Hindsight – 1/3 – Izzy Hound

Title: Hindsight
Author: Izzy Hound
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Family, Time Travel
Relationship(s): Gen
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Canon-Level Violence and Attitudes, Swearing, Death – Minor Character, Discussion – Death Eater activity
Author Notes: Thank you PhoenixRising253 and Daisy May for helping me wrangle my story and thanks Penumbria for all the awesome art.
Betas: Daisy May and PhoenixRising253
Word Count: 75,470
Summary: Terrible things happen to wizards who mess with time, that’s what Hermione had said. Harry hadn’t done anything but here they were, the perfectly normal, albeit accidently time travelling, family of number four Privet Drive. Now all Harry needed was a plan…
Artist: penumbria



 

Chapter One

“You can get out of this house boy!”

“What?” Harry gasped.

“You heard me – OUT!” Uncle Vernon bellowed.

Harry glanced around the sitting room uncertain if this was really happening. Aunt Petunia was as ever ignoring her husband’s behaviour towards him, focusing instead on her son, Dudley, who moaned pitifully on the sofa in her arms disturbed from his post dementor fugue by his father’s shouting.

“OUT! OUT! I should have done this years ago!” his uncle raged at Harry while flinging his arm towards the door to reinforce his point.

Harry stood still by the sofa, startled by the outburst staring at the door he was being ordered out off. Didn’t his uncle understand? Voldemort was back and there were dementors in Little Whinging. He needed to stay here for the wards. For all of their safety.

As he stared at the door part of him wanted to ask why hadn’t he been thrown out earlier? The third-year incident with Marge didn’t count, he’d left on his own then. Why did he let himself return year after year? It wasn’t like he got a warm welcome on his return, but the door was still grudgingly opened for him.

Why did Vernon tolerate it? There was no doubt in Harry’s mind that it was Vernon who made the decisions about Harry. About the whole family really, he had the money and in his mind the power. Petunia went along with things, Dudley too. Sometimes he thought he saw glimmers of dissatisfaction in their eyes about Vernon’s decisions, but they never acted. But then neither did Harry.

Vernon didn’t seem to care about the lack of response from Harry, he was still ranting about the magical inconveniences Harry had brought into his life. Big ones, little ones and entirely imagined ones. Inconveniences, which he wouldn’t have suffered if he had treated Harry like a normal person rather than part slave, part unexploded ordnance. Harry’s magic stirred in anger.

Ever since he had witnessed the death of Cedric, the subsequent resurrection of Voldemort and then been dismissed out of hand then exiled to the Dursleys, Harry’s temper had been on a knife-edge. His magic sensing his mood hung under his skin like a barely contained beast.

There was a bang on the window. They all jumped; Harry’s magic swirled to the surface coating his hand in dancing sparks. Dudley let out a squeak and sunk further into the sofa, his eyes watching the flickering magic. An owl battered the glass a letter in its beak.

“Ruddy beast! I’ll wring its neck,” raged Vernon as he charged to the window and flung it open. Evading Vernon’s hands, the bird swooped in and dropped the letter at Petunia’s feet before escaping the room via the chimney.

Harry scrunched the letters from Sirius and Mr Weasley in his hand as he stared at the howler on the floor. Maybe Molly felt the need to join in and scold him for something he had to do. Would they rather he was dead? Or soulless? But did they even care about him? They didn’t seem to think much of him if their letters were anything to go by.

Didn’t they understand that there were dementors in suburban Surrey? Dementors that were going to kiss him and his cousin. He didn’t use magic just because he felt like it. Did they really think that he was the spoiled brat Snape always accused him of being?

Harry dropped the other letters on the floor, he didn’t particularly want to hang on to them, they were hardly a comfort. But what in the magical world was? He figured he should pick the howler up before it got worse, get it over with, at least it would destroy itself when it was done. Instead he stared at it along with his aunt and cousin.

Vernon was still shouting. Venting his spleen, determined to get his say in before Harry was thrown aside and unable to appreciate it. The window was still open, the neighbours would hear. What would they think? Harry mused.

He didn’t particularly care; he was already in trouble with the Ministry, his uncle breaking the statute of secrecy wasn’t going to make his situation any worse, they were coming to break his wand. He was soon to be a fugitive from the law. It wasn’t as if he was going to let them take his wand, so why not add more charges to his name.

Petunia nudged the envelope away from her and Dudley with her foot. The letter started to smoke.

For a moment Harry remembered four years ago when he got his first Hogwarts letter how Vernon had joked about him checking for letter bombs. Well, they had a letter bomb now: a magical one.

Vernon had wanted to get rid of him back then too, although Harry doubted Vernon had ever wanted him, but today was likely the straw that was going to break the camel’s back. Short of some very thorough magical intervention, Harry wouldn’t be allowed back across the threshold.

Harry sighed, it was all very well everybody writing to him and telling him to stay home, but this wasn’t home. It wasn’t a sanctuary and was apparently even less safe than he imagined. There were dementors out there, and enraged relatives in here. The wards hadn’t kept him safe, especially not in the grave yard.

While his mind ran from bitter questions to angry denials, he stayed still and so did his relatives. They were frozen in a tableau, staring at the red envelope happily releasing tendrils of smoke.

Petunia was going to have to get the place fumigated, she couldn’t stand the smell of smoke, Harry though apathetically when the smell of singed paper reached him. At least he wasn’t going to be there to do all the heavy lifting.

“What’s it doing?” Petunia snapped, the smoke obviously getting to her. Dudley had asked his mum why once, when she refused to light the birthday candles inside, to be told it reminded her too much of the industrial town she grew up in. Harry had wondered if it was the town or the memories of the people, she’d left behind that upset her more.

“It’s a howler,” Harry said in answer to his Aunts question. “A shouting letter, they smoke when left too long unanswered.”

“How do you stop it?” she asked giving the letter a suspicious glare.

“You don’t.”

Still, they stared nobody moving to end their anticipation. The carriage clock on the mantle chimed and Dudley stirred slightly, sitting up and moving towards the howler, the most life he had shown since his encounter with the dementor.

“It tingles. Do you feel it tingle?” Dudley asked the room. Petunia grabbed him and pulled him away from the letter sinking once again back into the sofa.

“What’s it doing? What’s it doing to my son? Answer me, boy!” Vernon roared once more finding the energy to become animated. But Harry didn’t care. He wasn’t sure where the apathy was coming from, it may have been a side effect of the dementor attack. Their magic and the adrenaline crash afterwards wiping him out. Maybe. It could be he was fed up with the magical world.

“What’s it doing to my son!” Vernon shouted again getting into his space.

“Making him tingly,” Harry responded and continued to watch the letter. It was almost smouldering; it was going to singe the carpet.

“Don’t get smart with me boy,” his uncle thundered.

“Why would I? It would be lonely being the only one in the house who’s smart,” Harry responded. If the howler kept up, he would be able to use it to send smoke signals asking for help, unless the neighbours called the fire brigade. Harry looked out the window it was all-quiet outside. The neighbours were all out of sight. What a shame, they were missing such a wonderful show.

“Don’t you feel the tingles, Mum. You can feel them, can’t you?” Dudley pleaded over his father’s tirade.

“No Duddy mummy can’t.”

“They’re in me like I’m a can of pop which has been knocked about, all fizzy and wanting to get out.” Dudley said looking as shaken as he described feeling.

“What’s wrong with him? Please, what is that thing doing to my son?” Petunia screeched at Harry.

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know, boy?”

“I mean, Uncle, that I don’t know.” Harry snapped back getting fed up with his Uncle, his magic which had retreated with his apathy stirred back into defensive readiness.

“What’s the point of sending you to that freak school if you can’t even tell us what your nonsense does to normal people.”

“I don’t know Uncle. What was the point of sending you to school when you remain so ignorant?” Harry retorted. “I am fourteen. I had no idea magic existed until I turned eleven. Because of you. And then, when I go to school, I’m too busy dealing with the corruption and incompetence of the magical world to do more than just pass my exams. Then, when I come here, I’m forced to do all your chores and ignore magic, again because of you. So, tell me, Uncle, when was I supposed to learn?”

“Don’t you talk to me like that boy, it’s your world,” Vernon shouted back raising a fist threateningly.

“And yet Aunt Petunia knows what dementors are. Why don’t you ask her?” He’d said something similar to Snape once, about Hermione knowing the answer, in his first potions class. It had remarkably gone down better then. Vernon spluttered his fist falling to his side as he tried to figure out how to get the upper hand. Petunia flushed letting out an indignant shriek.

“I’m normal.” Petunia gasped. “I don’t know about your freakishness. Only that the wretched boy who followed Lily around mentioned them, trying to scare me. He went bad, didn’t he? Lily said he joined the mad man. He’s probably enjoying the company of those monsters,” she sniffed regaining her composure while showing her disdain of the unnamed boy.

“May I point out Aunt that we are also enjoying the company of those monsters.”

“They’re back?” she screeched springing of the sofa and throwing herself in front of Dudley while frantically looking out of the window.

The night had cooled significantly considering the heat of the day. Although Harry couldn’t say if it was aided by supernatural means but there was no feeling of crawling dread. Long shadows moved on the abandoned street, were there dementors out there still? Had he only taken out the advance party? He checked his wand was still in his pocket, ready to draw it if he saw a threat.

“Boy.”

“What now Uncle?” Harry muttered not ready to drop his vigilance to humour his uncles need for attention.

“Are those demantoids back?”

“I don’t know.” Harry didn’t bother correcting his Uncle’s pronunciation. The man didn’t care and probably would refuse to say it properly if Harry tried to correct him.

“You don’t know anything. What’s the point of keeping you? You bring nothing but trouble for my family. GET OUT!” Vernon shouted no doubt happy to be back on track.

There was a sharp pop. Dudley shrieked again from the sofa. The ignored howler had caught fire.

“Put it out. Take it with you,” his Uncle ordered not willing to be derailed from his eviction stance even in the face of magical fire.

Harry walked over to where the letter was contentedly burning away and picked it up, the carpet was burnt. He turned the letter over and prepared to break the seal and unleash Molly’s anger. He stopped that wasn’t Molly’s writing.

“Well go on then boy,” his Uncle ever impatient demanded.

“I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t. Don’t you know how to open a ruddy letter?”

“I only received my first one at eleven,” Harry snarked back. “But I can’t open it as it isn’t for me.”

“Who else would it be for, Dudley?” Vernon laughed.

“No, but considering his tingles, good guess. It’s for you Aunt.” Harry tried to pass it to her. She darted out of his way putting the arm chair between them her hands in the air. Rather than hold onto the burning envelope Harry put it in the fire grate, no need to ruin more of the carpet.

“I don’t want it. Take it away. I don’t want any freakishness.”

“You heard her boy, take it away.”

“Didn’t you hear me, Uncle. I can’t. Only Aunt Petunia can open it and if she doesn’t it will explode soon enough.”

“Well take it away and explode it elsewhere,” Vernon demanded.

“Too late. She touched it. It’s bound to her.”

“She doesn’t have magic. It can’t do that.”

“No, she doesn’t, but it doesn’t work like that Uncle,” Harry wasn’t going to explain, Vernon would deny the fact that all souls held a bit of magic to his dying breath. But it didn’t make it less true, and it didn’t mean that Muggles couldn’t be bound to magical contracts and pacts.

“The neighbours will hear,” Petunia whispered.

“They haven’t heard anything else.” Harry pointed out. They all looked out at the street. It was still quiet, and the shadows were growing longer and colder. The fire in the grate was roaring in comparison.

“Mum, open it.” Dudley groaned from where he sat his head held in his hands, drawing the attention back to within the walls of number four Privet Drive.

“I can’t,” she whispered looking scared.

“Yes, you can. Harry said you can.”

“But it’s magic, I can’t.”

“Please Mum, the tingles in my head are too much, I feel like I’m going to burst.” They all gave Dudley concerned looks. Petunia in motherly concern rushed over to her son and put the back of her hand to his forehead.

“You don’t have a temperature, Duddy. But you do feel clammy.” She smoothed her hand through his hair. “Why don’t you eat some more choccy it helped earlier didn’t it?”

“Yeah, it did.” Dudley ate a bit of chocolate and gave his mum a considering look. “Stop putting it off, Mum.” Harry was startled, Dudley seemed different in that moment, more mature and far wearier than Harry had ever seen him.

On unsteady feet, Petunia walked to the fire and bent to pick up the letter but flinched back before touching it.

“Pick it up for her boy,” Vernon ordered from the other side of the room. The Dursleys shuddered as he put his hand into the fire.

“It’s okay, it doesn’t hurt,” he said as he offered her the letter. Gingerly she took it from him holding it far as she could from her body and family.

“It’s not doing anything,” she whispered as if afraid her voice would activate it.

“You need to break the seal.”

With a shaking hand, she broke the wax seal. Giving a shriek she flung the letter away from her. The letter didn’t fall far but hovered in the air twisting into the form of a mouth.

“REMEMBER MY LAST, PETUNIA!”

The voice was unrecognisable distorted by the volume and magic imbued in the parchment. But it rang with unmistakable anger and authority. Vernon stood gaping as the howler burnt into ash which was falling onto the carpet. Dudley had his head in his hands again, Petunia looked like she was about to faint.

“Who was it from?” Harry asked. Just like the first time he had questioned the sender of a magical letter, he didn’t get a response. Petunia sank to the floor, Vernon stood gaping and Dudley groaned. The silence built. It built and built and then collapsed in on itself, but still, nothing was said.

“Who was it from?” Harry eventually asked again.

“You don’t know?” Vernon questioned him.

“No, that’s why I asked,” Harry muttered angrily, nobody ever told him anything.

“I thought you freaks all knew each other,” Vernon frowned. “Pet who was it from?” he demanded looking confused. But Petunia said nothing.

“What’s it done to her boy, what has that ruddy letter done to my wife?” Vernon shouted, confusion giving way to his natural state of anger.

“She’s in shock, maybe she should have some of Dudley’s chocolates,” Harry suggested. Vernon did nothing to help his wife, so Harry went over to her with the bowl, mechanically she ate a few of them.

“Who was it from?” Vernon impatiently asked again.

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Pet.”

“Don’t, Pet me, Vernon. It doesn’t matter who sent it. The boy’s staying.” Harry blinked in shock his aunt never stood up for him.

“But Pet he’s a risk to us.”

“He stays, Vernon. It’s safer this way for us all, the wards.” The three of them looked out the windows, Dudley still had his head down. The shadows had faded into the darkness of the night, things may have stirred but no light illuminated their movement. For a moment Harry thought he saw a ripple of golden light at the edge of the lawn, but the streetlight had been flickering in its death throes for weeks; Vernon had complained to the council, twice.

“He stays,” she repeated.

“Pet, if it was a threat, we’ll tell the police,” Vernon tried.

“Tell the police what Vernon? They wouldn’t believe us and then the magic police will take our memories. The horrid boy told me about that too.” Vernon threw his hands up to clutch his head as if he could keep his memories in by hand.

“Mum!”

“Oh, Duddy. Mummy won’t let them take your memories,” she promised getting shakily to her feet.

“Mum!” Dudley exclaimed again raising his head slightly.

“What is it, Darling? Is it the tingles have they gone?”

“Mummy,” Dudley wailed. Petunia rushed to her sons’ side.

“What is it?” She demanded frantically patting him down.

“They’ve escaped, the tingles have escaped.”

“That’s good darling isn’t it,” she looked at Harry and Vernon as she said this.

“Indeed, it is son, good news. Only good news we’ve had tonight.”

“Mummy look at them.”

“The tingles?”

“Yes Mummy, they’re on my hands.” Looking down Harry saw tiny wisps of magic were dancing over Dudley’s hands which he was desperately waving at his mother. Harry realised that things had just irreversibly changed for him and the Dursleys.

“Duddy!” Petunia looked as horrified as she sounded.

“Mummy! Where are they coming from?”

“I don’t know. Boy, what are they?” Petunia demanded.

“Magic,” Harry whispered, by the look on Dudley and Petunia face they knew it as well.

“I know that but where are they coming from? Why are they on my son?” As she said this Petunia tried to swat the magic off Dudley with a cushion.

Harry wandered over towards Dudley who promptly stuck his hands out towards him. Reaching out Harry carefully touched one of the sparks. It fizzled under his finger, foreign magic jolting through Harry. His magic surged up ready to fight, it was deeply wary of intruding magic after the violation of the resurrection ritual.

“It’s gone. What are you waiting for, take the rest of it boy?” His aunt ordered him.

“It’s not gone. It’s still there. I can’t take it.”

“Why not? Its magic isn’t it?”

“It is but it’s not my magic.”

“Not your magic? But where did it come from?” she demanded the fear in her eyes unable to hide the truth she was attempting to deny.

“Dudley.”

“I know that.” She was being obtuse not wanting to admit it. Forcing her hated nephew to voice her worst fear.

“It’s Dudley’s magic.”

“Don’t be stupid. My son is normal,” Vernon roared finally catching up with the rest of them. Harry pulled back to stand against the wall in case Vernon attacked him in his rage.

“It’s Dudley’s magic,” Harry repeated.

“How did he get it? We can get rid of it can’t we?” Petunia demanded her hands falling away from her son. “He hasn’t had it long it can be taken away.” She got off the sofa avoiding her sons’ imploring hands.

“Well go on then,” She waved him towards Dudley. Harry didn’t move and instead mutely shook his head. “Why not? We don’t want it. You can have it. You can be stronger. Use it to kill the mad man and then be gone from our house and lives.”

There was a flicker of gold outside again, stronger than before. It wasn’t the street light but magic, the wards, Harry supposed reacting to the magic in the room and the threat of Harry leaving. They were only there as long as Petunia let him in her house, and he called it home that’s what Harry had been told.

But Vernon owned the house and he was trying to evict him, and the magic had reacted if the first flicker was anything to go by, he must be some way bound to them too. Petunia had implied she wanted him gone sooner rather than later and they reacted stronger. Harry had in his thoughts rejected Privet Drive as home, had the wards noticed that as well? Were they weakening?

“Take it please Harry. Please,” Dudley begged breaking Harry away from his worry about the wards.

“It doesn’t work that like,” Harry apologised, Dudley looked broken and Harry found he wasn’t enjoying seeing his cousins fall from grace like he once imagined he would. He looked away.

“Of course, it does. He got that magic didn’t he,” Petunia sneered around the words as if they left a bad taste in her mouth. “So, you can take it. Put my son to rights,” Dudley flinched.

“I don’t know how he got it. He may have always had it,” Harry felt the need to point out.

“NO SON OF MINE IS A FREAK,” bellowed Vernon. “The Demantoid gave it to him or that ruddy letter. NOW TAKE IT BACK AND GET OUT.” Gold light lit up the room, sparks danced manically around Dudley’s hands.

“Vernon. He stays,” Petunia countered. The light faded; the sparks stayed.

“He goes, look at what he’s doing to our son.” The gold light was back, but white light glowed through what looked like tears in the fabric of the magic. Vernon could affect the wards, was it because they were tied to the deeds in his name, or did Vernon have more magic in him than they knew about. It could explain Dudley’s magic.

Harry shook his head and closed his eyes trying to block out the swirling lights, how didn’t matter right now, the problem was the wards were in flux. Why had he taken the easy option of divination? He drew his wand but didn’t know what to do with it. They were possibly failing, and he didn’t know how to save them.

He needed to know more about runes that’s how you shored up wards because these ones didn’t look safe. Bill had described the effect of collapsing ward matrixes last summer to an interested Hermione and an eavesdropping Harry. The current situation was just like Bill had described a complex ward cascade, which wasn’t good news.

From what he could recall they needed to settle and they should repair in time. Which would mean Harry had to stay longer than normal at Privet Drive. He wasn’t looking forward to it but the wards and he had made it through thirteen years, he wasn’t going to let those years be for nothing, Harry was going to have the small amount of security the magical world had granted him. It also wasn’t like he was getting offers of other accommodation.

“You need to calm down, we need to calm down, the wards are unsettled,” Harry tried to explain all while knowing he really didn’t know enough to deal with the situation and didn’t that sum up all his experiences with magic.

“I DON’T CARE! MAKE IT STOP, MAKE ALL THE MAGIC GO AWAY AND TAKE YOURSELF OFF TOO,” exploded Vernon. The gold light grew brighter and the white tear widened till they could see rainbows in them like they were in a room of prisms, but sharper somehow like they were all made from pieces of broken glass.

“Stop Vernon you’re making it worse,” pleaded Petunia. “We’ll keep him, we’ll keep them both,” she begged the wards.

“Mummy!” Dudley shouted shocked at this reversal in affection. “Mummy. No, I’m your Duddykins.” He got up and walked towards her, magic infused hands outstretched. She flinched away. Dudley stumbled; he’d never been rejected by his parents before.

“Take it Harry, I… Please,” he begged as Harry shook his head.

“It’s beyond my power. Maybe Dumbledore can do it.”

“That man. It’s his fault. It’s all his fault he gave you to us, but did we want you? No. And now his letter has given my Duddy magic. He takes everything,” Petunia seethed. The fractures in the ward matrix split wider almost obscuring the gold at her perceived rejection.

“The wards,” Harry gasped out trying to get his point across to his enraged and scared relatives. “The light is the wards. You need to be careful. Don’t say anything else,” he pleaded. The feeling of magic in the air was becoming oppressive. It was everywhere spinning out of control, bouncing off Harry’s own magic, which was already so close to the surface. His wand slipped from his hand. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth trying to get his own magic back under control. The last thing they needed was more out of control magic.

“Don’t tell me what to do and fix it,” Vernon wheezed out, as if he too was struggling to breath. The magical weight of the collapsing wards would be on everybody they were bound too. Dudley and Petunia didn’t seem to be doing much better. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to say anything else damaging either.

“The Ministry has sensors; they will have detected all the magic use. Help is coming soon.” Harry managed to gasp out. He was so going to be expelled but at least he would be able to breathe. Dudley had fallen to his knees from the weight of magic that was building in the room, Harry sank down onto his too.

“I don’t want more bloody magicians. I’m trying to get rid of you all,” Vernon managed to hiss out defiantly, Dudley, let out a desperate sob.

“I want it gone. I want it all to go back to before we found out about magic,” wished Dudley.

The magic twisting on Dudley’s hands froze and then rushed together forming a glowing ball. It swelled larger and brighter fuelled by the raw magic in the room and Dudley’s desperation. Accidental Magic. Each of the twisting vortexes pulled the growing ball of accidental magic towards them spreading it out like a net around them. It was, Harry thought, both beautiful and utterly terrifying.

There was a blinding flash. Harry fell forward onto the carpet unable to see or breath. His magic sensing his panic and fear, reacted trying to find a threat, surged from him. Everything grew bright. White.


Chapter Two

Harry woke up groggily and blinked. His eyes still struggling to adjust after the second blinding flash. He looked around the room and blinked again trying to take in what he’d just seen. He closed his eyes it didn’t feel like he had a concussion, so his vision shouldn’t be playing tricks on him. He opened his eyes again and looked around, nothing changed and yet everything had.

He took off his glasses to clean them sure that they must somehow be distorting his vision. He rubbed the lenses with the edge of his T-shirt until it snagged. They didn’t normally do that, maybe they had broken in his fall. Running his fingers over the bridge of them Harry felt Sellotape holding them together. Blurrily he looked down at them.

They were his glasses. The original glasses that Aunt Petunia had got him which had served him all through primary school. His glasses, which Hermione had fixed on their first train ride to school. Glasses he’d replaced in the summer before his third year. He put them on again. The room remained unchanged.

It was Privet Drive as Privet Drive had been until last summer and the unexpected floo disaster caused by the Weasleys. The Dursleys had remodelled after that, but all their work appeared to be undone by whatever magical outburst had occurred. He looked around for more signs of change.

Lying on the floor were his relatives, but not as he remembered them from before the wards collapsed. Dudley lay on the floor where he had fallen but he was smaller, younger, his hair was blonder.

Vernon and Petunia lay where they must have fallen. The change in them was less noticeable but they were younger as well, Petunia had a different haircut and Vernon just had more hair. What’s more, all their clothes were different. Harry checked his own and realised he was wearing a top which had been consigned to the rag heap after getting too damaged to wear over a year before.

‘I want it all to go back before we found about magic,’ Dudley’s plea played out in Harry’s mind. Well, it certainly looked like he got his wish.

With a groan Harry closed his eyes and pressed his face into the carpet, it prickled and certainly smelt like Privet Drive. Why did these things always happen to him? He would just lay here and pretend to be unconscious; his relatives wouldn’t react well if they woke up and saw him awake. He would be blamed regardless but they would be less angry, possibly. They might not remember.

That was a good point. Although obviously Petunia and Vernon would still know about magic, they hadn’t gone back far enough for either of them to not be introduced to magic. Aunt Petunia learnt about it in her early teens, but she was definitely an adult. Younger than before but still old enough to have an eleven-year-old son.

As far as Harry could tell they had time travelled, which should be impossible from what Hermione had said in their third year. No time turners had been present in the Dursley house, ever. At least as far as he knew, Aunt Petunia wouldn’t tolerate it and they were rare as hen’s teeth and all in official hands so it’s not like one would accidentally turn up.

But if they had done the impossible through a combination of accidental magic, collapsing ward matrix and a third out of control magic user then it could be possible. Three was after all a powerful magic number. But it didn’t help him figure out if everybody else had come back too.

But they hadn’t come back, not like they had with the time turner. There wasn’t a copy of Harry and the Dursleys running around out of sight. Or at least he hoped there wasn’t. Instead, it seemed like his mind, the little voice in his head, which was Harry, and his memories had come back and been squished into a younger version of himself.

He touched his arm, where he had been stabbed by the Basilisk fang. There was no scar. So, this was his earlier body and one that predated his second year. It didn’t look like even the magical scar could withstand time travel. He touched his forehead, that scar was still there. He frowned in disappointment.

He froze fingers falling limply from his head. Voldemort didn’t have his blood! Voldemort didn’t have a body, Cedric was still alive, Sirius was in prison and Pettigrew was Ron’s rat. He would have to deal with that. He could ask Ron… he couldn’t ask Ron.

He and Ron weren’t friends, they hadn’t even met. It was incredibly unlikely that everybody from 1995 had come back too. It was a miracle he was here. And if everybody had come back, they would be no better off than before. What could he do? What should he do?

You shouldn’t change things that’s what they were told… but he’d already broken that rule before, or at least the old before. Merlin, he hadn’t realised how complicated time travel could be. So much that happened, so much that could be stopped or improved upon. Harry’s mind ran trying to chase possibilities and the consequences of them.

Dudley shifted. Harry watched his cousin open his eyes and immediately look at his hands. There were no magical sparks. Dudley sighed and then rubbed his hands over his face and froze. He had obviously noticed the difference in his body like Harry had.

From where he lay Harry watched Dudley sit up and glance around the room looking more and more panicked until he caught his reflection in the television.

“No. No, no,’ Dudley panted out. “No, it’s just a dream. A bad dream.” He glanced about and spotted Harry watching him.

“Harry, tell me it’s a dream. That I didn’t do this. Oh, God have I killed Mum and Dad?”

“Dudley…” Harry trailed off feeling more conflicted about his cousin than he ever had in any timeline.

“Did I do this? Did I kill them?” Dudley asked eyes wide and hands shaking.

“They’re not dead, look they’re breathing,” Harry tried to comfort him, unsure of how to go about it, in many ways they were strangers to each other Harry realised. Recently they only saw each other on and off for a month or two each year, but then they hadn’t had much to do with each other before that. They sat and watched the adults for a moment.

“But I did this didn’t I? Made things change, made us different,” Dudley reiterated.

“I don’t think that it was just you. More like a series of unfortunate events.”

“Magic events?”

“Yeah, magic events. You can blame that on me,” Harry said with a wry smile, he was always blamed for magic here and at Hogwarts.

“But I have magic too,” Dudley said.

“I dunno, Dud.”

“I do. I made it happen it was on my hands.”

“It’s not there now,” Harry pointed out.

“Yeah but that doesn’t mean anything. Does it?”

Harry tilted his head in question at his cousin. “What makes you say that?”

“Before that letter arrived, the burning one, you had magic on your hands too. I saw it. But then it went away, but you’ve always had magic. So just because we can’t see any now doesn’t mean it isn’t in me.” Harry was shocked he didn’t think Dudley was capable of sustained logic like that. He had obviously misjudged his cousin, but then he had just realised how little they knew of each other.

Maybe he should build a relationship with his cousin, if he had magic, he’d be at Hogwarts and Harry wasn’t sure he could deal with hostility from his cousin while there. Even if the hostility was less in recent years and half-hearted at best brought about by Vernon’s urging. Could he do it could he let Dudley close, not as a friend but not another Malfoy either? Was Dudley as terrible as he was possibly pretending to be, and could Harry forgive him?

“Can you make it come to the surface?” Dudley asked twisting is hands through the arm inspecting them and glancing at Harry’s.

“Not really. Mostly it happens when I’m angry or scared. You know strong emotion stuff,” Harry offered testing the waters before he committed himself to friendship with his cousin. Was it even a friendship if it was built out of a selfish desire to protect himself?

“This hasn’t scared you. I’m terrified,” Dudley admitted. Harry had never heard Dudley admit a weakness before either. He had obviously grown up a lot in the last year, maybe boarding school away from his parents was good for him.

“I’m scared too. Really scared this isn’t meant to be possible.”

“Shit.”

“Bout sums it up.”

“But no magic on your hands,” Dudley persisted.

“I’m too wiped out. Whatever happened took a lot of energy from me.”

“What does it feel like?”

“Like I’m empty inside and all my edges are raw and wrung out. A deep, deep ache inside,” Harry tried to explain the feeling of not having enough magic.

“Fuck. Oh, fuck I know what you mean. Like being an empty crumpled water bottle. I have magic, oh fuck.”

“Dudley it’s really disturbing watching you swear you’ve got to be about ten.”

“Oh Fuck.”

“Not helping.”

“Yeah neither are you, Harry. Mum and Dad are going to hate me. I’m sorry for all the shit I put you through but hey, at least I’ll go through it with you this time,” Dudley hysterically rambled.

“They might not. I mean they might remember and be able to deal with it or just flat out not remember.” Harry said rather than focus on an apology that Harry never thought he’d get.

“Don’t think it will help Harry. Probably just scare them more if they do remember,” Dudley was probably right. Time travel scared him, and he liked magic most of the time.

“They aren’t going to treat you too bad. What would the neighbours think?” Harry tried to comfort his cousin without giving him false promises. Petunia and Vernon were going to be horrified.

“Yeah reputation, good point. They can claim we’re both going to an elite boarding school or something. Yeah… If they wake up,” Dudley was starting to sound panicked again.

“They’ll wake up. I think because we have magic, we woke up first.”

“Because magic sent us back,” Dudley checked. “We time travelled, didn’t we?”

“Yeah, I think we did.”

“And that happens a lot in the magic world?” Dudley asked.

“No,” Harry admitted. “It doesn’t happen a lot and when it does it’s not very far, a few hours at most and you don’t change anything.”

“Fuck.”

“Yep,” Harry nodded.

“Dad, if he remembers, won’t agree to not changing things,” Dudley pointed out.

“Things have already changed; you have active magic. You didn’t last time.”

“How did it come active? Can we turn it off?”

“No. Getting rid of it would probably kill you or at least destroy your health to the point you’re bed-bound.”

“Not going to do that,” Dudley hesitated. “Don’t tell mum and dad its possible. Just in case they think it’s worth the risk.”

“They wouldn’t risk it.”

“You don’t know that; they may try throwing me at dementor things or something to undo it.”

“That wouldn’t help, your magic probably came out because of the threat. Magical creatures are a huge cause of accidental magic, it’s part of why they are so regulated.”

“Are a lot of things regulated?”

“Yeah kind of like in the normal world with laws and passports and things.” Harry tried to explain but realised he didn’t really know a lot about the laws of either world.

“And time travel is regulated?” Dudley asked focused on their current problem.

“Yeah, heavily.”

“What happens to people who change time?” It was a good question. One Harry wished he had an answer for, Hermione’s answer of bad things, was a bit too vague and rather threatening considering their situation.

“I don’t think anything applies to our situation,” Harry said instead.

Before Harry could be pressed into explaining more on time travel there was movement from the other two people in the room.

Vernon groaned and rolled over not quite waking up, Aunt Petunia, however, sat straight up eyes wide. Like the two boys before her, she took in their surroundings.

“No,” She muttered before passing out again.

“What should we do?” Dudley asked him.

“Not sure,” Harry shrugged, he didn’t think she would appreciate him helping her. Before Harry felt ready Petunia woke up again although this time she didn’t sit back up.

“Boys?”

“Yes, Aunt.”

“Mum,” Dudley and he responded at the same time.

“Boys,” Petunia repeated. “If I open my eyes it’s going to look like it did before, isn’t it? Before we redecorated.”

They sat in silence Dudley looked near tears.

“Yes,” Harry finally answered on both their behalves.

“What did you do?” she whispered.

“It was an accident Mum. I promise.”

Petunia opened her eyes and looked at her son. “Oh, Duddy.” Nothing more was said, and she didn’t try to move to her son’s side. The lack of action from his Aunt spoke volumes. She was not happy with her son having magic.

“Mummy,” Dudley tried again to get a positive response from her.

“Shush now Dudley. Shush now Mummy needs a moment,” Harry looked away. He’d wanted to be treated equally to Dudley for years. But now Dudley was being treated awfully like Harry and it was terribly, horribly wrong.

“We’re in the past, aren’t we?” Petunia finally asked.

“Yes,” Harry replied there was no denying it.

“How far back?”

“Before Hogwarts, I think. Do you remember much?” Harry hesitantly asked.

“No, I don’t remember much about that nasty freakishness. Horrid stuff always stealing my life and family,” she snapped as she sat up. Dudley winced.

“Is it just us who have returned?” she asked ignoring her son’s crestfallen look.

“I think so. I mean, I guess Uncle Vernon as well. If anybody else came back I imagine they would have turned up by now,” Harry said and glanced out the window, where nothing was moving.

“That won’t go well,” Petunia looked at her husband as she said that. “He’s never liked magic happening around him and now it’s happened to him.”

“How bad do you think it will be?” Dudley whispered.

“Oh, Duddy. My poor boy,’ She didn’t answer his question though Harry noticed.

“Maybe we can make him see the advantages of it,” Harry tried.

“What advantages are there boy?”

“Well…” Harry tried to think of a benefit for his Uncle, he could and had thought of several for himself.

“The stock market,” blurted out Dudley. “And the games and races we know who won. I doubt us being back in time will change things like that. They’re nothing to do with us.”

“He could invest and place a few bets and make a fortune,” Harry expanded.

“I understood Dudley well enough,” she snapped at him. “It might work. You’ll be away as well, out of sight that will help,” Dudley wilted under his mother’s dismissal.

“We’re going to Hogwarts then?” Harry asked.

“Yes. I suppose you must. Vernon may try and fight it. But look at what happens when you don’t learn control. Who knows where we could end up next time?” she said rather shrilly.

“I’m going too?” Dudley clarified.

“Yes,” She snapped. “Oh, Duddy don’t look sad. It’s the best school even with that man in charge isn’t it?” she asked Harry.

“Yeah, Hogwarts is the best. It’s in a castle,” he tried to inspire Dudley who was looking like he had lost everything.

“Will dad let me?”

“He won’t have a say in the matter. There aren’t any other schools not under Dumbledore are there?”

“No Aunt. Not in Britain.”

“Well, you will go to Hogwarts then your father won’t stand for a foreign freak school. If you’re going to have magic, you will at least get the best education you can. We’ll tell the neighbours that it’s an exclusive boarding school for the gifted. Yes, that will work.” Uncle Vernon chose this moment to regain consciousness.

“What the ruddy hell happened?” he demanded, not even taking in the room.

“Magic, Vernon.”

“I noticed that Pet. Where are we?” he looked around. “This isn’t our house.”

“It is before we redecorated you remember,” Petunia fluttered her hands around him as she said this trying to help him but he just knocked her hands away shaking his head.

“Before. Before those bloody ginger freaks blew up the chimney when breaking and entering?”

“Yes, dear.”

“What have you done boy?” Vernon demanding rounding on Harry. “What have you and those other freaks done to me, my house and my family?”

“It was an accident, a freak time travelling accident,” Harry answered and winced slightly at his choice of words.

“Bullshit. It’s a plot I tell you, trying to drive me from the house. A scam I tell you. Ha, freaks the word for it,” he raved wildly swinging his arms. “Well boy, you can tell those other freaks I’m not falling for it. Oh, no Vernon Dursley is made of stronger stuff than them.” Ignoring the rest of the family he got to his feet and lumbered out the room.

“Well,” Petunia said. “Well, that didn’t go as badly as it could have.”

It hadn’t gone well. Vernon was deep in denial about what happened, but the wards hadn’t collapsed again. Petunia got to her feet as well.

“To bed boys. There’s nothing more to be done tonight. It would appear that the government types you promised aren’t turning up. For the best really don’t want any of those sorts of people around here,” giving a sniff she swept from the room too.

“Do you think they’ll turn up,” Dudley asked.

“They’d be here by now if they were. Obviously, whatever happened didn’t register on their magic sensors.”

“Probably for the best,” Dudley said. Harry gave him a confused look.

“Well, you see it on T.V shows all the time something strange happens then the government turns up and the people involved disappear into a lab never to be seen again.”

“I haven’t seen much T.V,” Harry pointed out. “But that’s a good point. We shouldn’t tell anyone.”

“Doubt I’ll see much T.V anymore. At least I got to see all the episodes of my favourite shows before this happened eh,” Dudley tried to put some humour in his voice. “You have a government that disappears people as well as takes memories then?”

“Yeah. The Ministry of Magic has the Department of Mysteries.”

“Sounds sinister.”

“Merlin doesn’t it just.”

“Suppose I’ll have to get used to that too.”

“Use to what?” Harry asked feeling a bit stupid.

“Saying Merlin all the time.”

“Yeah, I suppose you will, it happens easily though. I never said it before going to Hogwarts either.”

“God, a brave new world and all that. I can’t deal with any more of this right now; I’m heading to bed. Maybe it won’t be so awful in the morning.” Dudley stood up and headed out of the room, leaving Harry alone on the floor.

Harry pinched himself. It hurt. Merlin, he was really back in the past. It wasn’t a strange dream. He had time travelled, with the Dursley’s. It really wasn’t a great family bonding activity, even if he’d managed a decent conversation with Dudley, maybe they should do sky diving next time. Snorting to himself Harry decided to get off the floor.

The kitchen always had a calendar so Petunia could record all her social events and look busy to visitors. He hopefully would be able to find out when they were. The summer of 1991 was a bit of a broad time period and Harry needed more details so he could cobble together some kind of plan.

The calendar was where he hoped. The days already passed, which now was technically all of them, were crossed off. The last day struck through on the calendar was the 20th of June. So, their new or rather old today, Merlin was it confusing, was the 21st.

Dudley’s birthday was in two days. They were going to the zoo. Or at least they had been, that was looking a bit more doubtful now. Vernon wasn’t going to be able to maintain his denial forever.

He glanced at the digital clock on the cooker it was late, but they were back before they had known about magic. Which meant Harry didn’t have a bed to go to. He had been in the cupboard until he got his first letter in July.

Walking out the kitchen Harry stood facing his cupboard. Even after moving out of it he still thought of it as his. But now that he was expected to go back into it, he baulked. He couldn’t let things go back to how they were. Although factoring Dudley into the mix that was unlikely.

With nowhere else to go, the spare bedroom was still filled with junk, he opened the cupboard. It was just as he remembered it. Everything was as he had left it, he sat down on the worn blanket and put his head in hands.

What would he give to have Hermione here? She could always come up with a plan. Harry was more of the rush in and hope kind of guy and this was far too important to muck up. He could save Cedric; he could save Sirius and Ginny and everyone who was petrified. He could save himself; he could be just Harry. Not The-Boy-Who-Lived, youngest seeker in a century, heir of Slytherin, a liar and the fourth unwanted Champion of the Triwizard Tournament. But Harry Potter a Gryffindor student.

Dudley having magic would change things. Harry having memories of four years of magical education and political intrigue would change things more. He could stop Quirrell and expose Voldemort and make the adults fight their own battles.

Make the adults actually fulfil their promised roles. He could make things better for his friends too. Make Neville less isolated, Ron less pressured by expectation and Hermione less frantically driven. He could make things better with the other houses. He could have the promised dream.

But to do all this he would need a plan. Dudley was right they couldn’t say anything or run the risk of being obliviated or taken away. He couldn’t even turn to his friends because they hadn’t met. They wouldn’t have the adventures binding them together. Probably for the best but it was heart-wrenching to think of not having them beside him.

Mind spiralling and unable to come up with a plan Harry called it a night. He would no doubt need his energy to deal with the Dursley’s in the morning. Flopping back on his nest of bedding he closed his eyes and tried to quiet his mind enough to sleep.

A spider waved at him from its web, Harry made a note to help out Hagrid too. Stop him from getting a dragon or being thrown in Azkaban without trial, maybe deal with the Acromantula nest before anybody got hurt. Minding spinning, he drifted off.

***

The ringing of a phone woke him. Groggily Harry sat up and immediately lay back down his head throbbing. He’d forgotten he was in the cupboard, checking to see if he had a bruise, he poked his forehead while giving an evil glare to the protruding step. The phone had rung off.

How he used to fit in here Harry couldn’t recall but he was going to make getting the second bedroom a priority. He doubted they would argue much. Unless they tried to make Dudley sleep here too. Shuddering at the thought of them both being squashed into the space he crawled out.

The answering phone light was flashing. Getting up he headed over and checked the message, Vernon was late for work. A quick glance at the hall clock confirmed that it was past nine. Evidently, they were all still worn out from time travelling.

“Who was it, boy?” His Aunt called down the stairs apparently the phone had woken her too.

“Vernon’s work. It’s past nine they were checking on him.”

“Phone them back tell them we’re sick.” With nothing better to do Harry made the call. Feeling listless after he hung up, he headed into the kitchen. He’d put the kettle on, maybe tea would soothe his Aunt.

***

Sitting on the other side of the kitchen table from his Aunt he cradled a cup of tea between his hands.

“Well, it wasn’t a terrible dream,” She finally said.

“No Aunt, we’re here.” They both looked at the calendar. His aunt had crossed yesterday off.

“You’ll look after him, won’t you?” Harry looked up startled at her question. “Dudley you’ll look after my baby in that world won’t you.”

“We’re the same age.”

“True. But you have four years in there already. You’ve seen it too. The ugly side. The side which got my sister killed.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen it.”

“So, you’ll protect my son from it. Don’t hide him from it, that was Lily’s mistake pretending it wasn’t there until it was too late. But make sure it doesn’t break him. You have to be tough to survive there, it makes you grow up too quickly and Lily was so very young still.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that.” Harry said staring at his cup, there was too much liquid to read the leaves, but he didn’t look away. It had sounded almost as if his aunt was apologising for the way she treated him as if she was in an ugly way preparing him.

“Make sure you do. He’s still my son. I still love him. I still love your mother. I could have loved you.” Harry swallowed tightly at her admission. His aunt had never been like this before. “His father won’t understand. Vernon never liked magic. Make sure he does well in his classes. You’ve done them already, make sure he stays ahead.” She was apologising Harry realised. Didn’t mean he had to forgive her or even appreciate her efforts.

“Yes, Aunt. You act like you won’t be there.”

“How can I be it’s not my world,” She gave him a sad smile. “Put the breakfast on I can hear them waking up.”

Dudley came down first. He sat at the table and picked at his meal. Harry never one to miss a meal in Privet Drive ate more gustily.

“Eat up Duddy.”

“Mum?”

“Eat up we have a busy day. Harry needs to move into his room.” Harry’s spoon faltered. Petunia was apologising not just in word but deed, what had become of the world.

“I didn’t even think of that, sorry Harry,” Dudley said looking up from where he was playing with his food.

He shrugged off the apology. It was too much like being in a dream. The Dursleys were being nice. However, as if to prove it was reality Vernon came down the stairs.

“What are you doing boy?” He snapped at Harry.

“Eating sir,” Harry replied.

“Who said you could eat that.”

“Aunt Petunia.”

“Ha, Pet the boys making up lies.”

“Vernon, he’s not.”

“What do you mean he’s not. Why are you all looking at me like that?”

“Vernon, what do remember?” Petunia finally asked.

“Remember? Had a rotten dream, filled with… strange folks,” he looked shiftily at Harry and then Dudley. “Strange folk, utter nonsense, must have been some funny foreign spices in dinner, last night boy.” He gave Harry a dark look.

“Vernon it wasn’t a dream.”

“Of course, it was, Pet,” Vernon denied.

“Dad, it wasn’t magic’s real,” Dudley tried to get through to him.

“Whimpf,” Vernon choked on the scrambled eggs. His face going red through a mixture of rage and a lack of oxygen. “You will not speak of such nonsense at my table,” he gasped out around the eggs hitting his fists on the table to reinforce his point.

“Vernon…” Petunia started.

“No, I will not hear it. I will not stand it. Everything is normal. I am off to work.”

“Vernon it’s gone nine, we’ve phoned you in sick.”

“I’m going in. I am not staying one moment longer in this death trap of a house.” That was seemingly the closest Vernon was ever going to admit the time travel happened.

Without further argument, Vernon grabbed his keys and was out the door. Sitting at the table they listened to Vernon rev the engine and drive off.

“He is coming back isn’t he Mummy.”

“Hopefully,” Petunia murmured looking neither happy or hopeful.

***

Vernon didn’t come back that evening. He didn’t phone either.

The three of them ate silently at the table and after watching the news they headed to bed. Harry was once more in the smallest bedroom. Exhausted he fell on to his bed.

They had been on tenterhooks all day waiting for Vernon to come back or for a Ministry official to turn up. None of them did. So, they threw themselves into moving Harry.

Petunia was planning on redecorating the living room again. She had grown used to the change and was struggling with the house reverting suddenly under her feet. Harry had noticed that she kept fiddling with her hair unused to the older style.

Harry and Dudley were struggling more with their changes. They were ten years old again. Harry hadn’t realised how small they had been and how weak. Quidditch and Oliver Wood had definitely improved his physique. How anybody thought he defeated Voldemort when he first turned up in the magical world he couldn’t understand.

***

Dudley’s birthday started differently this time around. Harry wasn’t awoken by his aunt’s shrill demands to cook breakfast. He still cooked it though. He quite liked cooking if it was his choice. Once more the table was covered in gifts all thirty-seven of them.

Unlike last time Dudley didn’t throw a fit about the number of them, more surprised that he was receiving anything at all.

“I suppose it won’t be a surprise what we got you,” his Aunt said as they looked at the pile.

“Not really,” Dudley admitted.

“We won’t be going to the zoo this time. I’ve phoned Piers and cancelled, claimed Vernon’s been called away on work. He’s not back. Though I suppose we will be going to London soon enough to get your school things. Luckily, we hadn’t gotten your Smelting’s’ things, they don’t do refunds,” she sniffed and settled down to eat the omelette Harry had made her.

Dudley quietly unwrapped his gifts, treating them with more care than he had before. The phone rang breaking the peace, Petunia rushed to answer it.

“It was Mrs. Figg,” she said in answer to the curious looks when she walked back in not long after. “She’s broken her leg. And said she couldn’t take Harry. I’d forgotten that we arranged for her to look after you. It was so very long ago.”

“Can’t she use magic to fix it?” Dudley asked.

“What are you on about Dudley, magic is to be kept hidden,” Petunia shushed.

“But she knows about it.”

“She what? Why do you think that?” Petunia asked eyes wide.

“She was there when we were attacked by those monsters, she could see them too. She said her cats warned her,” Dudley explained.

“She’s a witch. He promised there wouldn’t be any that we wouldn’t be watched,” Aunt Petunia hissed.

“I think she’s a squib, not an actual magic user, the cats are Kneazels a magical breed,” Harry added although he was also disturbed at the thought of being watched and nothing being done to help him. Had Dumbledore known and not cared or simply not cared?

“You knew,” Petunia rounded on him.

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t know. They abandoned me and spied on us all,” Harry was furious about it too. They’d left him alone with no news and only a squib as a guard. obviously, they didn’t really care about him, probably never had.

“I should have known that man would have done something like that. Can’t be trusted. Tricky and twisty finding loop holes wherever he can.”

“Which man, the Headmaster Dumblebee?” Dudley asked.

“Yes,” Harry and Petunia answered in sync.

“But he’s just a teacher, isn’t he?” Dudley questioned trying to understand.

“Ha,” was the bitter laugh he got in response from his mother. Before she could explain further there was a knock at the door. His aunt seemed lost in memories and Dudley just looked confused, so Harry decided he best go and see who it was.

Opening the door Harry was shocked into silence as he saw the person on the other side. In all of his imagined scenarios, they had not even figured.


Chapter Three

“Hello there. I’m here to see a Dudley Dursley. Are you…?” she looked at him. “No, I don’t think you are… are you? Oh, dear…. Albus never said… but he’s away, he wouldn’t have known… Mr. Potter, may I come in?” Harry stepped aside and let his Herbology Professor in.

The flustered woman took in the surrounds and the still quiet Harry.

“Is your family here?”

“Most of them Ma’am.” He nearly called her by her name, keeping their time travel quite was apparently going to harder than he had thought if he stumbled over the smallest things.

“Excellent,” Sprout clasped her hands together. “Shall we move somewhere comfier?” she said looking around the formal hallway.

“They’re in the kitchen,” Harry offered.

“Wonderful, I find kitchens rather jolly places, the heart of the home. A good place for exciting news to be told. Lead the way.”

Harry led her the short distance to the kitchen. Once in the room Petunia and Dudley took in the newcomer. Harry was about to introduce her before he remembered she hadn’t introduced herself yet.

“Hello there. I’m called Professor Sprout. I’m here with some rather exciting news. Although I can imagine it’s not going to be a surprise,” she said looking at Harry.

“Hogwarts?” Petunia enquired.

“Indeed. Well, this does make thing easier, no exclamations of shock to be had here. Although the Headmaster implied Mr. Potter didn’t know about his heritage.”

“Albus Dumbledore has had no contact with us for ten years, he left Harry’s care to me,” Petunia responded.

“Well of course he did, what does he know about raising children, educating them yes but raising, well… But you have two fine young men here,” Sprout concluded rather than discuss the headmaster’s failings. Aunt Petunia seemed pleased by the compliment even if it was from a witch.

“Now, officially I’m here to introduce Mr. Dursley to magic and entice him into our fine educational establishment,” she said with a wink. “But I can see that first part of the job is done already.”

“Indeed,” Petunia answered her tone still flat.

“Good, good. Now boys how much do you know?” Harry and Dudley gave each other worried looks.

“Now, now boys, don’t worry this isn’t a quiz. We save those until terms started,” Sprout gave a laugh and Harry weakly smiled.

“We know about magic and Hogwarts Ma’am,” Harry answered.

“And about Harry’s Mum and Dad and the mad man,” Dudley added on.

“So, you know more than most in during these visits. Well, I’ll still give you the information pack for Muggle-born students it has some very good information. Where things are how to contact people.” She placed a pack of brightly coloured parchment on the table by the unwrapped presents. “I’ve only got one but I’m sure you can share boys.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Harry answered. He hadn’t got one of these the last time. Even Dudley and Petunia were giving the information pack interested looks.

“We didn’t get one before,” Petunia murmured before her eyes widened in the realisation of what she’d said.

“When your sister was introduced to Magic?” Sprout asked not releasing the slip Petunia had made.

“Yes!” Petunia responded quickly latching on to the excuse.

“It’s a new introduction. In the last few years, to make it easier for the family’s coming in,” Sprout explained. “Do you remember much about your sister introduction?”

“The street and the station, I know how to find them, I know where to take the boys.” She answered giving Harry a firm stare. He gave a subtle nod, he knew how to get them there.

“Oh, lovely. You don’t need me to be a guide then?” Sprout asked.

“No thank you, we’ll wait. Vernon my husband you understand, he’s away for work,” Petunia had evidently decided to stick to her story.

“Of course, a family outing. Do ask Tom, he’s the barman, to get you through to the street. Once the boys have their wands, they can do it themselves.” Petunia inclined her head in understanding of Sprout’s instructions.

“I can buy a wand even though it’s not my birthday yet?” Harry asked.

“Indeed, you can, young man. Once we have your acceptance to Hogwarts your name will be passed on to the wand merchants as an approved customer.”

Really, how do we apply?” Harry asked. Last time Hagrid had sent a letter on his behalf.

“Well boys its rather easy you reply to the school letter and tell them you’re coming. It will be perfectly fine for Mr. Potter to respond on the same letter as you Mr. Dursley.”

“How do we send it? With an owl?” Dudley’s eyes widened; at this rate they wouldn’t last the day before they gave themselves away.

“Oh, you know about owls?”

“Stories about my sister,” Petunia supplied.

“Well, this does make it easier. And yes, by an owl. I have one waiting.” They gave her a suspicious look; Hagrid had kept one in his pocket after all. “It’s waiting out of sight in the garden,” they relaxed.

Sprout passed the parchment and quill she had with her over to them. “It does look rather antiquated, but they are easy enough to use with practice. I give my new Hufflepuff’s lessons.” Harry picked up the quill; he had the most experience using them.

“Hufflepuff?” Dudley asked.

“Oh yes, has your mother not mentioned them?”

“Maybe,” Dudley hedged.

“Well your Aunt Lily was in Gryffindor and I’m the head of Hufflepuff House. When you arrive at the school you are sorted into whichever house suits you best. Gryffindors are for the brave.” They all shot looks at Harry. “Ravenclaw for those who seek knowledge and Slytherin the cunning. My Hufflepuffs are honest and hardworking,” she smiled in fondness of her students.

“And you do things in your houses?” Dudley asked.

“Oh yes. There is the sports team, Quidditch, which I’m sure you boys will enjoy. Then there are study sessions and games nights we have quite the jolly time,” Sprout explained. It definitely sounded interesting to Harry. They hadn’t had anything like that in Gryffindor.

As Sprout continued to explain how her house functioned Harry could see why there were so many Hufflepuffs, despite their reputation as duffers. Sprout ran a tight recruitment campaign, which was reinforced just before the sorting by the house ghost if he recalled correctly. Even he was tempted to try for Hufflepuff this time.

“Have you finished the letter? Does your cousin want to sign his name too?” Harry passed the acceptance letter over to Dudley who after a bit of splatting managed a legible signature.

“Out you come boys and send the letter.” Harry and Dudley got up and followed her out of the patio doors into the garden. Aunt Petunia stayed at the table.

“Can you see the owl boys?” A tawny owl was sat in the tree by the shed. Dudley pointed him out.

“Excellent. Now hold the letter in your hand and tap your arm. It should summon him,” Sprout ordered. Harry passed the letter to Dudley who had never done it before. Looking a bit nervous Dudley complied.

“That’s it; now see the bit of string. Yes, that bit,” Sprout explained to Dudley once the owl perched on his arm. “Pop the letter against it.” The piece of string wrapped around the letter securing it with magic and the owl launched itself off.

“Well done. It didn’t hurt at all did it?” Sprout congratulated. Dudley shook his head and followed the teacher back inside. After a moment Harry followed.

Aunt Petunia had made them tea while they were sending their letter.

“Now do you boys want to have a little look through the information while I have a little chat with your guardian about the costs involved,” Sprout said as she sat at the table besides Aunt Petunia.

“It’s a bit late to ask isn’t it after they’ve accepted,” Petunia pointed out.

“Oh no, there are grants in place. Depending on how many qualify it effects how much the school can help. No child is turned away for financial reasons. Now your nephew Harry is seen for. His poor, parents set things up for him before they passed,” Sprout patted Petunia arm consolingly.

“That’s good,” Petunia managed to grind out uncomfortable about being touched by a witch.

“Now Dudley…”

“Will be seen to, we have money put aside for his education,” Petunia said drawing her arm away from the witch.

“Wonderful, I suppose you saw the signs,” Sprout said smiling at Dudley.

“Not really no,” Petunia admitted.

“Two nights ago, was the first time we think. We knew Harry could do odd stuff, but not me,” Dudley chimed into the conversation.

“Really?” asked Sprout looking rather nonplussed. “No idea at all?” they all shook their heads.

“How did you know?” Dudley asked. Harry was curious about that as well.

“Oh, the school has a register of all the children in the country with magic. When they turn eleven the register is be spelled to write a letter of invitation for them. It’s done through ancient magic and nobody can interfere with it.”

“Really, why not?” Harry asked fascinated by the process.

“Politics mostly. Sometimes the school’s Headmaster is a bit more political than others,” Petunia let out an unladylike snort. “There was a concern that they might deliberately miss-off inviting certain students. So, we have no say in who gets letters.”

“How do they send them out?” Harry asked. Last time his letter was sent to his cupboard which surely somebody had found odd.

“Good question,” Sprout praised sounding every inch a teacher. “They are sent out in one of two ways. The first is when somebody is listed as being of new magic, a Muggle-born if you will, like Mr. Dursley here. In these cases, a school house elf will give the letter to a Head of House so they can make introductions.”

“House elf?” Dudley interrupted.

“A magical creature which gets great joy from being helpful,” Sprout explained. “Now if the student has a magical family the elves will send the letter out by owl.”

“But how did my name get on the list?” Dudley asked.

“The system is very complicated. Not even I fully understand it. However, when you did magic your name got added.”

“What would happen if Dudley did magic after his birthday had passed?” Harry asked.

“Well in some case people can be late bloomers to magic. Now, this is very rare. If Mr Dursley had held off showing magic for another three days, he may have never fully been able to grasp his magic. It would have lain dormant and done nothing unless he was exposed to a significant magical event or a magical creature. Unfortunately, the longer the magic lays dormant the harder it is to control and the more explosive the release. Sadly, this can cause terrible consequences.” They all flinched at what Sprout described.

“Enough about that we don’t have to worry about that happening now do we. You all have magic and you’re looking forward to using it carefully and respectfully,” Sprout gave them a stern look to go with her lecture and both boys nodded their heads in compliance.

“Jolly good boys. I’m sure you will settle into school no problem,” Sprout enthused.

“It won’t matter we don’t have any lessons beforehand?” Dudley asked.

“Not at all, you’re not allowed to do magic outside of school if you’re underage, less than seventeen, so nobody comes to school knowing much. If anything, I find that the Muggle-raised tend to do well seeing as they’re used to writing essays and handing in homework to deadlines. There is something to be said for an early formal education. Any other questions?”

“No Ma’am,” Harry answered while Dudley shook his head.

“Lovely. I shall leave you to enjoy the rest of your birthday Mr. Dursley. I will also let them know that you are informed and up to date Mr. Potter. You will of course still get your letter. It is such a special moment many people treasure their letter.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome young man. Now I know Dumbledore wanted to control your introduction to magic because of your fame, as gruesome as it is, but I see no matter of concern. You are obviously a well-mannered and intelligent boy.” Sprout smiled at him as she said this.

“However, I do feel it best to warn you all that there is an unseemly fascination with you Mr Potter and your blessed survival. When you go shopping for your supplies, I suggest you find some type of head covering or else you won’t find a moments peace.”

“Thank you for the warning,” Petunia said. “Is there a time you would recommend best for our visit?”

“Good question. I would go before the end of July. School letters for the upper years go out then and it can become rather crowded. If there is nothing else, then I really must be off. It was lovely to meet you and I shall see you boys on September the first. You never know you may be in my house.”

Professor Sprout got up and Harry rose too.

“I’ll show you out, Professor.”

“Thank you. Very polite.” She followed Harry back through the corridor to the front door. Before he opened it, Harry turned back to face her.

“Ma’am, do you know if I have a bank account to buy supplies with?” Harry asked, she’d mentioned his parents sorting out his education earlier so he figured asking wouldn’t be entirely unusual.

“Why, yes you do, the Headmaster mentioned it. He must have the key though Circe knows why? He must have intended to give it to you when you got your letter in July. Strange man,” She shook her head.

“Could you possibly get it for me?”

“I’ll see what I can do. We have rather jumped the wand with your introduction, haven’t we? Plans unravelling around us no doubt,” She gave him an amused smile. “Keep an eye out for an owl.”

“Thank you for everything ma’am.”

“Not at all. Well, I have things to do and best be off.” Harry opened the door and waved her goodbye. Closing the door Harry slumped against it and closed his eyes. Merlin how many times had they nearly given themselves away. They clearly weren’t destined for Slytherin they were no good at subterfuge.

***

They spent the rest of the day pouring over the literature that Professor Sprout had left. Although he wasn’t Muggle-Born the information was definitely useful for somebody who knew nothing about the magical world. Which Dumbledore knew Harry had been the first time he turned eleven, he’d arranged it to be so.

So why didn’t he get the information?

While Harry had gained a good understanding of the magical world over the last four years it had mostly been gained piecemeal and from Hermione. What was interesting was that Harry was learning new things by reading the booklet.

While he wasn’t fond, or ever likely to be fond of Snape he could see a bit more why the man considered him arrogant. Not learning about the magical world was a bit conceited but it wasn’t a deliberate hubris but more of a pawn, not being aware he was being played. Surely a seasoned Slytherin should have seen the difference.

Harry was, or had been a pawn, and not seen it all. He had been put into a role of the saviour of the light and been unable to break free of it, he was aware of that. But what he hadn’t been aware of was the bigger issues. While distracting him with the Boy-Who-Lived he hadn’t known to look for other titles like Lord Potter. He was a Lord or at least his dad had been.

That particular discovery had shocked even Petunia. One of the leaflets described the structure of society and the government of which the Potters were an important part. Rather cynically Harry concluded that even if he was famous for not being murdered people would have still tried to ingrate themselves to him.

Although it was interesting Neville was of rank too. He’d never mentioned it, although considering Harry had been a bull in a china shop on the etiquette front, he may have thought Harry didn’t care. But he did care. He was rather furious that nobody had taken him aside and explained all this to him before.

He felt like part of his heritage had been robbed from him. His friends, hell some of his teachers knew how desperate he was for family, pictures, connection anything and not one of them had bothered to tell him. Not one of his parent’s friends, with exception of Sirius, actually did anything for him. His parents obviously had terrible taste in friends beyond the traitor Pettigrew.

“According to this you’re not actually a Lord,” Dudley said breaking Harry from his internal fuming.

“I’m not?”

“Nope. You’re too young.”

“So, I will be,” Harry clarified.

“Yeah, when your magic comes of age. But I looked that up and it happens around seventeen years which is fine but is that in six years or two? I mean did our magic come back too,” Dudley pulled a face.

Harry hadn’t even considered that. His body hadn’t so he assumed his magic hadn’t. But his memories had, and magic was less tangible than a body although more than a memory. Could it have come back with them?

“I don’t know,” Harry admitted; he’d been saying that a lot recently. “My magic’s not completely back from the accident.”

“That hollow ache? I’ll go away completely?” Dudley asked unconsciously rubbing his breast bone as if to soothe the ache.

“Yeah. It’s taking a long time. Maybe because we went through a lot….”

“Or we brought a lot back,” Dudley concluded.

“Yeah. That means I could be a Lord at thirteen. People will talk.”

“Do they have to know?” Petunia interrupted.

“I don’t know, what does it say? I never heard about anybody becoming a Lord but then I apparently didn’t hear about a lot,” Harry bitterly added.

“Here,” Dudley read through the section. “You get a ring and things; there’s not a lot of detail. I guess most Lords have magical families, so they know what to do. But I don’t think you have to meet the Queen, which is a shame because that would be cool. I don’t think you get a sword either.”

“You might get more of an inheritance,” Petunia interjected. Harry shifted subtly on his seat. Things might be better with his cousin and a truce had been drawn with his aunt, but he didn’t want them knowing about his gold, he was nowhere near that level of trust.

“Probably not,” Dudley added again still pursuing the information. “I saw on the telly how all these lords and thing were having to open their homes and gardens cause they’re skint. Plus, a load burnt them down for the insurance.”

“True. Your parents were living in a cottage. Must have lost the house and fortune,” Petunia concluded, and Harry relaxed slightly. When they went to the bank, he’d be careful but should be able to keep his money safe. Plus, Gringotts might know more about his inheritance; it was kind of their job.

“Cool. Did you know there were Dragons?” Dudley interrupted changing the subject. “I’d love to see a dragon.” For a moment Harry was strongly reminded of Hagrid.

“Yeah, I’ve seen some. One in my first year and four in my fourth year. I think there might be one at the bank too,” Harry added remembering the flash of fire on that first cart ride. The philosopher’s stone. It was in the bank safe. The robbery wasn’t until his birthday. But if he went shopping sooner would it be safe; Hagrid had taken it out with him present. Would he still get it if Harry wasn’t with him on a shopping trip that day? He hadn’t even considered the stone. He needed to get things sorted out and figure out what to change and how.

“Harry. Earth to Harry,” He blinked at Dudley who had been calling his name and progressed to waving his hand in front of Harry’s face, at least he hadn’t flicked him. “I asked you if I would get to see a dragon?”

“I dunno depends on what we change. Maybe not first year though, fourth years more likely and my mate Ron his brother….” Ron wasn’t his mate yet, maybe ever, he kept forgetting that. “Well yeah, the Wesley’s have a son working on a dragon reserve so he could maybe sort out a visit or something.”

“That is so cool, this is so cool. Magic’s not that bad,” Dudley concluded missing his mother’s white face and pinched look.

“Well, I leave you to boys to discuss it. I have things to do,” Petunia strode out the room.

“She not taking it well is she,” Dudley said after a few moments.

“She doesn’t want to lose you. Like she did my mum,” Harry admitted.

“Oh, so she’s pushing me away first.”

“Yeah, I think so,” Harry said giving Dudley a considering look. The Dudley he remembered was a bit thick and not all that sensitive but the boy in front of him was picking up on things.

“What?” Dudley asked seeing his appraisal.

“You’re not what I remember.”

“Well no, I’m fifteen and stuck in an eleven-year-olds body. It’s alright being a right twat at primary school but it doesn’t work so well at secondary. And well, everyone was better than me at things. So, I grew up. Then I’d come home and have to be Duddykins again. But Dad’s going to hate me, and mums given up on me so, I might as well be me.”

“Yeah, okay,” Harry had no idea what to say. Privet Drive had seemingly become an emotional drain for more than just him last time around.

“Tell me more about dragons,” Dudley said breaking the silence.

***

That evening Harry followed through with his plan to plot out a course for them on their second chance. He was using a notebook generously gifted by Dudley who was more than happy to go along with his plan. He didn’t particularly want Voldemort back either.

Harry hadn’t a clue what had been going on before the 31st of July 1991 but after that, he could start shaping up a timeline. The first major point to deal with was Quirrell and his attempt to get the stone. Harry wasn’t sure if Voldemort was possessing Quirrell at the time. So as much as Harry was willing to let the Horde deal with Voldemort the possibility was, he wouldn’t be there, and Voldemort would come up with a new plan leaving Harry flying blind.

But he wasn’t sure if the stone would be removed. He was hoping that Dumbledore would still collect it. He had to be aware of the risk to it and move it into place, possibly sooner if he didn’t have to factor Harry into things. And really looking back getting Hagrid to collect it on the same day as Harry was such a set up. He had been a very naïve eleven-year-old not to see that manipulation.

So, he had to assume the stone was safe and let things play out to make sure Quirrell came into play and Quirrellmort. He could, of course, pull a Lockhart and shake Quirrell’s hand on the first day of class and then burn the wraith out of his body. This would reveal the undead Dark Lord and thwart his attempt to get the stone. On the other hand, it would deeply traumatise his classmates and possibly get them possessed, he’d need the library to look up possession. So that plan was a no go, shaking hands a week in would be highly suspicious and Quirrell wouldn’t go for it.

Unfortunately, Quirrell was on the whole harmless, his troll and broom attempt didn’t come too much. If Harry didn’t join the team he would be safer, but physically weaker something for him to work on. Also, if things changed too much, he wouldn’t actually have a chance to be recruited on to the team so early. This would need deeper consideration but wasn’t vital to his plans.

However, leaving Quirrell in play to the end of the year and allowing Harry to escape his position of pawn and reposition himself as queen would work. Nobody was expecting it which would give him time to get things in place. He just had to figure out which things.

But to remain a viable pawn long enough to get everyone in place would mean he would have to go into Gryffindor which would be difficult. He stood a greater chance of giving himself away to Hermione.

He had been tempted by Sprout’s recruitment campaign. He would just have to improve Gryffindor. He wrote that down on his to-do list. He needed nice side projects; it couldn’t all be death-defying moments of magical brilliance. He’d burn out otherwise.

So Quirrell stays till the end of summer. The added benefit they get some kind of education. Quirrellmort was a better teacher than Lockhart. Weirdly the insane Death Eater was a decent teacher too. Someone should have given them a weekend teaching gig to focus their energy and maybe they wouldn’t have gone insane. Pulling a face at the thought of Voldemort doing baking displays at the magical W.I Harry looked back at his to-do list.

He needed to make a change but be able to control it, so he didn’t lose the ability to predict things or worse misplace players. So, while Quirrellmort marked essays he would take Scabbers aka Pettigrew out of action.

He was going into Gryffindor and there was no way he was sleeping in the same room as his parents’ betrayer. What if he did something to them in their sleep? Voldemort knew what Wormtail looked like and Ron brought him to class, all the time. Did that mean Wormtail was helping Quirrell? That worrying thought brought Harry up short.

Pettigrew knew about the cloak and map too. While Harry didn’t have them in this timeline, yet, Voldemort would surely have known about them in the last one. How much did they talk about thinking Scabbers was just a rat? What about Skeeter the beetle? Don’t trust animals. For all they knew Mrs. Norris was also an Animagus, it seemed nobody bothered registering.

But if he outed Scabbers properly maybe they could pressure the school to keep out other Animagus’, there had to be some sort of ward. They probably had one at the bank. That would also protect Hermione and Hagrid from Skeeter’s slander. He wrote down throw a fit about security after Scabbers is found. He was always accused of using his fame last time even if he didn’t, well this time he was going to.

However, the main gain with outing Pettigrew was not just his peace of mind but Sirius. The sooner he was out of prison the sooner Harry had somebody with influence on his side. If they played it right the public would side with them.

The biggest gamble Harry was working with was could they use public opinion to oust Fudge. From what he’d seen in the few weeks after the resurrection was that Fudge was being an ostrich. He didn’t want to deal with a war and Malfoy told him there was no Dark Lord and so Fudge continued as normal and even started taking funding away from vital resources like the DMLE.

If Harry got into politics sooner, he could stop Fudge jeopardising the country so completely. Mr. Weasley was lovely, but he would never be a political powerhouse. Harry wasn’t sure Sirius, or he would be either, but they had to be better than nothing.

He also needed to destroy the bones of Riddle senior. Maybe after they’d been to the Alley, he could take the Knight bus to Little Hangleton and deal with it before Voldemort got back from Albania. Hagrid had said that Quirrell had just gotten back from a year abroad there in late July. Although he didn’t know the exact date it could be, he would be in and out before Voldemort was any the wiser.

He wrote destroy the bones in big letters. He would have to get a secure lockbox in the Alley so nobody saw his notes or else he would be getting some very interesting questions thrown at him. At least without Hagrid and his rigid adhesion to the school letter and Molly’s militant herding, Harry could explore the alley and get some useful stuff.

They weren’t sure quite when they were going to the Alley. Harry needed his key and Petunia didn’t want to go without at least seeing Vernon, so the visit was on the back burner. More time for Harry to plan.

***

The next morning started much like the one before just without the presents, but with another knock at the door. Once again Harry went to open it.

For a second time, Harry was surprised at who was on the other side of the door. A policeman was standing on the doorstep.

“Err, Hello?” Harry asked not sure why the man was there. He didn’t think the Ministry was so good at cover-ups, not when they could just obliviate and charge the person for the cost of it.

“Son, I’m Detective Green. Is your mum in?”

“I’m an orphan,” Harry blurted out and then winced at his directness. The detective was also looking a bit startled.

“I’m sorry to hear that. Is your Guardian in?”

“My Aunt Petunia, sir. She’s in the kitchen, this way.” His aunt would probably rather not have the policeman on the doorstep too long. It was the summer and the neighbours may notice.

For the second time that week Harry led somebody the short distance from the front door to the kitchen. The reaction in the kitchen was more muted and surprised than it had been for Professor Sprout; she had been in some ways expected.

“I’m sorry to intrude on your morning, I’m Detective Green may I speak with you, Mrs. Dursley.”

Aunt Petunia had gone rather white when the policeman introduced himself and nodded her head rather than reply. Giving Dudley a look Harry and his cousin slipped out the room.

“You remember when we got thrown out and tried to listen at the door?” Dudley asked.

“Yeah. I don’t think we should do that this time though.” Harry answered and instead the pair of them sat in the living room.

“Good job we put all the school stuff away,” Dudley said looking around just to make sure they had. Petunia was very clear they weren’t to leave anything out. Even if they could claim it was part of a game.

Suddenly a strangled scream pierced the air. Both boys stood up Harry reaching for a wand he didn’t have yet.

“Mum!” Dudley cried and ran into the kitchen. Harry followed hot on his heels. His aunt was crumpled on the floor her eyes glassy.

“What happened?” Harry demanded.

“He’s dead, Vernon’s dead,” Petunia whispered.

“Daddy!” Dudley crumpled to the floor beside his mother.

“What? How? Who?” Harry failed to articulate.

“I’m afraid that Mr. Dursley was killed last night in the vicinity of a church in rural Warwickshire.” Harry blinked in shock. “Do you have any idea why he could be there?”

“We don’t go to church in Warwickshire, I don’t think we’ve ever been there,” Harry replied.

“We think he was trying to meet somebody. He did have some items found in his car which been identified as protection against supernatural entities?” The detective left the question hanging.

“He wasn’t superstitious,” Harry said finally.

“He didn’t believe in ghosts or witches?”

“Of course not, he’s a… he was a businessman, he sold drills. Aren’t you supposed to be trying to find out what happened to my husband not chasing fairy tales?” Petunia sobbed out.

“Indeed, ma’am. We are just ruling out lines of inquiry. You have no friends, family in Warwickshire?”

“No, as my nephew said we’ve never been.”

“Were you concerned when he didn’t come home?”

“Yes, we were concerned. We all were,” Petunia let out a sob. “He was sick, we all were the night before. We’ve only just gotten back to ourselves. I phoned his work let them know he wasn’t coming in. But he was not feeling well and went out anyway… so dedicated to his family…we were all unwell we had to cancel Dudley’s birthday outing…”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Thank you for the information it will be helpful,” the detective said. “I can have grief councillors sent to you if you wish.”

“No, we don’t want that, just get my husband home.”

“As soon as possible ma’am,” Detective Green agreed.

“I’ll see you out, sir,” Harry said to escape the room.


Chapter Four

News spread quickly through Privet Drive and across to Wisteria Way that the Dursleys had been visited by the police and Vernon’s car hadn’t been seen for a few days.

Petunia hadn’t wanted to go out. She knew too well how gossip worked. But they were running low on food. Petunia never bought much in advance, so she had an excuse to pop to the shops often. Growing up it had frustrated Harry that there was so little available making it harder for him to pilfer what he needed when hungry.

In the end, Harry and Dudley decided it would be best to go shopping before the gossip became known. Petunia unwilling to face the world after the Detective had left, went to her to bed and in bed, she stayed. Harry hadn’t thought she loved Vernon that much but maybe she had.

As they walked to the shops the boys saw the curtains twitching. Behind them, doors opened as people suddenly decided they too need to go to the shops.

It was Mrs. Howard who broke first and asked them what was going on, as they all shuffled down the vegetable aisle. After that, the dam broke. They were petted, consoled and hugged around the produce aisles.

Harry who wasn’t a favourite amongst the residents was being praised for how he was being a good boy for his aunt in this trying time. They ended up not buying the food, Mrs. Leach insisting it was the least she could do for the family in this trying time, while Mrs. Arnold gave them a lift home in her car.

Once back inside the calm of number four Dudley and Harry put away the food.

“Do you think I should make biscuits?” Harry asked looking at the various groceries they managed to grab on their way around the shop.

“Yeah. That was just the advance party, the news is spreading. They’ll be coming around and bringing food I reckon like when Mrs. Griggs’ husband died, best give them something fresh back. The stuff we just bought will spoil if you don’t and mum would want us to be good hosts.” They both looked up at the ceiling. “Should we warn Mum they’re coming?”

“Probably for the best. I’ll start making them then.” Harry said, unwilling to face his aunt when she was so upset, it would likely undo the tentative truce they had been forming.

“Yeah, I’ll come down and help. Potions is like cooking isn’t it?” Dudley offered and Harry nodded his consent.

“Sort off, really gross ingredients though, taste a bit manky too.” Dudley was trying and Harry was relieved that his cousin was taking the initiative and keeping their interactions bite sized. It took the pressure of Harry and let him work at building a relationship rather than shoehorning one in.

“Not a surprise when you look at what goes in them.” Dudley ambled out of the room and up the stairs.

***

Dudley had been right. Within an hour the first neighbour was at the door after the first had passed the threshold there was a never-ending supply of them. Aunt Petunia never came down and thankfully nobody pressed to see her. But, Dudley was becoming overwhelmed and Harry was left to deal with them.

Mrs. Figg who had never been through the door of number four even came to visit. She had shambled in on crutches and given them a box of biscuits and then managed to separate Harry from his cousin. At the age of eleven, Harry only knew her as the batty babysitter, but the Harry of today knew her as a spy for Dumbledore.

It was unlikely that Dumbledore would intervene at the death of his uncle, after all, he wasn’t the blood relation anchoring the wards. Even if he’d had some say over them, possibly because he held the property deeds. However, it was unlikely Dumbledore knew this, they’d only found out a few days ago. But still Harry wasn’t going to give anything away. He wasn’t going to lose control of the situation so soon because of his uncle.

“Will you be staying at Privet Drive?” Mrs. Figg inquired. The question catching the attention of several others who were lingering in the room.

“Yes,” Dudley answered.

“Are you sure?” Mrs. Figg pressed.

“Yes, Dad had paid off the mortgage, he was very good…”

“And we all have friends and such fond memories here,” Harry jumped in saving Dudley from another round of awkward hugs.

“Oh, of course, you do dear boys and do tell your aunt we’re here for her,” Mrs. Dodd replied with all the rest chiming in their support for the bereaved family.

“So, you’re staying altogether as a family?” Mrs. Figg continued.

“Really, Arabella, how could you say that? They’re family and family stays together in such times and look at us imposing on you. We really must be off.” Mrs. Dodd stood up and the rest of the ladies did so too not want to be seen as imposing themselves on the family. Although some such as Mrs. Figg were more reluctant about it than others.

“It was nice of Mrs. Dodd to move them on,” Dudley said into the silence of the vacated room.

“I think she wanted to pass on the new gossip,” Harry replied.

“Yeah, okay you’re probably right. What was Mrs. Figg doing?”

“Trying to get information for Dumbledore I think.”

“Hopefully, she got what she wanted. We don’t want him turning up. It would be too much for mum.”

“Merlin forbid, but I don’t think he’s one for getting his hands dirty. I mean last time when things were much worse he just sent a cryptic letter.”

“True. I take it were having cake for dinner then,” Dudley said looking at the array of foods gifted to them.

“Yes, we are Marie Antoinette.”

“Let’s hope we don’t lose our heads before this is all over with then,” Dudley snorted.

***

The next morning Petunia didn’t come down to breakfast. She, therefore, missed the arrival of an owl bearing a message for Harry. After retrieving the message, the owl didn’t depart so the two boys found some provisions for the animal before they read.

Dear Mr. Potter.

We have heard about the sad loss of your Uncle from the Headmaster; it was not necessary to inform him but very responsible of you both in this trying time. I do hope you and Mr. Dursley are as well as can be. The staff has been informed of the situation and we will be on hand to support you both at the start of term. Moving away from home for the first time can be a big step even without a recent bereavement.

I spoke to the headmaster about your bank key. He was rather startled that you were already informed about magic, but life has its little ways of sorting things out.

He, of course, offered to send a representative to go shopping with you. I had explained you had declined already, although if you have changed your mind, I will be willing to accompany you. We, the Matron Madame Pomfrey, and I argued you would not want to be meeting strangers at this time. I have managed to pass your key on to you, please find it attached.

If you have any need for help, please do not hesitate to write.

Professor Sprout.

“Well.”

“Well, indeed cousin,” Harry agreed after they had both read it picking up the small key from where it had fallen onto the table. He put it in his pocket, so it didn’t get lost amongst all the Tupperware and plates in the kitchen.

“I have to say; I don’t think time travel counts as a little way of sorting things out.”

“I think we missed the little steps out Dudley and all the other bigger ones after.”

“This is going to get complicated isn’t it?” Dudley asked.

“Yeah, but it’s mainly me whose got the complications, you can be just you if you want.” Harry offered a way out not wanting Dudley to resent him and become a problem down the line.

“Nah, they’ll use me, and I want to help you. We’re in this together. You’re all I’ve got in this magic world.”

“Thanks, Dudley.” Harry swallowed strangely grateful he wasn’t going to have to do it all alone. “I don’t think we want to have an adult accompany us, especially one that Dumbledore picks out.”

“Yeah, he’s being a bit creepy about it isn’t he.”

“I think we should probably go shopping sooner rather than later. But he probably has people waiting in the Alley for us. I’m sounding paranoid, aren’t I?”

“Just a bit. But you said they did that in third year when you ran away from home after Aunt Marge….”

“Aunt Marge!” Harry exclaimed.

“Has anybody told her about dad?” Dudley asked catching on quickly.

“I dunno, maybe the police. She hasn’t phoned us or turned up, yet.”

“Should we ask mum?” Dudley asked looking concerned.

“Probably a good idea. The last thing we want is an enraged Aunt Marge turning up. Sorry,” Harry added thinking about how that last bit sounded.

“Nah it’s fine. She’s family and I don’t have much and I miss dad a lot, but I’m glad she doesn’t live nearby. She’s going to be so mad I’m not going to dad’s old school now with him being gone.”

“You can say it’s too hard for you or something.”

“Really, Harry, proper Dursley men don’t do emotion. Or that’s what she says.”

“Yeah okay, you have a point. She doesn’t have a say though. It’s Aunt Petunia’s choice and a school for the gifted isn’t going to get a negative response from anybody unless they’re jealous. We’re just borrowing trouble.”

“I’ll go ask mum what to do.” Dudley wandered off. Harry picked up the letter which had been ignored in the discussion about Marge. The owl was still there too.

He grabbed a page from the notebook on the counter used for shopping lists and wrote a quick response to Professor Sprout thanking her for the key and the information and that they were fine without a guide.

The letter revealed a lot. Like the fact that Mrs Figg obviously hadn’t wasted any time contacting Dumbledore and that he was trying to hide the fact, he had a spy by claiming they had written to him.

It also told him that Dumbledore was trying to control the amount of information that Harry had about the magical world and that made him curious, what was being hidden from him was it more than the Lordship? It also looked like Sprout was fighting his corner and he imagined getting the key was a lot harder than she had implied.

***

It turned out that Marge hadn’t been informed. The dubious pleasure of informing her was taken up by Aunt Petunia. This had the added benefit of getting her out of bed. But she still remained distant to the boys.

The police came to visit over the next several days. Aunt Marge did not; she was waiting for the funeral and decided to stay at home with a bitch who was about to whelp. Harry swore that he heard Aunt Petunia call her a bitch that would never whelp but couldn’t prove it.

The Police brought news of the investigation and how they could progress with the funeral. It was looking like Vernon had been killed in a nefarious way. Murder. The street was rife with speculation and innuendo. Although nobody seemed to think it was an affair. Petunia was truly the only woman for Vernon.

Instead, it seemed that Vernon was trying to meet with a priest who had been excommunicated several years ago for participating in illegal exorcisms. While the neighbours couldn’t understand the reason the residents of number four did. Vernon was trying to get rid of magic. Whether it was all magic, the wards or just Dudley’s, Vernon had been on a mission.

The police thought Vernon was delusional due to carbon monoxide poisoning, his blood work had returned inconclusive. However, Petunia’s claim that they had all been ill led to them all going to the hospital to be checked out. Luckily nothing untoward was found during their tests. The three of them had probably looked ridiculously relieved, when they were told.

Time travel had left no noticeable signs, to Muggles at least. While they were at the hospital, specialists checked the house for signs of a leak. A slight blockage in the boiler vent was found. Not enough to kill or even make somebody sick unless they weren’t in the best of health they were informed.

Repair work was done quickly, and the family were assured they were safe. While Harry and the Dursleys knew that it wasn’t the cause they nodded along with the briefing from the safety experts and allowed the fitting of new alarms. The rest of the street fitted them too, after all the houses were built at the same time and the Dursleys took such care of their property.

However, progress on Vernon’s murder was getting nowhere. The priest was missing and now the prime suspect in Vernon’s death. It was the working theory that in his fevered state Vernon had gotten lost and tried to get help and the Priest had exploited his vulnerability.

***

After a few days, the undertaker phoned. Vernon could be released for burial. Aunt Petunia decided on a small funeral and they kept plans to themselves for as long as possible but soon enough Marge was knocking on the door.

Aunt Marge was not a fan of Harry, it was an entirely mutual dislike. The puppies, however, meant she couldn’t stay long. Harry had never been so grateful for Ripper.

The funeral itself was rather overdone. People stood up and eulogised Vernon. They called him the best of men, a true gentleman, nobody mentioned he starved his nephew and locked him in the cupboard. Harry bit his tongue several times hard enough to make his eyes water. Luckily everyone thought he was being stoic for his aunt and manfully trying not to cry.

Petunia’s face grew more pinched as the day wore one and Dudley looked equally distressed. At one point questioned under his breath if they were at the right ceremony as they listened to his secretary gush about Vernon’s kind heart. Thankfully nobody overheard him.

Then the funeral and wake were over. Marge went and they could breathe. The world continued; the visitors stopped dropping by but the residents of number four were stuck. Stuck in grief and stuck in the wrong year, the wrong bodies and it was tearing them apart. It seemed as if Aunt Petunia could barely stand the sight of them.

Magic had taken her sister; magic had taken her husband and it was going to take her nephew and more importantly her son. She was grieving them even as they stood in front of her.

Dudley didn’t know what to do. Harry tried to help. He found he liked the new improved Dudley, but he didn’t know him well enough to reach out and help him. Instead Harry spent time with him so he wasn’t alone with his thoughts.

A kindly offered play date with Piers hadn’t gone well. Dudley at fourteen found his eleven-year-old friend uncomfortable to be around. More than that he found the petty cruelty Piers expected him to display distressing. In the end Dudley came home early and had in tears apologised to Harry repeatedly for his past behaviour.

Everybody on the street had written the failed interaction off as grief, but it made Harry worry, could he connect with Ron and Hermione? Would he be alone through his school years just like in primary school?

***

A week after the funeral the boys came down to breakfast to find Petunia already there. She had on her good shoes and coat.

“Mum?”

“Well, we’ve wasted enough time. We’ve got the car back and there’s no reason not to go and get your school things. We leave in half an hour, smarten yourselves up.”

After a hasty breakfast, Harry rushed back upstairs to get changed and grab his vault key. The ride to London was awkward. Petunia didn’t want to have a conversation but couldn’t drive with music on, so they rode the whole way in silence.

“Harry, you know where to go?” Petunia asked once they had parked.

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good take Dudley and get what you need.” She passed Dudley a pile of bank notes. “We will meet here at about six.”

“Yes, aunt.” The two boys climbed out the car and when Aunt Petunia didn’t move, they headed off.

“We have to go to the pub The Leaky Cauldron,” Harry explained on the way. “Tom, who Sprout mentioned will get us onto the Alley. Stick close and we’ll go to the bank first so we can actually buy things. Wands second I reckon.” Harry said not wanting to be unable to defend himself any longer.

“Yeah, I’ll follow your lead,” Dudley promised looking anxious.

***

The pub was just as Harry remembered it, which really shouldn’t surprise him. There were the usual customers who seemed to be there whenever Harry came in. Unlike the first time, he wasn’t mobbed. He and Dudley were just another two children not worth any attention.

“Sir, can you please let us into the Alley please,” Harry asked Tom when they made it to the bar.

“Muggle-born are yer. Is your parent coming?” Tom asked as he led them through the bar to the small walled courtyard out the back.

“No, sir. Half-bloods were meeting someone at the bank,” Harry half lied, bits of it were the truth. “We know where we’re going though sir.”

“If you say so. If you need something just pop back,” Tom acquiesced and tapped his wand on the wall.

The alley opened up before them. Dudley beside him looked awed. Harry imagined he must have looked like that the first time. Thanking Tom, he led Dudley through the street to the bank. The first time he was here it was packed but his summer in the Alley his third year showed that it only got busy like that in the lead up to the first of September.

“Do you remember what I said, and you read about the Goblins?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, they’re vicious, they don’t like wizards and do not offend them. Not that there was a lot written about them,” Dudley recited looking concerned.

“Pretty much. Mostly we focused on the later rebellions at school, I honestly don’t know much else about them,” Harry admitted looking a bit disturbed as he realised how he’d adopted the magical worlds habit of dismissing other species. He’d do better this time, be a better person.

“You’d think considering their importance in the economy and inheritance more would be known about them and it would be phrased quite so disrespectful,” Dudley said as they drew closer to the bank.”

“Yeah and I just realised how badly they’re treated. Right we’ll deal with that, be nice and respectful. They like efficiency so we’ll get the money converted first. Or maybe they just like efficiency so they don’t have to spend a lot of time with people who insult them.” Harry speculated just as they made it to the bank steps. “Any way transfers take a while and then well get money out of my account.”

“You have some?” Dudley checked as he gave the guards a worried look, but they were able to enter the bank unchallenged.

“Yep its part of the stuff my parents set up before they died,” Harry hedged not yet willing to trust his cousin with the full truth. Not that he had shared the contents of his vault with anybody the first time around.

“Cool,” Dudley accepted Harrys altered truth.

The bank was less busy than it had been any other time Harry had been before. Harry had queued with Hermione when she changed money so he led Dudley to the right queue that was moving slowly, it would probably take them at least half an hour.

The teller when they finally reached him gave them a judgmental look. Harry figured this was the worst position to work in the bank you had to deal with humans, and they didn’t even have an account to profit off.

“Sir, please could we have these converted into gallons with some sickles and knuts,” Harry passed over the bank notes. Dudley had gotten shy beside him and Harry figured it was best not to waste time.

“You aren’t taking money out your account Heir Potter?” Harry startled at the question.

“You know who I am?” he asked rather stupidly seeing as he had just been addressed by his name.

“Yes, and why are you not using your account?”

“The money is for my cousin,” Harry explained.

“Can he not speak?” The teller pressed.

“I can sir,” Dudley answered. “It is, however, my first time here and I didn’t want to waste your time when I am still uncertain of magical money.”

“Wise of you boy. Heir Potter does you a good service. However, you will be continuing alone.” The two boys gave each other worried looks. “The Potter account manager was informed that you would be returning to the magical world soon and he awaits you.”

“Yes, sir. Where is his office?” Harry asked.

“Through those doors, follow your guide otherwise any accidents or injuries are your own responsibility.”

“Thank you,” Harry swallowed. “You okay staying here Dud? I’ll get you when I’m done and then we can shop.”

“Sure, I don’t I fancy doing that alone too.”

Leaving his cousin Harry headed towards the large double doors flanked by guards, which had been pointed out to him. As he got closer, he was intercepted by who he assumed was his guide.

“Key.” Harry fumbled in his pocket and produced the key Professor Sprout had sent him. “Hmm. This way.”

Harry hurried along behind his guide who still held the key and passed through the doors and down an ornate corridor he hadn’t seen before. The doors to the carts were on the other wall. His Guide suddenly stopped and passed the key back before rapping sharply on the door twice. The door swung open.

“You may enter.” He was instructed before his guide turned and strode away as quickly as he had come. With no other option, Harry walked into the office. He stopped just inside.

Sitting behind a grand desk was presumably his account manager. “Sit,” he gestured to a chair, which Harry hurried over too.

“I am Sharrock, the Potter account holder. You are here earlier than expected heir Potter. This is not a problem,” Sharrock said when he saw Harry about to apologise. “Key please.”

Harry passed the key over feeling bemused. He hadn’t been treated like this any other time he had visited.

“Sir how do you know who I am?” Harry asked.

“How do we know?” Sharrock gave him a piercing look. “You have your key the wards at Gringotts recognise an heir in possession of their key.”

“Really?”

“It helps with the efficiency of service. If you didn’t wish to be identified, you should have said. Do you wish to continue?”

“I don’t know what we are doing?” Harry admitted.

“Revitalising the Potter accounts.”

“Oh, yes. I think that’s a good idea,” Harry agreed. Why hadn’t they done this last time Harry wondered briefly before focusing back on what was happening. Maybe it was due to Professor Sprouts efforts to get him his key.

“It is.” Sharrock took the key and pressed it against a box which lit up within.

“Blood.” Harry blanched at the sudden demand. “You do not wish to give blood? It is needed for the release of the wills and acceptance of the heir ring.”

“I… blood rituals,” Harry tried to articulate.

“Very wise, many do not have such concern. You may use your own weapon if you’d prefer. If not, the blade will go through customary cleansing, standard procedure, everything else is bad for business.”

Harry took the blade feeling slightly nervous and moved to push up his sleeve. Would he have a scar like he did after the graveyard?

“Just a small nick only a few drops are necessary.” Sharrock added before Harry could make a cut. He stabbed the end of his finger instead. Blood welled on the blade and he passed it back. He put his finger in his mouth so as not to get blood on anything else.

Sharrock moved the blood over to the key which was still pressed to the glowing box. The blood touched the metal and the light flashed gold. For a dreadful moment, Harry feared he was going to be subjected to more time travel. The light died before he could truly panic.

“Interesting,” Sharrock commented. “Your magic is much stronger than expected. This makes things easier.”

“Err, thank you?”

“It is nothing to do with me. Place your hand in the box and remove the heir ring.” Sharrock turned the box towards Harry and pushed it towards him.

Having no experience with claiming inheritance Harry decided to go along with his account mangers suggestion, he was unlikely to lead him astray, that couldn’t be good for business. He reached out to the box and carefully lifted the box lid up; the key didn’t slide off. Reaching into the subtly glowing interior Harry wiggled his fingers around trying to find anything.

His fingers brushed something hard he grabbed it and withdrew his hand. When he looked at the object, he saw a ring carved out of a red stone ring, there were flecks of gold within it which shifted as he moved the ring.

“Put it on if you wish it is the heir ring.”

“Harry slipped it on to his finger. His magic surged within him like it had when he’d touched Dudley’s magic. But while it had rejected Dudley’s magic it welcomed the magic in the ring. Harry slumped back.

“Good, I assume you will wish to enact the late Lord and Ladies will?”

“Will it become public knowledge if I do?” Harry asked, he didn’t want to play his hand too soon.

“Only if you wish it too. The benefactors have to be informed within six months of the reading.”

“How quickly do you have to have the reading after enacting it?” He didn’t want to throw his plans off but the will reading could possibly help him too.

“Within a month. Although you must be eleven before you can enact the will.” That would mean the will would have to be fully done by January. He wasn’t planning to wait that long with Scabbers although he wasn’t quite sure what that plan was yet. But the contents of the will may help Sirius out, best have it ready for the fall out Harry decided.

“Please start the process.”

“I assume from your hesitation you wish for it to take the maximum time?” Sharrock summarised.

“Yes, sir.”

“Will your venture be profitable?” Sharrock asked with a raised brow.

“It should be.”

“Then Gringotts has no problem acquiescing to your stipulation. Is there anything else we can do for you today?”

“Um, I would like to get some money out.”

“Of course, do you wish to take the cart or remove via the account box?”

“Wait the box is linked to the account?” Harry asked, why had he not used one previously?

“Indeed, where do you think it went? I assure you that it is secure to your blood and only willingly given blood at that.”

“Thank you. I think I’ll use the box if that’s okay.” It should be quicker, and he didn’t want to leave Dudley waiting. Sharrock waved him once again towards the box.

Harry put his hand into the unknown for a second time. While last time he took a moment to find the ring this time his fingers brushed the top of a stack of coins. He quickly removed a small pile which should see him through his planned shopping trip and through to Christmas.

“Do you have something to keep them in?” Harry asked. He’d picked up a money bag last time in the luggage store. Sharrock removed a small bag from his desk and passed it over.

“Seven sickles, it has antitheft charms, but you can still lose it, though nobody will be able to get in.”

“Thank you.” Harry pushed the correct amount across the desk in return for the pouch.

“Is that all?”

“Can you hide my ring?” Harry asked, it was rather obvious like a red version of Lapis Lazuli it kept catching the light.

“I assume you are referencing the rule where heirs are unable to wear a depicter of rank to school?”

“Err, yes.” He hadn’t been, he’d been more worried about somebody recognising it and asking him why he was wearing it. But it makes sense if there was a rule stopping them wearing them, he hadn’t seen Neville wear one or Malfoy.

“The ring should be able to mask its presence if you are magically strong enough. Push your magic to it with intent, like a wand… but you are too young to have used one, although that may be for the best it will be a more organic glamour.”

Harry had used a wand, but he wasn’t going to say that, instead he focused on making the ring hidden. In a very unsubtle flash of gold, it was gone.

“Flashy but effective,” Sharrock concluded.

“I can show it, again can’t I?” Harry asked prodding where the ring had been. He could only just feel its presence when he concentrated.

“Of course, and it is just as effective in this state.”

“Effective?”

“The ring will, of course, link you to place of family magic, your ancestral home and other established properties. It will also guide you to family members, but as the sole survivor of your family you will unlikely ever experience that unless you reproduce before coming of age.”

“I’m not planning on that.”

“Good children need stability. It will also warn you and protect you of poisons and mind and will altering substances. It should mask your mind from attack, although the Imperious spell and potions you are foolish enough to ingest despite the warning given will affect you.”

“Mental attack?”

“Legilimency being the most common.”

“Oh, of course,” Harry was going to have to pick up a book and read up on things before he came back. Sharrock was going to think him a simpleton if he kept talking if the raised eyebrow was anything to go by.

“Now. If that is everything?”

“Yes, thank you and good luck with the wills.” Harry said.

“Once they are enacted the accounts will come into their own, as they should be.” Sharrock passed him the key after detaching it from the box and the filled moneybag, dismissing him. Harry got up and went to the door. He opened it, the same guide as before was waiting there.

“This way,” Harry followed again at breakneck speed. He was back in the main room. Standing to the side was Dudley, Harry headed over to him.

“Were you waiting long?” Harry asked in greeting.

“Nah, it took ages to sort out, what about you?”

“Confusing, I realised how much I don’t know.”

“Eh, plenty of time to sort it out.”

***

They shopped, wands came first and luggage second, they didn’t skimp on that, they needed a lot and Harry wasn’t going to compromise. He’d lived through a badly organised trunk once and he’d seen the really cool options available, as long as you weren’t trapped in them, they would be fine. He added extra security just to be cautious though.

After that, they got everything Harry could think off. They got a few other bits Dudley reckoned would do them well, sweets and clothes being among his suggestions. While not essential they would make things at Hogwarts better. As Dudley said why suffer when you don’t have too.

By five they were tired and Harry who had never spent that much money was feeling the twinges of buyers’ remorse. Dudley assured him every purchase would be great, but Dudley was an old hand at spend and new to this world.

The last thing to get was an animal, Harry was looking forward to getting Hedwig back. He’d wanted to go there first, but he doubted she would have appreciate being dragged all over the place.

“I know you said you didn’t want anything, but animals make great confidants.” Harry said as they walked into the magical emporium.

“Mum’s, not fond of animals.”

“True but we will be away at school for most the year.”

“Do you think I’m mature enough, do you remember the tortoise?”

“Old you no, new you… yeah. But maybe something fluffy to be sure.” He pointed at some kneazels.

“Nah I couldn’t trust one, I would always be worried it was running to Mrs. Figg.”

“Gah, I hadn’t even considered that. Maybe a normal cat then. You’re allowed a toad too.”

“Maybe less work than a cat. You sure your owl won’t eat it?”

“Luckily post owls won’t eat magical amphibians, the natural magic warns them off.” The boys jumped. “Sorry gentlemen,” the shop assistant apologised.

“It’s fine we were in our own little world.” Harry forgave the man. “We’re looking for an owl and possibly something else. Plus, all the stuff they need.”

“This way then, we’ll start with the owl as that’s a certain.” They walked further into the shop and passed through a doorway with a warded screen. “It keeps them in and stops the different species distressing each other.” He explained when he saw Harry’s reaction to the magic.

As soon as they were through the door a snowy owl flew down and landed on Harry’s shoulder, he put up his arm and she hopped down. Hedwig.

“Hey girl,” Harry rubbed her neck just how she liked. He’d missed her so much. She hadn’t been in the house when they came back in time, out delivering a message to Hermione. But it seemed like she missed him, but that could have been Harry’s wishful thinking.

“Well, I think that’s the choice made.” The assistant said. “Are you happy with the choice or do you wish to look more?”

“No, I’m happy. I’ll need some stuff for her though.”

“We’ll, get that back in the main shop.” They followed him back out.

“Sorry girl,” Harry said as they put her in a cage, the shop policy wouldn’t let her be free and distress the other stock.

“Toad was it young man?” the assistant asked Dudley.

“Yeah, I don’t see myself with a cat.”

“Not to worry, they’re not to everyone’s taste. We do have a fine selection of toads all approved for school.”

Dudley followed the man to the tanks on the side of the wall while Harry stayed and sorted out some treats for Hedwig. In the end, Dudley returned holding a smallish toad that looked like a tree frog.

“It changes colour depending on the weather. It can predict a few hours in advance too,” Dudley explained while showing off his new pet.

They were soon set and walking back to the car. The shop assistant had kindly glamoured the cages so they wouldn’t get odd looks while walking through the Muggle parts of the city.

Petunia was as promised waiting by the car. She gave both boys a tight smile when she saw them. While they’d been shopping it appeared that Petunia had decided to treat herself. Her hair was cut and styled into the way she’d had before and there looked like a few new clothes in bags on the front seat. They quickly piled their purchases into the boot.

While Dudley may have wanted to talk about his day, he wisely kept quiet and in turn, Aunt Petunia splashed out on a takeaway. She was obviously willing to make some sort of effort, but Harry could tell it would never be the same again.


Chapter Five

Hindsight may be twenty/twenty but Harry’s vision had always been slightly off and while trying to document four years of events he was figuring out how little he’d actually seen. Things had to happen for a reason but he’d missed most of the causes and only suffered through the effects meaning most of his plans had large holes in them.

Even without the holes planning was more difficult than Harry anticipated, knowing the future was turning more into a burden than a blessing. There was so much he wanted to achieve but no way he could do it all especially within the time frame he had due to the wills. So, he had to choose who to put first and that left him feeling like a manipulative failure.

He also had to factor his age and experience into things and the biggest problem was even though he was famous he had no social pull to achieve his more ambitious projects.

Dumbledore who built up Harry’s fame had also made it hard for Harry to use it by blocking his access to the magical world for so long. That hadn’t stopped the headmaster from capitalising from it though.

So first off Harry had to find a way to gain control of his public self or else he would be dismissed out of hand. Who would believe an eleven-year-old new to the magical world when he said that one of their most famous criminals was not only innocent but living proof of ministerial misconduct?

So, he needed evidence. But the only evidence he had was in a will, which he was in the process of unsealing. A will the court had already sealed. It alone wouldn’t be enough. He needed more and more came in the form of a rat.

Scabbers. Harry wanted Pettigrew dead, but unfortunately alive would carry more weight with the Ministry and the public. However, Harry needed a public reveal of the Animagus so they couldn’t hush it up or have him kissed straight away like they did with Crouch Junior.

But a public reveal meant that the rat had to stay free for a little longer and possibly be in Harry’s presence. Maybe he could fake a phobia of rodents to keep away from Scabbers. But at the same time, he needed to know where he was to keep an eye on him.

“You’re planning, again aren’t you?” Dudley said from where he sat on the other side of the room reading up on magical customs.

“Yes.”

“No need to be snappy. Why not go with the plan from last night or the one from the day before?”

“Because they don’t work.” He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “None of them work because there are too many players. Outing Pettigrew in the alley wouldn’t work because the rat would just escape in the chaos, I mean the wizarding world isn’t very threat competent on the best of days. Plus, I don’t know when the Weasley’s went shopping or if Ron brought his pet with him that time.”

“Bit weird if he did,” Dudley interrupted.

“It was his new pet, you take Deirdre with you,” Harry defended his first friend.

“We’re bonding.” Dudley retorted defensively. Dudley had taken pet ownership better this time around and Deirdre was a low maintenance animal. “You said the rat was his brothers first.”

“Yeah and Ron and his pet may have been bonding, he didn’t know it was an Animagus.”

“But rats don’t live that long. Wasn’t that suspicious?”

“He was eleven and maybe magical rats do. Do you know how long toads live?” At Dudley’s thoughtful look Harry smirked triumphantly. “See you don’t, so don’t judge.”

“Christ okay point made no insulting old, new friends. I get it.” Dudley threw his hands up in mock surrender. While things were improving between them fourteen years of distrust were not easily overcome, even in extraordinary circumstances. They had their spats, but who didn’t? Ron and Harry certainly had.

“What’s wrong with last night’s plan?” Dudley asked breaking the slightly uneasy silence between them.

“I don’t think I can live in the same dorm as the rat for a night let alone a few weeks.”

“Why not sort differently then? Hufflepuff sounds good.”

“Because,” Harry drew the word out as he said it. “I need to keep the others thinking I’m a placid little follower, I’ve already thrown so much off already that if I mis-sort I’ll get nothing else done because I’ll be so busy trying to keep up with everything.”

“So, get Ron into another house.”

“Weasleys have always been Gryffindor there’s nowhere else for him to go. He’d never step foot in Slytherin. I hate to say it, but he hasn’t got the academic skills for Ravenclaw and the thought of Pettigrew sleeping in the same area as Cedric makes my skill crawl only slightly less than if he was in the room with me.”

“Cedric’s your boyfriend yeah, the one you were dreaming about before…”

“He wasn’t my boyfriend. Just a friend. Pettigrew killed him and then resurrected the dark bastard.”

“Well, what about on the train?” Dudley suggested trying to be helpful. “You said you sat with Ron on the journey last time. Do it again and maybe nearly sit on the rat or something.”

“The only adult I saw apart from the sweet trolley lady was Professor Lupin in my third year. A whole load of scared kids and that monster, he’s proved time and time again that he’s capable of killing people who get in his way, it would be a massacre.”

“Get attention though.”

“Yeah but I’m trying to save lives not get a whole load of kids killed. Plus, how do I get him to transform? Sitting on him won’t work and I don’t want to get that close to him.”

“Spell?”

“Great so I turn up at eleven and do a NEWT level spell to undo the animagus transformation. How do I explain that?”

“You’re paranoid?”

“Short of testing it on every animal I come across that won’t fly.”

“How were you going to do it at school?” Dudley asked instead.

“Potion accident.” Dudley cocked his head to the side curious. “I was going to get some accidently exploding potion on him, probably Neville’s. Pettigrew’s driven by self-preservation so he should transform if his life’s on the line.”

“Could work. So, what you really need is a nice and public accident.”

“Yeah. One without any magic.”

Dudley cocked his head to the side thinking “How do you normally plan?”

“I come up with the outline and then tell Hermione. I go into it prepared to wing it only to find she’s come up with back up plans for all sorts of different scenarios,” Harry admitted. It was kind of terrible how much he relied on Hermione but teased her about the research that inevitably saved their lives.

“So, you’re screwed,” Dudley stated interrupting Harry’s building guilt.

“Pretty much.”

“Want a distraction?” Dudley offered while looking back at the book he’d been reading before closing it.

“Go on then.”

“Want to help me make dinner and explain what magical guardians are and how do you get them?”

“I can help with dinner; in fact, I insist. We don’t need the house burning down on top of everything else. But I can’t explain the magical guardian thing since I don’t recognise the term,” Harry said as he headed towards the fridge.

“From what I could gather a magical guardian is just a normal guardian but for the magical world. Like mum is for me and you here, and your mum was for you in the magic world till she died,” Dudley explained as he methodically cut the onion under Harry’s supervision. “So, I’m thinking they’re like the parent or guardian bit on letters from school?”

“I guess. Nobody really mentioned parents till third year and then we needed them to sign the Hogsmeade form.”

“But you got dad to sign that and he isn’t…” Dudley swallowed hard and wiped his eyes. “Bloody onions. Wasn’t magical.”

“No, you’re right. Maybe Muggle-born get everyday guardians and magical ones,” Harry suggested.

“Possibly, but dad wasn’t your guardian, mum is, I saw it on some paperwork about you. Only she was listed.”

“The wards listened to him though when he was threatening to throw me out, so it may be a bit more complicated when magics involved. Contracts are difficult things.” Like the one which had got Harry involved in the tournament despite him not actually entering.

“Maybe he sort of is… was your guardian at least how the magical world class it?” Dudley suggested as he pushed the onions into the pan. “Like, the wards accepted him and mum and maybe me too.”

“I wonder,” murmured Harry.

“What?”

“If my mum’s sacrifice covers you too as a magical child who’s lived under it for over a decade. Wards can be delicate and semi sentient, and Dumbledore has never been known for his wards,” mused Harry as he stirred the contents of the pot.

“How would we know?”

“Put you in extreme peril by exposing you to a dark lord, luckily we have one on hand as our defence teacher this year.”

“Great,” Dudley sighed. “I was trying to ignore that.”

“Thought you would enjoy the reminder.”

“We’re dealing with him, right?”

“It’s on the list. Why were you asking about magical guardians anyway?” Harry asked before Dudley would start asking him about his as of yet non-existent plans.

“Oh, it said in my book that the headmaster gets guardianship of all the Muggle-born students.”

“What!” Aunt Petunia shrieked from behind them. “That man is responsible for my baby.”

“Err,” Harry said unaware his aunt had come downstairs while they were cooking.

“Change it. I will not have that callous man making decisions about my family anymore, he has done enough.”

“I don’t know how to Aunt Petunia, but I can ask at the bank when we get my parents will read,” Harry offered when he saw how serious she was about it.

“The book says that it’s a magical family member or godparent in most cases,” Dudley supplied.

“That’s good,” the Dursleys gave him confused looks.

“You’re an orphan and I never heard of godparents,” Petunia pointed out.

“I am trying to free my godfather Sirius who either still has guardianship or could get it when he’s freed,” Harry explained. “If he has me, he might be able to take on Dudley as well, we can check into that.”

“Do it. I think I know who you mean, I met him once, but I will tolerate him over that man. I assume he wants guardianship over you and it’s achievable.”

“Yeah he offered to let me live with him before. How possible it is depends a bit on Sirius’s status. I imagine he’s banking on having it though.”

“No doubt,” his aunt agreed. “Do you have a plan to get him free?” Harry sighed, everybody was expecting him to have plans and all he had was a list of things which weren’t options.

“We’ve been working on it,” Dudley answered. Harry had been about to say he’d been working on it, but he supposed Dudley was right. They had been working together or at least Harry had been bouncing ideas off Dudley.

“Good. If you need any help, I shall endeavour to do what I can to see you free of that man.”

“Thank you, Aunt Petunia,” she gave a regal nod at his thanks.

“Dish up now before we all lose our apatite thinking of such unpleasant things,” his aunt commanded as she headed over to the table.

***

“Why don’t you wait till after the will is read?” Dudley once again interrupted Harry’s plotting. He had spent the last few days trying to figure out the situation and had taken to reading the books Dudley had bought to help him understand the magical world. It was slow going.

“I mean it could throw everything off what with guardianship,” Dudley continued ignoring Harry’s annoyed look. “And who knows what your mum and dad put in it they could totally point the finger at the rat man, and you could use that.”

“I doubt it will be enough,” Harry replied getting fed up with how rational Dudley was being. It wasn’t right, could nothing be as Harry remembered it being.

“Yeah then why did they seal it?” Dudley pointed out.

“So, Dumbledore could get guardianship,” Harry muttered having gone over this already with his aunt and cousin.

“Yes, but from what I’ve read,” Dudley pointed at his book. “And what you’ve said. You’re hot property and no way were all the government types were okay with Dumbledore calling dibs on you. Plus, the ramifications of sealing a will from a member of the government, that’s a worrying precedence, they’d all have to be all in,” Dudley pointed out triumphantly.

“The opposing political faction are Death Eaters and they were busy bribing their way out of trouble,” Harry retorted.

“Yes, some of them. But how many were already out or not being arrested yet, this happened before your parents were cold.”

“Don’t be ugly,” Harry snapped at his cousin.

“Sorry, but it doesn’t make it less true. They were all in favour of sealing the will. All of them, that means the other side had something to hide, no way would they let Dumbledore get you otherwise.”

“So, you’re saying that mum and dad had something so explosive in their will the government buried it, and I should wait till I know what it is to plan.”

“Yeah.”

“But…” Harry trailed off.

“What?”

“I was going to be completely naïve and say surely somebody would have done something but they fucking left Sirius in prison for years without a trial. What’s the legal rights of a minor and the will of some dead people compared to that?” Harry ran his hands through his hair in frustration and stared at the messy spider diagram on the page in front of him.

“You need to stop seeing the magical world as salvation.”

“Yeah great advice, thanks Dud.”

“I get it was a great escape from Mum and Dad and me too, I guess. But let’s, be honest, they were just long term shitty and exploitive of you, as opposed to frequently negligent and occasion physically abusive. Doesn’t make anybody involved the hero.”

“Well isn’t my life great when you put it like that,” Harry muttered.

“We’re working on it.” Harry had to admit that Dudley was at least trying to be a better person, his aunt too in a distant way. But then neither of them had been as bad as Vernon so they had less to change.

But they were trying which is more than certain figures in the magical world had. For all Dumbledore had been a guiding figure in Harry’s life it wasn’t in a direction he wanted to go in anymore. It wasn’t in his best interest, he could see that clearly now.

He screwed up the plan and threw it at the chimney breast. Petunia was talking about getting contractors in once school started to put a real fireplace in and redecorate. “I just need to do something,” Harry muttered.

“You can.”

“What. Dudley what can I do? The will reading isn’t for another week and as you pointed out any plan, I come up with is likely defunct depending on what we hear then.”

“So, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.”

“Like what? Let the rat keep living its life; sure, because the murderous scum deserves every comfort. Yeah sure. I can do that, in fact, I’m doing so right now. Or how about plan to take down the Dark Lord who killed my parents.”

“Okay lot of sarcasm there cousin. I get it you need to do something, but it can’t all be action.” Dudley argued back. “You can learn.”

“What?”

“Oh, I don’t know Harry, how about all the things you didn’t know last time, like your family and your position and the rules which go with it. Maybe you’ll piss of less people this time through your ignorance and get new offers of help. Or you can research how we keep our fucking knowledge secret, so we don’t get carted off by your corrupt government and locked away and end up doing no fucking good at all!” Dudley stood up. “You say you want to do better but all you do is plan action, great short-term planning there. You need more, we need more. We need to fucking understand the game not just try and knobble opponents because we’re pissed off. I’m trying, you’re not.” Giving him a dirty look Dudley stormed out of the room.

Sighing Harry kicked the coffee table. He did want to learn; he did want to make things better. He just didn’t want to end up knowing how badly he’d let himself be fucked over last time. “Coward, you won’t make Gryffindor this time with that attitude,” he said to himself.

With nothing else to do he picked up the book Dudley had abandoned, ‘Rules and Regulations of Social Relationships’ what an inspiring title.

At least if he read it, he may get on better with the Slytherins he’d probably insulted them, their families and at least seven generations of ancestors with his behaviour. Why hadn’t he been called out on it? It was almost as if the staff wanted the tension between the houses. Almost as if they were building armies for the war within the school. Harry shook his head trying to clear it of such thoughts. Aunt Petunia’s hatred of Dumbledore was affecting him, it couldn’t have been that bad surely, he hadn’t been so far down the rabbit hole, had he?

***

Harry took his cousins advice and tried to learn. He also apologised for his behaviour as did Dudley, but relations between the two were still slightly frosty. The more he learned, the more Harry became infuriated with the magical world and himself. Had he really been so blind and why had nobody done anything? About him about the situation and about the whole of society.

“Well at least your eyes are fully open this time.” His aunt sniffed as he muttered over the intricacies of magical house relationships. “Your mother was, for all her intelligence, too slow on the uptake.”

“Yeah but she didn’t have a magical house either mum, it makes it extra hard for Harry.” Dudley chimed up.

“Perhaps. Have you received a date for the will reading?” She changed the subject.

“Yeah I’m going for the 1st of August. I have to be eleven to do it and I don’t want to do it on my birthday.” He shrugged his shoulders helplessly, he had never celebrated his birthday because of her actions. But reading his parents will wasn’t going to be fun so why ruin the day.

What’s more the date would also let him know if Quirrellmort was still following the same plan, he tried his robbery on the evening of the 31st last time.

“For the best,” Harry blinked at his Aunts response in shock; surely, she didn’t care about him that much so suddenly. “If I recall you weren’t born till late evening. Magic may not accept you’re of age until after that.”

“Yeah,” Harry muttered feeling slightly deflated that was the only reason. Even if he was surprised, she knew so much about his birth.

“Means we can do something for your birthday then,” Dudley interjected. “How about a trip to the zoo.” Harry and his aunt stared at him.

“Dudley do you think it’s appropriate?” Petunia fussed at her son.

“Maybe I mean we didn’t go because of Dad,” Dudley swallowed hard. “But we enjoyed it last time and we need a break and some good memories. Before…”

“Well I suppose,” his Aunt murmured. “We could spend the night get Lily’s will over with early the next day, it would save us traveling. I could possibly get Vernon’s sorted for the 2nd. Probably best not have them on the same day.” Harry and his cousin held their breaths unsure if they were really going to get a three-day trip to London.

She rose from the table and found the solicitors card in a bowl on the counter. “I’ll give them a ring and see. It could work and save me from the driving, although hotels in London are expensive so we best book soon if we do.” She left the room heading for the telephone in the hall.

“Did that just happen?” Harry asked turning towards his cousin.

“I think so.”

“Thanks. For you know suggesting a birthday trip.”

“We kind of owe you something. Plus, it’ll be good fun, no evil plots just family. Although, no snakes this time yeah?”

“Definitely not,” Harry said grinning at his cousin.

***

By some miracle the visit to London was given the go ahead. Petunia managed to book rooms at a reasonable price in a Bed and Breakfast preferring it over the soulless commercial hotels.

The visit to the zoo went far better than the first time and Petunia even bought both boys a Knickerbocker glory with a nostalgic smile. They didn’t go into the snake house, so saw more of the zoo than last time and Dudley got to build some good memories with his mother.

“Will you please sit still,” Dudley groaned from the other bed in the B&B room later that evening.

“But.”

“No. No buts. Wiggling a hole in the sheets with your arse is not going to make tomorrow happen any sooner and if you don’t get any sleep, you’ll be too tired and miss something important,” Dudley whispered at him.

“You do realise you sounded just like your mum then, but with more swearing.”

“Yeah, well, means its good advice then doesn’t it,” Dudley retorted while blushing.

“I’m nervous,” Harry admitted trying to sit still. “What if we find out something vital? What if we don’t? What were my parents like? What if they didn’t like me?”

“I don’t know Harry, but your parents died for you. Your mum reached out to mine despite their feud to brag about you so I’m pretty certain they loved you completely.”

“Your mum loves you too Dud.”

“Yeah I guess,” Dudley said but Harry could hear the doubt in his voice.

“She totally put herself in front of you the first time around when Hagrid broke down the door and when she thought the dementors were coming back even though she didn’t have magic, she was willing to stand between them and you. Still is.” Harry consoled.

“True,” Dudley said smiling. “Gran really knew how to raise decent mothers.”

“That she did,” Harry agreed flopping back onto his bed. “Things might be a bit tense tomorrow at the bank.”

“Because what we’re finding out?”

“Yeah, but also there may be an incident at the bank tonight with Quirrellmort so security tomorrow will be hell.”

“Okay?” Dudley tone suggested he wanted more information. Harry hated flying blind so he decided to explain further.

“I mean we haven’t changed much in the magical world so I can’t see why he won’t go for the stone. But I don’t know where he is or what he did until this point.”

“Frustrating,” Dudley agreed.

“Yeah I wanted to destroy his way back to life as well.”

“Through the ritual?” Dudley interrupted. “The one in the graveyard?”

“Yeah that one, but I don’t know where Little Hangleton is.”

“Atlas, Mum’s got one in the car,” Dudley offered breaking Harrys train of thought.

“Hadn’t thought of that, I was going to use the Knight Bus, but realised it would be a bad idea. I mean why would an eleven-year-old want to take the Knight Bus to a Muggle area?”

“Just checking, but that’s the big purple death bus you mentioned?”

“Yeah that’s it.”

“Bad idea to use it. You said it’s a Ministry subsidised thing yeah,” Harry nodded at his cousin. “Well they probably check where it goes, and you can’t be the only one who knows that Quirrellmort has a connection to that place.”

“Hadn’t thought of that,” Harry admitted. “It was more that I’m recognisable and people would ask where and why is Harry Potter going there and that is just as suspicious. Also, what’s to say Quirrellmort wasn’t lurking there like the creepy fucker he is.”

“Yeah.”

“But that means the bones of the father are left undisturbed and accessible to him.” Harry sighed rubbing his arm where the ritual scar had been.

“Rat man was needed last time thought and were taking him out early.”

“He’s a Dark Lord, Dud they have loads of disposable minions, he’ll just find another.”

“True but in four years we can take out the bones,” was his cousins optimistic reply.

“But we’re trying to get things done quicker and stop these other things happening. But I don’t know enough about where people are or were,” Harry replied getting frustrated with his inability to do anything or predict anything. If only he had been any good at divination.

“Then why don’t you get Mum to do it.”

Harry gave his cousin a long look. “Really. You think that’s a good idea?”

“Yeah why not? I’m sure she’d like a bit of revenge on the bastard that killed her sister so why not let her have a day trip out to desecrate graves and fuck up a Dark Lord’s day? She’s got the car and the atlas, and nobody’ll think anything of it,” Dudley replied.

“That’s brilliant, I mean, if you think she’ll go for it. If she does it in term time Quirrellmort will be at school so it’ll be safe. I bet he doesn’t have anything in place for visiting Muggles if he’s thought of the graves at all at this point.”

“Exactly now go to sleep so we can be brilliant tomorrow. I’ve used up my quota for the day,” Dudley yawned before pulling the duvet over himself and rolled away from Harry.

“I don’t have to do this alone,” Harry murmured as he settled down as well.

“Of course, not you idiot, we want to succeed; now go to sleep.”

“Good night to you too Dud,” Harry laughed.

***

The bank was as Harry feared a total nightmare. Security had been increased and every direction you looked were armed guards. The Daily Prophet had reported on the break in that morning and crowds of people had turned out at the bank that morning. While at first Harry thought they were panicking and trying to withdraw their savings he quickly realised they were here for gossip.

“This is a nightmare,” Petunia said echoing Harrys thoughts. “What time was the appointment?”

“Ten.”

“Well it’s a good job we got an early bus to the Alley or else we would be late. They obviously don’t teach manners at that school of yours. Do make sure you don’t behave like them boys,” Petunia said as they watched a group of witches try to push ahead in a queue and get into a shouting match with a balding wizard until they were all dragged out the building by the guards.

“We won’t Mum,” Dudley promised. “You’d think they would be more cautious around blades.” He observed as another couple tried to peer through a door way being guarded by a quartet of goblins.

“I think they assume as wizards they can’t be hurt,” Harry suggested watching another try to take a photo inside the bank before also being forcibly ejected.

“Arrogance,” Petunia agreed.

“It’s like they forgot about all the rebellions,” Dudley muttered as they shuffled forward in their queue. Dudley had been reading history texts recently trying to understand how things had ended up as terrible as they currently were. “I think Wizards don’t like remembering wars in which they don’t do very well in.”

“Isn’t that all of them,” Petunia said rather snarky manner. Harry thought he saw the closest guard smirk, but the expression was so fleeting that he couldn’t be sure.

Eventually they made it to the desk and an escort was provided to get them through not only the crowd in the atrium but to see them directly to the door of the meeting room.

“I commend you on your prompt arrival especially considering todays difficulties,” said Sharrock in way of greeting. “Before we begin, I am obliged to tell you there was an attempted theft. There was nothing taken, and your assets are safe.”

“Err thank you. I have no complaint with Gringotts’ service,” Harry announced trying to emulate the formality of the first statement.

“Excellent then let us proceed.” Sharrock snapped his fingers and a roll of parchment appeared before him. “This is the will. It needs the blood of the heir to enact it.” He conjured a knife which looked the same as the one Harry had used before and beckoned Harry closer.

“Why is it always blood?” Harry sighed.

“Because it holds magic and it is unconditionally yours,” Sharrock replied. “Guard it well.” He offered Harry the knife and once again he stabbed the end of his finger, he saw his aunt shudder out of the corner of his eye.

He watched a few drops fall on to the parchment and sit on the surface. “It’s not soaking in like normal.” Harry said with a frown.

“It is unlike the parchment you will have come across and will use at school. That is a more modern and plant based, it is therefore, cheaper and more readily available. This is true parchment, made from animal skin.”

“Same as the House of Lords using vellum then?” Aunt Petunia asked.

“Not exactly, vellum is a French term referring to just calf skin, we use magical animals for an added security.”

“Can you use anything to make parchment then?” Dudley asked.

Sharrock looked down at the parchment, the blood had yet to soak in. “As we have time, yes anything can make parchment. However, different animals have alternative value. For example, a squirrel while able to be used offers little value for writing documents.”

“Post it notes,” Dudley nodded in agreement.

“Indeed,” Sharrock looked slightly amused at the idea. “However magical animals have innate protections which continue in their skins. It makes it much harder and incredibly obvious if the contents have been interfered with.”

“Have these?” Harry asked looking at the blood drops still doing nothing on the parchment where they had landed.

“No. These are untouched they were sealed and ignored for a decade. These things take time,” Sharrock reassured.

Rather than hover awkwardly over the document and Sharrock, Harry wandered back to his seat.

“What is it written on?” Dudley asked breaking the silence.

“Griffin. The family has a store of such parchments in a family vault for the writing of important documents.” As he finished speaking the paper began to glow. “Ah here we go.”

What followed was a mixture of overly long legal terms and phrases which had to have been written by his parent due to the easy and humorous tone to them. While Harry struggled to keep up with the events, he noticed that Aunt Petunia was doing better, Dudley looked as lost as he was.

“And that concludes the reading of the will.” Harry blinked and looked around unsure what to do.

“So, they did have provisions for Harry.” Petunia whispered from beside him.

“Indeed. These can be back paid to you in accordance to the will.”

“No. I didn’t take him willingly or raise him well, let him keep the money and let him do some good with it,” Petunia said.

Sharrock gave her a long look. “Very well then, if that is your desire, I will see it done.”

“Will that speed up the other bequests?” Harry asked unsure what to make of his aunt’s declaration.

“No, we can process those concerning you today due to your presence at the reading.”

“That’s good. Do I need to sign anything?” Harry asked feeling like he needed to do something.

“You do.”

“Does it involve blood?” Harry asked to which he only received a sharp smile in response.

“This is a blood quill.” Sharrock said as he passed a black quill to Harry. “You will need to sign your name. The ink is as you may have guessed your blood.”

“How does that work?”

“Magic. I will caution you that over use will cause magical scaring.”

“Oh. Will it hurt,” Harry asked giving the feather a worried look.

“If properly enchanted no. The pain will be minimal no worse than the scratch of a needle.”

“That’s what the school nurse always said before giving us an injection,” Dudley interjected. “I don’t think they got scratched with a needle often as it never felt like that.”

“Thanks Dud. Just what I wanted to hear.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Please sign here.” A series of parchments, the proper expensive type by the feel of it were pushed towards Harry, little crosses marked the area he needed to sign.

“What of Sirius Black?” Aunt Petunia asked as Harry was busy working his way through the paper work. He was reading it first; he was signing with blood after all.

“That is an interesting question. The will declares him innocent, and the government guilty. Where does that leave us?” Sharrock mused.

“What is the evidence of his guilt, where are the trial transcripts, and can the will be used to challenge his sentence?” Petunia pressed. Harry was pleased that she was taking control, he wasn’t sure what he needed to do, and Petunia seemed to have a better grasp on the legality of things, but then she had worked as a legal secretary until Dudley’s birth.

“It could, but I would need to see a copy of the transcripts. This would need authorisation as well.”

“Can you arrange it?” Petunia asked.

“Yes.”

“Then please proceed. Harry can give what you need.”

“If Heir Potter agrees then we will.”

“I agree,” Harry piped up from his paperwork. “Can you look into what will be needed for an inquest and possibly care of a long-term prisoner as well?”

“You think that it likely that he is innocent then,” Sharrock said speculatively. “Enough doubt has been raised that I can see your concern. I will look into this.”

“Thank you,” Harry smiled feeling like a weight had been lifted. His Aunt seemed to be willing to fight for them and Sirius wasn’t alone either. He didn’t know it yet, but he would be free soon and Harry could have a family. Feeling buoyed Harry got on with the signing, even if it did cause his magic to prickle.


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Izzy Hound

In an attempt to escape from my academic writing I took up a hobby ... writing. Like all crafters, no matter the medium, I soon found myself getting buried under the products of my creativity. So in the time honoured practice of all crafters, I started sharing my work. Whether you want it or not, you're getting it and just be thankful you don't know me in person or else you'd be getting another handmade scarf for Christmas.

10 Comments:

  1. A fully reasonable and relatively wise Dudley is such a shock. I actually prefer him to Harry in many ways. This is a joy to read!

  2. I think I like how scattered, disorganized and frustrated Harry is. I’m sure he’ll get his act together soon. Especially now since he has someone to watch his back and act as a sounding board.

  3. Most excellent! Not surprising that a 14 year old, kept in the dark Harry doesn’t have all the answers. I know I certainly didn’t have them all at that age, even if I thought I did. 😀

  4. WOW! What a wonderful first chapter! Thank you for writing such a great concept. Now I’m going to rush off to read the rest of the fic.

  5. Well, that’s me, hooked for sure. I like how you have Petunia actually caring about how she treated Harry, and how Dudley is trying to help. Looking forward to the rest!

  6. Let her take a day trip and desecrate some graves lol brilliant

  7. It’s like Dudley is the new Hermione. Quite an interesting story. Time travel, but not the usual tropes associated with it. Thanks for writing.

  8. Wonderful story. Great intro chapter.

  9. Greywolf the Wanderer

    this is awesome!!! oh, man, dunno how I missed this one, but I’m on it now, lol! w00t!

  10. Great part 1. I like how Dudley explained his changes and mental growth, and then had it highlighted by spending time with Piers. Harry never had to think for himself so he is struggling. I’m glad Petunia is starting to step up. Who knows where the relationship could go.

    Oh. Right. You do! Lol

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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