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All the Difference by AutumnBelle
Chapter 5 : Chapter Five
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 5


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CHAPTER FIVE

“Yes, Harry.  Family,” James echoed, and his meaning was clear – they weren’t going anywhere.

Harry’s smile remained on his face. 

Lily placed a hand on his arm.  “Harry, I know it’s going to be odd, talking about the small things – or even, in your case, the more important parts of your life.  But we really want – and need­ – to know.”

Harry’s face fell slightly and he looked to the ground.

“Ask away, then, I guess.”

James wasn’t entirely sure why Harry was so hesitant to reveal details of his past, and he questioned whether he wanted to know why Harry didn’t want to tell them.  James had a hard time believing it was out of shyness – how could his son possibly be shy?  Instead, he had a horrible feeling Harry thought they wouldn’t be happy with his life thus far . . . and from what Dumbledore had told them already, Harry’s life had indeed been far different than they’d ever planned. 

“Do you remember what I said to you . . . the first thing I told you after you woke up in the hospital wing?” James blurted.

Harry looked up and met his gaze.  His green eyes softened and he gave a half-smile.

“You said you were proud.”

James nodded.  “Exactly.  We are proud.  We know little about your past, but we know enough that it’s obvious you’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations.  We would have been proud of you if you’d ended up in Hufflepuff hugging plants, mind you.  But honestly, Harry – I can already tell that you’re everything I – we – could want from a child.”

Harry’s face was red, but whether from embarrassment or pleasure, James wasn’t sure.  Harry sighed.

“You’re going to get angry, I think.”

Lily nodded.  “I can already tell you I know I’ll be angry with Petunia.  And Voldemort.  Possibly Dumbledore.  But you have to realize, sweetheart, that we aren’t angry with you.”

Harry gave an incredulous snort.  “That’s not it, exactly.  I guess . . . it’s just different, having someone to get angry over the Dursleys, or Voldemort, or Dumbledore.”

Sirius kicked his foot out and nudged Harry.  “What am I? I’ve gotten plenty angry over the past couple of years, I’d say.  And Mrs. Weasley has too, I’m willing to bet that, just from meeting her briefly in the hospital wing. And you can’t forget about Hermione, Harry.  She’s nearly always worked up.”

Harry smiled and shrugged at Sirius’s claims.  But everyone in the room knew the real reason Harry was hesitant – he was still finding it hard to adjust to having parents.  How difficult would it be, to wake up one day and suddenly be able to form a bond with two people you’d longed to meet for most of your life?  To finally have them, right in front of you . . . Harry had admired them for years.  And now they were here, in the flesh, everything he’d always wanted them to be.  Wanting to be the parents he’d always wanted to have.

Lily gave him a small smile and looked at him with kind eyes.

“Start from the beginning?  With Petunia?”

Harry’s scowled for a moment before he composed himself into a false calm.

“Nothing much to say.  My life didn’t really begin until Hogwarts.  I went to Muggle School until I was eleven.  Then I came here.”

Sirius looked at him disbelievingly.  “Harry – from my understanding, you’ve been threatening the Dursleys with my mass murdering skills for the past year or so.  You do realize that if you tell James and Lily the truth, they are the ones who have the true power to avenge some of the wrong the Dursleys have done you?”

James looked at Sirius warily before turning to Harry.

The young boy’s face was still hesitant.

“Harry,” said James seriously, “We are asking you, as your parents, to tell us everything the Dursleys have ever done that made you in any way miserable.  I don’t like the way this is sounding – tell us now before we have our first argument.”

Harry looked upset, but James saw a hardness appear in his son’s face that he hadn’t seen before; it was stubbornness, determinedness, and rebellion.  It was a look James knew that he himself wore often.

“They never told me I had magic,” Harry spoke quickly, his words clipped and annoyed.  “I lived for years, thinking I was some type of freak for turning my teacher’s hair blue or re-growing my hair after ridiculous haircuts.  I was nothing better than dirt on their shoes, while they treated Dudley like a spoiled prince.  I lived in a cupboard, under the stairs, while Dudley had two bedrooms.  I never celebrated my birthday – I never got any presents, if you don’t count Uncle Vernon’s dirty socks.  They did everything they could to keep me from my Hogwarts letter – the school eventually had to send Hagrid to come and get me.”

Harry paused and took a breath – the adults were horrifyingly silent.

“Every year that I return from Hogwarts, they lock my school books up.  They tell everyone I’ve been going to a school for incurable criminal boys.  They force me to be nothing more than a house elf, cleaning up their lawn and making them breakfast.  They won’t even allow my owl out to hunt, most of the time.  They won’t even allow me to eat, half the time. They put bars on my window and locks on my door to keep me hidden, to save them from the embarrassment of the neighbors discovering their magical nephew.”

Harry’s face was red from barely contained anger and he didn’t shy away from glaring at his family.

“While I’m at the Dursleys, I have no one but Hedwig.  Before her – I had no one at all.”

His expression was less angered and more desperate as he looked to the floor in defeat.

“I used to dream, when I was little – when I had no idea what either of you looked like – that you’d come for me.  That you’d take me away from them.  All I wanted was someone to love me.”

The tension in the room had increased by the second since James had demanded Harry’s story. 

Harry took a deep breath and fidgeted.

“I – I’m not mad at you.  You are the best parents I could have asked for – you died for me --”

He paused once more, the end of his sentence hanging in the air and clearly unfinished.

“I never asked for any of this.”

The words unspoken spoke louder than the ones he’d voiced.   I never asked for any of this.  It was more than just his frustration with the Dursleys – it was more than his parentless childhood – it was more than his prophesized future – it was all of it put together.  

James could only imagine how long Harry had been waiting to say that to someone.  To tell his story, and have someone be equally as infuriated and devastated.  For someone else to feel just as cheated by fate.  The chance to run to his parents, like a child should, and tell them all his problems and have them fixed.

They all looked up abruptly at the sound of Lily crying.

“Lily,” said Sirius, his voice sad.

She waved one hand to stop his words and placed the other over her face to cover her eyes.

They were silent.

James felt himself getting teary, so he took a deep breath and cleared his throat.

“We never asked for any of this either,” James said, completely non-accusatory and softly.  “Our lives should have been so different, Harry.  We – We had such a different life planned for you.”

Lily was still silent but refused to remove her hand away from her eyes.   James glanced at Sirius, who was sitting to his right, and noticed that his best friend’s gaze was locked on him, his face defeated and sorrowful.

“We would have celebrated if you’d turn your teacher’s hair blue.  You wouldn’t have necessarily had a teacher, though. We probably would have kept you at home, teaching you the basics of magical theory.  We would have given you nearly anything you wanted. You would have been – you are – the best part of our lives.  And the day your Hogwarts letter came, we would have had a party – gone immediately to Diagon Alley – given you the best school supplies.  You could have had all the friends you wanted over for the holidays.  We –“

James paused and looked at Lily, wondering if she would intercede.

“We would have never let you fight Voldemort.”

The most important person though, was looking right at James with a blank expression and wide eyes.

James met Harry’s eyes and knew that nothing he ever said would make Harry’s past struggles disappear.  His son’s suffering would always be a part of him.

“It will be like that now,” James concluded.  “I promise you. We are here now.  Nothing will be the same.”

Lily gave a great gasping sob, trying to catch her breath, and stood up from the bed.

“I need a moment,” she rasped.  Without words, they watched her enter the small bathroom and shut the door behind her.

Harry looked at the door guiltily.

“I didn’t mean to upset her,” he murmured, and his previous hesitant behavior reappeared.

James stood up and awkwardly made to take Lily’s place on the bed next to Harry.

He clasped Harry’s shoulder and gave him a small shake.

“You haven’t.  It’s not you.  It’s the Dursleys.  It’s Voldemort.  Just as she told you before.  None of this is your fault.”

He’d barely got the words out and Lily was opening the door again and charging in the room.

Her face was red, just as her hair, and her eyes conveyed her hurt.

“How could Petunia do something like that to a child? To anyone?” Her expression was fierce but her voice was a whisper.

No one answered her; there was no answer to her question.

She fussed with her sleeves in barely contained emotion and tapped her foot.

“I have to go speak with her – her behavior has nearly always been rude towards me, after I came to Hogwarts, but to treat an innocent child like –“

She cut off and sat down in James’s unoccupied chair.  Her face was still red and angry, but she was speechless as she stared at the ground in fury.

The room was silent.   It was hard to move on.  If hearing about Harry’s childhood with Muggles was so horrible, how much better would it be to hear about his time at Hogwarts, dealing with the darkest wizard of the century?

Sirius cleared his throat.  “Let’s focus on positives.  Start with your first year at Hogwarts.  I know you got on the Quidditch team – youngest in a century.”

James looked at Sirius in surprise before shooting his stare to Harry.

“You didn’t tell me that when we talked about flying!  Would have been the first thing to come out of my mouth, if it were me!”

Harry smiled, his face slowly losing its anger and sadness.

“I caught a Remembrall in front of McGonagall during my first flying lesson.  I took a steep dive and it impressed her.  She took me to the Capitan and ordered me a broom.”

James squinted and looked at Sirius with mild insult.

“I’ve always been a brilliant flyer – I even won the Quidditch Cup that one year – she’s never done anything special for me.”

No one was sure just how serious James was about his perceived outrage.   But the sly look James gave Harry out of the corner of his eyes told Sirius knew he meant his words to pay a compliment to Harry – to make him feel any amount of special.

Harry shrugged.  “We didn’t win the Cup.  I actually . . . didn’t get to play in the last game.”

Just like that, their conversation turned.

Sirius interceded once more.  “What about Ron and Hermione?  I’ve never even quite heard the full story on the three of you.”

“They were the two we saw in the Hospital Wing,” Lily stated, joining their conversation once more.

Harry nodded at her.  “Ron’s a Weasley.  He has six other siblings, all with bright red hair.  Hermione’s muggleborn. Her parents are dentists.”

He smiled then.  “I met Ron on the train my first year.  Mrs. Weasley helped me get on the platform.  He came and sat with me – all we did was eat sweets on the way there.”

James nodded.  “I know the Weasleys – well, I don’t know them, but all pureblood family names are well recognized.  I think –“ He looked to Sirius.

“Wasn’t Gideon and Fabian related to the Weasleys?  Is it their sister who married into that family?”

Sirius nodded.  “Yeah.  Molly. Ron’s mother.”

Lily wiped her eyes one last time.  “Dumbledore expected your friends and their families could be in the know about us.  Have you told them?”

Harry ducked his head.  “Before I came up here.  Neither of them really believed me at first . . .”

Sirius gave him a rueful smile.  “I wouldn’t have believed you either.  I didn’t even want to believe James, and he was standing in the flesh speaking with me.”

Harry nodded.  “Dumbledore’s word goes a long way, I guess.”

Sirius’s face lit up mysteriously and he glanced at James with mischief.

“Actually James managed to convince me himself.   Prongs doesn’t lie.”

James looked away, almost embarrassed, as Lily looked at him critically.

“Indoors, James?”

He shrugged and opened his mouth to reply, but Harry cut him off.

“Can –“

James and Lily looked at him expectantly.

“Can I see?”

James glanced at Sirius’s wide grin and Harry’s excited eyes, and realized that while he might know little of his son, Harry clearly knew something about him.

James nodded silently and stood.  He spent most of his life basking in the chance to show off his talents – it was something he enjoyed immensely.  But the nerves that suddenly appeared, making his hands weak and his smile less confident, were completely new to him.  Magic was easy to him – effortless.  He had no reason to be nervous.

But Harry’s excited face, his wide smile . . . the memories of when baby Harry had seen Prongs popped into his mind.  James felt as though his son had great expectations of his animagus, for reasons he was unsure, and it made him want more than anything to live up to said expectations.

“Okay, you should step back.”

With a pop, Prongs appeared in the small room.   Sirius and Harry both looked at him, critically and amazed. 

Harry leaned forward to look closer but seemed to be too afraid to actually touch Prongs. James took a small step forward and nosed Harry’s arm, giving him the go ahead.   Harry slowly brought his hand up, and curiously, traced the markings around his eyes, just as Sirius had.

“It is exactly the same,” he murmured.

James waited until Harry had backed away again to transform back.

“It’s the same,” Sirius repeated, looking solely at Harry with distinct pride in his voice.

James suddenly felt like he was out of the loop, when he should have been in the middle of it.

“Pardon?”

Sirius grinned.  “Harry’s Patronus – it’s exactly the same as Prongs.”

Words wouldn’t organize themselves in James’s brain, so he was glad when Lily spoke.

“You have a Patronus?  Why – why?” Her voice switched from stunned disbelief to stressed in seconds.

Harry opened his mouth to reply.  Sirius winced.

“That’s actually all my fault,” Sirius admitted.  “They sent Dementors after me, when I escaped.  I came to Hogwarts to catch Peter.  Remus taught Harry to conjure a Patronus because the Dementors affected him more than the others.”

Lily squinted at James, Sirius, and Harry in turn before shaking her head.

“Nothing about that sentence makes sense to me.  Why would Peter be at Hogwarts? How could you have possibly known where he was?  And Remus – why was he the one –“

James suddenly found his voice and cut Lily off rather loudly.

“Show me.”

Harry looked at his father wide-eyed.  Sirius stepped away from Harry and gestured.

“Yes, I’ve never seen it properly either.”

With shaky hands, Harry reached in his pocket and pulled out his wand.  

Lily grasped James’s arm lightly, and they looked at each other briefly.  It would be the first time either of them saw Harry do magic - apart from the little things he managed to do as a baby.

Harry clearly felt the pressure, just as James had.   He closed his eyes with concentration.

Expecto Patronum!

A silver stag erupted at once from the tip of Harry’s wand.   It glowed bright in the small room.  The stag was rather restless – it pranced around the bed, searching for the danger it’d been conjured to expel.  When no immediate threat was registered, it pranced lightly to a stop and stood still, seemingly looking at each occupant of the room in turn.

James took a step forward, without accord, and the stag shifted uneasily; while he might not be a danger, the Patronus was meant for protection – its sole allegiance was to its caster. 

With purpose, the stag straightened proudly before slowly vanishing before their eyes. 

James felt shaken to his core as he looked at the spot the stag had stood.

Silence filled the room.   Harry looked restlessly at his family; Sirius stared misty-eyed at the spot the stag had been, just as James – and Lily had placed a hand over her mouth, her eyes fixed solely on her husband.

“You never left him.”

The four occupants of the room were brought out of their stupors and turned sharply towards the sound of the voice.  Dumbledore stood at the doorway, his expression light and peaceful.

They all waited for Dumbledore to continue, but instead, he studied each person slowly.

“Your love for him, the both of you, protected Harry even though you were not here to protect him yourself.”

Dumbledore paused and waited for a response, but it was clear that James and Lily were beyond words.   The Headmaster respectfully moved on.

“Tomorrow afternoon the trains will leave Hogwarts,” Dumbledore began. He turned to Harry.

“I know you would much rather spend time with your family, but I wonder if you would be willing to attend the feast tonight?  I am going to say a few words about the return of Voldemort, along with the events that transpired in the graveyard – I would like you to be there, if you will.”

Harry shrugged offhandedly.  “Yeah.”

Dumbledore looked to Sirius next.

“Did you manage to contact any of the former members in the short period of time you were gone?”

Sirius grimaced.  “Just Fletcher.  Thought I’d try him first.  I figured he wouldn’t be as quick to kill me as some of the others.”

Dumbledore nodded.  “Yes, I will contact Remus and the both of you can relocate the old crowd.  None will question his judgment of you.”

Dumbledore looked to James and Lily. “But before that, perhaps you will want to see Remus?”

James and Lily both nodded.  Dumbledore smiled.  “He will most definitely enjoy seeing the two of you once more.  Sirius and I will explain what has happened to him first, of course.”

The Potters nodded in agreement once more.

“We – we were horrible to him,” Lily whispered.  Sirius shifted. 

“He understands now, Lily,” he explained.  “We’ve already been forgiven.”

“One last thing,” Dumbledore continued, “regarding your future living arrangements –“

“They can stay with me,” Sirius blurted, his face determined and excited.

“Er – Sirius, do you actually have anywhere to stay?” Harry questioned, his face uncertain.

Sirius waved him off and looked at Dumbledore with defiance.

“I’ve been thinking – if the Order is going to be reestablished, we’re going to need a Headquarters. I have the perfect place.  My parents’ house; I inherited it when they died.  It was once under the Fidelius Charm – but my mother was the Secret Keeper and she’s dead.  I know the location, along with a few of my cousins.  But if we recast the charm with a different Secret Keeper, it should prevent them from finding it again. Besides - no one would even think to come looking for us there.”

Dumbledore looked thoughtful.  “That is true.  I do not believe any of your relatives that previously knew the location would be able to reveal it, or find it, if a different Secret Keeper is instated.  Unless, of course, that Secret Keeper told them the location once more.”

Sirius nodded happily.  “Exactly!  We can have the Headquarters in a safe place, not to mention a rather large house.  Even with James, Lily, and Harry staying there, there would be plenty of room for anyone who needed to lay low.”

James looked at Sirius hesitantly.  “Sirius, mate . . . Do you really want to go back there?  After everything – everything that happened?”

Sirius looked alarmed for a moment, before his face turned into a scowl.

“I hate it there.  I won’t deny it.  But if we –“ He gestured to all three of the Potters “—are together, it will certainly be worth it.  Not mention – Harry needs protecting, and we need to keep hidden.  It’s the best solution.”

James still looked doubtful.  “I’m sure we could find somewhere else – We might be able to relocate to my parents’ house --“

“Let me do this, James,” Sirius snapped.  “You did the same for me. You gave me a home when I had none.”

Lily squeezed James’ arm and nodded to Sirius.  “Of course, Padfoot.  It is a good solution. However –“

She glanced at Harry.  “However, is it wise to have Harry at Headquarters?”

Harry’s face reddened in defiance and Sirius put a hand on his shoulder.

“Of course it is!  He’ll be completely protected!”

“I don’t think that’s what Lily was referring to, Sirius,” Dumbledore interceded.  “The Order of the Phoenix is essentially an army at its core.  The information that passes among us is of the utmost importance – people could be, and have been killed to obtain the information we possess.  Especially now that Voldemort is rising underground, with the Ministry refusing to believe he is back – the Order will be the only resistance to him.  There is a chance he will come after us tenfold.   Harry should not have to deal with the fear of being pursed for his knowledge of the Order and its workings – he is pursed enough already.   Furthermore, he is a child.  Should we subject him to more than he is already forced to be subjected to?”

Lily looked at Dumbledore in surprise.

“I agree with you.  But remember - I want Harry to know what he needs to know.”

Dumbledore nodded.

Harry looked insulted.  “Don’t I have a say in any of this?”

None of the adults answered him.

Dumbledore sighed.  “What you have all forgotten, I’m afraid, is that Lily and James cannot necessarily attend Order meetings.  Not everyone will know they are alive – not everyone would be willing to believe it either.  That is why I believe this arrangement can work out – Lily and James can ensure that Harry neither sees nor hears anything he needn’t.  They can make sure he stays clear of the meetings while they are being held.”

James scoffed incredulously.  “It was hard to stay confined in a house before, Albus.  Now you’re saying we might have to be confined to certain rooms so we will not be seen? Maybe this isn’t a good idea.”

Sirius looked alarmed.  “No!  It can work out!”

Dumbledore was silent in thought for a few moments.

“It is Sirius’s home.  I see no reason why he wouldn’t be able to restrict an entire floor from the eyes of the Order.  We really only need one room, most of the time.   The rewards of this arrangement – the protection it will provide, along with the opportunity to live as a family – should outweigh the risk.  If the two of you,” Dumbledore looked to Lily and James, “are willing to be careful, I see no reason it cannot work.”

James looked put out.  “I want to be able to attend the meetings.  If I can’t, what can I possibly to do help?  I can’t be seen in public!  I can’t go fight Death Eaters for fear of Voldemort discovering us!  I won’t be able to bloody do anything!”

Sirius raised an eyebrow.  “Neither will I, James. And I can tell you everything that happens in the meetings.  Or – if Harry agrees to behave himself – you can Disillusion yourself and listen in.”

Dumbledore gave an amused smile.  “It will not be much different from before, James, when you were hiding.  I have asked you if you wished to let any other than Remus and Sirius know of your return – you said no.  In the end, despite my beliefs, it is your decision to decide who can know of your existence.  It is your life.  But remember – you must also think of what it will mean to Harry, and to those who also returned from the grave, if by chance your existence is revealed to the wrong person.”

Lily looked up at James sadly.  His wife’s eyes were sympathetic and comforting.

“Harry matters the most, James.  Above everything else.  You know that.  We can do this – we can live with Sirius and prevent Harry from harm.  You already knew we wouldn’t be able to fight like we did before; not attending the meetings won’t be too hard.  You know as well as I do that Sirius will tell us every single detail.”

Sirius nodded.  “Of course!”

Dumbledore sighed.  “We will figure it out when the time comes.  For now, though, I must prepare for the feast.  You should do the same, Harry.”

Harry looked at his parents and Sirius with reluctance; he didn’t want to leave them. 

“Wait a moment!” said James. “We’ve barely started talking! We hardly discussed his time at Hogwarts at all!”

Lily’s face darkened.  “Yes.  And I’ve heard some interesting stories, Dumbledore, about Harry’s home life.  I will be paying Petunia a visit.”

James looked at her, his face lighting up diabolically.  “Not alone, you’re not.  I’m going to be there also.  Scare the wits out of them, threaten their lives ---“

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that,” Dumbledore’s stern voice interrupted.  “I will not allow you to see your sister, Lily.  I am sorry.  They are Muggles – they don’t understand magic to begin with, let alone the very rare magic that brought you back.  It is hard to tell how it will affect them – it is difficult to say if anyone would be able to know that you visited them.”

“The hell we can’t!” Lily’s voice rose. “You just told James he could decide who knows he’s alive.  Well, I want to speak with Petunia and her husband, so they most certainly will know I am back.  They can’t treat my child that way without repercussion.”

Dumbledore looked at her warily.  “And you will do as James said?  You will ‘threaten their lives’?”

“Yes!” James agreed.  Lily, on the other hand, basked in her anger for a moment before speaking.

“It is hard to tell what exactly I will do.  But you cannot deny me this, Dumbledore!  How would you feel, if you were our position?”

Dumbledore looked at Harry for a long moment.

“I am sorry, Lily.  I forbid you to go see them.  It is risking too much for the purpose of vengeance.  One day they will get what they deserve, but today is not that day.”

Lily’s eyes flashed and her face reddened even more. 

James put a hand on her arm.  “Let it go.”

With shock, she turned to him.  He looked equally as infuriated, but something about his expression made her think he was holding something back.  She knew that look – he was planning . . .

Dumbledore looked suspiciously at James before he nodded.

“After the feast tonight, Sirius and I will travel to his house and perform the Fidelius Charm.  As the leader of the Order, I will be the Secret Keeper.  And tomorrow, after the students have all boarded the train, I will escort the two of you home.  I will inform the Weasleys of the location, and they can bring Harry.”

Lily looked stricken.  “I –“  She glanced at Harry.  “I wanted to meet him on the platform.”

Greeting children from Platform nine and three-quarters has always been an inherent right of parents; Lily had missed out on his first day of Hogwarts.  She wanted to be there, she wanted James to be there to welcome him home as a family, for the first time ever.

Dumbledore looked at her sorrowfully.  “I am sorry that you cannot.  Even if we disguised you – Harry is too well known; people would wonder who was greeting him.  You will have to settle for welcoming him home at Sirius’s house.”

Harry looked begrudgingly at Dumbledore. 

Lily looked back at James, willing him to say something and argue, but he shook his head at her.  If mischief weren’t clearly present in his eyes, she would have wanted to slap him.

“Sirius,“ Dumbledore called his name as he turned to leave. “We will meet after the feast and go to your house.  And tomorrow, after I have escorted Lily and James there, we will search for Remus.”

Sirius looked equally as displeased as the Potters.  He nodded and let Dumbledore go without argument, however.

When Dumbledore was gone from their room, Harry looked at his parents cautiously.

“It’s all right,” he said dejectedly, “It’s enough that I get to leave the Dursleys – that I never have to see them again.  You being here means more to me than putting yourself in danger to threaten them.”

Lily walked forward and pulled him into a tight hug.

“Everything will work out, darling,” She talked into his hair, “We will be happy and safe. I promise.”

Unlike most teenage boys, Harry turned into her hug and held her equally as tight.  When they pulled back, both looked calmer.

James also took a step forward and pulled Harry towards him.   He ruffled his hair.

“Your mother’s right.”

With a grin, he turned his face away from listening ears and spoke directly to Harry.

“Brilliant Patronus, son.  Absolutely brilliant.”

Harry was grinning ear to ear when they separated.

“I’ll you tomorrow then?” He questioned as he walked backwards to the door.  “At Sirius’s house?”

Sirius nodded. “Our house, now.  Tomorrow.”

Harry reluctantly turned the door handle, and with a small smile and wave, disappeared out the door.

Lily closed it behind him, pulled out her wand, and silenced the room.

“Dumbledore has a lot of nerve!” She growled. “We can do whatever we please.”

James smirked.

“You better tell me what you’re planning, James Potter!”

Sirius looked to him in interest.  “A plan? Can I help?”

James shook his head in refusal.  “It’s perfect though.  We’ll be able to pay Petunia and Vernon a visit, and go and meet Harry on the platform without danger.  Dumbledore won’t even be able to argue, in the end.”

Lily raised an eyebrow.  “I can’t imagine what you’re thinking.”

James sighed, a disgusted look on his face.   “How did your visit with Snape go?”

Sirius shuddered and looked at Lily with surprise.  “Why would you go see him before you saw me?”

Lily gave Sirius an exasperated glance.  “He found me first, Sirius.  And James, it went as well as it could have gone.   I found out a few tidbits of information I think will interest you.  But why do you ask?”

James’s disgust turned into wariness.

“Because we’re going to need his help.” 


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