As the morning light crept
through his window, Harry lay feeling somewhat groggy and tired.
Groaning, he pulled his pillow over his head to block out the arrival
of the new day. He hadn't slept much after waking in the wee hours of
the morning from yet another episode with her.
house had been still, the neighborhood quiet. It was unclear to him why
he had awoke when he did. The many questions that plagued him about the
chamber and its prisoner was clear and still burned in his mind. In the
hopes of finding some answers, Harry had tried to go right back to
sleep. His frustration from being yanked unceremoniously from his dream
and the identity of the girl in his mind, however, seemed to be
preventing sleep from taking him. Instead, he lay there as the few
remaining hours of darkness ticked by, mentally wandering through a
plan of attack for the next night.
There's got to be a way to get to her before I wake up,
he thought. At this point he wasn't sure what bothered him more, the
fact that he wanted to help her and hadn't been able to, or the fact
that he still didn't know who she was.
had memorized the pathway to her chamber as he retraced it in his
nightly missions. He could visualize it very clearly in his waking
hours. Strangely enough, it was clearer then, as opposed to when he
slept. Somehow his mind filled in the details, although in his dreams
he couldn't actually see them. The space felt somehow familiar to him.
It was like he had been there before, but the key ingredients to
solving the mystery were frustratingly out of reach.
was quickly drawn out of his thoughts as he heard footsteps moving down
the hall and towards the stairs. He knew that in no time he would be
'summoned' to breakfast. He momentarily considered telling Uncle Vernon
to 'sod off' when he bellowed for Harry to come down.
a moment of happy consideration, he decided against it. After all, he
could finally do a few things he wanted: owl his friends, look at his
spell books, allow Hedwig out, and eat somewhat properly. He didn't
want to risk losing the few privileges he had managed to earn with the
Order's help. Telling Uncle Vernon he hadn't slept well and he was too
tired today simply wouldn't do.
were not as bad as they had been in the past. Since his fifth year, the
Dursleys had been forced by Dumbledore, Lupin, and mostly Moody to take
care of Harry's basic needs a little better. Starving him was
definitely out of the question with Mad-Eye only an owl away. That
didn't quell their zest for enslaving him to the best of their ability
before feeding him, however. If Harry wanted any time of his own, he
had to play their game. Yes, he would have to do his daily chores
before he could escape to the seclusion of his room and resume planning
his nightly excursions into the dream world.
if on cue, it came. "BOY! Get down here! You'll not laze about all day
when there is work to be done! Get your sorry arse down here and earn
your bloody keep!"
thought Uncle Vernon seemed to be in a particularly nasty state for so
early in the morning, but no matter. He didn't exactly exchange
pleasantries with any of them. They went about their business and he
went about his, (after receiving the list for the day, of course).
rose from his bed, crossed his small room and looked into the mirror as
he ran his fingers through his hopelessly unkempt hair. He grinned as
he thought of how his unruly hair irritated his aunt and uncle to no
end. 'At least it has some perks.' he thought as he roughed it up even
more if that was possible. He threw on some clothes and made his way to
the stairway, as another 'wake up call' erupted from the kitchen.
"POTTER! I said get down here! NOW!"
He couldn't help himself as he hollered back, "I'M COMING! Get a grip!"
knew he could push things a bit more now than when he was younger. The
fact that he was a wizard, guarded by more powerful wizards, was enough
to keep his relatives somewhat in check. He really owed his delicious
hold on them to the Order's decree of 'be kinder to Harry, or we'll be
last time they 'stopped by' Harry thought Aunt Petunia would faint as
she watched Moody's magical eye bore through her to her piggy son
hiding behind her skirt. It did his heart good really, their
unannounced visits. It gave him the strength to continue and something
to look forward to as well. It was always a surprise and very enjoyable
to watch. Their 'inspections' always bought Harry at least a day or two
of total freedom.
had been awhile since their last visit. He knew another one would be
coming any day, which gave him a little more cheek than usual. As he
descended the stairs, he thought mischievously about their next
'reminder' to treat him properly. Until then…just go along with it, he told himself.
the kitchen, he looked from his uncle's puffy face to the dining table
and discovered the source of Uncle Vernon's irritation. For once, it
had nothing to do with Harry. The post had arrived and apparently,
sweet "Diddydum's" exam scores from Smeltings had been amongst the pile
of letters along with an additional notice from the school Head.
must have been really bad. Aunt Petunia was extremely pale and looked
on the verge of tears. Uncle Vernon was storming back and forth across
the room blustering and grumbling to himself about the unwelcome, and
in Vernon's opinion, completely unwarranted news from the school.
Harry prepared breakfast, his ears perked in the hopes of hearing more.
Perhaps today wouldn't be so horrible after all he thought. Dudley's
academic shortcomings were certainly amusing enough. They were sure to
serve as a pleasant distraction from the daily din of life with the
the bits and pieces that he could ascertain, Harry surmised that Dudley
had been caught attempting to toss his report and the letter into the
bin. It was obvious that 'Dudders' had been well aware that he had not
achieved what they had hoped. Not only were his scores bordering on
atrocious, but the letter from Headmaster Morley stated that if he
didn't show marked improvement in the fall term, he would be dismissed
from the school boxing team "until such time that his grades reflected
the level of excellence befitting a quality school such as Smeltings."
more his uncle paced, the angrier he became until he was in a veritable
rampage. Uncle Vernon of course, blamed the school. Headmaster Morley
had made several changes in the short time that he had been running the
school that Uncle Vernon found nothing short of criminal. From what
Harry could tell, those policy adjustments were obviously designed to
raise the academic standards of the school while down playing the
importance of sport. Such a theory seemed utterly preposterous to
"It all comes down to bringing in that new headmaster!" Veron raved. "That was the worst mistake
that school's ever made in its 80 year history! It's a crime to watch a
proper school like Smeltings spiral down into the gutter with that riff
raff at the helm."
turned away and rolled his eyes. Harry could remember Uncle Vernon
quite clearly stating just a year ago that a solid, no nonsense leader
like Headmaster Morley was "exactly what that school needed to keep
those lazy Red teachers in line." Now that that same no nonsense style
of leadership had come back to bite Dudley, Vernon was taking quite a
"What's Morley playing at anyway? When I
was at Smeltings, we had proper professors, who could actually spot
talent and develop it when it was thrust upon them! We certainly didn't
entertain ruddy Headmasters who couldn't see the value of a
well-rounded student!" Vernon grumbled in disgust.
Dudley's well-rounded alright, I'll give you that.
Harry thought as he fought off his smirk. For some reason, watching his
beastly cousin eat his way into oblivion at the moment was almost
amusing. Harry finished serving the breakfast as Vernon went on with
tell you what this is…Morley's got a son of his own on the boxing
team. I'd wager he wants Dud out of the way so there's a clear path for
his boy to be champion. The boy probably can't handle a little
healthy competition … more like he knows the whelp doesn't stand a
chance of being top man with Dudley around, so he wants him off the
team." Vernon said with a nod to Dudley and a slap on his rather beefy
arm. "That has to be it!"
Or…Dudley's really just that daft and an absolutely brainless git. Harry mused to himself before tuning back in to Vernon. "…it's an outrage!" his uncle continued. "Well, I have news for Headmaster Morley, I'll simply not have it! Don't give it another thought Dud, Coach Ellington will have something to say about this supposed
dismissal from the team. Empty threats I tell you. Morley wouldn't
dare. With your boxing record, Ellington's sure to fight to keep you."
How dare they, Harry thought sarcastically as he returned to the kitchen for the orange juice. Smeltings actually views academic standards as a priority. Bet it really cranks Uncle Vernon that boxing isn't enough, Harry mused.
Harry couldn't help but shake his head in disbelief. This was a lot of
denial, even for his relatives. Were they really that thick? Did they
really think that being the best bully in the school would qualify Big
D for scholar of the year? He doubted very much if Dudley even cared
about his grades, but Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were mortified.
would they tell the neighbors who proudly shared their child's
achievements? Harry listened from the kitchen as talk of pulling Dudley
out of that school altogether began to circulate about the room.
was beginning to suspect that sending Dudley abroad to spend a year
'finding himself' rather than returning to Smeltings for his second
year of A levels was sounding better and better. Unless Dudley's coach
really did have that much pull, Harry could see that his relatives were
beginning to run out of alternatives. Having his one and only son
chucked off the boxing team certainly wasn't going to be acceptable to
Uncle Vernon. That's not the sort of thing that you could brag about in
social circles. If Dudley left now, that could never happen and he'd
end his illustrious boxing career as school champion instead of school
pinhead who had been dismissed from the team based purely on his
stupidity. Harry suspected that the school would be relieved as well.
Dudley was mucking up the school's academic record anyway.
Harry poured the juice, he deemed the whole scene truly entertaining.
The part that Harry found to be most humorous was Dudley. He sat with a
look of complete indifference at the table as he devoured yet another
portion of bacon and eggs. Dudley's only contributions to the
conversation had been a periodic nod or snort in response to his
father's ranting. He didn't confirm or deny anything that Vernon said
and allowed his father to spout off until he burned himself out and
tucked into his meal.
had been extremely difficult, but Harry had remained silent. The
temptation to make some sort of comment had been gripping him since he
had walked into the room, but somehow Harry had held fast until he
returned to the kitchen. With the door safely closed behind him, Harry
found himself fighting the urge to burst into a fit of laughter.
Harry struggled to get a hold of himself as his uncle stormed into the kitchen. "What on earth are you grinning at boy?" he yelled.
"Er…nothing Uncle Vernon." He responded as he tried to wipe the smile, quite unsuccessfully, from his face.
Vernon stared daggers through Harry, turning one of his famous shades of purple, as if it were his
fault Dudley was an academic failure. Harry knew he'd be busy today.
His 'list' grew in direct correlation with the foulness of Uncle
Vernon's mood. The grumpier he was, the more Harry usually had to do
that day. Today was no different. He had actually written a list instead of firing off the verbal one he usually delivered.
With a satisfied smirk of his own, Vernon shoved it into Harry's hand and yelled "Grin at that boy!" and stomped off.
bit stunned by a list on paper, Harry looked down at it in shock. It
was filled and there was more on the back. Items such as clean the
attic, paint the trim of the house and clip the hedges topped the list.
It would be three days' hard slog before he finished everything on
there. The chores were so excessive that Harry could feel his blood
begin to boil with rage. As he turned the paper over he stopped dead in
his tracks. There at the bottom of the list in capital letters was the
one thing worse than anything else they could possibly throw at him.
"YOU WILL WELCOME YOUR AUNT MARGE GRACIOUSLY INTO OUR HOME!"
"THE HELL I WILL!" he shouted to the empty kitchen.
She was to arrive at 5:00 o'clock today!
Harry's rage intensified as he remembered his last encounter with
Marge. He actually blew her up. He couldn't believe at first that she
even had the nerve to put in another appearance while he was there --
but then he remembered. Her memory had been modified.
was the last straw. He crumpled the list in his fist and turned to
march into the lounge. He was about to the play the "Moody" card when a
loud blast followed by Aunt Petunia's terrified shriek saved him the
trouble. Harry stopped dead in his tracks again, this time to savor the
moment, as a mischievous smirk spread across his face. He took a deep
breath then walked brightly into the lounge to greet his visitors.
The scene was comical, at least to Harry. The fireplace had been blown to bits, again.
Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia stood huddled together across the room
picking plaster out of their hair while Dudley's massive bulk tried to
disappear behind them. Due to his size, he was failing miserably in his
attempt which amused Harry even further. He scanned the room for his
guests and beamed happily.
"Fred! George! It's great to see you!" he exclaimed.
ya Harry!" They said together waggling their eyebrows and matching his
smirk. "Thought we'd pop by and…er… see how you've been getting on
path of entry you two blokes chose. Didn't feel much like apparating
today I suspect?" Harry added with a raised eyebrow and a grin.
"Perhaps it would be better if they just left the fireplace open then.
What do you think?"
and Fred smirked back, "Perhaps it would. Causes quite an unavoidable
mess this way, we're afraid. Quite unfortunate indeed, but traveling by
floo well, requires a floo doesn't it?" Harry knew just as well as they
did that it was in fact, easily avoidable if they had chosen to
"So… why didn't Ron come?" Harry asked, still enjoying their banter as the Dursleys cringed.
grinned at Harry then allowed their eyes to wander over to Dudley's
huge arse as it stuck out from behind his mother's bony body before
"Ron sends his regards Harry, but mum needed him to stay and help with some things back at headquarters…"
Order is a bit busy today, but we're full-fledged members now, ya know.
When they discussed needing someone to come by today at last night's
meeting… we were only too happy to oblige."
that they had both a captive and delighted audience the twins decided
to beef it up a bit. "Course, Moody'll be along any minute." George
paused allowing his words to sink in properly. Relishing the
expressions on the Dursley's faces, he continued. "He so loves these
'social calls.' Isn't that right Fred?" George smirked.
"Oh, too right you are George." Fred answered. "I believe he said he simply wouldn't miss it."
watched, almost giddy, as the Weasley twins hawked Dudley from across
the room. The twins were a force to be reckoned with, perhaps on a
different plane than Moody, but still a veritable lightning-bolt
waiting to strike. He was glad that he had always managed to remain on
good terms with them.
No doubt his cousin remembered the twins from their last visit when they had accidentally
dropped a Ton-Tongue Toffee which Dudley had eaten. Dudley's tongue
wagged somewhere about his navel by the time his parents let Mr.
Weasley sort him out.
those wonderful images floated about in Harry's mind, he heard a loud
crack reverberate through the room. Mad-Eye Moody apparated only inches
in front of Vernon and Petunia making them fall back over Dudley who
squealed like a little girl.
professor! I wondered when you'd be making another social call. It's
good of you to come. If you stay long enough you may even get to meet
my Aunt Marge." Harry added gleefully, picturing what would happen if they were still there when she arrived. I've got her gracious welcome right here, Harry thought.
felt even sweeter when he heard a sharp gasp and a shudder come from
the pile of Dursleys heaped on the lounge floor. He knew what they were
thinking. How on earth they would explain their scarred, claw-footed,
mad-eyed visitor to a very judgmental Marge? He also knew Moody would
never abide her rudeness. Harry found himself wishing and hoping they
could stay. He pictured Moody transfiguring her to look like one of her
bulldogs and bouncing her off the ceiling. A smile leapt to Harry's
face at the mental images. As Harry fast forwarded through the evening
in his mind, he found the best part was that once Moody had finished
with her, she would have the Weasley twins to contend with. Harry just had to know what kind of creative, but evil mischief Fred and George would have in store for her and her dog.
appeared Fred and George had been thinking the very same thing as Harry
glanced at them happily with a grin of invitation to do their worst.
The twins looked as though Christmas had come early. But it was too
good to be true. Unfortunately, play day was to be cut short.
"Haven't they told you Potter?" Moody asked halting the wheels as they turned in the boys' heads.
Looking a bit confused Harry asked, "Sorry? Told me what, sir?"
"Sorry Harry, just having a bit of fun first." Fred interjected.
looked at the twins with a bit of a grumble, and then considered their
ability to toy with the Dursleys. He had to give credit where credit
was due. They had a knack for their own brand of intimidation.
He looked back at Harry and said. "Its jail-break day for you Potter! Get your trunk!"
Harry couldn't believe it! His heart soared as he absorbed the news.
Are you serious?" he cried. "I didn't expect to get to leave for at
least another week, around my birthday." Harry paused. "This is
absolutely, bloody excellent!"
then walked directly to the trembling heap that was his uncle and
tossed the crumpled list at him. "Here, doesn't look like I'll have
time for any of this today," he said cheerfully. "I guess you'll have
to do your own maintenance for a change. See you next year!" With that,
Harry turned on his heel and headed up to his room to pack, accompanied
by the twins. They left Moody in the lounge with the Dursleys to have a
was going to be a much better day than Harry had ever felt possible!
His summer at the Dursleys was cut short. No more lists, no more
Dursleys, and most importantly, no Marge! Harry was terribly curious
about why he was getting an early out this year, but was too happy to
ask. No doubt it wasn't anything good, but that didn't matter right
now. There'd be plenty of time for worry later. Right now he wanted to
enjoy every moment of his farewell party.
Once again I would like to thank my wonderful betas and other HP
friends who have so generously offered their feedback and support. I
really appreciate it. :) A special thank you to
Phillip, who provided me with a great deal of information on the UK
school systems and the current process of exams. Here's to your
survival as your own son completes the process. Thanks very much and I
hope you all enjoy it. :)