Disclaimer : I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K.Rowling. I’m just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Note: This story is the seventh year sequel to Harry Potter and the Power of Emotion . I strongly suggest you read that one first, as this picks up right where that one left off. So, without further ado, buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a rough ride…
Harry Potter stared miserably out the window of his uncle’s luxury sedan as it drove down the highway towards Little Winging. The positive energy and cheerfulness he’d felt saying good-bye to his friends rapidly dissipated under the Dursleys’ hateful glares. The heat he’d felt upon exiting the Hogwart’s Express continued unmercifully. He was permanently hot and sticky, adding to his distemper.
Harry was on summer break after experiencing a particularly difficult end of term. He and his best friend, Ron, had been kidnapped and held captive for over a week by the fanatical followers of Lord Voldemort. During that time, Harry had been tortured and abused by Death Eaters, and left in a cell with a Dementor, before ultimately battling against the Dark Lord himself. He’d barely escaped with his life, and the experience had left him drained of both his physical strength and his magical energy, not to mention the psychological trauma. He’d been sent home to recuperate under the watchful eye of the Order of the Phoenix.
The ride home was very similar to the previous year, with Aunt Petunia ranting about the public scene in the train station and the disgraceful company Harry kept. Uncle Vernon nodded his head at her tirade, sporadically throwing in his own complaints. Only Dudley refrained from commenting, seeming to shrink to his own side of the car in an effort to keep as much distance as possible between himself and Harry. Shrinking into anything was not an easy feat for Dudley, and Harry was somewhat amused by his efforts. His eyes were wide, and he jumped if Harry so much as shifted his position. Harry wondered if the Memory Charm that had been placed on Dudley after the attack last Christmas was somehow faulty. Dudley seemed far more intimidated by Harry than he’d ever been before.
They were about halfway to Surrey when Aunt Petunia let loose a tirade against Bill. “Just who does he think he is? Assuming he can tell us who to allow in and out of our own home. I will not have anyone looking like…like…like a gigolo entering my home. What will people think? Why doesn’t he get a decent haircut and at least try to appear respectable? And that earring! Absolutely not. I’m telling you right now, you will tell him to look normal before he’s allowed to call. And when he’s visiting, he will remain in your room. I don’t want to have to see either of you, and I won’t tolerate a mess in the den.”
Uncle Vernon, who appeared to be waiting for the chance to have a go at Harry, joined his wife’s fury. “You are even more stupid than I always thought you were if you think we are going to leave our own home to go spend time with even more freaks like you. I’m telling you, boy, I won’t have it. You tell that pansy that if he’s going to be coming over, he has to put on normal clothes, cover that hair and NO earring. What kind of man wears an earring? Not one I’ll have in my home, I’m telling you. I don’t want to see him any more than I want to see you, so stay in the room, or you’ll be locked in. And if he expects to eat, he’ll have to bring his own. I won’t be responsible for feeding any more freeloaders.”
Harry held his tongue, although he wanted to let loose a few choice words of his own. He had to stay with them until he turned seventeen, and that was only about six weeks away. He could do it. He’d put up with them and their threats and complaints for years; he couldn’t break now that the end was in sight. He did think that Aunt Petunia calling Bill a ‘gigolo’ was rather funny.
“Yes, Uncle Vernon,” he mumbled, biting hard on the inside of his cheek. He felt truly miserable, and their antagonizing him wasn’t helping. That little bit of magic he’d performed on the train, playing a joke on Ron, had really wiped him out and left him feeling so discouraged. He’d put up with so much abuse from the Dursleys over the years, but he’d always relied on his own willpower. Somehow, he’d always managed to get through it. Now, he just wanted to curl up in a ball and let someone else solve things for a while. He hated the tired, restless feeling and wished it would hurry up and pass. The heat certainly wasn’t helping. It drained what little energy he had, and made his shirt stick to his back uncomfortably.
When they arrived at number four, Privet Drive, Aunt Petunia stormed into the house without another word, her head held haughtily in the air. Uncle Vernon turned towards Harry, who was slowly pulling himself out of the car, using the door for support. “Take that trunk and the rest of your things up to your room quickly, before anyone sees any of your abnormality. If you don’t move quickly, I’ll lock the rest under the stairs until we’re rid of you.” He smirked without any warmth and stomped after Aunt Petunia.
Harry sighed, looking at the heavy trunk and Hedwig’s cage. He knew he didn’t have the strength to lug them up the stairs. Dudley stood there, watching him for a moment, a strange expression on his face.
“What?” Harry asked, his shoulders sagging, expecting another taunt.
Dudley hesitated a moment, then shook his head and waddled in after his parents. Harry opened Hedwig’s cage and let her loose. “You can fly up to the window yourself, can’t you, girl? I’ll open it as soon as I get there.”
Hedwig flew out gracefully, cuffing Harry on the side of his head affectionately as she did. Harry put the cage on the ground and attempted to move the trunk. After several failed attempts – and using up most of his remaining energy – Harry finally gave up and leaned heavily against the boot of the car. He wondered if Dobby had arrived yet. Maybe he could ask him for some help levitating the trunk. Harry discarded the idea as quickly as it came. Asking Dobby for anything was always risky – he tended to get over-excited – and he didn’t want to see the Dursleys’ reaction if they witnessed his things flying at top speed through the house.
He flipped open the trunk and dug out his Invisibility cloak, the Marauder’s map, his photo albums, and a few other private things, and decided he’d just have to make a few trips to get what he absolutely needed up the stairs. Taking a deep breath, he pushed himself off the car and took a few shaky steps toward the house. He was exhausted, and his legs felt like someone had hit him with a powerful Jelly-Legs Curse. He could feel the sweat rolling down his back, and he swayed on his feet as the world began swimming.
Suddenly, he felt a firm grip on his arm, jerking him back to awareness. He momentarily flashed on a cold, dark cell as a feeling of complete helplessness washed over him. Breathing deeply and trying to orient himself to where he was, he stared in confusion at the angry face of Bill Weasley. Blinking in rapid succession, Harry just looked at Bill, waiting for him to speak. The eldest Weasley brother swore beneath his breath and flung Harry’s arm over his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around Harry’s waist and jerked his wand towards the trunk. Harry heard him mutter both a Confundus and a Levitation Charm so the trunk, with Hedwig’s cage perched on top, followed them into the house. The Confundus Charm would ensure that any of Aunt Petunia’s nosy friends who happened to be peering out their windows would see nothing out of the ordinary.
“Damn it, Harry,” Bill snarled. “I thought I’d take a walk by and see that you’d arrived safely. It’s a good thing I did. Why didn’t anybody help you with this trunk?”
Harry would have laughed if he hadn't been so tired. As if the Dursleys would be willing to help him with anything. Bill had no idea with whom he was dealing. Harry was embarrassed that he was leaning so heavily on Bill, but he couldn’t help it. “They aren’t going to like this,” he said, indicating the floating trunk with a jerk of his head.
“I don’t give a damn what they’re going to like. It’s high time we had a discussion and set some ground rules with your relatives,” Bill snapped. “Obviously, our general warni