Harry's beliefs are challenged and some broken while new plans are being made that will effect his life
“Hello Winky.” Harry and Hermione called at the same time to the tiny elf.
Winky gave a small curtsy and began speaking. “Good afternoon Sir and Miss. Winky has found out what the first task is from Professor Moody when he was talking with the Headmaster. Master Harry Potter has to get by a dragon and retrieve a golden egg.” Winky was clearly agitated as she stood there wringing the hem of her apron in her hands.
“Dragons!” Hermione practically shouted. Standing up and beginning to pace around the room she began muttering under her breath about “Irresponsible adults.” and “Insanely dangerous tournaments.”
Coming out of his stupor, Harry knelt down in front of Winky and he gave her a hug. “Thank you very much Winky. You did a great job.”
The surprised elf patted Harry on the back and gave a muttered “Thank you.” before popping out of the Room of Requirement.
Getting up from his spot on the floor, Harry walked over to Hermione and pulled her into a hug. After a few moments of listening to her mumble about crazy wizards and their stupid tournaments, he spoke softly to her, “Hey, its okay. Now that we know what I need to do we can start focusing on getting that golden egg.”
Hermione gave Harry’s waist one last squeeze before she pulled back from the embrace and went over to her bag to retrieve the communication mirror. She called out “Remus Lupin.” as she sat down next to Harry on the couch.
After a few seconds Remus’ face appeared in the mirror and he said; “Hello Harry; Hermione.” He turned his face to the side and called out “Sirius come here, Harry and Hermione are calling.”
When Sirius had joined them, they both listened as Harry and Hermione explained the first task. It turned out that Remus was a veritable fount of knowledge when it came to dragons but in the end, it was a suggestion from Hermione that caused everyone to pause and look at her in bewilderment.
Getting a bit nervous Hermione cried out “What? Nowhere did the teachers mention anything about having to battle the dragon. You should summon the egg. That way you don’t have to get too close to it.”
Grinning like a lunatic Harry had a look of pride and joy on his face. “You are absolutely brilliant! Do you think that it will work?” Harry asked hopefully.
“I do, but in case that the egg is spelled against summoning we should come up with a back up plan.” Hermione stated simply.
Remus and Sirius were both grinning at the pair of them and thinking to themselves that Hermione was really a lot brighter than they had guessed. The plan was so simple that most wizards would overlook it. After some deliberation between the four of them, they decided that if the original plan did not work Harry would summon his broom and use that to get by the dragon.
The last Friday of November brought forth a completely new batch of problems for Harry. Their Defense against the Dark Arts class was good because their instructor, Alastor Moody, was actually teaching them useful offensive and defensive hexes, charms, curses, and counter curses. However, today they were covering the three unforgivable curses. What no one had expected was that Moody would actually demonstrate the curses. He Crucio’d one spider into mindlessness and only stopped when Hermione cried out because it was affecting Neville so badly. Afterwards he demonstrated the killing curse on the poor arachnid. To top it all off he used the Imperious Curse to make another spider do what ever he wished. Then, to the absolute horror of the class, he informed them that he was going to place each of them under the curse so that they could feel the effects and to try to fight it off.
Harry was the only one in the entire class to throw off the spell. As they were leaving the class, he could not help but hear the mutterings of his year mates and he knew that before the end of the day the entire school would know what he had done. To make matters even worse Harry had spotted the Slytherins, and quite a few members of the rest of the houses, sporting “Potter Stinks” badges.
The only good part of the badges was seeing Hermione worked up on his behalf. As they were sitting down to lunch at the corner of the Gryffindor table she began her rant; “Why aren’t the teachers making people remove those buttons? They are insulting and just down right mean.” Hermione cried out while gesturing wildly with her fork full of Sheppard’s Pie.
“I don’t know Hermione. I guess that things are just different in the Wizarding world. Look at that article that Skeeter woman wrote about me. I never said any of those things! She turned a bunch of my ums and ers into long winded sentences about me crying over my parent’s memories!” Harry had become agitated during his response and now a good portion of the Gryffindor table was silent, listening in on their conversation.
Realizing that the rest of the table was listening in, Harry gave them all a hard glare and resumed eating his lunch in silence. When they were both finished, Hermione told Harry that she wanted to speak with Professor McGonagall about the badges. Shrugging his shoulders in acceptance, Harry walked with Hermione to the professor’s office.
“Professor?” Hermione called out while knocking on the transfiguration teacher’s door.
Minerva McGonagall looked up and saw two of her students in the doorway. “Please come in the both of you. Now what can I do for you?”
Hermione fidgeted with her hands for a moment before speaking. “Why aren’t any of the teachers doing anything about those horrible badges? Can you make them take them off?”
“I’m sorry Mr. Potter, but I can’t do anything about the badges but I do understand, and I agree with your sentiments Ms. Granger.” Professor McGonagall spoke in tones of resignation.
“Do you mean can’t or won’t Professor?” Harry asked with a bit of an edge to his voice.
Taking a moment to compose her thoughts Professor McGonagall replied; “I can’t Mr. Potter, I’m sorry. I am not allowed to step in and correct the problem at the current time.”
Harry had started to put things together in his head and so had Hermione if the look on her face was any indication. Harry had one more question on his mind that he wanted to ask before Mt. Hermione erupted in indignation. “Why won’t professor Dumbledore let you make people remove the badges?”
With a sad look on her face Minerva McGonagall answered; “Because Professor Dumbledore thinks that this is a good way to learn to ignore what people are saying about you while also learning how to forgive them for their mistakes. I want you both to know that I do not agree with this at all.”
Her answer was enough to shatter both teens remaining trust in Albus Dumbledore. For Harry it was another betrayal by an adult, further cementing in his mind that most of them could not be trusted. There were a few exceptions to that rule but that did not make Harry feel any better. The last of Harry’s childhood died in Professor McGonagall’s classroom that afternoon. He knew that he would have to make sure that he looked out for his own interests and safety from now on with a little help from Hermione and those few adults that he could trust.
Hermione had been trying to come to grips with the changes in her worldview but Professor McGonagall’s revelation destroyed her long-standing faith in authority figures. She felt a wide range of emotions but the prevalent one was loss. It felt as if someone had taken the safe, secure feeling, which comes from the belief that someone in authority will always be there to help you and then told her that it was all a lie. No one was coming to help; you are on your own.
Without another word, Harry and Hermione slowly got up and walked out of Professor McGonagall’s office and out onto the grounds to think things over. Once they were seated on a large rock down by the lake Harry turned to Hermione and asked the one question that was really bothering her too. “Why?”
Hermione was at as much of a loss as Harry was and she replied; “I don’t know. I always thought that Dumbledore had your best interests at heart. Now I don’t think he does at all. It’s as if he is testing you for a reason that only he seems to know.” Hermione’s confusion was evident in her voice.
“What do you think we should do about this then? Half of the time, I want to attack Malfoy for making those stupid badges and the other half I want to curse Dumbledore for allowing it to continue. I think that he let Moody put the Imperious Curse on everyone to see if I could throw it off. Was putting me with the Dursleys’ some sort of test too? What about everything else that we have gotten into at Hogwarts the last three years?” Harry had become so agitated during his tirade that he had begun to pace the shoreline like an animal trapped in a cage.
Hermione got up and stepped in front of Harry to stop his pacing so she could answer him. “Well, since Professor McGonagall can’t do anything about the buttons, perhaps we should. We can ask Snuffles and Moony for some ideas. I don’t know about the Dursleys', Harry but my parents should have some news on that front in a few days according to their last letter. I’m not sure what to think about Dumbledore doing all of those things to test you but it does make sense. The question is why is he testing you? Do you think that it has to do with Voldemort?”
Harry sighed as he felt some of the tension leave him with Hermione’s hug. “I don’t know but that is the only thing that I can think of too. I know that Dumbledore says that Voldemort isn’t dead but why did he come after me in the first place? Did you know that Voldemort told me his real name down in the Chamber of Secrets? It’s Tom Marvolo Riddle, Voldemort is an anagram of his name. Do you think we should look him up to see if we can find anything out about why he attacked me?”
“I don’t know why he attacked you but that is a good idea. We should probably ask Snuffles and Moony all of those questions soon. Come on, why don’t we head on up to the Room and give them a call.” Hermione said as she grabbed Harry’s hand and started up towards the castle.
Back in Crawley, Hermione’s parents were putting the final additions on their project before heading off to confront the Dursleys. The information that their private investigator and solicitor had dug up would go a long way in making sure that Vernon and Petunia complied. Harry had provided them with enough information to piece together his childhood, or the distinct lack thereof, and the fact that the Dursleys did not want anyone to know that they were less than perfect.
John Granger had begun a business relationship with Vernon Dursley using their dental practice’s drill needs. Tonight’s dinner was supposed to be to finalize the deal of the year for Vernon. Unbeknownst to Vernon, John Granger had very different plans for the evening.
Dinner was a very normal affair for both parties. Petunia really was a good host and the dinner conversation was polite but a little bland. When the time came for the after-dinner drinks and business talk, Vernon Dursleys’ world turned upside down.
“I have a few conditions before I sign this contract Mr. Dursley.” John Granger spoke as he pulled out his notepad from his dinner jacket.
“First, you will ask for a transfer to the Australian Branch of Grunnings. I have a large group of friends in Sydney and Melbourne and they all have long term drill needs. I would like you to be their account manager. This is a very large account and a definite pay raise for you if you accept. You will still be my account manager here too.” Mr. Granger paused to let this information sink in. He was not disappointed to see that Vernon really wanted this position but could not take it because of Harry Potter.
Vernon Dursley had mixed feelings. He desperately wanted the new position and the pay raise. The problem was that blasted Potter boy and his freak minders. The letter that they had received with Harry all those years ago forbid them from moving because of the protections put in place. It was with a heavy heart, and a promise to make Harry’s life a living hell when he returned for ruining another business deal for him, that he spoke to turn down the offer. “Mr. Granger, I’m afraid that I can’t accept the offer as much as I want to.”
“Why is that, Mr. Dursley?” John knew the reason but he wanted to hear Vernon explain his reasons. He wanted to close the deal without using the blackmail material but he would use it if he absolutely had too.
“We have custody of our nephew and he is currently away at a boarding school. If we were to move away it would cause all sorts of problems.” Vernon said while squirming a bit in his seat. The sight of Mr. Granger grinning broadly at his remark did nothing to ease his tension level.
“You are referring to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry then?” John said in a completely normal tone.
Vernon Dursleys response was exactly what Mr. Granger had predicted. All color drained from Vernon’s face and he spluttered “What?”
“My daughter is a student there and she is a very good friend of Harry’s.” John knew that this would really push Vernon over the edge and he was not disappointed. Vernon had turned a nasty shade of puce before standing up and putting the sofa between them as a defensive barrier.
“You’re one of them aren’t you?” Vernon whispered at Mr. Granger.
Remaining seated and in a completely calm tone of voice John replied, “No. I’m just like you but my daughter is a witch and I have a way to solve your guardianship problem.”
Seeing that he wasn’t’ going to be attacked by some freakish means Vernon Dursley sat back down on the sofa and asked “How?”
With an internal smile, John Granger knew he had won. Vernon and Petunia Dursley desperately wanted to rid themselves of their nephew. “Let my wife and I take over guardianship of Harry. We already know about the magical world and have made arrangements to have our house protected.”
For the first time in the entire conversation, Petunia spoke up as she and Mrs. Granger walked into the living room with the tea service. “We can’t leave. Dumbledore said that there were protections from our being family that meant that he had to stay here for them to remain in place.”
Leaning forward in his seat, John Granger motioned for Petunia to join them in the living room. “Were you ever really given a choice in the matter?” Upon seeing their negative response Mrs. Granger continued speaking; “Then why should you listen to someone who has not once checked up on Harry in the time that he has stayed here.”
“How did you know that?” gasped Petunia.
“Harry told my daughter everything that he has ever experienced since he came to live here with you.” Seeing the scared looks on their faces John resumed speaking; “I mean everything.” He said while putting emphasis on the last word and staring into both of their faces with a look of disgust plainly visible.
The Dursleys grew noticeably paler at this revelation before Vernon spoke up. “What do we need to do?” He realized that Mr. Granger could make life very difficult for them if he wanted to.
With a smile, John Granger pulled the transfer of guardianship papers out of his briefcase for the Dursleys to sign. “This is the legal paperwork to transfer guardianship of Harry to my family. My solicitor has already walked everything through the courts and all that is needed are your signatures.” John explained as he pushed the paperwork with a pen across the coffee table. “We are even going to petition for an adoption to further solidify our status as Harry’s guardians.”
Looking over the paperwork quickly, both Vernon and Petunia signed their names on the indicated lines and passed the document back to Mr. Granger. “Excellent. Now we need to discuss your move. I have been informed that your house is probably under surveillance.”
The looks on the Dursleys’ faces were priceless. They were a mixture of outrage and fear, with fear winning out in the end. “How are we going to get away without them finding out then?” Vernon asked with a hint of fear creeping into his voice.
“Don’t take anything with you. We are not sure what other measures Dumbledore has taken to watch over your family. Once we have checked everything out we will have a moving company send your items to you.” John explained to the shocked Dursleys. The plan was to have Dobby and Winky check over everything and then magically send it to them but Mr. Granger did not feel the need to explain that part of Remus Lupins' plan to them since magic made them so uncomfortable.
“I’ll arrange everything at the office then and hopefully we can be gone in a couple of weeks.” Vernon said in a business like tone. Now more than ever, he wanted his family shot of the magical world. He felt violated and a bit unsafe in his own home after all of the revelations this evening. Petunia was nodding in approval from her perch on the edge of the sofa.
Understanding that everything that needed to taken care of was finished, John Granger slid the signed drill contract over to Vernon Dursley with a list of the contacts in Australia. “Get Grunnings to handle the sale of your house for you. That way people will have a harder time tracking you once you are gone. If you would like, we can have someone visit you in your new home and provide some protections for you too. Thank you for you time and a wonderful meal. It was a pleasure doing business with you.” After shaking both of their hands, the Grangers left the house, climbed into the rented Mercedes, and headed off to meet Remus in London to retrieve their own car. Remus Lupin had rented the car to prevent anyone tracing it to the Grangers new residence.