Fact Vs. Fiction - Part II
Chapter 11 - Emancipated Minor - Fact Vs. Fiction - Part II
Harry was both elated and exhausted when he and Snape stepped back through the floo into Snape's quarters. They had spent an additional two hours with Madam Chase, waiting while she "hand walked" Harry's petition to the additional departments that needed to approve, and/or contribute to the record that was to become formal and legally binding as of today. It could not be reversed, and no one had any legal right to contest it, other than his parents, who were deceased. He even had his ID card with him now. Of course, he still had to wait until January thirty-first for his Emancipation to become enforceable, because no one could be legally emancipated under the age of fifteen and six months in Great Britain.
Harry turned to Snape as they walked further into the room. "Thank you for helping me, sir, you have no idea-" his words were cut off as he was pulled into another one of Snape's tight embraces. Snape actually gives rather nice hugs, he thought to himself, and was a bit surprised to hear such a thing in his own voice inside his head… and the universe was thrown even more off-kilter when he wrapped his own arms around his professor to hug him back. That's how happy he felt right now.
"You should not have needed this help, Harry," Severus said tightly, extremely moved that the boy was returning the embrace. He gave Potter's back a firm set of up-and-down rubs, and then released him.
There was a brief awkward silence when neither could think of anything to say, but then both felt their enchanted galleons heat and vibrate, and each only just managed to read the urgent message as it cycled through in small blurbs:
Fudge is on the campus…. Looking for Harry…. What just transpired?… Nevermind.… Get the boy away from here…. The Manor is the safest thoroughfare…
Severus grabbed Harry. "Come. Quickly."
They emerged from the floo once again in the massive entryway of Malfoy Manner, retracing their recent steps immediately from there to return to Spinner's End.
"My first inclination is to take you to Headquarters. Are you in agreement?" Severus asked tersely. He was rattled that their activities had already registered with the Ministry. He needed the boy's cooperation so that he could return to the school as quickly as possible. "Lupin should be there by later this evening. You can have your elf friend bring your necessities, yes?"
Harry nodded, forcing down the dread of going back to Sirius' house so soon after his death.
"Come," Severus said again, taking Harry out to the back, side-along apparating with him to the front steps of Number 12 Grimmauld Place, and ushering him inside, not stopping until they were past the portrait of Madam Black and in the parlor. He put both hands on the boy's shoulders. "Harry," he said tightly, as recent experiences had taught him that times with these higher levels of peril were when the boy became the most unpredictable, "I need your word you will stay here. No matter what. I will return for you as soon as I can, but if the Ministry is aware of your petition, then it won't be long before the Dark Lord is informed. I will most definitely be summoned. As will Lucius. This is the only other safe place for you. And you cannot communicate with anyone aside from Lupin until I return. Understand?"
"Yes," Harry said anxiously, suddenly realizing he was fearful for Snape… even maybe a bit for Malfoy. "Professor-"
Severus squeezed Potters shoulders as he cut him off warningly, "I know you, Mr. Potter. Do. Not. Leave. Here. I still have plenty of time to legally use that paddle." He turned his back on the sputtering teenager, mostly to exit in haste, but also so that the boy couldn't see the satisfaction on his face from having induced the defensive reaction.
Harry watched Snape sweep through the doorway, still dressed in his muggle ensemble and tried to glare, but found himself nearly smiling. He could swear Snape got a laugh out of threatening him with that bloody thing. Git, he thought, but the smirk on his face contradicted the harsh tone in his head. He looked around and shuddered. He had no idea if there was anyone else in the house. "Kreacher?" he called out.
CRACK! The ugly, sullen elf popped into view in the doorway, muttering and wringing his hands, "Kreacher is most disturbed; the house is no longer in the Black family line. Kreacher must end things. He must end things now."
Harry listened to the elf in confusion. "Look, I'm sorry you're not happy, alright? But I just wanted to ask if anyone else is in the house? Is Remus here?"
"No, the half-blooded son of a mudblood is the only one here-"
"I have a name. It's Harry. And don't use that awful word! Ever!" Harry said angrily. He didn't care what Hermione thought of elves. He had no patience for anyone who insisted on perpetuating hate.
The elf bowed. "Kreacher apologizes," the elf said loudly to Harry, but continued with the incessant muttering about his poor mistress, blood traitors, and on and on.
Harry waited for him to leave the room, and then he called for Dobby. "Can you bring me my study things from the common room?" he asked. The elf practically danced a jig in excitement to be helping Harry in this secret way, so Harry went ahead and asked him to bring an early dinner too. He wouldn't trust food from Kreacher, and he had no desire to try to cook in that dark, dank kitchen. In fact, he had no intention of leaving this room until he could go back to school.
Remus apparated onto the front landing of Number 12 Grimmauld Place, and the heaviness in his heart immediately set back in. The mission to make allies among the less aggressive of the werewolf population was getting nowhere. Those who were less aggressive kept their affliction in secret, so those that Remus actually found were the ones that were completely committed to their feral desires and primal drives. Remus would often feel a tug in his own instincts to follow their path, and was able to fight it down, but was extremely disturbed when it surfaced. He was exhausted, and not particularly happy to come home to this place tonight. Actually, it was not his home. The house belonged to Harry now.
He entered in silence and made his way toward the staircase, but did a double-take when he saw his best friend's child sleeping on the sofa through the parlor doorway. "Harry?" he barked in shock, as fear and confusion were kicking in. Why was the boy here, instead of at Hogwarts? "What's happened?"
Harry was startled awake, and since he had not been practicing his magic, was sleeping lightly enough to not be groggy with his DADA professor. "Remus!" he said, and smiled in greeting. But the graying wizard was agitated and wanted answers. "Uh, Snape brought me here because Fudge came to the school, looking for me," Harry said.
"Why would he think you were there?" Remus asked in confusion.
"I'm not sure, actually," Harry said, thinking. Well, that's not entirely true, is it? It was obvious that what the pamphlet had said would happen had indeed happened in the wizarding world: Fudge knew Harry had sought emancipation. This was obviously not good. But most things in Harry's life were not good, so what else was new? There was no point in withholding the information from Remus. "Er, well, maybe I do know what's happened," he admitted.
Remus took a seat beside Harry and waited, already knowing he wasn't going to like the answer. "What is it, Harry?"
"I filed for Emancipation in muggle London," Harry told him. He watched the older wizard's eyebrows raise and jaw drop. "That's what my aunt and I had been doing the day you and Snape came to get me. I had to do it, Remus," Harry said pleadingly.
Remus digested this. "And you said Severus brought you here?" he asked slowly. "And you're alive to tell the tale?"
Harry squirmed, recalling that confrontation just three nights ago. "He sort of lost it when he found out, but then he came around after I explained things, and decided he agreed that I needed to do it," he told Remus. "It's about more than just the wards at Privet Drive. I wasn't safe there, no matter what Dumbledore tried to claim. I wasn't safe from them." His leg was jiggling again. He stopped it. "I wasn't safe from a lot of things."
Remus lay a hand on Harry's. He sighed heavily, holding Harry's gaze with his, and it was clear that he was seeing all sorts of potential dangers for Harry, now that this was done. Just like Snape had. "Will you start from the beginning for me, Harry? You do know I'm on your side?"
Harry nodded uncomfortably. His emotions were getting all jumbled in with his thoughts. He didn't want to cry while he explained himself. Not again! "Well, it started last summer when all of you told my relatives to be kind to me, that you'd be watching. That didn't go over well at all. They harangued me all summer, and then, when the Dementors came…" Harry went on to retell the tale, describing his uncle's rage, and how things had continued to spiral downward as the term started. He told Remus about Dumbledore ignoring him, about having almost nightly dream-state visions of seeing the world through Voldemort's eyes, and how difficult it was to contain his terror for his fellow students, who were in so much danger because they didn't know that he really had returned. And how Umbridge had called him a liar, reinforcing everybody's desire to pretend it was all okay. He told Remus about detentions with her, and about Occlumency with Snape, and the harsh, painful aftermaths of each. Mid-term, he'd had that quidditch practice in the rain, when his scar had hurt so badly, and he'd realized he could feel Voldemort's emotions, Harry knew that he wasn't going to get help from anyone, any time soon. Then, he got a letter from his aunt telling him that he shouldn't return to Privet Drive, and to tell Dumbledore to make other arrangements, which had actually made Harry laugh derisively. That's when Hermione had helped him research ways to get help in the muggle world. He found out that Britons who could provide financially for themselves could become legally emancipated at the age of fifteen and six months. So, he snuck into Hogsmeade using the Marauder's Map and the secret passage by the statue of the witch, then took the night bus to Diagon Alley, and went to seek out the goblins at Gringotts about his money and getting help with his plans. He found out he would need Aunt Petunia to release custody of him voluntarily, and from there it shouldn't be much hassle. He'd written to his aunt, and she'd replied that she would do her part, but he had to find a way to pay for it himself. She never asked where he got the money, and he never told her.
Remus' hand was still on Harry's, and he'd given the boy's a squeeze several times during this recap. "All of this, and you went through it alone, Harry?" he asked, already knowing why Harry hadn't told Sirius. The man had been emotionally unreliable, and would have burdened Harry with his feelings of powerlessness. And besides, even with Harry's emancipation, Sirius couldn't have sheltered him without issue, simply because he had been a notorious (but innocent) criminal, and Harry was in enough of a state of risk, all on his own.
"Yeah," Harry said softly. He looked at Remus beseechingly. "You understand, don't you? I know this opens up some new cans of worms, and that some things could get much worse now, but truthfully, it was the safest option as far as I was concerned. And it's not like I won't listen to everyone's advice and input, but at least now- er, well, in thirty-five more days, I can refuse to go where I'm not wanted."
"I do understand, Harry, and it's pointless to debate the merits at this time, because it's done," Remus said. He could see the boy was relieved, but still tense. He tilted his head. "I honestly have never known anyone who was officially legal before reaching the age of majority," he commented. "What does this mean for your use of magic, Harry? do you know?"
"I can use my wand everywhere, as of January thirty-first," Harry said. "But I have been thinking about all of that too, what with the way Fudge is out to get me. If he really wants to catch me, he can put a trace on my wand, right?"
"Yes, he can," Remus said. "Our wands are registered with the Ministry when we purchase them."
"Great," Harry griped. Then he asked casually, "what about other kinds of magic? Like wandless spells?"
"There are ways to trace peoples' magical signatures, for wandless magic, but it is not a standard practice by the Ministry," Remus said. "It's very difficult to master wandless magic, Harry, although with your talent, I wouldn't put it past you. But typically, even the most capable of wizards can't master it until they are fully grown and their magic is fully matured."
Harry listened with avid interest. He could always count on Remus to tell him this kind of stuff. "Can I ask you something in confidence, Remus?"
Remus smiled mildly, "Only if it doesn't come back to haunt me because you're in danger, and I've apparently, albeit inadvertently, told you what to do to put yourself there."
Harry blinked. Hmmmm. Oh, bugger all. I need to know! "So, I've been thinking about the wild magic that little kids have, and how they can sometimes do stuff that they can't seem to do again until they're, like you've said, fully grown and all." Remus was continuing to smile in that same hesitant, but curious way, so Harry continued, "Well, the other day when you apparated me to Hogwarts, that was supposedly my first experience with apparation, and even though I felt sick, it felt kind of familiar. So I did some thinking and realized that I had apparated once when I was little, to get away from my cousin and his friends who were coming to beat me up. I apparated onto the school roof. I just wished I was there, and boom, there I was."
Remus nodded. "This is very common, Harry," he said.
"Well, that kind of magic can't be traced though, right?" Harry asked.
"I don't see how it possibly could." Now the returning DADA professor turned himself so that he was seated sideways and facing Harry on the sofa. "What have you figured out about your own magic?"
Harry grinned. He'd wanted to tell someone, and his instincts told him he could trust Remus. "I've kind of harnessed that wild magic in myself," he said. When the older wizard's jaw dropped, Harry rushed to say, "I can't do much, and I'm not real good at making it happen without about a hundred tries first, but I've made things appear and disappear. And it's not wandless magic, because I'm not saying spells. It's more like I… well, I'm still not really sure what I'm doing, other than willing something to disappear or appear."
Remus was grinning now, too. "Fantastic, Harry," he said enthusiastically. "I'll bet you're quite exhausted afterward, aren't you?"
"Yeah! But, I also sleep better than normal when I do it, so that's part of what's gotten me through this week without nightmares," Harry said. "I haven't told Snape, although he knows I'm practicing something. But I just feel like he's going to accuse me of doing something wrong, and I'm really just trying to understand that power that's there. It's probably in all of us…"
Remus took a long breath in and exhaled slowly. "Alright, let's talk about the logical risks here, if this were ever to become common practice in our world," he said reasonably. "There is no way to monitor it, or regulate it, or prevent people from abusing each other with it."
"Yeah, but you can pretty much say that about all magic, and the truth is, if people are going to be criminals, they'll find a way," Harry returned. "If I could learn how to use it so that I can protect myself while I'm still a kid, and still a target, it would be pretty ideal, don't you think?"
"What circumstances are you imagining, Harry?" Remus said, concern now edging into his tone.
"Well, what if Fudge actually arrests me, and tries me? What if he snaps my wand, like they wanted to do at my hearing last summer? I'd be helpless, unless I could use the wild magic in some ways."
"But you just told me you don't cast spells," Remus pointed out. "So you can't practice defensive magic that way, per se."
"No, I wouldn't be able to shield myself, or anything like that…" Harry said thoughtfully. But he'd said enough for now, so he hedged, "I don't really have a plan yet, but it's been fun to see what I can do so far."
Remus nodded in approval.
They were interrupted by the sound of the front door opening and footsteps approaching. Snape entered. He looked tired and annoyed, but not like he'd been battered during a session with his Dark Lord, so Harry felt relieved on his behalf. When the potions master made a point of looking at his watch and back at the two seated wizards with a raised eyebrow, Harry actually smiled in amusement. It was only midnight, and this wasn't the first late night Snape was aware of Harry having this week.
"Hello, Severus," Remus greeted.
Severus nodded at Remus and moved his onyx gaze over to Harry's green one. "I came to escort you back," he said. "Unless you'd prefer to stay the night here?"
Harry jumped up and started to gather his books together as he answered, "No sir, I want to go back to Hogwarts," he said. He'd enjoyed the talk with Remus, but the time alone in this house had been torture. He looked at Remus as he put on his jacket. "When will you be moving your things over, Remus?"
Remus gave Harry that trademark wan smile of his as he thought out his answer, before giving Severus an inquiring look. "Well, Deputy Headmaster Snape, that would be up to you."
Snape rolled his eyes at the title, growling in irritation, "Come whenever you wish. Your quarters are unwarded and waiting for you. You could come tonight, if you are so inclined to get away from this happy dwelling." He didn't wait for Lupin to respond, but shrank Potter's books down and pocketed them, before putting a hand on the boy's shoulder.
Harry and Remus shared an amused look. "I'll be there by Sunday evening, if not sooner," Remus told them both. "See you soon, Harry. Severus."
"Bye, Remus," Harry said, unaware of the way the last surviving Marauder was observing the overt lack of tension between him and Snape as they left the room. Snape's hand was back on his shoulder, and Harry was already finding it familiar in a way that made him feel safe as he was guided out of the house and apparated away.