It took Harry a long time to wake up on his first morning with the Weasley twins. It was just that the bed was so comfortable, and he was so warm that it was hard for him to climb his way from the depths of the best sleep he thought he’d ever had. He didn’t have to worry about Dudley hurting him, or any chores, or…
Well, Harry wasn’t sure about the chore thing. Maybe the twins would let him help out around the house? He hoped so. He wanted to do something for them to prove how grateful he was that they’d taken him in, and cooking was the least of what he could do.
It was strange, because that morning was the first morning that he’d found he wanted to cook for someone. He wondered idly if it would be more fun to do when he was wanting to do it. He supposed he would find out, assuming they actually let him cook.
And then, as he climbed slowly towards awareness, he realized that he could hear… screaming? Screaming, coming from the living room. The voice was a familiar one, so Harry wasn’t exactly concerned, and he couldn’t make out the words. Who…
Oh. It was Molly.
Harry sat up and raked a hand through his wild hair, then put his glasses on. He went to the door, then paused to listen. He knew that he probably shouldn’t, that he should go and let Molly and the twins know that he was awake, but… But he wanted to know what Molly was yelling about. Was she angry that the twins had come for him?
The thought hurt in a way that he hadn’t expected. Shouldn’t she be happy? The twins had saved him from… from what would have been a pretty awful fate. She should be glad that he was okay, shouldn’t she?
“I can’t believe that you would just go against Albus’ wishes like that!” she was shouting. Harry could only make out the words because he cracked the door open ever so slightly. He could just see her through the slit in the door, and her face was red with temper. It reminded Harry of Uncle Vernon, and not in a good way. Not that there was ever a good way to be reminded of Uncle Vernon.
“And I can’t believe that you’re so brainwashed that you think it was okay to leave Harry in a place where he was clearly being abused!” one of the twins shot back.
“George, I don’t know why you think he was being hurt—”
“You don’t get to play that card,” George said, his voice getting dark. “You weren’t there, Mum, and you didn’t see what Fred and I saw. So don’t you dare tell me that Harry wasn’t being hurt, because I swear to you, on my magic, that he was being abused.”
Molly let out an angry huff. “Be that as it may, I’m sure that there was a reason that Albus wanted him left there! You might have put yourself in danger by taking in Harry, and George, I don’t want you and your brother to be hurt!”
“We were already targets, Mum!” George sounded exasperated, though Harry couldn’t see his face. “And letting a child stand in danger while adults cower behind him is a coward’s move. And neither Fred nor I are cowards.”
“Are you calling your father and I cowards?” Molly asked, and her voice went very quiet. “Is that what you think of us, George?”
“I think that you’ve been in Dumbledore’s pocket for so long you’ve forgotten to think for yourself,” George shot back. “I think that the best thing that could have happened to the two of you is Dumbledore being arrested yesterday!”
“And what do you know about that, George Weasley?” Molly’s voice rose again, in pitch and volume, until she was practically shrieking. “Did you have something to do with that? Did Harry have something to do with that? Merlin knows I wouldn’t put it past the child! He got his godfather killed, after all!”
Harry couldn't stop the strangled gasp that escaped him, the way that he fell against the door and let out a sharp, distressed noise. She was right. He’d gotten Sirius killed, and now it was his fault that Dumbledore had been arrested. Who else would get hurt because of him?
The sound drew the attention of both Molly and George, and Molly had the grace to look a little bit appalled. But George didn’t want for her to say anything. “I think you need to go,” he said coldly. He crossed the room and stood between Molly and Harry, his fingers resting casually on his wand.
“George,” he started, not wanting George to do something that he and Fred would regret, like ruining their relationship with their family over Harry, who was bringing them nothing but grief.
“No,” George said quietly. “Mum knows that what she just said is unconscionable, and she knows that she should leave, now, before she says something else that she regrets.”
Molly cleared her throat. “George is right,” she said carefully. She turned her back on Harry and moved towards the Floo. “The conversation isn’t over, but for now, George is right.” She left the flat without saying another word to Harry or to George.
Harry closed his eyes. “She hates me,” he whispered, his voice shaking.
“She doesn’t hate you,” George said immediately. “And if she does, it’s her loss. She can fuss all she wants, but Fred and I already talked about it, and we’re in this for the long haul.” His hand landed on Harry’s shoulder, and he squeezed gently. “If you want us to be, that is.”
Harry nodded. He didn’t have any words at the moment, didn’t think he could thank George without bursting into tears, and he’d already done enough of that recently. Instead, he cleared his throat and looked away.
“Let’s get you some breakfast, yeah?” George asked, changing the subject without bothering to sound like he was doing anything but. “We have eggs, and I can make you some toast, how does that sound?”
Harry tried out a smile, and found that it felt awkward on his face, but not awkward enough to take away. “That sounds good,” he said.
“And then, I thought that maybe we could head down to the lab in the back of the shop, and you could help me out with some experiments?” George was grinning brightly at him now, the expression almost painfully bright.
Harry hesitated. “I’m not exactly good with potions,” he tried. “And charms aren’t really my strong point, either.”
George dismissed the complaint with a wave of his hand. “As if anyone could learn from Snape,” he said. “And Flitwick’s good, but I bet I’m better when it comes to teaching you things relating to pranks. And besides, it’s different because it’s not for a grade. This is just for fun!”
Harry bit his lip and looked away. “If you’re sure I won’t be in the way,” he said, a bit shyly. He didn’t exactly want to be separated from both the twins at once, but he didn’t want to be in their way, either. If George really thought he could help…
“You won’t be,” George promised. He ruffled Harry’s hair, then moved towards the kitchen, humming quietly, no indication of the fight he’d had with his mother in his demeanor.
Harry followed, and hoped that George stayed that cheerful throughout the day. He didn’t think the twins were the type to lose their tempers with him, but… Well, he would just have to do his best to make sure that he didn’t upset them, that was all. He was pretty sure he could do that.
Rebecca sighed and stared at the busy shop in front of her. She’d never been in, and had, in fact, been quite proud of the fact that she’d never been near the store. Unfortunately, she had no choice but to enter it now, since Harry was in there, and she needed to talk to both Harry and his current guardians.
She stepped into the store, and winced when magic washed over her. It was a tingling sensation, there and gone in a flash, and she sighed when she looked down at herself. “Feathers?” she asked, a bit of unwitting amusement creeping into her voice. There were worse things, she supposed.
One of the twins appeared in front of her, as though summoned. “Ms. Mercier!” he exclaimed, looking a bit horrified. “If we’d known you were coming, we would have disabled—”
“It’s quite all right,” she said, and shivered as she shed the magic in a small explosion of feathers. “I’ve had worse things done to me in the course of my work.” She glanced around at the small crowd of children and young adults exploring the shop and said, “I don’t suppose that now is a good time to speak with you and your brother, is it?”
“It’s not a bad time,” the twin hedged. She thought it was Fred, but she couldn’t quite be sure. Twins had identical magical signatures, after all, and this set of twins particularly enjoyed matching one another.
“If this is too busy a time, I could always have my meeting with Harry first,” Rebecca volunteered. “And then the three of us could speak.”
Some of her colleagues, she knew, would be distressed that the twins were still working when such a vulnerable child had been placed in their care, but Rebecca understood. Harry might be their largest priority, but he wasn’t their only priority. They still had to eat, had to pay their rent, had to maintain their shop. She understood duty, and didn’t think that it made them bad guardians.
Of course, the final choice for who would ultimately be Harry’s true guardian wasn’t going to be up to her, but her opinion would likely be factored in to the decision.
“Harry’s in the back with George,” the twin in front of her, apparently Fred, said, a bit hesitantly. “I think George has him working with some of the pranks. If you want to go on through…”
Rebecca smiled at him, trying to put him at ease. “I think I will,” she said. “You return to your shop, and once I’m done speaking with Harry, we three will talk. That gives you time to prepare.”
“Right,” Fred said. He took a deep breath and visibly braced himself, then turned around and dove right back into the throng of eager and amazed shopgoers.
Rebecca made her way to the back of the shop, then opened the door after tapping on it lightly. Just as she opened it, there was an explosion of pink sparkles and blue smoke, followed by a childish giggle. When the smoke cleared, it revealed Harry sitting there with a dusting of blue powder with pink glitter.
“It didn’t work,” he called to George, looking younger than he had the last time Rebecca had seen him.
“Oh, drat,” George said, not sounding particularly surprised. He glanced at Rebecca, his smile fading ever so slightly. “Ms. Mercier,” he greeted.
When Harry noticed her, she was alarmed to see all pleasure fade from his expression. His eyes went cold, his lips pinched into a frown. “Hi,” he offered, his voice much more subdued.
“Hello Harry,” she said, keeping her voice light and calm. “I need to speak with you in private about some things, if that’s okay with you.”
Harry flinched and glanced at George. “Can’t George stay?” he asked. “Or Fred?” His fingers were knotting into fists on the metal work table, and his lips were trembling slightly. He probably didn’t even realize it, but she could hear the panic in his voice.
It didn’t sit well with her. Technically, she was supposed to have this conversation with him alone, not because the twins couldn’t hear about it, but because of Harry’s own privacy. Quietly, she said, “We would be talking about things that need to happen, and there’s a chance you might not want to talk about these things with the twins around.”
Harry swallowed hard, his eyes dropping down to the table. He nodded once. “Okay,” he said, and there was something different in his voice. Something stronger, a bit like a steel core that she hadn’t seen evidence of.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end. It was like being in a room filled with electricity, and she had to admit that she wasn’t wild about the feeling. “If you would be more comfortable—” she started, only to stop when Harry shook his head once, sharply.
“It’s fine,” Harry said. His voice was brittle, and when he looked back at her, all the emotion was gone from his eyes. “You probably need to talk to me about the Dursleys, anyway, and I’m sure that George doesn’t want to hear that, either.”
Before she could object, explain that she didn’t need to ask him about the Dursleys at all since Vernon was telling them everything, Harry was saying, “It’ll be fine, George. I’ll be okay.”
George was looking at her like she was some kind of monster, now, and Rebecca honestly couldn’t blame him. “I’ll be careful with him,” she said, instead of trying to protest her innocence. If she were George, she wouldn’t have believed herself either.
“Okay,” George said, clearly reluctant. He left the room after saying, quietly, to Harry, “If you need us, just come outside, okay? Or send Rebecca out. I’m sure she’d be willing to come and get us.”
Harry nodded, the gesture short and sharp. “What do you need to know?” he asked, once George was gone and the door had closed quietly behind him.
“We’re already getting plenty of information from Vernon,” she said quietly. She sat at the work table across from Harry, on the other stool. “What I really wanted to talk to you about was what’s going to happen next. I don’t need to ask you questions about the Dursleys, but if you need to talk to me about them, I’m willing to listen.”
Harry shook his head quickly. “I don’t need to talk about them,” he said, his voice shaking. “But thank you.” He swallowed. “What needs to happen next, then?”
“You need to be evaluated by two different types of professionals,” she said. She didn’t dare reach out and touch the hand that was closest to her, but she wanted to. She always wanted to touch the children she worked with, to comfort them, and it was only the fact that they wouldn’t see her touch as comforting that held her back.
“Evaluated?” Harry echoed, his voice steady. He didn’t look at all afraid, now. His brow was furrowed and he looked almost… angry.
She didn’t know why. “Yes. A regular Healer will need to look you over and see if your Muggle relatives did any permanent damage to you, and a Mind Healer will start working with you on any lingering traumas. You’ll likely need several visits to both.”
Harry’s face twisted, and then he looked down at the table before Rebecca could identify the emotion on it. “I didn’t know that wizards had therapists,” he whispered. His voice was shaking again. “Would they just be talking to me about stuff with the Dursleys, or about Hogwarts stuff too?”
Rebecca blinked. “Do you need to talk about things at Hogwarts?” she asked, probing and careful. If there was some impropriety going on at the school… well, she was just childish enough to be pleased to have more ammunition against Dumbledore. And, of course, anything like that would need to be dealt with swiftly.
Without speaking, Harry extended his hand to her. At first, Rebecca didn’t understand what she was looking at, but as she studied the frail hand in front of her, the words I must not tell lies, written in the boy’s own handwriting, became clear to her.
“Oh,” she breathed, not able to say anything else. It took her several tries and then, carefully, she asked, “Can you tell me who did that to you?”
Harry’s eyes darted up, sharp and assessing, and in that second, Rebecca felt as though she’d been stripped to the core, and that Harry had seen all of her, and had not found her lacking. “Madame Umbridge,” he said, dropping his gaze once more.
Rebecca breathed out, the sound more of a small sigh than the shriek of rage she wanted to let loose. “Thank you,” she said quietly, and made a quick note in her file. “I’ll see what I can do to have her brought to trial for her crimes against you.”
“Against a lot of Muggleborns, actually,” Harry corrected. He was studying the table intently, his fingers tracing the edge of a bright green stain on the table. “Not just me. But thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Rebecca said reflexively. More students affected. This had the potential to be a nightmare. All the students would need to be interviewed, and that was just to start. Who knew what else had been going on at the school while Dumbledore had been in power? The man was clearly out of his mind to allow such abuses.
“So can they help with those sorts of traumas too?” Harry asked. “I mean, the scar’s not that bad, but there are other things…” He stopped talking abruptly, and his hand went still. He probably hadn’t meant to tell her as much as he just had.
Rebecca took another deep breath. “They can help you with whatever you need help with,” she said, keeping her voice as light and gentle as she could. “Whether you need to talk about your family, or your school years. Whatever you need.”
Harry nodded. He didn’t look at her again. “Do you need to tell me anything else?” he asked. His hands were trembling, and his voice had the slightest bit of a waiver to it.
“No,” she said quietly. “Not if there’s nothing else you would like to talk to me about, not right now.”
She was supposed to tell him about the trials, about the way his future custody would be determined, but she wasn’t an idiot. The child was moments away from a magical explosion, and with the delicate emotional state he was likely in, she didn’t dare risk pushing him any further.
“Then I’d like to go upstairs to my room,” he said. He pushed away from the table and left the room before Rebecca could say anything else.
The twins practically fell in before the door closed.
“—you do to him?” they demanded.
“We were just talking about the two types of healers he’ll need to see,” she said quietly, refusing to be intimidated or irritated by their habit of finishing each other’s sentences. They’d done it numerous times when they’d been giving their initial reports, and she was starting to get used to it.
“Two types of healers?” one of them asked. George, she thought. He was wearing Fred’s nametag, but she could see just a hint of the powder on his hands that had exploded on Harry earlier.
“We don’t really…” the other, Fred, trailed off and looked away. There was a slight flush on his cheeks.
Rebecca caught on quickly. “Of course, because Harry is currently a ward of the Ministry, we’ll cover the expenses of the Healers.” She smiled and stood, taking a leaf out of Harry’s books. She just wouldn’t give them a chance to argue. She understood pride.
Instead, she handed them a piece of parchment. “These are the list of Ministry-approved Healers and Mind Healers. He’ll need to see one of each within the upcoming week, and all have available appointments. If you cannot find a suitable one, please let us know and we will make other arrangements.”
She bowed to them and, again, before they could object, swept from the shop. She was rather grateful that there wasn’t a prank on the outgoing traffic, because she could see how that would be better for advertising. Perhaps she’d suggest it to them during an upcoming conversation.
Perhaps during a meeting not at their shop. She didn’t particularly want to be pranked again.
Fred took a deep breath, staring after Ms. Mercier. Rebecca. He didn’t know which they were supposed to call her, but he supposed erring on the side of caution was for the best. At least, as long as they wanted to keep custody of Harry.
Which they did, of course. Even if this was getting more complicated than they’d thought it would be.
“But maybe it should be complicated,” George pointed out.
As always, they were on the same wavelength. “It’s not like anything’s ever been easy for Harry before,” Fred said. “Why shouldn’t this be complicated and confusing?”
“And a Mind Healer would probably be good for him,” George continued, although there was some doubt in his voice.
Neither of them had ever been to see one. Still… “I hear they work wonders,” Fred muttered. “And if he’s going to start seeing one, we should be as supportive as we can, right?”
“Right,” George agreed. He studied the stack of names, then sighed. “I guess we’ll start making plans with Verity to have some more time off. Maybe we should get another assistant.”
Fred thought over their finances, then shrugged. “It’s not a bad idea,” he said. “We can afford it, I think. And it would probably be good for Harry to have us around a bit more than we could otherwise be.”
George nodded. He glanced at Fred, then back at the list. “Speaking of, why don’t I stay down with the shop and you go up and spend some time with him? I had the morning; you should take the afternoon.”
Fred didn’t argue. “We’ll see you after the shop closes,” he replied.
He went upstairs, then into their apartment. He stood outside of Harry’s door, and hesitated before tapping lightly on it. There was no answer. Had Harry fallen asleep again?
Fred tapped again, then shrugged and opened the door. He was hit by a blast of sound, of broken sobs coming from somewhere on the bed. He didn’t hesitate to climb into the bed with Harry, to find his adopted brother in the bundle of blankets he’d hidden in, and to haul Harry into his lap.
He leaned back against the headboard and rocked back and forth, murmuring soothing things to the sobbing fifteen-year-old. He would be sixteen, soon enough, but Fred didn’t dwell too much on that. It made him want to scream, to think that nobody had probably ever comforted Harry like this. How his mother couldn’t understand the trauma…
But his anger had no place here. So he rocked Harry, and he murmured soothing things, and eventually Harry calmed down just enough to stop crying, and to sit in Fred’s arms and shake.
Well, Fred couldn’t let Harry feel ashamed of his tears, so he started a story about the time he and George had accidentally died their hair different colors, and by the end of it, he had his adopted little brother laughing quietly.
And if the sound had some hiccups from Harry’s leftover tears, well, Fred was certainly magnanimous enough not to comment on it.