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A muffin, darling?

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It really wasn’t Harry’s fault that Voldemort kept attacking the Dursleys. Sure, he sent the man a gift basket every time he tried to kill them, but that was more to thank him than anything else. Living with the Dursleys was hell and if Voldemort ended up being the one to save him from that, then he deserved a reward. He never managed to get past the blood wards, though, so perhaps Harry should call it a consolation prize, instead. Baked goods soothed the soul, after all, and which soul needed more soothing than one that had been forcibly split more than six times? Even now, sitting in Dumbledore’s office after dinner, Harry was going over the recipes and ingredients he would need for the next basket. He knew that Voldemort preferred the blueberry muffins—the Dursleys were always attacked sooner after he sent those—and he counted off the chocolates he could send along with them on his fingers absentmindedly.

“Harry, my boy.” Harry twitched. He most certainly was not Dumbledore’s boy. “Voldemort has attempted attacks on the Dursleys more times last summer than he ever has before.” He glanced at Harry accusingly over the rims of his half moon glasses. “You must stop sending him those gift baskets; the blood wards and, subsequently, the Dursleys, are the only things that keep you safe from him.”

Harry shrugged, planning to send more whenever he got the chance, just for spite. Dumbledore had put him in that wretched house; he wasn’t about to listen to the very person that had made his summers a living hell.

“Voldemort will never get through the wards, but for as long as he tries, I will always send him something as a sort of… consolation prize for his bruised ego,” he shrugged, making an effort to look as disinterested as possible. “Besides, ever since I started sending them, he’s stopped attacking me at school.” Behind him, McGonagall hid a small smile. Only Harry would think to send Voldemort a gift basket.

“Albus, perhaps it would be better to be grateful that Mr. Potter is no longer attacked at Hogwarts, especially because of our current position with the Board of Governors. They are still trying to find ways to remove you from the school, and for as long as You-Know-Who targets him while he’s here, you stand a good chance of being forced out.”

Dumbledore tipped his head in silent agreement, then steepled his fingers and leaned forward, fixing Harry with a gaze that could cut steel.

“While I am grateful, the fact remains that Voldemort still attacks the Dursleys every time Harry sends one of his gift baskets. And—however much you want to ignore it—as long as the Dursleys are at risk, Harry, you are at risk.” McGonagall pursed her lips and nodded. “You cannot keep sending those baskets,” Dumbledore said. Harry felt dread drop like lead in his stomach. He knew what was coming. “Harry, I forbid you from baking this summer. We cannot risk your safety. You will spend the entirety of this summer with the Dursleys. It is the only way for the wards to remain strong enough to resist him if he chose to attack them while you are here.”

Internally, Harry was as furious as he was terrified. He was at risk every day, for Merlin’s sake, perhaps even more so at Hogwarts. Take Fluffy, for instance. A perfect example of complete idiocy. Who in their right mind decided that keeping a giant three-headed dog at a school full of children was a good idea? Dumbledore had absolutely no right to keep him locked up in that house to be treated like a servant by those horrible people.

Those horrible, horrible people. His hands were trembling, and it took most of his concentration to remember to breathe normally—to act as though nothing was wrong. His baking was perhaps the only thing that kept them from treating him much worse. If he wasn’t allowed to bake, who was to say that they wouldn’t throw him out on their own? What if Vernon didn’t stop at just threats and the occasional beating? Black spots swam before his eyes and he pressed his nails into his palms to keep himself from passing out or showing any sign of weakness. He was thankful when McGonagall’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts.

“While I agree with you about the wards, Albus, I must ask you not to squander such wonderful talent,” McGonagall said, and Harry felt relief flood through him. She could convince Dumbledore, even if no one else could. She continued, “Harry is a baking god. Those brownies of his are unnaturally delicious and each pastry he makes is absolutely heavenly. To forbid him to bake is like forbidding a bird to fly.” Dumbledore grimaced. He was a fan of hard candy, but had never been fond of pastries, no matter how well they were made. They stared each other down for a moment, but when McGonagall refused to relent, he sighed deeply. If Minerva would not back down on this, he had no choice but to accept defeat.

“You will be allowed to bake,” he said. “But I will have ministry employees look through your mail to ensure that you send nothing to Voldemort. You are the hope of our world, Harry. Do not forsake us.” Harry almost rolled his eyes, running through his extensive mental list of swears.

“Yes, sir,” he said instead, suppressing the urge to verbally express the full extent of his discontent. “If that will be all, sir?”

At Dumbledore’s nod, he stood and left, striding down the moving staircase in practiced movements, silently fuming. Dumbledore was going to trap him with the Dursleys for an entire summer? Fuck the gift baskets, he was writing Voldemort a bloody letter.