AU, Post OotP summer story: Summer at the Dursleys has always meant Harry is overworked, underfed and lonely. All Harry wanted was a normal summer, what he gets is anything but normal. repost
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine
AN: Special thanks to my beta Evan for dealing with my issues with commas.
FicWad has been putting extra lines in messing up the flow of the story sorry, i fixed it in this chpt.
At 10am, the morning of August 1st, Harry apparated with his trunk to the basement of Mann's shop and from there took the portkey to Neville's house.
"Hey, Harry, how are you?" Neville said by way of greeting when Harry arrived in a large room.
"Hi, Neville, I'm good," said Harry.
"You can leave your trunk here; Tippy will take it to your room. Gran is waiting for us in the receiving room," said Neville, gesturing to the doorway to the right.
"Tippy? You have a house elf, Neville?" asked Harry a little surprised.
"Sure, several, actually, but I heard Hermione and there was no way I was going to say anything," answered Neville with a laugh.
Harry laughed as well, "Yeah, well, Dobby's happy enough being free but I don't think the rest want to be."
Neville looked sideways at Harry. "You mean that odd elf that cleans our dorm sometimes?" he asked. Harry gave a nod. "Look, you can trust me not to tell, Harry, but I've known for quite awhile that you own that elf."
Harry stopped walking and asked, "What do you mean, I own Dobby?"
Neville turned to Harry " It's well documented that freed elves die within a year or two of being freed and I am also aware that students aren't allow to bring their own elves to Hogwarts. So I figured you found a way around the rule by befriending a 'free' elf." He chuckled, "I wish I'd thought of it."
Harry was shaking his head. "No, he really is free," he insisted."
Neville smiled and said, "If you say so, Harry, come on Gran is waiting."
"But-" Harry started to protest and then gave it up. It would be something to discuss with Dobby when he saw him.
Harry followed Neville into the receiving room where his Grandmother waited.
"Lord Black, welcome to our home, Neville and I are very glad to have you here at last," said Augusta Longbottom.
"Thank you for having me Madam Longbottom, but please call me Harry," he said.
"Thank you, Harry, and you may call me Gran as Neville does, if you like. If things had been different we would have been family before now," she said.
Harry hesitated and asked, "Because Neville's Mum is my godmother and should have had custody of me when Sirius was sent to prison?"
"Yes, Harry; Frank had spoken to Headmaster Dumbledore, he was quite put out that you were not brought to Alice. They were going to contest your placement when they were attacked. Did you know that I asked for you to stay here the summer before Neville's and your first year? I had hoped the two of you could become friends before Hogwarts. Headmaster Dumbledore said that you didn't what to leave your family before you had to for school."
Harry gaped at her, "Madam Longbottom, Gran, I never knew that. I would have jumped at the chance to leave the Dursley's and come here. I didn't know that Alice was my godmother until my Aunt told me this summer when I mentioned Neville's invitation." He turned to Neville, "why didn't you ever say anything?"
Neville flushed, "Harry, I've never been a very good wizard. I was warned not to try to curry favor due to 'unacknowledged' bonds. It would have looked like I was trying to use you for personal gain, to capitalize on being the 'god-brother' of the Boy-Who-Lived. I was told not to say anything until you chose to acknowledge me."
"It was Dumbledore, wasn't it?" Harry said through gritted teeth.
"It was," stated Gran, "but you are here now and that is what is important."
Harry nodded reluctantly and Neville gave him a look that promised they would talk more about it later.
"Now, Harry, Neville has lessons every morning from 8am to 11:30; you may participate or not as you chose. I do ask that if you are going to leave the wards you let me know. Neville may go with you if you chose to go anywhere, as you are an adult and quite capable of defending yourself and him. Dinner is formal and served at 8pm; Neville will show you to your room."
Neville led Harry out of the room and down the hall to a grand staircase.
"I convinced Gran to put you in the second bedroom in my suite instead of giving you your own set of rooms. She was worried you might be offended because it's not really proper but I told her you wouldn't mind and it would be more fun," said Neville.
Harry's eyebrows rose as they entered a large room with couch, several chairs, desk and worktable. Nearly every flat surface was covered in plants.
"This is my sitting room, your bedroom is there," he pointed to the right, "mine is on the left and we share a bathroom."
"Nev, why do you have two bedrooms and why wouldn't it be proper?" asked Harry mystified.
Neville blushed and said, "Well, a long time ago, when the house was built, young men married and brought their wives home; girls went to live with their husbands families. So when a boy was about 10 or 11 they would be moved out of the common nursery into a set of rooms. You are in what would traditionally be the room my wife would use if I were married."
"Er, wouldn't you like share a room with your wife?" asked Harry, blushing himself.
Neville grinned, "Well I would, but back then it was all arranged marriages so it was considered proper to give the woman her own room. Then when she had a baby, the infant was in a cradle in her room until it was old enough to be placed in the common nursery with all the other kids."
Neville had by this time flopped down into one of the chairs and Harry seated himself across from him.
"Well as fascinating as that is Nev, we need to talk. I have some things I need to tell you," Harry chuckled nervously. "You might decide to kick me out then."
"Is this about the prophecy?" asked Neville
Harry's jaw dropped and he gaped at Neville.
"How the hell did you know that?" he asked.
"I've had a lot of time to think about it. I felt really bad that I broke it. The initials on the shelf had to be Dumbledore's, you didn't show up in the infirmary with the rest of us, and after that you were really angry with Dumbledore. So I figured he knew what it said and told you. That it's either really bad or it's something you should have been told about a long time ago or both," said Neville.
"Merlin, Nev, I think you're channeling Hermione."
"I think you're trying to distract me," responded Neville.
Harry nodded and bit his lip then said, "It was both; he told me that night in his office and should have told me along time ago. I have to kill Voldemort or he'll kill me,"
"Well it's not like he's going to stop coming after you, so I kind of think that would have to happen anyway. Are you the only one who can kill him?"
"Who are you and what have you done with Neville?" asked Harry, amazed at the insight.
Neville grimaced, "I think I grew up, Harry. In the Ministry I faced Lestrange, I didn't give up, Gran is proud of me; I proved to her and to myself that I deserve to be a wizard."
Harry nodded slowly, "I think I understand. There is more you should know, then, the prophecy could have been about either of us." Harry recited the prophecy while Neville stared at him and paled.
They sat in silence for a long moment, "Merlin, Harry, so what do we do now?" Neville finally asked.
A smile bloomed on Harry's face, "You're still willing to help me?"
"Of course I am, Harry, or should I say Lord Black."
"Well then, we study, we learn, and you keep the Death Eaters off my back while I kill the bastard," said Harry.
"Agreed," vowed Neville.
They were silent for another few minutes staring in to the fire.
"Oh, there's something else you should know, Neville," said Harry.
"What?" asked Neville
"Well you know how Malfoy thought he was the Heir to the Black Family?"
"Yeah, that was brilliant how he just lost control and his Mum hexed him," gloated Neville with a grin.
"Well if something happens to me you'll get to see it again because I named an Heir and it wasn't Malfoy. I'm not going to make my choice public but thought you might want to know."
"Harry, I truly hope I don't get to see it, I'd rather you'd be around for a while, you know you'll have to watch your back around Malfoy."
Harry snorted, "Don't I always? So do you want to know?"
"Yeah, tell me, I didn't think there were any Potter's left and-" he broke off with a horrified look.
Harry laughed and pointed at him, "I named you,"
"No, Harry, I don't want to be the Head of the Black Family," protested Neville.
"The Potter Family, too; so I guess you'll have to watch my back and I'll watch yours."
"You are mental, Harry, absolutely mental," complained Neville.
"Say, aren't you supposed to be having lessons now? What are you learning?" asked Harry.
"I was let off today because you were coming. Cousin Flip started helping me learn control, all my spell work with my new wand was over powered because I had to force Dad's wand to work. Since then we've added Potions. I won't be taking Snape's class but I intend to sign up for Independent study in Potions so I can take the NEWT test for it. I really need the Potion's NEWT for a Mastery in Herbology. We've also been doing some Defense and Dueling," said Neville.
"Cousin Flip?" asked Harry.
"Neville chuckled, "Phillip Charles a distant cousin from Gran's side of the family. His family is rather poor and they moved to Switzerland during the first war with Vol, Voldemort. Gran sent money for his schooling. He wants to get married but doesn't have the bride price, so Gran offered to pay him to tutor me this summer. I over heard that he may have applied to Hogwarts for the Defense position."
"Ok, can you explain bride price that's the second time I've heard that term this week," said Harry.
Neville raised an eyebrow, "Contract negotiation?" Harry scowled and Neville laughed. "Ok, bride price is the money a man or his family pay to a girls family for the privilege of marrying her. Now tell me where you heard it before."
Harry's brow furrowed, "I set aside money for Tonks' dowry, what's that then?"
Neville laughed again, "Merlin, Harry, maybe you need to take lessons in pureblood traditions with Gran while you're here. Dowry is money given by the girls family to the groom to help set up the new household."
"You know, I think that is probably a very good idea; do you think she'd do it?" asked Harry.
"I'm sure she'd love to, but don't blame me if she bores you to death," said Neville.
"They may be boring, but they're things I need to know, things I probably should have been taught a long time ago," said Harry glumly.
"Yeah, now tell me where you heard about bride price. Have you gotten contract offers?" demanded Neville.
"No offers, no one knows I'm the Head of Black, yet, as far as I know. I got something strange for my birthday though. I'm lucky that Remus was there to tell me what it was," said Harry.
"Remus called it a token, it was a bracelet made of hair," said Harry with a grimace.
Neville sat up straight and demanded, "Who sent you that? Someone you know?"
"I'd really rather not say. Remus said he'd deal with it but it's going to be embarrassing to see her, I'm sure," said Harry.
"Harry, this is important. If no one knows that you've claimed your houses; then they thought you were underage and it's different than being an adult."
"Even if the girl is underage too?" asked Harry.
Neville winced, "Gods above and below, tell me it wasn't Ginny Weasley." He groaned at Harry's reaction. "Don't you know she's obsessed with you, Harry?"
"She's what? Hermione said she was over her crush; she was dating Michael Corner last year and told Ron she was seeing Dean on the train," protested Harry.
"How can you not know she was trying to make you jealous?" asked Neville. "Never mind, come on we should tell Gran about this. You don't want to be trapped into a marriage with her."
"Wait, Remus took the thing back to Ginny and was going to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley," said Harry.
"Look, you're the Head of Black and Potter; I can't force you to do anything but I really think that you need to talk to Gran about this and maybe have Professor Lupin come here and tell what happened at the Weasley's."
"All right, let's go talk to her," said Harry with a sigh.
Neville's Gran sent a note to Remus Lupin asking him to meet with her about tutoring for Neville. She also agreed to tell Harry about Wizard customs and traditions for two hours every afternoon.
Harry had met cousin Flip at dinner that night. Philip Charles was an unremarkable young man around 26 with brown hair and eyes. He was vaguely impressed with meeting Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, however Harry was not really impressed with him. He was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and agreed to join Neville's tutoring sessions.
Harry was a little hesitant to see Remus the day he came to visit Madam Longbottom. He didn't know if Dumbledore was aware that he had left the Dursley's and worried a bit that Remus would feel he had to tell.
Harry and Neville entered the lounge to find Remus already sitting with Madam Longbottom.
"Harry, what are you doing here?" asked Remus when he saw Harry.
"Mr. Lupin, Lord Black is my guest," said Madam Longbottom.
Remus' jaw dropped open and Harry grimaced.
"I hadn't actually told him, Gran," said Harry.
She looked disapprovingly, "If you had him act as your agent with the Weasley's then he should know the truth about you."
"Yes ma'am, you are right," agreed Harry taking a seat across from Remus.
"Lord Black, Sirius made you his Heir?" he glanced at Harry's hand. "Have you claimed the Potter Family as well?"
"I have," stated Harry in calm voice.
Remus turned to Madam Longbottom and said, "You didn't really want to discuss tutoring did you, Madam?"
"No, Harry told me of the gift he received from the Weasley girl and that you were going to return it to her. Given his position, and the fact that he is family I thought it best to speak with you," she said.
"Family?" questioned Remus.
"Neville is a Black, Remus, as well as my godbrother," said Harry.
Remus nodded, "Of course, I remember, Alice is your Godmother."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?" asked Harry.
Remus' brow furrowed and he said, "You never asked, I thought you knew."
Harry huffed in annoyance, "No, I didn't know; no one tells me anything, Remus. How am I supposed to know what to ask? I asked you to tell me about my mother; didn't you think telling me that her best friend was my Godmother might be part of that?"
Remus' mouth opened and closed but no sound came out.
"Harry, that is not the issue here. Mr. Lupin, can you tell us how the visit with Miss Weasley went; what possible excuse she could have to send a token to Harry?"
Remus sat down his teacup and took a deep breath.
"I went to the Burrow and met with Molly and Arthur," said Remus.
"Remus, how is Harry? Did you give him his presents? Are those awful Muggles feeding him?" asked Molly Weasley as she bustled around pouring tea for Remus and setting out a plate of brownies.
"Harry's fine, Molly. I had him go ahead and open his gifts while I was there, even though it was a day early," said Remus.
"Did he like them?" she asked.
Remus moved uncomfortably in his chair and answered, "All but one."
"Oh, don't tell me you took him something from the twins, those boys, I-" she started.
"Molly, let Remus talk," said Arthur patting her hand.
"Thanks, Arthur, actually it wasn't the twins. There was an envelope in your package," he pulled it out of his pocket. "Do you know what it was?"
"That was from Ginny, I think she made him a card," said Molly puzzled.
Remus pushed the envelope toward her. "You should have a look at it," he said softly.
Arthur picked up the envelope and opened it; he paled dramatically as he pulled out the token.
"But that can't be," protested Molly, "Ginny would never..."
"What was Harry's reaction to this?" asked Arthur in a strained voice.
"Harry didn't have any idea what it meant; when I explained he couldn't understand why she might send him something like this. He certainly is not interested in her as more than Ron's sister and a bit of a friend."
"He's rejecting her?" shouted Molly.
"Enough, Molly!" roared Arthur, "This was completely inappropriate for our underage daughter to send to any boy, let alone one of Harry Potter's status."
"Harry's never seemed concerned with status, he's a very modest boy, Arthur; a match between our Ginny and Harry could be very good for both of them," said Molly.
Arthur gave her a horrified look, "Molly, if I find out that you encouraged her in this, I-well I don't know what I might do but I won't be happy."
"Why, Arthur Weasley, you know I would never encourage such a thing, I'm not raising a scarlet woman," protested Molly.
"I think we'll call Ginny down here and get to the bottom of this," said Arthur.
"I should go, then," said Remus.
"No, Remus, actually I'd like you to stay," responded Arthur, and he got up and went into the lounge and called up the stairs for Ginny.
"I'm sorry, Molly," said Remus.
"No, Remus, Arthur is right, this was completely inappropriate. I cannot for the life of me fathom what Ginny might have been thinking. You said Harry had no idea?" said Molly.
Remus shook his head, "No idea at all, as far as that goes; I'm not sure that he knows about his family status either. I'm sure Sirius never discussed it with him. I'm beginning to think that Dumbledore hasn't discussed it either."
Molly's face paled and she whispered as if to herself, "That would explain it, wouldn't it?"
Arthur and Ginny came into the room.
"Professor Lupin, did you see Harry? Is he all right? Did he send me a letter?" asked Ginny as she sat down across from Remus.
"Ginevra," said Arthur.
Ginny looked at her father startled.
"Did you send this to Harry?" he asked holding up the token.
Ginny flushed and turned to Remus, "That's for Harry, why did you open his gift?"
"Harry opened it and asked Mr. Lupin to return it. It is a highly inappropriate gift, Ginny," said Arthur sternly.
"Harry would never send it back, he loves me," said Ginny.
All three adults were taken aback by this response.
"He's told you this?" asked her mother.
"Not yet but I know it's true, Harry is my knight in shinning armor, my hero. He saved me from Tom in the Chamber and I know it's only a matter of time until he claims me," she stated.
"What?" shouted Harry.
"Believe me, Harry, Arthur and Molly were just as shocked as you. They took Ginny to a mind healer at St Mungos. They are afraid that lingering trauma from the possession might have caused the obsession with you. They never sought additional treatment because they were assured that Ginny was fine after the incident," said Remus. "Arthur sends his apologies."
"It was Dumbledore that said she was fine, wasn't it?" demanded Harry.
"It was an accident I'm sure, Harry," said Remus, "besides it's up to the Weasley's to look for those answers."
Harry grumbled, but Gran agreed with Remus. Neville, who had just sat quietly listening to the story, resolved to keep a very close eye on Ginny Weasley and Albus Dumbledore in the coming year.