Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Escape10 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 didn't, don't and won't own Harry Potter. This should be obvious by now./
A/N:/ Many thanks to LunaMoon224 for all her work on this fic. Also thanks to bnwatts for his beta job. As always, feedback is appreciated. I'll answer questions, most of the time. Sorry for not updating in so long, but college is killing my spare time. I'm still writing, I just don't have time to format and upload stuff. I won't stop updating, but you can expect them to be sparse until summer rolls around. Sorry 'bout that./
The weeks that lead up to the first of September passed uneventfully. A search party formed of Order members was looking for Harry, according to Fred and George, but they had no luck finding him.
Hedwig made daily trips between Harry and Hermione, laden with parchment and the occasional book. Hermione wanted to know all about his training and the Keeper, and asked him innumerable questions. Harry, in turn, asked her about normal things, taking comfort in the thought that at least Hermione was having a close-to-normal holiday.
From time to time, Hermione would send Dudley a letter as well, which amused Harry and made Tonks smirk at his cousin. Dudley sent his replies when Harry sent his. Harry was glad to know that Hermione and Dudley were getting to know each other better, although he did his best to make Dudley uncomfortable about it.
The twins made little progress in discovering what potion was affecting the Headmaster, although Hermione did run across mentions of a rare powerful potions text, and was looking in all places where it could be acquired. So far, she hadn't found any clues, and Harry was beginning to think Voldemort had it.
A few days before the trip to King's Cross, Harry was sitting outside the hall, looking at the night sky. After a few minutes, Dudley came out as well, clutching a letter and a piece of blank parchment wrapped around a bright pink pen that Tonks had obviously conjured. She had no concept of normal colors.
Dudley gave him a hesitant smile before setting down a few feet away and writing his letter, pausing often and looking around him, chewing on the end of the pen. Harry guessed that Dudley was writing a letter to Hermione and let the boy work, fully intending to tease him about it later. He returned to his stargazing, sighing suddenly.
"Harry?" Dudley asked almost an hour later. He was done with his letter, and held it out to Harry. "Send this tomorrow?"
Harry grinned at Dudley. "Sure, Dud, I'll deliver your love letter!" he said perkily, adopting a look he'd seen Dobby wear.
Instead of the blushing denial he'd been expecting, Dudley looked at the floor and shrugged uncomfortably. After a minute, he sat back down and motioned for Harry to do the same.
"What's up, Dud?" Harry asked seriously, teasing mood gone.
His cousin sighed and ran a hand through his short blonde hair. "Do you mind that I send letters to Hermione?" he asked suddenly.
Harry was about to give a joking reply, but the seriousness in Dudley's tone held him back. "Of course I don't mind, Dudley," he replied after a moment of thought. "Why would I mind? You're both my friends, and you're both free to do as you want," he explained, shrugging.
Dudley nodded, a pensive expression on his face. He left to his room soon after, leaving Harry to think about his friendship with Hermione and what she meant to him. It was past midnight when he went to sleep.
Dear (recipient's name),
Hi Harry, how are you? I am fine, thank you for asking. I am writing this on a paper Daddy got from a Muggle place, it says it's a letter form, but it doesn't do anything when I tap it with my wand, except change color.
I'm in Sweden now, we'll be returning to England soon, and I will see you on the train back to Hogwarts, I guess. I have so much to tell you, but it will have to wait. Daddy wants to publish it in the Quibbler first, and then I will tell you all about it.
Unfortunately we didn't find any Snorkacks, but we found some nests and an old mating place. I think they may be extinct, but Daddy doesn't agree. According to him, they simply moved on to other planes of existence.
I will miss them.
So, how have you been? Have you been eating properly? Mum always asked me that in her letter, even if she could simply ask me, since we lived in the same house. In case you want to know, I have been eating more than I should, and I'm certain you will notice it when we meet again.
Have you heard from Ginny recently? We did not get to talk before the term ended, and she was always busy with something, even going out at night one time. I know, since I was out as well, watching the sky. Does she have a project in the greenhouses, like Neville has? Only I don't think Neville is allowed in the high danger greenhouse.
She must be really brave, to go there. The plants in there are very dangerous. Only Professor Snape enters those greenhouses, and Professor Sprout, of course. I hope Ginny will get some points for what's she doing, because it would be a pity if she didn't do a good job. She's such a nice girl. She talked to me when people hid my things, and was my friend.
Oh, I have to go now; Daddy says the Muggles are coming.
See you Harry! Bye!
Harry stared at the white sheet of paper with bemusement. Luna had written all over the printed text of the Muggle letter example, her red ink clearly readable over the black letters. He scowled at the mention of Ginny, and sighed as he realized that Ginny must have gotten some of her ingredients from the greenhouses.
/How do I tell Luna about what Ginny did? /He wondered, setting the parchment on the table in front of him and frowning at his pen. Eventually, he decided to keep his reply innocent, and tell Luna in person. He also decided to keep close to her the following year, because the girl was a good friend to him, and she deserved him to be a friend t her as well.
His decision made, he penned a quick reply, leaving out most of the summer happenings, and gave it with the owl that had delivered Luna's letter. It hooted at him and took off through a window.
The next day, he was surprised when he saw another owl, and even more surprised when the name on the letter was Luna's.
How are you? I am sorry for the events at the Ministry, and the loss of your godfather. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know, please, and I will do my best to help you.
I am afraid that if you want good news you will have to look away from this paper, as I have precious little good news to tell you.
Sit down somewhere before you read this, please.
Are you seated? Don't read on until you're seated, and if possible, alone. But I'm sure you're at your relatives' house, and from what I heard about them, you should have no problems being alone there.
Anyway, to the news. I am so, so sorry for being the one to tell you this, but Hogwarts will start soon, and I want to tell you this before you arrive there, if you decide to come, after what I will say.
I think Ginny Weasley might be poisoning you.
There, I said it. I can't believe how hard it was to write those words. Lie I explained in my other letter (sorry for the nutty rambling, by the way), I saw her entering the high danger greenhouse. I followed her, and saw her carrying a tentacle from the Venom Spawn that grows in the greenhouse. I only know of that ingredient to be used in poisons, and I saw her add something to your drink during dinner a few weeks after that, but it wasn't until a few days ago that it clicked.
I am so, so sorry that I didn't say anything before that. I just didn't know what to think, and decided to wait and see what happened. When I saw you drinking the spiked juice and smile at her, I thought it was a love potion, and those never last enough, so I wasn't too worried. I should have known better.
I don't know what poison she dosed you with, but if there have been no ill effects on your health until now, it's most likely one that will need an activation potion to be set loose. If you don't come to Hogwarts this year, and avoid Ginny, then she will have no way of giving you the activation poison, and you won't die.
I don't want you to die, Harry. You were kind to me even when I was acting all loony, and didn't think less of me because of it. I don't know why Ginny gave you whatever potion she gave you, but I'm sure it's not for a good reason.
Please write back and tell me what you decide, even if what you decide is that I am as loony as everybody says and should be locked up.
Harry stared at the letter with wide eyes. A moment later, he was holding it next to Luna's other letter, comparing the handwriting. Satisfied that the handwriting was the same, he shook his head in bewilderment. Apparently, Luna wasn't as loony as everybody thought.
Thank you for both your letters. I am fine at the moment. I'm not at my relatives, but I am in a safe place, with my cousin and one of the Aurors who fought at the Ministry that fateful day. She is a good friend of mine.
Thank you for your warning. I appreciate the sentiment behind it, and will be a bit more cautious as to what I drink and who I let around my food. I will be coming to Hogwarts, and I need to tell you some discoveries related to what you warned me about.
I will avoid my poisoner, although I am certain it wasn't poison. Hopefully, we will manage to talk during the train ride to Hogwarts, or, failing that, after the feast. Some shocking discoveries have been made this summer, and I feel that you should know at least part of them.
Harry looked glumly at his empty room. It was the evening of the 31st August, and he, Tonks and Dudley were packed and ready to leave. They would spend the night at the twins' place before Harry would leave to Hogwarts. Tonks would be renting a room at the twins' shop, and would be helping them with the production; since they needed help that they could trust. From there, she would be able to help Remus and the two redheads in their research about the potions.
With their luggage ready next to the fireplace, the trio gathered around the Keeper who had taught them so much in the time they had spent on his island.
"Farewell, changeling," the wizened old man said, toughing Tonks briefly on the arm. To Harry's permanent magic sight there was a very concentrated burst of light before Tonks' aura shifted colors a bit, becoming a very dark gold. He raised an eyebrow at the Keeper, but remained silent as Tonks hugged him.
Dudley shook the Keeper's hand, thanking him for all the help. The old man smiled at Dudley. "You are most welcome, young one. Stay true to your friends, and we shall speak again, at the end of all tales."
Leaving Dudley gaping, the Keeper turned to Harry. "Young Master."
"I am no longer your teacher. You know all I have to teach. From this moment onward, you shall weave your own tale in the fabric of reality. Make it a happy tale, child." Before Harry could reply, the old man touched his forehead with a wrinkled finger and then vanished. "Goodbye, friends," echoed in the hall, a hall that seemed much emptier than before.
His shoulders slumping, Harry turned to his two companions. "Come on; let's get to the Leaky Cauldron while Tom still has free rooms."
The morning of September first dawned bright and early; which, in Dudley's case, was the worst thing a morning could do. He tried shaking off the hand that was trying to wake him, but gave up when it only shook him harder.
"Come on Dudley, or you'll miss Hermione when she comes to meet me so we can go to school!" Harry teased as he pondered getting a glass of water to douse Dudley with.
"I'm up!" Dudley exclaimed, rolling out of bed and falling in a heap of sheets and limbs on the floor. Five minutes later, he was grabbing the arm of an amused Harry and dragging him downstairs.
Tonks, Remus and the twins met them at a table where they had a quiet breakfast while discussing their plans for the school year. The twins had offered to rent Tonks a room if she helped with their products, something she accepted gratefully. Remus was occupying the other guest bedroom; something that Harry privately thought had influenced Tonks' decision more than the need for a place to live and a job.
The foursome would keep up their research while Harry and Hermione were at Hogwarts. Dudley was going to work for the twins, but after a brief negotiation with Tom, he would be staying at the Leaky Cauldron. The money Fred and George paid him allowed him enough money for the room fee and he would have plenty extra to spend on himself. All parties included in the negotiation had been satisfied with that arrangement.
"Harry!" a voice exclaimed suddenly. A moment later, he had a facefull of bushy hair as Hermione attempted to strangle the life out of him.
"Nice seeing you too, Hermione," he croaked after she let him go and greeted the other people seated at the table. Harry grinned as he saw Hermione kiss Dudley on the cheek making the boy blush profusely.
"Ickle Duddykins is a big man now!" Fred chortled when he saw his blush.
"Where are your parents, Hermione?" Harry asked, changing the subject from what was sure to become a teasing session of the two. He had no problems with Dudley and Hermione liking each other, but he didn't want either of them to move to fast, or for the wrong reasons.
They were five minutes late at the station, and Harry groaned as he saw the back of a slim redheaded figure vanishing through the wall that led to Platform 9 3/4. He and Hermione said their goodbyes to the adults and Dudley, and turned to face the barrier.
"Okay, so no allowing Ginny Weasley to kiss me," Harry said to himself, mock-glaring at Hermione when she giggled.
"No allowing Ginny to kiss Harry. Got it," a voice said behind them suddenly, before Hermione could reply. They turned quickly, Harry narrowing his eyes slightly, bringing forth his magic sight, prepared to block any hex or curse thrown his way.
"Oh. Hey, Luna," he said cheerfully, pulling the girl in a hug, rolling his eyes at Hermione's curious gaze.
"Hey, Harry," Luna said with equal cheerfulness. "Nice seeing you, Hermione," she continued.
Hermione stared at the blonde for a few moments, as if waiting for something else. "What's wrong, Hermione?" Harry asked. Luna simply grinned and tugged on his arm. "Come on, or we'll be late!"
Glancing at a thoughtful Hermione, Harry was dragged through the barrier, and before he knew it, he and Luna were in an empty compartment. "How did you do that?" he asked Luna with wide eyes.
"Daddy got his hands on the list of charms that is on the Knight Bus. I use a variation of those, it allows me to move through crows with ease, and I'm not noticed."
"Can you teach me?" Hermione said from the doorway. She had obviously heard Luna's explanation.
"Sure!" the blonde replied.
"Hermione, is Harry there?" a voice called from the open window of the train. Glancing questioningly at Harry, she poked her head out the window. "Yes, Mrs. Weasley, we just arrived and wanted to be on the train before it left."
"Oh, good. I'll just hop on and see him," the woman said. Fortunately, the train whistled at that moment and the red engine started moving.
"Goodbye, Mrs. Weasley!" Hermione called as the train picked up speed.
A few minutes later, a red-faced Ron dragged his trunk in the compartment, followed by Ginny, who immediately took a seat next to Harry and put her hand on his leg.
"Where have you been all summer, Harry?" Ron asked after the obligatory greetings. "Everybody's been going crazy to find you. Owls weren't able to find you; they wouldn't even take letters addressed to you."
He sighed at the memories of the early summer, hoping his face was sad enough to make them believe that he was not in as very cheerful mood, so they would leave him alone. "Well, at the beginning of the summer, me and Dudley ran away, because of some problem with his parents. We spent the time in the Muggle world, which is why I guess that owl couldn't reach us. Before, you ask, no, I won't tell you where we were, because Dudley is still there, and I promised him to keep his secret."
"Why? I thought you hated that little pig," Ron commented, and Harry saw Hermione suppress a scathing remark, most likely related to Ron's eating habits.
"Well, things have changed this summer," he said, refusing to say anything else on the matter. Eventually, the topic turned to other things. Ron and Hermione went to their Prefect meeting, and Luna was snoring lightly under an upside-down Quibbler.
"So, Harry, what have you been doing this summer?" Ginny said in a low tone, turning his head so he would face her.
"Well, we were in a Muggle place, so anything relating to magic was impossible. Dudley's a boxer, and he decided to make an opponent out of me," he said lightly, turning his head to look at the snoring form of the Ravenclaw. "I think she'll get a crick in her neck if she sleeps like that for a long time. I'd better wake her."
"She's slept like that in History, it never hurt her," Ginny said. Her hand tightened on his leg and he couldn't get up without telling her to let go of him, which would have made her suspicious. So he shrugged and returned to staring out the window. Ginny made a low impatient noise behind him, and he suppressed a smirk.
"Harry- I-" Her voice was soft, as if she was close to crying, but he knew it was false. Still he had to play the role; at least until they were at Hogwarts and he'd be able to avoid her properly.
"What's wrong, Ginny?" he asked her, turning to face her again. She had lowered her head and was looking at him through her eyelashes. When he simply stared at her, she glanced at his lips and slowly licked her lower lip.
Ignoring her actions, he lowered his voice slightly, adding a threat to his tone. "Did Dean hurt you?" he asked.
He really wanted to laugh as her face cycled through embarrassed, angry and shocked several times before settling on a relatively calm expression. She didn't reply to his question, just shook her head. He shrugged and went back to staring out the window, repressing a happy cheer when she took her hand of his leg and moved away from him on the seat.