“Primes may be required to leave behind their familiar spaces, but they should not be expected to. Understanding the difficulties inherent in new and almost certainly dangerous undertakings is an important part of building a solid working relationship with your Primes. The demands of the shape can be both arduous and frightening. A good integrationist takes this into account, and utilizes empathy as much as any other tool at their disposal. True rapport is emotional, not merely circumstantial.”
— The Guiding Light: An Integrationist’s Guide to Understanding Primes, Chapter VI: Being Kind
Harry was angry. This was not an uncommon state for him (especially recently), but rarely did he try so hard to keep it under control.
This related to how tired he was. He hadn’t been sleeping well, not at all, and the fatigue made his temper short. Staying at the Dursleys’ for the past weeks had been necessary but entirely undesirable. He was so close to leaving for good, and that moment couldn’t come soon enough.
And now Uncle Vernon was looking to delay it yet again. Harry didn’t care how it happened, he just wanted the Dursleys to go hide, out of the house, and out of his way. He couldn’t run off to fight Voldemort while they were easy targets; his conscience wouldn’t stretch that far. As soon as Harry left for good, the protections around Privet Drive would be finished, and he didn’t think the Death Eaters would have any problem killing some of his Muggle relatives, no matter how incidental they were.
He was also still unable to perform under-age magic without breaking the law. Going ‘off the grid’, as Scott had put it, would be that much more difficult if the Ministry wanted to arrest him yet again. Harry already had plenty of other people lining up to take a shot at him.
So instead of forcibly shoving his relatives out the door with a spell, Harry took another deep breath and tried to think of some way to get the man’s fat arse out of the house and into the car. Vernon was currently labouring under the delusion that the protection program Harry had offered was an elaborate ruse to gain ownership of the Dursley house. This was so stupid that Harry was actually stumped for a response. He would rather sleep on the street than live in this shitehole by choice.
He realized he had actually said that last part out loud when Vernon’s face began to turn a rich, furious purple.
“Is there a problem here?”
A new voice from the lawn interrupted the proceedings and temporarily curtailed Vernon’s rage. Harry stepped forward to peer around Dudley as they all turned to look, but he already knew who it was.
Scott Kharan stood on the garden path wearing a slightly bemused expression. He was also wearing Muggle clothing and, while his choice of trousers and a long-sleeved button-up shirt seemed slightly odd in the summer heat, he was neither mismatched nor obviously uncomfortable.
Vernon looked suspicious, but didn’t react as he would to yet another member of the Wizarding society he so loathed. “No, no problem,” he responded gruffly. “Just discussing something with the boy here—”
“Harry, yeah. That’s his name — it’s Harry. Say it.”
Vernon glared. “I beg your pardon?”
“Call him Harry,” Scott said. He moved a few steps forwards, towering over Vernon’s stout form. “Just for future reference.”
The implied menace in Scott’s stance was enough for Vernon to realise what was going on. He whirled on Harry. “Boy, is this another of your — your—”
“Friends?” Harry suggested.
“Comrades. Compatriots,” Scott added.
“—your type,” Vernon spat out, like it was something rotten. Petunia grabbed Dudley’s shoulders and pulled him further away from Scott.
“Do you see a wand?” Scott asked. He held up his hands for inspection.
That mollified Vernon, if only very slightly. “So he’s a normal acquaintance of yours,” he said grudgingly to Harry.
Normal? No, definitely not. “Not exactly,” Harry snorted.
“Wands are scary things,” Scott said breezily. “You never know what they can do, right? Maybe turn you into a toad or something. Maybe set you on fire.”
“Silence!” Vernon demanded, but he was apparently too afraid to shout in case the neighbours were listening. “I will not discuss these things in my house!”
“That’s fine. Weren’t you just leaving?”
“Oh. OH.” Vernon turned once more to Harry. “I see. You’ve enlisted help, have you? Boy, I’ll tell you right now that I will not be forced out of my own home on some ridiculous pretence—”
“That’s not what you said yesterday,” Harry interrupted.
“I changed my mind! And now here’s this fellow also trying to get us to leave, and I can put two and two together, yes I can, and I see what’s happening here!”
“I don’t think you do,” Scott told him, and the blankly polite expression he had been wearing was now somehow threatening. “Harry is telling you that if you don’t leave with the people coming to get you, then Voldemort will torture and kill you, your wife, and your grotesquely deformed son. But I’m here to tell you about a more immediate danger.”
“Am I to believe there’s another maniac out to get us?” Vernon scoffed.
“Could be. The day ain’t over yet. Are you scared of wands, Vernon?”
“Scared?” Vernon indignantly blustered. “Of course not, it’s just unnatural, all of you are—”
“Then this must seem mundane.” Scott reached into his buttoned shirt, and when he partially withdrew his hand, the hard outline of a pistol was clenched in it. He rested the handgun against his chest, the last half of the barrel still concealed beneath the cloth.
Vernon’s face drained of colour so quickly it was as if he had sprung a leak. Petunia let out a high-pitched squeak and scurried backwards until she was pressed against the wall. Dudley just stared, looking more interested than alarmed.
“What, scared of this too? Don’t you know how a gun works?” Scott said mockingly. “Physics. Chemistry. Action and reaction, pressure and velocity. Nothing magical about this — why so frightened?”
“Petunia,” Vernon croaked, “call the police.”
Scott grinned. “And tell them… what? That a magical wizard is threatening you with a gun?”
“Scott, don’t do anything stupid,” Harry warned. He didn’t think Scott would actually gun down his relatives, but wouldn’t put it past the Kharadjai to shoot Vernon in the knee or something.
“Take my purse! There’s jewellery upstairs in the bedroom!” Aunt Petunia said hysterically, speaking for the first time.
“I don’t want, or need, your money,” Scott said contemptuously. “I want, and need you to get the fuck out of this house.”
Since nobody had actually been shot yet, Vernon had regained some small portion of his bravado. “And go where? We can’t just drive off aimlessly!”
“There will be some people here soon to take you to a safe place,” Harry reminded him.
“And you’re going to go with them,” Scott said with finality.
Vernon actually quivered with rage when given the order. “Or else what?”
“Or else I’ll take this lamp,” Scott said calmly, nodding at a table lamp near him, “and I’ll beat you with it until you stop moving. Then I’ll wrap you in a bin bag and they can drag you to the safe house. So go sit down, or I’ll put you down.”
Vernon’s mouth opened and closed several times, outrage vying with terror. But the look in Scott’s eyes made it clear that he was both willing and fully capable of carrying out his threats, so Vernon turned around on shaky legs and tottered over to the couch, where he collapsed and was joined by Petunia. They huddled together, shock writ large on their faces. Harry found dark humour in the fact that despite all the wizarding going on lately, it was the looming promise of a Muggle-style beating that cowed them most of all.
Except for Dudley. Harry didn’t know if it was stupidi