Chapter Picture by Trixy @ TDA
Time seemed to screech to a halt in the kitchen. Petunia dropped Tonk’s wand as though it had burned her hand, her mouth falling open as she stared at Harry who was shouting obvious obscenities at the top of his lungs, but no sound was escaping his lips.
Tonks picked up her wand and waved it at Harry “Deletrius!
Now, everyone calm down for a moment and take a seat. Harry gritted his teeth as he threw himself into a chair. Petunia’s eyes darted to the doorway, but Ron stepped between her and the exit and she slumped into a chair at the table.
“Now, what’s going on?” Tonks kept a firm grip on her wand.
Harry was first to break the silence. “Well you just saw, didn’t you? She can do magic! She’s a witch!”
Petunia sighed and stared down at her hands folded in her lap. “No, Harry, I wouldn’t say that was entirely true. If you want to hear my story I will tell you, but please be patient.” She smoothed her apron and looked around the table. Tonks looked curiously back at her, and Ron’s furrowed brow showed a great weight of confusion.
“Harry, I know that Dumbledore informed you why he placed you in my care after your mother died. I am certain, however, that he did not tell you anything that may have happened when Lily and I were younger.
“Surely you know by now about your mother, about how she went to school and became, well, a witch. And she met your father and his friends and they had their own lives, you know. Lives that I was never really a part of.”
“You could have been if you’d wanted to,” Harry retorted. “You didn’t have to shut her out or call her a freak!”
Petunia pursed her lips. “Harry, when they started sending letters, when they came for you, did you know right away that you wanted to be a wizard?”
He stared at her, dumbfounded. “Yes.”
“Well I didn’t. I was frightened. When I was eleven and I received my first Hogwarts letter – yes, I got one too,” she answered Harry’s question before he’d even had a chance to phrase it. “When the first letter came, I thought it must be some joke. I ripped it up and threw it away before anyone had a chance to see it. But the next day another owl arrived with another letter, identical to the first. I hid it under my bed. That night I couldn’t sleep, trying to figure out what this all meant. It’s not so easy to believe Harry, when you don’t have anyone show you the way, when your parents are Muggles and you’ve never even imagined witches or magic to be real. Anything I’d been told of witches was from fairy tales. Those witches were all mean, bitter hags who hurt good people. Who would ever want that, I asked myself. My parents would be so disappointed to know that I was going to grow up to be an evil witch! But the letters came all through the night, they would not stop. Just after dawn I had decided what to do.
“I had written a letter in response. It said, ‘Thank you for your invitation, but I politely decline, Sincerely Petunia Evans’. When the last bird came, I took the letter and gave it mine in return.” She paused briefly, but everyone remained silent. “They stopped.”
Silence engulfed the small group for a few minutes, and then Ron spoke. “You turned them down?”
Harry jumped up and began pacing. “And then the next year my mum’s letter came, and she showed it to my grandparents.”
“But they weren’t disappointed, they were excited. And she went and they were proud,” he persisted.
“She went and she changed, your mother did! All of a sudden she thought she was really something. Lily could do magic! Lily was gifted! And no one saw her for what she really was, a freak!”
“My mum was not a freak! My dad was not a freak, I am not a freak, and my friends are not freaks!” Harry shouted. “Or if they are, then so are you, because you’re just like the rest of us.”
“No, I am not! I rejected your way of life.” Petunia stood and surveyed her nephew with disgust. “I didn’t go to your school, I didn’t take up your ways, and I most certainly am not a witchy little" she stressed the next word, "freak
Not offended in the slightest by Petunia’s judgment upon her, Tonks turned to Harry. “She’s right Harry, if she was Muggle born and never trained, she isn’t a witch. She doesn’t know how to be.”
“Then how did she perform that spell?” Harry accused.
“You think your mother didn’t use that on me dozens of times herself?” Petunia scoffed. “She liked to show off sometimes too, your mother, play little tricks on me. You pick things up after a while.”
There was a knock at the door and everyone jumped. “Probably Remus.” Tonks said, crossing to the hallway. “Harry, get upstairs and finish packing, I’ll come help you in a few minutes.” And with one last glare in Petunia’s direction, he stormed out of the kitchen and up the stairs to his room.
“Well, that’s a bit of a surprise.” Ron said, closing the door behind them.
“She’s wrong about my mum.” Harry opened his trunk and began tossing his possessions pell-mell into it.
“Of course she is!” Ron grinned at Harry and nodded vehemently. “I’ll bet she was just jealous of your mum. She’s a right git herself though, turning down a Hogwarts letter. I didn’t even know you could do that!”
“Neither did I.” A knock on the door and Tonk’s peeked her head into the room.
“Honestly, Harry, you said you’d started already!” She grinned and flicked her wand about the room, Harry and Ron watching as clothes folded mid-air and flew into the trunk along with books, and as a final touch all of the posters papering Harry’s walls rolled themselves up neatly and nestled on the top.
“You’ve gotten loads better since last time!” Harry commented as the latches flipped shut by themselves.
“Thanks!” Tonks beamed. “Locomotor trunk!
Professor Lupin was exiting the door of the temporary guard post, which had been turned back into a simple storage cabinet yet again. “Hello Harry! Ready to head out then?”
“Yes. Er, Professor, how are we getting there?” Harry’s birthday was still a week away, so Apparition was out, unless of course they would do a Side-Along. Harry hoped this would not be the answer, for he had never particularly enjoyed the sensation of being squeezed through rubber tubing, and that was what Apparition entailed.
Lupin chuckled at he apprehensive look on Harry’s face. “You’ll see!” he said as he walked to through the front door and out to the curb. Harry followed curiously, and started when a car materialized out of thin air directly in front of the Dursley’s driveway. Fred and George Weasley, Ron’s older brothers popped out and opened the back door with a flourish.
“You’ve gotten another enchanted car then?” He grinned at the twins, pleased to see them as they usually provided some measure of hilarity.
“Just.” Fred grinned back.
“It’s a present.” George beamed.
“And Mum too.”
“For the wedding!”
“Isn’t it customary to buy gifts for the people getting married?” Harry asked.
“Well, we’ve done that too, of course!”
“Yes, what do you think we are thick or something?” George frowned in feigned offense. “Now get in!”
* * *
A rather harrowing ride and a bumpy landing later, everyone poured gratefully out of the car. Arthur Weasley sprinted out from the house, eager to inspect the new vehicle. He was captivated with everything to do with Muggles and had a particular soft spot for electronics and automobiles.
“A Henry Ford!” he exclaimed with glee.
“And she’s all yours, Dad!” Fred tossed him the keys.
“Just keep ‘er away from Ron and Harry!” George laughed good naturedly, and Mr. Weasley gawked at the keys in his hand.
“For me?” he quaked. “But however did you –”
“Don’t mention it, old man!”
“Trust me, its better you not be able to tell Mum how we’ve got it.” Fred winked as he heaved Harry’s trunk onto the ground. Harry was glad to be back at the Burrow. This was the only place that had ever felt much like a home to Harry, except maybe Hogwarts.
“Harry! Good to see you, dear!” Molly Weasley turned from the wide variety of pots she had simmering on the kitchen stove and pulled Harry into an affectionate motherly hug.
“Hello Mrs. Weasley.” Harry smiled to himself as she released him and reached for the twins.
“And you two, off all the time at your shops! Not even time to drop in and say hello to your own mother!” Ron rolled his eyes behind his mother’s back. Mrs. Weasley was notorious for constantly admonishing her sons, but everyone knew that it was all out of love. Admittedly, the twins had been spending very little time at home lately. They had successfully opened their own joke shop in Diagon Alley, and recently another branch in Hogsmeade Village.
“Sorry Mum!” they chorused in unison.
The whole of the Burrow seemed to have been transformed for the wedding of the Weasley’s oldest son Bill and Fleur Delacour, one of the other competitors in the Tri-Wizard Tournament that Harry had been a part of three years ago. Everything was spotlessly clean, including the garden where the couple was planning on holding the ceremony itself. The night before the wedding Ron and Harry were sitting by the fire playing yet another game of wizard chess when Mrs. Weasley poked her head into the room.
“Ron, I’ve pressed your new dress robes and hung them up for you, so please be careful not to get them mussed.” Ron nodded as Harry’s knight beheaded one of his pawns. “Harry dear, I couldn’t seem to find yours. You did pack them, didn’t you?”
“Um, I think so.” Harry mumbled.
“Well perhaps you could have a look see and if you find them, just bring them down to me?”
“Sure. Thank you!” Harry called as Mrs. Weasley bustled off to finish the rest of the washing. Harry left Ron to contemplate his next move and ran up the stairs two at a time. Just as he reached the door to the room he and Ron shared during the summers, footsteps pounded down the stairs and he was face to face with Ginny Weasley.
“Oh, um, hello Harry.”
“Hello.” The few times that Ginny or Harry had spoken to each other had all been awkward. Try though she might to keep her promise from the end of the school year, Ginny found it hard to be around Harry now that they were ‘just friends.’ Harry’s emotions alternated between feeling horribly guilty for ending their relationship just as it had begun to grow and solidarity in the knowledge that he was doing the right thing by keeping her safely away from Voldemort. But as they were standing embarrassed on the landing, Harry couldn’t help but notice the appeal of the way she bit her bottom lip. “Are you excited for tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yes. Everything that they’ve got planned should be loads of fun, bit surprising for Fleur, really. But I bet Mum will spend the whole day crying, you know her.” Ginny attempted a laugh, and Harry joined her.
“Yeah, she’s asked me to look for my dress robes to wash; said she couldn’t find them in my trunk.”
“Do you need help?” Ginny asked, thinking immediately after what a stupid thing it was to say.
“Oh, um, I think I’ll manage. But thank you.” The conversation was stiff, overly polite, and obviously looking for an escape hatch, so Harry nodded and reached for the door handle.
“Oh this is just stupid, Harry!” Ginny cried. “Look, I know why you did what you did, but I’m sick of us not being able to talk to each other like normal human beings anymore. So if you don’t want to be with me, well, that’s your choice. But don’t treat me like a stranger either!” She spun on her heel and started back up the stairs, but Harry reached out and took her arm.
“Gin, wait!” She stopped, and he motioned her into the bedroom. She crossed in front of him and slouched onto Ron’s bed. Harry sat tentatively across from her and sighed. “I’m sorry Ginny. I really am. I don’t mean to treat you like a stranger.”
Her face softened and she lifted her eyes to meet his stare. “I know you’re not doing it on purpose, Harry. Neither am I. It’s just so dumb that we’re acting this way.”
Harry nodded. “I don’t… I don’t know what to do around you anymore, I guess. I figured you’d just been mad at me, so I-”
“Mad at you?” Ginny jumped up and crossed the room to sit next to Harry on his bed. “I’m not mad at you at all! Maybe I don’t agree with your reasons, but I know why you ended things.”
“I care about you too much to put you in that sort of danger, Gin. If we were together and Voldemort knew how I really feel about you, I don’t want to know what he would do…” his voice trailed off. Harry couldn’t bring himself to think about what the Dark Lord would do to Ginny in order to get to him.
“Feel.” Ginny murmured. “You said feel, not felt.”
Harry’s heartbeat quickened as she tucked her small hand under his. “I – Well, I mean – I suppose that you could say –”
“I miss you too, Harry.” Her bright brown eyes sparkled at him, and Harry drew in a sharp breath. She was sitting too close.
“Ginny, no. We can’t do this all over again. It’s not fair to you, and I don’t think I could handle it either.” Harry felt like a tremendous git as he pulled his hand away from hers. Suddenly the sparkle was gone from her eyes, and a growing darkness was rapidly replacing it.
“Forget it, Harry. I don’t want to hear this. Just –” she wrenched the door open. “Just leave me alone for a while, okay?” and with that she was gone.
Ten minutes later, dress robes in hand, Harry stopped just short of the living room. Someone was shouting inside, and the voice sounded distinctly familiar.
“I will not, Ronald Weasley! And if you’re going to behave this
way about it, ambushing me when I’ve just now arrived, then I’m leaving!” Hermione’s footsteps came dangerously close to where Harry was hiding and then stopped. “Thank you for ruining a perfectly lovely evening, you stupid wanker!” Harry and Hermione nearly collided as she left the room and he entered at the same time. “Oh! Harry… um, goodnight Harry, I’ll – I’ll see you in the morning.” Tears glistened in the corners of her eyes.
“Goodnight Hermione. Glad you’re here.” He watched her climb the stairs and then turned slack-jawed to face his friend who had thrown himself down in the chair by the fire. “What the bloody hell was that about?”
“Absolutely nothing. And if you care to keep your nose in place, you’ll leave it.” Ron growled. Harry shrugged, not willing to push the issue further, but unwilling to concede defeat either. Ron gritted his teeth for a moment and then stood. “I’m going to bed.” Harry nodded, thinking it wise to remain quiet and not mention the fact that it was barely eight o’clock.