Petunia held her cheek. Vernon was still yelling at her but she was shocked he actually hit her. Oh, he had before but it had been years. She had made sure he never hit her after the first time. She saw Harry was standing behind Vernon, glaring at Vernon. "Do it."
Harry smiled as he hissed. Darling slithered out from under his jersey. Vernon hearing the hissing sound turned his fury on Harry but Harry kept smiling as the Adder he was speaking to bit Vernon in the shin. The Adder reared back bit Vernon again.
"Call the ambulance, Aunt Petunia." Harry smirked as Darling bit Vernon again.
Petunia didn't question Harry directions. "Is he going to die?"
"Yes, from anaphylactic shock." Harry called Darling back. The snake slithered up his leg and under his jersey.
"Good. You need to go upstairs. I will tell the police that he came into the house after trying to clear the clump of bushes and trees from behind the garage." Petunia would make the call as she began to plan on what spell to use in the backyard to make it look like Vernon had been working back behind the garage. Something low level so that the magic would evaporate by the time Dumbledore would get the news.
Harry didn't respond but headed up the stairs to his room. He watched out his bedroom window as the police and ambulance arrived. He waited for a few minutes until he heard voices. He heard Dudley walk by his bedroom door and followed Dudley down the stairs.
"Mum, what is wrong with Dad?" Dudley was pulled to Petunia as the paramedics began to work on Vernon.
The first paramedic looked at the police officers and shook his head no. One of the police officers left the house to go back to his car. "I need some details to put into the report while my partner calls for the coroner." The second police officer opened his small notebook.
"Mom?" Dudley looked confused. "What does he mean?"
"May I take my son upstairs?"
"After I get some basic information if you don't mind? I will need you to come back down afterward."
Petunia looked at Vernon's body and pushed Dudley behind her. "His name is Vernon Maurice Dursley, he is 32. Is there anything else?"
"Take your children upstairs. We will let you know when the coroner arrives, you can answer questions when you come back down." The police officer continued writing in his notebook. Petunia and Dudley went upstairs. "Ready when you are."
Harry remained where he was. He was watching the paramedics working on Vernon.
"He's got swelling of the lips, tongue, gums, and throat." One of the paramedics spoke as his partner and the police officer wrote down the information. The first paramedic moved down the body and saw the bites on the legs. "Snake bites. He has three sets of bite marks, right leg. He must have stepped on one." Vernon was wearing a pair of shorts with a white tank top.
"Was he working outside?" The police officer asked Harry. He saw Petunia coming back down the stairs.
"Yes, he was clearing some of the trees and bushes from behind the garage." Petunia wiped her eyes and blew her nose. "I warned him about the snakes. We had seen them before. Adders have been seen in our neighborhood. He got a bit worried so he was clearing the area behind our garage out."
"He has lumps on the skin, hives or nettle rash, swelling, redness and bruising at each location of the bites, it spread up the leg." The paramedic just confirmed what Petunia stated. Harry resisted the urge to smile.
"When the coroner gets here will he will make it official. He will also give you the paperwork on what to do regarding what the government will need." The first paramedic told the officer.
Petunia gasped. "He's dead?" Her face went pale.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Dursley." They all told her.
Harry was sitting on the couch as the last of the mourners left. Petunia looked exhausted. "Thank God, they are gone." She faced Harry. "Dumbledore and his ilk might show up now. I know Miss Figg will report the news to him."
Harry arched a brow. Darling slithered out from under the couch. Darling started hissing. Harry hissed back. "What is the plan?"
"I think it's time we moved out of here. I will pack our belongings. We can take a taxi to the Leaky Cauldron. We need to get you ready to deal with that old man." Petunia already arranged for the house to be sold, the car was sold yesterday, and all her muggle accounts were closed.
Harry's gave her a feral grin. Darling started hissing in pleasure.
Severus was ignoring Minerva's rant about Harry Potter. Dumbledore had returned an hour ago from Surrey. The house that Potter had been residing in now had a different family residing there. Dumbledore learned from his sources that Vernon Dursley was killed by a snake and that the family moved over a year ago.
"You had Arabella watching him. You know unless it's a cat she wouldn't watch it. She didn't even know they moved. Merlin, Albus. I warned you about putting him with those muggles. Lily's sister wasn't the most pleasant of people at James and Lily's wedding."
"Petunia? Did you leave him with Petunia? She and Lily hated each other." Severus thought it was an understatement. The two sisters couldn't be in the room without fighting. Severus remembered breaking up more than on brawl between the two. The two were the exact opposite of each other, in personality.
"I know. I warned him." Minerva finally sat down. "Well, what are you going to do now? They could be anywhere."
"I'm not sure. She closed all her bank accounts and sold everything." Dumbledore wasn't sure where the woman disappeared to. There was nothing he could find in the muggle world regarding her. He might need to send someone to investigate and locate her.
"How did her husband die?" Severus wondered if Petunia did something to her husband.
"Snake bites. The certificate and police report state an Adder bit Vernon three times. He had been out cleaning the area behind their garage." Dumbledore handed Severus his copies of the reports. "The police stated that there was nothing they could do. They concluded that she called almost as soon as he was bitten."
Severus read the all the reports as Minerva and Dumbledore tried to determine what course of action was needed. If Petunia killed her husband she did a perfect murder. He wondered how she got a snake to bit her husband three times. He frowned a bit. "This is dated a little over a year ago. How come you didn't know sooner?"
"I only was alerted as the protective wards crashed. They needed to be refreshed yearly. Since Harry hasn't been there so they crashed, alerting me to the issue."
Severus sighed. "What have you decided to do?" Severus had no illusion that anything he or Minerva would say would change Dumbledore's mind. He even wondered why the man even bothered to ask their opinions.
"We have a few years before Harry turns eleven. It gives us plenty of time to locate Harry. I will see if a few of the Old Crowd can assist."
Severus didn't think they would have any success. He was going to see what he could discover as he had a feeling that Dumbledore was hiding something, as usual.
___________________________________________(2 years later)
"Harry, Dudley, remember you have your lessons to finish." Petunia was sitting at her desk. She had taken a job as a tutor and usually had several students a day visiting their home. This was the time she used to finish her marking for the day. The boys were usual in the room with her doing their own assignments. Next year, they would be eleven and decision time.
"I finished them." Dudley handed her his assignments. "May I go and visit Greg?"
"Yes, dear, have fun. Be home in time for tea." Petunia took Harry's assignment. Harry went back to reading his book. Darling was curled up in her bed on the hearth. She heard the floo activate. "I believe your friends will be here this weekend." She got a nod of agreement.
Her group of students usually switched which Manor they spent the weekend at. This week was her weekend. She had the house-elves already preparing for it. The house would be filled with screams, running feet, and laughter, something she never had when living with Vernon.
Petunia often made a wish that Harry would speak more. She had tried to get him to engage more often but it was a failed experiment. He was her quiet child while Dudley was the exact opposite. She was just thankful they didn't fight as she and Lily did. Lily used to claim Petunia was jealous of Lily for getting into Hogwarts. Petunia was privately tutored. Petunia didn't want to go Hogwarts and had actually turned down the invitation. She looked up as Harry hissed something to Darling. "Harry?" The snake slithered out of the room.
Harry turned his head. "She is going patrolling."
Petunia looked at the two letters that arrived. The owls had dropped them off and headed out as fast as they came in. She smiled as she read the names on the letters. She really loved how the goblins worked. She placed the letters by the boy's plates. Petunia wondered, just for a moment, if Dumbledore ever realized who his precious Lily was related to. Petunia had been her uncle's favorite. He never married and never had children. He only had her father, who was his brother. He left the title and seats to Dudley. When Petunia and Lily were pregnant her uncle had done a few rituals to Lady Magic hoping she would bless Petunia with a boy and that Petunia would deliver first.
Petunia did by almost a month. She had Dudley early while Lily went past her due date. Petunia had wondered at the time if Dumbledore had done something to delay Lily giving birth. She remembered Lily mentioning a prophecy but Lily didn't know it all. Petunia had tried to get her sister to realize that Dumbledore had to be up to something when Dumbledore moved them from Potter Manor to some house in Godric's Hollow. When she had spoken to her uncle about the situation, he got extremely worried and concerned about Lily and Harry. Neither of them understood why would you move someone from ancient wards to a house with just a Fidelius Charm.
Her uncle didn't like Vernon. Petunia had wondered why she married Vernon for a few years after they were married. So had her uncle. She didn't like Vernon, honestly, she was afraid of him from the time she first met him. She wished she had followed her uncle's advice about getting her and Lily to the goblins for testing regarding potions or charms on them.
The goblins were able to completely erase their existence in the muggle world while creating their new lives in the wizarding world. She had received a letter almost 19 months after Vernon's death about Dumbledore looking for Harry Potter, Harry's vaults, and even his attempt to get the goblins to reveal Harry had a new name. The goblins made very sure there wasn't any paperwork linking her to the magical world. Dumbledore wouldn't be able to discover their location since he had never been aware of their full names, muggle or magical.
"Did they come?" Dudley wasn't even fully in the dining room before asking. The dining room was really a smaller room off of the kitchen that Petunia turned into a cozy eating area. The main dining room was really a rather long and formal dining room in the older part of the castle.
"Yes, they did." Petunia sat down in her normal chair. The table was a heavy oak table with matching chairs that she had redone with new cushions when they moved in. The room was painted in a soft yellow shade to brighten up the room. Behind her was a long buffet table that matched the furniture in the room. The house-elves usually kept the cabinets in the buffet table full of small snacks for the boys. "You need to eat before you go and make plans with everyone."
"I will." Dudley took his seat. He picked up the letter, reading the envelope.
Petunia had already read the envelope. She had double checked to make sure that there wasn't a link to the Dursley name or that Harry's had the name Potter on the envelope. She didn't believe there was as the goblins did excellent work. Petunia knew it was her own paranoia that sparked the desire to read the addresses on the envelopes.
Dudley Ian Howard
Blue Bedroom on the second floor
York, North Yorkshire
Dudley opened his letter. "Mum, Hogwarts doesn't allow snakes."
"What?" Petunia wasn't sure how that happened. She knew it was part of their allowable pets last year. She had made sure to check. Dudley handed his letter to his mother. Petunia read the letter. "Harry isn't going to like that." Neither was Darling. The snake was very protective of her little speaker.
"No, Mum, he won't. He might not want to go." Dudley had all kinds of plans for them to attend Hogwarts together. Their friends were very excited to attend. Many of his friends would be going to Slytherin, like Harry.
Dudley and Draco had gotten into a debate regarding Harry. Dudley believed Ravenclaw while Draco believed Slytherin. Dudley converted to Draco's side when Draco pointed out one thing that Harry had that none of them did. Harry was a speaker. The only people aware of the fact outside of their family was the Malfoy Family. Petunia's uncle had been friends with Lucius' father before he passed away.
Petunia looked at Harry's letter by his plate. She had mixed feelings about Harry going to Hogwarts. She didn't want Harry or her son near Dumbledore. She knew that Dumbledore wouldn't recognize Dudley but he was going to be searching for Harry. Her uncle and Lucius had worked with the goblins to help hide Harry's famous scar. She handed Dudley back his letter. "I might have a solution."
"Great because I want Harry to attend with me and our friends." Dudley and Harry were close. They were more like brothers than cousins.
Harry entered the dining room. Darling was draped around his neck. Harry took his seat and noticed his Hogwarts letter. He read the name on the envelope. He picked it up.
Green Bedroom on the second floor
York, North Yorkshire
Harry looked at Petunia as Dudley began to provide Harry with the details of the letter, including no snakes allowed. Harry watched Petunia give a slight nod of her head. She pointed to a letter by her plate. Harry arched a brow. "Dudley, are you going to visit your friends?"
"Yes, I told Greg and Vince that after I got my letter we could go to Diagon Alley." Dudley was not the same overweight boy he had been when Vernon was alive. Dudley looked like an average eleven-year-old. He was average in every way. He didn't have handsome good looks but he wasn't ugly. His brown hair was slightly longer as it was below his neckline. He looked more like Petunia than Vernon now that the weight was gone.
"As long as one of their older brothers goes with you." Petunia knew Dumbledore didn't recognize her as she had seen him many times at the Ministry of Magic. Petunia was usually bringing one of her students there to take their OWLs or NEWTs. She had also been given her Teaching Certificate by the small group of professors from different magical schools. The ceremony happened at the Ministry with several others getting their certificates at the same time. Dumbledore had been on the committee and even handed her the certificate. She had been so nervous. She had been so paranoid that when Dumbledore handed her the certificate she had expected Dumbledore to port-key her to someplace to find out where Harry was.
"They are." Dudley kept eating his breakfast never noticing the silent conversation that had occurred between his mother and cousin. Harry didn't bother to open his letter. Darling slithered down his arm and onto the floor. Darling slithered over to the heating stone in the far corner of the dining room. Harry ate slowly so that Dudley wouldn't why his mother and Harry were waiting for him to leave.
Once they heard the floo indicating that Dudley had left, Petunia picked up the letter she had pointed to. "It's from Lucius. He says that he knows what type of glasses Dumbledore uses and he wants to see if the material will reveal your scar. He believes he has a solution to cover it permanently. I wrote to Uncle Ren. He replied that he would be back by tomorrow. He believes he has discovered what the Dark Lord might have done."
Harry knew the night of his parents' death was a mystery. No one in the dark faction believed Dumbledore tale of love saving Harry. Lucius and Uncle Ren had been reaching for years, even before Vernon's death, for the truth behind that night. Everything they discovered didn't match with Dumbledore's accounting of the night. The day after Harry had been left on Petunia's doorstep, Petunia had Harry at Gringotts with her uncle. Her uncle had made sure that nothing was going to be removed from the Potter estate and sealed the properties including the house in Godric's Hollow. Dumbledore had attempted to turn the Potters' house in Godric's Hollow into a shrine but the goblins worked fast and had removed the Fidelius Charm and placed new wards and a new Fidelius Charm with Petunia's uncle as the secret keeper.
Lucius, Uncle Ren, and Augustus Rookwood had spent days attempting to figure out what happened. They knew Dumbledore hadn't been speaking the truth when they found blood wards around the house. No one could understand why Lily didn't apparate out of the house but Rookwood discovered that the only place anyone could apparate away was by the same door you entered the house.
The original plan was to allow Dumbledore to believe his plan was working. The changed the day that Vernon had hit her, again. Petunia wasn't going to be anyone's punching bag. She certainly wasn't going to allow Vernon to hit the boys either. They had to recreate a new plan at the time. A plan Lucius was enjoying using against Dumbledore.
"We will find a way to get Darling to attend with you."
Darling started hissing. Harry hissed back. "She said she will be at Hogwarts one way or another."
Petunia didn't doubt that.
Petunia was arranging a tea tray when her uncle Ren and Lucius arrived. She heard them speaking to Harry. She finished fixing the tray. She was doing busy work to keep her mind from thinking about what might happen at Hogwarts. She settled back into her seat waiting for everyone to join her. She ignored Harry's knowing look. Harry was a keen observer of people. Petunia rose, gave her uncle a hug and kiss on the cheek. Lucius took her hand and gave it a kiss.
Petunia returned to her seat and poured the tea. "Any news?" She was very nervous that Dumbledore would know who Harry truly was. She wasn't sure what James and Lily might have done to allow him access to Harry. She knew Dumbledore didn't have the right to place Harry with her. She acknowledged that she might never know why she married Vernon.
"Yes, Augustus believes the Dark Lord is in England and Dumbledore is aware of it. Dumbledore paid a visit to the DoM yesterday. When Augustus got a chance to check the area that Dumbledore visited, he discovered three intricate silvery devices that whirled and emitted small puffs of smoke missing. He went to the inventory and the line that would have listed the devices was missing." Lucius reached into his pocket. He pulled out a photo. "This what they look like." He held the photo out to Petunia.
Petunia and Harry looked a the picture. "Does Augustus know what they do?" Petunia looked at the picture again. "Weird little things aren't they? No real name to describe them." The three items look like they were pure silver but with different moving parts that looked like some creative magic was used.
"Yes, he does. Dumbledore didn't remove the research that was being done on them which is why we have a photo of them. They are tied to Harry and the Dark Lord. They discovered Dumbledore's magical signature in the report but it doesn't list who he tied them too. Augustus discovered it when he saw blood reports that were done on the three items. The blood reports listed Tom Riddle, Harry Potter, and Albus Dumbledore. Augustus removed report and made sure to destroy the St. Mungo's copy. Dumbledore doesn't know about the blood work or I believe that would have been destroyed." Lucius took a sip of his tea. "Augustus believes he removed them now because the dark art protection wards must be removed from Hogwarts. The goblins were there at the beginning of the month to renew the wards."
"They are dark artifacts?" Petunia handed the picture back to Lucius. She was wondering how she could arrange for the goblins to check the wards again. She would speak to her Uncle, in private, later to discuss the possibilities.
"No, but the magic is. It's why the wards were removed. Augustus believes that it is also to allow the Dark Lord to enter Hogwarts."
"Uncle Ren, you are quiet." There went the plan to have the wards returned. She didn't want the Dark Lord to get caught. She noticed Harry seemed to be deep in thought too. She was willing to be that Uncle Ren and Harry had another plan in the works for Harry's time at Hogwarts.
"I have been thinking about all of this." Uncle Ren was an elderly man, almost the same age as Dumbledore. His full white head of hair was wavy and uncontrollable but matched his white beard. He was a tall, average built man. "We know he is still looking for Harry Potter and since it's been almost ten years since that night, I believe he is expecting Tom to arrive at Hogwarts. Dumbledore might want them to have a confrontation or perhaps to do something regarding ending the situation entirely. We can't really know until we know where Tom is and what kind of shape he might be in."
Darling started hissing. Harry arched a brow as he hissed back. "She said if she is at Hogwarts, she can find him."
"No doubt." Petunia and Harry watched Lucius who was almost afraid of Darling as he was of Nagini. Darling was a bit more subtle in her killings but she was just as deadly as Nagini. They had informed Lucius of what Darling had done to Vernon.
"Tom should recognize Darling. She is the daughter of Nagini's."
Petunia hadn't been aware of that but wasn't surprised. Harry seemed to be aware of it, Petunia noticed. Harry and Darling had a lot of secrets she knew. Secrets she didn't want to know. Harry, if she was truthful, scared her at times. Not in an evil, bad vibe way but in a to smart for his age, too secretive. Harry was a loner. Lucius' voice brought her back out of her thoughts. "I did find something interesting. We got a request for a new Muggle-Studies professor. Professor Quirrell has returned from his adventures and is now the new DADA professor."
"Why?" Uncle Ren wondered. "It doesn't make sense but then again nothing Dumbledore does makes sense."
"I agree. I found it strange. I am pulling the port-key records to see where his adventure took him."
"What will that show?" Petunia wasn't sure what Lucius was hoping to accomplish.
"I'm not sure but if it's to countries we didn't check, he might have found the Dark Lord or even the Dark Lord might be possessing him." Lucius leaned back in his chair. "If it is a possession the dark wards wouldn't notice either. So I do believe he is setting up something."
"He might have been alerted if Quirrell showed up at Hogwarts before the wards were removed requesting the change. Dumbledore would have wanted to meet with him." Uncle Ren suggested.
"It wouldn't surprise me. He always has a long and short plan. Severus might know more but Dumbledore and the Dark Lord share that one trait, they don't share information or plans." Lucius glanced at Ren. "Severus is coming for dinner, I will speak to him regarding Quirrell."
"He is going to be in a mood. You know Dumbledore is driving him crazy with all things Potter." Petunia and Severus had spent many hours discussing James, Sirius, and Remus. She didn't care for their pranks. They dyed her pink for her sister's wedding. Lily hadn't been very happy either. "When is he required to return to Hogwarts?"
"Last week." Lucius answered. The conversation turned to general things that needed to be done by all before the children start Hogwarts.
Harry was browsing the bookshelves in the bookstore for books he might not have. Dudley was having lunch with Greg and Vincent. He let out a groan as he saw Ron Weasley enter the store with his family. He actually liked some of his siblings but Ron was a bully of the first order. He felt a bit bad for Neville Longbottom who looked like he had no desire to be with Ron.
"I'm telling you, he is my best friend."
"Ron, no one has seen him in ten years. When did you meet him?" Neville headed for the area behind where Harry was standing.
"He is to my best friend. You're just jealous. We are going to have so many adventures. We will have our beds next to each other in Gryffindor."
"How do you know he is going to go to Gryffindor?" Neville was looking through the gardening books. Harry turned a bit and saw Ron was leaning against the wall. Neville was reading an opened book before he closed it and put it back and pulled down the next one.
"He's Harry Potter. So, of course, he is going to a Gryffindor. Haven't you read all the stories about him? All the great adventures he has already done."
"He's our age, Ron, and you believe he has traveled to all those places and did those adventures?"
Harry kept pretending to read as Neville skimmed through some books listening to all the details of the different stories about the amazing Harry Potter, the Savior of the Wizarding World. Harry was trying not to listen to Darling who was doing her own commentary on Ron Weasley and Harry Potter being best friends. Neville just kept sorting through the gardening books.
Harry had read the books on Harry Potter after Petunia had stopped any further stories being printed about him, his image, even his name. She also got all the royalties returned. Dumbledore had the funds going to his own vault and had to refund all the money. Dumbledore had tried to prevent it by saying he was the author of the stories which surprised a lot of people when it was leaked out and was he entitled to the money.
Petunia filed a lawsuit and won it. Lucius was her barrister of record. Petunia had the goblins file the lawsuit and since they weren't allowed to represent themselves, they used Lucius. Dumbledore had attempted to get the suit dismissed by since it was a lawsuit and not a criminal case, Dumbledore had no power or sway since the Wizenagamot only handled criminal cases.
Harry decided he had enough of listening to Ron. He picked up the books he was buying and headed to cashier to pay. Ron noticed him. "He's going to be an evil snake."
"Ron, hush, you don't know that. Besides, he has always been pleasant to me."
"All snakes are evil and Harry will make sure they all learn their place which is in Azkaban." Ron glared at Neville. "How can you defend any Slytherins? Look at what they did to your parents and Harry's."
Harry didn't need to see what happened as he heard a crack followed by a thud. "Don't you ever say anything like that again." It was followed shortly by the jingle of the bell above the door and the loud bang as the door was slammed shut. Harry put his books on the counter as everyone was rushing to check on Ron except for Mr. Flourish and Mr. Blotts. They remained behind the counter.
"Mr. Peverell, pleasure seeing you again." Mr. Blotts had a smile on his face.
Harry gave him a slight smile. Mr. Blotts never smiled. Mr. Flourish still had his hand over his mouth. Apparently, Ron forgot that Flourish & Blotts was owned by two former Slytherins. "I picked a great day to go browsing." Harry pulled out his list of books. "Can you order these books for me and send them to Hogwarts when they arrive?"
"Certainly. We got in a shipment of books today so your last order should be fulfilled later today." Mr. Flourish took the list from Harry to keep from laughing. He saw some books were crossed off as Harry had them on the counter.
"Great." Harry paid for his books and walked around a now sitting Ron.
Harry, Draco, and Dudley were looking out the compartment window watching the mad scramble by the Weasleys to make the train. "I wonder why they used the muggle side platform entrance?"
"It's all about Harry." Draco summarized the whole Order ordeal. "Weasley is going to want to find Harry Potter on the train."
Harry arched a brow as he looked at Darling curled up in the corner under a blanket. "Yes." Harry had already informed everyone about the bookstore. He wasn't sure how much Neville Longbottom trusted Dumbledore but he thought Neville had a brain.
"Mum still hasn't left." Dudley waved at his mother. Petunia was still standing with the Malfoy family.
"They won't. I think Mother and Father are afraid Dumbledore might attempt something." Draco wasn't going to wave. His parents were watching him and he was watching them. He nodded his head and received a nod in return from each of his parents.
Harry frowned a bit as the Weasleys finally started to enter the train. He could hear Molly Weasley directions to her children. The train whistle blew and it was a mad dash by the Weasleys to get all the members going to Hogwarts onto the train. "I hope this year passes fast." Dudley summoned up Harry's feelings about attending Hogwarts. Darling stuck her head out and hissed her own agreement.
"Seven." Draco returned to his book. He wondered how many more trips Weasley was going to make looking for Harry Potter.
"I thought it was only six?" Dudley picked up the piece of parchment he had been writing on.
"You missed one time when you went to the loo." Draco closed his book. "I'm feeling a bit peckish, time for a bit of a snack?" They had already eaten their lunches that Narcissa made sure they took with them. She didn't want them to eat just junk food. Their numerous friends had already been by to visit and they still had two hours before the train was due to arrive at Hogwarts.
At the mention of food, Darling peeked her head out. *I want some Zebra Hoofs."
"Zebra Hoofs?" Dudley reached into his pouch and pulled out the bag of treats his mother had packed for them.
"Yes." Harry rolled his eyes. "She thinks they contain real zebras."
*They do. Why else would they call them that?* Darling believed her logic was flawless.
"You would have thought she would have learned after the Ice Mice." Draco opened the Chocolate Frog that Dudley gave him. "I hope it's not Dumbledore, again."
Harry didn't comment as he remembered when Darling had decided to try Ice Mice and stole Dudley's package of them. It had taken them almost three hours to get the snake to stop shivering because of the Ice Mice. She wasn't cold and she wasn't happy about Ice Mice and had made it known by snapping at anyone but Harry who attempted to get near her. *Mice do not make you do that. You two-legged things messed up a good treat.*
Dudley and Draco tried not to laugh at Darling as she alternated between eating the Zebra Hoofs and complaining about Ice Mice. Harry just made sure to keep the snake warm. He didn't want to take a chance on using magic so he had a few smaller blankets for the snake to curl up into. When they would exit the train, Darling was going to be under his school robes.
Severus leaned back in his chair watching the sorting. He was very aware of the staff and Dumbledore reviewing the line of students to see if any of the boys looked like Harry Potter. Dumbledore was still attempting to locate Petunia and her son but had no luck. He wondered if any of the staff or Dumbledore would connect Dudley Howard and Harrison Peverell to Dudley Dursley and Harry Potter.
Minerva had spent the month of July with Dumbledore asking her about doing the acceptance letters and if Harry Potter had been addressed on an envelope. When August arrived, Dumbledore had gone over all the incoming muggle-borns and any half-bloods who resided in the muggle world. When that failed to locate Harry Potter, he began to look at anyone who didn't have a pure-blood name in the magical world.
Severus had thought it was amusing how Dumbledore believed that pure-bloods only cared about making sure their bloodlines remained pure. Yes, some did. However, many also recognized how depleted their lines were becoming and were welcoming anyone who was family back into their lines. The only family that hadn't been making a comeback was the Black family. There were no male Blacks left that could preserve the name. Regulus had been declared deceased and the Mutt was still in Azkaban.
The sorting went like any other sorting with the exception of one muggle-born girl who argued with the hat for Gryffindor. Dumbledore didn't appear to be interested in Harry or Dudley. Harry went to Slytherin while Dudley went to Hufflepuff. Draco was sitting on Harry's right while Theo was sitting on Harry's left. Severus wondered if Darling was still with Harry or was she off to search the Castle.
Severus had been watching Professor Quirrell. The man wasn't who he appeared to be. He hadn't spoken to the man since he returned from his adventures. However, he knew the stutter was phony. Darling would discover the truth and then he would approach Quirrell. He didn't want to have Dumbledore doubt his spy if he went to Quirrell and Quirrell was really Quirrell still.
The Welcoming Feast was almost finished. Severus wasn't worried about staff or Order meeting tonight. There was still much to do. Each head would speak to their house as well as deal with any homesickness. Dumbledore would call a meeting since no Harry Potter showed up. Severus wasn't sure why Dumbledore was so focused on Harry Potter. It had to be more than just that prophecy by the hack. A prophecy they still weren't exactly sure of.
Severus looked down at his snakes. He could see Harry was adjusting his robes and realized Darling was still with him. He wasn't sure how much like her mother, Nagini, Darling was but he did know that snake would protect Harry. The death reports about Vernon showed just how deadly Darling was. He remembered the first time he had seen Darling.
Severus wasn't very happy with what he learned about Harry Potter and who Dumbledore had placed Harry with. Dumbledore had forced him into a Vow of Protection and yet dumped him at a magic-hating muggles residence. Dumbledore had to know the pain he had been experiencing over the years was because he had been breaking that vow.
Severus wasn't even sure if he wanted to brew this potion to locate Harry Potter as the Vow of Protection hadn't been itching at him. He knew Harry was alive but also knew the boy wasn't in any danger as the Vow hadn't been bothering him since the death of Vernon Dursley. He wanted to locate Harry but not for Dumbledore.
The potion required some items he had stored at Malfoy Manor. He had tried to floo call Lucius but Lucius wasn't at home. He knew the house elves would grant him access to where he kept his potion ingredients. Everything went according to plan until he was leaving and a miniature version of Nagini stopped him in his tracks. The snake was aggravated and letting him know he wasn't welcomed. Severus didn't move. He was hoping the snake would back away. He wasn't sure if this snake was magic resistant like Nagini was. He didn't want to find out either by failing to use the correct spell.
"Harry, tell her to stop." A tall woman stood in the doorway.
Severus didn't take his eyes off the snake until he heard a human hissing. His eyes went to a boy standing near the snake but had been hidden by the library doors. The woman and snake were near Lucius' office doors. "I'm not here to steal anything. I just came for some of my potion ingredients down in my potion lab."
"I am aware Severus. However, I do believe Harry and Darling thought you might be a spy since they have never met you."
Severus watched the snake slither to Harry. He looked at the woman. "Petunia?" She was different. She looked more like Lily now, except her hair was more of a deep auburn with red highlights.
"Yes, Severus. Come with me. I believe my uncle would like to chat with you. Harry, go and finish your assignment."
Uncle Ren had certainly been an eye-opener. He learned more than he thought possible that day. Dumbledore really shouldn't have messed with the Howard family. He was also thankful he made the Vow of Protection for Harry and not any type of binding vows to Dumbledore. Dumbledore really should have kept Lily safe.
Severus trudged his way up to the headmaster's office. He really didn't want to listen to the old man rattle on about Harry Potter, the Dark Lord, and the prophecy. He had already spent the summer listening to the old man's concerns about the lack of where the Dursleys and Harry could be. Dumbledore wasn't sure how long the Dursleys had been missing since Mrs. Figg didn't even seem aware they had moved. It wasn't until they found the death certificate for Vernon Dursley that they realized why the family had moved. Dumbledore had been looking for them since that time period. Dumbledore had been excessively worried when no letter printed up on July 31st and his mood didn't improve as the summer moved forward. He wasn't surprised to find Molly Weasley sitting in the Headmaster's office as well as Minerva. Minerva was pouring tea when he entered the office. No one was sitting by the Headmaster's desk but by the small sitting area in the little alcove behind the desk. Severus took the remaining seat. Once everyone had their tea, Dumbledore sighed deeply. "What are we going to do?" The biscuits were chocolate wafer biscuits that Dumbledore favored.
"Albus, I'm not sure what we can do. We have no idea where Petunia disappeared to after her husband passed away, no idea where Harry is, and no idea if he even is Harry Potter any longer." Minerva took a sip of her tea. "We have been looking since they disappeared and have no leads." Minerva believed that Petunia dumped Harry someplace just to get rid of him and moved on with her life. She had been very vocal about how Petunia was the worst sort of muggle. She reminded Dumbledore enough times over the years of her warning when they dropped Harry off at night on the doorsteps. Minerva usually made a point of reminding him once a month.
"There wasn't anyone that looked like James or Lily at the train platform." Molly took a sip of her tea. "I look at everyone entering the portal and on the platform." Molly had made sure to mention the platform number when she was heading to the platform and when they entered the portal she had walked through the train searching the compartments for Harry before the train left. She had almost missed getting off the train before it was due to depart.
"No one looked like a Potter during the sorting either." Minerva sighed deeply. "There just wasn't anyone who even came close to looking to like either James or Lily." Minerva had hoped that Harry would have appeared for the sorting.
"I have to agree with Minerva. There was no one that looked like James or Lily." Severus loved how he didn't lie about anything. "All the Gryffindors were those Minerva or you visited, I believe." He was a bit surprised that they honestly believed that Harry Potter would be a Gryffindor. Perhaps if Harry had been raised by Gryffindors but Harry even if Harry was raised the way Dumbledore wanted didn't guarantee he would be a Gryffindor.
"Yes, they were. There wasn't a single male that we didn't visit unknown male that we didn't visit." Dumbledore had performed each visit for the last few years hoping to find Harry as a sibling to some of the older muggle-born students. He had even visited some orphanages hoping to discover Harry residing at one of them. Dumbledore had even visited each half-blood families hoping that perhaps he had been adopted into some of the families.
"What are we going to do now?" Molly whined as she wrung her hands.
Severus wanted to stuff a sock in her mouth. How Arthur put up with her he wasn't sure. The man deserved a medal but then again maybe that was why the man was so great at tuning out everything. It was a skill he could never develop if he wished to remain a spy. "I am not sure what we can do beyond keep looking for Harry and hoping that He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named doesn't return." Minerva summed up the basic plan they had been following for the last few years. Minerva and Severus had been listening to this stuff for a decade now and it was getting old. Severus was glad he knew exactly where Harry Potter was.
"I fear that the plan might not work any longer. It has been a decade and I believe that Tom will be attempting to make his return since he will believe Harry will be at Hogwarts. It has been a decade since their confrontation." Dumbledore summarized his theory for what he believed was to happen this year.
Severus wondered if Dumbledore believed that Quirrell was the Dark Lord and that was why he allowed the switch from Muggle Studies to DADA. He was going to have to see if Darling would investigate Quirrell this week. He would have to discuss it with Harry as he would need Harry to translate things for him. "Honestly, Albus, after all this time? Why would he return? He's dead." Molly hadn't been subjected to as many boring meetings as Minerva and Severus. She hadn't had to listen to Dumbledore's theories about the Dark Lord's being alive.
"He's not dead. He is going to return. I believe he will try this year since Harry was to start Hogwarts this year." Dumbledore ran his hands down his beard, his tea forgotten as he looked ready to start his long, lengthy lecture on his theory on the Dark Lord. "As I said, it has been a decade. Harry was to be at Hogwarts and I believe Tom would also believe that Harry would be at Hogwarts and arrange a confrontation."
"No, Albus, we do not have all night to listen to you and your theories." Minerva held up her hand. "We can deal with things as they come. Let's focus on what we can do instead of what we can't do. We can't find Harry and we have no idea where the boy is or if he is even still alive. I believe it is time to move forward and plan accordingly."
"We will have to keep looking for Harry. We will have to recruit the old crowd to look for him." Dumbledore waved his hand and warmed up his tea before he picked up his cup and took a sip. "We need to find him."
Severus half-listened as they went down the list of former Order members and who would be able to assist in locating Harry Potter. He wanted to laugh a bit as he heard their comments on the ones who would be able to recognize James or Lily Potter in Harry. Harry could stand in front of them all, lift his hair, and they still wouldn't realize they were looking at Harry Potter. "I will write up a schedule once we have everyone tell me when they can search." Molly smiled.
"The staff won't be able to search much since we rotate each week." Minerva dared Dumbledore to add her and Severus to the list. They did enough without having them searching for Harry each week. Dumbledore had been about to add them to the list when he saw the look on her face.
"I rarely have free time to do anything beyond brewing potions." Severus spent a lot of time brewing for St. Mungos, the Infirmary, and his own research. He also did a lot for his own snakes to help them with their assignments and potions.
"I'm sure everything will work out." Dumbledore's eyes started twinkling.
Minerva and Severus exchanged a look and each agreed that they weren't going to look for Harry Potter no matter what ploy Dumbledore might use. Molly was eagerly smiling her agreement with what Dumbledore plan.
Severus was heading up to the head table for breakfast but stopped by Harry. "Peverell, my office after breakfast." He continued up to his seat.
Harry looked at Severus' retreating back. He frowned a bit wondering what Severus could possibly want on a Saturday morning. He glanced at Draco. Draco seemed a bit surprised too. "I bet it has to do with Dumbledore." Draco commented. Darling was wrapped around Harry's wrist. Harry wasn't sure what Dumbledore could have done in one night but he wasn't surprised in some way. Harry nodded his agreement. He figured Dumbledore had to do something stupid.
Harry looked back up at the head table and saw Severus staring down at them. Harry nodded his head yes and turned to face forward. Breakfast went fast as the Slytherins watched the rest of the students keeping their Slytherin masks in place. Dudley was on the other side of the Great Hall so they couldn't talk to him directly. Harry followed waited until Severus left before he left the Great Hall. He headed to Severus' office. Harry entered Severus' office and didn't speak as Severus wove some privacy ward. Once the wards were in place, Darling slithered out off of Harry's wrist and onto Severus's desk as Harry sat down on one of the chairs. "Dumbledore called us up into his office last night. He believes the Dark Lord is going to appear at Hogwarts after we got the usual lecture about Harry Potter and locating him."
"Interesting. You want Darling to see if he is here?"
"Yes." Severus wasn't surprised by Harry's lack of questions or even interest. Harry didn't have to ask before Darling was already slithering down the desk. "We have to keep things from getting out of hand. I am not sure how stable the Dark Lord will be."
Darling hissed something. Harry hissed back. Darling hissed again before disappearing under the door. Harry hissed a retort knowing the snake would hear it. "She will see how crazy he is. She knows he wasn't exactly sane last time."
Severus thought it was the longest he had ever heard Harry speak. "Yes, we have to work on that issue. Lucius is aware of it and we have been searching for potions." Severus, Lucius, Narcissa, Uncle Ren, and Petunia had been searching through old healer books for the different potions that would help with the different mental health aspects they might have to deal with regarding the Dark Lord and his issues. Harry didn't comment and Severus wasn't expecting him too. "Make sure you read the first few chapters of each book before each of your classes. Warn your friends." Severus removed the privacy ward and Harry tipped his head in goodbye as he left the room. Severus was actually surprised he got that many words out of Harry. He was going to have to warn the staff regarding Harry's lack of speaking. Harry would answer any questions but he wouldn't volunteer to answer.
Hogwarts was going to be interesting now that Harry Potter was here. Granted Dumbledore didn't know that Harry was at Hogwarts. If the Dark Lord was at Hogwarts at the same time it was going to be adventurous in ways that Dumbledore couldn't even imagine. Harry wasn't light and certainly wasn't a Gryffindor. The biggest problem that Severus could see, well Lucius saw the problem too, was that the Dark Lord and Harry might have a conflict of who would be in charge. Harry wasn't about power but Harry wasn't going to take orders from the Dark Lord and that would be where the problem would lie. Harry didn't respond well to orders and Darling was very protective of Harry. Vernon learned that lesson and it was a deadly lesson.
Severus leaned back in his chair wondering when or if Dumbledore learning that Harry Peverell was really Harry Potter would actually kill Dumbledore? He wondered how it would ruin all of Dumbledore's plans? The prophecy was destroyed he knew that much not that Dumbledore would ever believe that aspect. He wondered when his life turned into one of those muggle daytime telly dramas.