It was 6 a.m. when Salazar woke up. Today he would begin to observe Harry for an opportunity to get him out of that abusive household, so he had to get up early in order not to miss any opportunity, should it arise, to extract the boy. He hurried to take a bath and get dressed, after which he went downstairs to the kitchen to get a quick breakfast. Entering the kitchen he saw James and Blinky working eagerly. James preparing some tea and Blinky making the breakfast, therefore Salazar decided to simply sit down and wait for them to finish so he wouldn’t get in their way. A few minutes later he was served his breakfast and James sat down opposite him with his own. It was quite informal but they had performed this morning routine for years now, and it was easier to get information about the day’s schedule that way.
“So, what do you plan to do now that everything is in place?” James asked.
“Once I’m finished eating, I plan to drive back to that house and observe it to find an opportunity to talk to Harry undisturbed, although I fear it may take a few days before such an opportunity could possibly occur. Meanwhile, I want you to go to the mundane shopping centre to get some clothes for the boy. You can look into my memories for his general size, and if they’re a bit too large it will be no problem because we can simply resize them later on.”
James nodded and used some careful Legilimency while Salazar thought about the scene he witnessed when he found Harry. This way of sharing thoughts, memories, and images, was so much easier than using a Pensieve, and didn’t have the side effect that the retrieved memories seem to become dull after the process of extracting the memory was complete. They also didn’t need any equipment for that, and when performed correctly nobody would get hurt.
“Alright, I’ve seen what I needed to in regards to his size, I’ll go get some basic supplies for the boy like clothes and bath supplies later on today. We can buy everything else for him once he is here and has been checked over.”
“Thank you. I…” Salazar started when a tawny owl swooped in through the window and landed right in front of him. He removed the letter and gave the owl a treat out of a jar behind him. The owl hooted in acknowledgement and left immediately. Meanwhile Salazar opened the letter and read through it.
“It’s from Ms. Pye. She says that she’d gladly help and that she could be here within an hour if needed. But she also stated that in two weeks she’s leaving on a two-week long vacation to China, during which she does not wish to be disturbed at all except for grave emergencies.
Hmmm…I don’t think this will pose a problem. Hopefully Harry is out of there long before she leaves, and while I do want her to do the complete health check for Harry, it also shouldn’t be a problem to ask someone else should there be any problems later on…” Salazar mused.
“You yourself also have some decent healing abilities, so we should be fine once the complete check-up is done,” James said.
Salazar smiled at that. Yes, he had learned quite a few healing techniques over the years. At that time, he had learned them out of sheer boredom, but now those very same skills could come in handy. He didn’t know anything that would have required him to swear a healer’s oath, but he was a fully acknowledged Healer’s Assistant. That meant he could heal nearly every injury inflicted through mundane methods, as well as those due to some minor curses or other minor magical influences, (potions, creatures, etc.). He also had knowledge of standard healing potions and how to brew them. Okay, he knew nearly every potion in the world since he was a potions master himself, and had been practicing his art since he was old enough to brew. But some of the healing potions were restricted, so normally only certified brewers were supposed to know them and Salazar had never troubled himself to get that certificate so he didn’t mention it. For everything else he would have to call for a real healer, but he didn’t think that it would be necessary for this particular excursion considering that they shouldn’t meet anything that was likely to inflict an amount of damage he couldn’t heal.
When Salazar chanced a glance at the clock he quickly got up in a hurry. From what the elves had told him, Harry had been awake since 7am and it was now half past seven, and he had barely finished his morning meal, he still had to get the car started and drive there. He stood up and went to fetch the briefcase where he had put the bracelet for Harry and some rejuvenation potions. If he got hungry later on he could always summon Trixy or Blinky for something to eat or drink, or simply to bring him a snack. After getting everything he needed for now he put on his coat and went to leave the house.
“Good luck, and do be careful, Sir,” James told while holding the door open for him.
“Thank you James, I do hope it doesn’t take too long to get Harry away.”
Once he put on a repelling charm to ward off the rain he went outside to his car and drove off headed towards what had to be the most boring and narrow minded place on earth, Privet Drive; and even more importantly, Harry.
Two hours later, cursing the damned traffic, which was the only downside of using mundane methods he was once again parked on the other side of the street with the disillusionment charm on himself, a good view of the house and had started the tiresome task of waiting for an opportunity to reach out to Harry. Blinky and Trixy would continue to observe Harry within the house while Salazar was observing the outside.
It took two days before Harry was alone, but the problem was that at this time one of the neighbours, one with too many cats who gave him the creeps, was in her front garden so approaching the house right now was out of question because he could be seen and remembered. So, he practised patience and continued waiting for another opportunity to arise.
Unfortunately, the next three days yielded no other opportunity. It seemed to get even harder as a matter of fact. Ever since that day that a woman resembling the male part of the Dursley family with a vicious looking dog came to visit; and it seemed that she was going to be staying for a few days at least. But what at first seemed to be bad luck later on turned out to be a fortunate coincidence.
Salazar had waited until late in the evening like always. He normally waited until the elf who was on duty that evening reported to him that Harry had gone to sleep. Then he apparated back to his house in order to get sleep himself, leaving the car behind as a spot to which he could safely apparate to the next morning. It seemed that this evening would be no different to ant other but today it was simply not meant to be as something miraculous (For him to be able to get Harry away safely at least) happened.
He observed the house while sleepily waiting for the house-elf to report. It was now half past eleven and the report usually came sometime around eleven, when suddenly the front door of Private Drive No. 4 opened and Harry was chased out of the house and up a tree by the vicious dog Salazar had observed earlier that day. Inside the doorway of the house the ‘family’ stood laughing for a few moments at the poor boy’s plight before returning inside, closing the door, and leaving Harry outside, stuck up in the tree, while the dog stood guard beneath it. Salazar smiled. While not exactly perfect this was the opportunity he had been waiting for.
To make sure that everyone inside the house was fast asleep Salazar waited until 2 a.m. before he left the car while lifting the disillusionment charm. He quietly approached the front lawn, took out his wand, and silently shot a stunner at the dog, making sure he wouldn’t wake for a few hours. Satisfied, he went to the tree Harry fallen asleep in and just in case the boy would make too much noise when woken up he cast a silencing charm around them so that nobody would wake up.
“Harry!” he called out in order to wake the boy up.
The boy opened his eyes, waking from his light slumber looking confused.
At the foot of the tree stood a handsome man. From what he could see in the light of the street lamp Harry assumed that the man was around his mid-30s, possibly 38 maximum; he had long black hair bound together at the nape of his neck by a ribbon. The man was wearing an emerald green shirt, a black jacket, a pair of black trousers, and a pair of elegant shoes. He had high cheekbones, pale skin, and a pointed chin. One could assume he was some royal with the way he looked. But what left him the most astonished were the man’s eyes. They also were an emerald green like his own, but the man’s seemed to have some internal glow. It was all quite confusing to poor Harry.
“Who are you?” Harry asked before glancing over at the stunned dog. “And what did you do to Ripper?”
“My name is Salazar Slytherin, and if you are referring to the dog he is only stunned, nothing serious.”
“What a pity. My aunt Marge uses him to breed and he’s pretty vicious, too vicious if you ask me,” Harry replied before he asked himself why he told that a total stranger but shrugged the thought away.
Salazar glanced over to the dog before a diabolic thought occurred to him.
“So, you say she uses him for breeding purposes?” he asked with a smile that would even send shivers down the devil’s spine.
“Yes…” Harry answered warily, not knowing what to make of that question or the strange man.
Salazar waved his wand over the dog muttering a spell before his wand emitted a dim light. After that he put away his wand again and turned around to face Harry who was now looking a mix of shocked, confused and anxious.
“What did you do; and how did you do it for that matter?” he asked alerted.
“As to the what, I sterilised the dog. Your aunt will be in for a very nasty surprise,” he replied with a snicker. “Such a vicious dog shouldn’t even be allowed to live anyway. To the how, well, that is something I would like to talk to you about. Although it would be nice if you could come down first so that we could talk like normal people.”
“But what about Ripper? He’ll wake up if I come down, and then he’ll attack me,” Harry now looked slightly panicked at that thought.
“Don’t worry, I stunned him before I woke you up, and that won’t wear off for the next four hours. Or do you really think he would have left me alone otherwise?” Salazar chuckled.
Eying the dog vigilantly Harry climbed down the tree but didn’t relax until he was on the lawn without the dog waking up.
“So, what do you want from me, and why did you help me, and how?”
Now that he could relax a bit Harry grew more and more curious in especially since the man in front of him seemed familiar to him but he couldn’t quite put his finger on why. Salazar turned around and sat down on the small brick wall that surrounded the lawn. Harry sat next to him closely observing the man.
“Hmmm well I think I should start with the how. I know it might sound incredible to you but I’m a wizard. You know, a person who can perform magic.”
Salazar carefully watched Harry to see how he would react.
“Things such as magic don’t exist!” Harry exclaimed with a determination in his voice that surprised Salazar.
“Are you sure about that?” he replied with a chuckle before he waved his hand and transformed a flowerpot behind the dog into a small pink plush pony and back. Harry’s eyes grew wide upon witnessing that performance.
“Wha-…Bu-…How?! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE! Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia say magic doesn’t exist. It has to be some kind of trick!” Harry shouted incredulous before starting to look around panicking because he was quite loud fearing that he would wake someone up.
“That wasn’t a trick, and magic does exist, a good example is the silencing charm whose incantation is Silencio, that I put around us in case something like this happened,” Salazar sighed while Harry visibly calmed down because every window in the neighbourhood had stayed dark.
“I think your aunt and uncle only hate everything magical because of your mother.”
“Huh? My mother was a drunkard who died in a car-crash, so what does this have to do with her?”
Now it was Salazar’s turn to look confused before anger rose within him.
“Is that what they told you? Your mother was neither was a drunkard, nor did she die in a car-crash,” he growled. “No, she was a witch while your dad was considered a wizard and so am I, and I’m also pretty sure that you’re a wizard too.”
“It can’t be! I’m no wizard! You must be mistaken about my parents too,” Harry shook his head in denial. It couldn’t be true, could it?
Salazar smiled; “There is no mistake with that; you are a wizard Harry. Have you ever done something that you simply couldn’t explain using logic? Something that seemed strange to you, while you were angry or frightened? Your parents were also magically talented and they were powerful magic users too. I’m sure about that because I knew them. Not personally, but I was around your house for quite a while before and after you birth.”
Harry started to think about what he just heard. Yes, there had been situations in which he couldn’t explain what had happened and he was beaten for it by his aunt or uncle every time it did happen.
Suddenly his face lit up in recognition. “I think I remember something…But…Wait…that can’t be. That’s impossible!” he exclaimed for the third time that evening now.
“What can’t be and is impossible?” Salazar asked with a slight smirk and raised eyebrow
“The first thing that comes to mind when I think about my life before the Dursleys is…” he couldn’t get himself to say it. It was so unlikely, wasn’t it?
“A small black snake that talked to me, but that can’t be real, can it?” Harry looked confused.
Salazar looked at him for a moment before he started to laugh out loud.
“See?! Even you find it ridiculous.” Harry huffed.
Salazar wiped a few stray tears from his eyes from laughing so hard. “No, it’s far from ridiculous in fact, it’s true. The snake that you remember is my animagus form,” he said and after seeing the question written all over Harrys face he started to explain. “A trained witch or wizard is able to transform themselves into an animal. A person who can perform such a thing is called an animagus. My animagus form is a small black snake.”
“Can you show me?”
“Sorry, but not right now. The risk of someone watching us is too high right now, maybe later.”
Harry asked himself where the problem with that lay but let it slip when Salazar continued.
“But now I’m asking myself how you could even remember that because you were only three months old at that time, and secondly how did you even know it was me?” Salazar asked a bit confused.
Harry now looked sheepishly at his shoes.
“It is one of the very few things I remember from that time, the time before I was left here in this hell,” he replied while glaring at the house. “Most memories are blurred and the only thing I remember clearly is holding a small black snake and it asking me to be let down as it wasn’t very comfortable with how I was holding it. As to how I connected the snake to you I don’t know how to explain it properly. It’s just that you have some kind of…. well for the lack of a better term…aura around you. In fact, quite a few people I met so far had such an aura but no two people have the same exact aura. You and this snake on the other hand, you have the same aura and it seems…. familiar to me.”
The more Salazar heard, the more fascinated and astonished he became by Harry.
“That’s really fascinating and I’d like to hear more about this but…” Salazar took a glance at his pocket-watch. “Damned!”
They had been talking for over half an hour now, and the longer it took for Salazar to convince Harry to go with him the higher the risk of getting busted was.
“I’m sorry, but time is working against us in this case.”
Upon hearing this Harry got worried and even nearly started to panic again. This was one of the most normal conversations (if not the most normal conversation, well what one could consider normal when magic was involved anyway) he had within a very long time and he didn’t want it to stop. He didn’t want it to become morning when he would get shouted at again, be beaten to near unconsciousness and have to do all the chores in the house, but he didn’t dare hope that anything would change. To be precise he gave up hoping a long time ago because nobody had ever cared about him. Not the teachers, not child care, hell even the police didn’t care! And that was that they had been here several times after Harry had cried loud enough that the neighbours could hear him. But every time he was locked away unconscious in his small cupboard beneath the stairs, and every time the police came and went without a clue about what had happened. Afterwards he was beaten like there was no tomorrow and after some time he had resigned himself to never escaping the hellhole that was Number 4 Privet Drive as no one cared whether he lived or died, except the Dursley’s. They would be ecstatic that the Freak was dead and no longer a blight upon their perfectly normal lives; Hell, it seemed to him that they actually were trying to kill him. The one time he managed to escape he was brought back the next day. He never did find out how they had found him.
This time it was the same. He didn’t dare to hope that this man, who could perform magic and had appeared to him like a miracle, would take him away from his abusive family. He didn’t dare to hope that he would ever get out of there so he didn’t expect what happened next.
“There is a reason why I came to you Harry, I wanted to ask you whether you would like to come and live with me,” Salazar told him.
Harry was completely flabbergasted. He opened and closed his mouth like a fish multiple times not knowing what to say. This couldn’t be real, Harry thought. He was probably laying in his cupboard and dreaming of a handsome man coming up to him telling him that magic was real and then taking him with him. So, he hit himself in an attempt to wake up.
“What are you doing that for?” Salazar asked with a confused expression upon his face.
“I’m trying to wake up. This can’t be real,” Harry stated dryly.
“I can confirm that this is no dream, but we are running out of time. I’m sorry but the longer we take the higher the chance we get caught, and I assume that you would like that as much as I would.”
Harry sighed. His cheek still hurt where he hit himself but it didn’t wake him up as he suspected, so either this was a very vivid dream he couldn’t wake up from, or it was as Salazar claimed, not a dream but in fact real.
“But how can I be sure that it wouldn’t be worse if I were to go with you? I mean I barely know you after all.”
Harry knew that it was highly improbable that it would be worse than living with the Dursleys. He also didn’t want to ask this question because he feared that it would scare off the man, but he asked before he could even think about it.
Now it was Salazar’s turn to sigh. He knew that was a hard question to answer, a question he feared to answer. How could one assure a young boy that it would be better to come with them? That one wasn’t worse than the ones he knew? But then he got an idea. He took out his wand before he spoke.
“I swear on my magic and my life, that I will never hurt you physically on purpose.”
With that he and his wand emitted a slight golden shimmer before it faded away. He thought about adding mentally to but he refrained from it because he knew that having a disagreement about something also could hurt someone mentally so this would eventually backfire and that was not something he wanted.
“What was that?” Harry was impressed.
“That Harry, was a magical oath. It means that if I ever hurt you I either lose my ability to use magic, or in the worst case I’ll die.”
Harry could only sit there with an open mouth staring at Salazar. Deep inside he knew that what the man said was true, and when he really thought about it he had trusted him a long time before that, but the oath was the icing on the cake. So, the only thing he could do in response was to nod. Yes, he wanted to go with that stranger. That stranger that did more for him within an hour than anyone else ever had throughout his whole life. He could feel how the little spark of hope which he thought had become extinct a long time ago, blossomed into a small flame. The hope of a better home, and a life without getting hurt. He jumped up.
“I want to come with you, Mr. Slytherin! I can do the chores, I’m able to cook and I don’t require much space, nor food, or anything else really, and I’m also quiet. It will be like I’m not there at all!” Harry listed. He wanted to show Salazar that he was worth being taken, and that he wouldn’t be a burden.
Salazar looked at him like he was an alien but then it began to dawn on him what Harry’s exclamation was about.
“Harry, I don’t want to take you with me because of that. You would never be a burden to me. Never. There is a completely different reason as to why I want you to live with me, but I think it’s better to show you that than tell you about it because it’s even harder to believe than the fact that magic exists,” Salazar explained but he saw that Harry didn’t believe him. Well time would have to show him that Salazar would never expect him to do something like chores.
“But before we go I have a little present for you.”
With that he retrieved the little wooden box from the pocket of his jacket and handed it over to Harry. Harry opened it and looked with awe at the bracelet lying on green velvet made out of pure silver with small symbols all over it. He could feel the power radiating from it.
“This bracelet is enchanted to protect you from detection. Sadly, there are some individuals who want you to stay with your aunt and uncle…badly…and they would do everything in their power to accomplish that. They can also trace you through magic, but as long as you wear this bracelet you are hidden from them, do you understand?”
This was the second critical point in his plan. If the boy refused to wear the bracelet, then he had a problem because then there was no way for him to take Harry undetected.
“It’s beautiful. Are you sure I can keep it? It looks quite expensive,” Harry carefully wandered his fingers over the small symbols. The thing about being traced through magic made sense to him because it would explain why he found himself back in the `care´ of his relatives within one day after running away.
“Sure. In fact, it was made only for you.”
So, Harry put the bracelet on his left wrist. He was a bit disappointed upon seeing that it was too big for him but Salazar simply smiled, took out his wand, and touched one of the symbols with the tip. The symbol lit up and the bracelet shrunk down to the right size. Harry smiled and started to caress it. He never got anything that was only meant for him so he decided to never take it off again.
“It will grow with you so that it’s always the right size to fit you.” Salazar explained with a smile upon seeing how the boy looked at his present.
Suddenly the light in one of the windows on the first floor went on.
“We should hurry up before someone comes down. My car is on the other side of the street,” and with that they both left.
On the way to his car Salazar lifted the silencing charm and cast a delayed stinging hex at the dog which would take effect once the stunner wore off. With a smile, he got into the car, waited until Harry also got in, and then drove off, hopefully never having to see Privet Drive ever again.
They drove for a while, Harry silently staring out of the window watching the landscape fly by, lost in thoughts while playing with his bracelet.
It wasn’t until they had half way to Salazar’s house that he finally spoke up.
“Where are we driving to?” he asked curious.
“London. I have a nice little house in the centre of London, which is where we’ll be staying. I also have a mansion outside of London even a few in different countries but for now we’ll live in London,” Salazar explained.
“Okay, I’m a bit confused at the moment though. You told me magic is real and all but you drive an ordinary car. Don’t wizards and witches have fancy travelling methods like flying carpets or brooms?”
Salazar started to laugh. When he thought about it, the last two hours he spent with Harry he had laughed more than within the last century, genuinely laughed at least. Sure, when someone made a joke he laughed because it was expected of him but he didn’t really feel it. Even his smiles rarely reached his eyes lately but with Harry it was different. He didn’t feel like the old man he was anymore and life was fun again. He had to admit that he needed the boy as much as Harry needed him.
“Sure, we have flying brooms and carpets, though the latter are banned in England by law, and many other ways to travel too, but sometimes the mundane ways are much more convenient, especially if you travel around the mundane world. Like in this case, I had to observe you for a few days in order to find an opportunity to approach you. Yes, I could have just apparated straight into Privet Drive,” upon seeing the slightly confused expression on Harry’s face he decided to elaborate further. “Apparition is like some kind of teleportation only a bit more complex. But if I were to apparate then I would have to make sure that the area I wanted to apparate to is empty, or otherwise I might get stuck within an object which would be inconvenient at best, and I also would have to make sure nobody sees me. Wizards and witches are prohibited to perform magic in front of mundane people and therefore revealing magic to them unless it is absolutely necessary and can’t be avoided like in dangerous situations, is forbidden.”
“I would also have to set up a place from where I could observe the house while warding it against things like weather, being seen, and so on, and so on. But then there was the problem that there wasn’t much space where I could have stayed without the risk that someone bumped into me while being invisible. You also have to take into account that the more wards you have to maintain, the more you get magically drained. But with the car once I had parked on the opposite side of the street I had only to put up a disillusionment charm in order to be invisible so that nobody grows suspicious about why I was observing the house and that’s it. Weather wouldn’t concern me, and there would be no risk of someone bumping into me. Also, nobody pays attention to an ordinary empty car parked in the most mundane road of the world,” Salazar explained.
Harry carefully listened to every word that Salazar had said while observing the landscape changing from fields and forests, to small villages. He was eager to learn anything and everything about magic and the magical world, but now his head was spinning. It was extremely late or rather early since it was way past 4 a.m. now, and he neither slept long nor very well the night before and now he was tired, and the constant driving didn’t make it better. So, it was no wonder that a few minutes later he was fast asleep. Salazar smiled while driving back home, their home. From now on things could only get better.