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HP stories following Canon including OotP >> Harry Potter and the Goblin Rebellion by dedalusdiggle

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Chapter 1 - A New Leaf

The occupants of the Dursley car were silent for quite some time after they left Kings’ Cross Station. Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had found themselves on the receiving end of a very convincing display of intimidation by a number of quite disparate sorcerers, all members of the Order of the Phoenix (which they had no way of knowing) and all quite fond of and dedicated to Harry Potter (which they had no trouble surmising). What they had demanded is for Harry to be treated well and for him to keep in touch with them. These ought not to have been burdensome requests, but the Dursleys had long had in mind to squash the magic out of Harry by oppressing him, an effort which had been a spectacular failure. Still, no one likes to be threatened, even to do something which ought to be easy.

Harry Potter had walked ahead of his uncle, aunt and cousin to their car when they came to pick him up at Kings’ Cross Station. He was not entirely sure what led him to do so. Perhaps he was emboldened by the show of support of the ‘Welcoming party’ that confronted the Dursleys. Perhaps the death of his godfather Sirius Black left him beyond caring what the Dursleys thought. Or maybe the realization that the Prophecy Professor Dumbledore had shown him required him to shoulder a man’s load – Nay, not a man’s load, but a load beyond any other man’s. That felt more like it to Harry: he could no longer indulge boyishness – whether he liked it or not, he had to step into an adult role. If he was to shoulder that burden, then he was going to do so with all the pride and dignity he could muster.

However, the silence suited Harry just fine. He didn’t seek confrontation, though that was all he had ever known in the home he had grown up in. ‘Home?’ thought Harry, ‘a house maybe, but very much not a home.’ Harry had never felt more homeless, indeed a refugee, the target all his life of Lord Voldemort’s desire to eliminate all threats to him and for that reason forced to return and hide in the very nonmagical house of his maternal aunt. However, so long as he could communicate with the magical world, he could endure the summer. For now Harry just wanted to be with his thoughts. What had started as an awful year had done nothing but get worse. Harry rested his head against the door frame and looked out the window as the traffic slowly crept along.

Traffic moved slowly and time moved slower still. The Dursleys scowled with anger and frustration and Harry saw them frequently exchanging meaningful looks at each other. The tension was palpable. Finally, Uncle Vernon spoke.

“So, Potter, you’ve got a gang to threaten us?”

“Uncle Vernon, I didn’t know they were going to do that, I swear,” answered Harry, not pleading, but not wanting to aggravate the situation either.

“Hrmf. Well, I’ll grant you looked surprised by it. Still, you also seemed a bit amused by it all,” grumbled Uncle Vernon.

“I ...I … Not at any scare they may have given you, Uncle Vernon,” explained Harry, “but it’s nice to have people make the effort to stand up for me.”

“Everyone needs to have people they can count on, eh? Well, we’ll talk about what can be done. The threat was really quite unnecessary.”

“I’m sure they don’t mean any actual harm, they just …”

“They just wanted things to be easier for you this summer, right?” interrupted Uncle Vernon, “That’s just what I meant. That headmaster of yours, Tumbledown …”

“Dumbledore.”

“Eh, whatever. He explained some things while you were at school. Most of all he’s convinced us of the great need for you to stay at our house and for you to continue with your … ways.”

Harry wasn’t sure where this was headed. Calling magic ‘ways’ rather than an ‘abnormality’ or worse was the most neutral reference Uncle Vernon had ever made.

“He’s also told us that you have something terribly important to do, and he let us know that it affects both your kind and the regular world. We never really understood that before, and I can’t say we fully grasp it yet. I lived a long time without knowing of your kind and I liked it like that. However, as odd as the fellow is he seems trustworthy and he was most grave about your situation. As you know, our experiences with your kind have not been good, but it seems as though we’ve got a choice that will affect more than just us. I’d like to think I’m the sort who would have sailed across to Dunkirk, and maybe this is the Dursleys’ Dunkirk. We reckon it’s time we did our part, much as we’re not happy with it. Mind you, we don’t like that you seem to attract problems…”

“I’m very tired of it myself,” interrupted Harry.

“Yes, right, but that’s what is, isn’t it? Your headmaster’s convinced us your only use of magic last summer was to protect Dudley, not to hurt him. So we want to say that we are grateful that you didn’t just save your own neck, but Dudley as well.”

Uncle Vernon almost trailed off to a mumble at the end, but Harry caught every word. Harry had trouble believing what he was hearing. Even after being subjected to a threat, Uncle Vernon was expressing appreciation for something Harry had done, with magic no less. Harry was speechless. Harry had thought and hoped at first that the Dursleys would be tolerant for a change, but this was actual acceptance! If they hadn’t been separated by a car seat, Harry might have hugged his uncle: on realizing that, Harry was very glad that the car seat was there. Harry had tried to tell himself that he truly cared not a whit what the Dursleys thought; nonetheless as cruel as they had been, these were the people he had grown up with and so it did matter. As much as they hated magic, they appreciated something he had done, and it felt marvelous to him to hear it.

Uncle Vernon continued “He also explained about your godfather, erm, passing on. I remember when my father died. It’s hard losing someone you care about.”

Harry was twice dumb-founded – sympathy from his uncle!

“How’d it happen?”

Harry came thudding back to earth. It was a fair question, innocent enough. The thing any person, muggle or wizard, would ask if they were showing sympathy. Harry hadn’t been prepared, however, to discuss Sirius’s death. He didn’t mind telling of his part in it: he felt instinctually that the more he acknowledged his guilt, the easier it would be to bear. The feelings about Sirius being gone were, however, almost too personal to explain. He would have to choose his words carefully as well, since much of his original excitement at having a godfather who was willing to take him was simply that Sirius was not the Dursleys, and it would not do to make such criticism when they were just starting to accept him as a wizard.

Therefore Harry answered slowly, so as to be reasonably accurate and yet understandable to muggles, and to avoid offensive matters. “I… I was tricked into a trap. Followers of Lord Volde- … (Aunt Petunia caught her breath at the name, so Harry rephrased), … the man who killed my parents, were trying to force me into getting something for them and then they were probably going to kill me, but my godfather, Dumbledore and most of those people that met you at the station, and a few others came and rescued me and my friends. My godfather fell through a, um … he fell to his death.”

Dudley then spoke “That’s rough, Harry.”

Harry couldn’t believe his ears. He had long hoped that someday his aunt and uncle would act like, well, adults about the situation of having to take him in after his parents were killed. But he never imagined his cousin Dudley acting decent. It was very unnerving to hear sympathy.

“Don’t look so shocked, Harry,” said Dudley. Then he looked down, “Well, it’s probably fair enough to be surprised. But you see, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since last summer – don’t smirk, Harry, I CAN think, y’know. That THING in the alley brought out horrible thoughts, and well, I guess it’s what they call a new perspective. Since then and the visits your headmaster made, I saw that I didn’t like the way I was going. That … thing … made me see awful stuff. It was a real eye-opener.”

Petunia spoke up “Harry, I can see you’re surprised that we’re trying to see things in a new way. We’ve been talking, both with the Headmaster and amongst ourselves. We see now we’re never going to get you out of that world - away from m-m- you know. We also know you need to live with us during the summer because ... that person is trying to kill you. If you can accept that we are not comfortable with m-m – those powers, we can have a better relationship. Okay?”

“Do you mean it? That would be great,” said Harry beaming.

Uncle Vernon nodded. “That’s settled then. As much as I don’t like the type you’re now with, and I don’t like danger around my family, I won’t stand for some bloke threatening someone under MY roof. We raised you, so you’re at least partly a Dursley, and we’ll all pull together alright.”

Harry wasn’t too thrilled at the thought of being called a Dursley, but then he knew that by Uncle Vernon’s reckoning, it was the finest thing he could say. The point was that for the next couple of months, they were all in this together. He was just thrilled to think that he wouldn’t be at war with what family he had and lived with for this summer. This could be his best summer yet.


On the way home, the Dursleys stopped at a seafood restaurant. Dudley was still on his boxing team diet, so he was only allowed to have a small broiled fish filet and a salad. On the other hand Harry was encouraged to have the largest platter available. Harry got the impression that his aunt and uncle wanted to make up for some of the very harsh and hungry times he had previously spent. Growing up he had spent entire weeks with less food than this.

“You’re a growing boy,” said Uncle Vernon, “you need to fill out some.”

Harry felt terribly guilty eating so much food in front of Dudley, whom he knew was starving. He was torn between savoring the best meal he had ever had away from Hogwarts and hurrying so as not to prolong Dudley’s torment. Hurrying won out, but even so he was still eating twenty minutes after Dudley had finished. Dudley could not control his staring as Harry ate, Dudley’s mouth and tongue silently working as if they too were experiencing the feast. Harry expected the drool to start dripping from Dudley’s mouth any second. He tried to share some of his crab cakes and fried shrimp with Dudley, but Aunt Petunia prevented it. Harry felt that with a few more meals as this, he would wind up every bit as large as Dudley, if Dudley didn’t go mad and eat him.

When they arrived at the neat and proper home at 4 Privet Drive, Harry saw that the yard was in need of tending. Apparently Uncle Vernon had put off some of the yard work till school was over. With the change in the atmosphere with the Dursleys, that suited Harry just fine. As it was still late spring, there were a couple of hours of sunshine left, so Harry announced that he would get to trimming the hedge as soon as he had put his trunk and his owl Hedwig up in his room.

“You’ll do no such thing!” said Uncle Vernon quickly. “Dudley can take care of that, and the rest of the yard work.”

“What!!!” said both boys together.

“I’m not having Harry do any yardwork around here,” said Uncle Vernon.

“Really, it’s fine, Uncle Vernon, I’m looking forward to it, especially now that things are better. I want to help out.”

“Maybe so, but I’m taking no chances that your friends might sneak round and see you up to your elbows in dirt and weeds, looking like you’re some kind of servant. Who knows what that lot might do!?”

“I’ll write to them. I’ll explain that things are better and I want to do the chores,” pled Harry. He wasn’t sure why this all upset him so. In previous years, he would have been thrilled to give up some or all of his chores. But now that he felt more like he was part of a family, losing the chores made him feel on the outs. It occurred to him that this must be a bit of how Winky the house elf must have felt when Mr. Crouch gave her clothes and set her free – she was losing her place in her family, and Harry felt like he was losing his.

Uncle Vernon guffawed, “Yes, I’m sure that will be a convincing letter – ‘This is Harry, a fifteen-year-old boy who just can’t get enough of doing yard chores in the mid-summer sun, so don’t think that I’m being abused when you see me sweating in the yard and pushing a wheelbarrow full of manure.’ They’d be here turning me into a bullfrog faster than you can say m-m-m … the M-word!”

Harry had to admit that if he heard a boy his age writing words to that effect, he’d be suspicious. But he also didn’t want to have Dudley resenting the new relationship. Dudley had sounded decent at first, but it had been a huge strain on Dudley to watch Harry eat an entire seafood platter, and if Harry kicked back while Dudley did all the hot chores, it could well be too much.

“I’ll do the chores in the backyard!”

“Still too risky.”

“I’ll have one of them over so we can explain in person.”

“One of them? Over here!? Harry, we’ll take care of you, but we really don’t want oddballs giving us a bad name.”

Harry had to admit that few of his wizarding friends could pass for muggle. “How about Mr. Weasley, or Tonks, the lady who was at the platform?”

“Weasley? He’s the one who tore apart our fireplace and sitting room, isn’t he? I would prefer not. And the day we have a woman that looks like THAT into our house is the day I’ll dress that way, myself.”

Harry thought. “Well, then I’ll do the indoor chores – laundry and dishes and stuff.”

Petunia objected to this “I’ll do the cleaning in the house. That’s my territory and no man of this house can clean it the way I do. No, Harry, you just relax and watch telly, or read, or get your summer homework done. Oh, and if you would, send a letter to your friends tonight, and let them know that everything is fine here.”

Uncle Vernon then asked, “Are you still following the news like you had been? Yes? Right, then, you can have one of Dudley’s tellies in your room, for those times when the downstairs sets are not on the news.”

This was finally too much for Dudley. He turned red in the face and started to splutter, “No! I won’t have it!. They’re my tallies - you gave them to me!. It’s bad enough that he gets the food and I get the chores. Now you’re giving him my things. I WON’T HAVE IT.”

This outburst in the front yard only served to attract attention from the neighbors, and not of the sort the Dursleys desired. They quickly shushed him and started to offer to buy another telly, but Harry spoke up.

“Dudley, these changes are strange and hard for all of us. You know, I don’t want one of the good tellies – I’d rather have that old ten inch black-and-white set that you haven’t used since you were 9.”

“Really?” said Dudley, calming down.

“Really?” said Uncle Vernon, curiously, and perhaps for the first time not looking past Harry. “Now why would you prefer that one?”

“Well, I’m not as interested in the pictures as the news stories. So I don’t need much of a picture. But that one has built-in wireless, so I can listen to other types of news. It’s also small and can run on batteries, so I can take it with me if I have to go anywhere.”

“Hm,” said Uncle Vernon, “that makes sense. Well, what about it, Dudders – it’s not like he’s asking for something you use.”

“Well, I’m still not happy about the chores or the diet,” Dudley grumbled, “but I guess the telly’s okay.”

With that resolved Harry and the Dursleys headed into their home. Harry took his things upstairs, Dudley following behind to get the telly. Harry put Hedwig and her cage on the wardrobe and set his trunk down and went to Dudley's room. Dudley had just dug it out of the wardrobe and was bringing it out.

"Here you go, Harry"

"Thanks, Dudley. Sorry about the chores."

Dudley shrugged. "It wasn't your choice."

"I'd help if I could," said Harry.

"I know you would, Harry. I guess we're different that way: I sure never bothered when the shoe was on the other foot."

Harry smiled, "No, you never did. You know, Dudley, we're both getting older, taking on some responsibilities. We've had our differences. I didn't like what you were and I know you don't like what I am. Maybe, though, with a little effort, we could actually put all that behind us and be, in some way, better toward each other."

Dudley nodded, "I reckon there's a chance. But if you think you're getting a hug, you're loony."

Harry laughed, "No, that's a good bit further than either of us is ready for. I'll do something more tangible though - I'll try to convince my friends that I should be able to do some of the yard work."

They shoved each other playfully and then Harry took the telly and headed to his room. As he shut the door and set the telly on the desk, he heard Dudley's heavy footsteps as Dudley clumped down the steps and out to the garage. Harry shut the door. ‘Well,’ he thought, ‘this is a welcome change, not living with people who hate me.’ Then he remembered his problems in the wizarding world: ‘Whether I'm here or elsewhere, I have to live with myself.’ It seemed to Harry that those who really loved him, and whom he loved, died; and now with Sirius, it was not only because Sirius was around him, but because of Harry’s own decisions.

Harry opened his trunk and began to put his things away. He made sure the magic-related things were well out of sight – no need to rock the boat. The last thing he took out was his photo album that Hagrid had assembled for him. He opened it to the wedding picture with his parents and Sirius. They were all laughing and smiling. Every so often, Harry's parents would kiss each other. Sometimes, Sirius would ruffle Harry's Dad's hair - when he did Harry found himself running his hand through his oh-so-similar hair to imagine Sirius being beside him again, ruffling Harry's hair as he had in life. These people had died so that he, Harry, had a chance to live. Friends both in school and in the Order of the Phoenix had stood by him, risking their lives for him. That realization led Harry to decide that there was no choice but to repay it as well as he could. If he was going to have to face Voldemort until one of them were dead, he had to be the absolute best wizard and fighter he could be so that all these deaths were not in vain.

Harry took out parchment and quill and sat at the desk. He decided his first letter needed to be to Dumbledore for advice about his plan.

“Dear Professor Dumbledore, I have started my summer break and have been thinking about that thing you showed me last week. I had always known that he was after me, so what you showed me was not a shock in that regard. If it just concerned me, I could handle that. It’s not as if I have shrunk from danger. But above all I cannot bear to think of a threat to those I love, and I find that this is an ever-increasing number. If my death or running away would save them, I would embrace such a course. Instead, it seems that would just hasten the day for the death or subjection of those I care for As of yet I do not even know what I am supposed to do, and I assume you do not either, unless knowing what it is would make it impossible for me to achieve. In either case, I need to prepare to meet the fate I am faced with. At present, however, I do not feel like I am his equal as a wizard, quite the contrary: therefore I am now in training. I understand and accept that I need to develop my skills and power as much as possible. When back at school, I will be able to practice, and while I am here I can study my books, but I cannot actually practice my skills. Is there anything else I can do to prepare myself for the challenges ahead? Oh, and I need to let you know also, that whatever explaining you did to my aunt and uncle, you almost overdid. Everything is fine here, except they won’t even let me do chores. I guess that gives me more time to work on my skills. --- Harry. P.S. I am very sorry for my reaction in your office. This was a very difficult year for me.”

Harry took Hedwig out of her cage and petted her head for a few minutes, then hugged her.

“Hedwig,” he said, “it’s dangerous being a friend of mine. Do you still want to be my owl?”

She hooted and turned her head sideways, as if to say “Are you crazy?” Then she nipped his ear playfully and squeezed his arm with her talons.

“Thanks,” said Harry “I don’t want to lose anyone else.” He attached the letter to her foot and told her to take it to Dumbledore. He carried her to the window. “If you stop for a rodent, make sure you take care of the letter,” he warned. Hedwig hooted indignantly, as if she resented being taken for some silly young owl that might put food ahead of duty. Then she took off into the early night sky.


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