AN: Thanks for all the great ideas everyone! Added at least a thousand extra words to this piece after all your suggestions. Especially the mention of Harry's belongings, which was a detail I hadn't even thought of at the time I wrote the first two chapters. You guys are awesome!
Churns with Magic
Half an hour later he'd packed away what was in the bags into a small suitcase that he'd found on the bed, not that he planned on opening the thing again anytime soon. He had no intention of putting the Harvel's into danger. There was no doubt in Harry's mind that they would be if he ended up living with them. He'd have to find a way out of this situation, but for now, he just had to get through the day without loosing anything else.
It took him a while to notice his school trunk, singed around the edges but the contents still perfectly intact. He remembered something about fire retardant charms and basic protection spells when he bought the thing but couldn't bring himself to really care. As he opened the top and gazed within he smiled, at least he hadn't lost the few mementos he had of his parents. The photo album and cloak were both still there. Laying quiescent and peaceful amongst the chaos of his school books and robes. Reverently Harry pulled the fabric from the depths of the small trunk and held it to his face, inhaling what he thought his father might smell like. He hadn't ever had the luxury of knowing something so base about his parents but he often found himself wishing for that one memory if only so he could recreate it somehow.
A knock on the door had Harry swiftly putting the cloak back in it's rightful place before closing the top of the trunk and wiping at his eyes. He opened the door to reveal the Headmaster, in a slightly more somber ensemble than Harry was accustomed to seeing-navy blue with silver trimming- holding up a cage.
"Someone wished to make sure her owner was alright," Dumbledore intoned with a slight grin.
Harry smiled softly as he took the cage from the headmasters hands and entered the room once more, leaving Dumbledore to follow at his leisure.
Harry set the cage on the desk gently and started to undo the lock.
As Harry was taking Hedwig out her cage, with her chirping and fluttering her wings reproachfully at him the entire time, Dumbledore began to talk logistics of tomorrow's meeting. Speaking of portkeys, escorts, and precautions.
"Sir, do I really have to go through with this?"
There was a sigh and Harry knew that Dumbledore would have one of those confused frowns on his face. Harry didn't bother to look up.
"I'm afraid so. If you refuse then you will have no more access to your inheritances. The government will seize your family assets on the grounds of you being unfit to maintain the Potter family name once you are old enough to inherit the remaining pieces."
"But I don't want to put the Harvel's in harms way. They don't deserve that. Doesn't that count for anything?" Harry asked desperately finally looking up at the man he thought of as a grandparent of sorts.
"Not to the government Harry. All they see is you shirking your duties as the head of your Family."
Harry snorted and said "What family? I'm the only one left."
Harry looked away but noticed the sad look in the headmasters eyes. "That you are Harry and that being the case if you are found incapable of upholding your responsibilities as the head of your family the Ministry will seize your estate, your vaults and everything else to use at their own discretion."
Harry sighed heavily and sat on the bed as Hedwig jumped off his arm onto the desk, spreading some of the papers about with her feet.
"I won't know anyone over there sir. I'll be alone, with no way to contact anyone. I probably won't even be able to bring Hedwig with me since the Harvel's are muggles," Harry trailed off not wanting to complain too much. It only ever got him in trouble anyway.
"If they agree to the guardianship you'll be able to tell them about being a wizard without ramifications form the government, Harry. So you'll be able to study and bring Hedwig along. As for communication I'll see what I can do and you'll need someone familiar there for the first few days, until your acclimated to the new climate."
Harry nodded and listened as Dumbledore rattled off all the details that would be going into the trip to the US. Harry had no intention of staying there, let alone telling the Harvel's about magic. Magic had been the reason the Dursley's hated him so much so if he kept it a secret maybe he could at least have some family that didn't outright despise him.
Harry didn't expect the portkey to drop him, and the three people chosen to follow him, in front of a bar. Though he remembered reading that Ellen owned a place called the Roadhouse he hadn't actually thought that he might meet his newly discovered aunt at her place of business, rather than at her home. This would be a little more awkward than he thought it should be. But when was anything in Harry's life ever easy?
Harry righted himself from the heap the portkey had thrown him into and breathed in the dusty Nebraska air, felt the early afternoon sun at his back; which was strange since it had been nearly nightfall in England, and tried to take strength from the rampant magic swirling around him.
Remus had warned of the chaotic nature of magic in the states. But he wasn't prepared for how dizzy it made him feel when it swirled like dust devils all around them with no form or order. Remus had explained that magic in England had long ago been channeled into direct paths and conduits by ancient wizards. The America's on the other hand had very few places where magic was controlled in the same way. The native populations of magic users preferring to keep the magic as natural as possible. The magic was more powerful but easier to loose control of.
"You alright Harry?" Remus asked jarring Harry out of the torrent of magic he'd been lost in.
"Yes, fine," Harry said shaking his head, wishing again that he didn't have to drag Ellen and Joanna into his life.
But, there was no way to avoid this meeting. Not with an Auror and Ministry Official watching his every move until he got an answer to the guardianship issue. Harry thanked Merlin that he was able to have one familiar face with him though.
Dumbledore had somehow convinced the Ministry to allow Remus to join the expedition for moral and magical support. Harry had thought it was just an excuse at first but now he realized the werewolf was already leeching some of the excess power away from him. Putting all the chaotic eddies into something of a more consistent flow around him.
Harry took a deep breath and strode through the front door. The bar was dimly light, soft conversations being held throughout and the scent of beer and unwashed bodies made Harry think of a few odd weekends when Uncle Vernon would come home from a late night business meeting looking for a fight. It took a moment for Harry's eyes and mind to adjust, but once they did he went straight for the bar pushing painful memories back to focus on his present dilemma.
The Auror and Ministry official, Harry hadn't bothered remembering their names, sat at a booth in the corner while Remus sat at the stool next to him, gripping his hand reassuringly leeching the magic away steadily before sending in back in that constant flow he was so used to from Hogwarts or Diagon Alley. It helped to keep Harry's head free and clear.
"You better just be having a Coke young man. I don't serve minors," Ellen reprimanded, Harry recognized her from the photo the ministry had been able to provide.
"No, actually I'm here to speak with Ellen Harvelle," Harry had thought the entire speech out in the four hours of totally free time he had after talking with Dumbledor. Between bouts of packing, unpacking, repacking, showering, and pretending to eat.
Ellen's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Who's asking?"
Harry took a deep breath, feeling like all the air had gone out of his lungs as soon as he'd landed in this place. "Harry Potter, her nephew."
"Sorry kid, I don't have any siblings," She said simply, not loosing any of the suspicion in her gaze.
"Not that you know of. My grandfather, was your father. You were his first child, before he was married to my grandmother."
"You got any proof?" Harry had expected that, so he pulled out a family tree that he had made himself and some of the muggle papers that the ministry had provided.
"The ministry gave me most of this so I don't know how accurate it is, but the family tree showed your mother putting down my grandfather's name as your father's name on the birth certificate. She didn't file for a blood test or anything though. My Mum and Aunt Petunia never told anyone of another sister or any knowledge that my grandfather had any relationships before he met my grandmother so it's all just an educated guess. I'd understand if you'd want to take a test to be sure but I think that..." Harry hadn't realized he was rambling until Remus shook his hand slightly.
"Take a breath, Harry," Harry obeyed without question looking into his adopted godfathers amber eyes, finding strength to continue.
"This is a lot to take in," Ellen said sounding as breathless as Harry felt but he could still see suspicion in her gaze, the same sort of look Aunt Petunia would get every time something inexplicable happened.
"Look. If you don't want to deal with me I understand completely. All you'd have to do is tell those two men right there that you revoke your right to guardianship and I'll be out of your hair."
"Harry," Remus said turning him around on the bar stool and gripping his forearms. "You can't say all that without telling her why you need her to be your guardian in the first place."
"Why?" Harry asked feeling the first stirrings of defiant anger since he'd seen the flames engulfing Privet Drive. "So that she feels guilty that I've got no one left? To let her know that no other family can take me in? Why don't I just tell her that my parents, my aunt, my boyfriend are all dead because of me! Maybe then she'll pity The Freak enough to take him in, would that work?"
"Whoa there now. You can't be expectin' me to be all chummy with ya the moment you walk in the door. But you go on keeping secrets from me like that and we're gonna have a problem," Ellen said just as a young woman with light blonde hair and a concerned frown rounded the bar.
"Everything okay, Mom?"
"Not sure yet. This young man here is claiming to be your long lost cousin," Ellen said to who Harry realized must be Joanna, never once breaking eye contact with Harry.
Joanna's face scrunched in a mix of indignation and suspicion. "You don't have any brothers or sisters."
"Apparently that one night stand your grandmother had in her early years went on to have more kids."
There was a hidden pretext to this conversation, something only family would understand and Harry couldn't look at them. Couldn't watch something he would never have. "You know what Remus, I can't do this. Tell those goons from the Ministry they can take the money and estates. I'm done."
Harry stood, shook off the werewolf's hand and was nearly sprinting to the exit. The idea of running until his legs gave out sounded like a good idea tight about now To just run. To not think about anything but the pounding of his feet and the beating of his heart. The swirling eddies of magic wrapping themselves around him, protecting him from anything that would wish to harm him in the unfamiliar place.
"You can't do that Harry," Remus said grabbing his arm again. They were standing in the middle of the bar, every patron now staring at them. The atmosphere nearly crackling so much that if they had been wizards the glass in the windows would have been vibrating. As it was Harry's ears were ringing strangely, like the remembered chorus to a song he'd heard when he was too young to remember.
"Why can't you just leave me alone before it happens to you too!" Harry screamed tears welling up, choking him as he tried to push Remus away. Tried to keep the older man from channeling the magic. The magic would keep him safe if he let it.
"Harry," Remus whispered but Harry wouldn't let him continue.
"I'm cursed, Remus," Having no luck in pushing his former teacher away he clutched at the man's shirt instead. "Everyone who gets anywhere near me dies. I didn't even like the Dursley's and look what they did to them. Burnt alive in their own home. Didn't want anything to do with me and look what happened!"
Harry felt himself shaking, felt the hot wet tears sliding down his cheeks, the swell of grief now so familiar growing ever larger within him.
"I never liked them but they didn't deserve that. N-no one d-deserves t-to burn...like that," Harry was openly sobbing now. Clutching at Remus as if he let go Harry would be all alone.
"Shh, Harry. I'm here. I'll be here as long as you need me. So will the Weasley's and Padfoot. We're all looking out for you."
"You shouldn't," Harry whispered brokenly. "You'll leave me too."
Ellen could only stare at the scene her supposed nephew was putting on. At first she had thought he was some kind of demon, but no demon would have been stupid enough to come into a bar full of hunters. Shifter was next on the long list of things the boy could be, but that wouldn't really make any sense since he looked almost nothing like her or Jo and she didn't known anything about her father besides the one story her mother had told her when she was having trouble conceiving Jo.
As the list got shorter and shorter the way the kid was talking got more and more disturbing.
When the entire bar started taking notice, right about the time the kid-Harry she corrected herself started shouting, Ellen started feeling the familiar mother bear instinct she'd had since before Jo had even came along. That right there was proof enough, she'd be keeping him.
"Jo, you're in charge," Ellen said as she started to round the bar and head in Harry's direction.
On her way she wasn't at all surprised that one of the hunters decided to intervene if only a little. "Need help?"
Caleb was a good man, not one of the nastier hunters but he didn't pussy foot around either. He mainly dealt in getting the hunters their fire power but he knew his way around well enough and other hunters trusted him to get them what they needed.
Ellen kept her voice low as she noticed the two 'official's' Harry had mentioned stand from their booth. "He's family."
Caleb blinked in surprise but nodded just the same.
Ellen approached the motley group of men only to notice that Harry was only a small breeze away from collapsing. "Come on. Kid looks like he hasn't slept in a week. I've got a spare room in the back he can hole up in while we sort things out."
Remus looked at her with narrowed, protective eyes. She got the feeling that he thought of Harry as his own son. She wondered what was keeping him from taking Harry in, but now really wasn't the time to be questioning him. Ellen met his wary look with her own protective gaze. Showing him just how serious she was. After a moment he nodded and guided the young man in the direction that Ellen had gestured.
Once safely ensconced in the room directly next to Ash's, Ellen led Remus out to the front again where the two other men who'd entered with Harry were sitting. "Mind telling me what the hell is going on here?"
"Mr. Potter's previous guardians were killed in a house fire last evening. It is imperative that we find a suitable placement for him as soon as possible," It was obvious by the man's mannerisms and suite that he was some high level official. Not caring in the least for the individuals he dealt with but that the job got done as swiftly as possible.
"You thought it was a good idea to travel half way round the world with a grieving child, just to find a 'proper placement'? You couldn't wait a few days so the kid could sleep? No wonder he's so mixed up."
"Our laws are very specific, if he were to neglect his relation to you he would loose all inheritances and ties to his blood families titles and privileges."
Ellen just stared dumbfounded. "Well I got no choice if you idiots are the ones who'd be choosing who Harry'd end up with."
"You'll accept the guardianship?" Remus asked half hopeful half suspicious.
"I was going to anyway but this just makes it all the easier doesn't it?"
"Well then I just need you to sign this transfer of guardianship form and everything else will be on it's way shortly. Mr. Lupin you made known that you were staying for a day to watch over Mr. Potter to be sure the environment was suitable. Do you still wish to do so?"
"Of course. Harry will need all the support he can get and having a familiar face around can't hurt," Remus replied standing from the booth and heading back to the room Harry was sleeping in.
The officials nodded and gathered up all their belongings and paperwork before finally heading toward the door. "Oh, and Mr. Potters belongings should be along by this evening. There were still a few things that needed to be inspected but those should be all finished up soon enough. It was a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Harvel."
"Right back at cha," Ellen snarked as she raised a mocking hand that was more of a shooing gesture than a wave goodbye.