UPDATED: 24/12/2018 - I'm getting there - I have a new chapter for you as well so just bare with me :) A massive thank you to Cezzeroni the Magificent for all her hard work, patience and midnight kitchen sessions (where more writing was done then coursework...)
"Little Whinging, Surrey."
The dementor's slightly rotten hand withdrew into the folds of its cloak as an affirmation of its new instructions.
Under the hood of their cloak, not so different from the dementors own, the conspirator smiled. This would teach the Half-Blood swines to embarrass the wizarding world. Allowing themselves to be attacked by muggles; how low could you sink and expect not to be plagued by the consequences? Some muggle filth had reported that the two underaged victims had been transported to a local hospital - but they hadn't been the target. No, the investigation that would have inevitably followed the death of the remaining Potters would be far more thorough than that of a dozen muggles.
After all, it would not do to have aurors swarming around after such a… minor intervention.
Doing harm to the Potters and muggles whilst leaving the actual murder of the children to the Dark Lord; their master would be so proud.
It was the rustle of pages that woke him up. Hermione was sitting in the chair in between his own bed and Isa's, eyes focused intently on the text in her lap. Her eyes didn't waver from the page, even as he reached out and attempted to locate his glasses on the side table with the hand that wasn't attached to the monitors. It was only when something grey and oblong impacted with the floor (which he later discovered had been the TV remote) that her head snapped up from her reading.
"Harry! You're awake! Are you okay? Stupid question. Of course, you're not. Isa hasn't woken up yet-"
"Hermione, breathe." Harry inserted with a smirk.
She tossed a small glare in his direction which would have had slightly more impact had relief not been written all over her face. He wouldn't be joking if he was that hurt she reasoned with herself, only to be hit in the face by the realisation that this was Harry; he would be joking even if missing all four limbs, just to make everyone else feel better. She resisted the urge to hug him to death and focused on how she could ease his pain. But to do that, she needed to know the whole story.
"Harry," she said, cautiously looking away and down at the book still held loosely in her grasp, "what happened after I left?"
He looked away, his face wiped of all emotion.
"I don't want to talk about it, Hermione," he said quietly.
For a second Hermione looked as if she wanted to push the issue, but a slight shake of the newly woken, slightly woozy head of Isa halted her in her tracks. A second shake stopped the words that would alert the girl's brother to her newly conscious state.
The room was silent as each was absorbed in thought.
Harry -having a rare moment of clarity- glanced up at Hermione's face. She was biting her lip, clearly needing to ask but unable to bring herself to broach the subject.
"Why did you do it?" He asked, curious as to what had led to the series of events he'd witnessed.
"I was worried about you. Isa wasn't replying to my letters, then one came back unopened - so I spoke to my Dad and asked if I could come over and see if everything was okay in person. He drove me over, you know the rest." Hermione explained.
Isa spoke up, "I don't."
Two pairs of eyes flicked towards her.
Harry could practically feel Isa's confusion as he began explaining the side of the story his sister hadn't been privy to.
It had been three or four days since he had punched his Uncle, to say they were paying for it dearly would be an understatement.
The Dursleys had reverted back to using their free slave labour, but with a slight alteration to the previous method. One of them would be set a list of chores to complete by 6 PM, whilst the other would be kept in the basement as insurance. This wouldn't have been an issue if the list of chores had been of a length suitable for one person. However, it wasn't. The list was as long as it had been the previous summer - when there had been two of them to finish it. Their incentive to complete said chores was the promise of the others health.
On this particular day, it was Harry's turn to work his way through the list. After a particularly nasty thump from Vernon's belt the day before (as punishment for the Dudley sized fingerprints appearing on the windows his sister had cleaned during the day), he was suffering. His t-shirt, hastily rammed over his head before he'd stumbled up the basement stairs, was sticking to him, even without the overbearing heat of the summer's day.
It was just after midday, and he was about a third of the way into the list, something which worried him greatly. His hair, limp and less wild than usual, lay damp against his forehead under the blistering sun. Muscles tensing as he attempted to plough the baked soil. He was working in the front flower bed that lay flush against the pavement, turning over the soil before planting some tiny individual flowers Aunt Petunia had bought from the garden centre.
His attention was drawn from the flower-bed however when two sandal-shod feet appeared in his line of vision and stayed there. Harry glanced up, squinting against the sun to try and see the features of the person standing in front of him.
Her bushy hair gave her away.
"Hermione?" Harry enquired, shocked.
Said witch squatted down, so they were on the same level.
It was then that the bruises on his face and arms became visible.
"Harry! What happened?"
A lump grew in his throat and his eyes prickled. He never usually cried but the events of the past few days had resulted in a tangle of guilt in the pit of his stomach.
Seeing this, Hermione knelt and reached out to gently enclose him in a hug. He flinched when she first extended her arms but didn't move as she gently wrapped her arms around him and just as quickly withdrew so as not to attract attention.
Harry swallowed, and looked into her eyes. It was when he saw only kindness and worry that he decided that this was the opportunity they were going to take to get out.
Vernon's voice lashed across the front garden, "BOY!"
Harry's eyes filled with panic as he hastily got to his feet.
"Volo." He said to her, before grabbing the gardening equipment and turning back towards the house, hoping that all sign of tears was gone from his face.
It was as his Uncle slammed the door and started berating him for daring to talk to a nice, normal, respectable citizen (and for making more work for his aunt by bringing filth into the house) that he followed his sister's footsteps in realising that maybe they didn't have to go it alone.
Isa's mouth dropped, "So that's why he was in such a foul mood that day, I had no idea you were so obvious about it, Harry. I thought he'd just caught you talking offhandedly."
Harry shook his head, "No, it would have looked like we were flat out having a conversation. He might have even seen the hug, that would explain why the chores stopped after that - he was worried I had told someone. One person making a complaint would have been checked out weeks later if not months, two would have made it more believable."
Isa shook her head, "Anyway, Hermione could you come over here please?"
Hermione looked at her inquisitively.
She rolled her eyes, "Just do it."
Hermione carefully placed a bookmark in her book and placed it on the floor. She got to her feet and carefully came over to Isa's bedside.
The girl in question carefully raised heavily bandaged wrists, fighting back a wince, and smiled. Hermione smiled back, and gently hugged her, ignoring the small flinch.
As Hermione moved to go back to the chair she had previously been sitting on, Isa shook her head and snagged the hand that was moving away from her.
"No, stay," she said.
Hermione looked conflicted for a brief second before hopping on the bed beside her.
Isa rested her head on her shoulder, and thinking back to the horror that was the past couple of weeks thanked her in a whisper. Harry turned his head so he was facing them and met Hermione's eyes.
"You're both more than welcome," she said grabbing hold of Harry's hand across the gap and squeezing gently.
"You know," Hermione added, "Dad says that I can come and keep you company during the week whilst they're at work."
Harry gave her a shy smile, appreciating the gesture.
Isa didn't react, watching figures walking along the hallway outside their room through the lightly frosted glass. She was thinking about the conversation they had had with Dumbledore the previous day - how they had made the decision never trust him again. At least not without serious thought about whether he was worthy of that trust. It was tempting to just give up on the constitution of trust and opt only to trust her twin, one of the only people who had never let her down. But then he wasn't the only one who had been unswervingly loyal in recent years. Their friends at Hogwarts; Ron, his temper sometimes threatening the peace but otherwise willing to sacrifice himself to the mercy of a stone chess-set for two kids he'd known for 9 months. Ginny, somewhat reserved until she found that even being possessed by Lord Voldemort couldn't push them away and since then had flourished into a girl who was confident in herself and her ability to protect those she loved. Neville, not quite as close as the other two, but still a solid friend who had your back when you needed it. Finally, Hermione, the girl who came across from the other side of London just to check that everything was okay when she thought her friends might be in trouble. Those people deserved their trust too.
"Dumbledore came round yesterday, 'Mione-"
"Said he was sorry…" Harry snorted derisively, "as if being sorry ever did anyone anything."
"Harry!" Isa warned.
"No, Isabelle, despite repeated warnings about it, he went and shoved us back with them. He knew the danger! He just chose not to do anything about it because his precious blood wards were too important to him. More important than keeping us alive to actually use the blood protection."
"But there's no need to be rude about it-"
Hermione shrank back into the bed as she took in Harry's words... his accusations. Surely Dumbledore wouldn't have so blatantly disregarded her best friends safety over some protection. She mentally shook herself. Irrespective of his motives for putting them there in the first place and of how far he believed the Dursleys would go, he should have listened to what they were saying about their relatives and withdrawn them from the home at the first sign of trouble; no protection was even near worth what they had gone through in both their childhood (if you could call it that) and right now.
She exhaled the breath she'd been holding and sifted through the fragments of the once rose coloured glasses scattered through her brain, ignoring the argument that had continued to rage around her.
"Dumbledore should never have put you there, he was wrong," she whispered, almost to herself.
Her statement cut through the air like a knife halting the words the twins were slinging at each other.
Isa's eyes widened with realisation. She grabbed Hermione's hand (the one not still held by her brother) and squeezed gently, attempting to convey that even though Hermione's world was currently shaking, everything would be okay.
The door opened, all heads turning in its direction, admitting a burly man in a police uniform and a nurse.
The policeman took a few steps inside the room, revealing another woman, also dressed in the Police standard uniform.
"I'm going to have to ask you both to limit this questioning to 15 minutes, and if at any point the patients get distressed, you will need to halt the interviewing process for today," the nurse said sternly, but not unkindly.
Hermione got off the bed and walked towards the door.
As if sensing the twins confusion she turned towards them with a sad, guilty smile and stated, "Section 20.2. Subsection J of Police powers states that the police have the right to interviewing witnesses in private unless that person is under the age of 18 in which case they must either be in the presence of their legal guardian or said guardian has given permission for the statement to be obtained in their absence. Either way, I'm not allowed to be in here. I'll be back in as soon as I can, I promise."
The twins glanced across at each other, their argument not forgotten, but shelved until they were alone. Both of them had paled dramatically with their friends' revelation.
The Policeman nodded approvingly and turned back to the twins as the door closed.
"My name is Constable Williams, my partner, Detective Lynett. We're here to ask you some questions about the incident that was discovered at Number 4 Privet Drive on Friday 15th July 1995. Our records state that you were both found at the scene with multiple injuries, which are listed here as being consistent with those of aggravated assault and chronic malnutrition. We'd just like to know what led up to the events of that day and who, for lack of better term, is to blame for it."
The silence was thick and lasted for so long that Harry started to think of it as a safety blanket; if it was silent, they didn't have to answer the inevitable questions that the Police had for them and everything would stay the same. Nobody would have to know how weak he was, how completely unable he was to get them out of the situation fate had forced them into.
However, the silence didn't last forever and neither did their reprieve. The questions came thick and fast, their answers very much less so.
"Who partook in the physical abuse?"
"Our -" Harry hesitated slightly, not having thought of it as 'abuse' before, only as something which happened when they did something the Dursleys didn't like; guilt and shame coursed through his veins like adrenaline during a Quidditch match. He swallowed harshly, "Vernon Dursley mainly."
He could feel the tension in his sister from across the gap between them; her hands were clenched at her sides, her face pale and slightly damp.
"And you, Miss Potter?"
Isa swallowed, trembling slightly, "V-Vernon Dursley was behind m-most of it."
"Most of it? Mainly?" the policewoman, Detective Lynett, asked, her eyebrow raised.
Harry could have hit himself. Why didn't he just say that it was just Vernon? Dudley, after all, hadn't really partaken in the events of this summer beyond making food slightly more difficult, occasionally harassing them whilst they were in the park and being the catalyst for the last couple of weeks. And even then the last couple of weeks were more his fault then Dudley's, if he had just kept his temper, it would have been a bit unpleasant for a few days but they wouldn't have been placed in the position they were in now. Dudley had occasionally contributed to his father's campaign with the odd slap or push when they were trying to complete chores but aside from that, he wasn't really guilty of much. It was mainly his father's influence and doing.
Harry warred with himself. Dudley was no more guilty than himself, in fact, he'd probably done less then Harry himself had done. But then the number of times he'd pushed them both around - the number of times he'd pushed Isa around, he should pay for that if nothing else.
Before he could decide on what path to take a small voice spoke out from beside him.
"Dudley occasionally was violent towards us, but nothing like what Un-Vernon... did," Isa whispered, her eyes huge and assessing.
The male police officer exchanged looks with his partner before referring to the notes before him.
"And, what was your relationship with one Petunia Dursley?"
Harry looked around the room, his attention wavering. He could feel the sneaking tendrils of tiredness entering his mind, winding around his thoughts. Unlike his sister, Harry hadn't really slept since their talk with Dumbledore; his mind occupied with thoughts of guilt and blame. He could hear Isa answering the Policeman but the words she was using didn't register. Sleep seemed welcome now, a tide coming in to sweep away all evidence of trauma.
The conversation between the Police and Isa seemed to continue forever as he watched through lidded eyes. His sister seemed to get more and more agitated, her eyes darting towards him what seemed like every couple of seconds.
All of a sudden, her shoulders slumped and the Police sat back in their seats. Harry attempted to focus on what was being said, the weight of what seemed like the world pressing down on his eyelids.
"-time here is nearly up but we'll file your statements when we get back to the station. Your appointed lawyer should be in contact with you over the next couple of weeks unless you choose to find another. They will inform you of trial dates and will be responsible for keeping you updated on the progress of the case. Now is there anything else you need before-"
It was as sleep succeeded in rolling through his mind like a fog that the door opened to readmit the nurse (accompanied by Hermione) who Harry later deduced must have told the Police that the 15 minutes were up.
He felt a twinge of relief somewhere in the back of his head before he allowed his straining eyes to close.
Vernon Dursley sat down in his cell -having just finished with the lawyers- confident that his actions couldn't be interpreted as anything other than protecting the general public from the freaks. Satisfied that his preposterous charges were on their way to being dispelled, he resumed his current favourite activity; musing over how unfair being left with those freaks had been in the first place.
If it wasn't for them then they would be in this mess. Their freakishness wouldn't have been close enough to infect his family and he wouldn't have had to take drastic measures to remove the taint their parents had inevitably placed on them. Not that it had worked. But at least he had tried to protect the decent, hardworking people from their evilness.
And then there had been that situation last year with Marge. It was obvious that that school they supposedly attended was doing more harm than good. A nice hard beating had worked for the brats before they 'attended' that school and had made them far more tolerable. No, it was clear that that school was giving them a higher opinion of themselves then they had any right to have. Only animals and scum attacked hard-working citizens. Even general society agreed with that; those who attacked others were deemed to be just as uncivilised as animals. Therefore when his brave son had spoken out about how the brats had used their freaky sticks it had become clear to him that they were no more than animals. And as a result, they should be treated as such. Animals were beaten into submission. He had just done his part for society and saved it the trouble of waiting for the freaks to slip up and be caught. It was a preventative measure.
A smile spread across his face. Oh, how he was looking forward to proving to those brats that they deserved it - that people thought they deserved it.