A Harry Potter fan-fic
Sequel to Ozma’s "Squib Caretaker"
Chapter One (of Eight): The Boy Who Was Followed
By Ozma and Jelsemium
The Music Store, 'Musically Inclined,' was created by
Jill Weber (Jelsemium).
The Tattered Cover Bookstore is actually in Denver, Colorado.
All recognizable characters were created by J. K. Rowling
The less recognizable humans aren't based on anyone in
particular. The less recognizable creatures are loosely based on folklore
The spell's presence was powerful and subtle. It was unlike
anything I'd felt before; a deep musical note that seemed to resonate through
the smoke-filled taproom of the Leaky Cauldron.
I looked up, startled, to discover that no one else seemed
to have sensed it. The murmurs of conversation all around me did not cease.
Even Mrs. Norris, curled up asleep on my lap, did not stir.
Feeling like a fool, I gazed into the depths of my drink.
I'd ordered a gillywater. Being around all the Muggle-repelling spells
in London was enough to make me feel a bit ill, without getting drunk into
"Enjoy London," the Headmaster had said, yesterday evening
when he'd put me on the Knight Bus. "I may be gone before you return, but
Hagrid will still be at the Castle for the next three days. After that,
it's not likely that you will have another chance to get away for a while."
"I don't need to get away," I'd grumbled.
That was a lie and Dumbledore knew it. The Professors
had all left Hogwarts for the summer, headed for points unknown. I knew
nothing about what tasks lay in store for them. I knew better than to ask.
I was especially worried about Minerva. Very recently the lovely Professor
had become more than a dear friend to me.
Unable to do anything to help her or anyone else, I had
gone grimly about my summer chores as best as I could. How could I be anything
but grim at the prospect of cleaning up after a beast the size of Fluffy?
And there was my redecorating project in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. But
I didn't want to think about that.
"A change of scene will do you good," Dumbledore had said,
firmly. Then he'd given me a few days off to take care of some long-neglected
business in Diagon Alley.
The Headmaster is usually right about most things. But
at the moment, the scenery in the Leaky Cauldron was a bit too "changed"
for my comfort. There was most definitely a Sphinx curled regally lion-like
in front of the bar. She was surveying the room through long almond shaped
eyes while she sipped at a drink.
And my nose told me of the Harpy, even before I spied
the gleam of brassy wings in a shadowy corner. At least she wasn't flying
about, putting people off their breakfasts. Quite the opposite, she'd put
some effort into making herself tidy, enough so that the harpy-stench wasn't
too offensive to the other beings in the taproom. Nevertheless, everyone
was giving that corner a wide berth.
And surely that fey creature who'd just drifted into the
taproom surrounded by a haze of faint light, was a Banshee! What in Merlin's
name was the Leaky Cauldron coming to?
But when the unknown spell began to ring inside the very
hollows of my bones, I forgot about the Sphinx, the Harpy and the Banshee.
Moving slowly, almost against my will, I stood. I picked up Mrs. Norris.
My cat made a small indignant sound when I interrupted her nap. With her
cradled in my arms, I moved towards the door leading into Muggle-London.
Odd, that this potent spell was coming from the Muggle-side,
not from Diagon Alley...
If I'd had any sense, I wouldn't have gone to investigate.
Perhaps I've been spending too much time around Gryffindors lately, it's
my only excuse. Of course Minerva would have gone to investigate. She's
brave. She wouldn't sit and stare into her gillywater, waiting for the
feeling to go away.
I stepped out of the Leaky Cauldron. The spell's power
made me stagger. A woman seemed to be one of its focal points. A thin,
blonde woman. The spell swirled around her without truly touching her.
Near the woman was a very fat blond boy. He provided another focal point
for the spell. The corona of ancient magic around the pair of them was
so strong that I couldn't tell if they were wizarding folk or Muggles.
Their party had a third member. He trailed behind the
other two, dressed in clothing that I could tell was shabby despite my
unfamiliarity with Muggle fashion.
It took me a moment to recognize him.
This was worse than Harry imagined. Not only were they
in London, they'd halted just outside the Leaky Cauldron. Harry could almost
smell the butterbeer from where he stood outside the music shop. Truthfully,
it wasn't even a cool drink he was longing for, although he was feeling
parched. It was the congenial atmosphere. He knew that, at the very least,
Tom the bartender would be at hand.
Harry was almost to the point where he'd take the Potions
dungeons, Snape and all, to listening to his cousin whine any more. Dudley
had stopped in front of the record shop and had started badgering Petunia
for a new CD, and a new CD player to go with it. Dudley had broken his
third or fourth CD player just two days ago when he'd had a tantrum about
going to this wedding of Vernon's boss.
Petunia was on the verge of giving in when she noticed
Harry staring longingly in the direction of the Leaky Cauldron. She glanced
in that direction, then scowled because she saw nothing there. Normally,
she'd assume that her freak of a nephew was just staring into space, but
there was something in his expression that told her that he was seeing
something dear to him. Something she couldn't see. Which meant that it
was part of the freak world. "Come along, now," she snarled, hauling at
both boys' arms.
Dudley shot Harry a dirty look. "You always spoil everything,"
he whined. "I was that close to a new CD Player!" He held up his pudgy
thumb and forefinger.
Harry snorted. "Well, if you didn't go around destroying
your things, you wouldn't need to replace them so often," he said.
Petunia gave him a dirty look, but refrained from hitting
him in public. Dragging two recalcitrant teen-aged boys through the muggy
heat of a busy London morning would be enough to try the patience of a
saint, or a Hufflepuff. Petunia Dursley was neither. Things got worse as
Petunia began to notice the odd looks that Potter was getting from passer-by.
Typically, she blamed Potter for his shabby appearance, although she knew
full well that he was wearing the best clothing that he'd been given.
When one of the onlookers actually made a comment, Petunia
snapped. "I can't do a thing with this brat. You're welcome to take him,
see if you can do a better job of making him behave."
That caught her attention. Abandoned children fell into
the Grey Stalker's purview. Though she had to admit, if only to herself,
that her definition of 'abandoned' children probably wouldn't match that
of their parents. She defined any argument between such a parent and such
a child as 'abandonment.' It gave her a far wider choice of prey, for it
was the rare child indeed who never argued with his or her parents. However,
this offer, coming voluntarily from the boy's guardian, most definitely
put this tasty morsel within her reach.
When I saw The Boy Who Lived, all the pieces fell into
place. I'd heard the Headmaster speak of an ancient magic that would protect
Harry when he was in the care of his family. The woman and the boy… they
must be Potter's Muggle relations. The ones that no one at Hogwarts seemed
to think very highly of! Was the family so poor that they had to dress
Potter like a beggar? But the aunt and the cousin had been dressed well
enough in their strange Muggle way. It was a puzzle.
By the time I'd collected my wits, Potter, the woman and
the boy were out of my sight, hidden among the crowd of people on the street.
They were getting further away, but I could still feel the power that bound
the three of them. It would be easy enough for me to follow if I chose.
Mrs. Norris jumped lightly down from my arms. Taking a
few steps in the direction that Potter and his family had gone, she looked
back at me and gave a loud mew.
"Is it necessary go after him, my sweet?" I asked her.
"He's with his family after all. It's none of our concern, really. Between
his own magic and that protective spell around all of them, nothing harmful
should be able to touch him."
Mrs. Norris flicked an ear at me in an impatient way and
headed down the street, a small grey panther slinking through a forest
"Very well," I sighed. Mrs. Norris' opinions on such matters
are not to be dismissed lightly. I followed her, pushing my way past staring
Muggles. Some were snickering. Others wore expressions of concern and pity.
I glared. It wasn't as if I was doing anything unusual.
I was merely speaking to my cat, not juggling purple balls of flame! Didn't
Muggles ever talk to their cats?
Potter and his relations were getting further away. Mrs.
Norris moves much faster than I do. Keeping her in sight wasn't easy. London
was so hot, so many people, so many noisy, wretched cars!
I'd just followed Mrs. Norris across a busy thoroughfare
(both of us escaped being struck by moving vehicles, in my case by inches)
when I was assaulted by a sudden wave of foul magic.
At first the stench of Darkness was indistinguishable
from the reek of a large metal container full of rubbish, standing in a
shadowy alley between grubby brick buildings. By the time I realized the
danger, it was already too late to defend myself.
Small hands, callused and strong, had seized my right
arm in a grip as unbreakable as an iron manacle. I was swung forward, striking
my head against the corner of one of the brick buildings.
The next thing I knew, I was flat on my back in the alley.
Choking on the combined stink of garbage and Dark magic, I became aware
that someone or something was gripping my shoulders and sniffing at me.
"Easy prey, this one, no need to waste my dart here. And
there's some magic in him," a sibilant, female voice hissed. The creature
was breathing in my face. Her breath was even worse than Fluffy's.
"But, how to get at it?" The voice was filled with frustration.
"He's a tough old nut. Too hard to crack his shell! And the meal would
be a meager one, hardly worth the time and effort. The boy will be sweeter
meat. A succulent feast!" Now I could hear the foul thing licking her lips.
Could there be any doubt which boy she was referring to?
Potter has a highly-developed gift for attracting trouble in every possible
form. Merlin's Beard… couldn't he even walk down a street? Professor Snape
swears up and down that Potter does this sort of thing on purpose. I have
come to believe that the boy doesn't mean to attract danger, he can't help
it, any more than poor Neville can help the fact that he's clumsy.
"You can't have the boy," I gasped, struggling to open
my eyes. When I succeeded, my dubious reward was the sight of what appeared
to be a small swarthy, dark-haired woman. She was dressed in shabby grey
I didn't think that she was a Death Eater, or one of the
Dark Lord's minions. The Darkness that surrounded her was different, far
more ancient and terribly hungry.
She gave me an evil, predatory grin that seemed to contain
far too many teeth. "Who's going to stop me then? You, Broken Wizard? Whatever
small magic you have is locked away from you."
With a cackling laugh, she let my head drop to the pavement.
The pain was like an explosion of Filibuster Fireworks in my skull.
Clothes shopping is boring at the best of times, not that
Harry was really familiar with it. His experience with buying clothes had
been limited to walking into Madam Malkins', getting his robes hemmed and
then going off to get ice cream. Buying dress robes (please, no Yule Ball
next year!) might have been different, but Mrs. Weasley had done that chore
Buying clothes for Dudley went beyond boring. Harry found
himself wishing to be back in History of Magic. At least there he could
put his head down and go to sleep. Here he had to stay awake and guard
Aunt Petunia's purse and all the purchases. There was exactly one package
in there for him, his new underwear. He'd asked for some in front of too
many witnesses for Aunt Petunia to say 'no'. He'd pay for it later, he
knew, but he wasn't about to pass up a chance for some decent fitting under
Dudley wasn't helping matters any. His constant whining
was finally getting on even his doting mother's nerves. "That was the last
fitting, Duddy-kins," she cooed. "Now we can have a nice tea before going
"I want a hamburger," whined Dudley.
Harry actually sympathized. He had never been to any of
Aunt Petunia's teas, of course, but having cleaned up after them, he'd
noticed that the food seemed to consist of undersized sandwiches and little-bitty
cakes too small to even taste. He'd rather have a hamburger, too. Not that
he was going to get either tea or burger, he sighed to himself.
He was startled out of his reverie when Aunt Petunia scooped
the packages out of his arms. "We're going inside for a final fitting.
There's a good restaurant in there that serves tea. Stay here and I'll
bring you the leftovers."
Leftovers? From a meal of Dudley's? Harry sighed, but
Petunia just glared at him. "If you're not here when we come out, you'll
have to make your own way home. I'm not putting myself out over a brat
Harry sighed again as Petunia and Dudley disappeared into
the shop's cool interior. He considered slipping back to the Leaky Cauldron,
he didn't have any money on him, or even his Gringott's key, but he bet
that Tom would give him credit. He got up and looked around, then gave
up. All the different errands had him so turned around that he had no idea
which way the Leaky Cauldron was from here. He slumped onto a bench and
tried to remember the name of the stores that flanked the wizarding tavern.
"Are you all right, dear?"
Harry looked up to see a small, swarthy dark haired woman
dressed in a shapeless grey pantsuit.
"You seemed a bit lost," the woman continued. There was
something strange about her mouth. It reminded him somehow of some wild
Japanese movie he'd caught Dudley watching once, where the actors words
didn't synchronize with the lip movements.
A lifetime of being told not to talk to strangers combined
with recent events to make him feel a trifle wary, if not outright paranoid.
So Harry answered cautiously. "Erm, no, ma’am, I was just trying to remember
the name of a record shop that we just passed. It was right next to a bookstore,
too," Harry thought that was safe enough. All the lessons in manners he'd
gotten from his Aunt actually agreed with his first year DADA classes…
keep a civil tongue in your head when spoken to.
"Do you mean the ones that flank the Leaky Cauldron?"
Harry's eyes went wide. Then her dark eyes flickered to
his forehead and he realized she knew who he was. "Yes, ma’am," he replied,
shifting his weight uneasily.
"The music store is called Musically Inclined. It's as
Muggle as they come. The bookstore is called The Tattered Cover. You can
find a great many Muggle works there, and a great many more Wizarding books
in there. The proprietors were there long before Diagon Alley was closed
"Thank you, Ma’am," Harry said politely. He gave her his
best 'I have no idea what McGonagall is talking about, so I hope she doesn't
call on me' look."
Would you like directions, Mr. Potter?" the woman sounded
happy. For some reason, Harry didn't share her emotion. What he wanted
was for his aunt and cousin to come out of the store so they could head
for home. Even more, he wanted Dumbledore or Hagrid to show up. Even Snape
would have been welcome at this point.
"No thank you," Harry said. "I was just wondering."
"Not thinking of how good some of Tom's shepherd's pie
would taste right now?"
Now that she mentioned it, Harry's thoughts drifted that
way. His stomach growled. "Thank you, but I have to wait until my Aunt
Petunia gets back."
"Such an obedient child," she said that like it was an
advantage to her. "Where is your family?"
"Having tea," Harry said, growing more uneasy by the moment.
"And you didn't want any," the woman said firmly. "I don't
blame you. Little cucumber sandwiches never did much for me." She paused
and her mouth twisted up into a tight little smile. One that showed no
teeth. Harry was having doubts about which species she belonged to.
"I have a suggestion, young Potter," The woman turned
and pointed to a fish and chips shop with a walkup window. "The owner of
that shop is a kindly woman with a great many grandchildren. She loathes
to see children go hungry. If you offer to lend a hand tidying up the place,
she would be happy to give you a bite to eat."
"Thank you, Ma’am," Harry said.
"You are quite welcome, Mr. Potter," the woman(?) inclined
her head and walked away.
Harry watched after her until she disappeared into the
crowd. He looked over at the fish and chips shop wistfully. He had no idea
how long Aunt Petunia and Dudley would be, and he hadn't eaten since yesterday
evening. And all he'd had then was diet food.
He decided that it couldn't hurt to ask.
It took a while to get to the front of the line, apparently
they were a popular eating place. When he got to the front of the line,
he spoke to a sweet faced woman that didn't look old enough to be anybody's
grandmother. But when he told her that he was waiting for his relatives,
but had forgotten his lunch money, she suggested the same solution as the
grey woman had.
"We're awfully busy, sweetie. If I can get you to clear
off the tables, then I don't have to send one of my cooks out there to
clean up. That will help me out tremendously. When you finish, come around
to the back door and I'll give you a bite."
When Harry finished the clean up, he looked around. The
line at the front of the counter had thinned out considerably. The sweet
faced woman smiled at him and pointed to an alley that presumably lead
to the back door. Harry nodded. He looked back towards Beau Brummels. Still
no sign of his aunt or Dudley. He estimated that he'd only been working
for half an hour or so. He could get his food and bring it back to where
Aunt Petunia had left him. The set up seemed almost too good, but he couldn't
see any flaw in the plan. So he went around to the back.
The fish and chips woman, who was as kindly as she looked,
wondered why the boy never came for his food. Probably ran into the relatives
he'd been waiting for, she decided. She never thought to search the alley.
After all, there had been no unusual noises from there.
To Be Continued..
Ozma's Notes for "Squib Apprentice"
JOdel: Thanks for reviewing, and for clarifying the years
and ages. You're right, I had pictured these events as taking place in
the school year following Riddle's opening of the Chamber. Poor Myrtle
died so young. Every time I think of that I feel sad.
Oooh, 'Ramifications' is a GREAT story!! I loved the line
about teen!Snape looking at Mrs. Beasley "as if she were an ingredient."
Violet Azure: Thank you for reviewing! Yes, exactly...
Pringle wants to toughen Filch up a bit. Hagrid's a cutie at any age, but
there's something irresistable about a young Hagrid.
I'd like to hope that canon-Filch's fanatical devotion
to keeping the students in their dorms at night is at least partially motivated
by a genuine wish to keep the brats (aka students) safe from harm.
Thank you for the kind words on the corpse-scene and the
scene with Dumbledore. You had just the reactions that I was hoping for.
It would be fun to write a MWPP era story, but I haven't
had any good ideas yet.
Authors' Notes for "Squib Summer"
Karie: Thank you! Ozma & Jelsemium
Sabre: Thanks for the review! I do have a story where
Harry stays out of trouble for a few days: "A Harry Situation" at GryffindorTower.net
and Fanfiction.net. --Jelsemium
Sabre: Thank you for reviewing! -- Ozma
Cindie: I second that! I hope to see more Ozma stories
before Book Five comes out! --Jelsemium
Cindie: Thank you for reviewing! I'd like to write more,
but I've still got writer's block. --Ozma
The Good Doctor Monaco: Yep, it does start out like a
bar joke, doesn't it? Hope you like the pay-off! ** Sanity? Amtrak unloaded
my sanity at Needles, California, thank you very much. So I don't worry
if other people have any. --Jelsemium
The Good Doctor Monaco: Thank you for reviewing! The Prologues
were all Jelsemium's, which probably accounts for the difference in writing
style. Jelse sent me the Prologues and invited Argus to "come out and play."
The other chapters and the epilogues are a collaborative effort. --Ozma
Lilac: Thanks! This was one of my favorite stories to
work on! Working with Ozma is a lot of fun! And I think that comes across
in the stories. (Although Harry won't have too much fun.) --Jelsemium
Lilac: Thanks for reviewing! Jelse writes great humor
and her characterizations are spot-on. --Ozma
rabbit: I don't remember anything in canon about Petunia
driving or about the Dursleys having more than one car. (Rowling did say
that Vernon had a company car.) I decided they were too cheap to have two
cars, but that's just my impression. ** Yes, Harry can be quite the little
stinker. He's had a few laughs at Dudley's expense. Something that can
happen even when siblings get along well. One thing I like about him is
that he hasn't let himself become completely downtrodden by the Dursleys.
I suspect that attitude will be his eventual salvation. --Jelsemium
rabbit: Thank you for reviewing! YAAAAAAAAAAY!!! You've
posted a new chapter of "Snape & Dursleys!" -Ozma