Set in the summer between Harry's Sixth and Seventh Year, and it's gen (that means no sexual innuendo or action of any sort, so parents, mine or otherwise, feel free to read). See, sociofemme? I CAN write something besides slash! ha HA!
Triumph of the Last Marauder
“The whole summer,” Harry repeated dully.
“I’m afraid so, Harry,” Remus sighed. “I know it’s horrible, but right now you need all the protection you can get, and I’m afraid with your relatives is the safest place. Even safer than with us at the headquarters.”
“The whole summer.” Harry felt as though he had lost all ability to respond in any way, except to repeat this statement.
“I’d promise you that we’d come and visit,” Remus continued miserably, “but between missions you won’t see much of us, I’m afraid.”
“The whole summer.”
“Yes, Harry,” Remus finally just agreed with him. “The whole summer.”
“Do you still have some of Sirius’ things at the Lodge?” Harry asked for seemingly no reason at all.
“Er…yes,” Remus answered hesitantly, caught completely off-guard.
“Would you mind,” Harry came to a quick decision, “if I looked through them during my last Hogsmead weekend?”
Remus stared at Harry for several long moments, and Harry stared right back.
“I’ll talk to Dumbledore,” he finally replied. “It’s a little unusual…but I don’t doubt he’ll give in to this request, given this other news.”
* * * * * *
Harry sneezed convulsively from the disturbed dust, and a muffled and emotional ‘bless you’ came from the other side of the attic. Harry acknowledged it with a grunt of thanks and delved back into the box.
Underneath a patched robe, some Quidditch magazines, and a book (Sirius owned a book? Who knew?) Harry found what he was looking for.
The owner’s manual to a 1968 Triumph Bonneville, Cardinal Red.
Harry thumbed the dog-eared pages for a minute before reluctantly setting it down in a small pile of things he wanted to take with him.
Looking through the pile before Harry left, Remus raised an eyebrow at the manual and brushed a hand across the cover lightly, but didn’t say anything.
* * * * * *
Harry was relatively silent during the customary trip home for the summer. He privately thought that Hermione was doing enough carrying on for a hundred of him.
“It’s completely unfair!” Hermione exclaimed for the five hundredth time, and Harry gave a grunt remarkably like the last 499 grunts.
“Will you SHUT UP?!” Ron finally exploded. “You saying that every other moment won’t make it less unfair, all right?!”
“You’d think they’d learn their lesson about imprisoning people after Sirius is all,” she sniffed before falling silent, too irritated to remember she had made all of them promise not to use Sirius’ name in from of Harry.
She didn’t speak again until she hugged Harry goodbye at the station.
“And don’t enchant anything either,” she admonished him, giving a suspicious glance at Harry’s things, in which she knew was buried the Triumph’s manual.
Harry refrained from commenting that since he had been allowed to take his Tests early, he could enchant any damn thing he pleased.
* * * * * *
Harry had been home just long enough to put his trunk in Dudley’s second bedroom before he let himself out, answering Petunia’s first shrieked question with an “OUT!” and her second with a “LATER!”
Harry walked into town, not caring how long it took him, or that Mrs. Figg’s cat was clearly following him. In fact, he stopped for a moment so that the cat could catch up with him, and they continued on in companionable silence after exchanging a nod of greeting.
At the first phone booth they passed, Harry paused to leaf through the directory, stopping at the page marked “Motorbike Repair.” Rifling through his pockets for a scrap of paper to write on, Harry scribbled down the address and continued on his way.
Harry had completely lost track of the time by the time he was standing in front of the shop. Checking the address one last time, Harry shoved the crinkled piece of paper back in his pocket and went into the garage.
“Hello?” Harry called, his voice echoing weirdly off the concrete and metal parts.
“Oi, who’s that?” someone called back. Harry took a few steps further into the cool shade of the garage and caught sight of a mechanic sliding out from underneath a bike he was working on.
As the mechanic sat up and ran a hand through his bright red hair, Harry was forcibly reminded of several Weasleys at once, a strange cross between Bill and the twins and a young Arthur.
“I’m Harry Potter,” he answered, pausing for the usual beat before he remembered that a Muggle mechanic in Surrey was not going to be impressed with that. “I want to build a motorbike.”
The mechanic let out an abrasive bark of laughter.
“Any particular kind of motorbike you want?” he asked, clearly humoring Harry.
“A Triumph,” Harry replied promptly. “Preferably a Bonneville from the late 60’s.”
The mechanic stopped laughing and took a better look at Harry.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Seventeen by August,” Harry answered.
“Gettin’ an A2?” the mechanic pried further. Harry nodded, even though he had no intention of investing the time and certainly not the money that it took to get licensed for anything in Britain. He was fully confident of his ability to alter someone else’s license, and if all else failed there was always Fred and George.
The mechanic seemed to consider all of this, still sizing Harry up.
“How much time you willing to put into it?”
“All day, every day, all summer,” Harry told him firmly.
“And what exactly do you know about motorbikes?” the mechanic inquired.
“Not a damn thing,” Harry replied bluntly.
The mechanic stood up slowly, never taking his eyes off Harry, pulling a cloth from the pocket of his overalls and starting to wipe the grease off his hands.
“Tell me why,” he said.
“My godfather had a 1968 Triumph Bonneville that he loved more than anything except me,” Harry answered, managing to keep most of the pain out of his voice.
The mechanic thought this over silently the whole time he was wiping off his hands.
“By a strange coincidence,” he finally said. “A couple weeks ago, I acquired a large lot of very poor condition classic motorbike parts. It just so happens that among that lot are most of the parts one would required to rebuild a functional 1968 Triumph Bonneville.”
“That’s a rather strange coincidence,” Harry agreed, wondering silently what ‘most of the parts’ meant.
“It’s not worth my time to strip all those parts and reconstruct a bike,” the mechanic continued, “not to mention I’ve got one hell of a backlog already this summer, and the kid who worked here last summer left for university. So I’ve got something of a proposition for you.”
Harry listened to all of this silently with growing disbelief. It couldn’t be this easy.
“You help me out here for the summer, and you can have whatever Triumph parts are salvageable as pay. Any parts not in the lot you’ll have to get yourself, but you’ll learn what you need to know. You willing to work your arse off for this?”
Harry was beyond words for a minute.
“When can I start?!” he exclaimed.
“Now’s as good a time as any,” the mechanic shrugged. He extended a hand for Harry to shake. “Name’s Mick.”
* * * * * *
Harry exited the garage as dusk was falling, sweaty and grease-stained but feeling as though a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. Mrs. Figg’s cat, which had been waiting patiently outside, gave its paw a last lick and fell into step with Harry.
It was full dark when Harry trudged up the Dursleys' driveway. He was exhausted, hungry, and clearly needed a hot shower, but he stopped in front of the garage and lifted the door up. The repository for seventeen years worth of Dudley’s birthday and Christmas presents, the garage was stuffed to the gills with crap, and just opening the door sent several tennis balls and a skateboard rolling down the driveway.
Harry watched them go, mentally calculating how much work would be necessary before he could even step inside the garage, much less build a motorbike in it. Probably about as much time as it would take to teach him to put one together, he reasoned.
Suddenly the screen door slammed open and Aunt Petunia leaned out.
“Get IN here!” she hissed at Harry. “The neighbors will see you!”
Shutting the garage door with a final glance at the clutter, Harry trudged inside. He kicked off his trainers inside the door and picked them up while Petunia was still spitting her opening statements.
“You’ve RUINED those trousers!” she was howling. “We buy you perfectly good clothes…”
“You haven’t bought me anything in years,” Harry cut her off dismissively. “I bought these, and it’s all right if they are ruined, because I’m going to go on wearing them to my summer job every day. The whole summer.”
Petunia spluttered something else, but Harry smiled to himself suddenly, thinking that this was the first time that those three words in that order had brought him any joy ever in his entire life.
* * * * * *
Harry quickly settled into a routine. Six days a week he would get up early, ignore any Dursleys who happened to be puttering about, and walk into town to work with Mick. Harry picked up a knack for motorbike repair quickly and enjoyed the purely physical aspect of his work. He didn’t have to think about anything besides what was immediately in front of him, a privilege Harry had not experienced in a long time.
Harry immensely enjoyed working for Mick, who was patient about Harry’s complete ignorance of mechanical things. Mick made Harry’s homesickness for his friends simultaneously more acute and easier to bear by being so Weasley-esque at times that Harry had to restrain himself from asking whether or not Mick had some queer relatives in Ottery St. Catchpole.
Sundays, when Mick’s garage was closed, Harry worked on clearing out the Dursleys' garage. The trick to that had been making Uncle Vernon think it had been his idea to ‘force’ Harry to tidy the garage up, under pretence of putting the car back in it, something that hadn’t happened since before Harry went to Hogwarts.
A hidden benefit, Harry soon discovered, was that the Dursleys honestly had no idea what was in the garage. Accordingly, Harry began steadily taking some smaller items into town on the weekdays and selling them to any shop that would have them. This solved the problem of how Harry was going to buy the missing parts for his Triumph.
Three weeks passed before Mick pronounced Harry knowledgeable enough to at least start cleaning the useable pieces of motorbike. That day, after locking the door, Mick wheeled out what had once been a 1968 Triumph Bonneville.
It looked like hell, but Harry was speechless. Half-listening to Mick’s admonishments that nearly all the engine parts would need to be replaced and they would have to bang out a few of the larger wheel dents before Harry could even wheel it home, Harry approached what would eventually be his bike with awe. He ran his hands over every inch of the motorbike, taking in the rust and the dents, the rips in the seat, the remaining traces of a red paint job. Finally, he found his voice.
“She’s going to be beautiful,” he told Mick in no uncertain terms.
Mick shook his head, but went to find his really heavy hammer.
* * * * * *
The next Sunday found Harry considering the last rough spot on the engine cover of the Triumph. He had sanded off all the rust and scratches on it, and what remained of the paint as well, but there was one spot right on top where the scratches ran much deeper.
Harry wasn’t able to tell whether the scratches were intentional markings or damage, but even he could see that they were too deep to sand off, it would make the cover too thin in that one spot. He ran his fingers over the scratches one last time as he made his decision. He would have to leave them there, but that was all right. If he painted the bike black like he’d been considering, it would hide them from all but the closest inspection, they would be obvious only if touched.
Harry decided to prime the cover pieces that afternoon so they would dry overnight. He cleared the parts that didn’t need primed off of the newspapers he had spread across the floor of the garage and set the engine cover pieces down so none of them were touching.
Harry had never primed anything before, and he eyed the cover pieces dubiously while he shook the aerosol. After reading the directions on the can several times over, Harry shrugged and went at it, being careful to cover the outside of each piece evenly.
By the time he was done, Harry’s glasses were covered in a thin screen of tiny primer dots. He pulled the glasses off and squinted at them with a sigh. Scraping at the quick-drying primer had virtually no effect, and Harry realized he would likely have to use turpentine to take them off. Grunting, he rifled around in the box of random aerosols and cans and came up with a small can of paint thinner. Harry pried the lid off with a screwdriver and dipped the corner of his shirt in the thinner before trying to rub the primer off his glasses. After a few rubs he held the glasses up to the light, only to realize that the thinner was taking off the primer, but leaving a fine web of scratches across the glass.
“That’s IT,” he said out loud. He had had it with the glasses, had it with the way they were always dirty or fogged up, always slipping off his face, and anyway hated how people constantly told him how much he looked like his father in them.
Harry stood up and slipped his glasses back on, wrinkling his nose at how they reeked of paint thinner and aerosol primer. He strode purposefully into the house and through to the kitchen, where his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon were sitting at the table.
“What do you want?” Vernon demanded.
“I want contacts,” Harry announced abruptly.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Vernon snorted. “You have perfectly good glasses right on your face.”
Without another word, Harry took off his already ruined glasses and snapped them in two with a sudden wrench. He dropped the pieces on the table in front of his aunt and uncle.
“You haven’t had my eyes rechecked for years,” Harry said in a calm and deliberate voice. “And you are taking me in to get contacts. How will it look if I’m stumbling about the neighborhood, half-blind?”
He and Vernon stared each other down, Vernon going progressively red in the face, but in the end he was the one who dropped his eyes.
“Dudley’s getting an eye exam tomorrow,” he grunted, going back to his paper. “You can tag along if I don’t hear another peep out of you until then.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Harry allowed himself a small smirk as he went upstairs to take a shower, squinting the whole way.
* * * * * *
As the middle of August arrived, work on the Triumph was surprisingly far along. The body of the motorbike, which hadn’t taken much expertise to repaint and finish, had been done for some time. Harry had been working later and later into the summer nights after work, painstakingly removing and either cleaning or replacing virtually every piece of the engine.
When Mick announced that the last part Harry needed had arrived, Harry wheeled the Triumph back into the garage with him the next morning so that Mick could pass judgment on the roadworthy-ness of the motorbike. He watched with approval as Harry tightened the last bolts before crouching down to examine the engine itself.
“I think I’ve done all I can,” Harry admitted into the silence, running a grimy hand through his hair and still enjoying the fact that his glasses were not about to slide off his sweaty nose. He had even stopped poking himself in the face every few seconds. Nearly.
“And you’ve done a fair bit at that,” Mick told him, fingering some wire connections. “There’s just a few things…here…” Harry heard Mick snap something into place, “…and here…ah!”
“Well?” Harry could barely contain his anxiety. “How much more work does she need?”
“Not another bloody second,” Mick grinned like it was him who’d spent all summer building the bike. “Want to start her up?”
“YES!” Harry exclaimed, hardly daring to believe it. Mick pulled the ignition key, which had also been in the pile of parts, out of his pocket and held it up.
“You’re damn lucky we found this,” Mick reminded him as he tossed the key over.
Harry straddled his Triumph, feeling his heart pounding in his chest. He stuck the key in the ignition, but before he tried to start it, he stroked the engine cover once for luck, feeling the familiar ridges of the scratches he had painted over nearly a month ago.
When Harry heard the engine turn over and roar loud enough to make him jump, he grinned so hard it hurt, stretching muscles that hadn’t been stretched in a long time. The engine settled after a minute, and Harry let it run for a few more before killing the power.
“She sounds good,” Mick told him.
“She sounds great,” Harry said in awe, rubbing his hands across the handlebars and grips.
“She might ride a little rough at first,” Mick warned. “Some of those parts came from other Triumph years and models, but after a little while all the sharp edges will wear down till it’s comfortable.”
“Will she hold up on the road?” Harry asked. “Is she really finished?”
“No way to tell but to ride her,” Mick answered. He raised an eyebrow. “There is just one more part that missing.”
“What?” Harry asked, perplexed. He’d gone over the bike a thousand times, there was no part missing, even he was sure of that.
Mick slipped into the back and returned a moment later, holding something behind his back. Letting the suspense rise to a high pitch, he finally pulled out a black motorcycle helmet and handed it to Harry.
“It’s for you,” Mick told him. “Can’t have you do all that work and then get arrested riding the thing for a road safety violation, can I?”
Harry looked back and forth from the helmet to Mick several times, nearly ready to burst into tears from emotional overload. He wanted to hug Mick and the helmet and Triumph and EVERYTHING all at once, wanted to break into a frantic rendition of Ron’s Quaffle Waffle right then and there.
“Mick,” he started breathlessly, but Mick cut him off with a wave.
“Get out of here,” he shooed Harry out the open door of the garage. “Ride your motorbike, and I don’t want to see you back here until that engine purrs like a kitten.”
* * * * * *
Harry walked the Triumph home, not trusting himself in his emotional state to be a very safe rider. Mick had taught him the basics of motorbike riding on other bikes they had fixed, but Harry wanted to be perfectly calm when he took the Triumph out for the first time. He wanted to remember every single moment.
Harry parked the bike in the garage and went upstairs to take a long, hot shower. For the first time all summer, he thought deeply about what building the Triumph had meant to him. He allowed himself to think about Sirius, about how proud and excited Sirius would be if he were here now. Harry hoped that if Sirius could see him now, he was grinning the way Remus remembered from before Azkaban. Harry could nearly hear Sirius’ roar of laughter, laughter so deep it sounded like it must hurt.
Harry had heard that sort of laughter from Sirius few enough times to count it on one hand, but he figured if there was ever a time when Sirius ought to be laughing, it was now.
Harry changed into a fresh T-shirt and pair of jeans and returned to the garage. He wheeled the Triumph out into the driveway and mounted it, mind meditatively blank as he fastened the strap of the helmet underneath his chin.
Staring down the road in the fading daylight, Harry pondered where his first ride should be to for about half a second before he realized that there was only one place he wanted to go.
He started the engine and let it run without going anywhere until it settled again. He saw his aunt Petunia fly out of the house and wave at him violently, but her shrieks were drowned out by the roar of the motorbike. Still ignoring his aunt, Harry flipped up the kickstand with his foot and revved the engine once.
He sped out of the driveway without looking back, his only driving instructions being the direction an enchanted Ford Anglia had gone after breaking him out of his house four years ago.
Harry hoped it was a long trip by road.
* * * * * *
It was mid-afternoon when Harry arrived in Ottery St. Catchpole. He drew to a halt in front of the Burrow, where Ginny was sprawled across the front steps in the lazy August heat, and killed the engine. He unstrapped his helmet and rolled it into the long grass beside her.
Ginny stood up, looking unsurprised to see Harry, much less Harry without his glasses, much less Harry on a 1968 Triumph Bonneville. Harry supposed they would talk about that later as Ginny threw a leg over the motorbike and settled against his back, wrapping her arms around his waist.
“Won’t you need the helmet?” Ginny asked.
“We’re not going far,” he shrugged before starting the Triumph again.
Before Harry pushed off, Ginny leaned forward to brush her mouth against his ear.
“Happy Birthday, Harry.”
“This is very impressive, Harry,” Remus said as he examined the Triumph a week later. “Although I feel I should be a bit concerned, given your family history with such machines.”
Harry laughed out loud.
“It looks just like Sirius’ old bike,” Remus said wistfully. “His was red of course, but still...”
“The body of this one was red before we stripped it,” Harry mentioned reluctantly, unsure why he had been hoarding that particular bit of information until now.
“They did only make two colors,” Remus sounded amused. He brushed his fingers over the engine cover, then his brow furrowed as he rubbed the cover more deliberately.
“Harry, what’s this here?” he asked.
“There was some scratches there too deep to strip off,” Harry explained, wondering what Remus’ strange expression was all about. “Why do you ask?”
“It’s silly,” Remus let his hand fall away from the Triumph. “Sirius was a bit too smart to put his name on his clearly illegal motorbike, but he did have something engraved on it for identification. Right there.”
“What was it?” Harry asked, reaching over to finger the scratches himself.
“It was rather abstract,” Remus admitted in a soft voice, looking through Harry as though he wasn’t seeing him at all, “but it was supposed to be a stylized dog howling at the moon.”
After Remus had left, Harry returned to the garage and sat on the Triumph for a long time, rubbing his fingertips across the scratches, tracing the lines.
The motorbike had been very damaged, he told himself. Really anything could have caused deep scratches in the cover. And even if they were originally an intentional shape, after everything this cover had been through, honestly it could feel like anything at this point.
But Harry understood how one might think the top of the scratches was shaped very much like a crescent moon.