Chapter 3 : Hungry, Were You?
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Harry closed his bedroom door and took a moment before he managed to catch Ron’s owl Pig as he raced madly around the room. He stuffed the bottled memory from Professor McGonagall safely in his pocket so he had both hands free.
“Let me untie the message and then you can go as mad as you like,” muttered Harry. “Have a drink from Hedwig’s bowl before you go back. I’m sure she won’t mind if you want to stay and rest for a bit.”
To his surprise, Pig flew up beside Hedwig’s cage and took a drink from the water bowl Harry had left out.
Harry smiled up at the tiny owl as he opened the letter.
Thanks for your note. I’ll come as soon as I can, but I’m not sure when that will be.
Things are getting a bit chaotic around here. Dad is rushed off his feet and keeps getting called back in to the Ministry at all hours. I did find time to tell him that I may not be able to spend much time at school next year, though.
I was surprised when he said he understood and promised to break the news to Mum for me when the time was right. He also said he’d try and get me a job at the Ministry, saying that Newts weren’t always needed provided I was prepared to do something fairly unglamorous to begin with.
I said I didn’t mind so long as it wasn’t in the same department as Percy!
The real shame is that I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of becoming an Auror. Still, that was probably always a bit beyond me anyway.
I’ve got to go now. Ginny is yelling herself hoarse as I write! I mean, how was I to know they didn’t want biting flowers?
See you, Ron
PS Hedwig has just delivered a note from Hermione, but I’ll have to read it later when Ginny quietens down a bit. I was going to send this back with Hedwig, but she flew off at once.
Anyway, I hope you don’t mind but I’ve told Pig to rest up at your place for a couple of nights. He just won’t stay still for a moment here with everything that’s going on. Apologise to Hedwig for me will you? Thanks.”
Harry looked up at Hedwig’s vacant cage. He’d told her to stay with Hermione for as long as she needed her, since she didn’t have access to owl post.
He took out the glowing memory and stared at it once more and wondering what it meant.
What he really needed was to talk everything through with Hermione. Had Dumbledore really given two messages to McGonagall? Or, had one of the memories been intended to harm him?
“Hungry were you?” asked Harry in an amused tone.
For once, Pig wasn’t flying around the room in a heightened state of excitement. He was, though, looking very pleased with himself.
Harry had no idea what the rodent-like creature was that Pig had returned with. It had taken the tiny owl several attempts to carry its heavy meal up to the open window of Harry’s bedroom. Harry had watched on in amazement but had managed to resist helping the owl with a discrete Accio charm.
He hadn’t received a Ministry warning about his performing underage magic. He had tentatively asked Professor McGonagall if she thought he was likely to receive one. Of course, he hadn’t dared confess he had performed a killing curse, but she seemed to think that minor discretions so close to a seventeenth birthday were generally ignored.
After taking a few moments to recover, Pig started ripping open the prey with gusto.
Harry was used to seeing both Hedwig and the school owls both hunt and eat. They were efficient hunters and their talons and sharp beaks weren’t there just for looks.
Even so, it came as a little surprise to Harry seeing Pig like this. Somehow he had never associated the tiny owl as any kind of serious hunter, seeming to survive on owl treats and bits from Ron’s plate.
As Pig continued to work at the window sill, Harry scanned the dark night sky, wondering if Hedwig was out hunting that night too.
He had felt rather out of sorts since he had summoned Dumbledore’s memory. He didn’t feel ill, exactly, but he wasn’t quite himself.
He was sure now that he didn’t hold the other half of the message, since he had no idea at all what the new memory was. Maybe Hermione could suggest where the other part might have been secreted away if it wasn't in the bottle.
He considered if it could it be in the bottle McGonagall had given him. On balance, Harry thought this was unlikely, given what she had advised him about intercepting messages sent as memories.
Harry woke with a start and it was a few moments before he calmed down enough to realise it had only been a dream. Once again he had fallen asleep at the window.
Next to him, an overfed Pig slept on.
Harry ran his fingers through his hair and found he had been sweating profusely. His hair and shirt were soaking wet, even though the night air was pleasantly cool.
He gently picked Pig up and placed him inside Hedwig’s cage. Falling asleep on the edge of the window sill with a shear drop directly below hadn’t been the most sensible thing for the owl to do.
Still, he mused, dreaming about Dementors hadn’t been very sensible either.
Harry went into the bathroom and splashed cold water over his face. Then, deciding he might as well wash properly, he pulled off his polo shirt and filled the basin a little more.
He hadn’t switched on the bathroom light, but the downstairs hall light was still on and this gave enough light to see by.
It was only as he washed that Harry acknowledged to himself the reason why he hadn’t turned the light on.
He hadn’t wanted the recollection of his dream to be disturbed.
He certainly had no love of Dementors, but somehow he knew there was something important he had to remember about them.
His dream had been about the night they rescued Sirius.
Harry dried himself off and returned to his bedroom. He switched on his desk lamp and almost immediately began writing.
In the blink of an eye, or so it seemed, the dawn light flooded into his bedroom.
Harry dimly turned off the lamp, wondering what had come over him. The desk was covered in manic notes with many crossings out and corrections.
Harry walked into the kitchen. For once he was there during daylight hours, but this time he was actually going in search of his Aunt.
Petunia was sitting at the breakfast table, looking quite lost in thought.
They were alone in the house, Harry having waited until his Uncle had left for work.
“Cup of tea?” he asked. Without waiting for a response, he switched the electric kettle on and busied himself making two cups of tea.
He placed the two cups down on the table and sat down opposite her. It was the first time he’d seen her properly since he had arrived home.
“Thanks for leaving me those meals,” he said politely. “I couldn’t face coming down before.”
Petunia nodded slightly and lifted her cup to her lips.
“I’ll be leaving in a few days,” he continued. “There will be people to watch the house after I leave just in case Voldemort decides to pay you a visit.”
“Is that likely?”
“No,” replied Harry. “Voldemort knows you know nothing and want nothing to do with me.”
“Might he murder us just to upset you?”
“It’s no secret we don’t exactly get on. Hopefully you’ll be fine so long as you are careful, but the Order’s offer to help hide you still stands. You'd all be much safer if you went with the Order.”
Petunia nodded, but didn’t look particularly reassured.
“I wanted to warn you, though, that before I leave two of my friends will be joining me. Hermione and Ron are from school. They will be staying here a few nights.”
“Vernon will be delighted,” she replied dryly.
“I’d really rather avoid a scene, if that’s at all possible.”
“He won’t be happy about having them to stay.”
“It won’t be for long. I may be stuck here until my birthday and we need to agree between us what to do.”
“What to do?”
“I’m not going back to Hogwarts. There’s nothing there for me now.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Aunt Petunia, Lupin said I should try and make things up with you. He seemed to think I’d regret it one day if I didn’t.”
Petunia said nothing, but sipped from her cup. They sat in silence for some time.
“Why did you hate my Mum so much?” he asked finally.
“I didn’t hate her,” said Petunia at once, but it was a moment before she continued. “I hated what she became and the world she left me for. We had been so close before she found out what she was, but it seemed that in only an instant she had abandoned me. We lost our parents just after I left school, while Lily was in her senior year. She came back for the funeral, but the very next time I saw her was when she turned up and announced she was engaged to him.”
“I’m sorry,” said Harry. “You must have missed her.”
“It was just awful when he turned up with her. He was forever playing tricks and showing off. Lily told him off a few times, but really she found it all just as amusing.
“The final straw was when he did something to my hair just as I was going out to meet Vernon one evening. I have never been so humiliated in my life,” she said shakily. “It was simply awful.”
Harry frowned, curious to know what exactly had happened.
Petunia shuddered and continued, “Lily shouted herself hoarse that time. She said he could go to Azkaban and she would be a witness for the prosecution if he didn’t promise to never do anything like it again. She threw her engagement ring back at him too, I recall. Then she ordered him out of the flat we shared.
“He came back a few days later when Lily was out. He tried to apologise, but Vernon just punched him. He was knocked out cold for a few minutes. I knew he could have easily defended himself, but Lily must have made him promise not to use magic. I later suspected that his restraint was what persuaded her to take him back.
“We got an invitation to the wedding, but we didn’t go. I don’t think I saw him again.”
She looked up, tears filling her eyes.
“I hope you won’t take it out on Vernon.”
“No,” Harry promised gently. “I’ve seen for myself what a prat my Dad could be sometimes. My Mum was having a go at him that time too.”
“Um, it was like a video recording, I suppose,” he explained awkwardly.
“Sirius, my Dad’s best friend, told me he grew out of it. Maybe it took a little longer than I thought, though.”
Petunia nodded, dabbing her eyes with a delicate handkerchief.
“Aunt Petunia, when did you find out about Voldemort?”
“Lily came to see me. She only came the once, and I don’t think your father knew. She was expecting you at the time. She looked ill with worry and wouldn’t stay still for a moment. She was constantly at the windows.
“Anyway, she explained that a wizard named Lord Voldemort was gaining power and that both of them had been targeted. I confess, I was surprised he wasn’t on Voldemort’s side from the way Lily described his attitude to non-magical people.”
“She asked you to take me if anything happened?”
“No. She said they might have to go into hiding and it might be a long time before she saw me again. She brought some hand-knitted clothes for Dudley. I was expecting him at the time, of course.”
“I wish I knew more about her,” said Harry wistfully. “I know a bit about my Dad, but hardly anything about my Mum. Just that she was good at Potions and had green eyes like me.”
“By the time we found you on our doorstep, I had almost convinced myself that I no longer had a sister. It was easier that way, you see? If she was gone, there was no point in spending every minute hating her for leaving.”
“It was your eyes. Lily’s eyes. The moment I lifted the blanket and saw your eyes, I knew what had happened. I didn’t need to read the letter. Every day after that, you were a constant reminder of her.”
“So, it was harder to resent her leaving you?”
“Yes. The worst of it was that as you grew it was obvious that you were becoming the very image of your father. Vernon never did forgive him for what he did.”
“You’re not the only ones to have hated me because I looked like my father.”
Harry was surprised to hear there was no bitterness in his voice.
“I won’t have it, Petunia!” bellowed Uncle Vernon from downstairs. “It’s bad enough that we had to have him back again without having more of his kind under our roof!”
Harry had opened his bedroom door and was in two minds whether to close it again or go downstairs.
His Uncle had been shouting ever since he had found out that Harry had invited two of his friends to stay. That was three hours ago and his considerable volume hadn’t reduced in the least.
Harry decided he ought to go down. If nothing else it would give Aunt Petunia a rest from being shouted at.
He entered the living room and braced himself for the onslaught. Aunt Petunia gave him a look that said plainly she thought he was asking for trouble.
“I’ll make some tea, dear,” she said before hurrying out to the kitchen.
“Boy! Don’t you dare look at me like that!”
“How am I supposed to look at you?”
“Go to your room!”
“I thought we might talk.”
“Did you indeed?! Talk? What could you say that was of any interest to me?”
Harry made to sit down, but paused to remove his wand from his back pocket.
“Don’t you threaten me with that thing!”
“I’m not,” said Harry. “I carry it around with me in case anything were to happen. That’s all.”
“Likely story,” muttered Vernon as Harry rested his wand at his side.
“Look, it will only be a few more days and then I’ll be gone forever.”
“It was hardly worth coming back, was it? Why did you bother, or did you just want to upset your Aunt one more time?” he added nastily.
“I only came back because I gave my word to Professor Dumbledore. The protection I have here will end on my birthday, because I’ll be of age. He wanted me to have the benefit of that protection one last time.”
“But what good will do?”
“I honestly don’t know,” admitted Harry.
Vernon picked up his evening paper, screwed it up and threw it back down again, clearly too agitated to read.
“What’s all this rubbish about more of your kind coming to stay? This isn’t a hostel, you know?”
“My two best friends are coming here before I leave. I promise we won’t get in the way.”
Vernon just made a derisory, “Hmph,” sound.
“Look, there’s really no point in getting all worked up about it. They have their own things to do. They might not even get here before my birthday.”
“Why do you need to stay until your birthday?”
“Maybe I won’t. Dumbledore didn’t exactly say how many days I had to stay for. I just have this feeling that this year, I have to stay. Before, just a few days would do. I wish I knew myself, but I don’t.”
“Well, don’t feel obliged to stay on my account. Your Aunt has agreed that you can stay until your birthday. For some unfathomable reason, she has also agreed that your friends can stay too, if they turn up. I’ll go along with it just so long as there isn’t any trouble or funny business. The moment any hint that you-know-what has been done, I’m throwing the lot of you out. Am I making myself clear enough for you, boy?”
Harry sighed and nodded. It was more than he expected, anyway.
“Mr Potter, we have never met. What you see before you is a mere memory of myself.”
Hermione arrives at Privet Drive earlier than expected and belatedly agrees not to perform magic on the Dursleys. They try to use the Pensieve to view Dumbledore's memory, but Hermione is ejected and Harry meets a younger Dumbledore.
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