Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Beyond the Borders: Beneath the Skies

Chapter 1: The Kensingtons

by Virodeil 0 Reviews

Harry met someone unexpected... Well, two someones, actually, and more...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst - Characters: Harry - Published: 2011/02/05 - Updated: 2011/02/05 - 6133 words

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Author's Note: There have been some technical difficulties with Ficwad. The story somehow got scrambled. Please read the prologue, before this chapter, which is listed as the third chapter in the table of contents of this fic. Thank you!



Chapter 1
The Kensingtons

5th June 1990, 06:00 AM

The house on Privet Drive Number 4 was just as quiet as its neighbours. It was early morning in the first day of summer break for many schools, and the children usually took the chance to get as much sleep as they wanted. But this house was a little different when it came to the diligence of its occupants. It was to do with a scrawny boy bending over a bed of flowers on the front garden of the house, trimming all the budding flower bushes and plants.

It was hard to judge the age of the pale, skinny child by only looks, because he was as tall as a seven-year-old or younger. The too-big shabby hand-me-down clothes and trainers he wore only made him look smaller. Nestling in his thin, slightly-sunken face was a pair of almond-shaped vivid-green eyes, which were framed by taped round glasses.

He was proud of his eyes, and, to a lesser degree, his messy black hair which stuck every which way. A teacher in his first grade had commented, on a whim during her first roll call, that his eyes were beautiful. That had embarrassed him to no end, but he was secretly pleased with that and believed her until now. His hair annoyed his relatives to no end, and he loved to see them ruffled by it (which further showed that they were not all powerful over him). No one could tame his hair, and it was his only prized possession which his aunt and uncle could not take from him aside from his eyes.

The boy’s name was Harry James Potter, resident orphaned criminal and the unwanted son of a pair of drunks (or so people in the neighbourhood were led to believe), who had been bidden by her aunt the night before to do the chores early. Aunt Petunia did not want the other ladies along the street to see him working, and Harry himself preferred the warm and soft early morning sun than the scorching and blinding one at noon if he was to work in the open like this. Lack of sleeping hours did not bother him, as he was used to that already, having lived with the Dursleys, the owners of the house, since he had been a baby. He considered himself lucky if he could fall asleep past midnight and wake up at six in the morning in the days he was not locked in the cupboard under the stairs; he simply had too many chores to sleep early and wake up late, and the Dursleys never allowed him that luxury for whatever reason anyway.

He snuck several apples, a handful of soft cheese, and some small strips of smoked beef from the pantry upon returning into the house. Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley – his cousin – were still deep in their dreamlands, so he would not be caught stealing. It was a fairly small chance that he would get breakfast at all, anyhow, if Dudley persisted to eat everything like he was wont to do in the previous summer holidays, saying to his over-indulgent parents that it was his way to celebrate the freedom from school. So now Harry grabbed the treats and quickly exited the pantry, making sure he left no mark and made no noise in the whole raid. He ate his stolen goods in the cupboard under the stairs, his living place for practically nine years of his existence in the house, and came out not fifteen minutes later with hands and lips dirty with food smudges.

Fortunately, no one was awake yet. Darting to the kitchen with the remarkable speed born of fleeing a gang of rowdy fellow children, the boy made a beeline to the sink to wash his hands and mouth before making breakfast for his relatives.

He was just in time. As soon as the last of the eggs, bacon and toasted bread were set on the table, Aunt Petunia walked in and promptly scrutinised her nephew’s work. Then, pursing her lips, she nodded reluctantly and proceeded to look around the kitchen, as though she suspected that it had been damaged by said nephew’s reoccurring ‘freakishness’. Harry ignored it. After all, it was a routine procedure in the oh-not-so-normal household. He would only think twice about it if there was something different.

Dudley did not get up until after eleven o’clock, and the only thing which dragged him out of his bedroom at all was his hunger. Harry had known about this, so he chose the moment to do the outside chores in the list which would get him as far as possible from the house. There were two chances written on the notebook paper Aunt Petunia had given him: the first was delivering a caramel pudding and a get-well-soon card to Mrs. Figg down the adjacent street, and the second was shopping for small household necessities in the supermarket by the main road.

He made a beeline to the front door as soon as Aunt Petunia gave him the paper box containing the caramel pudding, the get-well-soon card taped to its top surface. She snapped at him about not ruining the pudding, but a minute later she was already lost in the start of her favourite gossip programme in the telly, forgetting everything about him. Harry ignored her inwardly, although he did call, “Yes, Aunt Petunia,” over his shoulder. He had heard Dudley stomping down the stairs, so he had better go while he could.

Once out, though, he dawdled on his way to Mrs. Figg’s house. Confident that no one was around his favourite place at such an hour in the beginning of summer, he veered to the park and seated himself in the only swing there, the only one saved from Dudley’s ravaging gang. He kicked the grassy dirt gently, careful so as not to trip on his oversized trainers, and accelerated the swing, enjoying the wind ruffling his bird-nest hair and whistling softly into his ears. The pudding box was nestled between the bear branches of a small dead sapling nearby, constantly under his watch despite his self-enjoyment.

He smiled contentedly. There was no one bothering him, harassing him, and he could be there as long as he liked, since Aunt Petunia had not specified when he should be back in the house. But he stopped kicking his feet in the air when his ears caught the sound of more than two people chattering from one of the streets surrounding the park.

Curious, he halted the swing roughly with his feet and sprung away from its seat. He grabbed the pudding box, then jogged on silent feet towards the sound of the conversation. He did not know why he was interested in eavesdropping now; it was usually Aunt Petunia’s favourite pastime. Perhaps some bad habits of the Dursley’s had rubbed on him? Or probably it was only the spirit of holiday… or of rebellion.

Regardless, he kept going, and at last he saw who were talking when he skirted a stand of trees. A line of hedge which stood to his neck separated him from them, but the hedge itself did not prevent him from identifying to whom the voices belonged.

They were teenagers, surprisingly; three girls and two boys who were just a few years older than Harry. They were talking excitedly about the fair which was being held in the town square today until the next one month. The fair, an annual occasion, had been held there for who knew how long, and it was always opened by the current person bearing the name Lord Kensington, who was the Duke of Surrey – among his other titles. Apparently, two of the teens were visiting relatives, and their cousins intended to bring them to the fair. All of them hoped to see the mysterious daughters of Lord Kensington from near, since they were said to be always attending the opening day of the fair but had only appeared formally about three years ago. One of the boys even boasted that he wished to ‘hook’ one of the noble young ladies for himself.

Harry made a mistake. He snorted on that remark. Thankfully, he could flee the spot before any of the teens could throw a stone at him – as some children around the neighbourhood were prone to do in many occasions. Yet still, the insults they flung at him were on par with the absent stones.

“Good move, Harry,” Harry, safe on the doorstep of Wisteria Walk Number 12, Mrs. Figg’s house, muttered sarcastically to himself. He did not know if the pudding inside the box had been ruined by all the jostling in his wild escape, but he could see that the get-well-soon card, taped only on one corner to the box, nearly came off. He hoped Mrs. Figg would not report the damages to Aunt Petunia. He did not want to spend the first days of his holiday doing additional chores, locked in his cupboard, or – worse – having to spend some nights sleeping on the backyard (where people would not see him, Uncle Vernon had said gleefully when he had come up with the idea some years ago).

Mrs. Figg, who had been catching a rather heavy flu, asked him to stay awhile if he had nothing else to do. Harry complied, thinking that the supermarket could wait for after lunch; besides, she might permit him to watch the telly. To his relief, she hinted that she would not tell his aunt about the state of the get-well-soon gift and card. He helped her store the pudding in one of the kitchen cupboards, and got to eat two generous slices of it in the process, offered by his sneezing-and-coughing hostess.

Due to Mrs. Figg’s condition, she did not talk much. They only sat together in the living-room; Harry watched a tourism show – the first channel he stumbled upon – while the old lady continued her knitting. The cats, for once, were absent from the immediate vicinity.

Harry excused himself at lunch hour from the house, refusing the pocket money she gave him. He was full enough, anyway, given how she had half-forced him to eat some slices of chocolate cakes, seemingly as a substitution for the lunch she could not provide for him in this visit. He felt uncomfortable also, receiving money from her; but she had never relented this particular endeavour, because he had never shown his discomfiture outright to her.

The supermarket, located a few blocks from his immediate neighbourhood, was deserted from customers when he arrived there. The clerks and cashiers were muttering and frowning at each other. All in all, it made for a daunting atmosphere, and Harry hesitated to come in. He spent a whole minute dithering on the threshold, listening to the discontented grumbles inside and the crowds on the main road outside. He only made his decision when the security man nearby glared disapprovingly at him. He had bad enough reputation around there as it was. Being branded as “snooping thief-to-be” certainly would make his freedom nil.

From the snatches of conversations Harry overheard (this time without trying, as he was perusing the shelves of goods), it turned out that the workers were irritated that they were not permitted even a day off, again, despite the fact that barely anyone would buy anything in the supermarket during the festival season, especially during the first days; there were many discounted nice goods in the fair, after all. Hearing that, the boy shrugged mentally. He had never gone to the town square (among many other places he had never gone to in Little Whinging, which were practically almost every place one could think of aside from Privet Drive Number 4, Wisteria Walk Number 12, the nearest grocery store, the park in the immediate neighbourhood, and the local primary school). He was never interested in going there, given the many criminals, bullies, and pickpockets lurking on its corners nearly year-round. The Dursleys had never permitted him to go to the fair too (the only time in which the town square was safe to go to), nor had they ever brought him to that annual holiday entertainment of theirs.

Ah. But perhaps now he could go? He was ten years old in two months! He was big enough to go there… Right? He should not have difficulty with any harmful people, since the festival was well-guarded. His level of maturity – and longer list of hard experiences with the Dursleys – would suffice, or so he thought, eliminating his possible confusion and disorientation on what he might encounter in the town square. He could sneak there once his chores were done tomorrow.

Yes, he would go tomorrow to the fair. Now, though, he had to come back to Privet Drive Number 4 and finish his chores for the day.

He never made it to his aunt and uncle’s house, all the same; not in the usual way, at any rate. His hope that he would spend at least today in peace was in vain.

“Hah! So you’re there, eh, freak?”

Dudley Dursley, his bully of a cousin.

With his gang trailing him, the baby-whale-looking boy lumbered up towards Harry in a speed the latter did not expect from such a large boy. They were in the intersection connecting Privet Drive with Wisteria Walk and Magnolia Crescent. Harry’s first instinct was to run away, making a good distance from his cousin before the said cousin thought to play Harry Hunting. Unfortunately for him, he was carrying a bag of groceries in each hand.

Nevertheless, he did not want to give up easily.

With the plastic bags still in his hands, he darted past the gang to the opposite direction. He intended to lose them within the deeper parts of the complex, a little farther from the neighbourhood the gang was familiar with. The ploy had worked once. He fervently hoped that it would work again this time. The bags, swinging ridiculously at his sides, slowed him down, yet somehow he did not want to discard them. The only good reason he had now was that he did not want to face Aunt Petunia’s wrath when he managed to get back to the house. He was thankful that his aunt had not ordered him to buy any tinned products, as the loud clanking would have attracted the gang anywhere he tried to go. As for now, he had the slight advantage of his small body and agility.

He ran faster and faster until his legs hurt. He dove into small alleyways and side streets every so often, hoping to lose the gang more quickly. The temptation of just tossing the grocery bags to the garbage bin became more and more enticing the longer he ran (because they were, despite the nonexistence of tinned products, rather heavy). His eyes stung from the beads of sweat trickling into them, blurring his vision for a moment each time. His hands were coloured with – painful – red streaks from the unpleasant friction with the hand-holes of the plastic bags, and his arm muscles protested the longer he had to cope with the burdens. The bags only proved their worth when the gang, catching up with him rather swiftly for once, began to throw stones at him, seeming to be desperate in slowing him down. He used them like two small awkward shields to fend his back and the back of his head. They were certainly thick enough for that, but still.

`I wish I was anywhere else,` Harry muttered irritatedly when a few pebbles slipped his defenses and struck the top of his head and his lower back. `There’s a good artificial lake… I’ve been there once… Now where is it? Ah yeah, first I have to find Daffodil Path, then go from there to the left on the intersection after the large house in green.`

The next problem presented itself as soon as the solution was reached. The grocery bags impeded his movement, decreasing his speed, so it was hard to lose the gang long enough to search for the right intersection leading to the lake. The pain in his hands from holding the two swinging loads for so long was another distraction he could not shake off.

The longer Harry ran and as well tried to dodge his pursuers, the more frustrated and desperate he became, especially since the image of the serene small lake (more a large fishing pond than anything) kept hovering in his mind eye, taunting him. Until, at one point, he found himself running directly by the lake’s edge without the knowledge of how he had gotten there except for a quiet pop.

He had transported himself, in a bizarre way, from one place to the other for the second time in his life. Now, though, there was nobody witnessing it, unlike when he had ended up perched on the school kitchen’s chimney while running away from the same gang.

Was there not?

He had no time to puzzle on the ‘freakishness’ – as dubbed by the Dursleys. Before he managed to leave the vicinity of the lake, the tick-tick sound of a speeding bicycle drifted into his ears. He ducked behind the nearby shady tree and waited for the bicycle to pass. The chance that the person riding the bicycle was Dudley or one of his mates was rather small in this area, as it was far removed from his immediate neighbourhood and they had never attempted it before, yet he still could not let go from the wariness he developed from the hunt.

Therefore, when the bicycle – an uncommon two-person bike ridden by a pair of girls – appeared and one of the riders called out to him, Harry tensed in surprise in his hiding place. How did they know he was there? Had he not hidden himself well enough. He must seek another ploy to hide from Dudley and his gang next time, then.

Why did they call him? Were they Dudley’s ‘tools’ to lure him out?

In the end, though, his curiosity won over his caution.

“Hi!” the same girl (or so he assumed) repeated her greeting when Harry emerged from behind the tree. She had a mixed Asian-European complexion, identical to her companion down to the smallest feature, and a pair of warm-brown eyes which looked somehow unfocused. She was waving at his general direction cheerily while giving him a small reassuring smile.

“Hello,” replied Harry guardedly. In the mean time, he scrutinized the two girls, hoping he was not caught staring.

No luck there.

The objects of his scrutiny smiled knowingly. Harry blushed and averted his gaze. He had seen enough to conclude that they were identical twins – or at least very, very close siblings –, though. And where had he seen them before? He seemed to remember another pair of twin sisters whose eyes were their only differing feature…

“What is your name?” the other girl, charcoal-grey-eyed, the one riding in the front, spoke for the first time. She looked more serious and formal than the warm-brown-eyed one, and mild indifference radiated from her, but the same small smile played on her lips. He also noted that she acted and spoke in a somewhat strained, reserved manner, but that, to him, was beside the point now.

Their warmth, if less open than what Harry had witnessed in the daily interaction of the children at his school with each other, prompted him to trust them, defying his better judgement. They were the only people around his age who ever acted sincerely to him. But would they be like that for long?

“Harry, Harry Potter,” he said. His eyes twitched upon catching a strange glimmer in the girl’s charcoal-grey orbs, and how those dark irises flickered to his fringes, to the lightning-bolt scar it partially hid from view. She seemed to automatically search, and know what to find there, although she was a complete stranger. It made Harry even more restless, unnerved. How did she know where and what to find? What did his odd scar mean? Did she know about the meaning?

His curiosity increased, instead of receded.

“I am Dila,” she said as if nothing had happened, with the trace of formality Harry had expected from her, while pointing to herself. “She is Ana, my twin sister.” She waved at the girl sitting behind her – who was smirking oddly, by the way. Harry nodded and hesitantly reached out a hand to shake hers, which she welcomed with her own and a pensive smile no larger than the first she had bestowed him with.

There again, the odd light in the depths of those dark eyes, but this time her gaze met his own sharp, inquiring stare steadily.

`Why didn’t she give me their surname? I gave mine. Who is she? I never saw these girls around here, but then how did she know about my scar? How can I get how she knew if she never tells me who she is?` Harry was frustrated. His convoluted musing was only broken when Ana, seeming to have been absorbing everything during his word exchange with Dila silently, spoke.

“Where do you live?” she asked. Then, unexpectedly, she frowningly added, “You seemed to be running away from something… or someone.”

Harry stiffened on the shrewd statement. “On Privet Drive Number 4,” he said evasively. Why did they wish to know, anyway? He really, really hoped they did not wish to visit his supposed home and play with him there like friends usually did. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon would be more than livid.

Concern settled in his stomach on remembering what he had been avoiding so far, after receiving the list of tasks from Aunt Petunia early this morning. How if the gang led by Dudley caught up to them? What would those criminal-like boys do to the girls? How if they told his new acquaintances about his freakishness? In short, he did not want the girls to meet the gang by any means.

“Let’s go to the town square. You can spare some time, can’t you? There’s a good ice-cream stand there, and you’ll get double after the second order,” Ana offered, hope and eagerness colouring her suddenly-bright tone. “We can see who can eat more than the others, and then the loser will have to buy us lunch.”

Harry was more wary than ever now. Ana acted so friendly to him. Too friendly. What did she want, actually? If he would let his imagination run rampant, he would say that she longed for friendship just like he did. But it did not make sense, making friends with a total stranger.

Dila dismounted the bicycle, then motioned Harry to mount it in her place. When Harry shook his head, she arched a questioning eyebrow.

“Umm… I can’t ride a bike,” he confessed, his cheeks flaming. “I have to get home on time too.”

To his surprise and irritation, Dila just shook her head, a fleeting smile on her face, and repeated her hand gesture without a word. The girl – well, actually the pair of girls – was too forceful for his liking.

In the end, Dila explained in her quiet, reserved tone that their offer was genuine and they hoped to divert whoever was pursuing him. Harry’s boyish pride would not let him take the offer, but his stomach was grumbling hungrily after the hard chase. He at last took the seat offered to him, all the same. Still, he arranged the plastic bags in the basket attached to the front of the bicycle with exaggerated care, half hoping they would shoo him away if he took too long doing that. (Then his pride would not be wounded and he could return to Privet Drive Number 4 in relative peace.)

No luck there, too.

“As long as you’re not too nervous or too stiff, we’ll be fine. I’ll provide us the balance,” Ana explained when Harry, lacking any other thing to stall them, said that he could not ride a bike. “You still have to guide the bike, though. I’m blind.” Oh. So it was why she looked unfocused at all time… But that made him hesitate from rejecting the offer in any way, now. – Crap.

“I will run behind Ana. The faster you ride, the easier I run,” Dila said when his eyes landed uncertainly on hers. The last statement made the boy gape slightly in confusion. Before he could ask about it, though, Dila had moved to the rear of the bicycle, taking her chosen place. Then it was time to go, and Harry had no spare concentration to think about anything anymore. The concept Ana had explained to him was easier said than done.

They made an odd trio: a ragged-attired boy and a girl (who looked at his back rather than around) riding a grocery-laden bicycle as fast as possible, and another girl (who behaved like a noble’s child despite everything) running to catch up with them. Harry was glad that there was no one in the streets they were passing. But his main concerns were not about how deserted the streets were, or if somebody saw them like that. He was more afraid if the person was one of the people buying the lies his aunt and uncle spread in the neighbourhood, if he or she told the girls about him being a delinquent boy, a criminal, or if Dudley’s gang met up with them somewhere along the next street they would have to pass.

It appeared that his first concern was not about to come true. However, he was not so lucky with the second one. Not a few blocks from the town square, they passed the gang, who had been lounging on the sidewalk. It was too late to turn around and choose another street to go through. The only option left was to ride faster.

And faster they did ride. However, they did not have the advantage of distance. Soon stones flew, mostly hitting Dila’s head and back but some managing to pass her, hitting Ana and Harry. The missiles urged Harry and Ana to ride even faster, hoping that in that way Dila would be spared from them. Harry, particularly, was livid with himself for setting a girl, a kind stranger no less, as his shield. The odd little noises she emitted every time the stones collided hard against her body tortured his conscience, and he wished he was there instead of her to be the living shield. The sounds spurred him, giving him more strength to go on, in the notion that he would never hear those horrible small yelps again if he did.

He could barely breathe in relief upon sighting the first sign that they were already close to the festival area: the sudden crowds. For one, he almost had no energy to inhale the summer morning air deep enough to sigh it out. They had lost the stone-throwing, jeering and leering gang some time ago, but they did not lessen their speed until the festival area was in clear view, fearing that Dudley and his lackeys would catch up with them all too soon.

Dila only moved to the front when they reached the entrance locket. With a sweaty, slightly trembling hand, she fished out a card and showed it to the incredulous keeper, all the while never letting Harry see her face. They went on afterwards, riding the bicycle in a sedate pace (or walking on the rear of the bike, in Dila’s case), while all the other visitors to the fair were on foot.

Harry was baffled that no one in charge of the masses of visitors had spotted and stopped them yet. He was thankful of that, but wondered why nonetheless. The expression on the locket keeper’s face was also peculiar; she had seemed just as frightened as he imagined Dila to be. What was with the girls that people knew but he did not? Why were they suddenly flanked by suspicious-looking people – whom he suspected were civil-garbed policemen? He did not know what to make of their not-so-subtle escorts. Were the three of them viewed as threats? Or perhaps distinguished guests? The two options sounded ludicrous in his mind; highly unlikely.

Thus, with all the previous problems he had had the misfortune to be tangled in, he could not enjoy his first ever visit to the annual fair. He looked nowhere but straight forward and down, refusing to be unnerved with the silent and grim-looking people surrounding them. The image of Dila’s smudged back was still vivid in his mind, providing him with a rather-sinister distraction from all the peculiarities he had encountered so far. Were there bruises hidden underneath the light-blue T-shirt she wore? If so, it was completely his fault. He should not have let her take the rear of the group, having guessed that sooner or later he would have come across his pursuers again. Had it been a bout of naiveté which had propelled him to accept her urge? Or cowardice? Somehow, the first option was more palatable than the latter.

He was only jerked back to reality when Ana squeezed the brakes of the back handle bar, stopping him mid-paddle with a jolt. He looked around wildly right after he had regained his balance, realising belatedly that they had arrived somewhere – perhaps the spot Dila had aimed for by her suggestion to go to the town square earlier.

Dila.

Harry gulped. His eyes had just landed on the said girl, who was buried in the arms of an aristocratic-looking man less than three meters away from them. Unlike his initial guess, they were not in some secluded place. Rather, they were nearly in the heart of the festival area, surrounded by both curious and uncaring visitors, and still fenced by the mysterious men.

The man… Who was he?

Harry looked up from Dila’s back to the half-bewildered, half-furious countenance of the man holding her.

Their eyes met.

Harry cringed.

Lord Kensington.

The man was Lord Kensington, of all people. Harry would recognise the Lord’s rather-unique gaze and almond-shaped pale-blue eyes almost anywhere, given how his aunt was addicted to gossip programmes and magazines.

And it meant that Dila and Ana were actually Ardila and Ariana Kensington, the Lord’s daughters. It explained all the peculiarities… and more.

Although, still, it did not give him reason why the girls seemed far older, while he remembered them to have only been slightly older than he was. Or was it his memory that had failed him?

Harry had only one conclusion for his overall predicament: `I’m in deep, deep mire.` What did the Lord think of him? His daughters’ molester? Would Dila and Ana back him up, or leave him as everyone else at school had done before when faced by the ire of the Headmaster, Uncle Vernon, or Dudley? He could not ever hope for aid from his relatives or the neighbours – except perhaps Mrs. Figg. So…

“Oh my,” he murmured to himself. Dila had just stepped away from her father, but refused to look at him. The Lord, his face now a mask of impassivity, beckoned him with a single hand gesture – so commanding that he could not disobey even if he wanted to. His legs felt like two stiff, heavy rods of lead, and his stomach roiled unpleasantly. Then, with a last glance at the stoic Ana, he hardened his resolve and stepped forward, closer to the Lord, until they were directly facing each other. Trepidation filled him. What was the punishment for harming a lord’s child? Was some of the feudal law he had learnt in the end of the primary school, which he had also researched in the library for his own enjoyment, still active in the present? Was Dila angry with him?

Or was he just being too anxious, too frazzled? Morbidly fascinated?

The Lord reached out a hand and tilted Harry’s chin up with his index and middle fingers. He was surprisingly gentle, and Harry marvelled at it for a split moment. It suddenly just felt as if he were facing his father after a prank gone wrong, not a total stranger who could convincingly bring him to the court of justice and jail him.

Ah, silly. Where had the notion come from? The man before him was Lord Kensington, the Duke of Surrey. He had never known who his father was or what was it like to have a father, too. And he thought he was past the phase in which he dreamt of being adopted into a nice family…

Ergh! What was he with family matters now? He had never paid this much attention on that sore problem this last year. Why was he suddenly mellow? Had he been full of trepidation just now? Where was all the apprehention gone to? Now he was confused…

The fingers had left his chin, yet Harry still looked up into the pale orbs of the Lord, trying to gauge the man’s further reaction and possible motifs.

Besides, he could content himself for a long while just drinking the sincere concern and warmth the man’s steady gaze radiated – though it also made him strangely naked before him. There was no pity in those eyes, and he was more attracted to the man because of it. He hated being glanced at pityingly everywhere he went to (if not disgust, fear or distaste), because anyway none of the people acted up on their feeling – not that he would readily welcome such advances anyhow.

To summary all the confusion of emotions in the boy’s head: Harry James Potter was feeling rather comfortable and even confident around the Lord. Too comfortable, perhaps, in hindsight; but he did not care a smidgen now.

The Lord asked, “What is your name?” But his eyes told Harry he had suspected who he was even before he said anything.

“Harry Potter, Sir. Harry James Potter.” That was the name written in his school’s official papers about him, anyway.

But what was his name to do with his scar, again? The Lord’s eyes flickered briefly to the lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead, too. Like daughter, like father. Should he ask the aristocrat about the odd habit?

Nope, He was not that stupid.

The Lord did not elaborate about it either, unfortunately, just like Dila. He just nodded, then ordered Ana to come to him and bring the bicycle with her. Harry turned around, about to help her, but she was already sidling to where she presumably had heard her father’s voice, making him a little surprised. Ana was quite well on her own, unlike — Well, he had never interacted with a physically-challenged people before, so he could not compare her with anyone in a fair manner… But he could do with Dudley, still, since the ‘little orca’ was handicapped to him in a way. What did they name it? Spiritually-challenged?

But now he had another person to focus on. A middle-aged lady, about the age of the Lord, was striding towards them, flanked by – what by now Harry was certain were – four civil-garbed policemen and policewomen. She had deep green eyes, round and rather small, and wavy brown locks which shone warmly under the sun. She was presently scrutinising the odd gathering with unreadable expression, but not for long.

“Who is this boy, George? What is wrong with Dila?” she asked, concerned. Her stoic countenance now displayed slight concern and curiosity. Judging from her informal tone with the Lord, Harry guessed that she was his wife, Lady Harriet. (`Great. A full, complete family. What am I doing here?`)

“Why don’t we ask these little imps to tell us about their misadventure themselves, dear?” the Lord offered once the newcomer arrived at his side. (`Yep. Definitely his wife,` Harry thought drily.) “Begin with you, Harry?”

Suddenly the idea of being held for interrogation for an accusation of molesting Dila by the police seemed more appealing than this inexorable ordeal. Harry groaned to himself. `Oh my. Can’t I get a good, normal summer once?` And what worse, the twins seemed content with their silence. Traitors…
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