Fanfic: The Laughing Slytherin – Summer of ’91 by PhaedraZev (Free to read, 564,411Clicks)

Description:

Sirius spends his first summer as a free man, while Harry remains in the clutches of his abusive relatives. With his life in the balance, the Bennetts put plans in motion to save him.

Characters:

No Archive Warnings ApplyMuggleborn Slytherin – Character Harry Potter Original Muggle Character(s) Good Slytherins – Character Original DADA Instructor The Weird Sisters (Harry Potter) Severus Snape The Weasley Twins Sirius Black Ted TonksBirthday Party Slice of Life Sirius Black Adopts Harry Potter reincarnated OC Deviates From Canon competent adults Prophecy in Song Form Song writing References to Child Abuse Fluff and Hurt/Comfort

Summary:

Summary:

Sirius spends his first summer as a free man, while Harry remains in the clutches of his abusive relatives. With his life in the balance, the Bennetts put plans in motion to save him.

Notes:

Yes, you read the series name right. The Summer of ’91 has enough chapters that it needs it’s own section! What’s funnier, of the 80+ chapters I’ve written so far, half of this section’s chapters rank in the top-seven for highest wordcount. So strap in for a long summer!,Notes:
This chapter is the longest of the series. Which is apt, all things considered.

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.),Notes:

Fun Fact: It took 50 seconds for the Sheriff to die.Unfun Fact: I made the same comment Sirius shouted when I watched this movie; and my mom pointed out “He already did. Alan Rickman died three days ago.”Not cool, mom. Not cool.

Chapter 1: Harry Potter and the Greatly Exaggerated Death

Chapter Text
The RSVP list for the birthday party was surprisingly short given the number of invitations sent out. Including muggle friends and relatives, only thirteen kids said they would be able to make it. Which then, given her parents consent, got rounded up to fifteen with an extended invite to Ron and Ginny Weasley.By twenty to the show, most of her guests had arrived. The Slytherin contingent, consisting of Amy, Adrian, and Domonkos, stuck to mingling with other Hogwarts guests, specifically Corin and Merton. Meanwhile, Sierra and Melissa were chatting with two of her muggle friends, Tally Douglas and Sarah Mackenzie, getting to know them and their lives with surprising ease. At the appearance of more familiar faces, Melissa excused herself and made her way over to the door, to where her parents were greeting her extended family.“Hi Jeff! Hi Mags! Hi Aunt Sophie!” She greeted them each with a hug. “It’s so good to see you!”“It’s good to see you, too.” Jeff answered with a squeeze. “I was worried we’d be late!”“Well I still have a few more people to wait on, so you made it in good time.” “That’s good.” Her aunt replied.She looked between them with only a small confusion. “Where’s Uncle John?”“I’m here.” He called out from further off, where he had been chatting with her parents. “Just had to pick up one last guest for you.”It was then that she looked down and found a boy at his side sporting a cap and a wicked grin. “HARRY?” She ran and grabbed the boy a sweeping hug, practically crushing him. Once she let go of the hug, she had her hands on his shoulders and looked him over, half whispering. “Harry! I’ve been so worried! You’re alright? They haven’t-”“Melody! It’s okay.” He interrupted her, pointedly. Their eyes met and she realized that her uncle and parents were watching them with curious concern. “Right. Yeah. Sorry, Houdini. I just haven’t gotten any letters from you all year, you know?” She covered for them. “And you were able to make it? Here?”“It was a bit of luck on my part. It’s Dudley’s birthday today, and I couldn’t stay with Mrs. Figg since she broke her leg. So Vernon was able to ‘convince’ Uncle John to take me in for the day.” Melissa blinked. Forcing herself into a cheerful smile rather than an outright grin. “That was lucky. I forgot about his birthday.”He raised his eyebrow curiously at her; but, before he could bring up the oddness of the idea, her head cocked at the sight of a half-dozen confused looking redheads. “Oh, we have more guests. Come on, I want to introduce you!” She grabbed his hand and dragged him over while using her other hand to wave the redheads over to the party room.“So glad you could make it!” Melissa greeted the twin boys, opting to let Harry go and encased the two in a surprise double-hug. “Blimey, Bennett, one day out of school and you miss us already?” One of the boys teased. She pulled away from the hug and grinned back at their amused smiles. “Well this is about the only time I can safely be so close to you two!” She joked back.“Oh dear, don’t tell me my boys are that much trouble?” A warm yet scolding tone came from behind them.“Only in the best possible way.” She replied, turning to the older, red-headed witch. “You must be Mrs. Weasley. I’m Melissa Bennett. It’s a pleasure to meet you!” Molly Weasley gave her a kind smile. “Molly is fine, dear, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, too. Oh, and this is my husband, Arthur,” She gestured to the adult wizard who was greeting her own parents, “and these are my youngests. Ron, Ginny, do say hello!”  She gestured with a hand on the shoulders of two younger children.“Hello.” They both greeted rather shyly. “Hi! I’m Melissa. It’s nice to meet you both!” She shook Ginny’s hand with a comical gusto and received a limp, hesitant one from Ron, though she made her own grip politely firm. “Oh! And this is my cousin, Harry!” She pushed the capped boy closer to say hello. “He’s starting Hogwarts this year, too.”“It’s nice to meet you.” He greeted them politely.While the younger kids greeted him, the twins gave Melissa a confused look as they walked into the party room. “You never mentioned a magical cousin, Bennett.” Fred noted.Melissa shrugged. “It’s mostly a surprise, and it’s not like he’s gotten his letter yet, but we’re sure he’ll be getting one next month.” “Should be interesting.” Fred pondered. “Agreed. More Bennetts to test our wares on.”“Boys.” She stressed. “I’m going to say this in the nicest way I can, but lay a hand on Harry and I will end you.” That threat only seemed to make them smile darkly. “My, my, it seems we found Bennett’s weak spot.”“Indeed, brother of mine. I wonder what a couple good-looking chaps like us could do with that information?” “You can use it by keeping it to yourself, or I’ll uninvite you to tonight’s show.”They looked at each other then back to her. “Not much of a threat, Bennett.”She gave her own dark smile. “That’s because you don’t know what a gift this movie is going to be for you.”As they asked what she meant by that, Melissa’s attention was caught by the sight of a blonde-haired teen already inside chatting with her muggle friends. “Do my eyes deceive me? Hark! Her majesty has graced us with her presence!”The surrounding children gave her an odd stare. Meanwhile, the pretty blonde narrowed her eyes in annoyance. “Do you really have to do that every time I see you?”“But, of course, my liege!” She replied with a sweeping bow before enveloping the new girl in a hug. “Who’s your friend?” The twins asked.“I’m so glad you asked!”“I’m not.” The blonde retorted.“Gentlemen, may I introduce her majesty-”“Please don’t.”“-the splendiferous-”“I hate you.”“You love me!” She grinned evilly. “-the ever-talented Victoria. Elizabeth. Jones!”“I never should have told you my middle name.”“But it’s perfect! ” She insisted. “I don’t get it.” George muttered.“What’s the joke?” Fred asked. The other muggles chuckled at their confusion, though Victoria seemed half-relieved that the boys weren’t laughing. “It’s because my names are both ruling queens. Entirely by coincidence.” That last remark had her staring daggers and Melissa’s giggling form.“I can’t help it! It’s amazing.”“Not the funniest joke.” George confessed. “Oh, please.” Melissa rolled her eyes. “You’re only saying that because you Weasleys like to use names from King Arthur.”Everyone around her gave varying looks of disbelief.“No we don’t.” Fred insisted.“Yes. You do.” She took a breath before pointing out the facts. “Your dad’s name is Arthur, your brother Percy is totally like Sir Percival, and, let me guess, Ginny is short for Guinevere?”The younger girl shook her head. “It’s Ginevra.”Melissa rolled her eyes. “Which is a foreign form for Guinevere. I rest my case!”“That’s a weak case, and you know it, Mel.” Tally pointed out.Melissa crossed her arms defiantly. “Whatever, I’m still standing by it.” Harry snorted and gave a knowing smile. “I think you’re just trying to hide your own name worries, Melisma Harmony.” Her eyes went wide a moment before pointing a warning finger against her wizard friend. “…now that is just uncalled for.”“Melisma?” Sarah gave her a surprised look. “Really?” She and Victoria then gave each other a look and burst out laughing. While Tally settled to explain the joke to the non-musically inclined boys, Melissa blushed deeply at the joke. “It’s not my name!” She insisted. “It’s just similar!”“And exactly why your parents named you that.” Harry pointed out.“Kid, I love you too much to hurt you, but come school-time I’m getting you back for that.”“Sure you will.” Harry smiled, knowing well that the threat was likely an empty one.“I like this one.” Fred announced, putting his arm around Harry. “I think we should invoke him in our ranks, George.”“I agree, Fred.” George nodded. “He could be useful in our exploits.”
“Hey now-!”
“Alright, everyone!” Her mother called out, silencing all conversation in the room. “The movie is starting in ten minutes, let’s get to our seats before the previews start!”With that announcement leaving her protests cut short, Melissa resigned to getting people out of the room while simultaneously giving introductions between the different groups of people. As they moved into the line it was getting progressively harder to pull that off, especially as the wizards of the group were half-distracted by the flurry of muggle sights and screens. That said, it seemed like everyone was getting on fairly well. The younger kids managed to congregate amongst each other, though Maggie remained at her mother’s side until they were able to get their seats. The preteens were also becoming fairly mixed in. The twins were staying particularly close to her muggle friends and, by the sounds of it, were trying to get dirt on her home life in order to find ways to torment her. Melissa herself stayed more to the back of the line, leaving the others to their own devices. “So, excited for the movie?” Melissa asked Corin as he lingered in the back with her.“I am. Though I think Robin Hood’s an odd choice. I would have thought of choosing something more science fiction for a group of wizards.”“You mean wizards who can barely handle the idea of seeing movies, let alone ideas like aliens and robots?” She retorted. He pondered that point over with a shrug. “I guess that’s a good point. What do you think, Soros?” “Hmm? Ah, I don’t know the story well, but I hope it will be good.”“Oh, trust me, it will be a lot of fun.” The girl promised.“I hope so.” Corin agreed. “Melissa,” Domonkos’ tone gave way to a shift in conversation. “I want to ask, the boy in the hat, you say he is your cousin?”“Harry? Yes. Well, an honorary cousin.” She corrected herself. “He’s been close to our family for a couple of years, so my family’s practically adopted him.”“Yes. That makes sense. You do not look the same.” He nodded. “That said, is he not the boy from-”“Oh, Melissa,” Her mother called cheerily from behind her, “sorry to interrupt, but we have another guest I want to introduce you to.”“We do?” She looked back at her friends, who offered her a shrug.“I will ask later. Go.” Domonkos assured her. Leaving her to nod her head and stay behind while the others went and got their seats. She waited as her uncle walked over. Beside her uncle walked another man with long, dark hair. The hair made her think of a wizard, which seemed likely, though the man was sporting jeans and a leather jacket overtop a graphic tee.“Sorry, Melissa, I wanted to introduce you away from the others.” Her mother explained. “Sirius, I’d like you to meet my daughter, Melissa.”At the sound of the familiar name, Melissa’s eyes went wide. “Sirius Black?” She asked in hushed surprise.“The one and only!” The named man answered with a flourish. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Melissa. Your parents have told me a lot about you.”“Right.” She answered dumbly. Her mind, meanwhile, was racing at a thousand miles an hour. “Harry doesn’t know about you, yet, does he?”“That I’m here? No. We have chatted over the phone before; but, after John called, I couldn’t resist a chance to finally meet him.”“Oh.” She reflexively stole a glance behind her, but everyone else was already inside. “Um… well I’m glad you were able to come so quickly, but… shouldn’t Harry be out here?”“Oh, I didn’t want to interrupt just yet.” He assured her. “I’ll be sitting a few rows away until the movie is over, then I’ll introduce myself.”“Oh, right.” She breathed, collecting her thoughts, then offered him a smile. “I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to meet you.”Sirius beamed into a happy smile. “I know he will. Now, I suppose we ought to find our seats?”“Mhmm. Right.” She turned and walked with the adults into the theatre, excited and frightened all at once as to how this day could play out.

*30 minutes later*

Outraged by his defeat at Robin’s hands, Guy of Gisborne stormed through Nottingham Castle. A guard approached, informing him that the sheriff was not to be disturbed, but Guy threw him aside. He walked through the doors, revealing the sheriff with his arms around a frightened and barely-dressed young woman.
“Cousin,” The sheriff began in a condescending tone, “I trust you can justify your intrusion with news of pro found value.” In the reserved section of the theatre, a handful of children were beginning to snicker.“Is it my imagination,” Corin whispered to Melissa, “or does the sheriff look a bit like Professor Snape?” “ Nooooo.” Melissa wheezed, trying desperately not to cackle at the man’s perfectly condescending inflections. “He looks a lot like Snape!”“Oh, god, is that what he would look like smiling?” Corin asked.“That’s terrifying.” They heard Sierra grimace.“Save me brother, I can’t watch!” One of the twins whispered in faux fear. The rest could only snicker as the scene continued.

*2 minutes later*
Corin leaned in close as the change of scene dawned on him. “We might have to have a talk with the others about her.” His head motioned to a spooky, evil witch, aptly named Mortianna.“Yeah…” Melissa grimaced. “This is going to be awkward.” Of all the times to forget a crucial plot point.  The half blood and muggleborn could only watch on awkwardly as the stereotypical evil witch began to divinate runes in a pool of blood.

*40 minutes later*

“That’s it, then!” The Sheriff flounced in a dramatic manner. “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!”
It was one thing to see Alan Rickman flouncing drunkenly through his scenes. With the chime that followed his ban on Christmas, a quarter of the children (and a man sitting a few rows back) were roaring with laughter.Weird and gory as this movie is, the scenes with the Sheriff were an absolute goldmine of one-liners. It was one thing to threaten a man’s heart with a spoon. This line, though, is simply a thing of beauty!
A few moments later, after yelling at his scribe, the Sheriff turned towards two women stitching cloth. He pointed to each woman individually. “You, my room, 10:30 tonight. You, 10:45… and bring a friend.”
Melissa fell into tears of laughter. Forget the gore and evil witches, this movie is a gift from the comedy gods!

In the final battle of the film, Robin and the Sheriff dashed through the chapel in an attempt to cut down the other. With a growl, the Sheriff cleaved Robin’s sword down to the handle. The force of it drove Robin to fall backward into an alcove. Marian cried in vain, and Robin could only throw the broken sword at the Sheriff. His father’s sword pointed at his own chest, Robin looked to Marian one last time before his inevitable death. The Sheriff caught his gaze, and turned to Marian as well. 

“Get ready.” He growled to Marian, just before lifting his sword to deliver the fatal blow.

“NO!” Marian shouted.

Spotting his chance, Robin pulled a dagger from his boot (the very dagger the Sheriff gave Marian) and shoved it through the wicked man’s heart. Their eyes met. Shock and fear glowed through the man’s eyes, knowing that his fate had run its course.

Yet, strangely, the man did not die where he stood. In struggling steps he turned and walked towards Marian. She stepped away from him until he stopped in his tracks. Still, he did not fall. Instead, he took precious seconds to pull the dagger from his heart. It was then that he fell offscreen. Though he appeared again, crawling forward and-
“Oh, come on, Snivellus, just die already!” A man shouted from a few rows back. 
He died six seconds later.
Honestly the children weren’t sure whether to be relieved for the hero or disturbed for the imagery. …In the end, though, most would agree that this scene would be best not spoken of come the Autumn term.
Content-concerned adults aside, the movie was a hit! Back in the party room the kids were chatting away excitedly and loudly shouting out lines from the film. At one point Fred and George started a mock sword match with utensils, giving George the perfect opportunity to shout “Weasley, I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon!” That beautifully delivered line had half of the kids roaring in laughter. It got further laughs after the Hogwarts kids explained what it was about the Sheriff that made him so funny to watch. That remark got Ron, Harry, and Ginny to start talking about their own futures at the school, asking questions that Corin, Adrian, and Domonkos were happy to answer. Melissa, herself, had been distracted chatting with her past and current music friends. Merton and Tally ended up on their own tangent due to their preference for the cello, while she, Victoria, and Sarah went back and forth chatting about old friends, tutors, and contests. It was something Melissa missed about her muggle life. Being far away from home, she wasn’t able to compete anymore. Not that she was ever the best at them, but it was a great way to meet new people and learn new ideas or techniques. She did have a plan for working around that as she got older, but only time would tell the success of those plans. “I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD?!”The shout from across the room cut out Melissa’s plan explanations in mid-stride. The three girls looked over to the source, which seemed to be from the mix of current and soon-to-be Hogwarts students.“I’ll be right back.” She announced to her friends, and made her way over to the group.She reached the group as Corin was talking hurriedly to Harry. “-I saw it! That was definitely-”“Is everything alright here?” She asked cautiously.They all turned to her, their expressions a mix of confusion and disapproval. “You tell me.” Corin stated, pointing at Harry. “Why did you tell everyone he was dead?”“What?” That wasn’t what she had expected. She blinked dumbly at the question as Adrian steered the question.“Back in defence. Harry was your boggart, wasn’t he?”“Oh… crap.”“What’s a boggart?” Harry asked.“Ah, it’s a fear-monster thing.” She tried to wave off. “Don’t worry about it. It was just after Christmas and my imagination got a little carried away.”“Wait…” Corin started rubbing his head in frustration, “so if he wasn’t actually dead, why were you so depressed all of that time?”“Nothing! It’s nothing! Just forget about it!” She begged.Harry frowned at her protests. “Is that true? I didn’t mean to make you upset.”“Don’t apologize, Harry!” She replied pointedly. “Believe me, none of that was your fault.”“What’s going on here?” The concerned voice of Sirius Black floated in behind her.
Oh, crap.
“Bloody hell,” Ron exclaimed, “aren’t you Sirius Black?”
Double crap.
“Yes, I am.” He answered simply. “You must be one of Arthur’s boys.”“Uncle Sirius?”
Damn it, Harry!
Unlike Melissa, that line had Sirius alight in a toothy smile. “Hello, Harry.”“Uncle Sirius?” Adrian asked, watching as the man and boy embraced each other in a semi-awkward hug. “Wait, I’m confused. How are you all related? You’re a muggleborn!” Just about everyone seemed to be asking those questions in their own minds. Most of them, though, directed their looks to Melissa for answers. The one girl who had all of the answers, and very desperately was not wanting her joke and plans spoiled so early.“Well…. Harry’s something of an… honorary cousin. And Sirius is an honorary uncle to him.” She attempted to explain.Domonkos remained unmoved by the explanation. “And why did you not correct us in saying that he is dead?”“What?” Sirius remarked with a slight growl.“Look, it’s… I was worried he would… I was scared, okay? Boggarts are your biggest fears. I can’t help that. I was freaking out all Christmas!”Sirius fixed her with a dark look. “What was your boggart, exactly?”Melissa gulped nervously, and found herself unable to come up with a decent lie. “That… Harry would die, and it would be my fault for not trying to save him.”The answer has Sirius frowning, yet his shoulders sagged and he let go of a breath. “I can’t say I entirely fault you for that. Nothing wrong with worrying about a friend. But what made you think he was going to die?”She and Harry shared a quick look. The look of worry in his eyes and a small shake of his head told her enough that he didn’t want the truth to be said. “Um…”“Hold on,” Adrian cut the conversation into a tangent, “if you’re Harry’s uncle, doesn’t that mean that you’re The Boy Who Lived?”That question brought about a collective gasp from the young Weasleys.“YOU’RE HARRY POTTER?” Ron half-shouted.“You’re him?” Ginny asked, awestruck.“Yes?” Harry answered nervously.“Did somebody say Harry Potter?”
Oh, crap, here we go.
That question released an avalanche from the magicals in the room. They all suddenly congregated to their part of the room, asking questions and demanding answers faster than Melissa could navigate. She and Harry both shrank under the sudden attention. Sirius, meanwhile, tried to calm the children while subconsciously moving closer to Harry as he did so.“Dom, a little help?” Melissa begged from the onslaught of demands from her yearmates about this new revelation. He raised his hands in surrender. “This is your own mess, Melissa. I don’t understand why you did this, either.”  “Great. Thanks.” She mumbled. She then raised her voice to the rest of the crowding children. “Can everyone just… calm down for a second, here?” She begged. With some modicum of quiet she continued. “Okay, I’ll give an explanation but you all have to remember where we are right now!” That statement cowed some of their excitement, giving Melissa a chance to catch her breath and nerves.“Alright, first off, yes. Harry is that Harry. No, he’s not like the books, that’s all a bunch of bollocks. He and his muggle relatives live near my cousin Jeff and his family, so we’ve been friends since before I got my letter.“As for the defence thing,” that question had far too many landmines, “…Harry had gotten hurt over Christmas and I… overreacted.” Melissa grimaced. The lie was painful, and likely wouldn’t convince anyone, but she had to try. “I admit that I should have clarified things, but I was still kind of in shock by it, and it was kind of my fault that he got hurt, so I was feeling too guilty about it to say anything.”Harry fixed her with a questioning look. It seemed he didn’t believe her, either. Though that one did have some level of truth to it. “So… can we just go back to the party, already?”“But what about Mister Black?” Adrian asked.“What about him?” She snapped. A few of her friends flinched at the uncharacteristic behaviour. Adrian, though, pressed on.“How do you know each other?”“Know each other? We just met!” She stressed at the boy. “I’ll handle this.” Sirius gently placed a hand on her shoulder, interrupting the girl before she could continue. “Harry is my godson. We haven’t had a chance to see each other since my release from Azkaban, so I was invited by her family so that we could meet.”Corin frowned curiously at the explanation. “I’m surprised you haven’t met yet. Weren’t you released a couple months ago?”“I had to stay at St. Mungos for the first month,” Sirius explained. His tone then shifted to a small growl. “And Harry’s family tends to have opinions about people with magic, so I haven’t been able to visit him.”Melissa turned her eyes to the floor at that statement. Doing her very best to keep her mouth shut at that point. Fortunately for her, Sirius took over the remainder of the conversation. His answers to their questions managed to satisfy the children; and, slowly, they broke away from the group and drifted into their own conversations as the party had been prior to the initial outburst. Melissa ended up sitting on her own, partly because her friends were still unhappy that she had lied for an entire term, and partly to have her own peace of mind. She sat at one table, nibbling slowly on a plate of chips. Her mind wandered into the mess that had been created. Her muggle friends may not have understood the magical history of things, but there was enough overheard that they were unimpressed with the situation and would likely drift further from her after another year away. She also knew that it would only be a matter of time before the kids at the party would tell their parents what had happened. That would likely spread to gossip circles and, should anyone important find out about it, she’ll be toast by next Christmas.“Melissa?” Domonkos’ voice interrupted her thoughts. He was sitting beside her for… she wasn’t sure when he had sat beside her, actually.“Hey, Dom.” She greeted him meekly.“I am sorry for telling the others about Harry. I had tried to ask you before the film, but-”“It’s okay.” She dismissed him quickly. She hadn’t even considered what brought it up before she arrived at the conversation, but it didn’t matter much, now. “Still, you are very upset. I remember how you were at the start of the term, I should have thought of why you were hurt so much.”“Don’t be. You were right to be upset. You tried to help me a lot at school and I repaid that by lying about it.”“Hmmph.” Domonkos nodded. He gave a note of silence before scooching in closer. “I must ask, though,” he whispered, “he is in trouble, still, yes?”Melissa’s head whipped fully to his eyes, fearful. Domonkos, though, simply gave a grim nod. “I have seen it before. Muggles who do not like magic. My grandfather had a friend, a witch. She and her daughter were killed by the muggle she married when he learned the truth.” He explained. “Harry’s family is the same, aren’t they?”Melissa swallowed harshly, looking down with guilt. “Harry doesn’t like to talk about it.” She answered. “And Sirius and my family don’t know. Or… not completely, anyways. I can’t tell them without hurting him more for it.”Domonkos nodded. His face was more pensive than usual. “I might have a way to change that.” She glanced at him curiously. “How?”He smiled secretively and gave her a pat on the shoulder. “Trust me. Slytherins must have ways to change things for the better.”“Mostly for themselves.” She countered with a teasing smile.“And their friends.” He added as a counterpoint. He raised his cup of soda to her with a smile. “To Slytherin solutions.”Melissa puffed from her nose, shaking her head. “You better know what you’re doing.” She replied before raising her own cup and clinking it against his. “To Slytherin solutions.”
One by one her friends left the cinema for the evening, until only her extended and honorary family remained. Harry ended up spending much of the evening with Sirius. Melissa would watch them on occasion. Small, hesitant hugs and hushed words. The scene filled her with a mix of love and hatred. The idea of it ending only made it worse. “We’re going to have to go, soon.” Her uncle informed her. He stood with her in the lobby of the cinema, watching the other two as they talked. “Though I’d hate to cut this short.”“Me, too.” She replied solemnly. They watched as Sirius and Harry hugged one more time, and then walked towards them.“I suppose it’s time, isn’t it?” Sirius asked.“Unfortunately so.” John nodded. “It’s a start, at least. Hopefully by the end of this year we won’t have to worry about sneaking around anymore.”Melissa’s body froze.“I hope so, too.” Sirius replied.
“He can’t!”
The three males looked at her in confusion. “What do you mean, Melissa?” John asked.Melissa didn’t meet her uncle’s eyes. Her fists clenched hard, almost shaking, and her voice was almost breathless. “Harry can’t leave.”“Oh, you don’t understand,” Sirius tried to reassure her, “I’m hoping to adopt Harry in a few months, that way he won’t-”“Harry, you have to run away!” Everyone stopped and stared at her, but she only had eyes for Harry.“What?” Harry asked, surprised.“Run away, now, with Sirius. We can’t wait for the end of the year for him to adopt you.”“Sweetheart,” her uncle interrupted, “he can’t just go off like that-”“If he’s still there when he gets his letter they’ll kill him or beat him senseless!”The sudden shout had the adults flinching, and their other relatives turned their way. The men were reasonably confused. Harry, though, looked terrified. “Melody, I can’t go!” Harry half-whispered.“Yes, you can!” She argued. “London is a big city and the theater’s dark. We can say you snuck out during the movie and no one noticed you were gone with so many kids around.”“That would be kidnapping.” Her uncle argued. Sirius nodded, albeit hesitantly.“It would be saving his life!” She countered.“The police won’t agree with that.”“They will when they see the bruises!”“MELODY!” Harry shouted, red-faced and angry.The adults looked at Harry in shock, but Melissa could hardly feel any shame. “I’m sorry, Harry, but I’ve already seen you dead, once, and I won’t let that happen again!”“What on earth do you mean by- Harry, what’s going on?” John asked, looking between the two of them.Harry’s silence to the question was challenged by Melissa’s voice bearing down on him. “You have to tell him, Harry.”A pleading mixture of fear and guilt swelled behind Harry’s eyes. He could barely meet anyone else in the eye as his resolve caved in. “It… hasn’t been just the arm.”That phrase was more than enough to start a deep and, frankly, painful inquiry into the events of the past few months. Moreso as the other adults made their way over and explanations were made to the group as a whole. Harry’s physical and mental punishments were described in ever increasing detail. It didn’t help Harry that Melissa would snap at any tangent or soft turn of phrase and flip it closer to the reality of life at Privet Drive. The adults, in turn, looked increasingly horrified and enraged as the truth was revealed. By the end of it they knew that something had to be done.“We still can’t risk him going with Sirius.” John argued. “It will be difficult enough with our police looking into a runaway case, but whomever it is that wants Harry to stay with his aunt will try to argue that this is an example of instability or, worse, outright kidnapping.”“Maybe we can just have Harry and the kids stay over at our home?” Mary considered. “It can’t be kidnapping if it just looks like a sleepover.”“Without his guardians permission, the Dursleys can still argue that they never gave permission and still try to implicate you.” John argued. “I have friends that work cases of neglect and abuse. People like Petunia may not care if he lives or dies, but they do care to see their victims suffer as much as possible.”“He’s right. You should have seen how Petunia behaved around me just for giving her husband advice on his finances.” Sophie rolled her eyes at the memory. “I wouldn’t put it past either of them to hurt our family just to make Harry suffer more.”With that hurdle to consider, Jake turned to Sirius. “How would a wizard go about this?”Sirius put a hand through his hair. “I’m not entirely sure. I’ve spent so much time away in Azkaban that I’m not sure how they do things.”“Okay, different perspective, then.” Jake insisted. “Say I’m one of the Dursleys and I say to you ‘Harry’s staying with me. He’s never going to Hogwarts. Try anything and I’ll get the law to ship you back to that hellhole you came from and there’s nothing you can do about it’, what would you do, then?”“If I could…” Sirius huffed, his face twisted into a scowl, “I’d obliviate you and just take Harry anyway.”Jake grinned triumphantly. “Well, then. Seems we have our answer.”Everyone looked at her father in shock. “You can’t be serious!” John snapped.“I don’t mean literally.” Her father stressed. “But, let’s say if it did. How would the Dursleys react if you went about your lives as if Harry never existed?”They all blinked at the idea. The gears slowly clicked into place. “…That might actually work.” Sophie considered it in awe. “It had been terrifying when the wizards erased their memories, and they’re scared enough of magic that they might not even want to look into where Harry has gone.”“Huh. I’ll admit, Jake, I’m impressed.” John added with a wry smile.Jake met his brother’s smile with his own. “Thanks, John . Why, it’s almost as if I know something about the power of giving a good show.” He mocked.At the small joke, Melissa and a few of the adults released a nervous chuckle. She and Harry then met each other’s eyes. She reached out and squeezed his hand, a glimmer of hope shared between the two.“Well, that’s one problem out of the way.” Mary noted. “Now where will Harry be staying?”“I liked your idea.” Sirius answered. “Truthfully Grimmauld Place still has some dark enchantments that need working through, and the flat I’ve purchased won’t be available until the first of July. I’d rather have Harry somewhere safe among friends than risk him being in that home.” The group nodded at the reasoning.“So that’s a week with us, then at the flat, if we can manage that.” Mary summarized.Another round of nods moved through the group. “I think that will work.” Sophie added.“Alright, that’s settled then.” Sirius then turned to Harry. “You’re alright with that, aren’t you, Harry?”Harry risked a smile. “I’d like that a lot.”“Perfect!” Sirius held Harry in an impromptu hug, a spark of joy moving through the group. Melissa, too, joined in on the hug after a moment, feeling one hand on her shoulder from one of the other adults not-quite joining in on the physical celebration.With a few more details finalized, the group departed in their own directions. The Bennetts each on their own ways home, and Harry on his first step to freedom.

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