And now for the disclaimer. I'm not JK Rowling, and I don't own the characters or settings. I just play with them for my own enjoyment, and I promise to put them back neatly when I'm done. This is a re-posting of a work-in-progress from HPFandom, as I've been asked by readers to post this elsewhere as well as there.
Harry sat on the bed in what had been Dudley’s second bedroom, trying to make sense of everything that had happened in the last week. He wasn’t yet sure what it all meant for him, but he hoped it would be something good. He looked once more at the papers decreeing him to be a Royal Ward with all the rights and privileges thereof, and thought back on the day which brought about so many changes.
The day had started out ordinarily enough, at least for him. Aunt Petunia woke him early as usual to cook breakfast for the family. She had been in a much better mood than usual, though, and hustled both Dudley and Uncle Vernon through the meal and back upstairs to shower and dress up for their special trip. That allowed him to eat the whole of the single slice of toast they permitted him for breakfast, because Dudley wasn’t lingering in the kitchen to try to take it from him or make him drop it so he could step on it or otherwise render it inedible. He’d expected to be sent over to old Mrs. Figg’s house, since he knew they’d never take him anywhere if they could avoid it, let alone anywhere special. But then the crazy old cat lady telephoned to say that one of her precious darlings had been attacked by a neighbor’s new dog and she had to bring it to the veterinarian and therefore couldn’t take Harry for the day after all.
And so he’d found himself locked in his cupboard again, flung there by Vernon with a few clouts to the head and shoulders as a reminder that a freak like him wasn’t fit to have run of the house without proper supervision. He’d expected to be there for the entire day, but it was scarcely two hours before Aunt Petunia and a man with a rather stern face were pulling him out and taking him outside to the fanciest car he’d ever seen. The man permitted him to sit up front with the driver, while he and Aunt Petunia sat in the back with sour expressions. He’d hoped at first that she was finally sending him to an orphanage as she’d often threatened, but instead, he found himself in what he now knew was Windsor Castle, bowing to the Queen and the Princess of Wales. For a terrifying moment he’d thought perhaps his aunt had brought him there to be locked in the dungeon, but then the Queen said he’d actually been brought there so she could thank him. That Dudley had hit Prince William and knocked him down in the schoolyard, when Princess Diana and the Princes had paid their school a visit since one of the Princess’ friends worked there, and that when Dudley had gone after little Prince Harry after that, Harry had stepped in and taken the blow meant for the younger boy.
Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon protested, of course, unwilling to believe that their precious Dudley was a bully, insisting instead that the Princes must have mistaken his actions, and that Dudley was just a boisterous little boy who perhaps played a bit roughly but certainly didn’t mean any harm. There was some discussion that he didn’t fully understand, but which seemed to frighten Aunt Petunia and enrage Uncle Vernon, and then the Queen gave him the envelope full of papers and declared him to be a Royal Ward. Less than five minutes later, Uncle Vernon collapsed and died of a massive heart attack. While he hadn’t necessarily wanted anything bad to happen to the man, Harry couldn’t help but feel grateful that his uncle couldn’t ever hurt him again.
The days that followed were a bit of a blur, filled with neighbors offering their sympathies to Aunt Petunia, and various solicitors coming and going with things for her to sign. Dudley spent most of his time stuffing his face with the shepherd’s pies and other foods the neighbors all seemed to bring along when they paid their condolence calls, while he’d made a point of doing his chores and retreating to his cupboard before anyone could take notice of him. The few times Aunt Petunia spoke to him, she ended up blaming him for Uncle Vernon’s death, saying that if it hadn’t been for him, they never would have been summoned to meet the Queen and Vernon never would have had that heart attack.
But two days ago, a youngish looking man in a suit came to the house and asked to see him. When he came out of the cupboard, the man had directed a very stern frown at Aunt Petunia, who flushed uncomfortably. As soon as the man left, with a promise that he’d return in two days, she told him to bring his things up to Dudley’s second bedroom, and that he’d be sleeping there from now on. So now he was here, sitting on Dudley’s old bed with the sagging mattress, and trying to figure out why things were changing so quickly.
“Get down here, boy!” Petunia’s strident tones interrupted his reverie.
Harry hastily folded up the papers and stuffed them back into their envelope, which he then tucked in the pocket of his oversized trousers. He didn’t like the idea of leaving it where Dudley might get his hands on it. Making a rather futile attempt to bring some order to his hair, he hurried down the stairs. “Yes, Aunt Petunia?”
That same youngish looking man was back, standing beside her. He squatted down so as to speak to the child on his own level. “We weren’t properly introduced when I was first here the other day,” he said in a pleasant tone. “My name is Stephen Coyner, and I’m pleased to meet you, Harry. Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to be something of a tutor to you, if you’ll have me.”
Harry tilted his head, noticing that Aunt Petunia went a sort of angry pale when the man said that he was to be his tutor. She never hurt him quite as badly as Vernon had, but she didn’t hesitate to strike him when she felt the need. “I’m… not supposed to do better than Dudley in school,” he murmured, not quite looking Mr. Coyner in the eye.
Stephen’s mouth tightened a bit at that. “Well, Harry, this isn’t so much about school, as about those gifts you’ve inherited from your parents. Your aunt was supposed to tell you something about them, but after your meeting with the Queen, it became obvious that she didn’t.”
“I want no part of such freakishness,” Petunia muttered, turning and stalking into the kitchen.
“Also, there’s the matter of getting you properly outfitted,” Stephen continued, ignoring the interruption. “As a Royal Ward, you receive a stipend for your clothing and other needs each year. I’m to help you learn to shop wisely and otherwise manage your funds among other things.”
Harry considered this for a moment, then nodded. “All right,” he said with a shy smile. “I’d like to learn all that.”
Stephen stood with a smile, holding his hand out to Harry. “Shall we be off, then? I imagine you’d like having clothes that fit you and not a baby whale for a change.”
Harry couldn’t stifle a giggle at that, as his new tutor led him out to a small car. “May I ask a question?” he ventured once they were both in the vehicle.
“You just did,” Stephen joked, attempting to put the boy a little more at ease. “Go ahead.”
“How come you got picked to be my tutor?”
He smiled at that question. As far as the wizarding world knew, he was just another Muggleborn who had gone back to the Muggle world when he couldn’t get a decent position in the wizarding world due to a lack of connections. It was partly true. He’d entered Hogwarts at the height of the war with Voldemort, a first year when this boy’s parents were in seventh year, sorted into Hufflepuff despite some decidedly Slytherin tendencies because it simply wasn’t safe for a Muggleborn to be in the house of the snake at the time. Careful observation of wizarding politics left him disgusted; too many of the old pureblood families used bribery to pass legislation favorable to themselves at the expense of the Muggleborns. And while Headmaster Dumbledore said all the right things about inclusiveness and integration, Stephen noticed that he didn’t actually do anything in his Wizengamot duties to try to prevent the bribery or to get laws passed to give Muggleborns better opportunities. So while he was more than happy to complete his magical education, he decided to set himself a home study course over the summers with his older sister’s books and class materials. He’d passed his GCSEs with flying colors and gone on to earn a total of four A-levels as well. He was currently halfway through university, working towards a degree in economics and spending the summer as an intern with his MP, with the eventual goal of entering the diplomatic corps.
When word got around that there was some sort of special assignment being offered to ‘anyone in Her Majesty’s government who graduated from the Hogwarts School’ he was intrigued enough to apply. It surprised him to know that the muggle government, or at least some parts of it, knew about the wizarding world. He’d been even more astonished to find himself being interviewed by the Queen, who handpicked him for the assignment because he was the youngest of the three applicants, and she hoped he’d be able to become friends with young Harry and perhaps even develop something of an older-brother relationship with him. Since he’d still been at school at the time, he was well aware that Dumbledore had placed the Boy-Who-Lived with Muggle relatives, and was a keen enough observer to have noticed that Professor McGonagall had protested such a placement. Having watched the headmaster’s manipulations from the relative obscurity of Hufflepuff House, Stephen couldn’t help but think there was something more behind the man’s actions in leaving Harry Potter with the Muggles and never checking on his welfare. According to Her Majesty during the interview, her sources at the Ministry of Magic had said something to the effect of Dumbledore said there was some sort of protective blood wards around the house so long as the boy considered it his home, because of his mother’s death to save him and the fact that his aunt was his mother’s sister. Supposedly this was to keep him safe from any Death Eaters out for revenge. But given the abuse, did the child even think of his dwelling place as home? And if he didn’t, what did that say about the so-called protection there? This whole situation simply reeked of the old wizard’s manipulations, and quite frankly, Stephen was more than happy to both help the boy and do what he could to foul up Dumbledore’s plans for Harry Potter, whatever they might be. He thought about how best to answer the boy’s question.
“Well, Harry,” he said carefully, “that’s because I have the same gifts as your parents did, and as you do. Tell me, has anything odd ever happened around you, or to you? Things that you just couldn’t find an explanation for?”
Harry nodded, looking scared. “One time when Dudley and his gang were after me, I went to jump over the rubbish bins behind the school, thinking maybe I could hide behind them. But I ended up on the roof instead. And when Aunt Petunia cut off all my hair but the fringe, it grew back overnight.”
Stephen nodded with a smile. “That, Harry, is because you’re magical. So were your parents. So am I. Your aunt should have told you this years ago.”
Harry blinked. “But… but they said… they said magic doesn’t exist!” he protested.
Stephen pulled into a nearby shopping centre’s car park and turned to look at the boy. “They lied,” he said bluntly. “Watch this.” He pulled a slender stick of wood from under his sleeve and pointed it at the briefcase resting on the back seat. Giving the stick a little swish and a flick, he said, “Wingardium leviosa!” and the briefcase rose steadily off the seat to float just below the roof of the car.
Harry blinked again, unbuckling his seat belt to turn and stare at the floating briefcase. “That’s… but… why would they lie to me like that?” he asked plaintively, turning back to face Stephen.
“I don’t know,” the wizard replied honestly. “My guess… and this is only a guess… is that your aunt fears anything that doesn’t fit her definition of normal. And that she hoped by keeping you from learning about magic, that you would never develop it. Another possibility is that she was jealous of your mother for having a talent that she didn’t, so jealous that any love she had for her sister turned into hatred and that hatred carried over to you. Or some combination of the two.” He paused, and then asked quietly, “Does your aunt mistreat you, Harry?”
Harry slumped down in the seat. “I don’t know… maybe?” he answered softly. “She… she doesn’t treat me the same as she does Dudley and never has. I don’t get a lot of food and I always have a lot of chores to do around the house and he never has to do anything. Sometimes she’ll hit me when she says I’ve done something wrong, but she never beat me like Uncle Vernon and Dudley either. And she did move me from the cupboard to Dudley’s second bedroom after you came the other day.” He risked a glance over and flinched when he saw Stephen’s angry face.
Stephen quickly realized he’d scared the boy and smiled. “I’m not upset with you, Harry, but with your aunt. I’ve got to ask, do you know how your parents died?”
“They told me it was a car crash. That my dad was driving drunk and smashed up the car, killing himself and my mum and leaving me with this stupid scar,” Harry answered, poking at the lightning-bolt scar on his forehead.
“So they lied about that, too,” Stephen muttered. “I shouldn’t be so surprised, given everything else. Tell you what, we’re here at a Debenham’s, so let’s get you some clothes that fit properly to start with, and afterwards, we’ll get a takeaway lunch and go somewhere quiet so I can start telling you all the things you should have grown up knowing. Beginning with what really happened to your parents.”
Harry nodded. “All right, Mr. Coyner.” He pushed his glasses up on his nose, giving the Sellotape holding them together in the middle a pinch to tighten it again.
Stephen took note of the gesture. “When’s the last time you had new glasses?” he asked.
“Er… never,” Harry confessed. “When I started primary school and the people at the school said I needed glasses, Uncle Vernon gave me these to use. He said they used to belong to his cousin and I should use them because he wasn’t spending good money to fix a freak.”
The older wizard growled to himself, wishing the man was still alive so he could teach him just who the freak really was. “All right, then, Debenham’s has a Vision Centre within it… they usually take walk-in appointments. We’ll stop in there first thing and have them check your eyes… you likely need different glasses by now, and if we do that straightaway, they’ll have them ready for you by next weekend at the latest.” He smiled. “And we’ll get a spare pair or two as well, so that if something happens to one, you won’t have to resort to taping them together.”
He escorted Harry into the huge department store and into the Vision Centre. As he watched the oculist examine the boy, he was privately amazed that Harry was able to see anything with his old glasses… they’d turned out to be nothing more than an old pair of non-prescription reading glasses such as could be purchased off the rack at any chemists’ shop. Once the oculist finished up, they selected a set of lightweight silver metal frames which suited his face much better than the old round black frames, and he ordered three pairs made. After that, they went to the boys’ clothing department, where he bought Harry an entire wardrobe from the skin out. He wanted to kill the Dursleys when he realized that they even gave him his fat cousin’s old y-fronts to wear… the poor child had to tie a string around them to keep them from falling off.
For his part, Harry was overwhelmed, but in a good way. He knew his eyesight wasn’t the best, but he couldn’t believe how sharp things looked when peering through the oculist’s diagnostic device at the letter chart at the end of the room. He couldn’t wait for his new glasses to be ready. And to have not one, but three pairs? It seemed a miracle. And then the clothing. Mr. Coyner insisted on getting what seemed like an incredible amount. New pants that actually stayed up on his hips without help, socks that weren’t all stretched out and holey, jeans and shorts and t-shirts for casual wear and smart trousers and button-down shirts for school. A pair of new trainers as well as a pair of nice shoes for school. When he tried to protest, Mr. Coyner just shook his head and told him that every child deserved a proper wardrobe, and didn’t his cousin have as much if not more in the way of new clothing on a regular basis? Since Dudley did, in fact, have more new clothes than this, which Harry knew since Aunt Petunia always had him do the wash, he stopped protesting.
Stephen had Harry change into one of his new outfits before they went back out to the car and stowed the rest of their purchases in the boot. “Time for lunch,” he said cheerfully. “What’s your favorite? Burgers, fish and chips, or something else? We can go anywhere you’d like.”
Harry’s eyes grew wide. “I don’t know,” he murmured. “I’m not usually allowed…” He looked down, then looked back up again. So far, Mr. Coyner hadn’t hit him, or even yelled at him. “I get one piece of toast for breakfast, and an apple for lunch. And a lot of times Dudley takes it or ruins it before I can eat it all. At dinner, I’m allowed to have the scraps after they’ve eaten. They said that’s all a freak like me needs. But sometimes I get so hungry I pick scraps out of the neighbours’ bins,” he confessed.
“I don’t blame you,” the man said, looking angry again. “For one thing, you’re not a freak, you’re a growing boy. One slice of bread and an apple and whatever scraps they leave isn’t nearly enough food for anyone, let alone a child of your age. No wonder you’re so much smaller than your cousin even though he’s only a couple months older than you.” He grinned a bit, then, ruffling Harry’s hair. “Not that you’d want to be as big as Dudley, would you?” he teased lightly. “I’m surprised he can manage to walk. As fat as he is, I should think he’d have an easier time rolling about everywhere, don’t you?”
Harry couldn’t help but giggle shyly at the mental image of his cousin rolling through the halls at school. “He’d knock more kids down at a time if he did.”
Stephen laughed at that. “Let’s not give him any ideas then. How about we go to a McDonald’s for lunch? Since they haven’t given you a whole lot to eat, you’ll be better off with smaller meals for the moment so you don’t make yourself sick. McDonald’s has special small-sized meals for kids, while most fish and chips places just load you down. Granted, you could bring home the leftovers, but I don’t fancy the thought of your pig of a cousin eating food I bought especially for you.”
“All right,” Harry agreed, buckling himself into the passenger seat of the car. He stayed quiet as they approached a McDonald’s with a drive-up window, only nodding when Mr. Coyner asked if he’d like to try a cheeseburger with chips and a Coke. His eyes widened when the man handed him a cardboard box covered with brightly coloured cartoon characters and containing not only the expected cheeseburger and chips, but a small toy car as well. He’d never in his life had a toy that hadn’t belonged to Dudley and been broken first.
Stephen set the two drink cups into the cupholders between the front seats and balanced the bag containing his meal between the cups and himself. “I thought we’d eat in the park and enjoy the sunshine,” he said as he pulled back out onto the road. “And it will be quieter there, so I can start telling you all those things you should have grown up knowing.” It was less than a five minute drive to the park, where he stopped the car and led Harry down to a picnic table near a brook, well away from the swings and other playground equipment.
Harry looked around with wide eyes as they sat and ate. The cheeseburger and chips were incredibly tasty, and the Coke surprised him by being fizzy. It tickled his nose and mouth and he hiccupped after the first sip, which made Mr. Coyner laugh. But it was a nice laugh, Harry decided, and not a mean laugh. When he’d finished the meal and most of his drink, he looked up at the man. “Will you tell me about my parents now?” he asked quietly.
Stephen nodded. “Right. I never met them to speak to, you understand, but they were in their seventh year at Hogwart’s School when I was in my first. They were Gryffindors while I was put into Hufflepuff.”
Harry just looked confused.
Stephen sighed. Maybe an outline of the Wizarding world and the school first, then onto the child’s history, he thought. So he started over. “Okay, well, we’ve already been over how magic really does exist, right? So anyway, there are actually thousands of witches and wizards in Britain and all over the world. But for the most part, they don’t like much contact with what they call the Muggle world… this one, what your aunt would call normal. And Hogwarts is Britain’s best school for magic. It starts at age eleven, like any other secondary school, since it’s a boarding school and that’s the age most people consider that kids are old enough to go away from home. The school was founded by four friends, called Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Helga Hufflepuff. As each of them looked for different qualities in their personal students back then, certain personality traits became associated with the names, and with what would eventually become the houses of the school. Gryffindors are usually the courageous types who end up as aurors… that’s the wizard equivalent of policemen… or other jobs of that nature. Slytherins are known for being ambitious and careful in how they make their plans to reach their goals. Ravenclaws are most often the brainiacs of the lot… not swots so much as kids that truly love to learn. Swots are the ones in any house who’ll study all night only so they can brag about their marks, you see the difference? And Hufflepuffs are the quiet types who aren’t afraid of hard work.”
The child nodded slowly. “So my parents were policemen?” he asked.
“Your father joined the aurors after graduating Hogwarts,” Stephen nodded. “I’m not quite sure if your mother worked outside the home or if she was studying for a mastery or what. They got married right after they graduated, you see, and she fell pregnant with you not long after. But it was difficult times, then. A dark wizard had risen up and gathered up the bigots of the wizarding world and had started a civil war. You’ll find that wizards don’t much care what color your skin is or whether you fall in love with people of the same or opposite gender as you. But quite a lot care about what they call blood purity… if your family is an old one or not. They think it makes a difference if you’ve got Muggle blood in you. And naturally, the majority of the bigots are from the old families, the ones with lots of money. So they use their influence to keep the Muggleborn wizards down, by bribery within the Ministry of Magic to prevent laws from passing that would give Muggleborns a fair chance. I’m a Muggleborn myself, and a big part of the reason I’m in a position to have been chosen as a tutor for you, is because I saw that I wouldn’t get a decent job in the Ministry of Magic even though I’ve always wanted to go into the government. So I studied up over the summers to keep up with my Muggle education and now I’m in uni and I landed a summer job with my MP. Imagine my surprise when a memo came through asking for ‘anyone who was a graduate of the Hogwart’s School to please report to Her Majesty’s personal assistant for a possible special assignment.’ I didn’t know that any part of the Muggle government was aware of the wizarding world until then.”
Harry laughed. “That’s funny. But you said there was a war?”
Stephen nodded. “Yes. This dark wizard… he called himself Lord Voldemort, but most people just refer to him as You Know Who or He Who Must Not Be Named… and his bigoted followers, known as Death Eaters, decided that Muggleborns and their Muggle families ought to be killed off for the good of the wizarding world. While your father was from an old pureblood family, your mother was a Muggleborn. Between that and your dad being an auror, they became targets. They went into hiding, but someone betrayed their whereabouts to You Know Who and he attacked. He killed both your parents and tried to kill you, too. But for some reason, the killing spell rebounded off you, leaving you just with that scar of yours, and he hasn’t been seen or heard from since then. Most people think he’s dead, others believe he was just terribly weakened and went into hiding. But either way, you’re considered a hero in the wizarding world, because something about you turned that spell back on the caster. No one ever survived the killing spell before.”
Harry froze. I’d always believed that maybe my parents hadn’t been driving drunk, he thought, that maybe my aunt and uncle had got it wrong and it was someone else who’d been drinking and crashed into them. But this… this was… this was… He gulped and looked up at Mr. Coyner. “They were murdered?” he whispered. “How did I live? Why me?”
Stephen hesitated, then pulled the little boy into his lap. “I don’t know, Harry,” he murmured. “I really don’t. The headmaster of Hogwarts thinks it’s because your mother sacrificed herself to try to keep you alive. That’s why you have to stay with your aunt. Because she’s of your mother’s blood, and your mother did what she did to protect you, he could put up wards to keep the Death Eaters from finding you to try to get revenge for their master. But I don’t know more than that, and it’s only by chance I know that much. I was still a student at Hogwarts when it happened, and I overheard Professor Dumbledore speaking of it to one of the other teachers.” He rubbed the child’s thin back gently, if a little awkwardly, trying to offer whatever comfort he could.
Harry stiffened for a moment, but then relaxed as Mr. Coyner did nothing to hurt him. “If this Professor Dumbledore is the one who decided I had to stay with my aunt, how come he never checked up on me?” he whispered. “How come no one would help me before?”
“What do you mean, Harry?” Stephen asked, his heart dropping with dread in anticipation of the boy’s answer.
“Well, there was a girl in my class two years ago who was also an orphan, living with what she called a foster family. Every month, someone from Child Welfare Services would come round to see how she was doing in school, and from what she said, they’d check on her foster family too, making sure everyone was getting along reasonably,” Harry said. “And twice since I’ve started school, there’s been a teacher who noticed all the bruises on me and notified Child Welfare Services. Both times, inside of a week, that teacher was fired, and no one from Child Welfare Services ever came to talk to me and take me away from the Dursleys like those teachers said they would.”
Stephen was horrified. This was beyond simple manipulation. Harry’s description of what happened each time someone tried to notify Child Welfare Services about the abuse he’d suffered meant that someone in the wizarding world had at least an inkling of what was happening, and was making sure nothing changed. Child Welfare Services might be overworked and overwhelmed at times, but they never just ignored an allegation of abuse. This smacked of obliviation; of someone deliberately tampering with people’s memories to make them forget that Harry Potter had ever been brought to their attention. That meant Dumbledore, as he’d even kept Harry’s exact whereabouts a secret from the Ministry of Magic, supposedly to keep any former Death Eaters from gaining that information through Ministry contacts.
“I wish I could answer that question, Harry,” Stephen said gently. “I have some suspicions, but even if I’m correct as to who is behind getting Child Welfare Services to forget you were mentioned to them, I have no idea why it was done. My best guess is that whoever it is, wants you to be completely ignorant of the wizarding world until it’s time for you to go to Hogwarts, so that he or she can set himself up as your mentor in all things wizarding and make you dependent on him for whatever reason. It could be money… the Potters, as I said, were an old pureblood and very wealthy family. It could be political connections… with you considered a hero, you’ll be regarded as something like a rock star within the wizarding world, so when you’re done with school, you’ll be considered someone with influence. It could also be magical… since you survived the killing curse, it’s presumed that you’ll grow up to be an exceptionally powerful wizard. But these are just guesses, I don’t know for sure.”
Harry looked up at him, his emerald eyes far too old for the face of a child just approaching his ninth birthday. “It’s the headmaster, isn’t it?” he asked softly. “Professor Dumbledore. You said he’s the one who sent me to the Dursleys. So he’d most likely be the one.”
“I think so,” Stephen admitted. “I don’t know for sure, you understand. But I do think so. Headmaster Dumbledore is a very powerful wizard, and he’s also considered a hero for defeating the Dark Lord Grindelwald way back in 1945. Grindelwald was helping Hitler and the Nazis in World War Two, so what Dumbledore did helped end the war, too. But ever since then, a lot of people have treated him like he’s the second coming of Merlin. Whatever he does, must be for the good of all, just because he’s Dumbledore. But I’ll be honest; the man talks the talk, but doesn’t always walk the walk. He’s head of the Wizengamot… that’s sort of like the wizarding version of Parliament… but I notice for all he spouts off about equality for Muggleborns, he never does anything to actually pass laws to grant that equality, or even to block the richest purebloods from bribing officials into proposing laws to make it difficult for Muggleborns to better themselves within the wizarding world. As it sits right now, the only way a Muggleborn can get ahead, is to marry into an old wizarding family. Unfortunately, more than half of them are the bigots who would never consider sullying their family name by marrying a Muggleborn.”
Harry sighed. “It’s all very confusing,” he said.
Stephen nodded. “I’m not surprised you’re confused. I’ve thrown an awful lot at you today, haven’t I?”
“You have,” Harry agreed. “But it is stuff I should already know, isn’t it?”
“A lot of it is, yes,” Stephen nodded again. “Tell you what, let’s stop off and pick up a notebook and some pens. This way you can write down all the questions I’m sure you still have… or will think of… over the next week. I’ll be coming by again next Saturday to see you and take you to pick up your new glasses, and we can talk more then.”
“Okay,” Harry said with a small smile.
They stopped at a small stationery shop and Stephen bought a spiral notebook and a package of pens. They returned to Privet Drive, and Stephen popped the lid of the boot so Harry could grab his bags of clothing. “I hope your aunt and cousin take it easy on you this week,” he said. “She probably will, but I doubt that bully of hers will. Be as safe as you can, Harry, and I’ll see you Saturday next, 10 am, all right?”
Harry smiled. “All right. See you then, Mr. Coyner!” He darted into the house and reappeared a few moments later, leaning out of one of the upstairs windows and waving.
Stephen waved back and drove off, a thoughtful expression on his face as he contemplated how best to handle his new responsibility.