Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Escape3 Reviews
Harry comes back from his fifth year to a changed household. What happened to Dudley, and why is he so desperate to make Harry go away? Post-OotP, sixt-year story, mild changes to ending of OotP, A...
Disclaimer: I don't. Nuh uh. Nope. Not me. Jo does, tho. It's all hers. I'm just playing with her toys.
A/N: Many thanks to LunaMoon224 for the awesome beta job she has done on every chapter of this. Three cheers for her! Also, many thanks to everybody who reviewed :) You make me happy. And when I'm happy, I write. Everybody wins :D
A/N2: After some deliberation, I decided on the pairing of this story. It's not what I originally planned, but after talking with Luna, we agree that it will be a good ship. Because some of the things in this chapter might me misleading, I want to make it clear that it will not be Harry/Hermione.
The following two weeks, Harry threw himself into his training. He would be the first to rise, and the last to go to sleep. During that time, he built up his endurance and speed, as well as his physical strength, through the training with Dudley and Tonks. Dudley was impressed at the dedication Harry showed, and let his competitive spirit kick in. After only a few days, the two boys would compete against each other, under the amused supervision of Tonks.
The young woman corresponded daily with Remus and the twins, relating to Harry any important information and discoveries the three made. They progressed little in the research about the potions, but managed to find out that Hermione was abroad and would be returning two weeks before the start of school.
Harry's training with the Keeper progressed to the point where he was able to activate the magic sight with a brief period of concentration, less than a minute. He still had a slight trouble adjusting the color so it fit the spells, but he was managing. Working with natural magic became second nature to him.
The night of the 15th of August, Harry was down by the stream, leaning against Dudley. The other boy was staring at the sky while Harry eyed the waters of the stream, lost in thought. As he watched the waters flow, smoothly gliding over the rocky riverbed, ever-changing, he was struck by a realization.
Since mastering magic sight, he had been wondering what the Keeper meant by forging his own tale. He had thought that there was a spell, or more training in something, but had been reluctant to ask. Now, he realized that there was no more training involved. There was nothing more special to learn, in order to "tell his tale".
All he had to do was live. Live his own way, make his own decisions.
Smiling brightly for the first time since his birthday, he stood up, unbalancing Dudley, and poked the other boy in the ribs. "Race you up!" he called, taking off. He was easily faster than Dudley, but Dudley was stronger, and he would certainly lose a wrestling match if it came to that. And usually, when Harry refrained from using magic, Dudley won.
The morning of the 16th, Harry was practicing his morning Occlumency exercises when Tonks bounded into his room. She silenced when she saw what he was doing sat in the recently restored armchair.
A few minutes later, Harry finished his exercises and looked curiously at Tonks. Wordlessly, she held up a parchment, grinning at him when he created a brief gust of wind to float the letter to him. He opened it quickly, noticing that the seal had been opened before, most likely by Tonks. He saw the familiar handwriting and gulped. Was he ready for this?
Tonks saw his hesitation and climbed next to him in bed, putting a friendly arm around his shoulders. Taking a deep breath, he began reading.
I am so sorry, I never knew what Ginny was up to. I thought that she was behaving a little odd around you, but I never thought she would do something like that. I hope you'll forgive me for not telling you what I thought. I can't believe she would even considering using something like that potion. She could go to Azkaban for it.
How are you, Harry? Are you okay? I'm sure you're not. I do hope you're talking with somebody. Not just about this. About other things, as well. You know what I'm talking about. Just so you know, you can always count on me if you need somebody to talk to. I'll keep your secrets.
Remus told me that you ran away with Tonks and Dudley. Is that true? Why is Dudley with you? Can you trust him? What happened to him? Remus said he looked different. He wouldn't explain more, though.
Fred and George told me to stay away from Ron, but wouldn't explain very much about it. I have never seen them so serious, Harry, and I don't think they have reason to lie to me. I will remain with my parents all summer, making only a visit to Diagon Alley next Saturday. Can you come and meet me there? I would love to see you, and talk about this. There is so much I don't know, and nobody can tell me anything, only that I'm in danger from people I thought were my friends.
Being this cut off brings home how we made you feel last summer. But, for you it was probably worse. I'm sorry. We couldn't say anything important because we were afraid you'd get hurt because of it.
Enough of the sad topics. We visited France this summer. It was lovely! I saw the Eiffel Tower, and after that we went south, to the sea. There are some very interesting museums about sea-life there, and we even visited a magical one, with all sorts of creatures, including mermaids. The clerk there taught me a translation spell so we could speak mermish underwater. I had so much fun. They're fascinating, and I talked with the mermaid there for a while. I never knew Gillyweed felt like that. I'd read about, it of course, but the sensation wasn't what I expected.
What have you done this summer? Did you study anything? I know we didn't get any homework, with the OWLs and all, but you should read the textbooks of the courses you know you'll take. I'm certain you'll manage to enter the Defense NEWT classes, as well as Transfiguration and Charms. You should read at least those textbooks.
When do you think the OWLs will arrive? I can't wait to see how I did.
Oh, Mum's coming and I need to send this off.
Write back soon, Harry, and I hope to see you in Diagon Alley on Saturday.
Harry re-read the letter, almost seeing Hermione's face as she talked. A half-smile appeared on his lips and Tonks climbed off the bed after squeezing his shoulder lightly. He whispered his thanks and she grinned at him.
I'd love to come to Diagon Alley on Saturday. Tonks will come too, as well as Dudley. I will tell you about what I learned this summer then. Tonks taught me some of the Defense curriculum, so I should have a head start on that.
I didn't study any of the other subjects, but I /have been studying, and I hope you'll be pleased when you see what I have achieved. You'll be surprised, I can tell you that. /
I spent most of this summer training, but I enjoyed myself, despite the very disturbing news and revelations in regards to the Weasleys. I'm glad you're still on my side. I don't know what I would do if you too left me.
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday,
PS: Try to avoid Dumbledore, Molly is controlling him somehow, and she might make him do something to you.
I'm glad to hear that you studied, even if it wasn't particularly school related. Any studying is good, especially for you and your trouble-attracting ways.
Dumbledore wasn't around here, and I doubt he knows where I live, as McGonagall was the one who visited me when I received my Hogwarts letter.
Oh! The OWL results just arrived. I'll stop writing so I can look at them.
I got eleven OWLS!! I am so happy! I have an Exceeds Expectations in Defense Against the Dark Arts, though. I received ten Oustandings! I'm sure I would have failed Defense if it weren't for you and the DA, Harry, so thank you again for accepting to run it. You helped a lot of people with it.
I have to end this now, because Mum wants to take me out for an ice cream, to celebrate.
Make sure to tell me your OWL results!
You'll be glad to know that Tonks fell of her chair laughing when we got your letter. She's not so clumsy these days, but there is a lot of the old Tonks showing through. I think Sirius' death made her lose some of her happy-go-lucky attitude.
My OWL results arrived right after I sent the last letter to you. I would have sent you another letter with them, but I only have Hedwig here.
Anyway, because I know you won't be able to read anything else until you see them, here are my results:
Astronomy: Acceptable. I think they went easy on us, with the attack on McGonagall and all.
Care of Magical Creatures: Exceeds Expectations. Hagrid will be so happy with me.
Charms: Exceeds Expectations. This is higher than I expected, but I'm glad.
Defense Against the Dark Arts: O. No thanks to Umbridge.
Divination: Poor. I always knew I'd fail this. At least I'm free of it.
Herbology: Exceeds Expectations.
History of Magic: Dreadful. Well, good riddance to Binns. I think you're the only student with a passing grade in History, Hermione.
Potions: Exceeds Expectations. Well, no more Snape. At least I know I can brew a potion without him standing behind me.
Transfiguration: E. This was a surprise. I'm glad, though. I like McGonagall's class, even if it's hard work. I'll definitely continue Transfiguration. I have some ideas, but I'll need your help with them. And Remus', I think.
To continue what I said above. I'm okay with Sirius being gone. I still miss him, but Tonks helped. Well, we helped each other, more likely. But you can stop worrying about me drowning in depression. He is gone, I miss him, but I'm not going to stop living because of it. He would want me to live, and I will not disappoint him.
I don't know how to say this part, but I know I would never be able to talk to you about it, so it's safer in writing. You know the potion Ginny gave me, right? If you don't, ask Remus. He knows, and he can explain it better than I can.
How can I stop this from being activated? I can't just avoid Ginny, she'll figure that something is wrong. The same thing with Ron. I'm not certain what he is after, but if I suddenly stop avoiding him he'll know something is up and maybe do something drastic. Until Dumbledore is free of the potion effects, we can't give that away. Tonks talked with the twins and Remus, and we decided to pretend that I don't know anything.
They will maintain the rift with their family, of course. I don't think Fred and George will ever be able to step foot in the Burrow again. According to Remus, they're considering changing their shop name, and take out the Weasley part. They haven't done that yet, but it shows how they feel.
If possible, could you help Remus look for whatever potion Dumbledore took? Something has to be somewhere, and you're the best at research.
I'll see you tomorrow, and we'll talk more then.
"Harry!" Hermione yelled, engulfing him in a hug as he exited the Floo at the Leaky Cauldron. He returned the hug cheerfully, but broke free when lack of air became an issue.
"Hey, Hermione. It's good to see you," he said, looking at her. She had definitely tanned in France.
"It's good to see you as well, Harry."
She greeted Tonks cheerfully, and nodded slightly at an apprehensive Dudley. She was clearly reminded of the boy Harry had told her about, even if he was looking very different.
After they met Hermione's parents, they made their way to Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes, where Remus would join them. Harry got a few curious looks but fortunately for them, the Alley wasn't very crowded, and nobody attempted to come closer and talk to Harry.
Once they arrived at number 93, they stopped for a few moments, taking in the garishly decorated storefront. There was a box on a stand and a large sign below it proclaiming that they were free samples. The box was filled with candies of all sorts. Before anybody could stop him, Dudley grabbed a large yellow candy and stuffed it in his mouth.
The next moment, he was a very confused canary and started trilling his annoyance under the chuckles of his friends and Hermione's glare. She huffed disapprovingly and stalked to the shop. A moment later, Dudley was himself again, and he stood close to Harry as they entered the magical joke shop. Harry grinned at Dudley, pointing out a few shelves full of a wide assortment of candies, laughing as Dudley paled.
"Harry!" a voice called.
Harry turned to see Lee Jordan at the register, waving at him. He called back a greeting and continued browsing the merchandise. The Grangers were with him, but Dudley had chosen to remain with Tonks, next to the shop entrance. He was looking decidedly uncomfortable.
After a few minutes, Fred and George exited the back room, grinning cheerfully when they saw Harry and Hermione. They were quickly invited in the room the twins had exited, leaving only Lee to mind the shop. Remus was in the room, with a stack of books in front of him and several other books on the floor next to his chair. Other opened books gave evidence to the twins' activities. A reinforced door opened to one side of the room, and George said that it was their testing and experimenting room.
Once they were done with the greetings and introductions, they made small talk for a few minutes, before Harry motioned Hermione and Remus to a corner for a private chat. Behind a silencing spell, he explained to Remus that Hermione would be able to help him in research, and Remus accepted the offer gratefully. After a few more details, they returned to their seats, Remus sitting next to Tonks.
Harry noticed Tonks' hand grabbing Remus' and raised an eyebrow at her. She simply smiled at him and shrugged. He grinned. From the tone of Remus' letters, he had guessed that there was some attraction between the two, but so far hadn't known if they were officially going out. It seemed that they were.
"Harry, I have a question," Dan Granger said suddenly, breaking out of his conversation with Fred. At Harry's cautious nod, he went on, "Could you tell us what exactly happened in June?" He raised a hand at Hermione's beginning protest. "Hermione, want to know what gave you those scars, and whether you would be safer if we left the country."
Harry looked at Hermione's tearing eyes in panic. What should he tell them? How much had Hermione told them? Before his panic could escalate, he could hear the voice of the Keeper, during one of their long talks. '/Truth is the best choice, even if it hurts, Harry./'
He swallowed, glanced at Hermione and begain to tell the story of his fifth year. He spoke haltingly, hesitanting between truth and half-truth, ordering what he could tell them and what he couldn't. Halfway through, Tonks came over to him and put her arm around him, as she had done several times before, helping him deal with his emotions.
When he was done, he look at the horrified expression on Emma Granger's face and sighed, not daring to look at Hermione's face. She must be so angry with me now, he thought. Tonks squeezed his shoulder one last time and moved back to sit next to Remus.
"Is- is this true?" Emma managed to stutter out, looking with wide eyes at Hermione. Looking very guilty, Hermione nodded and bowed her face, looking very ashamed of herself. In an instant, her mother was at her side, pulling her into a hug as Hermione sobbed into her chest.
"Oh, honey, why didn't you tell us?" Emma murmured in Hermione's hair, rubbing the girl's back.
Hermione muttered something in reply and Emma hugged her tighter. "Hermione, we wouldn't take something so important from you. And you are old enough to decide for yourself."
Harry watched in confusion as the two female Grangers engaged in a whispered conversation for a minute before Hermione looked from her mother's chest and ran to Harry, hugging him for all she was worth. "Thank you," she whispered before breaking off and sitting back in her place.
After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Dan Granger cleared his throat and addressed Harry.
"Since I'm certain that you are confused, I will explain some things to you. You undoubtedly recall that we wanted to pull Hermione out of Hogwarts a few years ago. At that time, she convinced us that we shouldn't, and we listened to her."
Harry nodded, familiar with the events.
"This summer, we received a report from her Head of House, saying that she had been in an accident and needed to take some potions for a few weeks. We accepted that, and when Hermione didn't tell us what accident it was, we thought that the memory must be traumatic and she simply didn't want to talk about it."
"But this summer, we bought a few wizarding papers," Emma took over. "We read about the battles and Death Eaters, and this You-Know-Who persona, and we decided that we need to make a decision." She smiled at Hermione's panicked look. "We're going to let you go to Hogwarts this year, Hermione. Magic is a large part of you, too large to deny. If we made you go to some other magical school, in France maybe, you would have too many problems adjusting."
Remus nodded in appreciation of Emma's reasoning. It was obvious to Harry as well that Hermione could be a girl who was hard to get close to. If it hadn't been for the troll in their first year, they wouldn't have become friends at all.
"But," Emma's hardened gaze locked on Hermione, "from this day forth, no more keeping secrets."
Hermione nodded weakly and her mother hugged her.
"Hogwarts is the safest place in Britain," Remus offered. "She'll probably be safer there than anywhere else."
Dan nodded. "We know. It's one of the reasons we came to this decision."
The group spent a few minutes talking and relaxing off the tension before Hermione remembered the original purpose of the trip and dragged them out to buy their supplies.
Harry finished the large sundae in front of him and leaned back in his chair, grinning at Dudley, who had long finished his. The two of them were sharing a table with Hermione and Remus, while the Grangers and Tonks were at a different table in Florean's parlor.
After a few minutes, Harry excused himself and made his way to the table occupied by the Grangers, to talk with them about Hermione. He knew that despite their words, they were worried about their daughter, and were trying to do what was best for her. It didn't take more than a few minutes to reassure them that he would do his best to protect Hermione at Hogwarts.
He started to head back when Tonks motioned him down and waved her wand at the table now occupied only by Dudley and Hermione. Remus was in the shop, ordering some more ice cream. Harry started when he heard Hermione's voice just as clear as if he was standing next to her.
Dudley obviously hesitated for a moment before his shoulders slumped. "Last year, that old man from Harry's school came and talked with my parents. He did something to them, and to me, and they began treating me like a slave. I almost died, and Harry saved me." His voice was flat as he recounted obviously painful memories.
"Oh. Well, I didn't know that," Hermione stammered, obviously taken a back by his frank confession. Harry grinned at that. Dudley had changed a lot in the weeks they had been free, gaining a backbone and a tendency for honesty that Harry admired, not having guessed that Dudley was the honest type of person.
After a few seconds in which Hermione fidgeted nervously, Dudley spoke. "I won't betray him, Hermione," he said firmly. "I saw what he did when he heard about what those Weasel women did. He can be very scary." When he saw Hermione's wide-eyed stare, he shrugged and added, "Besides, he saved my life. Why would I betray him?"
Remus chose that moment to return to the table, and Harry joined them as well, pretending not to notice Hermione's slight blush and Dudley's strained smile. After almost an hour of talking, Remus announced that he had to return to his research. Hermione went with him to get some books to look through at home, while Tonks, Harry and Dudley returned to Griffin Island.