? Do you want some tea?" Harry shook his head.
"No thanks, Molly, I'm kind of in a rush," Harry said, straightening his clothes. "I'm sorry for the short notice, but I just got word of a family emergency, and I was wondering if you could keep Ted occupied for a couple hours while I smooth things over," Harry said.
"Of course, you and Ted are always welcome, come here, Teddy," Molly said, pulling Ted inside. "I hope everything is okay with your family."
"You're a lifesaver, Molly, and I hope things are okay too," Harry said, hugging her again. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a garden gnome run across the yard. "Hey, why don't you send Ted out to toss gnomes? He needs to work off his breakfast anyway," Harry said, eyes glittering mischievously.
"Noooooo!" Ted screamed, running away into the kitchen. Barely containing his laughter, Harry waved good-bye and closed his eyes, concentrating on his old bedroom in Number 4 Privet Drive. He felt the familiar compression of Apparation, and opened his eyes to see himself standing amongst a large pile of boxes. Back to storage, Harry thought bitterly as he maneuvered around the boxes and opened the door. Harry slowly walked down the stairs, being sure not to step on the loose steps, and saw Vernon sitting away from him. He was holding a paper, but Harry knew that he was glaring out the window for him.
"You call for me?" Harry asked casually, but Vernon screamed and jumped out of his chair like an explosion happened behind him.
"Don't scare me like that!" Vernon shouted, clutching a hand to his heart. Harry idly wondered why Vernon's massive girth had not stopped his heart from beating years ago. Vernon took a few calming breaths, then grabbed a clipboard with some papers on it and shoved it into Harry's hands, along with a pen.
"Sign your name here, here and here," Vernon said, pointing at the appropriate lines, "and the freak is yours." Choosing not to comment on the last part of Vernon's sentence, Harry signed the papers and shoved them back to Vernon. "She's in your old bedroom," Vernon said vaguely before picking up his paper and reading it. For a moment, Harry was confused. He just came from his old bedroom, and no one could live there. Then it clicked, and his eyes drifted to the cupboard under the stairs. Harry did a sweep of Vernon's memories, and saw that the child had been in there for almost a month. Harry raised his Occlumency shields, but clenched his fist in anger regardless.
"You're very lucky that I've learned to control my emotions, Vernon," Harry growled softly in a voice that sent chills down the larger man's spine, "or you would be a smoldering pile of ash right now. As it is, I suggest you leave." Vernon quickly fled the room as Harry walked over to the cupboard and opened it. Inside, Harry found a small girl with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes, no older than six years old, huddled in a corner, clutching a stuffed dog. Old memories tugging at his heart, Harry bent down until he was squatting down on the ground. "What's your name?" he asked softly. The girl eyed him carefully.
"Carla," she said in a small voice. Harry flashed his lopsided grin.
"Hi, Carla, my name's Harry," Harry said. "I'm a friend of your grandma's. You look cramped in there, why don’t you come out." Slowly, the girl climbed out of the cupboard, clutching her dog tighter. Harry noticed that there was a bruise on her arm, and his expression darkened.
"I heard Grandpa say something about giving me away," Carla said, tears welling up in her eyes. "Are you going to hurt me?" Harry felt his heart break in two at those words.
"No, sweetheart, I'm not going to hurt you," Harry said softly. "Were you hurt here?" Carla hesitated, then softly nodded.
"Once," she said, pointing to her bruised arm. Harry sighed. It was times like these that made him wish that he had become an auror like he wanted to when he was younger.
"I'm not going to hurt you," Harry repeated, "but I have another child your age that you could play with. Wouldn't that be nice?" Carla nodded, a smile growing on her face. "Why don't you go wait for me outside," Harry said, and Carla ran out the door. With a cold expression, Harry walked up to the master bedroom to see Vernon sitting on the bed.
"There is so much I'd like to do to you, both for myself and for her," Harry said in a chilling voice. "But as it is, I'll simply leave you with a little reminder of me." Harry waved his hand in the air, and Vernon felt his trousers tear. "If you try to remove it, it will simply grow back. Good-bye," Harry said before walking out. Vernon grabbed his large bottom, and felt something curly poking out of his pants. He tried to scream in rage, but only silence issued from his mouth.
Harry walked outside to see Carla bouncing on the balls of her feet.
"How'd you get here?" she asked. Harry simply smiled knowingly and waved his hand as if hailing a taxi. Carla heard a bang and spun around to see a large purple bus pull out of nowhere. Standing where the conductor stood was a short woman with frizzy blonde hair.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transportation for the stranded witch or wizard. My name is Karen, and I will be your conductor this morning," the woman read off of a cue card.
"The Burrow," Harry said as they climbed onto the bus, dropping a gold coin into her hand. "Keep the change." The woman nodded and yelled something incoherent at the driver, and they drove off with a bang. Soon, they arrived at their destination, and Carla laughed when she saw the lopsided house.
"What a funny looking house!" Carla giggled. Harry nodded in agreement.
"I think the designer was drunk," Harry muttered mostly to himself before he knocked on the door. The door swung open to show Ted, his hair now bright orange.
"Uncle Harry!" the boy yelled, hugging Harry tightly. Harry laughed at his godson while they walked to the fireplace.
"Thanks for watching him, Molly!" Harry yelled into the kitchen.
"You're welcome, Harry, stop by any time!" Molly yelled back. Harry threw some Floo powder into the fireplace, and the flames turned green.
"You first, Ted," Harry said. The young boy cleared his throat.
"Twelve Grimmauld Place!" he yelled before walking through, disappearing in the flames. Carla gasped when she saw him disappear.
"Where did he go?!" she asked, terrified. Harry chuckled softly.
"He's okay, Carla, just hold onto me tightly. Twelve Grimmauld Place!" They stepped through the flames and, after much spinning around, Harry landed flat on his back with Carla on top of him. Harry pulled himself up to see Ted stroking a pale barn owl holding a letter in its beak.
"Ted, why don't you show Carla your room while I take care of this." Nodding, Ted took Carla's hand and pulled her to give her a tour of his room while Harry took the letter and read it.
Conference is almost over; be back tomorrow.
Harry laughed as he looked at the owl.
"You flew all the way from America? You must be tired." A tired hoot confirmed this, and Harry poured some water into a small dish and fed the bird a few pieces of leftover bacon. As he heard Carla laugh at something Ted had done, Harry sighed. He had a house, a job, a boy and a girl living with him. Essentially, he had everything to make the family he always wanted except a woman to share it with. "So what are you going to do about it, Potter?" Harry muttered to himself. He had no answer.
I have been told that an exchange of custody is as simple as what I've shown above. Never having witnessed said action personally, I cannot verify these claims.
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