Chapter 6 : Diagonally
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On the third day after the potion, Snape said, “At the risk of sounding the poor host, you are free to return home, should you wish.”
“What do you think?” Harry asked Arthur. “Ready to go home?” Arthur nodded quickly. “Get your things together then.” When Arthur dashed up the stairs, Harry stepped over to Snape. “Thank you,” he said sincerely, shaking the older wizard’s hand.
“Don’t be a stranger, Potter,” Snape said levelly.
Harry smiled. “All right, I won’t.”
“I haven’t informed anyone of your progress on the assumption that you would prefer some time to adjust, but I am certain Minerva would like to see you, at the very least.”
Arthur piled back down the stairs eagerly, his backpack and shopping bags slung over his shoulder. Harry gave him an affectionate smile. “I do think he is ready to go.”
“I will owl you. I will be curious of your progress,” Snape said.
Harry promised to reply as he stepped over before Arthur and raised his chin with his index finger. After a long moment of staring into his eyes he stepped behind him and put an arm around him. Air buffeted them lightly and they were standing in the their own living room.
“Wow,” Arthur breathed.
“I assumed that was how you got there,” Harry commented.
“I did. I didn’t know you knew how to do that too.” He dropped his things in his room and followed his father as he investigated the house. “Hey, how did you know where we lived.”
“I didn’t.” Harry said casually. “You did.”
“Oh,” Arthur said, mollified. He took out his mobile and turned friendtracker back on.
“Can we get some Fortescue ice cream for here?” Arthur asked.
“We can make a shopping trip to Diagon Alley. I’d like to see what our money situation is as well at Gringott's.”
“Elsa always said it was fine. Well, she didn’t know about the Gringott's thing. She took care of everything else.” Arthur went to the desk in the living room and took out the account book and the other papers. Harry took them and carried them to the dining room while Arthur scooped out ordinary ice cream for the two of them.
“It’s good to know you weren’t worrying about money. I’m not sure where it all came from though.” He bundled everything back up. “We’ll sort that out with Elsa,” he said as he took it back to the living room.
A loud knock sounded on the door. Arthur jumped up and answered it.
“You’re back,” Roger said.
Arthur grinned at his friends. “Come in and have some ice cream,” he invited. In the dining room, the boys stopped.
“Mr. Potter,” Allen said in surprise. “Good to see you up, sir,” he said uncertainly.
“Uh, Dad, this is Roger and Allen, my buds.”
“Nice to meet you,” Harry said, shaking each of their hands. “Sit down and have some ice cream.”
With wary expressions they both took seats. Arthur brought bowls, spoons and the container from the freezer. The boys served themselves in an awkward silence. Arthur finished his serving and grinned at them as they ate. “My dad is all better,” he announced proudly.
This news appeared to alarm them more. “He is?” Roger asked. “Uh, that’s great, Mr. Potter.” He ate faster.
Harry gave his son a questioning look. Arthur winced and averted his eyes.
When the ice cream was finished, Roger leaned back and said. “Can we see some magic tricks, Mr. Potter?” Allen hit him on the arm.
“What have I shown you before?” Harry asked amiably.
Roger said, “You pulled a rabbit out of a tea cozy once.”
“No hat, apparently,” Harry commented. Roger shook his head. Harry stood up. “I’ll need my magic wand to do a trick. Just a second.” He left the room.
“Why are you being so stupid?” Arthur whispered harshly. “He didn’t have to know.” His friends gave him the kind of expression Arthur himself probably gave to Mr. Snape most of the time he was there. He sat back as his father returned, holding his wand.
“Now, Roger. Stand up.” Harry sized him up. “This is one of the first tricks I learned in professional magician school.”
“You went to school for magic?” Roger asked in surprise.
“Oh yes. Very difficult to get into as well. Now watch the wand.” Harry tapped him on the forehead. “Recallus Selectus,” he incanted. Roger froze in place. Allen stood up to look Roger’s unmoving form over and received the same treatment. Harry stashed his wand in his back pocket. “Arthur,” he said loudly. “Biscuits! I can’t believe we served ice cream without biscuits.” To the boys, he said, “Have a seat. We won’t tell your mums if you have seconds.”
Arthur stood up. “Wha-”
“Arthur, get the biscuits,” Harry repeated evenly.
With a glance at his friends, Arthur obeyed. When he came back with the tin, Roger and Allen were having another scoop each.
“Thanks for the treats, Mr. Potter,” Roger was saying. He shook his head occasionally as though disoriented. Allen had fallen totally silent, though he took a biscuit from the tin when it was held out to him.
“Chocolate is a wonderful thing. Don’t you think, Arthur?” Harry asked, leaning back in his chair in a confident manner, nibbling a chocolate covered biscuit. Arthur stared across the table at him, his hands clasped between his knees. Harry gave him a half-smile. “Now you know how I feel when you pour butane into electronic things.”
When the boys finished, Harry hustled them on home. “We have to take care of a thousand things around here,” he explained to them in way of an apology. He closed the door and stalked back down the corridor. “Moving Elsa out for example,” he said to himself. When he returned to the dining room, Arthur hadn’t moved.
“What did you do to them?” he asked hesitantly, warily.
“I gave them a memory charm so they’ll forget what you told them, or at the least their understanding of it.”
“I didn’t know you could do that,” Arthur commented.
“It is one of the first things we learned in Auror training. Magical Enforcement was my first rotation. Besides tracking down someone out of line, wiping Muggle minds is half the job,” Harry said easily.
Arthur didn’t reply right away. He didn’t look very happy. Eventually, he said, “How often do you have to do that to them?”
“Just the once.” Harry stepped over to him. Arthur didn’t raise his eyes. “Arthur, it is much safer that way,” he tried to explain.
“Don’t do things to my friends again, all right?” Arthur asked carefully.
“I don’t expect to need to,” Harry said reassuringly. “Come on, give me a tour of the house, if you will. Then let’s talk about Elsa.”
During dinner, the phone rang. Arthur answered it. “Hi, Elsa. Everything is fine here. Ms. Token isn’t here right now so I can’t put her on. Talk to Dad.”
Arthur handed the phone over. “Hello?” Harry said. “Doing quite well, thank you. . . . Ms. Token will return in a flash if we need her. She was adamant about that. . . . No worries. If I continue feeling better we may not need you much longer either. . . . No really. We’ll talk when you return. Good bye.” After he hung up he said to Arthur, “Would you be unhappy to see her go?”
“She’s all right, but that would be fine.”
“I want to have a more wizardish household than could be managed with her around,” Harry said. “Have an owl, for example.”
“We’re getting an owl?” Arthur asked, excited.
“I was thinking of heading to Eeylop’s tomorrow, in fact.” He waggled his eyebrows.
By ten, Arthur nodded off on the couch while his dad sorted through the trunks he’d hovered down from the attic. They included stacks of newspaper clippings which Harry read before stacking them neatly on the floor in organized piles. Arthur awoke to find Harry pressing his fingers against his eyes, his glasses in his hand. He climbed off the couch and over to him.
“What is it?” he asked. He picked up the nearby clippings. One of them showed the burned out remains of a really odd house. Smoke still drifted off it in the image. Another showed a row of photos with a headline proclaiming tragedy. “This was never a good one to tell you about,” Arthur said.
Harry sniffled. Arthur gathered the clippings together and set them aside. “You’re going too fast,” he insisted.
“I should owl Molly,” Harry commented. “Assuming she’s still around. I can’t imagine it,” Harry said and had to wipe yet another tear with his sleeve.
“Like Mr. Snape pointed out, it was a very long time ago,” Arthur offered.
“For everyone but me,” Harry quipped. “Hard to loose a best friend under any circumstances. It always amazed me that we all survived Voldemort. But not his followers, apparently.” He helped Arthur collect the clippings up. “You’re right--I need to slow down. It’s time for bed anyway.” He shut the lid on the trunk once the floor was clear. “Tomorrow, Diagon Alley,” he said with forced pleasure.
Five minutes later, clad in pyjamas and ready for sleep, Arthur stepped to his dad’s bedroom door. Harry sat on the bed with a small photo album in his lap. “Good night, dad.”
“Good night, Arthur.”
Arthur hesitated. “You named me after Mr. Weasley, you know.”
Harry looked up at that. “Did I?” At Arthur’s nod, he added, “That was very wise of me.”
* * *
In the morning Harry woke Arthur with the words, “Long list of things to do today, kiddo.”
It was a nice day, so they took the underground to Charing Cross Road. “Can’t we just Apparate?” Arthur asked as they walked down the street away from the house.
“It’s too crowded there for incoming traffic. Outgoing is all right, though, except we might be carrying too much and owls aren’t fond of Apparating if we find one we like.”
Arthur closed his eyes as he was led into the Leaky Cauldron. He expected Harry to be a little put out by his lack of seeing the doorway, but he didn’t seem to care, really.
“Hey Tom,” Harry said as they stepped in.
“Jumping jasper rats. It’s Harry Potter. Where have you been, my boy?”
“Long story. This is my son, Arthur.” The entire population of the pub came over then to be introduced. Arthur’s hand hurt by the time they made it out the back by the brick wall.
“Everybody, but everybody knows you,” Arthur breathed.
“If that bothers you, we are going to have real trouble in a moment.” He tapped the bricks and the archway opened. Arthur saw the street with new eyes this time, relaxed ones. They headed first to Fortescue’s. Florean came out of his shop and hugged Harry before urging them to sit down. Moments later he brought them both huge sundaes.
Arthur finished his in record time and Harry pushed his over to him to finish as well. “You didn’t seem keen on the bank; why don’t you wait here while I check things out there? It’s like a crazed mine ride, only with goblins driving.”
“I’ll wait here,” Arthur said.
“I’ll be about twenty minutes. Don’t move.”
Arthur finished the second sundae and burped. Florean came and collected the glass dishes, gushing about how happy he was to see his father. He ruffled Arthur’s hair before he departed back into his shop. Arthur straightened his hair and sat back with a sigh.
A woman stopped in the road and looked at him as he put his arm down. She had long auburn hair pulled back in a pony tail. Her expression reminded him of Tonks’, kind of pained. She stepped out of the slow stream of shoppers and came over to his table. She kept starting to speak and then stopping. Finally, she set her packages on one of the chairs and said, “I’m sorry, but you look so much like someone. What is your name?”
Arthur, a little tired of the fame routine he’d been thrust into, replied simply, “Arthur.”
“Arthur,” she echoed. “Not Arthur Potter?” she asked in a kind of daze.
“Yep,” he said, thinking there was nothing for it.
Her hand fell to the table, striking the thin metal surface hard. “My goodness,” she breathed. She glanced around quickly, “I’m Hermione Davies, but your father would have known me as Granger.”
Arthur brightened. “Have a seat.” He indicated the chair his dad had vacated. “My dad’s told me all about when he knew you at school. Said you were really smart.”
Moving as though stunned, she took the chair. “Your father is here?” she asked in surprise.
“He’s at the bank,” Arthur explained. “Mr. Snape made a potion that has made better,” he realized he needed to explain.
“He did? Wow.” She exhaled hard. “That is really good to hear.” She dabbed at her eye and gave him a forced smile.
“He should be back in a few minutes,” Arthur said. Everyone got so emotional about his dad; it made him uncomfortable.
“I think I’ll wait then. I’d love to see him. I haven’t seen you since you were four or so. You must be at Hogwarts now.”
“I’m a Muggle,” Arthur stated.
Hermione grinned truly then. “Now, that is interesting.”
“Dad keeps insisting it doesn’t matter,” Arthur said, a little defensive.
“Oh, I am certain he doesn’t mind. My parents are Muggles, so I don’t see anything wrong with that either. I just think its surprising given the amount of magic your father has.” She shrugged.
They chatted about things until interrupted by a voice saying, “Hermione!” from the road. She jumped up and hugged Harry fiercely for a very long time. Eventually it broke up and they both sat down. “Maybe you can clear some things up, actually,” Harry said after Hermione gushed for a minute about how good it was to see him and to hear he was better.
“Anything I can do, please ask,” she insisted.
“So, I was just at my vault, for the first time in fifteen years and it is really full.”
“Full?” Arthur asked, surprised.
“Yep. And the goblins were very unhelpful about explaining where it came from.”
“Oh.” Hermione said. She sat back. “I don’t know if you are going to like this,” she said. At Harry’s challenging expression, she went on, “They formed a foundation for you when it was clear you were going to have to quit the Auror’s program.”
She shrugged. “The Order. Fudge. Others maybe.” Harry sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. Hermione added, “Some solicitor in Hogsmeade runs it and the investments. I don’t remember the name. McGonagall would, I’m sure. Get over it, Harry. They weren’t going to not take care of you.”
Harry frowned and sighed again. He gazed at Arthur idly.
Arthur piped up. “Does this mean I can get the accelerated handheld and a set of mini goggles?”
“No. Because I don’t know what that means. I’ve been asleep for fifteen years, remember.”
Hermione laughed. “And my excuse, since I haven’t been asleep, would be?”
“You have children?” Harry asked.
“One. A girl. Will probably start at Hogwarts a year from now. Keeps setting things on fire, so I can’t wait.”
“I take it matches aren’t involved in that,” Arthur said.
Hermione shook her head. “I’ve learned more water spells in the last year, I cannot tell you.” They all laughed a bit. “But, you, Arthur, a Muggle,” she smiled at him. “Are you sure?” she asked Harry.
Harry looked Arthur over. “Ever have someone intent on beating you up, not be able to hold onto you, as though they are getting electrocuted?”
“No,” Arthur answered stridently. “That would have been nice, too,” he stated.
Hermione asked, “Ever get into serious trouble and suddenly find yourself somewhere else?”
“Well, I pissed off Mr. Snape and he sent me home in an eyeblink, but I don’t think that’s what you mean. It wasn’t me doing it.”
“It would have been like that,” Hermione pointed out.
“And no letter from Hogwarts the first summer you were eleven?” Arthur shook his head again. “Ah, well,” Hermione said amiably. She grasped Harry’s hand. “It is so good to see you. Come over for dinner next week. Give me your address and I’ll owl you.”
When she was gone, Harry said, “Speaking of which, we need to get an owl.”
They walked the few doors down to Eeylops and stepped in. “We need an owl and a fully outfitted cage,” Harry said to the clerk. He spied Arthur admiring a dark blue-black exotic that resembled a stout raven. “Something native, so it doesn’t attract attention.”
The shopkeeper took down a cage with a small tawny in it. “That one?” Arthur asked doubtfully. Without comment the man removed the owl and perched it on Arthur’s hand. The bird fluffed itself and tilted its head at him.
“It likes the boy,” the man commented.
“What shall we name it?” Harry asked.
“Uh, Romulus?” Arthur asked.
“Except that we are probably going to invite someone named Remus over at some point, that would be a great name. How about Pollux?” Harry suggested.
Arthur shrugged. “He doesn’t look like much though.”
The owl hooted sharply, making Arthur jerk lightly. Harry grinned. “He needs to not attract attention. And I think he is a grand owl.”
Harry handed over twenty gold coins for the bird and the cage and a cover for the cage for carrying it home.
On the way down Charing Cross Road, Arthur peered under the cover to check on the owl. “I don’t understand why an owl would carry post if it had a choice not to.”
When they were clear of other pedestrians, Harry replied. “It isn’t an ordinary owl. It’s a magic one. You’ll see.”
* * *
When they arrived home, they found Elsa had returned in their absence. “What is that?” she asked sharply when she saw the cage.
“A new pet,” Harry answered easily.
“You also pulled down a lot of stuff from the attic,” she said in a tone of mild complaint. “I took the next plane out after I talked to you-”
“You shouldn’t have bothered,” Harry said, cutting her off.
“I was concerned about the boy,” she said, still sounding unreasonably sharp.
Arthur backed up a bit to stay out of the way. Harry held the cage out to him to find a place for it. Arthur took it and carried it to the dining room. He moved a lamp and put the cage on it’s stand near the window. When he pulled off the cover, the owl looked around itself curiously. Arthur saw that its water bin was empty, so he reached in to take it out and fill it. Pollux just watched him with interest. As he got the owl set up he listened to his father arguing with Elsa. Elsa refused to believe he was better. Her insinuations about Harry’s bad influence got stronger with each exchange of words.
“I’ve seen bad things in this house, Mr. Potter,” she said. “Unholy things. Thank God most of them I convinced the boy’s mother to dispose of. But you are a little harder to manage.”
Silence ensued. Heart thumping, Arthur stepped around the corner and looked in the wide doorway from the hall. Harry’s eyes came up to him as he stood sideways to Elsa, thinking.
“Please don’t do anything stupid,” Arthur said.
Elsa grabbed Harry by the shirt sleeve and turned him. “What have you been telling that boy?” she demanded, now full of righteous fury.
“Nothing,” Harry said calmly, removing her hand with an easy motion of his own. “Your services are not needed anymore Mrs. McGovern. Return in an hour and we will have your things packed for you.”
“I’m not leaving that boy here alone with you!” she said in a hard tone.
“I’m his father, you don’t have any choice.”
“You didn’t even know he was yours yesterday, I’m certain,” she said, clearly going for the soft spot.
“I’ve known for almost a week now--I think I’m doing pretty well,” Harry said, although it lacked full conviction. “Leave, Mrs. McGovern. Come back in an hour.”
She snarled a bit and stomped to the door. “I’ll come back with the police,” she threatened.
“Your choice,” Harry said easily.
The door slammed.
Harry turned around. “She’d have the village burning me at the stake if this were the middle ages.” he commented darkly. “Let’s get her things packed.”
Arthur moved a little uncertainly as Harry went into Elsa’s room.
“Do we have boxes?”
Harry pulled out his wand and pointed it upwards. It flared and a stack of flattened cardboard, bound with string, appeared against the wall.
“I’ll get tape,” Arthur said in as even a voice as he could manage. He returned with a large gizmo with a handle and a roll of tape mounted on it.
By hand, Harry popped a box into shape and held it so Arthur could tape it. “A little longer up the sides,” Harry commented. Arthur did it over again. “Looks good.” Harry flipped the box over. “Stand back,” he said as he pulled out his wand. Arthur flattened himself against the wall as Harry incanted, “Pack!”
The doors of the cupboards burst open and books, boxes, memorabilia, magazines flew out and arranged themselves in the box. Harry pushed it closed and gestured for Arthur to tape it. Arthur moved quickly to comply, running the wheel of tape over the box top and down the side. As he pressed the tape down to tear it free, he slipped and the gizmo caught the back of his hand with the serrated edge of the cutter.
“Ow, drat,” he said, shaking it before putting it in his mouth.
“Arthur,” Harry admonished him. “Let me see it.” Arthur held out his hand, a jagged streak of red ran across the back of it. Harry pulled out his wand and tapped it, then wiped the blood off.
Arthur pulled his hand back slowly, staring at it mutely. He didn’t respond when Harry said, “Next box.” Arthur didn’t move at all, in fact. Harry left the box he held in shape and sat on the bed beside his son. Arthur jumped a bit when he did so. “Arthur,” Harry breathed. “Am I frightening you?” he asked in disbelief.
Arthur held out his hand. “You healed me,” he said dazedly. Harry slipped an arm around him and pulled him close. Still in a stunned voice, Arthur asked, “What can’t you do?”
“Lots of things,” Harry insisted.
“Hermione said you have very strong magic.”
“I do. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten into the Auror’s program.” He ran his fingers through his son’s hair. “Arthur, I really don’t mean to frighten you.”
“This isn’t supposed to be real,” Arthur said quietly.
“That is exactly what the average Muggle is supposed to think.”
“Why this stupid game of hiding?” Arthur asked suddenly.
“It is better that way. In the past things got very bad when magic was generally believed to be real. People always want the easy way out even when it isn’t the right one. And then they fear and become destructive when everything goes awry. It really is better this way,” he repeated, patting Arthur on the arm.
“But, that is no excuse for making you feel uneasy,” Harry added after a moment. He stood up. “Does the pack spell bother you?”
“No, it’s kind of cool.”
“Okay, let’s get back to it. If you cut yourself again I won’t heal it unless you ask. I’m sure there are plasters around.”
As they taped and stacked, Arthur finally said, “The healing thing just seems, I don’t know, godlike.”
“It isn’t really. That spell will only heal skin, not bone or tendon or muscle.”
Arthur wasn’t certain that made him feel any better.
The boxes were stacked in the hallway when the doorbell chimed. Elsa stalked in and surveyed them. “Awfully fast,” she commented.
Harry shrugged. “We included the TV and the digital movie player, which Arthur thought you would appreciate.” She thought that over. Harry went on, “I am very grateful to the care you’ve given Arthur since his mum died. It was good to have you on for continuity, but I can take care of him now and I want to do that my way.”
Her jaw worked for a few moments. “I called a cab company. Had ‘em send two vans. They’ll be here soon, I ‘spect. My sister said I can stay with her.”
“I’m glad you found satisfactory accommodations on such short notice,” Harry said politely.
An hour later, the last box was carried out and Elsa was gone for good. With a sigh of relief, Harry sat on the couch. He patted the spot beside him. Arthur sat down and crossed his arms, looking pensive. Harry shifted beside him and wrapped his arms around him, pulling him to lean back with him. After a while, Arthur let his head lean on Harry’s shoulder.
“Everything’s going to be fine, Arthur. I promise,” Harry said.
“Are you planning to go back and be an Auror?” Arthur asked.
“I wasn’t thinking of it.”
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