Conspiring to Escape
I don't own Harry
Chapter 1 – Conspiring to Escape
It was a dark and stormy night on Privet Drive. But then again, it had been dark and stormy over most of England for the past few weeks, Harry mused to himself. Seeing as how he was still brooding over the recent death of his godfather Sirius Black in the Department of Mysteries a few weeks before, he thought it reflected his mood well.
As thunder crashed in the night sky, Harry turned his gaze from the rain-splattered window to the small red book he held in his hands. He remembered the day when he decided he needed it, desperately.
"Uncle Vernon?" Harry asked cautiously. His incredibly obese uncle leered up at him from his newspaper.
"What do you want, boy?" he asked gruffly. Harry took a deep breath and summoned up his Gryffindor courage.
"I need a passport," he said, bracing himself for the impending explosion.
"WHAT?!" Uncle Vernon roared, shooting up from his chair, spittle flying from his mouth. "WHY THE RUDDY HELL SHOULD WE PAY FOR A PASSPORT FOR YOU?!" Wiping the spit from his face, Harry stared at his uncle with a serious expression.
"Because I have a plan. And if everything works as it should, then I'll be out of your hair," Harry explained calmly. "For good." The last statement had calmed his temperamental uncle considerably.
"For good?" he repeated, his eyes nearly gleaming with joy.
"Assuming everything works out like it's supposed to," Harry replied.
"What do you need?" Uncle Vernon asked, intrigued. "Besides the passport?"
"Two plane tickets out of the United Kingdom," Harry specified, "I don't care where, and the permission to make a phone call or two." Uncle Vernon weighed his options in his mind. On the one hand, it would mean spending money on the freak, which was unthinkable. On the other hand, there was a good chance that the freak would be out of his household forever, all for the price of a few hundred pounds. But still, he decided to test the waters.
"And if I refuse?" he inquired. Harry shrugged neutrally.
"I could always call my 'freaky friends,'" he said.
"First class or coach?" Uncle Vernon asked quickly.
That had been nearly a month before. The Dursleys had taken Harry to a store that took passport photographs and sent them to the postal service for processing. Only a few days before had Harry actually received his passport. That was another day that stuck out in his mind.
The Dursleys had just finished dinner and Harry had stood up to begin collecting the dishes when Aunt Petunia raised her hand to stop him.
"Let me do the dishes tonight, Harry," she said, standing up and taking the pile of dishes from his arms. Both Harry and Uncle Vernon shared identical looks of confusion at Aunt Petunia's unusual behavior. Several minutes later, Dudley was in town fraternizing with his friends and Uncle Vernon was planted in front of the television watching sports when Aunt Petunia sat down at the cleaned table with Harry. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small red booklet, sliding it onto the table towards Harry. Harry took the book and opened it to the first page, showing a small photograph of himself, along with his name, date of birth and other essential information.
"Umm…thanks, Aunt Petunia," Harry said awkwardly, closing the passport.
"You're welcome," she responded, equally awkward. There was a tense silence between them for several moments. "Harry, I just wanted you to know that, I'm sorry," she suddenly said, surprising Harry. After opening and closing his mouth several times with no sound coming out, Harry finally found his voice.
"And what brought this confession on?" he asked, unable to think of anything else.
"When you said that you would be leaving for good, it just felt like something inside of me snapped," Aunt Petunia said, keeping her gaze down at the table. "It made me realize just how much I had mistreated you, and how much your mother would be disappointed with me. I guess this me hoping that even after all the shit I've caused you, you can still forgive me…even if I don't deserve it," she explained, looking down at her hands in shame. Harry sighed tiredly and ran his fingers through his hair. How could he respond to that?
"You're asking a lot from me, asking to forgive you," he said. "You yelled at me, you starved me, you belittled me, and for ten years I never knew why. But for all the pain and agony that you caused me, you have one thing going for you: You took me in. You hated magic, you hated my parents, and you hated me, but despite it all, you still took me in, for whatever reason, and that counts for something. So maybe, someday yes, I'll forgive you, but not now, not after all you've caused me. And I won't say empty words just to appease your guilty conscience. Good night," Harry said, sweeping up his passport and walking up the stairs, leaving his aunt alone with his words.
Harry was brought out of his musings by a tapping outside his window. Harry stood up and cracked his window open to let in a sopping wet tawny owl swoop in, a letter tied to its leg. After shaking the water off its feathers, it held out its leg for Harry to remove before flying off again. Harry looked at the envelope; it bore a Gringotts seal and was apparently charmed to be waterproof, considering how the water droplets just rolled off the parchment. Readying himself for the worst, Harry broke the wax seal and read the letter.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We at Gringotts offer our deepest condolences for your recent loss. However, there is a matter of business to attend to before you can properly grieve.
In light of the recent departure of one Sirius Orion Black from this world, his monies and properties have been prepared to be distributed amongst his beneficiaries, of whom you are one.
We require that you attend the will reading of Sirius Black tomorrow at eleven thirty in the morning. Failure to show within five minutes of the appointed time will result in the forfeiture of your inheritance. We will be expecting you.
Again, we are deeply sorry for your loss.
President of Gringotts Bank, London branch
As soon as Harry had finished reading, a burst of flame appeared on his desk, revealing Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, holding a letter in his beak.
"Hi, Fawkes," Harry muttered absentmindedly as he took the letter from the bird. Squawking, the bird disappeared in another burst of flame. This letter bore the familiar loopy handwriting of Albus Dumbledore. Sighing, Harry broke the seal and read the letter.
I hope that your time alone to mourn Sirius' passing has made the pain a little easier. It always hurts to let go of a loved one.
Firstly, I must apologize for the timing of my revelation of the prophecy to you. I should have known that such a subject should not have been revealed at so delicate a time. Please forgive an old man's mistake.
While we are on the topic of Sirius Black, normally I would forbid you from attending the will reading, but since the date is so close to when I would have picked you up from the Dursley's anyway, I decided that it would not do any serious harm for you to leave a couple of days early.
I will pick you up tomorrow at 11 AM sharp. After the will reading, we can shop for your school supplies, then retreat back to the grim old dog house. I hear that it is much more hospitable now.
Again, I apologize, Harry.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Headmaster of Hogwarts, etc.
To say the least, Harry was surprised at the letter. He was half expecting Dumbledore to lock him up at the Dursley's for the entire summer. But it was a pleasant change, and it would make the second part of his plan that much easier.
The next day, Harry had warned Uncle Vernon of Professor Dumbledore's arrival, and so he took Aunt Petunia and Dudley to see an early cinema.
At exactly eleven o'clock, the doorbell rang, and Harry opened the door to see Professor Dumbledore wearing a dark blue business suit and holding a yellow umbrella.
"Would you be so kind as to let an old man out of the rain, Harry?" the old wizard asked. Harry stepped aside, and Professor Dumbledore shook his umbrella off before making it disappear. "Do you have all your things, Harry?" Harry gestured to his trunk and his birdcage with Hedwig inside. "Very well, then. Hold onto my hand, Harry. This will feel a little bit strange." Harry grabbed Professor Dumbledore's hand, and immediately felt like he was being squeezed through a straw. A few moments later, the sensation disappeared, and he saw himself standing at the entrance of Diagon Alley.
"How did it feel, Harry?" Professor Dumbledore asked, amused. Harry shuddered as the tingling aftereffects of the Apparation sent chills down his spine. "Apparation takes some getting used to," Professor Dumbledore assured.
"Umm, sir," Harry said. "My trunk is getting kind of old, so I'd like to replace it."
Professor Dumbledore drew a complicated pocket watch from his jacket and inspected it for a moment before nodding. "Of course, it's right this way." They entered a run-down store called Trenton's Trunks For All Occasions. Mounted on the walls were trunks of various sizes and designs. Almost immediately, an old man coved in sawdust emerged from the back.
"'Ello, guvs," he greeted. "The name's Trenton. How can I help you two lads today?"
"I need a new trunk, just an ordinary one," Harry said. Trenton nodded.
"That'll be ten Sickles, please." Harry fished the silver out of his pocket and gave it to Trenton, who retreated into the back briefly, and emerged with a wooden trunk.
"Here you go," he said, shrinking it down to a matchbox size. "Just tap it with your wand to bring it back to normal." Harry turned to Professor Dumbledore.
"Umm, sir, I'd also like to order a special one for Hermione. No offense, sir, but I'd like as few people to know about it as possible."
"Oh, perfectly understandable, Harry," Professor Dumbledore said. "I shall indulge myself in this interesting inventory." After making sure that the old man really wasn't listening in, Harry leaned towards Trenton conspirationally.
"I need two trunks. At least three separate compartments, deep as you can get them, with an auto-shrinking feature and as many security charms as you can muster," Harry whispered.
"That'll be 500 Galleons," Trenton whispered back. "You can pay when you receive it. However, it'll be a few weeks before I can get to it."
"I'll pay you an extra hundred to get it to the top of the queue," Harry whispered. Trenton grinned.
"You have yourself a deal. Come back to me in four days. I'll be done by then."
"Harry, we really must be going," Professor Dumbledore said.
"It's been a pleasure doing business with you, sir!" Trenton yelled as they walked out of the shop and towards Gringotts. Harry looked up to see the heavy rain beating down on an invisible shield surrounding Diagon Alley. When they got to the wizarding bank, Harry was attacked by a bushy head of brown hair.
"Oof! I missed you too, Hermione," Harry gasped as Hermione squeezed the air out of his lungs. When she let go, Harry held her at arm's length to get a good look at her. "Wow, Hermione! You've changed!" It was true; in the several weeks that they've been separated, Hermione had changed from a teenage girl to a rather attractive young woman. She blushed at the compliment.
"Thanks, Harry," she mumbled, smiling. Suddenly, the smile disappeared, and her face turned serious. "How are you holding up, Harry?" Harry shrugged indifferently.
"Okay," he said simply. "I cried, but I took comfort in the fact that he wouldn't have wanted me to mourn him forever. Besides, I had…other things on my mind lately," he added.
"All those attending the will reading of Sirius Orion Black, please follow me!" a Goblin shouted from within the bank. Harry and Hermione followed the assembled group, and Harry saw Ron, Remus, Tonks and, much to his surprise and disgust, Draco Malfoy. They followed the small creature into a room that contained very little furnishing beyond a stool behind a pedestal and several rows of chairs. Everybody sat down, and the Goblin climbed up on the stool and cleared his throat.
"The will reading of Sirius Orion Black is now in session."