In which we meet Maria and the Dursleys get nervous.
AN: I don't own anything you recognize!
I want to give a big shout out to all my amazing reviewers! You rock my socks!
Chapter 3: Family
At first, Harry's entire world was a blur, with few things permeating the haze of consciousness. The dull aching throb working through his body, the feeling of a down pillow beneath his head and light cotton sheets wrapped around him, the sound of birds calling outside yet nearby and the far off noise of a song playing on a radio somewhere. His legs throbbed and his ribs felt too small to be his. He could feel bandages covering almost all of his body and he felt himself wince slightly from trying to move his arm.
The haze in his mind began to clear and Harry was soon able to realize what all of those things meant in terms of his location.
He was at Thorne Manor. He was home and he was safe.
That thought alone was enough incentive to make him try and open his eyes. A bad idea, it turned out, as the light shining brightly through the open window only served to make the growing pain he was feeling migrate to his head and decide upon forming a massive headache. Quickly Harry shut his eyes again and heard himself groan despondently, relieved at the chance to whine pathetically at his own sorry state without having to pretend that everything was ok with him as he did during the school year, it wasn't ok and he hurt.
"Oh, so now you decide to get up!" A screechy, loud female voice blared up from his left and Harry winced. Not only was the voice as loud as an angry Hippogriff, but also her heavy New York accent did little for his nerves when he had a migraine. She had picked up the accent while she lived with a woman named Chrissie in Brooklyn for a number of years, she said, and had liked it so much that she kept it, but she was able to mimic any accent or person that she had ever heard. However, it appeared that Harry wouldn't be able to escape the insatiable Machu Piccu, otherwise known as Peach this time.
"Peach," he muttered "Window, please." Talking wasn't such a good idea either, but hopefully it would lead to some relief.
"What about the window?" she asked saucily and Harry knew that she was doing it to rile him up. "To big for you? Or maybe the curtains ain't your style no more?"
Harry gritted his teeth "Close the curtains Peach. Now." Harry hoped he was able to use a tone of voice that left no room for argument, because he knew that left any room at all, Peach would take advantage of it and he for one, wasn't in the mood.
There were the sounds of Peach moving to the window and the curtains sliding closed. "Better?" Peach asked, sounding outwardly irate but there was a softening of her voice that Harry could recognize as concern.
Slowly, Harry tried again and was rewarded with far better results. He was in his room, the room that he had staked out when he had first spent the night at the Manor. It was a beautiful room, very large with its own bathroom, fireplace, walk in closet and huge westward facing window so that Harry could see the sunset. He had always tried to make it into his own personal sanctuary, a place where it was easy to forget all about the Dursleys and just focus on being a kid, a luxury that rarely appeared in his life.
When he was 11 he had decorated it in a Quidditch motif, with magically animated snitches flying around on sky printed wallpaper but when he turned 13 he grew tired of it and had decided to redecorate it. He then changed it to a hunter green with a large forest mural that reminded him of the Forbidden Forest and the grounds of Hogwarts. Last year though, he changed it again to be something that related to his personality after the events of the Tri-wizard tournament.
Now, the floor was shiny dark hardwood partially covered by a large circular white shag carpet. The mantle of the fireplace, which sat directly across the room from his bed, was painted black, as was all of the trim around the floor. The wall behind his bed was painted a bright but deep red, and the rest of the walls were midnight blue, some sported photos of Maria and him or framed photos of his friends and family (the few he had), some had black and white muggle photos and some further still had charcoal sketches of various landscapes. Above his fireplace was a large portrait of a Chinese Fireball dragon done in silvers and gold's, the dragon was serpentine and coiled its way through the clouds as it flew, occasionally spitting out fire. His bed was huge, king sized, and dominated the room with sheets that were the same blue as the walls.
"Yes," he said "Much better, thank you Peach."
The bright red and blue macaw ruffled her feathers importantly from on top of the curtain rod where she was perched and took off, flying the short distance to the bedside table and landed expertly. "Well, you're very welcome." Said the parrot, regarding him with her bright black eyes.
Cautiously, Harry began to scoot himself up into a sitting position. After years of experience, he knew better then to try and sit straight up after major injury. If you were in bed and lying down, it was normally for a good reason. Harry winced, both from a particularly painful twinge in his stomach that was wrapped up tightly with bandages, and from the memory of the encounter that gave him these injuries. His Uncle had tried to kill him. Not just smack him around or beat him, but actually kill him.
It seemed almost surreal. Harry had known that his Uncle was a monster, but to actually try and take his nephews life, no matter how unwanted said nephew was, well it put Vernon into a whole new class of psychopathic. And his Aunt had just watched! Just sat idly by as her own sisters child was dying before her eyes, and at the hands of her own husband! Harry felt the first burning sensation of tears come to his eyes and fought them off. It was just a shock to his system, to realize that his relatives didn't merely dislike him to the point of violence; they actually despised him enough to want him dead.
A sudden and sickening image played in his mind, the image of Hedwig's last few moments before the nauseating sound of Dudley's meaty hands snapping her neck. Harry closed his eyes and willed the image away, shoving his grief for his avian friend away for a later moment where he, Maria and Peach could all grieve together. Hedwig and Peach had become fast friends over the years and Harry wasn't sure how he was going to be able to break the news to his other feathered friend. Hedwig had been there for him unwaveringly, staying with him and watching over him during the long and painful nights when he couldn't get to the manor to be healed after a punishment from his Uncle. She had always been there, and now, because of his relative's hatred of him, she was dead.
Peach took flight again, landing on the footboard of the bed and preening her feathers for a moment before regarding him with an appraising gleam in her small eyes. She was a large Cuban Macaw, a species of parrot that had been extinct for over 100 years, but that made little difference to Peach, as she was 482 years old, remembered ever word ever spoken to her and apparently spoke over 2000 languages including Dodo and Manticore.
According to Peach, Cuban Macaws were not unlike Sea Turtles in the fact that it was never reported that one had ever died of old age, they only ever died when exposed to illness or when their habitat or food supply was destroyed. She was just as vivacious as a parrot 1/16 of her age though, and Harry couldn't remember a time when she had been physically incapable of doing something.
They had found Peach one day during the summer of Harry's 3rd year, Harry was hiding out from his Uncle at Thorne Manor for a few days and Maria wanted to go out and get her first pets. It was a historically documented fact that nearly all of the Indigo's had multiple pets, the largest number reaching over 100 animals. Maria said it had something to do with integrating their magic into nature better and Harry really didn't understand most of it as Maria described it purely on 'feelings' that the Indigo received, but he nodded and smiled and they made their way to the nearest shelter. They looked at the animals, and picked up two cats, a large cream and silver coloured tomcat that they named Jasper Darlington Higgins IV and a spiky-furred female tortoiseshell that they named Aunt Ophelia. Both cats were friendly and Harry began to feel better about leaving Maria alone when he went to Hogwarts, but still, she couldn't hold a conversation with a cat.
That's why the parrot in the corner caught his eye. While Maria was busy fussing over her two new 'kitties', Harry got up and moved closer toward the bird that was looking around itself with disinterest.
"Hey," he said softly, stroking the feathers on the top of the birds head "Don't suppose you can talk, can you birdie?"
The bird tilted its head to the right and Harry could have sworn that it looked at his scar "Yeah, but I don't suppose you can fly, can you Potter?" she said, and then as he stood there gaping, she bit his finger.
Needless to say, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
At first they kept her for her intelligence, which she had skilfully hid away from all of the muggles that had looked at her in the shelter, and then for her linguistic ability. She enabled Maria to communicate with all of the animals that she came into contact with, a terribly useful skill for an Indigo to have, apparently. Finally though, and possibly most importantly, they kept her for a unique although random talent that she had. She could tell the future. Her periods of clairvoyance were a by-product of living with a tottery old wizard in Belgium for 25 years who liked to experiment with his spell work. Sometimes she could foretell large events, such as a hurricane hitting the coast of Taiwan, sometimes-small events like a stubbed toe, but mainly she kept them aware of what was going to happen in the stock market.
It was a rule of thumb, though, that if Peach ever told you anything about the future, it was best to listen, and listen well. She was never wrong.
"Better?" Peach's squawk brought Harry out of his thoughts quite abruptly and he nodded, feeling the bandage on his cheek for the first time. "Good. I'm going to go get Maria then, she said she wanted to have a look at you." And with one last indulgent preen, Peach took off and flew out of the open door.
Carefully Harry took stock of himself, cautiously going over his body and making a mental list of what was hurting in an age-old tradition of sorts.
There were muggle plaster casts on his right arm and leg, tightly wrapped bandages around his ribs and lower abdomen, his left arm and collarbone was supported by another cast as well as numerous bandages on his face. His face was what hurt the least though; most of the pain seemed to be coming from his ribs, abdomen and left arm and collarbone. The rest was just twinging uncomfortably. He was shirtless, clad only in a pair of nylon running shorts and it was that state of semi-undress that made him realize just who was coming to 'have a look at him'.
The sound of the radio that Harry knew Maria had been listening to grew a little bit louder as the sound of an opening door reached his ears, and Harry paused for a moment to smile at the thought of her, his heart speeding up slightly in anxiety of their meeting. He loved her, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loved her more than he had loved anything in his life ever before, but would she take him back? Harry knew, also, that no matter if she loved him back or not, they would always be close friends and he would protect her with his life if he needed to, but he wanted more than that. He wanted.... Well, he wanted everything that he had had last year.
Sadly, the only person he could blame for not being with her at the moment was himself. It was his fault that they had taken a break from being together, his fault for taking the cowards way out to protect his own heart and in the process hurting it more than if he had just left things alone.
Her figure moving through the door made his heart jump, the way her passion for dance made her practically glide when she walked made his breathing hitch and her warm sable eyes looking into his made him summon up the biggest smile that he could muster, which wasn't much.
"Hey." He said, wincing and hating how weak and pathetic his voice sounded.
Quickly she crossed the room and sat on the side of his bed, it dipped slightly from the added weight. Maria was wearing a new pair of pyjamas, Harry noticed, baby blue silk pants and a snug white t-shirt. She seemed fully alert but her hair still was mussed from sleep. She frowned slightly and pressed a cool hand to his forehead, his cheek, avoiding the bandages. Her expression was controlled, concentrated, but there was emotion in her eyes. "Your fever's gone." She said gently, turning her eyes to his "How are you feeling?"
"Alright." He replied quickly, needing to talk to her about everything other than his health.
Maria frowned deeper "You're lying, you know I hate it when you lie to me, but I will assume that during the course of sustaining these injuries that information had been knocked out of your head, so let's start again. How are you feeling?"
Harry sighed, winced from expanding his ribs too much, and deflated into the pillows. Sometimes her perceptiveness was wonderful, but at the moment it was getting in the way of a very important topic. "My ribs are burning, my collarbone twinges every time I breathe and my stomach is throbbing. I'm sore, I'm angry and I love you."
"I can take care of everything in a cast right now, you were too unstable to fix the broken bones with a spell before so Marta and I did them the muggle way." Maria's gaze seemed far off, like she was miles away. That, Harry supposed, was why she hadn't reacted to his declaration of love just yet. He knew her mind would catch up eventually though, it always did. She snapped her fingers and the Indigo magic surrounded her hand. A quick hovered sweep over his entire body had the casts and bandages for his ribs dissolving into nothing and the bones knitting back together. "Your stomach will take some time, there was a lot of internal damage to a few -Wait, you what?"
Harry forced himself not to laugh at her. Not only would it be very painful to his stomach and still slightly tender ribs, but also he didn't think Maria would appreciate it. He looked up at her calmly, trying not to let his anxiety show through. "I love you." He repeated "I was an idiot last year, I never should have suggested we stop seeing each other." He swallowed "I just didn't want to leave you alone in this house all year attached to me if there was someone you met that you liked. 10 months is a very long time Maria, I didn't want to leave you lonely. I wanted the two of us to be sure."
She blinked down at him for a moment, her face was unreadable. "And if I tell you that I did find someone? Someone that I'm crazy about? What would you do then Harry?" she asked.
A pain, deeper than the one from the cuts on his face, deeper than the one from the wound in his stomach, came over him, but Harry would be damned if he'd give up the best thing that had ever happened to him. "I'd ask you for his name and address so that I can go kick his ass, unless you tell me not to. If that's the case then I'll just have to keep reminding you that there could be no one better for you than me until you realize that it's true." He replied easily, trying to gauge her reactions earnestly.
A smirk and quite suddenly the pain inside of him was gone, he knew what that expression meant. The quirking of the right side of her mouth, the light sparking to life in her eyes, the upward tilt of her chin. She had been teasing and he had fallen into her trap, he didn't care though, as long as she looked at him like that. "Sorry, but there'll be no ass-kicking, unless you've developed an interest in self mutilation." The smirk widened into a full-blown smile and she began to lean forward. "I love you too." She said before pressing her lips to his.
The kiss was slow, tentative and exploratory at first, more sure as Harry joined in, then more thorough. It was the intermingling of breath, the glide of one tongue against another, the gentle scrape of teeth against lips and chin. It was open mouthed and erotic, and if there had been any doubt about a mutual desire, this kiss put it to rest.
"Knock it off would ya? I just ate breakfast you know!" Peach's squawk broke through the cover of ardour Harry and Maria had covered themselves in, and Harry had a fleeting image of a new multicoloured feather duster.
Maria was the one to break the kiss, breaking the contact between their lips but only moving her face back a few inches. Long and wavy black hair fell around them, creating a curtain and framing her oval face. Harry was close enough to count the light freckles across the bridge of her nose, but he didn't have to, he already knew that there were 13. Her expression had changed drastically from the passion-glazed look she had sported only a few moments ago.
"Harry?" her voice was timid. She reached out a hand and carded her fingers through his hair nervously, giving Harry a clue as to what subject she was trying to broach. "What happened?"
He shook his head; he didn't want to talk about it. Didn't want to remember, didn't want to have to say the words out loud. Didn't want to, but knew he must. "The Order threatened Vernon." Maria gasped but he ploughed on, not knowing if he could continue if he was stopped "They wanted to make sure that I was treated well this summer and told me I had to write every three days or else they'd come check. Vernon didn't take to kindly to it. He put me back in the cupboard and piled on the chores, I got one meal a day if I was lucky.
Vernon forged the letters to the order and burned all of my other mail. Dudley kept pushing me around while I was doing the chores and when I didn't finish one day, they burnt everything in my trunk." He swallowed hard and fought back tears at the thought of everything he lost, his Invisibility Cloak, his Photo Album, his wand.... Thankfully the Marauders Map had some sort of fireproofing charm on it, but it had been buried in the backyard instead.
"Last night Vernon lost a client at work," Harry continued on "He said I made it happen. He sort of went nuts after that. He went for so long that even Dudley got bored of watching and went to watch TV, but not before Vernon let him kill Hedwig." Another gasp, doubled by Peach who then let out a strangled sob and flew hurriedly out of the room. "Vernon said he'd had enough," Harry continued, "told Petunia and Dudley to pack then stabbed me. They left me in the house, thinking I'd bleed to death and they could claim they weren't there. They tried to kill me." To his horror the tears began to fall, but he didn't hold them back. Maria held him gently, laying her head on his chest and holding his hand.
"You're not going back there."
Harry looked down at the top of her head, startled by the quiet words. "What?"
"You're not going back there Harry, you can't." She said with a little more force. "They tried to kill you last night. If they go back they'll only try harder and maybe they'll get it right. There were a few times when I nearly lost you last night Harry, you stopped breathing at least twice and your heart gave out once as well. If you go back you'll die."
Harry sighed, choking back the last few tears. "If I don't go back then we'll be found out," he protested weakly "Or I won't be able to go back to Hogwarts. My friends and the Order will never find out what happened to me, and I'll lose an important link for information about the war. Maria, I know you don't want to be used as a Ministry weapon, so I have to-"
Maria's head shot up from its place on his chest, narrowly missing Harry's chin. "Hiding my powers isn't worth your life Harry!" she exclaimed loudly, then the fire in her eyes diminished slightly "Not to mention that we have other links, better links, to help us fight Voldemort, so don't even try using that as an excuse. Does CURSE or RAT or MOVE OFF ring any bells? We're not 10 and 11 years old anymore Harry, the risks we found out about then are still there, yes, but we're stronger and smarter now! We can handle them, I know we can!"
Harry bit his lip, considering the notion for a long moment. He had wanted to stop his acted life for years but had never really given much thought to just coming out and announcing everything to the world in a serious light. He had always imagined comically horrible outcomes that could come to pass if he tried. He had thought that Maria would have been completely set against the idea if he ever suggested it, so he never had. Now though, as he truly gave it some thought, the idea was gaining appeal. However, with every old problem that his mind dealt with, a new one popped
up in its place.
"I can't do it all at once though," he realized despondently "For one, no one would really believe me, and secondly if they did believe me they'd all hate me for lying to them so much and the Ministry would grab you right away. Maria, it won't work! They haven't responded to any of the hints I've given them and telling them bluntly would be a disaster!"
"How do you know?" Maria asked, moving the hand that had been playing with his hair to stroke his cheek "How do you know that will happen? That's just like saying Sampson will bite you just because he's a wolfhound." She said, mentioning the name of one of their many dogs at the manor.
"Love, I'm not asking you to go to Hogwarts and talk to Dumbledore right now, just promise that you'll really think about it and decide soon. Even if you don't admit everything to everyone, then we at least have to think of a way to keep you from going back to the Dursleys." She smirked "Besides, before you talk to Dumbledore and the prestigious Order of the Phoenix, I want to have a few strong words with them about the importance of recognising the signs of child abuse." The glint in her eye was deadly; one that Harry knew meant she was quite peeved.
Harry smirked as well, but with completely different thoughts running through his mind. "Have I ever told you how sexy you are when you're angry?" he asked, fascinated with the way the early afternoon light played upon her hair, flecking the black with deep red highlights.
Maria captured his lips again, but the kiss was quick. "Save it lover," she said dryly "There'll be none of that for a while. I want you healed up completely before we enjoy that activity. As a matter of fact," she said brightly, getting up off of the bed and combing her fingers through her hair absently. Harry cursed his wounds silently. "You should be resting right now. I'll get Marta to bring you some food then I want you to sleep, got it? I'll go and brew the rest of the potions you need and if you want we can try and go out for a walk after you take them, ok?"
Harry nodded, knowing it would be useless to argue with her. Actually, sleep did sound rather appealing and he was quite hungry, so he nodded. With one last quick kiss Maria walked back out the door and by the sound of her footsteps, headed directly to the lab. As he waited for Marta to appear with the food Harry settled deeper into the soft pillows behind him mulling over what Maria had asked him to think about. She was right in the fact that he truly had no idea of how anyone would react to the news, but he was still hesitant to let it all out and bare his soul to anyone but Maria.
He was so far in thought that he didn't notice the sound of paws on hardwood until it was too late and Boss, a large Burmese Mountain dog, had jumped up onto the bed and settled down beside him, laying his huge head on a pillow and regarding Harry with mild interest. Boss was only one of the five dogs that lived at the manor, but seemed to be the Alpha of his 'pack' of animals at Thorne Manor. Harry had to admit that size might have had a factor in that, as Boss was a huge dog, compact and with a chest like a barrel. He could become aggressive with strangers but never seemed to mind small children and was very calm with people he knew.
Absently Harry reached his hand over to pet Boss's head, scratching the dog behind the ears. "Hey Boss," he muttered, knowing through Peach that all animals could understand human speech, "Have you been taking care of everyone?" Boss huffed out a breath and pressed his head more into the scratching, closing his eyes. Harry decided to take that as a yes and used whatever strength he could gather to scratch harder.
A pop sounded to his left. "Good Master Harry is awake!" Marta, her huge brown eyes shining with excitement and her long wrinkled ears twitching, scurried closer to the bed and gently placed the large tray of food that she had been carrying on his lap. "Marta has made all of Master Harry's favourite foods! Oh, Marta is so glad that Good Master Harry is not dying anymore!"
Harry smiled tiredly and pushed Boss's head away as the large dog began to sniff the bacon with interest. "Thank you very much Marta, I'm glad I'm not dying too." He picked up the fork on the tray and took a bite of the poached eggs, nearly letting out a groan of appreciation. He hadn't had anything nearly as good as this since Hogwarts, and even then; the poached eggs there were always runny. "Your cooking is wonderful as al-" the word was broken up by a large yawn "-ways."
Marta's ears drooped "Marta is sorry for disturbing Master Harry, he should be getting his rest now. Marta will be leaving Master Harry to eat in peace." She bowed her head and did a small curtsy, an odd sight for a creature wearing a faded blue pillowcase to be doing, and disappeared from the room.
After Marta left it didn't take Harry too long to eat the rest of the breakfast that he had been given, Marta remembered from past summers to give him small portions at first, to get him used to eating bigger amounts of food again. He gave Boss the last piece of bacon before using the last of his energy to lift the tray off of his lap and onto the bedside table so that he could lie down and get some more sleep. The comfortable mattress, good food in his stomach and gentle sound of Boss's breathing beside him was lulling him to sleep fairly quickly but he fought off the darkness until he was able to occlude his mind well enough to put him at ease that he wouldn't be an open target to Voldemort. As soon as that was done though, his eyes closed and wouldn't open until Maria woke him a few hours later.
He was home.
Severus Snape stared irritably into the murky black liquid that the diner he was currently seated in was trying to pass off as coffee. Ha. The brown mud currently situated in the garish white mug in his hands was nothing more than that, mud, and Severus would be damned if he would drink any more of it. His situation was made considerably worse by the fact he was currently in such a... muggle establishment and was unable to remedy his coffee problem with a flick of his wand, due to the irksome clientele that surrounded him, not excluding his own party.
It had apparently been necessary for Alastor Moody and Nymphandora Tonks to accompany him on his mission to acquire the Dursley family in concern of Harry Potters whereabouts. Albus had warned them about the Dursleys slight dislike for magic and it would be best to have certified Aurors there should the family prove to be difficult and warrant a few good hexes. Normally, Severus would never have gone to such lengths to find the dratted Boy Who Lived, but the circumstances of his disappearance had been more than slightly suspicious and Severus was well aware that if the boy died, so did all hope of freeing himself of Voldemort.
So, he had set out late last night with the two Aurors that still accompanied him, and began to track down the Dursley family. Progress was slow, as their location was continually changing and looked as if the family was moving further and further away from the house which made Severus curious, but eventually they had pinpointed the position that the Dursleys now occupied. It was a fairly large village in the countryside of Kent, made famous for the quality of dog breeders in the area.
He, Alastor and Nymphandora had travelled all night to get there and it was only because of Nymphandora's incessant whinging that they had stopped at all to have a quick breakfast. Because they had been tracking down a muggle family they had all dressed accordingly, Alastor in a tweed suit and his bowler hat and Nymphandora in a gaudy muggle t-shirt and dungarees, but he had refused to stray too far from his normal attire, adopting a black muggle suit, white dress shirt and black tie.
"Are we quite finished here?" he asked, sneering down at the poor excuse for a beverage. "The sooner we find the Dursleys the sooner we find Potter and I can go home."
Alastor drained the last of his orange juice "I agree with Snape" he said, his voice in its customary low growl "We don't have time to be wastin' on relaxing. We have to find Potter."
Nymphandora sighed longingly at the half-empty plate of waffles before her, twirling a strand of her now mousy brown hair. "You're right." She conceded and raised her hand to hail the waitress, a bubbly teenager whom Severus scowled deeply at, who then brought over the bill. Nymphandora paid the girl and they made their way out of the diner and onto the quiet muggle street.
"This way." Said Alastor gruffly, his glass eye swivelling in time with his real one down the main road. Severus let himself nod in affirmation; the tracking spell he was performing was also leading in that direction.
They followed the main road in silence until they were well out of the village and the spell suddenly turned them down a long dirt road, then up to a gated driveway with a large ironwork sign. "Beautiful Bouncing Bulldogs! Finest in all of England! Call Margery Dursley for your opportunity to own a prize winning pup!" Severus had a very strong urge to hex the sign, but it would hardly be productive to getting the Dursleys to cooperate, now would it?
Checking to see that there were no muggles around, the three of them all pulled out their wands and, after Nymphandora had unlocked the horrid gate, all made their way up the drive toward the cacophonous sound of barking dogs. Severus held back a gag at the smell that permeated the property, it was distinctly... dog. Normally, he didn't mind being around animals, he found them far better company than humans in most circumstances, as they held no pretences and never talked back. This smell though, it was pungent and overpowering, as if there were far too many animals stuffed into far too small a space and not taken care of properly. It was sickening.
"Gross," he heard Nymphandora mutter, scrunching her face up distastefully "Just gross..."
"Come on." Barked Alastor and waved them over to what appeared to be the main house on the property. It was an unnervingly clean house, in some sort of muggle style of architecture with very few windows. Severus hated it immediately.
Nymphandora was the first to reach the door and Severus was all too glad to let her deal with the muggles. She rapped on it three times, and they waited for a few moments until a disgusting looking woman opened it.
The only thing that Severus could equate her too was a muggle hot air balloon. Her body was completely rotund, her feet square and her bland blonde hair close cropped to her skull. She was smiling broadly at them, smoothing down the severe pantsuit she was wearing. "Welcome to Beautiful Bouncing Bulldogs!" she said, her voice cajoling "Are you here for the sale? 2 puppies for the price of one!"
Severus sneered at the woman, enjoying seeing her pale.
"We are here to speak with Vernon, Petunia and Dudley Dursley." Nymphandora said authoritatively, acting every bit the Auror she was. However, she was interrupted by a loud bellow from inside the house.
"Marge!" a man called out "Marge! Where do you keep your bacon? Dudders is hungry!"
Margery Dursley began to pale further "I-I really don't think that my brother and his family are up to visitors right now." She stammered, moving to shut the door "They just arrived late last night and I know they are tired from their trip, so, if you would like to come back another time-"
Severus frowned, there was something going on here, something that he didn't like. "No." he said venomously, stepping forward and barring the door with his foot "I do not believe that we will return at a later time. We will be speaking with Vernon, Petunia and Dudley Dursley now. Do you understand?"
"Now see here!" the woman was actually trying to stand up to him? How droll.
"Marge!" the mans bellow grew louder and Severus watched as he moved into view. Vernon Dursley was quite possibly even more obese than his sister, which was quite an achievement. These were Potters relatives? Severus found himself frowning, wondering why Potter was so scrawny if they were obviously so well fed.
"Vernon Dursley," Alastor smiled gamely, his electric blue eye swirling all about him "A pleasure to see you again. Now, if you'd be so kind as to let us in, we'd like to ask you some questions about your nephew, Harry Potter."
Apparently that was the wrong thing to say, for as soon as Potters name was mentioned, Vernon Dursley went plum purple in the face and began to yell. Severus paid him no mind, however, and sighed, aiming his wand.
They were going to have to do this the hard way.
There was a question pressing against the back of his mind though, and he knew it would have to be addressed later on. Why in Merlin's name were the Dursleys so against discussing their nephew? Hopefully questioning them would shed some light on that situation, but until then, Severus was going to enjoy hexing this pair of whales.