In the summer of 1996, Voldemort launches eleven attacks against the Muggle-born of Hogwarts while he leads an attack against Privet Drive. In the aftermath of the attack on Privet Drive, Harry i...
The pair roamed around the city for over five hours. Hermione enjoyed showing off the medieval sites, and Harry enjoyed the kebabs they had for lunch. It wasn't that Harry had anything against such things as architecture tours, it was more that he was unused to them.
Little Whinging had been nothing but fields and orchards before World War II, with not so much as a cottage or pub within three miles. There had been an impromptu military base erected on the site for the Free French and some other expatriate military and paramilitary types on the run from Hitler's Europe in 1941. They had had little to do until the summer of 1944 except intrigue amongst and against each other, and complain, hence the nickname for the base amongst the locals, which became attached to the town which grew up after the war.
The oldest buildings in the immediate area, the ones that Harry had lived and walked around before Hogwarts, dated from the late 1940s and early 1950s, hardly a glorious time in British architectural history, and all the public and commercial buildings in the area were the drabbest of the boring.
Harry had only been to London three times before going to Diagon Alley with Hagrid, and none were educational or enlightening. His school had rarely had any interesting day trips, and on those few occasions, the Dursleys had gleefully refused to sign his permission slips.
Harry, therefore, was a very unrepresentative member of those with a middle class state education. Hermione was a bit surprised, as she always had been, at how plebeian Harry's background was. While normally she would have chattered away without even noticing the blank stares she elicited from her audience, she was determined to learn more about Harry, and managed to slip questions into her monologue, which more than made up for the fact that Harry really could care less about the medieval ecclesiastical and commercial history of Norwich, important as that was for Norfolk in particular and England in general.
After all, as Harry had ventured at one point, compared to Hogwarts, even the most ornate gothic church or largest medieval castle would appear somewhat lacking.
Since Harry appeared to be listening and was enjoying the walk, Hermione nattered on. After lunch, they prowled the markets while Hermione provided a running commentary. She was a bit surprised to see that Harry had acquired a bank card. She made no objections to Harry's paying for supplies.
Having to spend much time stuck in his cousin's 'second room' had forced Harry to read everything that was stored there, from the copious books none of the Dursleys never read to the magazines and cookbooks his Aunt Petunia stored there after she had displayed them on her coffee table for the neighbors to see. He had absorbed a great deal.
Hermione wondered in passing if the forced reading Harry did the summers accounted in part for his disinclination for reading during the school year.
Harry took a quick shower when they returned to the Grangers, and then started in on dinner. Hermione decided to set the table in the dining room, rather than the kitchen where they usually ate. Other than that, she stayed out of Harry's way.
At 5:35, the Grangers came to a house that, unusually, held the smell of cooking -- dinners during the week were usually made quickly and involved take-out or the microwave. The Grangers enjoyed the fancy dinner Harry had prepared, while Harry was glad that for once he fully shared in a meal he had prepared. Looking over the table, the Grangers toasted Harry with the dry cider Hermione had bought, which made Harry flush a bit.
Harry's first course had been an unusual salad, served on small china trays Hermione had found. There was a stuffed egg half on the outsides. Between the eggs were carrots, celery, sliced Roma tomato, a sliced radish, a variety of olives, and three quail eggs, covered with a light creamy herb dressing. The second course was a small bowl of creamy leek soup. Harry had also picked up two large Italian boules, served throughout the meal.
The main course were pan-fried mutton chops. Harry had caramelized onions and then cooked the mutton and a large sliced turnip in the resultant sauce, finishing them off with some of the left-over leeks, with some steamed asparagus and the turnips.
"Amazing dinner," Dan told Harry as they enjoyed the creme brulees Hermione had picked up for pudding.
"Thank you," Harry said. "I always wondered what it tasted like."
"Oh, you saw this prepared on the tellie?" Emma asked.
"No, I made similar dinners for the relatives," Harry said. Hermione had noticed Harry had been avoiding the Dursleys' name or using possessive pronouns in reference to them all day.
The Grangers looked at each other. Hermione merely nodded. Harry had made dinners, but had not been allowed to taste them. Dan stood and went over to the sideboard. He poured four small glasses of Madeira. "Again, thank you for a remarkable dinner." The three Grangers made a small salute, which Harry returned.
"This is delicious," Harry said after a sip. "What is it?"
"A type of Madeira called Malmsey," Dan answered.
"We don't expect you to cook all the time you're here, either," Emma said firmly. "Maybe we can get some pizza tomorrow evening. What kind do you like?"
Harry shrugged. "I've never had it." He looked at Hermione.
"Get him one with lots of meat and cheese," Hermione said with a smile. "I'd like olive and artichoke."
"Of course, dear," Emma said, standing. "Since you cooked, Hermione and I will clean up."
"So what was it you wanted to talk about, Mum?" Hermione asked.
Emma Granger surveyed the kitchen. "Harry already cleaned up?"
"From what I understand, he was made to do the dishes and started cooking breakfasts at the age of six or so, and lunch by the time he turned nine," Hermione said.
"I wish I could turn those people in. Helping around the house is one thing, but this. . . ."
"Harry may or may not have been physically abused. He was probably emotionally abused, and he was certainly exploited," Hermione said, loading the dishwasher. "Again, I don't know if we'll become really involved, but while he's here, I'd really like to give him as much physical affection and companionship as I can."
Hermione looked her mother in the eye. "Cuddling, like we did last night."
"Which would also including being dressed, and having the door open," Emma stated in return.
"Yes, of course."
Emma thought about it. "Very well."
Thursday, July 18, 1996
Harry was dreaming of rolling around on soft white clouds, warm and perfumed. Then he seemed to hit a rough floor with a bump. Even though he had 'landed' on his butt, it was Harry's scar that hurt. "Oh," Harry said. Harry sat up, and saw Voldemort was sitting on a stiff wooden chair, almost a throne, and they were in a stone chamber, like a dungeon. "There you are. I was wondering when you would work up the guts to try this."
"You have learned a bit, boy," Voldemort stated. "It actually took a little effort to break in on your mind. Not much, but a little."
Harry snorted. "Yeah, right. What do you want, Riddle?"
"Watch your mouth, boy!"
"Or what? You'll try to kill me? You've been trying to do that for going on fifteen years."
"If the old man hadn't interfered, you'd have died last month," Voldemort retorted.
"True," Harry said. "And if you hadn't skedaddled after you tried to possess me, you would have died. If you hadn't run for your life the other night, you would have died."
"I was going to give you one last chance to join me, but I see that would be of little use."
"Are you enjoying your time with the Mudblood slut? You won't for long."
"Tell me something," Harry asked, ignoring him. "You were supposed to be a good student. I'm just curious, how many O.W.L.s did you earn?"
Voldemort, who had been off-balance from the beginning, was now totally startled. "What?"
"How many O.W.L.s did you earn?"
"Ten, one in each subject, if you must know," Voldemort snapped. "They didn't have the theory O.W.L.s they have now. Why?"
"I was just wondering if Hermione would tie you or beat you. I'm sure she'll have twelve O's. You did score all O's I presume? No? I see from your face you didn't, so don't deny it."
"When I take over Hogwarts, I'll disperse all the ghosts, and Binns will be second, after Peeves," Voldemort stated. "However, you will not live to see that."
"Neither will you," Harry retorted.
"I'll see you soon, Potter," Voldemort snarled.
"You and who else?" Harry retorted. "You're too much of a coward to attack alone. You won't dare use any giants that have joined you, because you're afraid of the Muggles. Malfoy and Pettigrew would be a bigger liability than help. . . ."
"You could not stand up to Pettigrew a year ago. . . ."
"I couldn't stand up to Pettigrew after an exhausting Third Task a year ago," Harry agreed. "And as for Malfoy, hell, a house elf whipped his arse. What, he never told you how I defeated your diary self, freed his house elf, and then when he tried to threaten me, the elf threw him half-way out of Hogwarts? Well, I'm not surprised." Harry leaned into Voldemort's face. "He's a bigger blowhard than you are."
"You're lucky this is only a dream, Potter," Voldemort snarled.
"One of us is," Harry answered. He stood back and closed his eyes. Harry brought out his feelings for Sirius, for Hermione and Luna and Ginny, for Ron and Hagrid and Remus and Tonks.
Voldemort screamed in pain, and fled Harry's mind.
Harry opened his eyes. Hermione's worried hazel-brown eyes were looking back, very close. "How are you," she whispered.
Harry realized that the lights were on in his room, and the Grangers were looking at him from the edge of the bed. "Was I noisy? Sorry," Harry whispered.
"What happened, Harry?" Dan asked.
"Voldemort and I had a discussion," Harry answered. "Do I need. . . ."
"I told them," Hermione said. "You were thrashing about for almost ten minutes. Your scar turned dark red, and it was actually throbbing for a moment. Then you stopped, then the scar faded a bit, and then you woke up."
Harry nodded and sat up. "He was trying to threaten me, well all of us in a way. I taunted him a bit, and when I had decided I had had enough, I drove him out."
"You drove him out?" Hermione asked, her voice high in surprise.
Harry nodded. "He thrives on hate and fear. He tried to possess me at the Ministry. He was killing me, but at that moment, I didn't care. All I could think was of was if I died, I could be with Sirius and my parents again. My feelings for them drove him out. The Headmaster told me that it actually injured him. Tonight, I thought of all my friends and how I feel about them. It drove him out, screaming."
He looked at the Grangers. "I'm sorry. If I had known I was disturbing any of you, I would have ended it more quickly."
"You're . . . you fought and drove a madman out of your head, and you're sorry you didn't do it faster, because it woke us up an hour and a half early?" Dan said, amazed.
"Yes. . . ." Harry said tentatively. The two parents shook their heads.
"He needs hot chocolate," Hermione said.
"Aren't you going back to sleep?" Dan asked.
"I need to write Dumbledore," Harry said. "Even if I don't stay here, you need more protection."
"You're staying," Emma stated. She leaned over and kissed his scar lightly. "You can go back to sleep, Dan, but I'm fixing hot chocolate."
Dan shrugged. "So we go in early two days in a row." He looked out the window. "Raining again." He shrugged. "We'll bring the pizza home a little early." Seeing Harry frown, he asked, "What is it? Doesn't pizza sound good? You can say, we won't mind."
"It does sound good," Harry admitted. "But we still don't have a lot of school work, so I was going to cook some more, if you didn't mind."
"We can have pizza tomorrow," Hermione suggested.
"We can have pizza anytime," Dan said with a smile.
"You would, too," Hermione teased her father. "Mum won't allow it."
"True." Dan laid his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Get some rest after we're gone."
"Yes, sir," Harry replied. He looked at Hermione. "Are you alright?" He couldn't mistake the look of concern on her face, not to mention the dried tears..
Hermione hugged Harry very tightly. "You are a great git, Harry Potter."
Harry hugged her back, and then they got up. Hermione fetched Harry quill, ink, and parchment. Harry stopped her, and fetched some parchment from his trunk. "This is charmed to go right to Dumbledore," Harry said. "After Hedwig was attacked, well, this is safer all around."
"That makes sense," Hermione admitted.
"You can read over my shoulder," Harry said, "just don't correct me."
"Very funny," Hermione said with a sniff.
After the Grangers left, Harry started in on a frenzy of cooking which would last until that evening. Hermione sat quietly at the kitchen table, reading and taking notes, seeing that this was a way Harry was dealing with working off the anger he had towards Voldemort. "Are you still planning on being an auror?" she asked at one point when Harry had slowed down.
"I'm not certain," Harry admitted. "If I manage the O in Potions, I'll at least go for the training. Why?"
"I thought maybe you could open a restaurant instead," she teased.
"Ha ha," Harry replied. "When I feel all . . . all mixed up inside, I just need to be doing something. If we were at Hogwarts or the Burrow, I'd be flying. If I were still stuck on Privet Drive, I'd be weeding the flowers or something. This is what I can do here."
Hermione looked at all the bowls, pans, measuring cups and spoons, etc. spread all over the kitchen, and simply shook her head. She decided to pursue something Harry had said. "What did you mean, you'd at least go for the training?"
"It's complicated," Harry said.
"Of course it is, but I think I've proven I can follow complicated things," Hermione replied.
"Good point," Harry agreed. "Okay, first of all, I talked with Tonks and Moody a few times while I was at Little Whinging. Having aurors is necessary, but I don't know if I'd really want to do the job."
"Why not?" Hermione asked. Auror was on her list of possible careers as well.
"One of three things is going to happen," Harry went on. "First, Voldemort kills me. In that case, I at least don't have to worry about such things. Second, I kill him. Third, it turns out that the Prophecy is a crock, and someone else defeats or kills him. If it's the second, how will the people who run the Ministry, people more like Fudge than Mister Weasley by most accounts, use me as an auror?"
"They'll use you to their political advantage," Hermione answered promptly, although she had never considered this point before. "The aurors are not independent of the Ministry. No matter if they like you or despise you, they'll use you."
"Exactly. Second, just like our regular police, part of what they do is necessary, but pretty routine stuff. They do most of the preliminary investigations, even if they end up referring a lot of the problems to Magical Catastrophes, or Misuse, or to people like Mister Weasley."
"That's probably true," Hermione said.
"Third, you can't pick and choose how to apply the law. Would you have liked to have been ordered to arrest Hagrid last month?"
"No!" Hermione thought about that for a few moments. "And the training?"
"If I do defeat Voldemort, who is every Dark-Lord-wannabe going to be after for the next hundred years?"
"Good point," Hermione agreed. "What would you do then? Professional Quidditch?"
Harry snorted. "No. It's not that I don't think I couldn't play. I mean, you know how small the magical community really is."
"A little over twenty thousand in Britain, less than that in Ireland," Hermione answered.
"Right. And there are thirteen teams, each with fifteen players and reserves each; that's a hundred and ninety-five players, and between Hogwarts, the Irish school and the Manx Free School of Magic there are seventy-eight active players in any given year. That's not a deep pool to draw from, since nearly every player retires by their early thirties if not long before. About half the people I've played against who have left Hogwarts have at least signed as reserve players. Wood is the new Keeper and assistant coach of Puddlemere, Flint is a reserve player for Falmouth, and Angelina and Alicia have signed with the Harpies." Harry shrugged. "Playing is fun, but it's the flying I really enjoy. If someone else somehow brings down Voldemort over the next two years, then I might play for a few years, otherwise the fans would never leave me alone."
"Then what would you do?"
Harry had already started deboning a boiled chicken. "If I tell you something, can you really keep it a secret? I mean, not to mention it ever again, under any circumstances, unless we're guaranteed to be alone?"
"I really mean it. I'm not telling Ron," Harry warned.
"Really? Alright. . . ."
Harry frowned. "Are your wards secure against animagi?"
"Skeeter, you mean?" Hermione smiled nastily. "In theory, yes, and in addition to that, somehow, I ended up with a few of her hairs. I made a Skeeter detector. Believe me, she isn't here." Hermione's face cleared. "What's the big secret?"
"I wish it wasn't a secret, I mean the general background. Have you ever wondered how some magical families got so rich?"
"Like the Malfoys?"
Hermione thought. "Actually, no, I haven't."
"First of all, in the nineteenth century, there was an agreement between the various European Ministries and their Muggle counterparts."
Hermione frowned. "Binns never mentioned that!"
"No, he didn't. Basically, compared to Muggles, most incomes we get from the Muggle world are very under-taxed. At the same time, most wealthy magical families are heavily invested in the Muggle world. There just aren't many investments to be made in our world."
"Do you have any concrete examples?"
"Actually, I have two," Harry said. "Most of the Black real estate was entailed, but Sirius' death broke the entail."
"Because he was the last male Black, and it was entailed to males only."
"Right. And by a will Sirius made back in 1981, I inherited the lot."
"The Blacks were once as wealthy as the Malfoys. The Potters were a step down, but still pretty wealthy. The Muggle investments the Blacks had were worth over sixty million pounds, set up in a Trust. In short, nothing had to be paid in taxes on it when I inherited the income from the Trust."
"Nothing. The Potter Trust is currently worth about forty-two million."
"Wow." She understood why Harry couldn't mention this to Ron.
Harry waved that away. "Oh, Hermione, besides the Trusts, I have over a million Galleons in two vaults in Gringotts, and who knows how much jewelry and such nonsense. Believe it or not, I now have about ten thousand pounds of gold bullion!"
"Ten thousand pounds isn't that much money, Harry."
Harry chucked the chicken bones and skin into a pot of vegetable stock he was brewing after setting the meat aside. "You don't understand, Hermione. I didn't mean ten thousand pounds sterling, I mean ten thousand pounds, five tons, of gold."
Hermione face-faulted. "But . . . but . . . but that's. . . ."
"160,000 ounces, and gold is about Â£200 an ounce. That's Â£32,000,000. Now, even though I'm sure a lot of that started off as dirty money, especially the Black money, it also means I never have to work if I don't want to."
"I guess not." She sighed. "I can see why you wouldn't tell Ron. He'd faint and then be jealous."
"Exactly. Did you know the Black trust not only owns all of Grimmauld Place, but five adjoining squares?" Harry snorted. "Do you know what this really means?"
"It means that if the Muggle world disappeared, families like the Malfoys would be back running a magical plow. The magical world is parasitical. Did you know that is exactly one magical dairy in Ireland and none in Britain? There is not one purely magical farm growing basic food stuffs in Britain, although there are a few which grow magical plants and such. The bottles and all the ingredients for butterbeer come from Muggle producers. All the food comes from Muggles. Most of the wealth comes from the Muggle world."
"Then why do Pure Bloods hate it?"
"Because they don't understand it. Did you know there is a Squib Weasley who's an accountant?"
"Ginny mentioned him once, why?"
Harry grinned. "Because he's a Chartered Accountant, and is a partner in the biggest firm that specializes in Magical investment. The firm handles the Potter Trust, and the other major firm is howling because I'm transferring the Black Trust from them, since there are a couple Squib Malfoys running it."
Hermione shook her head. "You mean. . . ."
"I mean I apparently slightly changed the financial balance of power in magical Britain," Harry said.
Hermione was speechless, just waving her hand at Harry.
"Right. And here I stand, making pie crust."
"So what do you think you'll do after we leave Hogwarts; after the war and your training are over?"
Harry shrugged. "Well, for one thing, I've hired Dobby for the summer. He's surveying all the properties I own. I'm looking for a couple of different places. One would be a small place in London. One where people wouldn't really notice odd people coming or going, but which isn't in too bad a neighborhood. The other would be a country house, in a setting sort of like the Burrow: lots of woods, a lake or pond, set off from everyone else."
Harry looked at Hermione. "I hope not."
Hermione flushed, and went back to her reading.
The Grangers were impressed by dinner. The first course was a bitter green salad, with small deep-fried rounds of goat cheese, breaded with spicy bread crumbs and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. The centers of the rounds were still melted as the salad was eaten. The second course had small cups of egg drop soup.
The main course was more of the asparagus from the previous night (freshly steamed) and Harry's attempt at reproducing what Hermione had described as the Norwich Pie -- a chicken meat pie that had a 'dent' in the center of the pastry top crust, filled with carrots, potatoes, and turnips stewed in thickened chicken stock. Dan didn't think it was a lot like the local products (this was better), but all enjoyed it.
The pudding course was a plain custard, infused with lavender.
It was a pleasant end of the day. Harry only hoped the night would not bring nightmares.