"Harry Potter and the Cult of Doom"
On the step was a rather damp young man, neatly attired in a clean dress shirt, skinny tie and slacks, which; Dudley noted sourly, rode several inches above his bony ankles. His socks did not match either.
"Yes? Whatever you’re selling, we’re not buying!" he snapped at the young man.
The young man laughed, holding up his hands as if to show he was bearing no goods for sale. "I’m not selling anything," he said brightly. "I am merely taking a poll. Only one question, nothing to it. We truly are interested in what you have to say."” He unleashed a smile of ferocious intensity. Had Dudley been less self-absorbed, he would have noticed that the smile never reached the watchful, rather shiny eyes.
Pleased to have his opinion sought, Dudley agreed to answer the young man’s question. The young man leaned in toward Dudley and lowered his voice, as if this were a very urgent question indeed. "Listen," he said. "Have you ever felt that you could be so much more, but you didn’t know how to begin?"
Dudley immediately thought of his cousin Harry, a boy with uncommonly magical abilities. Harry Potter was away at his wizards’ school, while Dudley was stuck with the boring old school of his father. Dudley had seen first-hand what magical powers can do. He’d had to have surgery on his backside, to remove a pig’s tail installed by one of Harry’s unconventional friends. His ample bottom still pained him on cold, damp days.
"Yes!" he said emphatically. So forceful was his response, the young man’s smile slipped a bit, and he took a half-step away from the door. "I know that people have abilities they don’t understand. I probably do too, it’s just…" He spread his hands helplessly.
"You don’t know how to begin, isn’t that it?" Dudley nodded in agreement. "Perhaps you should look at some of this information I’ve got. You may well find it answers some questions you might have had." He pulled a wad of glossy, colourful brochures from a satchel and handed them to Dudley. "Oh, and here’s my card. I’m Bernard, by the way. Call me any time. I’ll be happy to chat with you further if you like."
"Thanks," mumbled Dudley, studying the brochures. He turned and went into the house without even realising he had shut the door in Bernard’s face!
The brochures advertised a program called ‘Dianetics'. It seemed to be some sort of self-help program, and described in glowing terms the benefits of reaching the state of "Clear," some sort of mental level superior to that of a normal human being. Other amazing abilities were hinted at as well. These were only available to those who were ready for them. It sounded as if they could be dangerous to the untrained novice. Disease and madness awaited those foolish enough to risk exposure to these materials. Dudley felt a thrill of glee…could this, in fact, be a Hogwart’s for the non-magically talented? Could he, Dudley, some day give Mr. Harry –the-almighty-wizard Potter a run for his money? He waited impatiently for his father to come home from work. Dudley planned to shout, scream, or snivel, whatever it took to start his training. He would not take no for an answer!
Strangely, Mr. Dursley wasn’t terribly opposed to the idea. He was a bit skeptical of the claims in the brochures, but at least Dudley was taking an interest in something besides his computer games and tormenting his smaller cousin. What harm could it do? It might even give the lad a sense of responsibility, something he was sadly lacking. The powers of the mind were mysterious, and training the mind was something he could understand., unlike Harry’s disturbing gift. Working for something, Mr. Dursley understood. It seemed fairer, somehow. And, after an interview, he felt the people were quite sincere in their belief in the program and the prices weren’t too high. He’d certainly spent more on things for Dudley, which only wound up broken and discarded on his bedroom floor. The people down at their facility, or "org,” as they called it, were quite eager to get Dudley tested and starting the courses. The very next day, checks were signed, and Dudley began his training.
Harry Potter knew something was different at home, but he could not put his finger on it. Dudley was, if possible, even more smug than usual, and he had developed a knowing smirk, along with an air of superiority which was most distasteful. Dudley had also taken to staring at Harry from a safe distance, acquiring a strained expression which reminded Harry of his friend’s moldy and often constipated rat, Scabbers. Several times, Harry had noticed Dudley staring at him, eyes squinched and brow furrowed in concentration. When he saw Harry looking at him, Dudley would smirk and leave the room. His behavior was quite mystifying. The constant stream of visitors was unusual as well. Mr. Dursley would sometimes host a dinner for a prospective client, but those were carefully crafted events, right down to the jokes. Yet, these days, people were simply turning up on the front porch several times a week. At first, the visitors were youngsters; they would troop up to Dudley’s room and close the door. As of the previous week, however, there was a sprinkling of men in suits, who would join Mr. Dursley in his study. That door was also closed. Harry thought it extremely curious.
Even curiouser was his cousin’s behavior of late. When Harry’s aunt burned her hand at the stove, Dudley took over the situation. With uncharacteristic authority, he sat his mother in a chair. He then did something with his fingers and began prodding her with both hands.
"Do you feel my finger?" he asked.
"Ow, yes, dear! Please stop that, you’re hurting me!" she cried.
"Thank you," responded Dudley serenely, and continued to prod her until she admitted feeling better to make him stop.
At that point, Dudley became overwhelmed with glee, a condition generally foreign to him. "It works! It works!" he burbled. "I must tell my mates down at the org!" He disappeared up the stairs to his room and phone. Harry was confused. He hadn’t at all understood what had just happened. While his aunt ran cold water over her hand at the sink, moaning a bit in pain, he pondered what he’d just witnessed in case he’d missed something the first time. It still made no sense to him. What had just happened?
One day, Harry happened to get the post on his way out. He was surprised to see a number of letters addressed to Dudley, who never got mail. As he placed the letters on the kitchen table, he noticed a book at Dudley’s place. There was a garish volcano on the cover. ‘DIANETICS, the Modern Science of the Mind,’ screamed the cover. ‘BY L. RON HUBBARD,’ it added, in case one should miss the author’s name if it were not printed in huge letters under the title. Under the book was a grubby stack of well-worn brochures, obviously handled repeatedly by Dudley’s fat fingers. Harry took a few away to read. He was curious as to what would ever compel Dudley to acquire, let alone read, a book.
The brochures were brightly coloured and glossy, and promoted the Church of Scientology, which promised all manner of benefits to its followers. It offered a number of courses designed to make you healthier, smarter, detoxified, more capable. One of the brochures warned that society was falling apart, and only its members were able to mend it. A small magazine called ‘Source’ urged everyone to "go OT at Flag," which made no sense to Harry at all. All of the publications seemed to be selling a Bridge of some sort. Harry was reminded of an American saying about selling bridges, it referred to taking advantage of gullible, trusting people.
He read an article which referred to something called MEST, that is; Mass, Energy, Space and Time. An OT then, was a person who had power over MEST, having taken the proper courses at Flag. Flag sounded like some sort of training centre in the United States. Power over MEST, Harry thought, sounded a lot like what he could do with his magical skills. Was Flag the Muggles’ equivalent of Hogwarts, a place where powers are learned and perfected? It certainly sounded as much.
Harry knew whom to ask for information, the Master of Muggle Studies, Mr. Thistle. When the flurry of activity associated with returning to Hogwarts was over and Harry was settled in, he sent an owl requesting a moment of Mr. Thistle’s time. Hedwig, Harry’s snowy owl, returned quickly with an answer, Mr. Thistle would be delighted to speak with the famous Harry Potter. Until now, the lad had shown little interest in Muggle studies.
Mr. Thistle’s office was a bright, airy chamber with large windows. The walls were covered with posters from Muggle pop culture; cartoon characters, singers and movie stars. Toys and Muggle technology covered the desks and tables, plus there were hundreds of books cramming the shelves. Mr. Thistle had Hogwart’s only computer system, an instrument vital to his work as a wand in ‘Charms and Spells.’
Of course, this was no ordinary computer system, as Hogwarts had no need of electricity. It was modified by magic, like some of Arthur Weasley’s Muggle contraptions. As Harry entered the chamber, a small, furry creature greeted him. Looking closely, Harry saw it was another Muggle toy, covered in fur, which blinked its large plastic eyes and spoke.
"That’s a Furby," Mr. Thistle said. "It’s a rather sophisticated toy, don’t you think?" Harry agreed that it was a fair substitute for a magical companion. Mr. Thistle insisted upon showing Harry his collection of Muggles artifacts, most of which Harry found unfamiliar and brightly coloured. The tour seemed to last forever, as Mr. Thistle insisted upon Harry’s response to every item. When Mr. Thistle ran out of things to show him, Harry explained the reason for his visit. He handed Mr. Thistle the stack of fliers he’d taken from the kitchen of the house on Privet Drive, and politely sat by while the Master of Muggles Studies perused them. Mr. Thistle then bustled over to the computer. "On!" he commanded, and the monitor lit up. "I’m going to do a search on this Scientology subject," he explained. "The computer will search for anything ever mentioned about it. Globally, and in seconds! Isn’t that an amazing Muggles invention?"
The keyboard keys rattled as Mr. Thistle’s fingers flew over them. He was silent for a while, then started saying, "Hmmm…yes. Oh, my! Hmmm, deardeardear!" Finally he turned to Harry with a very serious expression on his kindly face. "Harry, my boy, this is bad, very bad. Your family seems to have become involved in a cult, which has a history of destructive behavior. By all accounts, this is a very serious situation you have here. Your family is in grave danger of losing their life savings at the very least. I think you’re going to have to study this in order to help them. I’ll make arrangements for you to use the computer, if you can do it without interrupting your studies."
And so, Harry Potter became a novice computer user, a first at Hogwarts. His friends missed him, as he spent every free minute online, researching websites dedicated to the topic of Scientology. He spent weeks at one site alone, as he strove to understand the many facets of the group and its behavior. Some of what he learned was amusing, such as the tale of Xenu, the evil Galactic Overlord. Most of it was disturbing, and he worried late into the night for his relatives’ well-being. He wasn’t terribly fond of them, considering their treatment of him, but they had taken him in with miserly and begrudging sense of duty, and he felt a sense of responsibility to extract them from this destructive cult.
Midway through the term, his research was interrupted by a catastrophe at Hogwarts. Good old Neville had a bit of an accident in Spells and Charms. While trying to banish a destructive and mischievous miniature Brownie, he inadvertently created thousands of them, which immediately infested the whole of Hogwarts!
Studies were disrupted. Hair was pulled. Possessions disappeared, along with books, term papers, and brooms, which put a stop to Quidditch practise. The students were sent home until the infestation could be controlled, so Harry found himself once again being delivered to Privet Drive in Arthur Weasley’s new used car.
When they pulled up in front of the house, Harry could immediately see that something was terribly wrong! The once-neat lawn was shaggy with weeds. The lovingly polished brass door knocker was tarnished, and there appeared to be bashed in dents in the front door, as if someone had been kicking it. Worse, there was a FOR SALE sign in the front yard! Even worse than that, he could hear a ferocious screaming match coming from the house, as the door was open a crack. It sounded like Dudley and his father were having a terrific argument about the courses he was taking at the Scientology centre.
"I TOLD YOU, I SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD IT AT THIS TIME!" Dudley’s father thundered, to which Dudley screeched, "If you don’t sign me up for this, I will leave and go work there! I will, and you won’t see me again! I need this course! I have to take this course! You should be supporting me in this! If you really cared about me, you’d do it, no matter what!" Harry couldn’t hear his uncle’s reply, but he heard his aunt wail, "Oh, Dudley, how can you ever say that? You mustn’t talk like this! Of course we’ll do what we can to help you in your studies, please don’t ever speak of leaving again!"
The kerfluffle stopped when Harry walked in. He looked at the frozen tableau of cousin, uncle, and aunt as they stared at him in surprised silence. Dudley and his father were red faced with anger. Dudley’s mother was weeping in the kitchen doorway. "Little accident at school," Harry explained. "I’ll only be here for a few days." With that, he hurried up the stairs to his room and shut the door. Things remained quiet down below.
Harry set Hedwig’s cage on the desk and flung himself on the bed. He stared moodily through the bars on his window, which had been replaced after his escape in the Weasley’s flying car. They were no longer used to keep him in. His uncle had spent good money on them, however, and he was not one to see money go to waste. Harry was extremely worried. It seemed that his family’s life was fracturing in slow motion. Normally self-satisfied, well-fed, smug and complacent, they were now strained and tense.
Harry had a fairly good idea of what was going on. He’d spent every evening on the Hogwarts computer for weeks, reading up on the group which had gotten such a strong hold on the Dursleys, but he didn’t know what to do.
A white van pulled up outside Privet Drive. Dudley slammed out the front door and got in, and it drove away. Dudley, on his way to gaining his super powers. That was a lie, Harry knew, and it was costing Uncle Vernon hundreds of pounds. As soon as Dudley left, his aunt and uncle began to argue about money, and the drill business. Their voices were raised, and Harry could hear them quite clearly.
Aunt Petunia wanted to know why their house had to be sold. Uncle Vernon explained that it wasn’t a proper sale, just a bit of financial shenanigan which would gain him the money needed to reconfigure his business to the model laid out by his W.I.S.E. advisors. The ‘For Sale’ sign was for appearances’ sake. They had assured him that, once the business was reorganised, he’d be raking in the money immediately. Then he could regain ownership of the house. It wasn’t a sale, it was a loan to help out a fellow businessman. The training programmes, he argued, cost thousands of pounds. It was an investment in their future. His team was coming over to finalise the paperwork tomorrow, and he didn’t wish to hear another word about it! Aunt Petunia didn’t sound very reassured. She bustled off to make tea, which soothed her with the familiar domestic ritual.
Harry was deeply troubled. His aunt and uncle were very close to losing everything, had they but known it. He decided to go outside for a bit and, as he passed Uncle Vernon’s study, he saw his uncle slumped at his desk, looking tired and uncertain. Harry quickly whisked past the door and hurried outside. After a while, Uncle Vernon came out and drove away. Harry slipped up to his room to find the large envelope he’d brought. It contained a stack of printed web pages from the Hogwarts computer. He sorted through them, pulling out the pages related to the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises. He had copies of newspaper articles, court documents, and the personal affidavits of a Chiropractor, a Dentist, and a Veterinarian, all who had adopted the management program taught by Palladium Management, a WISE company. All had been sued by their employees, who felt that they were having a religion thrust on them in the guise of job training. All three had also lost their homes and businesses.
Harry put the stack of information on Uncle Vernon’s desk. He thought it would probably be a good idea to stay in his room for the evening, so he devoted himself to writing a letter to Hermione, whose Muggle parents might have an insight on the situation.
When he heard Uncle Vernon’s car in the drive, Harry braced himself. He sat on his hands to keep from running them through his hair. It was a nervous gesture, and Harry’s hair didn’t need any help to stick up untidily. He tried to read, which didn’t help because he couldn’t concentrate. He looked out the window while bouncing gently on the bed. He was still bouncing when there came a tapping on his door.
“Harry? May I speak to you a moment?” Uncle Vernon was uncharacteristically subdued; even his knock had been polite!
“Yes, of course, “ said Harry, opening the door. His uncle led the way into his study, waved Harry into a seat and carefully closed the door. He sat down behind his desk and tapped the papers Harry had left there. “Did you leave these?” Harry admitted that he had.
“Then I want to thank you, my boy!” Uncle Vernon slapped a wide hand down on the desk, and Harry leaped a bit in his seat. Uncle Vernon picked up the three pages of personal accounts. “These people are doing the same thing to me as they did to these folk! It’s a disgrace, that’s what it is, and I won’t have it! You seem to have a great deal of information about this, what do you think I should do?” Harry thought for a moment. “Well, the first thing I think you should do is read the web sites these pages are from. There is more information than I could print out. For example, those three people sued for a refund, and got at least part of their money back from Palladium Management. There are instructions on how to go about it. Dudley isn't using his computer at the moment, why don’t I set you up there?”
It was a surprisingly peaceful afternoon, punctuated by Uncle Vernon’s explosive commentary to what he was reading. It was only the calm before the storm, Harry knew. Dudley would soon be home, which meant the Dursleys could expect the inevitable house-guests. Dudley’s Dianetics cohorts and Uncle Vernon’s new business partners had gotten into the habit of dropping by every evening “just to see how you’re doing,”as they put it. Tonight’s visit would prove interesting indeed.
Uncle Vernon sat nervously in the parlour. He was in quite a state! Harry could tell he was outraged at having been taken in, furious at his predicament, and not looking forward to the evening at all! Harry wisely perched himself half-way up the stairs.
When the doorbell rang, Uncle Vernon strode to the door and drew a deep breath. He didn’t get a chance to say what he’d planned, as the three W.I.S.E. guys moved in and took over.
“Mr. Dursley,“ the tallest one said, “We have wonderful news! You’re invited to join our little family of businesses, and this is not offered to just anyone. It’s quite an honour, really. And the benefits! I really can’t begin to tell you what being a WISE member will do for your profits!” Uncle Vernon had been standing there, getting redder and redder, his piggy little eyes bulging. “Enough!” he roared. Everyone froze, shocked.
The storm that had been slowly building inside Uncle Vernon all afternoon finally broke. Red-faced and furious, Harry’s uncle berated the stunned W.I.S.E. representatives for deceiving him, and informed them in no uncertain terms that their business partnership was dissolved and he expected his money refunded immediately. He pulled out the sheaf of papers Harry had printed out and demanded an explanation.
The tall one, who’d introduced himself as Ben Havers, hastily scanned the documents. He looked up from them with eyes narrowed. “Who gave this to you? Where did it come from?” he said, in a low, menacing hiss. “These are lies! Lies! This is exactly what I was warning you about earlier, Vernon. You have someone who is a Potential Trouble Source in your midst! They don’t want you to succeed, Vernon. They want to keep you down at their level. See, right here, they’re trying to plant doubt in your mind. Doubt, Vernon, is a condition you want to stay away from.” He switched his tone to a calm, conciliatory voice.
“Yes, I did warn you about the possibility, that someone would try to undermine your progress. They’re jealous, Vernon. Whoever gave you these papers does not have your best interests in mind. I want you to sit down and think about it. Why do they want to hurt you? Who would enjoy seeing you fail?” He sat down on the sofa, and his two companions quickly followed. “We’ll just wait while you write out your thoughts on this matter. Full names, if possible. Mrs. Dursley, would you have any more of that excellent claret you served us last night?”
Flustered, Mrs. Dursley hurried to the kitchen, ignoring her husband’s thunderous expression. Having been served their wine, their behavior became rather astonishing. They proceeded to ignore Mr. Dursley’s demands that they leave. They acted like they couldn’t hear him, and discussed among themselves the terrible consequences of being associated with a Potential Trouble Source.
After an hour, all the wine had been drunk up, and still they showed no signs of leaving. Uncle Vernon had stomped into his study and slammed the door, Aunt Petunia had gone up to her room, and still they sat there, chatting. Harry wanted them to leave, he was tired and wanted to withdraw to his room, but he didn’t want to leave them alone in the house. He finally decided to resort to a very small spell; as an advanced student, he was allowed a restricted use of magic in the Muggle world. The unwanted guests never noticed him leave, nor did they notice when he returned with a wand.
“Umbra, penumbra, phobos vobiscum!” he muttered quietly from his perch on the stairs. The three people on the sofa suddenly blinked and looked around, startled. Shadows were oozing into the corners of the room. The lighting had somehow dimmed, and shadows were slithering across the carpet and gathering in the dark areas behind the furniture. They tittered and gibbered as they leaned in towards the three frightened people. The W.I.S.E. representatives’ nerve finally broke, and they stampeded toward the door. The shadows were becoming less transparent, gaining solidity from the growing darkness. Some had vague faces, and fanged mouths laughed silently as the trio bolted out the door, slamming it behind them.
Harry chuckled, satisfied that his little phobia spell had worked perfectly. The horrors were attached to the three Scientologists, and would wear off with time. In the meantime, they wouldn’t be getting much sleep. Harry knew from his research that this wasn’t the end of it, not by a long shot.
Harry was just about ready to turn in when his uncle emerged from his study.
“Well, that’s it, then,” he exclaimed with some satisfaction. “Nothing to it, just tell them how it is with no room for arguments! I doubt we’ll be seeing them again, eh, Harry?”
“Not exactly,” Harry replied. “There is still the issue of Dudley’s involvement. From what I’ve read, it’s quite likely they will persuade him to disconnect from his family. They will convince him that he won’t make any progress until he does. He may even elect to quit school and go work for them full time. It seems to happen all too often, from what I’ve read.”
Just then, a car door slammed outside, and moments later, Dudley and his friends came thundering in. “Dudley! I want to talk to you now! Upstairs!” ordered Uncle Vernon. Dudley faced him and said, “Good. I have something to tell you as well. I’ve decided to postpone school for a year, I’m going to work in London! I’ve a place to stay, with them,” he gestured at his companions. “I have to fill out an application, but they said it’s only a formality. I’ve already got the job if I want it.”
Mr. Dursley motioned for his son to follow, and stomped up the stairs. A great deal of shouting followed. Then Mr. Dursley came down, face red with anger. He grabbed Harry by the arm and pulled him back up the stairs. “Hurry!” he said urgently. “Dudley is packing! He means to leave us this evening to go with those rotten Dianetics people. Please, Harry, do something! This will destroy his mother! I don’t mind if you use your, ah, talent this once, but I’m begging you to stop him!”
Harry thought swiftly. He could hear drawers being yanked open and items being hurled around Dudley’s room as he threw belongings into a dufflebag. “Wait here,” he told his uncle, and dashed into his room for his wand. This was the second time he’d had it out in the house, and within the space of three hours, too!
Focussing his attention on Dudley, who was dragging something heavy toward his bedroom door, he murmered a Sleeping Spell. “Somniferum, hibernatus, morpheus!” That was immediately followed by a heavy “thud!” from Dudley’s room. Harry peeked into Dudley’s room. Dudley was sound asleep on the floor next to his stuffed dufflebag. Bits of random clothing were strewed about, and all the drawers were hanging open. “Uncle Vernon, quick!” Harry called, tugging at Dudley’s arm. Uncle Vernon quickly grabbed the other arm, and looked at Harry quizzically. “He’s fine,” Harry assured him. “He’s just asleep.”
“What will we do when he wakes up?” his uncle asked irascibly. “I know! Put him in my room!” said Harry. “The bars, you know. It’ll give us some time to figure out what to do.”
Uncle Vernon’s face turned pinkish when Harry mentioned the bars, as he’d installed them to keep Harry in at one point. Together they dragged Dudley’s considerable person into Harry’s room and flopped him onto the bed. Harry quickly gathered up his few possessions, and Mr. Dursley locked the door behind him. Then, puffing heavily from his exertion, he marched downstairs and informed Dudley’s cohorts that the boy would not be accompanying them this evening. It was not necessary for Harry to cast another phobia spell; the group left agreeably, saying they’d return the next day to take Dudley to his Dianetics classes.
“That’s what you think!” growled Mr. Dursley as the front door closed behind them.
Tired as he was, Harry stayed up for a while, leafing through Miss Cathartes’ book, “Simple Spells for Ordinary Occasions.” At the back of the book was a section on symptoms, and suggested spells for dealing with them. “Obsessive, irrationality, single-mindedness…” the symptoms were close, but the spell which was mentioned was intended to return a lovesick person to a rational state. Indeed, Dudley had been mooning about the house like a love-struck calf. If he wasn’t nattering on about his courses, he had his nose buried in his copy of Dianetics. It was a perverted sort of love affair, as unsuitable as if Dudley had taken a girlfriend with a pierced nose who fancied leather and hard, fast, loud rock music. “Close enough,” decided Harry, and grabbed his wand. When the spell was cast, Harry sighed and lay down. Hopefully, when Dudley awoke, he would be his old self again. Not, Harry thought as he drifted off, that it was much of an improvement.
Dudley was still snoozing peacefully, hours later when Harry awoke. The house was silent, as Mr. Dursley had left for the office early in order to change the locks. Suddenly, Hedwig, his Snowy Owl, landed on the windowsill and hopped over to Harry’s shoulder. She had a note in her beak, a reply from Hermione. He’d kept his friends informed of the whole curious situation He knew that the next step was likely to be harrassment and intimidation. The cult did not easily let go of potential victims, at least, not so long as they still had money in the bank. Indeed, when Harry went to close the window behind Hedwig, he spotted an unfamiliar white van parked down the street. It seemed to have someone sitting in the driver’s side, watching the house through binoculars. Harry had half-expected this from his reading about them online. Hermione’s letter could not have been more timely.
“Dear Harry, I have thought about your predicament and, while I normally would not approve of using magic, I can’t see any better solution in this case. The question is, how will you deal with trespassers and surveillance vehicles? I know Ron thinks you should turn them into earwigs or toads, but I have a better idea. If they can’t find you, they can’t bother you. Look on page 75 of Snavely’s “Intermediate Spells for the Advanced Beginning Student.” This is a simple Mirror spell which will make your house invisible to people who have no business on your property. Enclosed you will find an iguana’s claw, which you will need. I have a few extra from our last visit to Diagon Alley. Let me know if it works!
See you soon!
Sure enough, cello-taped to the message was a small, grey claw. Harry set it aside and rummaged through his books for his copy of Snavely.
The Mirror Spell was elegant in its simplicity. It obscured whatever you wished to conceal by reflecting the surrounding landscape back to the viewer. This sort of spell would be much less obvious than, say, the Concealment by Fog, which might make the neighbors wonder why a localised fog bank had settled on the Dursley’s property. The Mirror Spell was a complex one, which required the potion to be simmered for twelve hours in a caldron along with several common household substances. Harry dragged out his caldron, which was compacted down magically for storage. He set it in the center of the bedroom and enchanted it back to its normal dimensions. Soon, it was busily bubbling over a portable fire, which directed its heat only up, leaving the carpet unscarred.
As Harry kept watch over the caldron, he noticed a car cruising slowly down the street. It was to be the first of several throughout the day. The white van was still parked down the block as well. Privet Court was getting a lot of visitors!
Hour after hour, Dudley snoozed while Harry kept watch over the caldron and the street. Mrs. Dursley had gone to the shops, and Mr. Dursley was at work, undoing the damage. When Dudley’s Dianetics friends came by, Harry didn’t answer the door and eventually they left.
Harry had hoped to finish the Mirror Spell before nightfall, but when the sun had set, the mixture still had two hours to go. Harry set a watcher spell on the front yard, to warn him of intruders. He noticed that the security light at the foot of their driveway was out He watched as the white van drove away. Ten minutes later it was back, parked even closer this time.
Harry was just dozing when something whizzed past his head and exploded with a tiny “pop!” His Watcher had been activated! When he peeked out of the window, he saw a shadowy figure creeping down the driveway to disappear in the shadows by the garage. Soon, the figure reappeared, burdened down by a heavy trash can. He snatched up his wand and muttered a Changing Spell. The trash can thudded to the ground as the man stealing it swiftly shrank, sprouting fur and a tail, as he was transformed into a large rat.
Harry had only meant to scare him a bit, but as he began the spell to restore him, a large shadow crossed the yard and grabbed the rat as it was running in terrified circles, squeaking. A large grey owl quickly flew into the night with the rat in its talons! Harry was horrified by what had happened, but there was really nothing he could do. He went down to put the trash can away, and noticed the white van’s side door was slightly open, probably to make loading the stolen trash can easier. Peering in, he was surprised to see several photographs on the seat. There were pictures of his house and family members. There was even a picture of himself leaving the house. Evidentially, they had been watched for quite a while.
Finally, the twelve hours was up. When Harry added the iguana claw, the potion bubbled up enthusiastically, then settled into a smooth, dark liquid, which shone with a watery gloss which reflected Harry’s face very clearly as he examined his work.
As he began chanting the spell, a silvery mist began to rise from the caldron. Gradually, it became more substantial, spreading and unfolding like a scarf woven of spider silk. Out the window it floated, spreading over the house and yard. Finally, it settled over the trees and house, floating down like a tent, covering the entire property. It shimmered faintly, and faded away.
The next day, Harry enjoyed watching the parade of cars cruise slowly around the block. First came the people from W.I.S.E. They had apparently decided to continue their visits to Mr. Dursley, but seemed to be having problems finding the house. Around and around they drove, craning their necks in a futile effort to find the Dursley residence. When they left, they were replaced by Dudley’s Dianetics buddies, whose ratty Volkswagen blatted its way around the block several times before giving up. The only visitor they had that day was the postman, who only found the house because he had legitimate mail. Had he been carrying nothing but ads addressed to “Occupant,” he would have gone right on past. A benefit of the Mirror Spell was the complete disappearance of door-to-door charity collectors, candy bar fundraisers, invitations to join the Mormon church, and the wicked assaults of neighbor and gardener Missy Frampton, who was in the habit of leaving generous grocery bags full of zucchini on their doorstep.
Dudley awoke from his beauty sleep with a ferocious appetite. He seemed completely recovered from his obsession with Dianetics and super powers. He was more concerned with consuming a plate of bacon and eggs than packing his bags for London. He squalled and thumped on the door until Mr. Dursley came to attend to him. After listening to ten minutes of whining without mention of L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics, or courses, Mr. Dursley determined that it was safe to release Dudley from confinement. Once freed, Dudley made a foray into the kitchen, then plumped into an easy chair with the remote, where he fretfully flicked through the channels until settling upon a kung fu movie. There he remained for the rest of the afternoon, shifting his attention from the television only long enough to snap an insult at Harry, or forage for more food. Sullen, lazy, bullying Dudley was back.
Life at the Dursleys’ actually became a little cheerful. Uncle Vernon got control of his business, and a refund from the W.I.S.E. group. His attitude towards Harry became a bit more tolerant. Harry’s aunt continued to view him with fear and suspicion, but her behavior towards him was a bit less abusive. She actually gave him seconds at dinner. Dudley was still a jerk, but his father had obviously warned him off of harassing Harry.
The day before Harry was to return to Hogwarts, he was sitting on the wall in the front yard. A black SUV seemed to be trying to find an address; the driver kept cruising down the block, looking around. Harry’s uncle joined him in the yard. “I’d like to have a word with you, Harry,” he said. “And this is the last time I’ll mention this. I appreciated your help in this matter, but I hope you don’t think it gives you permission to use your, uh, abilities in this house. Understand?”
Harry said he understood, and agreed, secretly amused. Uncle Vernon had no idea of the protective spell over his head. And if Uncle Vernon noticed the lack of junk mail, door to door hucksters and religious prosyletisers on Privet Court, he never complained.
The End (Thanks to barb)
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