When Harry was eleven, Fred and George noticed that he was far too thin upon his arrival at Hogwarts. But they didn’t know the child all that well, and moved on with their lives. They also noticed that Harry didn’t get any gifts that weren’t from people he’d met at Hogwarts, but they were still a little too young to put one and one together and get two.
When Harry was twelve, Fred and George rescued him from a room with too many locks on the door and bars on the window. Ron was too young to understand that yes, it was a rescue, and it wasn’t just a fun trip to get his friend. Harry played it off like it didn’t matter.
But Fred and George were both hat stalls in their first year, Fred for his intelligence and George for his cunning, and they knew how much it mattered. When they told their parents, however, their words were brushed aside as flights of fancy in their father’s case, or ignored in favor of the more dangerous act of flying the car in their mother’s.
When Harry was thirteen, the school year after he’d saved their little sister’s life, he began to look haunted. He jumped at sudden noises and flinched away from unexpected touches. Whatever was going on in his home life with the Dursleys, it was clearly escalating. Fred and George refused to sit back and continue to watch it happening.
This time, they skipped talking to their parents and went instead to McGonagall, who frowned and told them that she would look into it.
That summer, Fred and George were horrified to see that Harry was being picked up by his Uncle once more.
When Harry was fourteen, he stopped showering around other students. He would change clothes in the bathroom, with a locked stall between him and the rest of the world. Nobody touched him anymore, because Harry didn’t allow it.
Even though they were almost certain that it would do no good, Fred and George went straight to the Headmaster. The old man looked them both straight in the eye, smiled, and told them not to worry about it. That Harry was safest with his family over the summer breaks, and that he was certain any familial difficulties would soon blow over.
Neither Fred nor George bothered to argue, because arguing with stupid and crazy didn’t tend to go well. Instead, they started to plan.
When Harry was fifteen, unfortunately, there was Umbridge, who disrupted every plan they’d made. They couldn’t tell whether Harry’s new signs of trauma, the nightmares and the way he’d gone so quiet and looked so fragile, were because of her, the Dursleys, or because of the terrible events that ended the Triwizard Tournament.
No matter the cause, it was a disaster, and one of a magnitude that neither Fred nor George could have predicted. Their plan would have to wait, at least until they could be more certain that their actions wouldn’t bring further harm to Harry.
After they left Hogwarts in an explosive rage, after they’d launched their business, and after sitting through a Ministry-proctored NEWT exam, Fred and George found themselves looking at one another with raised eyebrows.
“I do believe that it’s time, brother-mine.”
“I do believe that you’re right.”
Instead of leaving the Ministry, returning to their shop and their everyday lives, the two made their way further into the Ministry and prepared to unleash their plan. The wizarding world wouldn’t know what hit it.
The first Harry knew of any change coming to his life was when Dudley was knocked off of him by a blasting spell. His cousin hit the wall with a wet, meaty thud, leaving Harry lying on the bed, half-dressed, with his heart pounding in fright.
He sat up, slowly, his head spinning, and found himself staring at a tiny witch who could be no taller than five feet, her cherubic face set in grim lines, her shoulders shaking with the force of the breaths she drew in.
Harry pulled his shirt down, conscious of the bruises, bite marks, and scars which covered his thin frame. “Hello,” he said uncertainly.
“Mr. Potter, I am from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Children’s Services division,” she said briskly. “I’m here to execute an emergency custody order on your behalf.”
Harry froze. “...emergency custody?” he echoed weakly. Why would anyone care about him now? What had changed? He hdan’t even realized that the Ministry had a group that dealt with children.
The woman nodded. “A complaint was filed on your behalf,” she explained. “Upon further investigation, it was determined that your previous caseworker had been lax in her assigned duties, and not performed the necessary welfare checks on your home.”
Harry looked down at his knobby knees, which looked all the knobbier after a month of Dursley-sanctioned meals. “Who made the report?”
“Misters Fred and George Weasley,” she said. “And I am Rebecca Mercier, your new caseworker.”
Harry blinked at her. He heard the words, but found them difficult to process. Fred and George had done that? For him? Why had they done something when literally no one else ever had, no matter how many times Harry had tried to explain?
Rebecca’s eyes softened, and with it, her tone did. “They’re waiting outside for you,” she said carefully. “Why don’t you go to them and leave me to handle things in here?” She stepped further into the room and offered Harry her hand.
Harry didn’t take it, but did stand. He walked down the stairs on shaky legs, averting his eyes when instructed to do so. She wasn’t fast enough, though, and Harry was almost positive that he walked past his aunt’s corpse.
As Rebecca had promised, Fred and George were standing outside, both looking nervous. When they spotted Harry, their expressions changed: one to fury, the other to concern.
Harry didn’t know what to do with that, so he just stared helplessly at them both and hoped the world would start making sense again sometime soon.
George’s heart dropped when Harry left the unassuming Muggle house. He was thin, impossibly more so than usual, and looked like he wasn’t processing anything. He was probably in some kind of shock.
Beside him, Fred let out a wordless snarl of rage.
While George appreciated the sentiment behind said snarl, that wasn’t what Harry would need at the moment. He patted Fred’s arm in wordless consolation, then took a slow, small step in Harry’s general direction.
Harry’s eyes immediately snapped towards George and his hand twitched at his side. George had no doubt that Harry would have pulled his wand, had it been on him.
George raised his hands in a universal gesture of peace and surrender. “It’s okay,” he murmured, talking like he’d once heard Charlie talk to a particularly skittish dragon. The analogy seemed to be an apt one. He took another small step forward.
Harry licked his lips, his tongue darting out and disappearing. “What did you do?” he asked, his voice hoarse.
George ached for him. “What should have been done a long time ago,” he answered. “We’ve been talking to people every year that we’ve known you, every time we noticed something new, but nobody ever did anything. So, this year, we decided to take matters into our own hands.”
Harry stared at them both blankly, his green eyes dull with confusion. “I don’t—” He stopped and took a deep breath. “I don’t understand. The Headmaster said—”
“Fuck Dumbledore,” Fred snarled.
George winced when Harry jumped. “What my darling brother means to say is that the Headmaster may have had… an unrealistic expectation of what your life here really looks like.”
Harry shook his head slowly. “I told him,” he said. He swallowed.
George wanted to hug him, but he didn’t dare move. Not yet. “Well,” he said instead. “Fred and I got tired of being ignored when we talked to adults about you, so as soon as we were the adults, we decided to do what we could.”
Harry blinked at them. “What happens now?” His voice was small, and he hunched in on himself.
George couldn’t resist anymore. He took another step forward, and when Harry didn’t flinch away, he continued forward until he was close enough to pull Harry into his arms. Harry didn’t protest, didn’t pull away, and instead leaned hesitantly against George. His whole body trembled against him.
“We’re going to figure it out,” George whispered. He closed his eyes and breathed out. Harry was here, he was breathing, and the rest could be dealt with later. “Right, Fred?”
“Absolutely.” Fred’s voice softened, and he came to stand beside George. “You don’t have to worry about what happens next, Harry, because George and I are going to take care of everything. You can… you can just worry about resting a bit.”
Harry made a small, tired sound and buried his face in George’s robes. George didn’t think it was his imagination that he could feel Harry’s tears through his robes, that he could hear his breath hitching in small sobs.
He closed his eyes and held Harry closer. “We’ve got you,” he murmured. He shifted to glance at Fred, who caught on quickly and came to bracket Harry in his arms, helping to make him feel secure.
Harry let out another shuddering sob and burrowed closer to George. “You promise?” His voice was choked with tears.
“We absolutely promise,” Fred said quickly.
“We solemnly swear—” George cut off at the sound of a loud crack of Apparition. He felt Harry freeze in his arms, and immediately whispered, “It’s okay. Fred and I are here. We’ll take care of it.” Although, depending on who it was, he knew their presence might not be enough.
But George would be damned if he let Harry face whatever, or whoever, it was on his own. They were the adults, after all.
Rebecca Mercier hadn’t known what to think when the twins had shown up with a request for an emergency custody reassignment. Such things were rare, and could only be granted in cases of extreme abuse or neglect. And that was to say nothing of the subject of the request, so she’d gone immediately to her supervisor. She hadn’t expected to have a request for investigation granted, but upon reviewing the case files for the boy’s home inspections, her supervisor had uncovered a distinct lack of said inspections.
Rebecca emerged from the meeting with permission to investigate immediately, and to do anything necessary to ascertain the health of the Potter boy, up to and including utilizing fatal force. Once she had confirmed his status, she was authorized to immediately grant temporary custody to the Weasley twins, if she found such a thing necessary.
It was almost needless to say that she felt it necessary.
The difficulties began with the Aunt, who attempted to stop Rebecca from entering the house. She hadn’t hesitated to cut her down, not when she’d heard a cry of pain from the second story. Would she have preferred not to kill the Muggle? Of course! But witches and wizards who worked for the DMLE Children’s Services had to be quick with their wands in defense of their charges.
And then she’d found her charge, who looked terrified as his monster of a cousin molested him.
Him, she’d fully intended to kill, and was pleased to find that she’d succeeded. She escorted Harry, who was looking more and more fragile by the second, out of the house and to the twins, who immediately took Harry in hand, leaving Rebecca to go and gather Harry’s things and prepare her notes on the home situation.
She was in the middle of trying to find Harry’s school things, and failing, when she heard the crack of someone Apparating outside.
Rebecca dropped the few things of Harry’s that she’d managed to find and stormed outside. There was no reason for someone to be Apparating onto the Muggle street, not that didn’t have to do with her charge. The twins wouldn’t leave with Harry, not until she’d released them, and there was no one else who could be coming.
She found herself glad that she’d hurried, because she found the Weasley twins standing between Harry and a rather famous old wizard wearing brightly colored robes.
“What have the two of you done?” Dumbledore was asking.
Not for the first time, Rebecca was glad that she went to Beauxbatons, and was therefore never subjected to what the Headmaster might refer to as fashion. She stepped in front of the twins, drawing her wand in a smooth motion. “They took the proper steps and alerted the DMLE to a heinous case of child abuse.”
Dumbledore reared back like she’d slapped him. “Harry was fine with the Dursleys, miss. I don’t know what you’ve done, but you’ll need to undo it so that the wards that protect Harry can be put back in place.”
Rebecca almost pointed out that necromancy was illegal, but decided that was too cavalier. Instead, she smiled thinly. “Your definition of fine and my own are clearly quite different,” she said. “And as the representative of the DMLE, mine is the one that matters.”
“Young lady,” Dumbledore started.
Rebecca cut him off with a scowl and a flick of her wand. “Don’t call me that.” She stepped forward so that she was nose to nose with the old man. “I need to ask you to leave, at this point, as you’re interfering with an active investigation.”
Dumbledore had the gall to laugh at her. “Do you imagine that you have some kind of authority over me?” He drew his own wand. “Harry Potter is my charge. You don’t have the political capital needed to remove him from my care.”
Rebecca blinked. Political capital? What kind of game did this old man think he was playing? “We’re not here for politics,” she said flatly. “I’m here to save a child’s life.”
“Harry Potter is in no danger here,” Dumbledore responded. “It would be more dangerous by far to remove him from the care of his family.”
Rebecca closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. She wasn’t in the habit of arguing with idiots. “So your claim is that the Potter boy has always been perfectly fine with his relatives, and are willing to swear to that as his magical guardian?” She heard Harry let out a shuddering sob behind her, and realized the poor boy was probably terrified that she’d walk away. She wouldn’t, but she couldn’t focus on him at the moment. She had to worry about the snake in front of her.
Dumbledore relaxed slowly, his smile reappearing and his wand lowering. “That’s exactly what I’m saying,” he said in a tone of relief. “I’m so glad you understand me.”
“I understand that I’m placing you under arrest for negligence of a wizarding child leading to severe abuse,” Rebecca snapped. Before he could respond, she shot a hex at him, binding him and knocking him to the ground. She raised a small, localized anti-Apparition ward, so that he couldn’t get away, and rendered him unconscious with a final, “ Stupefy !”
Finally, she took a deep breath and turned back to the twins, and to Harry. Both twins were staring at her, gobsmacked, while Harry stared at the bound body of Dumbledore on the ground. He looked like he’d been hexed, given the stunned expression on his face.
“I have your things mostly packed,” she said softly to Harry, her voice gentle. He was clearly in a fragile place, and she didn’t want to risk upsetting him. “But the bulk of your school things seems to be missing. Can you tell me where they might be?”
She’d arrested Dumbledore. She’d knocked him out and tied him up in defense of Harry. Nobody had ever...
Harry’s thoughts were spiralling. He couldn't get them under control. He stared at Rebeca, his eyes wide. He wanted to say something, but he didn’t even know what he wanted to say. Maybe he was trying to thank her? That seemed reasonable…
A few minutes passed in silence, then one of the twins gripped him gently by the shoulder. “Harry,” he said. “Rebecca asked you a question.”
Harry swallowed, trying to get something into his dry throat. “I didn’t hear it,” he admitted. He looked down, shame making him avert his eyes. He felt like he was breaking apart, like he couldn’t take anything else. The hand on his shoulder, strong and friendly, seemed like it was the only thing holding him together.
“I asked if you could tell me where your school things are,” Rebecca said, her tone infinitely patient. She didn’t seem angry that she had to repeat herself.
Harry shivered. His school things? “They’re in the cupboard,” he whispered. He hated the cupboard, and didn’t want to think about it. But he’d need his things to go back to Hogwarts.
“Can you show me the cupboard?”
Rebecca had no idea what she was asking of him. Even so, Harry let out a shuddering sigh and nodded. He was so tired of being brave all the time, and showing someone the cupboard would have to be brave, but he was sure that she needed to know about it.
He grabbed onto one twin’s hand, not even sure why he was doing it but comforted by it all the same, and started grimly into the house. A sheet covered Aunt Petunia’s feet this time, and Harry averted his eyes. Uncle Vernon would be furious, and sad, and even though Harry didn’t like Uncle Vernon, he didn’t think it was fair for him to have lost both his wife and his son.
At least, Harry thought Dudley was dead. He wasn’t sad about that.
All thoughts of Uncle Vernon left his mind as he approached the cupboard under the stairs, the place he’d lived for the first decade of his life. He could feel himself growing dizzier as he got closer to it, and had to stop before he was within touching distance. He was afraid that he would faint.
“There,” he said, and pointed at it with a shaky hand.
Rebecca followed his hand, and stepped towards the cupboard.
Harry turned his back on it before she could open the door. He found himself face to face with one of the twins, the one whose hand he was currently crushing in his own. He forced himself to loosen his grip. “Sorry,” he whispered.
Fred or George, Harry didn’t know which, just smiled. “It’s okay,” the twin said. The other was just behind him. “How are you doing?” he asked.
Harry didn’t know how to answer, but he supposed his involuntary flinch when he heard Rebecca finally open the cupboard served as answer enough. “I… I can’t be in here,” he whispered, because he couldn’t.
The twin whose hand he’d crushed followed him, and sat with him on the porch, resting a comforting hand on Harry’s back while they waited for Rebecca and the other twin.
Fred wanted to follow his brother, to help him comfort Harry, but at the same time… He needed to know what was so distressing about the cupboard. He felt like Harry wouldn’t tell them of his own volition, and he just knew that it was important. That it would tell them more about Harry’s life with the Dursleys.
So he stayed, quietly, and watched as Rebecca opened the cupboard.
They’d been surprised to wind up speaking to someone as competent as Rebecca, but they were both pleased. Fred, particularly, was pleased by how bloodthirsty she seemed to be in pursuit of her goals. Harry deserved someone who was bloodthirsty on his behalf.
“Oh, Merlin’s balls!”
The exclamation, which seemed uncharacteristic for the kind woman, drew Fred from his thoughts. “What’s wrong?” He walked up to the cupboard door.
She’d emptied it, mostly. Harry’s school belongings were now scattered on the floor outside. But inside… At first, Fred wasn’t sure of the problem. He thought it was just a small cupboard. And then he spotted the cot and his heart dropped.
“They wouldn’t,” he breathed. Harry had never slept there. It had to just be a storage space, that was the only thing that made sense.
But there was a small, crudely drawn picture of a happy family on the wall that said otherwise.
Fred gritted his teeth, turned on his heel, and stalked out of the house. He stormed past Harry and George and stalked up to Dumbledore’s prone body. He studied the old man and realized that he was looking at an absolute monster.
His lips curled into a snarl and he kicked him in the ribs, as hard as he could. Because he was spelled unconscious, Dumbledore didn’t react. Fred did it again.
“Fred!” George grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him back. “Have you lost your mind? What are you doing?”
“They made him sleep in a cupboard!” Fred snarled. “How long, Harry?”
Harry, still on the steps, his eyes wet with tears, flinched back. “Until I got my first letter from Hogwarts,” he whispered.
Fred dropped to his knees in front of him, his knees cracking on the pavement. He didn’t care. He took Harry’s hands in his own and squeezed tightly. “We should have done something sooner,” he said, his voice rough with unshed tears.
Harry shook his head. “You did something now,” he breathed shakily. He used Fred’s grip on his hands to pull him slightly closer, but stopped like he’d just realized what he was doing. “It’s more than anyone else has ever done.”
Fred continued forward and dropped Harry’s hands, only to pull him close in a warm embrace. He really did feel fragile, delicate in a way that Fred just didn’t know how to deal with. But he held him close anyway, and felt his trembling ease.
Rebecca emerged from the house, Harry’s things packed and shrunk for easy movement. “I’m going to authorize the two of you to take him home,” she said, her voice frigid. “I have found these people to be absolutely unfit to ever raise a child, and as such, am awarding temporary custody to you two, Misters Fred and George Weasley. You will be expected to defend your custody of him in open court a date that is yet to be determined.”
Fred exhaled slowly, his arms tightening around Harry’s slender form. “Thank you, Rebecca,” he murmured.
“We’ll take good care of him,” George added. He took Harry’s things from her.
“Good.” Rebecca looked at Harry, then nodded. “Take him home, gentlemen, and know that I’ll be on your side when it comes to the court hearing. You were the ones who came for him, and that means a lot to me.”
It was the best they could hope for, Fred mused as he scooped Harry into his arms, ignoring the boy’s startled squeak. “I’m going to Apparate you,” Fred warmed him in a whisper. Out loud, he added, “Thank you again,” as Harry’s fingers clenched in his robes.
And then they were gone, George following behind.