|SIYE Time:3:25 on 25th May 2018|
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Category: Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Nymphadora Tonks
Warnings: Death, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Violence
Story is Complete
Summary: After four years working overseas for the shadowy Department M, a world-weary and dispirited Harry Potter returns to the land of his birth. He meets some old friends and makes some new ones, as he learns that much has changed since he left home. AU, a ‘Harry never went to Hogwarts’ story.
Hitcount: Story Total: 46136; Chapter Total: 3603
Awards: View Trophy Room
Huzzar, I’ve already had my first ‘where’s Ginny?’ review. Only 2 chapters in, and Harry’s been back in Britain for one day, too! (Sorry, stefanvh, I just had to mention it). Actually, I should mention that Ginny comes into this story gradually, although I don’t doubt that after reading this chapter everyone will figure out how I plan to introduce her. Besides, I have to sort out Tonks’s love life first.
Huge thanks as always to Arnel, who I’m sure will now be trying to work the word ‘tat’ into one of her own stories.
Chapter 3 — Camden
Camden High Street hadn’t changed that much from what he remembered as a kid. It was still the swirling crush of bodies, cramped open-fronted shops and jumbled mass of ethnicity that he recalled from when he and Sirius used to visit the place. Admittedly, a few more of the shops seemed to sell tat these days, but maybe that was just his memory playing tricks on him.
Dora, of course, was completely at home here. She could walk down the street with her punky hair-do, Doc Martin boots and ripped t-shirt and not receive a second glance. In fact, she seemed to know quite a few of the locals and exchanged friendly greetings or a cheerful wave wherever she went. Harry found himself strangely comforted by the informality of the place, and suddenly Strasbourg and Department M seemed a very long way away.
“I hope that credit card of yours has a large limit, ’cos we’re going to put a serious dent in it!” Dora said, pulling him through the crowds.
“I just need a few items,” he protested. “It’s not like I need a completely new wardrobe.”
“Harry, darling, I’ve seen all your clothes. A completely new wardrobe is exactly what you need. Blimey, when did you become such a square? What happened to the rebellious teenager who used to hate wearing robes and played his trash metal albums at maximum volume just because he knew it would annoy his godfather?” Dora asked sadly.
“He grew up and got a proper job,” Harry retorted, nimbly avoiding a group of Chinese schoolgirls who were too busy chattering to notice where they were going.
“Rubbish. I know you too well, Harry James Potter; you hate formality and like to be a bit different. You’re just like Sirius in that respect. Can you imagine what he’d say to wearing a suit or those dull shirts that you own? Jeez, he’d have disowned you,” she declared.
“You’re probably right,” he agreed sadly. “So, where are we going?”
“I know some cool clothing shops just down the street. Now, I have to ask before we start; do you trust me, Harry?” Dora asked earnestly.
“Of course,” Harry replied, rather shocked that she would even ask.
“Then don’t question anything that I make you buy,” she said firmly. “You clearly haven’t bought anything that didn’t come from some mainstream, vanilla department store for years, and I need to radically change your image. Also, remember that you’re a bloke and therefore have absolutory no taste when it comes to picking clothes that suit you. In other words, stand quietly looking pretty, and Auntie Dora will transform you into a rock’n’roll sex-god.”
“If you say so,” Harry chuckled, and meekly gave into Dora’s demands.
Four hours later, Harry’s feet hurt and he was bitterly regretting his decision to allow Tonks a free rein. She’d dragged him from shop to shop, holding items of clothing up against him, occasionally shoving him into a (normally cramped) changing room with an arm full of garments, and generally made a huge dent in his finances. He’d given up making suggestions of his own after the second shop when the shop assistant, a young girl with purple hair who instantly bonded with Dora, had openly laughed at him when he’d voiced an opinion. Sometimes it was just better to suffer in silence.
At last they had finished, and they were currently (mercifully) sitting at a table, situated outside a pub on Camden Lock. Harry had a welcome pint of cold lager in his hand and he was surrounded by a mass of shopping bags, all crammed to the brim with his new wardrobe. Dora had a pint of cider, and an extremely satisfied expression on her face.
Harry surveyed the bags, silently lamenting that he couldn’t magically shrink them in such a public place. Dora assured him that her flat was close by, but even so, he didn’t relish carrying the mountain of new purchases around. Dora had, seemingly, forced him to buy the entire stock of most of Camden’s clothing shops. He now owned several pairs of tight, black, jeans, a pair of leather trousers, numerous t-shirts featuring bands he could hardly remember, two new pairs of trainers, a pair of army boots, a pair of zip-up leather boots, about a dozen shirts (including varieties in tie-dye, velvet and one with puffy white sleeves that he thought he probably should only wear while running around moorland yelling ‘Cathy!’), and a black leather jacket that even he had to admit was cool. Dora had also bought accessories in the form of numerous necklaces, rings, and even some earrings. When he’d questioned her about the last items, she calmly informed him that he was getting his ears pierced later.
Sipping his beer gratefully, Harry watched the narrow boats that now carried paying tourists around slide gracefully into the dock. Despite his aching feet, he had to admit he was feeling pretty good and, if he was honest, had enjoyed the attention Dora had lavished on him.
“Alright there, luv?” Dora asked, rousing from his thoughts.
“Yeah, I guess,” he smiled. “We didn’t get much work done today, did we?”
“Nah, we did, in a way. Sometimes this job can just be about being seen on the streets,” she said, before taking another gulp of cider.
“What, you mean like maintaining a visible police presence? I can’t imagine most of the people you talked to today know what you are,” Harry objected.
“Don’t be so sure,” she disagreed, before subtly casting an Anti-Eavesdropping Charm with her wand under the table. She then looked at him seriously. “As I said before, you’d be amazed how many witches and wizards now live among the Muggles. This whole area is crawling with them. In fact, you’ve spoken to a least a dozen already today, and you’ll be meeting a few more before the day’s through. Even the Muggles here know I’m something to do with law enforcement. Trust me, that sort of thing never remains secret in a place like this.”
“So, we haven’t just been shopping then?” he asked. “You’ve been keeping an eye on things, too.”
“Yeah, definitely. The thing is, most of the wizards and witches who came to live here aren’t exactly the most law abiding of folk. I don’t mean in the pure-blood, Dark wizard, ‘I’m going to take over the world’ way. They’re just generally the types who consider the law to be something that doesn’t necessarily apply to them. We could walk back down the High Street and I could probably make a dozen arrests for low-level crimes without even trying,” she shrugged.
“And presumably the reason you don’t is that we’re after bigger fish?” Harry asked.
“Exactly, although I do live here, remember. I do try and get along with my neighbours,” Dora grinned. “But you’re right. Areas like this are hot-beds of information and activity. I have friends all over London; over at Covent Garden, Soho, in the City, down in Brixton — anywhere there’s a concentration of magic users. Generally, if anyone’s planning trouble, I get to hear about it,” she said firmly.
“I’m obviously out of touch,” Harry admitted. “What about areas like Knockturn Alley? Surely they’d be the sort of places that we should be keeping our ears to the ground.”
“Times have changed,” Dora grinned. “Kingsley went through Knockturn like a dose of salts. The place is practically respectable now. In fact, that’s one of the reasons the dregs have all bomb shelled out into the Muggle community. Besides, other members of the section are covering the more traditional areas. That’s why Dedalus was so willing to agree for us to partner-up. He knows you grew up in Muggle London and can interact without any difficulties.”
Harry nodded in agreement. Grimmauld Place was situated in Islington and he’d grown up with Muggle neighbours all around. Sirius had been pretty fascinated with most things Muggle, partly, Harry suspected, because he knew how much it upset his pure-blood family. Harry had grown up surrounded by Muggle music, books and films, and could melt into their society seamlessly. He’d used those skills extensively during his time with Department M, too.
“So, what’s next on the agenda for today? I don’t suppose we can just head to your flat and relax, can we?” Harry asked.
“We’ll dump this stuff off at the flat, yes, but you still have to get your ears pierced, remember? You can get changed while we’re there though. I can’t wait to see you in some of this cool stuff!” Dora exclaimed in an excited voice.
“Why do I feel like some toy doll for you to dress up and play with?” Harry moaned.
“Oooh, do I really get to play with you later? That will be fun,” she smirked suggestively.
“Bloody hell, Dora,” Harry laughed, “why were you never this flirtatious back when I was a teenager? I would have really appreciated it back then.”
“Several reasons,” she smiled impishly, “the major one being that you were a skinny, spotty teenager with all the sex appeal of a stick of celery. Now, however, you’re tall, dark and, thanks to that little accident back at the hotel, I know you’re pretty damn well equipped, too. Once I get you into some decent clothes the babes of Camden will be falling to their knees thanking me.”
“Little accident, my arse,” Harry growled.
“Yeah, well, that makes us even now, doesn’t it?” Dora announced with a satisfied smirk.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked, suddenly feeling nervous.
“You think I don’t know about a certain fourteen year-old boy peeking through the keyhole of my bedroom when I was staying at your house that time?” she asked pointedly.
Harry instantly turned red. “Ah. Actually, I didn’t think you knew anything about that,” he admitted shamefaced.
“Just a word of advice, luv; if you’re knocking one out while spying on a girl undressing, you should really be careful that your arm isn’t banging against the door while you do it,” she grinned evilly.
“Oh, Merlin! You knew I was there all the time? Oh, sweet… wait a minute! If you knew that, why did you continue undressing? You stripped right down to nothing,” Harry gasped.
“I figured you deserved a treat,” she laughed. “I felt sorry for you. You never really got the chance to interact with girls your own age, and you were so cute back in those days. Besides, it was kind of a turn on, knowing you were wanking off while watching me.”
“Bloody hell,” Harry muttered while shaking his head in disbelief. “You know, I think that night changed my life forever. You wouldn’t believe how much time I spent thinking about you starkers.”
“That’s probably why you couldn’t look at me without turning bright red for about a year afterwards,” Dora giggled. “You seemed to get over your crush on me after that, though. Oh, my poor broken heart!”
“That’s probably when I met Trisha,” Harry admitted, smiling at the memory.
“Trisha? Who’s Trisha?” Dora asked in surprise.
“Hmm? Oh, I don’t think you ever met her. She wasn’t around long, you see,” he confessed. “Remember just after the war started hotting up, and we were using Grimmauld Place as a refuge for Muggle-borns who’d been attacked before we could get them out of the country? Well, Trisha belonged to one of those families we housed for a while.”
“And? Come on, Potter, I want details; lots of dirty, sordid details,” Dora urged him.
“Pervert,” he laughed. “Anyway, Trisha was about eighteen, a few years older than me. She was really pretty with dark skin and long, dark hair. To cut a long story short, she was upset and frightened about what happened and looking for a distraction, I was young and horny as hell, and the inevitable happened.”
“Woo-hoo, Harry Potter is into older girls! There’s hope for me yet!” Dora laughed. “But this Trisha couldn’t have been at Grimmauld Place for very long. We generally got those refugees out of the country pretty fast.”
“She was there a little over two weeks,” he confirmed, “and I’m proud to say, in those two short weeks, Trisha completely corrupted me. She was quite experienced, if you know what I mean, and she kindly shared that experience with me. We found a nice little out-of-the-way spot up on the top floor and, well… I’m sure I don’t have to spell things out for you.”
“You randy little sod,” Dora said gleefully. “Ever think of trying to find her again? Do you know where she went?”
“No idea,” he admitted sadly. “I wouldn’t even know where to start looking, anyway. I don’t think I ever even knew her surname.”
“You complete tramp!” she exclaimed, shaking her head mockingly. “Here was me, feeling sorry for you because you spent all your time training how to fight the Death Eaters and never had the chance to find a girlfriend, and you were secretly banging some hot, older babe under everyone’s noses! Still, I’m glad you had the chance to enjoy yourself a bit back then. They were difficult times.”
“Yeah, they were,” he agreed darkly. Deciding that the conversation was heading towards areas he didn’t want to talk about, he decided to ask why Dora was insisting he got his ears pierced.
“Because it will look cool, that’s why,” she replied. “Plus, it’s possible to charm some earrings so they can act as communication devices. I bought a nice chunky gold earring for you that will be perfect for that, and I’ll cast the charm on it tonight. Useful, huh?”
“Yeah,” he agreed, “and here was me thinking you were just trying to dress me up like a pirate.”
“Well, there is that,” she agreed happily. “I also want you to meet Carla, who does all my piercings and tattoos. She’s also an informant for me, and a bloody useful one, at that. It’s amazing how many bad guys get a tattoo, and when they are under the needle they often get a bit loose-lipped. A tip-off from her actually prevented an assassination attempt on Gawain Robards, the current Head Auror. The brother of a bloke Gawain had put away was swearing to get revenge, and Carla overheard some of his plans. The reward allowed her to set up her own shop, too.”
“She sounds a useful person to have on the payroll,” he agreed, before looking at his new partner suspiciously. “Exactly how many tattoos do you have?”
“Quite a few and, if you’re a good boy, I might even show you some of the more interesting ones,” she teased.
“Sounds like fun,” he grinned. “It will give me a chance to see if much has changed since I was a teenager.”
“Pig,” she laughed. “Come on, chug your pint and we’ll go and see the lovely Carla.”
Their first task, however, was to dump the shopping back at Dora’s flat. Her home turned out to be in what looked like a converted warehouse not far from the lock. Harry had initially thought that a flat in that part of London would be pricey, but when he saw the place he mentally added a few zeros to the amount he thought Dora must have paid. Sirius had indeed been generous.
The flat was quite modern, with lots of exposed brickwork and arranged in a very open plan style. It was basically one, large open space, with a kitchen/dining area one side and the living area off to the other. Through a large window the bustling High Street could just be seen, and through a smaller side window there was a view of the canal. The walls of the flat were adorned with a curious mix of prints of painting in the Impressionist style, and posters featuring various rock bands. A passageway led off to two fairly small bedrooms and a bathroom. It was also surprisingly tidy, bearing in mind who the owner was.
“I knew you were coming,” Dora grinned when he voiced that opinion. “Hey, I do tidy every once and a while, you know.”
“Yeah, normally coinciding with each lunar eclipse, I believe,” he teased.
“Sounds about right,” she grinned. “Anyway, give me those shopping bags and I’ll pick out some stuff for you to wear. I can’t have my personal tattooist seeing you dressed like a dork.”
Dora snatched the bags from him and led him to what would be his bedroom while he was staying there. It was a small but comfortable room, decorated in purple and blues. She placed the bags on the bed and began hunting through them. Once she’d made her choices, she laid the clothing on the bed and left the room with a wink. Harry looked at the clothes she’d picked and sighed. It looked like he was going to end up dressing like a teenager again.
He emerged a few minutes later, garbed in black jeans, a Sisters of Mercy t-shirt, and black combat boots. He was also wearing a bead necklace and a couple of silver rings. Mentally, he convinced himself that this was all just part of some disguise that was required for a mission, even if he did used to dress in this manner when he was fourteen.
“Oh, yeah,” Dora said approvingly. “Close enough for rock’n’roll, babe! Hmm, I just need to make one more change…”
She swept past Harry into the bathroom, only to emerge seconds later clutching a jar of hair gel. She scooped out a sizable amount, which she then rubbed vigorously into his hair.
“Go on, take a look,” she urged, pointing to a mirror.
Harry walked over to the mirror, feeling a little foolish. When he caught sight of his reflection, however, he began to change his mind. When he’s seen the clothes Dora had bought, he’d immediately thought back to what he’d looked like when he was younger. What he hadn’t taken into account was the fact that he himself was a radically different person to that spotty, spectacle-wearing youth. Years of tough, physical exercise had left his body hard and lean, and this was emphasized by the tight t-shirt he was wearing. His soft, boyish features had changed into those of a striking young man, tempered by all of the taxing experiences he’d suffered in his life. In short, he looked shadowy, streetwise and a little dangerous.
Dora came up behind him and snaked her arms around his middle. “Now, that’s more like the Harry I used to know and love,” she grinned, peering at his reflection. “You do know that most movie stars would kill for cheek bones like yours, don’t you?”
“Perhaps they should make a film about me?” he joked, secretly rather pleased by her flattery.
“Nah, they’d never find an actor who could do you justice. Come on, you’re socially acceptable now, let’s go and see Carla,” Dora decided, before turning and heading towards the door. Harry turned to follow her, but stopped and took one last look at his reflection.
“Sirius would be proud,” he grinned to himself.
It was good to be home.
Carla’s tattoo and piercing studio proved to be within walking distance, meaning Harry wasn’t subjected to anymore of Dora’s driving. From the lock, they had headed north, away from the tourist-clogged streets and up towards Kentish Town. The studio itself proved to be a narrow-fronted establishment set in the middle of a rather run-down row of shops.
As they entered, Harry paused to admire the photos in the front window, all displaying Carla’s handiwork, which he had to admit looked pretty impressive. One large photograph showed a man displaying a huge leaping tiger tattoo on his back which particularly caught his eye.
A small bell signalled their entry into the rather cramped shop, and almost immediately a willowy, purple-haired woman with multiple tattoos on her arms and neck appeared from behind a curtain. She smiled when she saw Dora.
“Tonksie, babe!” the woman exclaimed. “I haven’t seen you for ages, petal.”
“Hiya, Carla,” Dora beamed. “How ya been? Sorry I haven’t been around much, but they’ve been keeping me busy.”
“They work you too bloody hard,” Carla griped. “I ain’t seen you down The Queen’s Head for ages.”
“Well, things should get a bit easier from now on, as I’ve got a partner to share the load. Carla, meet Harry,” Dora said.
“Hellooo, Harry,” the tattooed woman greeted him a low, sultry voice.
“Hi, Carla, I’ve heard a lot about you,” Harry nodded with a smile.
“Down, girl,” Dora laughed. “Aren’t you still going out with Mad Dog?”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean I can’t admire a work of art now, does it? Boy, you got lucky this time! He’s a million times better than that last moron you were partnered with,” Carla replied. “Anyway, what can I do for you both?”
“Apart from just popping in to see you, Harry would like to get his ear pierced. Just the left one, you’ll be pleased to hear,” Dora said breezily.
“Thank god for that,” Carla laughed. “I was worried that a pretty boy like him would bat for the other side. I take it I can use my wand for this, or do you want me to use the needle?”
“Using your wand will be fine,” Harry said hurriedly. He really didn’t fancy the idea of a needle being stuck into him.
“Wand it is!” Carla grinned before crooking her finger at him. “Come into my parlour.”
Harry followed her behind the heavy curtain which led to a small back room complete with something resembling a dentist’s chair. Carla indicated that he was to position himself in the chair, which he duly did.
“So, how long have you been working with Tonks, then?” Carla asked conversationally as she started hunting through a drawer for something.
“Today’s the first day,” he admitted, “but I’ve known her for practically all my life. She was related to my godfather and often visited our house when I was growing up. She’s virtually a sister to me.”
“Interesting,” she said, retrieving a small bottle and some cotton wool from the drawer. “How come I’ve never seen you around? I’m sure I’d remember you.”
“I’ve been in Europe for the last four years,” he replied. “I’ve only just returned home in the last few days.”
“Tilt your head, petal, I just want to apply some disinfectant to your ear lobe before I pierce it,” she instructed, dabbing his ear with the cotton wool. “Were you anywhere…”
Carla’s voice trailed off. As she’d finished applying the disinfectant she’d glanced down and looked directly at his forehead. Harry sighed as he realised she’d seen the thin lightning bolt scar that was situated there. These days, you had to look hard to see it, but it was still visible under the right light.
“Bloody hell…” Carla mumbled.
“Forget you ever saw that, okay?” Harry said, slightly harsher then he’d intended.
“But you’re…” Carla started to say but stopped when she saw the expression on his face.
“I’m Dora’s new partner, Harry, okay?” he said firmly. “I’m sure who I am will become public knowledge soon enough, but I don’t want you advertising the fact. Got that?”
“Yeah, yeah, understood,” she agreed readily. “But you… they said you were dead. I remember, the papers said that the reason that you never fought against You-Know-Who was because you’d been killed as a kid. If you were alive, why didn’t you stand up to him?”
Harry glared at her.
“Hold on, if you are alive… and you’re working with Tonk’s mob now… that’s got to mean you’ve been trained by the Ministry, or something! They never did say who exactly beat that evil bastard. I bet you had something to do with it, didn’t you?” Carla said breathlessly.
It was all he could do not to grimace. Dora had implied that Carla was a smart woman, and clearly she was capable of reading between the lines. He was pondering how to reply when he heard Tonk’s voice behind them.
“Asking questions like that can get you into a lot of trouble, babe,” Dora stated coldly. “You want to keep ideas like that to yourself.”
“But…” Carla started to object.
“The Ministry went to a lot of trouble to keep Harry’s involvement in the war secret, and I’m not about to let you start blabbing about it now,” Tonks growled. “Am I going to have to Obliviate you?”
“What? No! I swear, I won’t say a word,” Carla promised. “I just don’t understand the need for it, that’s all. If Harry was the one to bring You-Know-Who down, then he’d be a national hero! People should know about this!”
“It’s because I don’t want to be a hero that it was kept quiet,” Harry snapped. “That and the fact we still had dozens of Death Eaters still on the loose. I didn’t fancy becoming the number one target for all the disaffected idiots who were lamenting the Dark Lord’s demise. I know most of them are locked up or dead now, but the fact remains I have no interest in becoming anyone’s hero. This stays a secret, got it?”
“Yeah, I… I guess so,” Carla stuttered, clearly alarmed by the whole situation.
“Good,” Dora said firmly. “Look, we’re not trying to be nasty here, but this is serious. If I find you’ve mentioned this to anyone…”
“I promise!” Carla said emphatically. “Not a word.”
“We’ll hold you to that,” Harry said. “Now, do you want to pierce my ear?”
Fifteen minutes later they left the small shop with a circular, gold earring dangling from Harry’s left ear lobe. While not initially too enthusiastic about the idea of getting it done, he had to admit it did look pretty cool.
“Do you think we should have Obliviated her?” Dora asked as they headed back towards the flat.
“No point,” Harry shrugged. “It’ll soon be common knowledge that I’m around, and when people realise who I work for I expect quite a few of them will start to make some educated guesses. There’s no point getting worked up about it.”
“I guess not. I mean, you’re pretty old news by now, aren’t you? Even the more persistent members of the press will have better things to worry about now,” Dora reasoned.
“Yeah, and if they do prove to be a pest we can always leak the story that Kingsley is shagging his secretary and that should distract them,” Harry chuckled.
“That would work!” Dora laughed. “Kingsley always did have an eye for the ladies. He was a real Romeo back in his Auror days. Some of the stories I could tell you!”
“He’d better hope there isn’t some greedy witch out there ready to sell her story to the papers,” Harry noted. “Anyway, what do we have planned for the rest of the day?”
“Well, as it’s your first day as a member of the section, I thought we’d knock off early,” she grinned mischievously. “I vote that we hit the Tesco Metro down the road and stock up on booze and snacks, then head home and call for a pizza. Then it’s an evening blobbing-out on the sofa watching videos. What do you think?”
“Sounds good,” Harry agreed. “I think I’m starting to like this new job; the hours are great.”
“Don’t get too used to it,” she warned. “We pull our share of all-nighters and week-long stake-outs, too. There’s just not much happening at the moment, that’s all.”
“Fair enough,” he nodded. “So, does this Tesco’s sell bags of Monster Munch? I haven’t had them in years.”
Harry glanced at his watch and was shocked to see it was nearly midnight. He surveyed the wreckage on the coffee table in front of him and smiled. Dora was cuddled up next to him on the sofa with her head resting on his shoulder, watching the last of the movie. In honour of his return, they had indulged in a classic Star Wars fest, and the Ewoks were currently dancing around the screen in celebration as Death Star v.2 exploded in the sky above them.
With his free left hand, Harry took another slip from his can of Carlsberg Export. Four empty cans lay crushed on the coffee table in front of him, along with an empty pizza box and a crumpled bag that once contained picked onion flavoured Monster Munch snacks.
“You alright, babe?” Dora asked in a sleepy voice.
“Yeah, great,” Harry replied.
“Good,” she replied, and snuggled closer to him.
Harry looked down at her and smiled. Movie nights had been a regular thing back at Grimmauld Place when he was young, and he’d forgotten how much he used to enjoy them. Sirius had been something of a Western fanatic, and he’d always want to watch an old Clint Eastwood or Lee Marvin film, while Harry had always wanted a sci-fi movie. Remus, on the other hand, had always leaned towards historical epics and Dora had always wanted a comedy. Whatever they watched, it was always accompanied by a mountain of junk food and a great deal of heckling.
The memory of those great nights, sitting in front of the huge TV that Sirius had somehow managed to get working despite all the magic in the house, made him think. He’d spent the last four years of his life running away from his past, and he was beginning to think that may have been a huge mistake. Once he’d managed to finish Voldemort once and for all, he’d felt overwhelmed by everything, the memories of his dead godfather and friends dragging him into depression. He had believed there was nothing left for him in England, and so had accepted the offer from Department M gratefully. Now, back here with Dora, he was beginning to realise just what he’d turned his back on. Maybe it was time to learn to embrace the past, not hide from it.
“I really will have to visit your mum soon,” he said wistfully.
“She’d like that,” Dora agreed. “I’m due to visit for Sunday dinner this weekend, why don’t you come with me?”
“Yeah, that would be great,” he replied, genuinely excited about the prospect of seeing Andromeda again. Another thought occurred to him. “I want to visit Grimmauld Place again, too.”
Dora lifted her head from his shoulder and looked at him in surprise.
“You do?” she asked. “I thought you never wanted to step foot in the house again?”
“I didn’t,” he confirmed, “but I can’t let the memory of the past rule my life. I’ve spent the last four years of my life running away from what happened, and I’m sick of it. I grew up in that house, Dora, and I had so many wonderful times there. I want to go back and remember those good times, not just that night the Death Eaters managed to get in.”
Dora looked at him sadly. “I know what you mean,” she agreed. “I feel like I’ve been running away from a lot of things, too. Maybe your right; maybe we both need to go back and face the past. I just never could face… I mean… that’s the place… Remus…”
Harry pulled her into a hug as the tears started to flow. He held her tight and could feel her body shaking.
“It’s alright, Dora. We’ll get through this. I’m sorry, I should never have just gone and left you and your mum on your own. I was a coward, but I promise I’ll never leave you on your own again,” he said in a determined voice.
“Promise?” she asked tearfully.
“I promise,” he agreed, tenderly stroking her cheek.
Dora said nothing, but just pulled him back into a hug. They stayed in that position for a good five minutes, before she pulled away and wiped her eyes.
“Of course, entering Grimmauld Place will be a bit risky,” she said, slowly regaining her composure. “After it was abandoned, the Death Eaters tramped all over the place. It’s awash with nasty traps and curses. Even Moody said he wouldn’t risk trying to get in.”
“Oh,” Harry said, crestfallen. After steeling himself to return to the place Sirius and Remus had been killed, the idea that he wouldn’t be able to safely enter the house was a bitter blow.
“You could always get professional help,” Dora suggested. “Gringotts have curse-breakers you could hire to get the place sorted.”
“That’s a good idea,” he agreed. Gringotts curse-breakers were renown throughout Europe for their skill and expertise. It wouldn’t be cheap to hire them, but Harry felt it would definitely be worth it.
“We can swing by Diagon Alley tomorrow if you like,” Dora offered.
“Maybe next week; there’s no hurry,” he said. “Let me get settled in to this new job before I start worrying about things like that.”
“Okay,” she agreed. “I guess we should be getting to bed. We have a lot to do tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” he said, unwrapping his arms from around her and standing up. Before he headed to the bedroom, he paused and bent down to kiss his friend on the cheek. “I’ve really enjoyed today, Dora. I’ve really missed you, you know.”
“And I’ve missed you, too,” she said, smiling brightly at him.
Harry grinned back before turning and heading for his bedroom. Before he reached the door, he heard Dora calling to him.
“And no sneaking out and peeking through the keyhole of my bedroom while I’m undressing,” she called out mischievously.
“Nah, I’ll wait until you’re in the shower to do that this time,” he replied with a wink.
He entered the bedroom and shut the door, feeling happier than he had in years.
The alarm clock went off at seven o’clock, and Harry groggily groped to turn it off. Once he’d silenced the damnable object, he rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He didn’t feel too bad, he realised. He’d only drunk beer the previous evening and had plenty to eat, so he wasn’t really hung-over. He normally rose an hour earlier, so the extra sleep had helped, too.
Feeling energised, he leapt out of bed and pulled on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. He pulled back the curtains and the sun streamed in through the narrow window. It looked like it would be a beautiful day. Feeling uncharacteristically cheerful, he left the room in search of breakfast.
A quick search of the kitchen area revealed Dora appeared to favour a light meal to start her day, as all he could find was some bread to make toast and a box of cereal. Harry decided on the later, mainly as he hadn’t had a bowl of Coco Pops for years. He’d just seated himself at the table and was about to tuck in when Dora appeared. As was usual for her, she only wore a vest top and a pair of knickers. Harry grinned at the memory of her mother scolding her for her state of underdress when she appeared at the breakfast table back at Grimmauld Place dressed in a similar manner.
“Morning, Harry,” she yawned. “How did you… BLOODY HELL!”
Harry’s spoon clattered against the bowl as he jumped in surprise. He glared at Dora, who was staring at him open mouthed.
“What’s the matter with you?” he demanded.
“Your hair, Harry. How the bloody hell did it grow that much in one night?” she asked.
His hand instantly went to his head, and he was surprised to feel long locks of hair hanging down. He leapt up and stood in front of a mirror that was positioned near the door, and gasped. Last night his hair had hardly been long enough for Dora to spike up with hair gel, but this morning it touched his shoulders.
“Ah, it’s done that again, has it?” he sighed.
“Done what?” Dora asked, coming to stand next to him.
“When I was younger, I found that I could vary the length of my hair, to some extent. I don’t think Sirius ever had to take me for a single haircut,” he explained.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me this?” she gasped. “Harry, this means you’re a Latent Metamorphmagus! That’s a witch or wizard who has the ability to perform certain transformations, but not achieve a complete change in their bodily form.”
“Oh, right,” he said in surprise. “I thought it was just something I did with my magic; I didn’t know there was an actual term for what I could do.”
“Oh, yeah. In fact, with a bit of practice you could get really good at changing your hair. You might be able to change its colour as well as its length.”
“That would be pretty cool,” he agreed, before looking back at his reflection. “I must have subconsciously altered it to this length because you told me to grow it yesterday.”
“And it looks bloody wonderful,” Dora exclaimed. “Honestly, luv, you look so hot. My knickers are getting damp just looking at you.”
“Too much information, Dora,” Harry muttered, but secretly he was thrilled by her complements. No more looking like a boring square for him.
“You know, if I didn’t think of you as a little brother, I’d shag you right here on the breakfast table,” Dora giggled. “In fact, I’m up for a bit of incest. How about you?”
“Pah, you just want me for my body. You wouldn’t respect me in the morning,” he joked.
“It is the morning,” she pointed out, “but I guess ravaging you will have to wait. We had an easy day yesterday, so today we’re going to hit the streets and see what’s happening.”
“Anything specific were looking for?” he asked.
“Not really, although a couple of my contacts have been out of touch for a while and I think we should track them down,” she decided, before grinning at him like a Cheshire Cat. “London isn’t going to know what hit it when the sexiest crime-fighting duo in the world hits the streets!”
Harry matched her manic grin. This was going to be fun.
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