The Sugar Quill
Author: The White Lily (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Promise Ring  Chapter: Chapter 2: The Arrivals
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Disclaimer: All characters belong to JK Rowling, not I. I hope I won’t embarrass her too much by what I do with them. : )

The Promise Ring - by The White Lily

Chapter 2: The Arrivals

“Up! Get up now! You have to make breakfast for my little Duddykins!” screeched Aunt Petunia, rousing Harry from his fitful sleep. Since Aunt Petunia had accidentally tipped half a saltshaker into last night’s casserole, making it almost inedible, Harry had eaten a decent meal for dinner and knew that he would get another that morning. Steak and kidney wasn’t exactly his favourite at the best of times, let alone with so much salt that it made his mouth taste like a dried up desert, but it was better than starving. He hastily pulled on some jeans and a T-shirt (both of which were four sizes too big, as they had once belonged to his enormous cousin, Dudley) and walked down the stairs to face his family. Almost as soon as he had walked into the passageway, the doorbell rang. “Boy! Get the door and mind you’re polite!” yelled Uncle Vernon from the kitchen. “Don’t worry Petunia,” Uncle Vernon’s voice continued in a more conciliatory manner, “no one important will see him – no one normal would call at this time of the morning. It’s probably some crazy religious freaks.”

Harry trudged to the front door and opened it, staring with disbelief at the three figures standing on the doorstep. “… can’t wait to try some of those marvellous blueberry muffins Molly made this morning. Oh, hello Harry.” It was Albus Dumbledore. Standing beside him was Mr. Weasley and slightly back from the two of them, as though she didn’t really want to be there, was Ginny. “Harry,” Professor Dumbledore began, with the familiar twinkle lighting up his blue eyes, “we need to talk to you. May we come in?”

“They’ll kill me, sir.” Dumbledore’s eyes widened as he took in the bruise on Harry’s thin face and Ginny gasped. Mr. Weasley protectively drew her closer to him.

 

“That is another reason we have to talk, Harry. You should have told me about this.” The twinkle was gone from Professor Dumbledore’s eyes and Harry was granted another glimpse of exactly why Dumbledore was the only wizard Voldemort feared.

Biting his lip nervously and nodding, Harry opened the front door wide and motioned them inside. “They’re in the there,” he whispered, indicating the kitchen as he attempted to sneak past. “We can talk in the living room.”

“Boy? Who was at the door?” Bile rising in his throat, Harry tried to think of an explanation that wouldn’t mean he would have to explain the presence of three strange wizards in the house, but came up with exactly nothing. He realised he had taken too long attempting to think of an explanation when Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia’s sneering faces suddenly froze into expressions of horror. Looking behind him, Harry was surprised to see that Professor Dumbledore had his wand out, aimed directly at Uncle Vernon.

“What is this?” asked Professor Dumbledore, one finger pointing to the bruise on Harry’s face, his voice dripping with cold fury. If it had not been in defence of Harry, it would have been the best impression of the unpleasant Potions master at Hogwarts, Professor Snape, that Harry had ever seen. “You hit a child. A defenceless child under your care. What kind of people are you?”

“We’re normal! He’s the freak. Why shouldn’t we teach him a lesson?” began an indignant Uncle Vernon. “Ungrateful wretch that he is! We put a roof over his head, feed him, and he keeps us up at nights with his screaming and yelling!” Harry’s eyes dropped to his shoes and he burnt with the shame of having his headmaster know about his frequent nightmares. But Uncle Vernon was continuing. “He’s just like his mother, a freak, just like we knew he’d be. Well we won’t put up with any of his freak behaviour in our house. And a good stiff clip around the ear is better than he deserves.”

Harry chanced a look up at Dumbledore and was stunned. If he thought that Voldemort had reasons to be scared of the headmaster before, he knew now that he should be running with his tail between his legs. Ginny and Mr. Weasley had come to stand on either side of Dumbledore, their expressions identical with their disbelief at what Uncle Vernon had just said.

After one look at the angry wizard in front of him, Uncle Vernon shrank back with fear, unsuccessfully attempting to hide his wife and bulky son behind him. “If you are quite finished,” stated Dumbledore in a cold voice, “I will make with you a deal. I will refrain from cursing you. I will also prevent the boy’s godfather from wreaking vengeance.”

Uncle Vernon’s face suddenly went white with the reminder of Harry’s godfather, the convicted murderer, Sirius Black. Of course, Uncle Vernon didn’t know that Sirius was innocent, so the threat of retribution seemed even worse.

“We need from you a favour,” continued the headmaster gesturing towards Ginny, “Miss Weasley here needs a place to stay for the rest of the summer.” Harry’s eyes snapped to Ginny, who was looking slightly miserable at the prospect of a summer with the people before her. “We would like you to take her in. We will, of course, provide you with money for her food and board. I’m quite sure that she will be willing to assist Harry with any chores you would like done. We also need to talk to Harry for a few hours. For this service, Harry’s godfather and I will forget the pain you have put this poor boy though. I promise you, however, that if you ever touch him again, I will make you wish you had never mistreated him in the first place.”

Uncle Vernon’s face had gone from white to purple at Dumbledore’s suggestion, then back to white again at his last words. Although the words were not particularly threatening, they seemed to carry a weight which made them much more significant. He sneaked a look at his wife, cowering behind his back, and gave a short, sharp nod.

Professor Dumbledore held out his hand to Uncle Vernon, shook the frightened Muggle’s hand, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a moderate sized sack of coins. It made a clearly audible clinking sound as he placed it on the table in front of the Dursleys. “The same again at the end of the holidays if Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley have no complaints about the way they were treated.” The twinkle was back in his eye as he turned to Harry. “All right,” he said cheerfully, “now where shall we have our little chat?”

 

To be continued...

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