The Boy Who Lived

See Key/Warnings in Chapter One. Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a cloak of invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon.  All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny closet at the foot of the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in eleven years. 

Sirius looked at Harry startled.  “James I know you had plenty of birthdays.”

“I’m not James. I’m Harry Potter.”

“Little Harry? But you’re only a baby,” Sirius said confused. 

Harry sighed.  ‘I’m surrounded by insane people. Just my luck.’  “No I’m twelve years old now.  I’m… was in Hogwarts.  Until I got expelled and thrown in here with my wife Ginny.”

“Little Harry want to play?” Ginny asked.

“No Ginny,” Harry said looking at her.  “I want to read this book.”

When nobody said anything he continued.  But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed.  There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

He turned the book over and saw a picture of himself trying to catch a snitch with a unicorn running across the grounds and a Cerberus hiding in Hogwarts.  “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.”

“Who’s J.K. Rowling?” Ginny asked.

“I have no idea Ginny.  I’d like to know how the woman knows about me and the magical world. Think she’s a squib?”

“Could be a muggle,” Bellatrix said. 

“But how would a Muggle know about the wizarding world?”

“With people like Molly Weasley, I’m surprised the muggles haven’t found out about us by now,” Bellatrix said. 

Harry coughed to get silence and opened up the book to the first page.  Chapter One.  The Boy Who Lived.

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.  They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange and mysterious because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense. 

Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm called Grunnings, which made drills. 

“What’s a drill?” Sirius asked.

“A muggle contraption that is used to screw in bolts and screws so muggles can build houses and stuff,” Harry said.

He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large mustache.  Mrs. Dursley was thin and blonde and had nearly twice the usual amount of neck, which came in very useful as she spent so much of her time craning over garden fences, spying on the neighbors.  The Dursleys also had a small son called Dudley and in their opinion there was no finer boy anywhere.

“They sound pleasant,” Bellatrix said with a sneer.  “How did you manage to get by without killing them?”

“Well I didn’t know I was a wizard until the day I got my letter,” Harry said.

“What?!” Bellatrix screeched.  “What do you mean you didn’t know you were a wizard until you got your letter?!”

“You’ll find out if I’m allowed to read,” Harry said. 

Bellatrix waved her hand for Harry to continue.  The Dursleys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. They didn’t think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters.

“There’s nothing wrong with the Potters!” Sirius shouted. 

“That’s just the way my relatives think,” Harry said.  “They’ll be glad to never see me again though.”

Mrs. Potter was Mrs. Dursley’s sister, but they hadn’t met for several years; in fact, Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn’t even have a sister, because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be. 

“That’s not even a word,” Ginny said. 

The Dursleys shuddered to think what the neighbors would say if the Potters arrived in the street.  The Dursleys knew that the Potters had a small son, too, but they had never even seen him.  This boy was another good reason for keeping the Potters away, they didn’t want Dudley mixing with a child like that.

When Mr. and Mrs. Dursley woke up on the dull, gray Tuesday our story starts, there was nothing to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening all over the country.  Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away as she wrestled a screaming Dudley into his high chair.

“These people must have dull lives,” Bellatrix said. 

“Yeah. Uncle Vernon hates anything to do with imagination,” Harry said. 

None of them noticed a large, tawny owl flutter past the window.

At half past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek, and tried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls.  “Little tyke,” chortled Mr. Dursley as he left the house.  He got into his car and backed out of number four’s drive.

“Horrible child,” Bellatrix said.

It was on the corner of a street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar-a cat reading a map. 

“Oh I bet that’s Minnie!” Sirius crowed.

“Minne?” Harry asked.

“Minerva McGonagall,” Bellatrix said.  “The Marauders, of which my cousin here was part of along with your father Potter, used to call Minerva ‘Minnie’ in private.”

“You knew my father?” Harry asked looking at the man with interest.  “Did you know my mother too? What were they like?”

“Yeah I knew your parents,” Sirius said smiling. “Your dad was had a talent for transfiguration and your mom was amazing with Charms and Potions.  Your dad and I were the ringleaders of our little gang.  James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew.  Your dad chased your mom around for six years before she finally agreed to go out with him in their seventh year. They got married after graduating and I was best man.  We used to play tricks on the Slytherins, especially a greasy haired git named Severus Snape.”

“Snape?!” Harry shouted. 

“Yeah. Do you know him?” Sirius asked.

“He’s the Potions master at Hogwarts and hates me!”

“Snivellus is a professor? Who was the idiot that hired him as a professor?” Sirius asked. 

“Snape doesn’t hate you Harry. He hates your father,” Bellatrix said.  “Sirius did something stupid and mean in their fifth year that almost cost Severus his life but your father saved him. He was also in love with Lily but did something stupid when we were at school with each other and destroyed their friendship. He probably hates you because you look so much like your father.”

“That’s stupid. Why can’t the man let go of his hatred for my father?” Harry asked.

“Well the Marauders never apologized to Severus for what they did,” Bellatrix said.  “They were bullies and not the kind people you may have thought of them as.  Your father did grow up though in his seventh year.  I think your mom had a lot to do with that growing up. My cousin on the other hand still acts like a child.”

“You’re cousins?” Ginny asked.

“Yes. Most pureblood families are related in some way. The Malfoys are related to us due to my sister, Narcissa, marrying Lucius Malfoy.  Even, as much as I hate to admit it, Andromeda and her daughter are related to me even though she went and married that muggle. Most pureblood families marry each other to keep their lines pure. They don’t realize that it’s only hurting the wizarding blood by doing that.”

For a second, Mr. Dursley didn’t realize what he had seen-then he jerked his head around to look again.  There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive, but there wasn’t a map in sight.  What could he have been thinking of?  It must have been a trick of the light.  Mr. Dursley blinked and stared at the cat.  It stared back.  As Mr. Dursley drove around the corner and up the road, he watched the cat in his rearview mirror.  It was now reading the sign that sign that said Privet Drive-no, looking at the sign; cats couldn’t read maps or signs.  Mr. Dursley gave himself a little shake and put the cat out of his mind.  As he drove toward town he thought of nothing except a large order of drills he was hoping to get that day.

“He sure has a one track mind,” Sirius said.  “I never liked him.  Didn’t like Petunia either come to think of it. She screamed when I turned her hair blue.’

“You know Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia?” Harry asked.

“Not really,” Sirius said.  “But we did go over there a few times to visit Lily.  Petunia hated freaks being in her house. Her parents loved us though.  Mrs. Dursley always made the best cookies and cakes.”

Harry was glad to hear something about his family since he wasn’t allowed to ask questions at home and there were no pictures of his mother in the house.  He wondered what the letter meant about not killing Sirius and to wait until the end of the third book before he judged the man.  Sirius had been shocked that Harry had arrived in Azkaban and had told him that he was Harry’s godfather. Harry didn’t know what to think of that and didn’t understand why the man was here when he could have been raising Harry all his life.  ‘Maybe the books will tell me.’

But on the edge of town, drills were driven out of his mind by something else. As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn’t help noticing

“Bet you could,” Harry interrupted himself.

that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about.  People in cloaks.  Mr. Dursley couldn’t bear people who dressed in funny clothes-the getups you saw on young people!  He supposed this was some stupid fashion new fashion. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and his eyes fell on a huddle of these weirdoes standing quite close by. They were whispering excitedly together.  Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them weren’t young at all; while that man had to be older than he was and dressed in an emerald-green cloak!  The nerve of him!  But then it struck Mr. Dursley that this was probably some silly stunt-these people were obviously collecting for something… yes that would be it.  The traffic moved on and a few minutes later, Mr. Dursley arrived in the Grunnings parking lot, his mind back on drills.

Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor.  If he hadn’t he might have found it hard to concentrate on drills that morning.  He didn’t see the owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down on the street certainly did; they pointed and gazed open-mouthed as owl after owl sped overhead. Most of them had never seen an owl even at nighttime.  Mr. Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal, owl-free morning.  He yelled at five different people.  He made several important phone calls and shouted a bit more.  He was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he’d stretch his legs and walk across the road to buy himself a bun from the bakery.

“Is that the only exercise he gets?” Ginny asked.

“Yeah.  My family hates exercise. The only exercise Dudley likes is Harry Hunting.”

“What’s Harry Hunting?” Bellatrix asked. Now that she was in Azkaban, the imperious potions Rodolphus had forced on her were wearing off and she was starting to gain her sanity back. 

“You’ll see,” Harry said.

He’d forgotten all about the people in cloaks until he passed a group of them next to the baker’s.  He eyed them angrily as he passed.  He didn’t know why, but they made him uneasy.  This bunch were whispering excitedly, too, and he couldn’t see a single collecting tin in sight.  It was on his way back past them, clutching a large doughnut in a bag, that he caught a few words of what they were saying.

“-the Potter’s, that’s right, that’s what I heard-”

“-yes, their son, Harry-”

Mr. Dursley stopped dead.  Fear flooded him.  He looked back at the whisperers as if he wanted to say something to them, but thought better of it.

He dashed back across the road, hurried up to his office, snapped at his secretary not to disturb him, seized his telephone and had almost finished dialing his home number when he changed his mind.  He put the receiver back down and stroked his mustache, thinking… no, he was being stupid.  Potter wasn’t such an unusual name.  He was sure there were lots of people called Potter who had a son called Harry.  Come to think of it, he wasn’t even sure his nephew was called Harry.  He’d never even seen the boy.  It might have been Harvey.  Or Harold. 

“They don’t even know your name?” Sirius asked, staring at his godson.

“I didn’t even know my own name until elementary school.  I was always called ‘freak’ or ‘boy’ by my relatives when I was younger,” Harry said.  “Even now I still get called ‘boy’ by them.” 

“Harry I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you,” Sirius said.  

Harry looked at the man coldly.  He didn’t know if he should feel sorry for the man or not.  The books suddenly went invisible as food was delivered.  Harry looked at the tray that was slid through the bars in disgust.  Porridge and stale bread.  That was all they had to eat in Azkaban, the only wizarding prison in the British Isles.  Guarded by Dementors, soul sucking fiends, who had skeletal hands and fed on the happy emotions of the prisoners, often driving them to insanity.  Most prisoners went insane within a few months to years in the prison.  The four ate the meal and pushed the trays back out for the dementors to collect them. 

When the dementors had collected the trays along the cell block they were in, the box of books popped back into existence and Harry continued with the chapter.  There was no point in worrying Mrs. Dursley; she always got so upset at any mention of her sister.

“Of course she did,” Sirius said.  “Petunia was jealous that Lily was a witch and she wasn’t. You know Lily wrote a letter to the headmaster, asking if Petunia could come to Hogwarts but of course there was no way she could being a Muggle.  Muggles can’t even see Hogwarts.”

“Petunia was jealous of my mother?” Harry asked, pleased to keep learning about his parents.

“Yeah.  The Marauders were always mean to her but looking back I can see why she was hurt that Lily could do something she couldn’t.  Wouldn’t you be upset if you had a sibling and your brother or sister was able to go to Hogwarts and do magic but you couldn’t?”

Harry thought about that and nodded.  If he looked at it that way then he could see why his aunt hated his mother and didn’t like him.  But that was no reason for her to be abusive towards her nephew.  ‘Maybe I need to find a way to contact her and patch things up with her.  But would she even listen to me? Not likely.’  He didn’t blame her-if he’d had a sister like that… but all the same, those people in cloaks…

He found it a lot harder to concentrate on drills that afternoon and when he left the building at five o’clock, he was still so worried that he walked straight into someone just outside the door.

“Sounds like Professor Flitwick,” Bellatrix said thinking about the description and comparing it to her old Charms Professor. 

“Sorry,” he grunted, as the tiny old man stumbled and almost fell.  It was a few seconds before Mr. Dursley realized that the man was wearing a violet cloak.  He didn’t seem at all upset at almost being knocked to the ground.  On the contrary, his face split into a wide smile and he said in a squeaky voice that made passerby stare, “Don’t be sorry my dear sir, for nothing could upset me today! Rejoice, for You-Know-Who has gone at last! Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!” 

And the old man hugged Mr. Dursley around the middle and walked off.

Sirius and Bellatrix burst out laughing.  Sirius’s laugh was a bark like laugh.  Bellatrix’s was a bit manic as she was still suffering from the after effects of the potion she had been under all her married life, but it was pleasing to Harry’s ears.  “That’s Flitwick alright!”  Sirius said.  “I would have loved to see Dursley’s expression when Flitwick hugged him.”

Even Harry and Ginny cracked smiles at the thought of seeing that memory.  “A pity we will never be able to go back to Hogwarts,” Harry said. 

“What do you mean you will never be able to go back to Hogwarts?”

“I’ll tell you when I’m done with this chapter,” Harry said.

“Then continue Harry,” Sirius said.

Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot.  He had been hugged by a complete stranger.  He also thought he had been called a Muggle, whatever that was.  He was rattled.  He hurried to his car and set off for home, hoping he was imagining things, which he had never hoped before, because he didn’t approve of imagination.

As he pulled into the driveway of number four, the first thing he saw-and it didn’t improve his mood-was the tabby cat he’d spotted that morning.  It was now sitting on his garden wall.  He was sure it was the same one; it had the same markings around its eyes.

“Shoo!” said Mr. Dursley loudly.

The cat didn’t move.  It just gave him a stern look.  Was this normal cat behavior?  Mr. Dursley wondered.

“No that’s just McGonagall behavior,” Sirius said laughing.

Trying to pull himself together, he let himself into the house.  He was still determined not to mention anything to his wife.

Mrs. Dursley had had a nice, normal day.  She told him over dinner all about Mrs. Next Door’s problems with her daughter and how Dudley had learned a new word (“Won’t!”).  Mr. Dursley tried to act normally.  When Dudley had been put to bed, he went into the living room in time to catch the last report in the evening news.

“And finally, bird-watchers everywhere have reported that the nation’s owls have been behaving very unusually today.  Although owls normally hunt at night and are hardly ever seen in daylight, there have been hundreds of these sightings of these birds flying in every direction since sunrise.  Experts are unable to explain why the owls have suddenly changed their sleeping pattern.”  The newscaster allowed himself a grin. “Most mysterious.  And now, over to Jim McGuffin with the weather.  Going to be any more showers of owls tonight, Jim?”

“Well Ted,” said the weatherman, “I don’t know about that, but it’s not only the owls that have been acting oddly today.  Viewers as far apart as Kent, Yorkshire, and Dundee have been phoning in to tell me that instead of the rain I promised yesterday, they’ve had a downpour of shooting stars!  Perhaps people have been celebrating Bonfire Night early-it’s not until next week, folks! But I can promise a very wet night tonight.”

Mr. Dursley sat frozen in his armchair.  Shooting stars all over Britain? Owls flying by daylight?  Mysterious people in cloaks?  And a whisper, a whisper about the Potters…

Mrs. Dursley came into the living room carrying two cups of tea.  It was no good.  He’d have to say something to her.  He cleared his throat nervously.  “Er-Petunia, dear-you haven’t heard from your sister lately, have you?”

As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry.  After all, they normally pretended she didn’t have a sister.

“That’s awful of them Harry,” Ginny said.  She got up and came over to sit beside her husband.  Harry had to admit he was worried about her sanity.  She needed to see a healer to deal with the possession she had suffered during her first year at Hogwarts.  Not be locked away here in Azkaban.  But everyone thought that she was just as guilty for the petrification of the students at Hogwarts as Harry was.  Nobody believed them when they had said that the diary had been cursed.  Harry would have thought that Dumbledore would but he had turned his back on them both. 

“I’m used to it,” Harry said as he ran his fingers through Ginny’s hair. 

“You shouldn’t be used to it,” Bellatrix said. “Nobody should have to put up with people who hate them.”

“I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” Harry said.  “I had no other family.”

“Your parents should have written a will that specified who you could go to in case they died,” Bellatrix said.  “Every wizarding family makes sure to have a will with people their children can go to in the event of their death.”

“Well I don’t know anything about a will,” Harry said.

“It should have been read to you on your eleventh birthday,” Sirius said.  “That’s what normally happens.”

“Well Hagrid never mentioned a will to me and I didn’t think to ask.”

“That oaf took you to get your school supplies?” Bellatrix asked.  She had never liked Hagrid.  He was too obsessed with dangerous creatures.

“Yeah.  He was the one who gave me my letter and took me to get my school supplies,” Harry said.  “He also told me that I was a wizard and told me about Voldemort being the one to kill my parents.”

Bellatrix and Sirius both frowned at that.  “Did you get an information packet about Hogwarts and wizarding culture at all?” Sirius asked.

“No.  Should I have?” Harry asked looking from one adult to the other.

“You should have gotten an information packet since you were raised by Muggles,” Sirius said.  “All Muggle born children and half-bloods raised in the Muggle world do.”

“All I got was a letter. Actually about three hundred letters.”

“Three hundred letters?  All I got was one,” Sirius said.  “I suppose we’ll see that in this book?”

“Yeah,” Harry said.  “No,” she replied sharply.  “Why?”

“Funny stuff on the news,” Mr. Dursley mumbled.  “Owls…shooting stars…and there were a lot of funny-looking people in town today…”

So?” snapped Mrs. Dursley.

“Well, I just thought…maybe…it had something to do with…you know…her crowd.”

Mrs. Dursley sipped her tea through pursed lips.  Mr. Dursley wondered whether he dare tell her he had heard the name “Potter.”  He decided he didn’t dare.  Instead he said, as casually as he could, “Their son-he’d be about Dudley’s age now, wouldn’t he?”

“I suppose so,” said Mrs. Dursley stiffly.

“What’s his name again?  Harold isn’t it?”

“Harry. Nasty common name, if you ask me.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Harry!” Sirius shouted angrily.  “You were named after your mom’s dad,” Sirius said. 

“Oh, yes,” said Mr. Dursley, his heart sinking horribly.  “Yes, I quite agree.”

He didn’t say another word as they went upstairs to bed.  While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom, Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom window and peered down into the front garden.  The cat was still there.  It was staring down Privet Drive as though it were waiting for something.

Was he imagining things?  Could all this have anything to do with the Potters?  If it did…if it got out that they were related to a pair of-well he didn’t think he could bear it.

The Dursleys got into bed.  Mrs. Dursley fell asleep quickly but Mr. Dursley lay awake, turning it all over in his mind.  His last, comforting thought before he fell asleep was that even if the Potters were involved, there was no reason for them to come near him and Mrs. Dursley.  The Potters knew very well what he and Petunia thought about them and their kind….He couldn’t see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on-he yawned and turned over-it couldn’t affect them

How very wrong he was.

Mr. Dursley might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no sign of sleepiness.  It was sitting still as a statue, its eyes fixed unblinkingly on the far corner of Privet Drive. It didn’t so much as quiver when a car door slammed on the next street, nor when two owls swooped overhead.  In fact, it was nearly midnight before the cat moved at all.

A man appeared on the corner the cat had been watching, appeared so suddenly and silently you’d have thought he’d just popped out of the ground.  The cat’s tail twitched and its eyes narrowed.

“Dumbledore,” Ginny said.  “Dumb-as-a-door, dumb-by-door.”

Harry looked at Ginny with concern in his eyes.  “You’re right Ginny.” 

“What’s Dumbledore doing in a Muggle neighborhood?” Bellatrix asked curiously.   She couldn’t think why the leader of the light would be in a muggle neighborhood at midnight.  Harry ignored her and continued with the story.

Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive.  He was tall, thin, and very old, judging by the silver of his hair and beard, which were both long enough to tuck into his belt.  He was wearing long robes, a purple cloak that swept the ground, and high-heeled, buckled boots. His blue eyes were light, bright, and sparkling behind half-moon spectacles and his nose was very long and crooked, as though it had been broken at least twice.  This man’s name was Albus Dumbledore.

Albus Dumbledore didn’t seem to realize that he had just arrived in a street where everything from his name to his boots was unwelcome.  He was busy rummaging in his cloak, looking for something.  But he did seem to realize that he was being watched, because he looked up suddenly at the cat, which was still staring at him from the other end of the street.  For some reason, the cat seemed to amuse him.  He chuckled and muttered, “I should have known.”

He found what he was looking for in his inside pocket.  It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter.  He flicked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it.  The nearest lamp went out with a little pop.  He clicked it again-the next lamp flickered into darkness.  Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him.  If anyone had looked out their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn’t be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement.  Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat.  He didn’t look at it, but after a moment he spoke.

“Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.” 

He turned to smile at the tabby, but it was gone.  Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses, exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes.  She, too, was wearing a cloak, an emerald one. Her black hair was drawn into a tight bun.  She looked distinctly ruffled.

“When does McGonagall never look ruffled?” Sirius asked.

“She is a stern woman,” Harry said.

“How did you know it was me?” she asked.

“My dear Professor, I have never seen a cat sit so stiffly.”

“You’d be stiff too if you had been sitting on all day,” said Professor McGonagall.

“What was she sitting on a brick wall all day for?” Ginny asked.

“All day?  When you could have been celebrating?  I must have passed a dozen feasts and parties on my way here.”

Professor McGonagall sniffed angrily.

“Oh yes, everyone’s celebrating, alright,” she said impatiently.  “You’d think they’d be a bit more careful, but no-even the Muggles have noticed something’s going on.  It was on their news.”  She jerked her head back at the Dursleys’ dark living room window.  “I heard it.  Flocks of owl…shooting stars….Well they’re not completely stupid.  They were bound to notice something.  Shooting stars down in Kent-I bet that was Dedalus Diggle.  He never did have much sense.”

“I remember Diggle.  We scared him one night when we were outside running around,” Sirius said. 

“What were you doing outside Sirius?” Bellatrix asked.

“Eh…sneaking into the kitchens.”

“The kitchens are off the Great Hall.  Not outside,” Bellatrix said frowning at her cousin.

Sirius blushed and hurriedly waved his hand at Harry to continue.  Harry looked at Sirius with amusement but continued anyway.  “You can’t blame then,” said Dumbledore gently.  “We’ve had precious little to celebrate for eleven years.”

“Eleven years?” Bellatrix asked.  “Something big must have happened.”

“I know that,” said Professor McGonagall irritably.  “But that’s no reason to lose our heads. People are being downright careless, out on the streets in broad daylight, not even dressed in Muggle clothes, swapping rumors.”

She threw a sharp, sideways glance at Dumbledore here, as though hoping he was going to tell her something, but he didn’t, so she went on.  “A fine thing it would be, if, on the very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last, the Muggles found out about us all.  I suppose he really has gone, Dumbledore?”

“It certainly seems so,” said Dumbledore.  “We have much to be thankful for.  Would you care for a lemon drop?”

“A what?” Ginny asked.

“A what?”

“A lemon drop.  They’re a Muggle sweet I’m rather fond of.”

“No, thank you,” said Professor McGonagall coldly, as though she didn’t think this was the time for lemon drops.  “As I say, even if You-Know-Who has gone-”

“You-Know-Who was defeated after eleven years?  Thank Merlin for that,” Sirius said.

Bellatrix shuddered as she thought back to the day when the Dark Lord had vanished.  She had hoped that she would be finally be free of his control but Rodolphus had kept feeding her the Imperious Potion and forced her to go attack the Longbottoms, driving them into insanity.  Then there was the chalice of Hufflepuff that was in the Lestrange Vault that she had been forced to keep safe for the Dark Lord. She had no idea what it was, only that it was important to him.

“My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name?  All this ‘You-Know-Who’ nonsense-for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort.”

Everyone, except Harry, flinched at the name.  He rolled his eyes.  People acted like Voldemort was going to jump out of the shadows and start firing the killing curse everywhere if they spoke his name.  Professor McGonagall flinched, but Dumbledore, who was unsticking two lemon drops, seemed not to notice.  “It all gets so confusing if we keep saying ‘You-Know-Who’.  I have never seen any reason to be frightened Voldemort’s name.”

“I know you haven’t,” said Professor McGonagall, sounding half exasperated, half admiring.  “But you’re different.  Everyone knows you’re the only one You-Know- oh, all right, Voldemort, was ever frightened of.”

“You flatter me,” said Dumbledore calmly.  “Voldemort had powers I will never have.”

“Only because you’re too-well-noble to use them.”

“It’s lucky it’s dark.  I haven’t blushed this much since Madam Pomfrey said she liked my new earmuffs.”

Professor McGonagall shot a sharp look at Dumbledore and said, “The owls are nothing next to the rumors that are flying around.  You know what everyone’s saying? About why he’s disappeared?  About what finally stopped him?”

It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point she wanted to discuss, the reason she had been sitting on a cold, hard wall all day, for neither as a cat nor as a woman had she fixed Dumbledore with such a piercing stare as she did now.  It was plain that what “everyone” was saying, she was not going to believe it until Dumbledore told her it was true.  Dumbledore, however, was choosing another lemon drop and did not answer.

“What they’re saying,” she pressed on, “is that last night Voldemort turned up in Godric’s Hollow.  He went to find the Potters.  The rumor is that Lily and James-are-are-that they’re-dead.”

Dumbledore bowed his head.  Professor McGonagall gasped.

“Lily and James…I can’t believe it…I didn’t want to believe it…Oh, Albus…”

Dumbledore reached out and patted her on the shoulder.  “I know…I know…” he said heavily.

Professor McGonagall’s voice trembled as she went on.  “That’s not all.  They’re saying he tried to kill the Potters’ son, Harry.  But-he couldn’t.  He couldn’t kill that little boy.  No one knows why, or how, but they’re saying that when he couldn’t kill Harry Potter, Voldemort’s power somehow broke-and that’s why he’s gone.”

Dumbledore nodded glumly.

“It’s-it’s true?”  faltered Professor McGonagall.  “After all he’s done…all the people he’s killed… he couldn’t kill a little boy?  It’s just astounding…of all the things to stop him…but how in the name of heaven did Harry survive?”

“Good question,” Ginny said.

“We can only guess,” said Dumbledore.  “We may never know.”

Professor McGonagall pulled out a lace handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes beneath her spectacles.  Dumbledore gave a great sniff as he took out a golden watch from his pocket and examined it.  It was a very odd watch.  It had twelve hands but no numbers; instead, little planets were moving around the edge.  It must have made sense to Dumbledore, though, because he put it back in his pocket and said, “Hagrid’s late.  I suppose it was he who told you I’d be here, by the way?”

“Yes,” said Professor McGonagall.  “And I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me why you’re here, of all places?”

“I’ve come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle.  They’re the only family he has left now.”

“You don’t mean-you can’t mean the people that live here?” cried Professor McGonagall, jumping to her feet and pointing at number four.  “Dumbledore-you can’t.  I’ve been watching them all day.  You couldn’t find two people who are less like us.  And they’ve got this son-I saw him kicking his mother all the way up the street, screaming for sweets.  Harry Potter come and live here!”

“It’s the best place for him,” said Dumbledore firmly.  “His aunt and uncle will be able to explain everything to him when he’s older.  I’ve written them a letter.”

“How do you expect them to explain everything in a letter you idiot?!” Bellatrix shouted.

“A letter?” repeated Professor McGonagall faintly, sitting back down on the wall.  “Really Dumbledore, you think you can explain all this in a letter?  These people will never understand him!  He’ll be famous-a legend-I wouldn’t be surprised if today is known as Harry Potter Day in the future-there will be books written about Harry-every child in our world will know his name.”

“Exactly,” said Dumbledore, looking very seriously over the top of his half-moon glasses.  “It will be enough to turn any boy’s head.  Famous before he can walk and talk!  Famous for something he won’t even remember!  Can’t you see how much better off he’ll be, growing up from all that until he’s ready to take it?”

Professor McGonagall opened her mouth, changed her mind, swallowed, and then said, “Yes-yes, you’re right, of course.  But how is the boy getting here, Dumbledore?”  She eyed his cloak suddenly as though she thought he might be hiding Harry underneath it.

“Hagrid’s bringing him.”

“You think it-wise-to trust Hagrid with something as important as this?”

“I trust Hagrid with my life,” said Dumbledore.

“I’m not saying his heart isn’t in the right place,” said Professor McGonagall grudgingly, “but you can’t pretend he’s not careless.  He does tend to-what was that?”

A low rumbling sound had broken the silence around them.  It grew steadily louder as they looked up and down the street for some sign of a headlight; it swelled to a roar as they both looked up at the sky-and a huge motorcycle fell out of the air and landed on the road in front of them.

“My motorcycle!” Sirius shouted happily.  “I gave that to Hagrid when I went and chased after the rat.  Wonder if Hagrid still has it?  I used to take you for rides on that pup.”

“Pup?” Harry asked.

“Yeah I used to call you pup and Moony, one of my other friends, used to call you his cub,” Sirius said.  “When you were having trouble getting to sleep, I’d take you for a ride on my motorcycle and you’d fall right asleep. You used to love that thing.  I’m sure Moony used to tell you all about our adventures at Hogwarts right?”

“No. I don’t know anybody named Moony,” Harry said.

Sirius was stunned.  “But James and Lily had no issues with Moony coming to see you at their house in Godric’s Hollow,” Sirius said.  “Why wouldn’t Moony have gone to see you?”

“Maybe nobody knew where I was,” Harry said.  “And who is Moony anyway?”

“A friend of mine from when we were in school,” Sirius said.  “I expect you’ll find out about him in one of these books but it bothers me that he never went to see you.  He was very protective of his cub.”

Harry said nothing except to stare at Sirius for a few minutes before going back to the book.  Ginny too was puzzled by this declaration from the strange man who said he was Harry’s godfather.  She knew that her parents had gone to Hogwarts with Harry’s parents but they didn’t talk about their school days.

If the motorcycle was huge, it was nothing compared to the man sitting astride it. He was almost twice as tall as a normal man and at least five times as wide.  He looked simply too big to be allowed, and so wild-long tangles of bushy black hair and beard hid most of his face, he had hands the size of trashcan lids, and his feet were in their leather boots were like baby dolphins.  In his vast, muscular arms he was holding a bundle of blankets.

“Hagrid,” said Dumbledore, sounding relieved.  “At last.  And where did you get that motorcycle?”

“Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir,” said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke.  “Young Sirius Black lent it to me.  I’ve got him sir.”

“Where did you get a flying motorcycle?” Ginny asked.

“I got it as a birthday gift from James on my fifteenth birthday,” Sirius answered. 

“No problems were there?”

“No, sir-house was almost destroyed, but I got him out all right before the Muggles started swarmin’ around.  He fell asleep as we was flyin’ over Bristol.”

Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of blankets.  Inside, just visible, was a baby boy, fast asleep.  Underneath a tuft of jet-black hair over his forehead they could see a curiously shaped cut, like a bolt of lightning.

“Is that where-?” whispered Professor McGonagall.

“Yes,” said Dumbledore.  “He’ll have that scar forever.”

“Can’t you do something about it, Dumbledore?”

“Even if I could, I wouldn’t.  Scars can come in handy.  I have one myself above my left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground.  Well-give him here, Hagrid-we’d best get this over with.”

Dumbledore took Harry in his arms and turned towards the Dursleys’ house.

“Could I-could I say goodbye to him, sir?” asked Hagrid.  He bent his great, shaggy head over Harry and gave him what must have been a very scratchy, whiskery kiss.  Then, suddenly, Hagrid let out a howl like a wounded dog. 

“I can show you a howl like a wounded dog,” said Sirius and then he transformed into Padfoot and howled before transforming back. 

“What was that?” Harry asked.

“I’m an Animagus,” Sirius said. “My Animagus is a Grim.  Your dad was a stag and the rat was a rat. Fitted the traitor too.  We should have seen what he was like.  Peter was always horrible at spells and hung around James and me like a little lap dog.  He just wanted powerful people to keep him from getting bullied.”

“Can I learn that?”

“Yeah.  It’s a lot of hard work.  You wouldn’t start working at it at Hogwarts until like seventh year and then you have to register with the Ministry of Magic,” Sirius said.  “But your dad, the rat and I learned in our fifth year.”

“How come?”

“I imagine the books will tell you,” Sirius said. 

“Shhh!” hissed Professor McGonagall, “you’ll wake the Muggles!”

“S-s-sorry,” sobbed Hagrid, taking out a large, spotted handkerchief and burying his face in it.  “But I c-c-can’t stand it-Lily ‘n James dead- an’ poor little Harry off ter live with Muggles-”

“Yes, yes, it’s all very sad, but get a grip on yourself Hagrid or we’ll be found,” Professor McGonagall whispered, patting Hagrid gingerly on the arm as Dumbledore stepped over the low garden wall and walked to the front door.  He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry’s blankets, and

“Wait read that last part again,” Bellatrix said.

“Umm… He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry’s blankets, and

Bellatrix got a murderous look in her eyes.  “That old fool left a fifteen month old baby on a doorstep in the middle of November?!  And then I’m guessing he leaves?  What IDIOT leaves a toddler on a doorstep in the cold without knocking on the door and making sure the child is taken inside?  You could have been kidnapped or wandered off!”

“That bastard left my infant godson on a doorstep?!” Sirius shouted.

“Well where the hell were you then huh?  You say you were supposed to take me in but you didn’t!” Harry shouted at Sirius. 

Sirius blanched and sank to the floor, putting his head in his hands.  “You’re right.  I should have been there.  It’s my entire fault.  It’s my fault they’re dead.  It’s my fault I didn’t take care of you pup,” Sirius said. 

He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry’s blankets, and then came back to the other two.  For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at the little bundle; Hagrid’s shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shown from Dumbledore’s eyes seemed to have gone out.

“Well,” said Dumbledore finally, “that’s that.  We’ve no business staying here.  We may as well go and join the celebrations.”

“Yeah,” said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, “I’d best get this bike away.  G’night Professor McGonagall-Professor Dumbledore, sir.”

Wiping his steaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose into the air and out of sight.

“I shall you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall,” said Dumbledore, nodding to her.  Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.

Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street.  On the corner he stopped and took out the Put-Outer.  He clicked it once and twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking around the corner at the other end of the street.  He could just see the bundle of blankets on the step of number four.

“Good luck, Harry,” he murmured.  He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak was gone.

A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen.  Harry Potter rolled over inside his blankets without waking up.  One small hand closed around the letter and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours’ time by Mrs. Dursley’s scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor knowing that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley….  He couldn’t know that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: “To Harry Potter-the boy who lived!”

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