Time and Past
It was late, that summer night in 1997, and only the street lamps burned
along the nearly supernaturally mundane avenue in a certain quiet little
Controlled agitation showed in his entire posture as he momentarily turned his attention from the world outside this house he despised, risking a quick glance at the clock on the bedside table before once again scanning the outer darkness. “Eleven-thirty,” he muttered to himself. “I know it won’t get here before . What’s the sense in this? I should lie down. I know I won’t get any sleep, but I should at least try.”
Despite his words, the boy continued to stare out of the window, clearly unable to follow his own advice. As he moved restlessly at his self-imposed station, an occasional beam of light from the street lamps or the full moon high overhead would catch small details – the round lenses of his National Health Service-issued glasses, the angry, red, zig-zag scar on his forehead, his eternally wild black hair. As one of the silvery beams crossed his eyes, his thoughts were momentarily distracted. Full moon tonight. I wonder where Mooney is, and how he’s doing? He had a reasonably good idea what the answer to the last would be – thanks to a regular supply of the Wolfsbane Potion provided by Professor Snape, Lupin’s monthly transformations had been much easier of late. Harry’s other question, though – and all of the additional questions which had been keeping him awake tonight – were not so easily answered. Remus could be in one of several places, and Harry hadn’t heard which one it would be this time. It was possible that no one had known, given the way the Order had been moving him around this last month.
At least the Order is keeping me better-informed now, he thought to himself. Not that it would be any great challenge. But it looks like Dumbledore is taking me a little more seriously now. I guess he wants to avoid another situation like the one that cost us Sirius. The expression on his face, preoccupied before, now turned angry. Well, that’s out of his hands now. Sirius spent fourteen years either imprisoned or on the run. I’ve spent sixteen years. Enough is enough!
These feelings were nothing new for the boy in the window. He’d spent a lifetime with them, and he was
heartily sick of it. Just over a year
ago, in the wake of his godfather’s death, the Order of the
Yes, last summer had been absolutely horrid and this summer no better, and Harry released a great sigh at the recollections. Enough was indeed enough, and he had gone beyond that in “too much” territory long ago. It had reached the point that, during the last school year, Harry had begun laying plans, plans which were focused on this night and the days immediately to come. Dumbledore was probably going to be very upset and disappointed, but after the events of a year ago, somehow Dumbledore’s wants weren’t weighing as heavily with Harry. He’d lived with the old wizard’s plans and dictates for this long, but all of that was about to change, which was why he was standing here, waiting at his window, at an hour when nearly everyone for miles around was asleep.
Starting this past spring, Harry had begun a correspondence with the Misuse of Magic department of the Ministry of Magic, learning what he could of his options and setting his plans in motion. After a great deal of negotiation, he had arranged to be notified by Madame Hopkirk’s staff the very instant that the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Magic no longer applied to him, which was why he was now standing, waiting impatiently, at his bedroom window. He risked another quick glance at the clock, and saw that there were only a few minutes left. When he turned back to the window, he caught a brief hint of movement, and spent several seconds scanning that section of the sky to pick it up again. Yes, there it is. A barn owl was silently flying towards the open window, and he could just make out something clutched in its claws.
As the bird swooped through his window and onto Harry’s outstretched, waiting arm, Harry was already reaching with his other hand to take the letter. Laying it aside, he carried the owl over to his desk where his own owl, Hedwig, was watching from her cage. “Here you go, fellow, have a drink and a few snacks before you head on your way,” Harry told the new bird. “I don’t think I’ll have any reply for you, but you’ve done well tonight.” He scratched the barn owl lightly, and then caressed Hedwig as well to keep her from becoming jealous. “Don’t worry, girl, I’ll probably have a letter for you to deliver later. If this is what I think it is, things have just kicked into high gear, and everything is about to start changing.” The snowy owl hooted once, softly, and leaned into his hand for a moment before gently nipping at the back of his hand.
Harry returned to the window, taking up the letter as he passed it. Breaking the seal, he opened the parchment inside the envelope and tilted it to catch the light of the moon. “Dear Mister Potter,” it began, “As per your request, we are hereby notifying you that the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Magic no longer pertains to you, as you have now reached your seventeenth birthday and are now considered a legal adult within the Wizarding world. You are now free to use magic as you see fit, within the limits of the Secrecy Statutes and all other relevant Wizarding laws.
“Please note that, while you are a full adult wizard, you are not yet an adult within the Muggle world and that you must exercise prudence and caution when interacting with it. You may wish to consult with the Department of Muggle Documentation, as I understand that you still have several connections to Muggle society and you may have need to conduct your affairs there. The DMD will be able to issue you the relevant documentation and, if necessary, can place you in contact with specialists able to advise and assist you in nearly any legal undertaking conceivable.
“As I understand it, you have several outstanding grievances to which you no doubt intend to attend some time in the near future. I would caution you to carefully consider your actions and to undertake nothing rashly. However, if you wish to ask advice, I would be willing to listen to you and do what I may.
Harry sighed with relief as he finished reading. Over the course of the spring, he had been in frequent contact with Madame Hopkirk, and he had been surprised to discover that she wasn’t as unsympathetic as he had expected before he’d begun writing to her. It seemed that the warnings he had received from her office in previous years were an automatic response from her office staff and had gone out without her notice – the Misuse of Magic Department was rather large, and it couldn’t operate any other way. Now that he had a more personal connection with the woman, he felt a bit more admiration for her than he had when the contact had been disciplinary notices, and he felt there was some basis there for a cordial, if distant, relationship. In a way, she reminded him a great deal of one of his best friends, Hermione Granger, and he’d put the two of them in contact with each other, suggesting that Hermione might want to contact Madame Hopkirk to discuss the younger girl’s plans for possible future careers. From some of the things Hermione had said and written, it looked like that course was already starting to bear some fruit of its own.
Shaking himself back to the present, Harry stepped across the room to his bedside table and exchanged the letter in his hand for the wand lying on the table. With a flick of his wrist and a muttered incantation, he flipped the light switch on the other side of the room to the “on” position and took a quick survey of the room which, now that he was seventeen, he no longer considered his own. With another motion of the wand, he opened his trunk and began a whirlwind packing spree, all of it done by magic. Now that I can do this freely, he thought to himself, I’m going to indulge myself! In a matter of minutes, nearly all of his books, quills, parchments, and other knick-knacks were safely ensconced in the school trunk, and he turned his attention to the wardrobe. Starting at one end of the small closet, he worked his way through the clothing, using the permanent transfigurations he had researched – with Hermione’s help – the previous year. In short order, the baggy hand-me-downs he’d received over the years from the Dursleys were now stylish clothes, tailored to fit Harry and in excellent condition. This was to be his first subtle message to his relatives that matters had now changed. Other messages weren’t going to be as gentle.
Once his magical transformations were complete, Harry returned to his desk where Hedwig waited beside the quill, parchment, and inkpot which were the only things he had left unpacked. “I’m going to get started on that letter now, girl. Once I’m done with it, it’ll be up to you. I just need to know one thing, though. Can you make sure it gets to where it’s going at an exact time?” The snowy owl met his gaze solemnly and then hooted once, bobbing in a manner that was unmistakably a nod. “Good. I need to make certain that Dumbledore gets it no earlier than . That should give me plenty of time to do what needs to be done.” With that, he sat and began writing.
“By the time you receive this, I will have burnt my bridges at the Dursley household.
“Oh, there’s no need to panic. I’m not going to do anything permanent to
them – except to permanently remove myself from their lives… and by extension,
them from mine. They’ll still be alive,
“But in any case, I’m leaving
“If you want to have any input as to what my future plans will include, I would suggest you meet me on the walk outside of Number Four at about eight this morning – I doubt Vernon, Petunia, or Dudley would want you inside, and I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t enjoy dealing with them in any case. And I need to deal with them – you can consider this my declaration of independence, if you will. Whether or not it’s also declared against you will depend on your words and actions, so consider them carefully.
“In any case, there’s nothing you can say or do that will change my immediate plans, so you might as well start considering how this is going to change your plans. And, by necessity, it’s going to.
“In case we miss each other – my timetable for this morning is necessarily rather fluid – you will probably be able to locate me either at the Leaky Cauldron or at the Burrow… or, failing either of those two, you might be able to get word to me through Hermione or Mrs. Figg. Given what’s still ahead of me, I’m still willing to listen to you and work with you, but it’s going to be on something much closer to even terms from here on out. Or else I may have to go it alone, and I don’t like to think what that will do to my chances… and the chances of the Wizarding world. So consider carefully.
“Respectfully, but no longer blindly,
“Harry James Potter.”
Five hours later, just as the sun was rising over
As the clock was nearing seven in the morning, the Dursleys finally finished their meal and Harry’s Uncle Vernon began making preparations to depart for work. Before the beefy man could stand, Harry cleared his throat. “Before you leave, Uncle Vernon, there’s something we all need to talk about – and I think you’ll need to be sitting down.”
Before anyone moved, Harry added, “I think they’re likely to be the same things. But yes, the sitting room would be a good idea.”
It was with a great deal of unconcealed hostility that the Dursleys
watched Harry enter the room behind them.
That hostility changed rapidly to shock, however, when Harry produced
his wand and quickly used Coloportus
charms on the doors, closing them loudly and producing audible clicks from the locks. “You… you can’t do that!”
“What day is it today?” Harry asked, quietly after
“Like I said, Dudders, you’re smarter than your parents have ever given
you credit for. You’ve picked up on a
lot of things over the years that they missed – you used that an awful lot last
summer and this one. Made my life a
right royal bloody hell, you have.” He
shook his head quickly. When he
continued, the menace which had come into his voice with the last sentence had
been carefully put away – plainly not forgotten, but it wasn’t present any
more. “So, with all the things you’ve
picked up over the years, what do you think that means,
Seating himself comfortably on the other end of the couch from his
cousin, Harry took a look around at his captive audience. “So now that it’s all out in the open, I’ll
just get started, shall I?” He focused
Harry shook his head, suppressing a chuckle. “Not me,
“What do you mean by that?”
“Petunia?” Harry replied, cocking an eyebrow at his mother’s sister.
“What… what about the protections?” she croaked fearfully.
“Oh, I’m at the point now where they won’t do me much good for very much longer,” Harry answered lightly. “Some time in the very near future, I’m going to have to face off directly against Lord Nutter, and what’s left of the protections isn’t going to make much difference in that fight. I’ll give up what’s left of them right now in exchange for the peace of mind that will give me. So that’s really not a big factor in my planning.”
“But what about us?” she asked. “Those protections were also supposed to protect us from that madman!”
The scathing contempt which filled Harry voice stunned the three Dursleys as he replied. “Bit late for you to think of that, isn’t it? If you wanted me to protect you, you should have thought of that years ago! I’m… no, I’m not sorry! But I’m afraid your safety doesn’t matter at all to me any more, and hasn’t for years. You’ve wanted me gone just as much as these two, and you knew what was at stake. Well, I’m granting you your wish – I’ll just leave you lot to your pleasantly normal little lives, and you can just cope without me – without the work I did around here, without your happy little target to take out your petty little frustrations on, and without the protections that target gave you.”
Harry took a moment to collect his emotions and to get his breathing under control. “But you’re starting to realize what that means. Well and good. However,” he raised a finger to forestall any comment, “you’re a long way from knowing everything. As one last favor,” he chuckled unpleasantly, “to you, I’m going to fill you in completely. I doubt any of you will find it comfortable, but it’s better than remaining ignorant – or so I would think. You may think otherwise, I’m afraid.”
He turned to
Harry stood and began pacing while his family tried to take in the way
their lives had just been changed.
Before they could figure out anything to say, he suddenly stopped and
focused on all of them again. “But that
was just part of what I have to say to you.
Even if I manage to kill Voldemort before he decides to come after you –
he’ll probably think he can use you to try and control me, even though we all
know that won’t work – even if he never comes after you and I never come back
into your life, there’s something else you need to know. Magic
probably won’t leave you alone.” He
whirled to face Petunia. “Your sister –
my Mum – was the only witch or wizard in our family until I came along. But we
probably won’t be the last. You
carry it in potential, Petunia… and so does
Harry paced some more while the Dursleys tried to sort through all the hammer-blows their comfortable world-view had just taken, before he hurled himself back onto the couch. “And one final bit of knowledge that you’re going to need to know. It’s a bit of history about the magical world, but it’s something that you might be able to learn from – I doubt it, but you never know. So I’ll tell you, and hopefully you’ll learn something.
“Something more than fifty years ago, there was a family that lived in a
small village up in the
“He got a local girl ‘in trouble’ – pregnant. And then he learned something about her, something he didn’t like. She was a witch – she hadn’t told him before, but now she felt that he needed to know. Well, like I said, he didn’t like it; he told her to go away, there was no way in hell he was going to marry her. So she went away, and she died in childbirth. Tom never knew he had a son, one who shared his name. Tom the Younger was put in a Muggle orphanage, and when the time came, Hogwarts claimed him and gave him a wizarding education. And young Tom was about as powerful as they came.
“Some time about eighteen years after Tom the Elder had thrown out that poor young girl, young Tom came calling. His father was still living with his parents. And shortly after that… there was only one Riddle left in the world. They weren’t his first – that ‘honor’ probably goes to a fellow student by the name of Myrtle, who’s now a ghost at Hogwarts – but his father and his grandparents were probably among the first ten people Tom Riddle ever killed.”
Harry raised his wand in the deathly silence which cloaked the Dursley
sitting room and carefully replicated what the diary-memory of Tom Riddle had
showed him all those years ago. In a
smoky script in mid-air, he carefully wrote out the name “Tom Marvolo
Riddle.” He quietly said to his
relatives, “What I’m about to show you is something that only a handful of
people in either world knows. Enjoy the
knowledge.” With that he gestured to the
floating letters, and they gently rearranged themselves: “I am Lord
Voldemort.” His only answer was a twin
gasp from Petunia and
“That’s what I’m up against. He’s a madman who never knew love, who was rejected by his family for being a freak before he was even born… and he may be the most powerful wizard alive. He believes he’s got to eliminate me to achieve the one thing he wants more than anything else – immortality. He may decide you lot are the key to getting to me. He’d be wrong, but he doesn’t know that.
“But that may not even be the point. It’s certainly only a side issue to what I want you lot to think about once I’m gone.” He paused to think about what he was about to say. “There are some eerie similarities between the past and the future. Little Hangleton… Little Whinging. Well-to-do families in both communities, both consisting of a father, a mother, and a son, and both families rather unpleasant people. Similar attitudes towards magic. And both families carrying magic in potential.” Harry smiled, and once again it wasn’t an expression the Dursleys found comforting. “They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I hope I’ve given you something to think about.”
To the Dursleys’ stunned silence, Harry rose from the couch and dismissed the locking charms on the doors. He strode out into the front hall and stopped only briefly to pull his trunk from the closet under the stairs, reducing it to fit in his pocket, and without a backwards glance, he swept out of the front door of Number Four Privet Drive for the last time, towards the elderly wizard waiting on the sidewalk for him with Hedwig perched on his shoulder.
F I N