Chapter 3 - Revelations
Little Whinging is unnerving. It's like a hall of mirrors from an amusement park, where all the houses look the same, all two storey abodes with perfectly manicured lawns and small but well-maintained gardens. While the residents probably think its a fine neighbourhood to live, to Arthur it feels strange, like all the life has been sucked out of the world.
It's hard to believe this is where his son has grown up. A Prince of Atlantis, the heir no less, stuck growing up in a world that might as well be black and white, so very far from the ocean. At least in Amnesty Bay Arthur hadn't been completely isolated from who he is. Harry should have grown up in Poseidonis as the next King, but instead he's lived in one of the most dull places Arthur has ever been, and for a man who has traveled more than most, that's saying quite a lot.
He doesn't know if the pit in his stomach is from nerves, or excitement. Probably both if he's really honest. It's easy to think that he will just walk in and tell Harry the truth, and they will both rejoice and head back to a happily ever after back in Atlantis, but real life is rarely so simple, if ever. In Amnesty Bay Harry had been so adamant that he can't leave his aunt and uncle, and there's no guarantee that finding out that he has a living father is going to change Harry's mind. But fatherly instincts had kicked in even before Arthur knew one hundred percent that Harry was his, and if he's sure of anything, its that Harry cannot stay with people who would treat him so terribly.
Number Four Privet Drive is as lifeless as all the houses that surround it, and Arthur has to wonder just how his son has managed to deal with the despair of having to return every summer from his boarding school to such a forsaken place. After a moment's hesitation, he knocks on the door. He hears the light footsteps approach before it swings open, revealing a very surprised looking Harry.
"Arthur?" he whispers, eyes wide and nervous. "What are you doing here?"
Arthur shuffles his feet awkwardly. Even after a full day of knowing that Harry is his son, he really doesn't know what to say to him. How does one tell a boy of fourteen that his whole life has been a lie?
"It's kind of a long story. Can I come in?"
Harry frowns suspiciously before peering out the door behind Arthur, seemingly to check if anybody else is with him before stepping backwards and allowing him inside. "Up the stairs, quickly!" he whispers urgently, steering him towards the stairs with a gentle push. Arthur lets himself be shepherded, understanding Harry's reasons for doing so. After their last encounter, Vernon isn't likely to be thrilled to have Arthur in his home.
"Who is it, boy?" Vernon asks from outside the hall, and Arthur lets out a sigh as he hears the man's heavy footsteps get closer and closer towards them. When the elephant of a man steps into view, Arthur watches his bloated face turn the same shade of angry blotched red he had seen on the beach in Amnesty Bay.
"You told him where we live?" Vernon asks through ground teeth, glaring at his nephew. He takes a step closer to Harry, who simply runs a hand down his face in irritation. Despite how Vernon towers over him, Harry doesn't look the least bit scared. Even so, Arthur puts himself between them, blocking Harry entirely from his uncle's view.
"Actually no, I discovered your address for myself, with the help of some very resourceful friends," Arthur says calmly, fighting the urge to throw the man through his own roof. He'd want to be careful calling Harry 'boy,' any more, or Arthur might just stop fighting said urge.
"Perhaps we should go in and sit down, I have an important matter to discuss with you," Arthur suggests calmly. Without waiting for permission, he stalks past the dumbfounded Vernon and into the living room, sitting down on the plush couch inside. Petunia walks into the room from the kitchen and drops her steaming mug of coffee all over the carpet when she seem him sitting there, her eyes widening in horror.
"What are you doing here?" she asks in a harsh whisper.
Arthur gestures to the couch opposite him. "I have something important to discuss. Please, sit down."
"You can't just waltz into our home like you own the place and just make yourself comfortable!" Vernon sputters, finally following Arthur into the room.
Arthur turns an expressionless glance towards him. "Well, you didn't seem as though you were about to invite me inside, and like I said, I have important business to discuss. I think we should talk about it like rational adults." He gestures once more to the couch. Harry makes a move to step inside and sit down, but Vernon sticks out an arm to block him.
"No, boy," he growls. "You go upstairs. I'll deal with you later."
Harry glowers, but nonetheless begins to slowly move back towards the stairs, stopping to listen in when Vernon continues speaking to Arthur. "I don't know what that ungrateful little snot told you the other day, but I will not have you barge in here and tell us what to do." With every word Vernon's voice grows louder and louder, until he's practically shouting in Arthur's face.
Arthur is usually able to keep his calm. He's had years of experience with stressful situations, but the way the man is speaking to his son has Arthur's blood boiling hot. "Harry, stay right there," Arthur says firmly, speaking directly to his son while locking eyes with Vernon. "You will stop referring to Harry as 'boy.' He has a name, use it. You will also not be 'dealing' with him later. As for him telling me anything about you - he didn't. He didn't need to. I can see for myself the way you treat him."
"Arthur, it's fine," Harry tries to interrupt.
Still Arthur doesn't break eye contact with Vernon. "No, it is not fine."
Vernon's nostrils flare, and he's glaring at Arthur so hard his eyes appear little more than thin slits on his face. He's become so red that it barely appears he has skin at all, more like bloody red flesh that lies underneath. "How I speak to and punish my own nephew is no concern of yours, pretty boy!" he eventually snarls. "I wasn't going to confront you next to the ocean the other day, but you're a fish out of water here, and on my own property no less."
Vernon takes several slow steps towards Arthur as he continues speaking. "Now, you are going to get off my property. I give the orders around here." The man has a cruel smile etched onto his face, and Arthur gets the impression that Vernon genuinely thinks that he's scaring him, as if he ever could.
Arthur rises slowly to his feet, threateningly, even. Even if he wasn't who he is, he wouldn't let such a bully of a man push him around, especially considering the way he's speaking about his son. "The way you treat Harry is of every concern to me," Arthur says quietly enough so that just the other man can hear.
Vernon reaches out to grip Arthur by the shoulders and tries to wrench him away from where he stands. Arthur plants his feet firmly into the ground, and despite his best efforts, Vernon can't budge him so far as even an inch. The more effort he puts into trying, the more the strain appears on his face, until thick veins begin to protrude from his forehead, and Arthur can sense what the man is about to do before he even makes the move.
"What you're about to do is very stupid."
Despite Arthur's warning, Vernon's fat fist comes flying through the air, aimed directly for Arthur's face.
"Don't!" Harry calls out desperately.
Vernon might as well be moving in slow motion. Arthur lifts his arm and stops the first in its tracks. He grabs Vernon with both hands by the collar, and, careful not to use too much strength, hoists him to the left and lets go. Vernon's body lifts off the ground and sails helplessly through the air, smashing straight through the front window. He rolls powerlessly across the lawn like a ragdoll.
His anger all but dissipated, all that is left is guilt. It's not guilt at having thrown Vernon through to window as much as that it happened in front of Harry. What kind of father is he going to be if he's so quick to anger? He slowly turns his head towards Harry, almost too afraid to see his reaction. If he were Harry, he'd most definitely be frightened of him now.
Great first impression, Arthur.
But Harry certainly doesn't look frightened. He's watching out the window to where Petunia has run out to help her husband get back to his feet, which he fortunately does. More than anything else, Harry looks confused, like he's thinking more about how Arthur did it, rather than the fact that he did. He turns his gaze to Arthur himself, his eyes asking a silent question. Arthur rubs the back of his neck awkwardly before turning back to Vernon out the broken window.
Even with the feeling of guilt, the last thing he wants to do right now is apologise to the man who treats his son so abhorrently. "Are you ready to behave like a rational human being now?"
Vernon says nothing, simply glares back. Arthur tolls his eyes and looks away. Thankfully, Vernon's pride appears to be his biggest injury, and he's escorted back inside by Petunia. Arthur sits back down, but can't miss Harry still staring at him with a bewildered expression.
"How did you do that?" Harry asks with a slight frown. It's still not an angry or disappointed frown, he still appears as though he just wants to know how Arthur managed to throw a man twice his weight.
Arthur shrugs. "I'm stronger than I look."
Harry's frown deepens.
"Aquaman!" Dudley calls out as he comes tearing into the room. Apparently he hadn't even noticed that Arthur was there, not even with the drama that's just happened. Arthur catches Harry's exasperated eye roll at his cousins obliviousness.
"Get away from him Dudley!" Petunia screeches from just inside the front door.
"Pet, call the police," Vernon sternly orders his wife.
"Don't!" Harry cries out. "Arthur only wants to talk. You're the one that threatened him! It was self defence!"
"Be silent boy!" Vernon says sharply. "Pet, quickly, call the police."
"Oh I don't think that will be necessary," a new voice sounds from the doorway.
Arthur looks to see a tall elderly man with long white hair and an equally long white beard standing in the entrance to the house. Despite the tense situation he wears a kindly smile on his face, and his blue eyes have a strange sort of twinkle, visible even behind his crescent glasses. He's dressed in a long purple robe that covers his entire body.
Harry's grandfather maybe?
"Harry my boy, are you alright?" the man asks, stepping around the Dursleys as if they weren't there at all.
"I'm fine, Professor. Why are you here?"
"I got a frantic floo call from my dear friend Arabella saying there was some sort of commotion. Naturally, I came to make sure everything was alright," the man answers, gesturing across the road. When Arthur looks over, he sees an elderly woman peering out the window behind her curtains.
"You know Mrs Figg?" Harry asks, his brows pulling together when he looks across the road.
"Oh yes, for many years," the old man explains. "She's been making sure you've been looked after when you're not at school."
Arthur can't help it. He scoffs, loudly. Finally the old man looks up at him for the first time since entering the house. Arthur locks eyes with him. "Great job she did, too," he says sarcastically.
The man gazes into him for several long moments. He scans him up and down with old, soulful eyes. "You must be Arthur," he eventually says. "Lily always said he took after you, even as a baby. My name is Albus Dumbledore, I'm the headmaster at Harry's school."
Arthur's eyes widen. "You know? How?"
"Lily and her husband James were good friends of mine. The question is, how do you know? From what I was led to understand, Lily never got the chance to tell you."
Arthur's about to answer when Harry steps forward, looking between them accusingly. "What are you two talking about? How do you know Arthur?" He asks Dumbledore before turning back to Arthur. "And how do you know my mum? Why didn't you tell me that you did when we met?"
And there it is. The reason Arthur has come, and he has no idea how to respond to that question. He's pictured the scenario a thousand times over the past day, but he could never have imagined that Harry would wind up asking him directly.
"I think perhaps you'd better listen to Arthur, Harry. He has something quite important to tell you," Dumbledore tells him calmly before whipping out a thin stick and magically summoning the phone that Petunia had reached for from behind him. The woman makes a loud squeak and scrambles back to her family's side.
He has magic? But he's a surfacer… Nobody in Atlantis has ever heard about surfacer's retaining their magic after Atlantis sunk beneath the waves thousands of years ago, but he recognises magic when he sees it.
Normally discovering the answer to that question would be at the top of Arthur's to do list, but with Harry watching him with wide green eyes, he's the more pressing issue right now.
"Well?" Harry asks expectantly.
"I… I'm not entirely sure how to say it," Arthur tries weakly.
"Perhaps a direct approach is best," Dumbledore says.
Arthur has to agree. There's no easy way to do it. He just has to rip off the band-aid.
"Harry," he says slowly. "I'm your father."