Finding the Key

Chapter 28

Finding the Key

Chapter Twenty-Eight

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"Cupboard! No food!" Uncle Vernon's face was purple with rage, too much rage to even form a full sentence.

Harry was bewildered. He hadn't done a thing. He had no idea how he supposedly shrunk the sofa until it was pinching Dudley's rather voluminous behind. Dudley was the one who had been punching Harry in the kidneys anyway.

Now he had a bruise on his face from Uncle Vernon's fist to match the bruises on his lower back from Dudley and Aunt Petunia had a new couch. Then there was the cut on his arm from falling on the corner of the coffee table. Aunt Petunia had shrieked when she saw the blood on the carpet. She got a new carpet too.

"Harry!"

The Dursley's never called him by his first name, at least not when they were that mad at him, which was often.

"Harry wake up!"

Harry blinked. His cupboard was gone. A silhouetted figure leaned over his Hogwarts bed.

"Harry," Tonks shook him gently.

What was Tonks doing in his room, waking him? It all came to him then. It was Halloween. Voldemort had attacked. Someone was hurt.

"Dad! Where's my father?" Harry jumped out of bed and pulled on a jumper, shoving his feet into trainers. "Is he okay? Remus? Charlie?"

"Whoa," Tonks took a step back. "Calm down there. They're all alive, though Severus is going to curse Poppy once he gets his wand back from her."

That was enough for Harry. He took off running for the hospital wing, ignoring the curses from Tonks as she tripped over a chair in the common room. Harry tore through the corridors, his mind focused only on the hospital wing and getting there as quickly as possible.

The castle was cooperative that day. Staircases shifted to make his route shorter. One passageway that Harry had never seen before appeared for him out of nowhere.

"Dad!" Harry said as loudly as he dared in Poppy's realm.

Remus stood and walked over to him, "He's sleeping Harry. The bones in his left arm were shattered."

Harry winced and made his way to the bed where his father slept. He sat in the chair that Remus had vacated and took his father's right hand between his. It was only then that Harry felt the buildup of magical energy around him. The castle had been bright enough to be day for him from the glow of the magic and he could see the light from his father and Remus. He closed his eyes and focused. He calmed himself first, drawing in his magic, and then shielded himself against the glow.

"Damn it Harry," Tonks skidded into the hospital wing and leaned over to catch her breath. "You're fast."

"How did this happen?" Harry demanded from the two full Order members there. "Where's Albus?"

Remus shot Tonks a glare and she huffed and pointed at Harry, "He took off before I could tell him. He hasn't even had his coffee yet! He shouldn't even be able to see anything without his glasses!"

"Whoops," Harry's hand felt for the glasses that weren't there. "Um, that information stays here." He conjured up a pair of plain glass glasses and slipped them on.

"The Dursleys were attacked tonight Harry," Remus summoned another chair and sat down. "The Order responded when the wards were activated and Severus was fighting Lucius Malfoy and another Death Eater while I was getting your aunt to safety."

"There have been attacks on muggle homes all over England and Ireland," Tonks explained further. "The Obiliviators were all called in. I'm here in case any of the victims were families of students here."

Harry nodded. He was staring straight ahead, not really looking at anything. He felt empty, hollow, "The Dursleys?"

"St. Mungo's," Remus answered. "Your aunt and cousin are in bad shape. Severus and Charlie got Dudley away from his school but I don't know much about that. Charlie doesn't have a scratch on him. He's watching over them at the hospital."

Harry just nodded. It was his fault. This one was definitely his fault. The Dursleys had never wanted him, never wanted anything to do with magic, and now they were all in the hospital because of him.

"I should...," Harry wasn't really sure of anything. He felt like a kid, not an adult wizard. He wanted his father awake and taking charge, "Should I...?"

"Stay here for now Harry," Dumbledore spoke from the entrance to the ward. He walked over to the bed they were gathered around. "How is he?"

"Shattered arm bones," Remus replied. "He'll be his usual cloud of fury in the morning."

Harry couldn't help the knowing smile. Poppy would probably stay far away when they untied Snape from the bed and gave him his wand.

"Remus, please get Minerva and bring her here. Tell her I need The Book," Albus sad tiredly. The headmaster put a hand on Harry's shoulder. Harry surprised even himself when he didn't even tense. "Severus will take you to Mungo's in the morning Harry. If you wish you can spend the night here, but I want you to get some sleep."

"I don't know if I can," Harry replied softly. He was fully awake, adrenaline having substituted for caffeine. "Please... I'd rather just sit with him."

Dumbledore sighed and brushed back Harry's messy hair, "I understand."

"Albus, what is going on?" McGonagall had a dressing gown pulled over a nightgown and wore fuzzy stuffed lion slippers. Harry smiled at them, and the lions both yawned. She was carrying one of the largest books Harry had ever seen.

The headmaster conjured a table for The Book and opened it to the rearmost pages, "It is as I feared."

"Albus?" Remus questioned.

"All the families attacked tonight were tortured and killed, leaving only an infant alive," Dumbledore looked worn Harry noted. "Each of those infants is a muggle-born witch or wizard." Harry felt his heart plummet into his stomach. "All of them were born within the past two years. This book," Dumbledore explained for the benefit of Harry and possibly Remus and Tonks as well, "records the birth of every magical child. The only copies are here and in the Ministry. One of them was compromised."

"Albus, surely...," Minerva began.

Albus sighed, "We can not afford assumptions Minerva. There have been several Aurors in the school that I do not personally know and several of our students support Voldemort."

It was then that Harry remembered, "Draco Malfoy was attacked tonight." All heads turned to him. "He's fine. I healed him and he wouldn't say who did it. He claimed he fell down the stairs but I'm sure he was pushed."

"You healed him?" Remus looked at Harry sharply. "A fall down our stairs here is more than any student can fix."

Harry smiled proudly at his Head of House, "I did it."

She perked up, forgetting momentarily about the fifty or so new orphans, "You did? Completely? Show me!"

The change was so quick Harry didn't feel it. Suddenly everyone in the room was much bigger than they had been. He stretched his wings and flew to Remus's shoulder, while the others stared. Harry stretched his neck and ruffled his feathers.

"Amazing," Remus reached up a hand and stroked Harry's head with a few fingers.

"He's beautiful," Tonks whispered.

The twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes was stronger than ever when seen from this form. McGonagall just beamed. Harry turned his head and looked at his father. He could sense the breaks in his arm, so many breaks. He glided down to perch on his chest and leaned his head down, letting a few tears fall onto the arm.

"Transform back Harry," McGonagall said when he lifted his head again.

Harry hopped back to his chair and transformed, "Well?"

"Excellent job Harry," McGonagall couldn't keep the smile off her face. "If we register you just before your N.E.W.T. you can get extra credit on it."

Harry nodded thoughtfully, "Maybe, if Voldemort is gone."

Harry hadn't noticed Tonks leave but she came back with Poppy then, "His arm is healed. Fawkes stopped by."

Poppy checked the arm, "So it has. You may wake him. Here is his wand."

Harry took the wand and laughed when Poppy left the ward for the safety of her office. A bundle of clothes appeared at the foot of the bed. He removed the restraints from his father and woke him, "Dad?"

"Harry," Snape sat up and tested his arm. He took the wand Harry held out and looked around, eyes narrowed, "Coward."

"I heard that Severus!" Poppy yelled from her office.

Harry's father just shook his head then noticed The Book. He looked at Albus sharply, "Why is that here?"

"We will have two full classes of muggle-born orphans in ten years," the headmaster brought the situation back to them. "Right now, Harry needs you to bring him to Mungo's."

Snape spelled his clothes on and raised an eyebrow at Harry, "How do you want to get there?"

"I can probably just take us from here," Harry suggested a little hopefully, looking to the headmaster. He wanted to test his abilities. Albus nodded.

"You..." Harry saw his father processing the information.

"Harry no longer needs my lessons," McGonagall supplied.

Harry gave his father a small smile, "Can we try?"

"Do not splinch me," Snape warned. "I refuse to spend any longer in this bed tonight."

Harry nodded, suddenly nervous. He looked over to Remus, "No one told me what happened to my uncle."

His father snorted, "He is fine. He was merely made to watch while they cursed Petunia."

Harry felt the rage simmer but it didn't threaten to escape that time. He nodded and took hold of his father's arm. They stood together and with almost no noise they were in the atrium of St. Mungo's. Harry went straight to the information desk.

"I am here to see Petunia Dursley," Harry said firmly.

The witch behind the desk looked over a few charts, "Spell damage, Floor..."

"I know where it is," Harry interrupted and gritted his teeth. His aunt was in the same ward with two former professors and Harry's godmother and her husband. How many people would he send there?

They didn't talk in the lift as it rose to the forth floor. Snape simply left a hand on Harry's shoulder in silent support. Harry was thankful for it, even if he felt he didn't deserve it just then. They were let into the ward after a few words and led to a bed near the front of the ward.

"I thought Charlie..."

"He must be with your cousin," Snape said shortly.

Harry swallowed and nodded. He looked at his aunt, pale even against the white of the sheets. There were healing cuts on her face and arms. Uncle Vernon was sleeping in a chair next to the bed, "How is she? Will she...?"

"It's hard to tell with muggles...," the healer in the ward began.

"She is more likely a squib," Severus interrupted.

"Oh?" Healer Richards, the tag read, sounded uplifted by the news. "In that case she has a much better chance of recovery, every bit of magic in the blood helps. She was not under nearly as long as Frank and Alice. We just have to wait for her to wake. Your cousin is still being treated. They will bring him here when they are done."

Harry nodded as the healer walked away. He waited until the man was out of hearing range, checking on other patients, "I'm going to try..."

Snape tilted Harry's head up and looked him in the eye, "If you feel you need to."

"I do," Harry half-whispered, not trusting his voice. He summoned another chair and sat down on the other side of the bed. He closed his eyes and focused. It didn't take long for his magical seeing sense to kick in and he opened his eyes.

She had a very faint magical flow, much like Filch when Harry had checked him out of curiosity. He took her hand and opened his empathy. It was nothing like the surge from Frank Longbottom. Aunt Petunia appeared to be sleeping peacefully, if a bit uncomfortable and tense.

Harry released her hand and swallowed, "I think she'll be okay. There's not the same... turmoil as the Longbottoms."

He stood and walked over to his father, who wrapped his arms around Harry and pulled him close. Harry let his arms stay at his side and leaned into the hug. He stayed there for several minutes.

"Did we lose anyone?" Harry asked fearfully.

"None that I know of," his father replied.

"Professor Snape?" Healer Richards called.

Harry's father stepped back and brushed his hand over Harry's forehead, smoothing his fringe back. Harry just stared out the door of the ward while listening to the snatches of their conversation he could hear.

"...downstairs..."

"...the press can hang..."

"...Aurors are busy..."

He didn't notice when Uncle Vernon woke, and so the fist that connected with his temple and almost knocked him unconscious but did knock him to the floor caught him completely by surprise.

"It's your fault my wife and son are here you little worthless freak!" spittle rained down on Harry as his uncle approached a rage even worse than in Harry's nightmare that night. "If it wasn't for you those other freaks never would have come looking for us. Just when we get rid of you for good..."

For a moment Harry just stayed on the floor, cringing. Then for the first time in his life he intentionally used magic on his uncle, fought back against him for the first time. Stupefy!

Harry's uncle fell to the floor and he pushed himself to a sitting position, fighting the swimming sensation in his head. His father was bearing down on them like an insulted Hippogriff and Harry pointed at him, Petrificus Totalis!

Harry levitated his father while the Healer looked on in wide-eyed horror. Harry propped Snape against the wall closest to him and stood unevenly. Healer Richards hurried forward to help him but Harry shrugged him off, "I have a thick skull. I'll be fine."

Harry glared at his father, his eyes matching the glare that Snape was shooting at the stunned muggle, "Look at me!" His father did, and the eyes widened just a bit. Harry felt moisture threaten at his eyes. "Don't you even think of touching him. If you get yourself sent to Azkaban because of that bastard I will never forgive you, is that clear? I can take care of myself now."

Snape was still fuming when Harry released him but he was under control, "You will not be in his presence without at least one other fully-qualified wizard. Is that clear?"

"Yes," Harry responded. He turned to the healer, "How about a few dozen vials of calming potion for him?"

The healer nodded and summoned a few vials. Two were poured down Uncle Vernon's throat before he was revived. Healer Richards guided the sedated man back to his chair.

"Harry!"

Harry turned and saw Charlie entering the ward with another healer, "Charlie."

Charlie crossed the ward and hugged Harry tightly. Harry felt the calm and reassurance that Charlie was projecting at him. He wrapped his arms around the redhead's waist and took deep breaths. The hug was over much too quickly, but Harry was conscious of the fact that they were in public. He didn't want their relationship to seem anything more than brotherly.

"Dudley?" Harry asked.

Charlie shook his head and Harry sucked in a breath. He felt more than saw Snape take a step closer to him. Harry snapped his head towards his uncle and aunt. He couldn't be there when they found out. They would try to kill him for sure then. Harry brushed his hair back in a nervous gesture.

"Did that bastard...?" Charlie's voice was pure venom. The dragon handler touched Harry's temple lightly and even that light touch caused a flinch.

"We have to leave," Harry said flatly. He shifted from foot to foot. Anytime now the healers would tell his uncle and even with the calming potions...

"Harry?" Snape asked, no doubt wondering at Harry's sudden change in behavior.

"Please?" Harry pleaded with his eyes, to both his father and Charlie. "We have to leave before they tell him. He was right. It's my fault."

"You!" Harry cringed. It was too late. "You killed my son!"

Harry couldn't argue. His uncle was right. The man was fighting the calming potions and his voice didn't have nearly the volume or sting that it would have otherwise, but Harry felt as though it did. Uncle Vernon stopped, though, when four wands blocked his path to Harry.

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