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Free Life Posted on 8/16/2014 1:03:46 AM
Chapter 7: 4000 words and counting
Hero Posted on 3/25/2012 7:32:33 PM
Chapter 6 Chance and Choice: 3,600 words and counting
Long Lost Brother Posted on 4/21/2010 2:57:30 PM
Chapter 5: 0 words and counting.

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Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling and Warner Bros. I do not own Harry Potter or anything related to the franchise.

Author's Note: Thank you to Maggie and to those who have reviewed the first two chapters. I should be able to post a couple more over the weekend. Hope you all enjoy.

Chapter 3: The Rescue
Tonks woke up with a start, breathing heavily. She'd had one of those dreams again, where she failed in her duties and let Harry Potter die. She could not believe how close it had been. She had thought the job would be a cake walk. After all, how much trouble could an eleven-year-old kid get into? Well, apparently Dumbledore had forgotten to mention she'd need to protect him from trolls, a cerberus, poison, a giant, violent chess set, and flipping Voldemort himself. She was still steamed at McGonagall for ignoring their warning, forcing them to act on their own.

Still, they had made it out okay, if a bit battered from the experience. Dumbledore had had some stern words with her over the events, but Harry was a stubborn kid. And she was supposed to be just another eleven-year-old. She sighed heavily. It was that stubborn kid that had her so worried right now. Several weeks had passed since they had left Hogwarts, and she had not received any replies to the letters she had sent. She had gone to the headmaster about her concerns, but he simply waved her off, assuring her that Harry was perfectly fine and not to worry. She could not understand the man's willful ignorance towards Harry's home-life. She had no proof, but she was sure he was mistreated by his relatives. Harry refused to talk about his family other than in the vaguest of terms. That in itself was a big warning bell in her mind. Add in the concerns she had had back in September, and she was certain something was up.

Harry's birthday was several days ago, and she had sent him a gift. Yet again, there was no response, and she finally had enough. She rolled out of bed and sighed in frustration. She'd done it again. She had never held one particular change for so long before, and now, she couldn't seem to shake it. She'd go to sleep in her own body and wake up as an eleven year old. She had made a few small changes to herself throughout the year, and those changes seemed to stick even after a night of sleep, but most nights she could not seem to help reverting to her assumed identity. Perhaps the dreams had something to do with it, since she was seeing herself as Kaylee in her dreams. She shook her thoughts out of her head as she began to get ready for the day. After all, she had a friend to track down.

She spent the day tracking down his relatives, which wasn't too difficult. Her dad was Muggle-born, and he liked to keep one foot in the world he grew up in. She used to think it a grand adventure every time he took her out into the Muggle world, and he always made sure to teach her how to get by doing things the Muggle way. All she had to do was find the right phone book, and she was easily able to locate the Dursley family. From there, she just needed a map, and she was on her way.

She walked down the street in disguise as a thirty-something woman in a modest sundress. As she passed by Number Four, she took a good, long look at the house, but there seemed little activity inside. A cursory glance revealed nothing out of the ordinary, but she refused to leave without seeing Harry himself. Figuring he might be out and about on a nice day like today, she continued her walk through the neighborhood and eventually found a small park with several kids playing, but Harry was nowhere to be found.

Frowning, she considered her options. During the day, there was no telling where Harry might be. At night, however, he was bound to be at home. With that decided, she found a discrete place hidden from any prying eyes and Apparated back to her flat for the long wait.

When night finally fell, she applied the Disillusionment Charm to herself and Apparated back to Little Whinging. She walked right up to the windows of the house, unafraid of being spotted. She spied the family in the lounge watching the telly. His aunt, uncle and cousin all sat around watching the tube, but Harry was still nowhere in sight. Frowning in worry, she circled around the house, and when she came to the back and looked up, she froze in dread. A single light shone out into the night, through a window lined with bars.

She Apparated on the spot back to her flat and grabbed her broom. It was a cheap model, certainly not as nice as the one McGonagall had ordered for Harry after he made Seeker on the team, but it was more than enough for her purposes. She quickly applied the Disillusionment Charm to the broom, and Apparated back to Harry's backyard.

She wasted no time hopping on her broom and hovering up to the window. Sure enough, she spied Harry sitting on a lumpy looking bed with a couple springs poking out. She could see his owl, Hedwig, locked in her cage nearby. And then she saw the cat-flap on the door to his room with a small bowl and cup on the floor beneath it. Her eyes traveled up to the multitude of locks lining the door, and she saw red.

She had half a mind to blast her way in right then and there, but she knew she needed to be smart about this. He would no doubt be wary of some strange woman blasting into his room, and revealing that she had actually been hired to befriend and guard him right now might not be the best plan of action either. Seeing little other recourse, she landed back on the ground and Apparated to Hogwarts. She knew those relatives of his were no good, and so help her, Dumbledore was going to see reason or she'd pull him out of that house herself.

******

"And where would you have me send him?" Dumbledore queried in his infuriatingly calm tone.

"Anywhere!" Tonks screamed. "Anywhere would be better than that place. He was locked in his room, bars on his windows, and he was being fed through a bloody flap on the door! They're abusing him, and you're letting them!"

"You do not understand, Nymphadora," Dumbledore stated soothingly. "The wards are essential. They must be recharged each summer. He could perhaps be allowed to leave in another two weeks, which will give us time to work out a suitable arrangement for the rest of the summer."

"That's not good enough," she persisted. "He needs out of that house right now, your bloody wards be damned. If you won't take him out, then I will!"

"I would not advise that," Dumbledore reprimanded. "After all, how do you think Harry would feel to find out that his best friend has been lying to him all this time? Your relationship with the boy would be forever damaged, your cover blown. And what do you think such a revelation would do to poor Harry?"

Tonks could literally see red at the edge of her vision. Everything he was saying was true, but she could not believe he would throw those things in her face. He was the one who put her in that position. She had never imagined for one moment the long-term effects her friendship with Harry would have on him. But now she could clearly see that a betrayal of that magnitude had the potential to destroy him.

She was his best friend. She knew that. He got along with his dorm mates for the most part, even if he didn't like Ron Weasley much. They had been friendly with Hermione Granger ever since rescuing her from the troll. She suspected that Harry felt a kinship with the girl who suffered from so much bullying. But what time they had spent with Hermione was mostly just studying. She didn't seem to have any other interests and didn't seem willing to try expanding her horizons. There was only so much studying she and Harry could take. The other Gryffindor girls in his year were too airheaded and more concerned with the Boy-Who-Lived than Harry.

Suddenly, a plan began taking shape in her mind. Without Dumbledore's help, it was the only option she could see that wouldn't also blow her cover. "I may not be able to take him to my flat," she conceded, "but Kaylee can invite him to stay the rest of the summer at her parents' house."

Dumbledore peered curiously at her for a long moment. "You think your parents would agree to housing a couple of children for the summer?" he questioned.

"When I tell them the full story, I know my mum won't say no. No parent ever would," she deadpanned.

"And there is nothing I can say to dissuade you from this course of action?" he prodded.

She shook her head. "With your blessing or not, I'm breaking Harry out of that house."

"You are aware that your lessons with Alastor will need to be put on hold?" he challenged.

Tonks glared at him. "Harry's well-being is a lot more important than some lessons, even if they are with Moody."

The old man heaved a heavy sigh and bowed his head for a long moment. "Very well. The wards are not yet fully charged, but they should easily last another year as things currently stand. I will support your course of action for the remainder of this summer, but he will be going back to his relatives next summer." When she opened her mouth to protest, he held up a hand to forestall her. "I will be having words with his relatives prior to sending him back. I may not be able to make them love him or even be nice to him, but I will ensure he is treated better."

Tonks nodded grudgingly.

******

It was much later that night when Kaylee pulled up to Harry's window on her broom. She cast a silent Lumos to light her wand and shined it into his room. Hedwig hooted at the light, and Harry rolled over on his bed, startling awake.

"Who'zere?" he demanded groggily as he stumbled to his feet.

"Harry," she called out in a loud whisper. "It's me!"

"Kaylee?" he asked in confusion as he staggered to the window.

As she got a better look at him, she noticed his state of undress. "Nice undies," she teased with a waggle of her eyebrows.

Harry burned beat red and hastily grabbed a pair of shorts and t-shirt and hurriedly covered himself, shooting her embarrassed glances. Tonks watched all the while in amusement.

"What are you doing here?" he finally asked once he'd clothed himself.

"What? Aren't you glad to see me?" she demanded in a mock-hurt tone.

"Of course I am," he replied. "I just - I can't believe you're here! I missed you so much, and I thought you had completely forgotten about me because you didn't send any letters, but then I found out Dobby, a house elf, had been stealing my mail, and then my relatives locked me in here because he levitated the pudding onto their guests' heads."

Tonks just stared at him wide-eyed, her mind trying to process all he had just said – and in a single breath. Finally she shook her head clear and said, "I've come to bust you out! My parents said you could come stay over for part of the summer, but you never replied to my letters, so I finally had enough and decided to come find you."

"I can't get out," Harry said miserably. "The door is locked, and I can't get through the window," he explained, shaking the bars on the window for emphasis.

"Are you a wizard or aren't you?" she asked with a mischievous smirk.

"We can't do magic over the summer," Harry fired back. "And my wand is locked in the cupboard under the stairs, anyway," he told her morosely.

"Then lucky for you I stole my mum's wand," she stated, pulling out the wand with a flourish. She was limited with what spells she could cast without drawing suspicion from Harry, but luckily, Alohamora was a first year spell. "Wait here, and I'll come break you out."

With that, she flew down to the back door and unlocked it with a whispered unlocking charm. She stepped into the kitchen and walked through the hall, noting the cupboard under the stairs Harry had mentioned earlier. It too had a multitude of locks lining the door, causing Tonks to pause a step before shaking the thought off and continuing toward the stairs. She crept up to his door and muttered the unlocking charm again, managing all the locks with a single charm.

When she opened the door and stepped inside, she was shocked to find herself drawn into a fierce hug by her best friend. Given his usual reticence about contact like that, she was floored that he had actually initiated it. He'd practically frozen stiff just a few weeks ago when she'd hugged him goodbye on the platform. She quickly returned the hug, squeezing him just as tight before they finally stepped back.

His face looked pink again, but he had such a big smile on his face, and Tonks felt her heart begin to break right then and there. She hated herself for deceiving him, but there was little else she could do at this point. She was already in too deep, and she refused to sit back and allow him to be abused any longer.

He had very little in his room to gather, so they quickly made their way down the stairs. When she unlocked the cupboard, Harry was quick to dart forward and attempted to block her view as he dragged his trunk out. She saw what else was in there, though. A cot. She turned her head to look up the stairs and it took all her self-control to stop from going up to teach his aunt and uncle a lesson. Reining in her temper, she turned as Harry shut the cupboard door.

As they crept out the back door, Harry towing his trunk behind him, he asked, "How are we going to get to your house? And how did you get here? Did you fly all this way?"

She hid a small smile and simply answered, "The Knight Bus."

Harry stared at her in confusion, and she suppressed a chuckle saying, "Come on, you'll see in a minute."

When they finally arrived home, the sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon. Her mum played her role brilliantly, screaming her head off at her and assigning all manner of punishment, while also hugging her tight and pleading with her never to do anything like that again. She noticed Harry to the side, his expression shifting between worry, guilt, and longing. When her mum finally stopped fussing, Tonks introduced her to Harry, who as expected tried to deflect all the blame off of her and offered to do all the extra chores her mum had just assigned her.

Her mum stared at Harry oddly for a long moment before turning and giving Tonks a meaningful look. "You'll do no such thing, dear," her mum finally answered Harry. "But," she continued when Harry moved to protest, "if you insist, I suppose you can share in her punishment."

Harry shut his mouth at that and nodded his assent.

Her mum led them into the house and to the guest bedroom, explaining to Harry that he was welcome to stay for the rest of the summer. They were then summarily sent off to bed. Before leaving for her own room, she pulled Harry in for another hug.

"Welcome home," she whispered.

Harry just squeezed her tightly.

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