Harry managed to not shout out, but it was a close thing. The little creature on Harry's bed had large ears and bulging green eyes the size of tennis balls. Little did Emily know that this was the creature that Harry was sure he had seen in the hedge in the garden earlier on.
As Harry stared at the little creature, it stared back, while Emily was just observing the whole situation. Emily was about to point out to Harry what the creature was when she then heard Dudley's voice from the hall.
"May I take your coats, Mr. and Mrs. Mason?"
The creature slipped off the bed and bowed so low that the end of its long thin nose touched the carpet. Emily noticed that it was wearing what looked like an old pillowcase, with rips for arm and leg holes.
"Err – hello" said Harry nervously.
"Harry Potter!" said the creature in a high-pitched voice Emily was sure the Dursley's would hear it from downstairs. "So long has Dobby wanted to meet you sir…such an honor it is…"
'Another fan' thought Emily.
"Th-thank you", said Harry, edging along the wall and sinking into his chair desk chair, next to Hedwig, who was asleep in her cage. "Who are you?" asked Harry.
"Dobby, sir. Just Dobby. Dobby the house elf" said the creature.
"Oh – really?" said Harry. "Err – I don't want to be rude or anything, but – this isn't a great time for us to have a house elf in our bedroom."
Aunt Petunia's high, false laugh sounded from the living room. The elf hung his head.
"It's not that Harry, here isn't pleased to meet, please don't be mistaken sir. It's just we were curious if there was a reason why you are tonight?" said Emily softly.
Dobby turned around to look at her and his cheeks blushed a little.
"Oh, miss Emily you are kind. But yes, miss there is a reason" said Dobby earnestly and turned back to Harry. "Dobby has come to tell you sir…it is difficult sir…. Dobby wanders where to begin…"
"Well how about you take a seat and-" started Emily.
To their horror, the elf burst into tears – very noisy tears.
"S-sit down!" he wailed. "Never…never ever…"
Emily thought he heard the voices down stairs falter.
"I'm sorry" she whispered, "I didn't mean to offend you or anything, please stop crying"
"Offend Dobby!" chocked the house elf. "Dobby has never been asked to sit down by a wizard – like an equal-"
Harry trying to say "ssh!" and look comforting at the same time, ushered Dobby back onto the bed where he sat hiccoughing, looking like a large and very ugly doll. At last he managed to control himself, and sat with his great green eyes fixed on Harry with an expression of watery adoration.
"You can't have met many decent wizards" said Harry trying to cheer him up.
Dobby shook his head. Then without warning, he leapt up and stated banging his head furiously on the window, shouting, "Bad Dobby! Bad Dobby!"
"Don't – what are you doing?" Harry hissed, springing up and pulling Dobby back onto the bed. Hedwig and Archimedes and woken up, and both let out a particularly loud screech and began beating their wings wildly against their cage,
"Dobby had to punish himself sir" said the elf, who had gone slightly cross eyed. "Dobby almost spoke ill of his family sir…"
"Your family?" asked Emily curiously.
"The wizard family Dobby serves miss…Dobby is a house elf – bound to serve one house and one family forever…"
"Do they know that you're here?" Emily asked.
"Oh no, miss, no…Dobby will have to punish himself most grievously for coming to see you both miss. Dobby will have to shut his ears in the oven door for this. If they ever knew miss-"
"Surely they would notice if you banged your ears in the oven door?" Emily asked becoming concerned for the little creature.
"Dobby doubts it miss. Dobby is always having to punish himself for something, sir. They lets Dobby get on with it miss. Sometimes they reminds me to do extra punishments…"
"But why don't you leave? Escape?" pressed Harry.
"A house elf must be set free, sir. And the family will never set Dobby free…Dobby will serve the family until he dies, sir…"
"And I thought we were hard done by staying here for another four weeks" he said. "This makes the Dursley's sound almost human. Can't anyone help you? Can we?"
Almost at once, Harry wished he hadn't spoken. Dobby dissolved again into wails of gratitude.
"Please." Harry whispered frantically.
"Please Mr. Dobby, if they hear anything, then they will know you are here…" pleaded Emily.
"Harry Potter asks if he can help Dobby…Dobby has heard of your greatness, sir, but of your goodness, Dobby never knew…"
Harry began to turn the colour of a tomato.
"Whatever you have heard about my greatness is a load of rubbish. I'm not even top of my year, or close to it, that's Hermione, she-" Harry suddenly stopped.
"Harry Potter is humble and modest" said Dobby reverently, his orb-like eyes aglow. "Harry Potter speaks not of his triumph over He Who Must Not Be Named"
"Voldemort?" asked Emily.
Dobby clapped his bat ears and moaned. "Ah, speak not the same, miss! Speak not the name!"
"Sorry, Mr. Dobby" whispered Emily.
"Yea, I know some people don't like it, my friend Ron…" Harry once again trailed off.
Dobby leaned close towards Harry, his eyes wide as headlamps.
"Dobby heard", he said hoarsely, "that Harry Potter met the Dark Lord for a second time, just weeks ago…that Harry Potter escaped yet again."
Harry nodded and Dobby's eyes suddenly shone with tears.
"Ah sir", he gasped, dabbing his face with a corner of the grubby pillowcase he was wearing. "Harry Potter is valiant and bold! He has braved so many dangers already! But Dobby has come to protect Harry Potter, to warn him, even if he does have to shut his ears in the oven door later…Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts."
There was a silence broken only by the chink of knives and forks from downstairs and the distant rumble of Uncle Vernon's voice.
"W-what?" Harry stammered.
Emily couldn't believe what she was hearing, Harry being told that he shouldn't go back to Hogwarts. Completely ridiculous! Though as selfish as it was she was happy that it wasn't her that was being told that she couldn't go back to Hogwarts. This was something that Harry was quick to point out.
"But Dobby, Hogwarts is my home and it's not like you are telling Emily that she's got to stay here! So why can't I go?" Harry tried to keep his voice as low as he could because he was aware that Uncle Vernon would have his head if he made any noise, and would probably get Emily involved somehow.
"No, no, no" squeaked Dobby, shaking his head so hard his ears flapped. "Harry Potter must stay where he is safe. He is too great, too good, to lose. If Harry Potter goes back to Hogwarts, he will be in mortal danger."
"What are you saying that I'm not important?" asked Emily slightly hurt.
Harry elbowed her in the ribs, "Why?" asked Harry in surprise.
"There is a plot, Harry Potter. A plot to make most terrible things happen at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this year", whispered Dobby, suddenly trembling all over. "Dobby has known it for months, sir. Harry Potter must not put himself in peril. He is too important, sir!"
"What terrible things?" said Emily at once. "Who's plotting them?"
Emily was now extremely concerned for Harry and was now looking at him with wide eyes, Harry was now not only worried for himself but Emily. The last thing that Harry wanted was Emily to worry about it.
Dobby made a funny chocking noise and then banged his head madly against the wall.
"All right!" cried Harry, grabbing the elf's arm to stop him. "You can't say, I understand. But why are you warning me?"
Emily watched as Harry wrestled with Dobby to stop him from hurting himself, and then a strange facial expression covered Harry's face.
"Does this have anything to do with vold- err sorry, You Know Who."
"You could just nod or shake your head" added Emily quickly.
"Not – not he who must not be named, sir"
But Dobby's eyes remained wide and full of fright.
"He hasn't got a brother, has he?" joked Harry
Dobby shook his head, his eyes wider than ever.
"Well then I can't think of who would be able to have the chance to do something terrible to me"
"Yea, I mean Dumbledore's at Hogwarts, so It's not like anything can happen" added Emily.
Dobby bowed his head at the mention of Dumbledore's name.
"Albus Dumbledore is the greatest headmaster Hogwarts has ever had. Dobby knows it, miss. Dobby has heard Dumbledore's powers rival those of he who must not be named at the height of his strength. But miss…sir" Dobby's voice dropped to an urgent whisper, "there are powers Dumbledore doesn't…powers no decent wizard…"
And before either Harry or Emily could stop Dobby, he bounded off the bed, seized Harry's desk lamp and started beating himself around the head with ear splitting yelps.
A sudden silence fell downstairs. Emily and Harry glanced at each other and within seconds Harry and Emily heard Uncle Vernon coming into the hall, calling, "Dudley must have left his television on, the little tyke!"
Harry began to panic but Emily was already on it.
"Dobby I need you to go into the wardrobe and be quiet" ordered Emily as she shoved him inside and flopped herself back on her bed and grabbed the closest book and pretended to be reading it.
"What – the – devil – are – you – doing?" said Uncle Vernon through gritted teeth, his face horribly close to Harry's. "The pair of you have just ruined the punchline of my Japanese golfer joke…one more sound and you will wish you had never been born."
"Way ahead of you" muttered Emily.
"What was that girl?" seethed Uncle Vernon.
"Nothing Uncle" said Emily sweetly.
Uncle Vernon glared at the pair of them and stomped flat footed from the room.
Shaking, Harry let Dobby out of the wardrobe.
"See what it's like here?" he said. "See why I have to go back to Hogwarts? It's the only place I've got – well, I think I've got friends"
"Friends that don't even write to Harry Potter…or Emily Potter for that matter." Said Dobby slyly.
"I expect they've just been – hang on" said Emily, frowning, "how did you know that our friends haven't written to us?"
Dobby shuffled his feet.
"Harry Potter and Miss Emily mustn't be angry with Dobby – Dobby did it for the best…"
"Have you been stopping our letters?" snarled Harry.
"Dobby has them here, sir" said the elf. Stepping nimbly out of Harry's reach, he pulled two thick wads of envelopes from the inside of the pillowcase he was wearing. Harry could see Hermione's neat handwriting, Ron's untidy handwriting and something that looked like Hagrid's. Emily could see letters from Hermione, Ron and Suzie, though it looked like there were more.
Dobby blinked anxiously at the pair of them.
"Dobby I don't understand. If you don't want Harry to go to Hogwarts fine, but why would you stop mine?" demanded Emily.
"Dobby thought that they would catch on to Harry Potter not getting letters and just send them to you to pass on to Harry Potter, so Dobby thought that he would stop yours too."
"Why?" said Harry through gritted teeth.
"Dobby hoped…if Harry Potter thought his friends had forgotten him…Harry Potter would not want to go back to school, sir…"
Harry made a grab for the letters, but Dobby jumped just out of reach.
"Harry Potter and Miss Emily will have them, if he gives Dobby his word that he will not return to Hogwarts. Ah, sir, this is a danger you must not face! Say you won't go back sir!"
"No!" said Harry angrily. "Give me mine and Emily's letters!"
"Then Harry Potter leaves Dobby no choice sir" said the house elf sadly.
Before either Emily or Harry could move, Dobby had darted to the bedroom door, pulled it open – and sprinted down the stairs.
Harry immediately sprang after him, with Emily following quickly behind. From the bottom of the stairs, Emily could hear Uncle Vernon saying "…tell Petunia that very funny story about those American plumbers, Mr. Mason, she's been dying to hear…"
Emily saw that Harry had darted into the kitchen and figured that she should stay by the stairs in case Dobby came back that way. Moments passed and although she could still hear Harry and Dobby having an argument. Suddenly the worst thing possible happened, there was a splat and a crash and Emily knew that only meant one thing, Aunt Petunia's pudding was now decorating the kitchen. There was the sound like a whip and a stampede of footsteps hurrying in the direction of the kitchen. Emily decided that if she stayed where she was it meant that she couldn't get the complete blame but felt bad for leaving Harry. Just as she was preparing to enter the kitchen and be 'surprised' at what was there, the second worst thing happened. An owl flew in through the window. As it turned out Mrs. Mason was petrified of birds and this was the final straw, Mrs. Mason left the house screaming like a banshee.
Emily took this as the moment to enter. What she saw was one very angry Uncle Vernon, a very petrified Harry, and a kitchen that was covered in cake and cream. Harry was clutching onto the mop, holding for support as Uncle Vernon advanced on him, a demonic glint in his tiny eyes.
"Read it!" he hissed evilly, brandishing the letter the owl had delivered. "Go on – read it!"
Harry took it and read it aloud.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We have received intelligence that a Hover Charm was used at your place of residence and in your presence this evening at twelve minutes past nine. As you know, underage wizards are not permitted to perform spells outside school, and further spell work on your part may lead to expulsion from said school (Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery 1875 Paragraph C). We would like you to remember that any magical activity which risks notice by members of the non-magical community (Muggles) is a serious offence, under section 13 of the International Confederation of Warlocks' Statute of Secrecy.
Enjoy your holidays!
Improper Use of Magical Office
Ministry of Magic
Harry looked up from the letter and visibly gulped.
Uncle Vernon looked from Harry to Emily who was standing a little from Dudley.
"You didn't tell us you weren't allowed to use magic outside school" said Uncle Vernon, a mad gleam of dancing in his eyes. "Forget to mention it, slipped your mind, I dare say…"
He was bearing down to Harry like a great bulldog, all his teeth bared. "Well. I've got news for you boy…I'm locking you up…you're never going back to that school…never…and if you try and magic yourself out – they'll expel you! And that goes for you too girl"
And laughing like a maniac, he dragged Harry and Emily back upstairs. Uncle Vernon was as bad as his word. The following morning, he paid a man to fit bars on Harry and Emily's window. He himself fitted a cat flap to their bedroom door, so that small portions of food could be passed through. They let Harry and Emily use the bathroom in the morning and the evening but otherwise they were locked up around the clock.
Three days later, the Dursley's were showing no sign of relenting and Emily couldn't see any way out of his situation.
"I'm sorry" said Harry as he stared at the sinking sun from behind the bedroom windows bars.
"For?" asked Emily
"If I hadn't lost my temper then we wouldn't have the bars and wouldn't have the cat flap"
"No, it would have happened anyway, don't worry about it, we'll find a way to get to Hogwarts." Reassured Emily, though she herself was doubting that even they would be able to get out of this one.
Suddenly the cat flap rattled and Aunt Petunia's hand appeared, pushing two bowls of tinned soup into the room. Emily was starving and so was Harry as he jumped off the bed and seized it. Emily had pretty much demolished hers in one gulp. Emily then went to do the same as Harry and give the remainder of the soggy vegetables into Archimedes food try who in return gave her a look of complete disgust and flapped his wings in anger.
"I know I'm sorry, but it's all we have" said Emily in a bitter tone.
"Do you think they will send someone to look for us if we don't show up?" asked Harry as he lay flat on his back.
"I hope so" muttered Emily as she too collapsed onto her bed. Her stomach then let out a loud grumble that sounded like a dying whale. "If we ever find a way to get back to Hogwarts I am raiding the kitchens for everything they have"
As if on cue Harry's stomach let out a large rumble, "I second that"
Emily soon drifted into a sleep, but could only think of being kept captive by the Dursley's for the remainder of her days. Suddenly a pecking sound made its way onto her thought.
"Archimedes stop…please…I know you're hungry but so am I" Emily mumbled.
The tapping continued and Emily sat up and was ready to lecture Archimedes when she noticed that there was a familiar freckle faced; red haired; long nosed boy outside the window. It was Ron Weasley outside her and Harry's bedroom window.