Leaving the school, Harry makes a discovery on the train, and the order deals with Vernon. Rated for language. Brief mention of rape.
Dumbledore stood on the top step, waving happily at his departing students. Oddly enough, he could have sworn he saw Harry Potter return his wave with less than all of his fingers. Perhaps he should go into Diagon alley and have his eyesight checked…again.
Draco Malfoy began his semi-annual visit to annoy Harry and his companions shortly after their departure from Hogsmeade station.
“Well!” He sneered as he slid the door open. “If it isn’t Scarhead, the pauper and the mudblood. Oh, I see the squib and the lunatic are here as well. Where’s the Weaselette? Off shagging Corner?”
Ron's ears flared red and he had almost gotten his wand clear when Harry’s words shocked him into total silence.
“Go away, Malfoy.” Harry muttered from the seat farthest from the door, not even bothering to look up from his book. “This is a ‘no ferret zone’!” He pointed absently to the placard he’d stuck to the wall. A white ferret was overlain by a red international ‘NO’ symbol. Malfoy’s cheeks grew pink.
Seeing as how he was in an enemy encampment, and grossly outnumbered, he left his wand in his pocket…for the time being, and instead decided to try to get under scar-head’s skin.
“What’s the matter, Potter? Can’t handle a little civil conversation with your superiors?”
“Find me a superior and I might enjoy speaking with them.” Harry absently turned a page.
Draco sneered. “I, Potter, am your superior in every way! I could buy the lot of you and sell you to the carnival freak show!” He smirked and looked around at Crabbe and Goyle. Both noticed the unspoken instruction and began to laugh.
“Hey, Malfoy!” Hermione piped up: “That’s a neat trick. Can you have them dance at your command, too? I think I have a barrel organ here somewhere.” She opened her book-bag and pretended to search it.
Malfoy pulled out his wand and snarled: “Shut your filthy mouth, mudblurrrk!”
Calm as you please, Harry looked up from the book he’d been perusing, while Draco began to strangle. Closing the book, he said: “Gee, Hermione. I wonder whatever is the matter with Malfoy? He seems to have swallowed his ego. What do you think?”
“Well, I’m not certain…” Hermione really wasn’t certain. Harry wasn’t doing anything that she could see. His hand was curled into a loose ‘cee’ but she could clearly see he wasn’t ‘doing’ anything, to Malfoy. On the other hand, she could actually feel the power pouring off him! She wasn’t the only one either. Luna was staring at Harry with a worried expression and both Ron and Neville seemed to be in awe.
“Hey! Thing one! Thing two!” Harry addressed Crabbe and Goyle. “The ferret looks dreadful! Someone told me there’s a trainee healer in the car at the other end of the train. I think you’ll just have time to get this pathetic waste of flesh to her before he dies, but only if you drag his worthless carcass down there right now. Judging purely by the color of his horribly inbred skin, I’m reckoning you have about two minutes.”
The bookends did as they were told, and each lifting one of Draco’s arms around their shoulder, hauled Draco down the corridor. People in compartments along their path began to call out jeers and taunts. Neville closed the door, and the sounds faded into the general noise of the train.
“Blimey, Harry!” Ron exulted. “That was bloody great! How’d you do that?”
Neville was stunned at the oddity, but Luna eyed Harry and whispered: “Beware the ways of the Sith!”
“Harry!” Hermione hissed. “What if he dies?”
“No loss there.”
“Harry!” Came from both Hermione and Luna.
“Hermione, as you can plainly see, I haven’t left this seat. I’ve used no magic, and my wand is still strapped to my arm.” Harry lifted his left arm to show the Auror’s holster Tonks had given him, on his previous birthday.
“Then why is your fist curled like that, and why are you practically thrumming with power?”
“Oh that. Nothing important.” Harry checked his watch, and then let go his concentration. His hand relaxed and he breathed a sigh. “You see?”
“What did you do, Harry?” Hermione was irritated at Harry’s evasions.
“Why, whatever could you mean, Hermione?” Harry feigned innocence. “I mean, it’s not as if I used the force on him, right?”
“What’s the force?” Ron asked.
“It’s a mystical energy field created by life. It penetrates us, surrounds us and binds the galaxy together.” Hermione recited dutifully. “It’s an imaginary power, that acts sort of like magic. It’s used as a plot device in a series of cinema productions called ‘Star Wars’ by the American filmmaker George Lucas.”
During her exposition, Harry had closed his eyes and allowed himself to sink into the force. He was aware of his surroundings, but since there was no immediate danger, he was content to meditate, and examine the knowledge imparted to him by Yoda. Ordering his mind and storing that information would be a priority…just behind building his lightsaber.
Seeing as how she would get no further information from her friend, Hermione flumped down on the bench and pulled out her well-worn copy of ‘Hogwarts: A History'. She opened the heavy tome and with one eye, began to read. The other, she kept firmly focused on Harry.
“How many times can you read that thing, Hermione?” Ron whinged. “Every time I see you either have it or you’re reading it.”
“It might do you some good to read it for yourself!” She snapped.
“Why?” Ron grinned. “All we have to do is ask you!” Ron instantly found himself facing Hermione’s patented ‘Glare of agonizing death, #3’. He blanched and for once, did the smart thing. He shut his mouth. Turning to Harry, he nudged the bespectacled boy from his meditations, and challenged him to a game of chess.
Harry didn’t do as badly as he usually did. Quite the contrary, he almost won. A point that an amazed Ron commented on. ”
“Where did you learn that, Harry? I usually trounce you!”
Harry winced as he realized he’d shown another skill he didn’t have before. He muttered: “Sabbacc” as he stood and headed off to the loo. Only Hermione and Luna seemed to recognize the obscure referent.
When Harry returned to the cabin, he found Hermione reading and occasionally sneaking surreptitious glances at him. Luna had taken his place beside Ron and was proceeding to destroy him in wizard’s chess, a fact that he bemoaned loudly and blamed entirely on her ‘wonky’ playing style, which was, truth be told, erratic at best. Luna, being Luna, paid him absolutely no heed whatsoever.
Harry shrugged his shoulders, sat nearest the door, and spoke quietly with Neville.
“Neville, I want to thank you for coming along with me to the ministry. You stayed with me to the end. In spite of your injuries, you stayed when you could have gone. For that, I thank you most deeply. I intend to contact your gran on another matter and I suspect she’s going to be less than pleased with me. Still, I’d like you to be present when I get there sometime next week, if you could.”
“Harry, when you talk to gran, just tell her that there has always been a Longbottom standing beside a Potter.”
“I’ll do that.” Harry smiled his thanks for the very useful tip. He knew that Augusta was a tradition bound woman and such a hint would be enough.
Neville decided to go chat up Hannah in the next compartment. He stood, gave Harry a ‘thumbs up’ and left, closing the door behind him.
For the next hour or so, Harry sat on one end of the bench, facing Hermione, at the other. He was reading a book, while not-quite subtly pretending to peek up her skirt. Hermione, who had removed her shoes and adopted a comfortable position against the large window, smiled at his obvious attempts and played along, drawing her knees up to her chest and crossing her ankles. She rested her book on her thighs, and occasionally shifted her legs for a second, or so, so he could just glimpse her knickers, before closing them primly. It wasn’t until Luna had departed for the loo and Ron had gone to hunt down the snack trolley again, that Harry broke the silence. “Hermione?”
“Mmmm” Hermione paused her own perusal and looked up at her friend.
“You remember telling me that you wondered if you’d had a compulsion charm on you?”
“Oh yes. I spoke to Professor McGonagall as soon as I left the hospital wing, and she told me that since those sorts of charms were quite illegal, if I thought I had a compulsion on me, I should report it immediately. I asked her to check me for evidence of such a charm. She did, and got really upset. She told me I’d had several placed on me. She dispelled them and told me to report to Dumbledore.
“What did he do?”
“I’m not really sure, actually.” Hermione furrowed her brow in confusion. “My memory goes a bit fuzzy there. That usually doesn’t happen, you know.”
“Hermione, that never happens. I’m afraid the compulsions have been replaced, and I have very good reason to believe Dumbledore is the one who placed them.”
“Oh, honestly, Harry!” She scoffed, setting the book on the seat beside her. “Don’t be ridiculous! Why would Professor Dumbledore place compulsions on me?”
“Think very carefully about that question, Hermione. Why would Dumbledore place compulsions on you?”
“Compulsions are placed to make the victim act in a manner he or she normally does not, or to enhance behavioral patterns already part of the victim’s personality.” She rattled off the textbook response. “It’s like the Imperius curse, but more subtle.”
“Correct. Now, what has Dumbledore told you to do recently, that you don’t think you’d normally do, or what has he told you not to do that you usually would?” Harry knew that with such a powerful and ordered mind as she had, Hermione would work it out quickly.
He was right. It took four seconds.
“I’m not supposed to contact you, Harry. Not at all. Dumbledore told me it would be too dangerous. He said it might lead the Death Eaters right to you, or possibly back to me.”
“Ep!” Harry touched the tip of his nose. “According to Dumbledore, neither Voldemort, nor his servants can find me while I’m in Durzkaban, so he has no legitimate reason to keep you from writing me. You also know about Dobby and he’d be more than willing to deliver mail.”
At her impending outburst, he added: “You could even pay him. The truth is, Hermione, he wants me isolated again…‘for the greater good’ I suppose. Only this year, I’ve got a bit of a surprise for him.” Harry took Hermione’s hand and spoke softly. “Hermione, I can dispel the compulsions, with your permission. If you’d like to ensure I’m doing it right, you can study these.” He handed her the books he’d acquired from Madam Pince. “Remember, we only have until we reach London to do it, that’s about four more hours, ‘cause any magic we do after we leave the platform, will be reported, as we’ll no longer be in school”
“But we’re not in school now…” Hermione protested.
“Actually, for the purpose of using magic, we are. The Express is considered to be an integral part of Hogwarts. That’s how we keep getting away with jinxing Malfoy and his bookends each trip. Since we’re still ‘officially’ in school, it doesn’t count.”
Harry settled back into his meditations while Hermione read. Ron returned but departed soon after with Luna. She told him that she had something to show him, took his hand and hauled him off.
Three hours later, Hermione asked Harry to dispel the compulsions. She’d just done the detection charm McGonagall had shown her and understood that she was under not less than seven different compulsions. If anything, Hermione Granger was an independent woman and intended to remain that way, scheming, manipulative headmaster or no!
Harry spoke the spells to dispel the compulsions and then leaned into the force to ensure there were no other charms of the like in place.
There were. Two almost invisible compulsions remained. They were keyed to Hermione’s blood. These were much harder to dispel, as they were anchored to a physical part of Hermione Granger. To dispel those two, he needed the blood they had been anchored to.
“Hermione, there are two more. Very subtle. I’m going to need some ‘special help’ on these two. Do you mind?”
“Help?” Hermione was confused, and suddenly frightened. She’d read up on this sort of spell for the past hours. In her perusal of the books she given her, she’d come across only two different types of compulsions that couldn’t be removed with a finishing charm. Both types were considered very dark magicks. She decided.
“Dobby!” Harry called. Instantly, the hyperactive house elf appeared before them. “Oh the wonderful Harry Potter has called for Dobby. Dobby is so happy! How may Dobby serve the great Harry Potter sir?”
“First off, stop humping my leg!” For that was precisely what the elf was doing. Hermione giggled, until Harry offered to trade legs with her. Still snickering, she sat back and waited.
“Dobby is so sorry, Harry Potter sir!”
“Don’t worry about it. I would like you to carefully look at Hermione, and tell me what you think is off about her.”
Puzzled, Dobby complied. “Miss Hermyninny Grangers is still injured. She is recovering nicely, though. She is a week from being all better. She is just past her season…” Hermione turned pink at the mention of such a personal issue. Harry interrupted Dobby’s recitation.
“Go deeper, Dobby. Look closely at her magic.”
Instantly, Dobby was outraged. “They is someone who is placed a slave bond on Miss Hermyninny Grangers. It is a blood bond! Such is very dark. Most evil!” Hermione gasped. Blood was dangerous in all sorts of magic, including and especially certain rituals. She had to find the blood that had been taken from her!
“Dobby, can you trace the blood that’s been taken from Hermione? Can you find it all and recover it or destroy it?”
“Oh yes. Dobby can do easily, but Dobby must first touch Miss Hermyninny Grangers’ blood.” Harry transfigured a toothpick into a sharp needle and handed it to Hermione. She poked her finger and a scarlet drop formed. Dobby touched his fingertip to hers and after a second, spoke.
“It is all in the same place. They is only a little bit.” He healed her pinprick and vanished the blood.
“Is it at Hogwarts?” Hermione asked, dreading the answer.
“Yes, Miss Hermyninny Grangers.”
“Is it in the Headmaster’s possession? In his room or his office?” Harry spoke quietly, knowing the answer would completely destroy any faith Hermione had in Dumbledore, but better that, than her being under the old manipulator’s control for the rest of her life. Cornelius Fudge and Molly Weasley were both good examples of what would happen when people allowed others to have that much control over them.
“Yes, it is in his chambers. Why is Master, Headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore, being taking Miss Hermyninny Grangers’ blood?”
“Dumbledore wants me under his control, Dobby. Just the way the Malfoy’s controlled you. He’s trying to use Hermione, and probably Ron too, to force that control. Hermione has been given instructions to not contact me all summer. I’ll bet Ron has the same instructions. If Dumbledore has taken Hermione’s blood, he can use it for much, much worse. Will you please go and get the blood, or destroy it? He must not be able to use Hermione like that. Who can tell how he’d use her if he thought he could get away with it?”
“Dobby will do!”
“Make sure you get it all! And, most important of all, don’t get caught! I don’t want to lose a very good friend.”
Dobby’s response was as expected. He burst out weeping and proclaiming Harry to be the most wonderful wizard in the world. Eventually, he popped away and Harry and Hermione stared at each other in an uncomfortable silence.
Dobby reappeared bearing a small crystal phial of dark red blood. He also held a large, rolled piece of parchment.
“Here is you blood, Miss Hermyninny Grangers.” He announced proudly, holding the phial out.
“Is that all there is to find, Dobby?” Harry asked as Hermione took the blood from the excitable elf.
“Oh yes. Dobby found the blood and then looked for more. Dobby found this with three drops of blood on it. Dobby made another, took this one and left that one. They is the same but they is no blood on that one.”
“Good man!” Dobby positively glowed with the praise.
“Won’t he notice this is gone?” Hermione hefted the damning phial.
“Oh, no, Mistress Hermyninny Grangers. The sacred one, Fawkes, has given Dobby a same-looking phial filled with red pepper sauce.”
Hermione choked at the Phoenix’s prank. Harry laughed out loud.
Asking Hermione’s permission, Harry surrounded the phial of blood in a small, globular shield. The globe flared bright white and when the glare had died, the phial was a cooling puddle of melted glass and the blood was gone.
Scanning her again, he saw that with the blood’s destruction, one of the remaining compulsions had vanished. One was left. He opened the parchment.
“What is that?” Hermione asked. The parchment was covered with silvery scrollwork. Harry scanned it with the force while he read it. He did not like what he found.
“Hermione, it’s a concubine’s contract…to Ron. Your signature and blood are already on it. I’m suspecting Dumbledore is planning to ‘give’ you to Ron in exchange for his spying on me.”
“Ron would never do that!” Hermione cried, snatching the parchment. She loved the red head. She wasn’t in love with him. That place in her heart, she reserved for a particular green-eyed boy, but she knew in her heart that Ron would never do anything so utterly despicable.
“He would if he was under compulsion.” Harry returned quietly. That caught Hermione flatfooted.
“Do you really think Dumbledore would do that?” Hermione was suddenly very afraid.
“Sometimes I wonder about his sanity. He’s done some really strange things in the recent past. Things that have no rational explanation. His justification has always been: ‘It’s for the greater good.’ but he’s never actually said what the greater good was. Sometimes I wonder if he knows, himself. Anyway, to answer your question; I believe that if he’s convinced himself it was in the best interests of the wizarding world…yeah. He would.”
What can I do about this?” She brandished the noisome contract.
“Dobby?” Harry asked.
“Since the contract has not been accepted yet, all you has to do is destroy the parchment. That will also dispel the last compulsion.” The elf explained patiently.
“Fire will serve, but Harry Potter cannot do. It must be Miss Hermyninny Grangers.”
“Since it’s your name on the contract…” Harry interjected. “You’ll have to do the burning.”
“Oh. How then?”
“I’ll surround it with the same kind of globe I just used. You use your want to fill the globe with the hottest fire you can imagine.”
“Oh. I can do that.”
“No nuclear bombs, K?”
Within seconds the parchment was nothing but fine, white ash. Harry refocused on those, and then on Hermione, found no trace of the magic that had been there. Opening the window, he scattered the ashes to the winds.
Harry turned to Dobby, partly to allow Hermione to mull over the revelations of the past hour, and partly to ask Dobby something he knew would thrill the elf and infuriate Hermione.
“Dobby, did you bring your sock?”
“Yes, Harry Potter!” Dobby produced a familiar black sock and handed it to Harry.
“Will you allow me to bond you into my service?” That caught her immediate attention.
“Oh yes! Dobby will most happily bond to the great Harry Potter!”
“What do I do?” Harry asked. To his side, Hermione gasped in horror.
“You takes Dobby’s sock and say: “I accept Dobby the house elf into my home. I will care for and succor Dobby as a member of my household and I expect him to serve me diligently and faithfully and guard my secrets.” Dobby instructed. Hermione was staring, aghast.
Harry took the sock and as both were touching it, repeated the words, substituting ‘Family’ for Household’. Dobby accepted the bond and a silver flash sealed the bargain.
“Dobby, you will wear a uniform. We will work out the specifics when I reach the house. You know 12 Grimmauld Place is mine now, yes?”
“Oh yes. ‘Tis a most wondrous house. They is many dirty rooms to clean. Dobby will be most happy there!”
“Good. Go there, and start to clean the place up. Do the kitchen, the small dining room and one bedroom to start. I should be there by nightfall. Oh, and if you see Kreacher, tie him up for me!”
“Dobby will do, Master Harry Potter sir!” With that, Dobby the house elf, vanished soundlessly. Unfortunately that left Harry alone with a seething Hermione Granger.
“Slavery, Harry?” Hermione growled. “Slavery? You know how I feel about that! You of all people should know how it feels to be a slave, Harry! I can’t begin to understand why you’d even consider…”
Harry cut her off by the simple expedient of placing his hand over her mouth. Sighing, he sat beside his best friend. “Hermione, Dobby’s not safe at Hogwarts anymore. I think you know that. If Dumbledore finds out that Dobby helped me to escape his control, he’d kill him. Dobby isn’t important to his plans. You also know that I’ll treat him well. I will care for him, I will pay him and I will give him the freedoms that he couldn’t get anywhere else. In my service, he’ll be happier, and more importantly, he’ll be healthier.”
That got Hermione’s attention.
“What do you mean…healthier?”
“Have you seen Dobby lately? He was always exhausted! Hermione, house elves must bond to sustain their magic. It’s actually a symbiotic relationship, not a parasitic one. Each party gains and together they are stronger than they are separately. The human benefit is actually the lesser one. Yes, they have a willing and capable servant, but that’s about all. The elves, on the other hand, benefit much more. The elf’s magic is made stronger because they feel they are ‘part’ of the household, and have something useful to do, and with that strength, they actually become healthier. A house elf is more in tune with, and more dependant upon his magic than humans are. If a house elf is unbonded for too long, he begins to lose that magic. Usually knowing that the magic is leaving them is what drives elves insane. Kreacher has very little magic left. He’s been without a bond for so long that he’s literally lost his mind. The bond he had before was not a proper one either, as it requires at least some form of concern for the welfare of the elf. Mrs. Black detested him and never considered him anything but a menial…a semi-intelligent animal who could clean and cook. She never saw him as a person, and as she was his primary owner and clearly insane, Kreacher never got the benefit of the bond. Since she treated his father the same way, he grew up to think that that treatment was proper. Hermione, Kreacher is only in his fourties, hardly older than Sirius was, but he’s going to die soon, where he should have lived at least two hundred years. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about that. He’s just gone without, for too long.”
“It’s also the nature of things. Now, before you start in on me, I completely agree with you, that elves are treated like dirt. That’s got to stop…for our own safety, if nothing else. The wizards don’t know what they’re playing with. House elves are far more powerful than any wizard could ever imagine. Even Dumbledore would never consider directly challenging an elf’s magic. He’d get his arse handed to him before he even began. Remember when I told you what happened to Malfoy? Dobby did that with one snap of his fingers. He wasn’t even breathing hard. Y’see, it’s only the ministry laws, or rather, it’s the elves’ acceptance of those laws that protect the wizards from serious harm. The original bond was never intended to condone the abuse that the elves suffer now, but over the centuries, the wizards have created laws, and modified those laws until the elves are basically slaves. Your S.P.E.W. idea was a good one, but you approached it from the wrong end. Simply freeing the elves would be like setting a basket of kittens loose in the forest. Most of them would end up dead and those who did survive would carry a grudge…against you. What we have to work on, is challenging, and then changing the laws on how the elves are treated. House elves have got to learn that they are people to be respected, not abused. That has to be done before we can begin to alter the bonds themselves. Do you see what I mean?”
Hermione reluctantly nodded. She was still rather annoyed that her best friend had taken a slave, but now she understood his reasons for doing so.
“Sorry.” She whispered. Harry gave her a gentle hug. She returned it and they stayed that way for the rest of the trip.
Ron entered the carriage, and saw them. He sighed, as if he’d just lost something precious, only to have Luna Lovegood wrap herself around him, letting her hands roam under his shirt in a decidedly erotic manner and touching the tip of her tongue into his ear. Ron’s eyes crossed and he let out a strangled moan.
Hermione snickered as Harry called out: “Oy! Get a room!”
Remus was confused. Harry had spoken to the assembled group of Order members at Kings Cross, telling them that their proposed intervention would be unnecessary. 'How had he known we were going to have a talk with the Dursleys?' was the question on almost every mind there.
“We have an arrangement; they will leave me alone and I won’t trouble them any.”
“How do you expect that to happen?” “Harry!” “I’ve seen those…people!” “They haven’t a trace of empathy!” “They hate magic…and everything magical!” “You’ve been abused for most of your life! Don’t deny it, boy, I can see the scars. Anyone could, who cared to look.” Came the objections from Remus, Arthur, Tonks, Hermione, the twins and Moody in turn.
“Simple. I won’t be there. I’m not returning to Privet Drive.”
“Harry…” Lupin began just as Moody snarled: “The hell you’re not, boy!”
“Moody, you just said you could see the scars. Well, Albus Dumbledore is responsible for every bloody one of them. He put me there, against Ministry law, Minerva’s sound advise, and my mother’s express wishes. In the event of my parents’ death, I was to go to Sirius, my godfather, because that’s what godfathers are for. Strangely enough, when Sirius arrived at Godric’s Hollow, Hagrid was already there, with instructions from Dumbledore, to bring me to him so he could place me with the Dursleys. This was the day before he dropped me off like a bottle of milk, two days before Sirius cornered Pettigrew in Manchester. Three days before Crouch chucked him into Azkaban, without so much as a trial, I might add. I wonder why? In the unlikely event Sirius was unable to take me in, my parents’ will instructs the Ministry, not Dumbledore, but the Ministry, to place me with my aunt, only if there were no Death Eaters available to take me in. Other than that, she had a list of over a hundred possibles, including two vampires and a werewolf…other than you, Remus, and a troll named Ong! He knew when he dropped me on that doorstep, that he was…how did he say it? Oh yeah. “Harry, five years ago…” Harry aped Dumbledore’s voice perfectly. “When you arrived at Hogwarts, safe and whole as I had planned and intended…well not quite whole. I knew you had suffered. When I placed you on your aunt’s doorstep, I knew I was condemning you to ten dark and difficult years.” Even Moody was impressed.
“Dark and difficult doesn’t even begin to cover it. More like ten years of slavery, malnutrition…starvation even, brutality and rape.”
“What do you mean…rape?” Tonks asked, horrified that something like that could happen.
“I’m sure you know what the word means, Tonks, though I suppose it would more properly be called buggery or forcible sodomy instead.” He nearly snarled.
“The place I slept…when I could sleep through the pain; was a boot cupboard under the stairs. I’m immune to several kinds of spider toxins now, because I’ve been bitten so bloody many times! He put me there for one reason and one reason only. He put me there, in order to break any spirit I may have developed. He needed to mould me into his ‘perfect weapon’ against Voldemort, whom he knew had not been destroyed! What he never counted on…given what he knew of my upbringing, and he was well aware of how I was treated, what he never even considered to be a remote possibility, was my actually making friends, although as soon as I had, he placed them under compulsions to report everything I did or said, to him.”
“Hermione’s eyes, already wide open at Harry’s passionate narration, popped even wider. “So that’s why you told me about the compulsions!” She accused, hurt that her friend would use her in such a manner.
“In part, yes. I only just learned about compulsions, Hermione, but it made perfect sense to me, considering everything that’s happened since I met you and Ron. You were already well on the way to discovering them on your own. Your mind is the most organized I’ve ever seen, and sooner or later you’d have noticed something was wrong. I just gave you a little nudge. For the other part, it was to get you free of his control, at least for the summer.” Harry pleaded with his eyes for her to understand. The years they’d spent as friends did the rest. Hermione scowled, but her eyes told him he was forgiven.
“Harry, surely you’re overstating just a…” Arthur began.
“Mister Weasley, my house elf recovered blood taken from Hermione, in Dumbledore’s possession. He also found an unexecuted concubine’s contract…to Ron. Hermione’s signature and three drops of her blood were already on it, and yet, she had no knowledge of doing it. As for the rest, I can provide pensieve memories if you wish. By the time I turned eleven, I’d had three hundred and fifty nine broken bones. That’s nearly a hundred and fifty more than the human body has. I’ve had so many internal injuries that wizard or no, I won’t live past sixty.” Everybody present gasped in shock. Healthy lifetimes of one hundred twenty years or even longer were commonplace for wizards. That Harry expected to die before his anticipated life was even half done; was horrifying.
“Every time he gave me a serious injury, one my own magic couldn’t heal, my uncle would write a letter to Dumbledore, and leave it at an owl drop at Arabella Figg’s house. Ol’ Twinkles would come by and heal my injuries. Sometimes he’d cart Madam Pomfrey along, and soon enough I’d be whole again. I have to think he’s obliviated her at least a hundred times.
“Harry, why couldn’t your magic heal your injuries?” Tonks asked. Usually the person’s innate magic took care of most minor, and some major injuries.
“Because Albus Dumbledore bound my magic when I was a baby…and before you tell me that binding the magic of a person who is unwilling, or in this case, unaware, is illegal, I’ll tell you the same thing I told your boss, last week. Dumbledore has only a passing interest in what’s legal. If laws get in the way of something he wants, then those laws vanish, or he finds or invents a loophole. Albus Dumbledore is first and foremost, a politician. And that’s the lowest, most deceitful form of criminal life on this planet!”
Hermione gasped in anguish the thought of her friend suffering like that. Harry wrapped his arm around her in comfort. Tonks smiled at the image and nudged Remus. Arthur was torn, as he knew Molly had wanted Harry to marry Ginny and Hermione to wed Ron, but here, the realty of it struck. If his son was under compulsion, maybe he and Molly were as well.
Harry saw the gears turning, and smiled thinly. He knew his seeds of doubt had taken root.
“Be that as may be…” Moody interrupted. “You still haven’t given us a good enough reason for you to not return to the Dursleys.”
Harry sighed. He’d been half-expecting this. Now, he knew he’d have to pull out the big guns if he was to convince them…especially Moody.
“My life being in constant danger from them isn’t good enough? The beatings, the rapes and the starvation, aren’t good enough?” He asked.
Moody was sympathetic, but he stood firm. So far, Potter had given them this song and dance, but he still needed a solid reason to doubt the old man’s motives. The prophecy said that only Potter could defeat Voldemort, and if he had to suffer a bit in order to do that, then maybe Dumbledore was correct. The needs of the many, and all that rubbish.
“All right. If that’s not enough, then how about this!” He held up his hand, and turned it around so they could see the three signets he wore. All present bowed in respect except Hermione, who stared in shock. Harry breathed again, in relief. If Moody hadn’t been bound to the Gryffindor line, he wouldn’t have been able to pull this off.
Whether from Harry’s newly revealed status or because he was willing to use such status to his advantage, Hermione couldn’t tell. She felt a frisson of ‘something’ travel through her body.
“You realize what these mean.” He began. “Other than Hermione, you are all bound to one of my houses or another. As your liege, I insist you not interfere. Moody, you are bound to the Potter line and thus to the Gryffindor line through my grandfather, yet you have given your loyalty to Dumbledore. We will be having a long talk about that. Remus, you are also bound…to my father. He was your best friend. I need that loyalty now. I will explain, but not here. Tonks, you are a Black, and Sirius named me the new head of the Black family. Do you have any reservations as to following my orders?”
“No my lord.” Tonks bowed her head, not liking this at all. She was bound to Dumbledore as well, but her filial responsibility overrode any other debt. “But I don’t like it!”
“Neither do I, Tonks. If there was any other way, I’d have taken it. Don’t worry. I’ll explain everything. I promise”
“You had better!” She growled.
“Arthur? Fred? George?”
“Harry, I’ll make no bones about it…” Arthur began. “I don’t like this, either. Yes, we are all bound to you in one form or other, but you must realize…well, Harry, Albus says you’re safest there.”
“Yes, Harry.” Hermione ventured. “What about the blood protections around your home? I overheard Professor Dumbledore talking about them. If you’re not at your home, those wards will fall.”
“That’s just the point, Hermione. First off, if you ‘overheard’ him, you were intended to. Around Dumbledore, there’s no such thing as an accident. Secondly, It’s not my home. It never has been. It’s always been the place I had to stay, until I could escape…and no, that is not too strong a word. Such wards are based on shared blood, yes, but they require love, love of family at the very least, to power them. The Dursley’s have no love. Not even for themselves, and certainly not for me. I’d be willing to bet the wards, if they ever existed, fell years ago. I’ll tell you more soon, but just now, I see the Dursleys, and as usual, they don’t look happy.” Harry pointed to his three relatives, waiting more than impatiently for him.
Harry was correct, Vernon Dursley looked angry enough to spit nails. Petunia was sneering in disgust at pretty much everybody she saw, muggle and wizard alike. Several people had noticed her disdain and clearly didn’t care for it. Dudley was a different story. The Dudley that Harry remembered from the previous summer, was gone. In his place was a thinner, more confident, if edgy young man, who watched them with wary eyes.
Leading the group over to the Dursleys, Harry cleared his throat. Vernon interrupted him before he could speak.
“So!” Vernon sneered as well as Snape could. “You’ve finally decided to haul your worthless carcass back. We’ve been waiting for thirteen minutes, boy! Thirteen minutes! We’ll see about your insolence when we’ve returned home! Get your things, boy! We’re leaving now. If you don’t make it to the car park before us, you’ll have to bloody walk!”
“Vernon Dursley, I’m not returning to Privet Drive with you. That place, is not now, and never has been my home. I’m sorry you’ve made the trip for nothing, but I have places to be, and things to do, that do not include you or your family. Good day.”
“WHAT?” Vernon bellowed. Passers-by turned to see the disturbance. Petunia snapped: “How dare you…you horrible little freak!!” Mingled with Vernon snarling: “There’s work to be done! The roof needs patching. The gardens are an unholy mess, and Pet wants a larger greenhouse!”
Fully aware that the people around Harry were magical, Dudley was nervous, but that was understandable, given his thaumophobic parents, and the things Harry would likely have told his friends about his life with the Dursleys. Instead of cowering behind his parents, and trying to cover his enormous backside, like he would have the previous year, he stood, alert and ready to defend his parents, but offered no challenge or threat.
Harry was impressed despite himself. Perhaps there was a chance for Dudley.
Vernon continued to spout his vitriol. “You’ll come with us now, or I’ll give you the thrashing of your miserable life, right here!” He reached out to grab Harry.
“I don’t think so, Dursley.” Moody growled, stepping forward. His bowler was perched aslant on his head, covering his magical eye. If he hadn’t been convinced by Harry’s words or his display, he was now.
“We’ve heard how you have treated Harry for the longest time, and it makes us sick.” Tonks growled.
“I’m not aware that it’s any of your business what goes on in my house!” Vernon snarled. How dare the freak tell others how he was treated? He’d see about that, he would!
“I’d expect that what you’re not aware of would fill several books, boyo.” Moody growled. As much as he disliked being put on the spot like Harry had done, he could well understand why the boy had done so. This Vernon Dursley was a real piece of work! He tipped up his bowler to show his magical eye and Vernon paled immediately.
Before the argument could get out of hand, Harry interrupted.
“Vernon Dursley, I’d like you to meet my friends. Al…Seingeye.” He gestured to Moody. “Vibrancy Hue.” He pointed out Tonks, who smiled brightly. “John Moony.” Remus grinned as well. “The Weatherby’s.” Fred and George snickered and Arthur scowled. “And last, but certainly not least, Lotta Reedin.” Hermione glared at him, but her lips turned up at the corners.
“That Dumbbell fellow told us you have to stay with us until you reach seventeen! Until that time, you - are - mine!” Vernon sneered poking his finger into Harry’s chest with each word.
“Not anymore. I have petitioned the courts to have me emancipated. After having seen my memories, they agreed. Moreover, you were paid five thousand pounds to sign those papers. You signed, and they’ve been filed with the proper authorities…all - the - proper - authorities.”
“That ruddy gold vanished!”
“Not my problem. Petunia’s aware of the magical world, she should have recognized the Leprechaun gold. Given how you’ve treated me in the past, I could have done far worse.”
“We haven’t been contacted by anyone!” Vernon protested. He was beginning to get nervous. If the law found out how Harry had been treated, Dumbell or no, he stood to lose everything!
Petunia added in a frightened voice: “What do you mean…‘having seen your memories’?”
“Be grateful you haven’t been contacted. I convinced them to leave you be, seeing as I would no longer be under your dubious ‘care’. In case you’re wondering, I went through the magical courts. I contacted the director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, last week, and she filed the papers for me. Believe me, after reading my deposition, and having a look through my memories, she was ready to have you and Petunia stript naked and dragged behind a carriage until you died. I understand she wanted to mount your heads on pikes after that and render your bodies down for potion’s ingredients. Since such ingredients are highly illegal and she is the head of the DMLE, I think you can see just how upset she was. Somehow, I get the feeling she doesn’t like you.” Hermione snickered at that.
“What are you laughing at, you freaky little bitch!?!” Vernon bellowed, advancing on the brunette witch with fists clenched. Mackenzie Granger had been watching the entire confrontation from a couple dozen feet away. He’d immediately classified Vernon as: ‘Dangerous: Extremely unstable. Handle carefully’, but knowing the group of adult wizards could handle him, waited. Now, however, seeing the increased danger to Hermione, he began to make his way over to the group. His prior training in the SAS would be more than enough to ensure no harm came to his beloved daughter.
As it was, his intended intervention was unnecessary. Harry twitched his fingers and suddenly Vernon couldn’t breathe. He began to turn a lovely shade of dark red.
“Vernon.” Harry spoke in a terrifying tone. “I have taken your abuse for fourteen years, but you will not insult or attempt to harm any of my friends. Do you fully understand me?”
“You’ll…you’ll be…expelled…from that…that…freak…school!” Vernon wheezed triumphantly.
“Vernon, I’m not using magic.” Harry said, almost casually. “I’m using the force. The ministry can’t detect it. In a few seconds, you are going to pass out from lack of oxygen. I will of course, loudly proclaim my concern to all and sundry, but you will die. Tragic loss, I’m sure, but that’s the way of life. Now will you apologize to her, or do I cut off your air entirely?”
Vernon grudgingly nodded his head. Harry released the hold he had on Vernon’s airway, and stood aside as Vernon mumbled out a: “sorry”.
Harry growled: “Try again!” and refocused his force grip on Vernon’s windpipe.
This time, Vernon felt the invisible hand around his neck begin to tighten. He dipped his head in apology and spoke quietly: “I apologize for my rudeness, and beg your forgiveness.” Harry released him.
Hermione nodded her head regally in acceptance, making Vernon fume. He turned to leave, intending to write a letter to that Dumbbell fellow, when Harry stopped him.
“Vernon, what you are thinking of doing is a very foolish move. If Dumbledore does manage to interfere, and if he does somehow manage to return me to your house, I can still use the force, without being troubled by the ministry. I really could make your lives more than a little bit uncomfortable. I would also ask all of my friends here, to come and visit on a daily basis. Dressed as they normally would!”
Petunia paled and whimpered piteously. It could not have been plainer that she was thinking of what the neighbors would say if they caught sight of these people marching up the garden path.
Vernon’s thought was: ~How did he know what I was going to do?~
“Vernon, I fervently hope to never see you again. For the past fourteen years, you and Petunia have been absolutely horrid to me, and if I were the vindictive sort, I would have you investigated for abuse, neglect, slavery and a lot more. Understand this, though. If you write Dumbledore, I will find out and I will prefer charges in both the muggle and magical courts. Now, he might be able to stop the muggles, but the head of the magical law enforcement department is - firmly - on - my - side. I understand Azkaban is not a pleasant place to spend…the rest of your lives.”
Vernon wanted to argue, but Petunia and Dudley both caught the reference to Azkaban. Both knew the Dementors guarded the prisoners there, and Dudley, having had firsthand, if brief, experience of how terrible they were, grabbed his father’s jacket sleeve and pulled, hard! With Petunia behind pushing and Dudley pulling, they bustled him out of the station in a short time.
A Bobby approached. “Is there a problem here?” He absently fingered the Billy at his belt. He’d been watching the altercation since someone had contacted him about the disturbance.
Tonks flashed him a smile and said: “No, officer. We’re to escort Harry here, to his new home. His old guardians wanted to regain custody, but in light of the charges against them, we felt it best to not leave him unguarded for any reason.” She held out her black, five-pointed star, with it’s spooky eye in the middle.
The Bobby, who’s nameplate read: ‘Tisdale’ gazed in fascination at the arcane emblem. “You’d be an Auror, then?”
As Tonks replied: “Yep.” Moody growled: “What do you know about the Aurors?”
Harry knew he had a hand on his wand. “Mad-eye!” He barked. Looking mutinous, Moody backed down, but just slightly.
For the first time, Tisdale saw Harry…and his scar.
“Good heavens!” He breathed. “Harry Potter!” Fortunately, there was enough noise in the train station to keep his quiet exclamation from going far. Nobody even turned a head.
“Shhh! Keep it down, willya?!” Tonks hissed. “Harry’s a high priority target.”
“Sorry. My grandmum is a squib. She used to talk all the time, about taking care of Harry Potter whenever his horrible relatives went somewhere.”
“Arabella Figg is your gran?” Harry was astounded. “I thought all her kids died in the war!”
“Why would she say that?”
As one, all eight witches and wizards present spoke the same name with varying degrees of contempt. “Dumbledore!”
As Tisdale was about to question the non sequitur, Arthur whispered: “Obliviate.” and a pale grey beam of light came from his wand. As Tisdale’s eyes unfocused, Tonks spoke quietly. “You responded to the complaint and discovered the problem had been resolved without you. As the principles had already gone, you felt there was no reason to stay. There are, however, some teenagers vandalizing the ticket machines on platform twelve.”
Tisdale nodded and bade them all a good day, before heading off toward platform twelve.
So, Harry, where are you going to stay?”
“Harry, you hate that house!” Hermione protested.
“Yes, I do, but so did Sirius. We’re going to fix it up, though. Last week, I had the goblins do some discrete checking. Just now, Dumbledore’s afraid the Malfoy’s can get in, so he’s moved the Order out. He won’t know that I inherited it for a while, and when I’m ready to leave, I’ll simply ask Madam Bones re-cast the Fidelus on the place. Besides, it’s only until I can have Potter Castle readied for occupation. That might take a few weeks.”
“Potter Castle?” Both twins chimed, their eyes brilliant with excitement. Harry just smirked.
“Let’s go home.”
A/N: I modified Rowling's speech at the train station, as I’d suspect that if Harry had heard that they had known of his treatment and had done nothing, he would have been ready to kill the first dozen wizards he saw. As it was, in canon, he was a pushover. Not here!