Jacob Tuttle was a simple man, he knew who he was and what he could do, he knew at an early age that he was not school smart, so he left at the age of 15 and enrolled in the Army. When he hit 24 he made Lieutenant, he knew that he was not going to advance any higher, but he also knew he wanted to stick it out for a while longer.
By the time that he turned 27, he realised that his time with the military had come to end and he put in his request to be let go and after the usual delay that paperwork endures, it was approved. Now for the first time in a long time, he had no idea what he wanted to do, the first thing he needed to do however was to buy a house, and thankfully, living on base for all those years, gave him quite the nest egg.
Jacob reached out to a real estate agent and together they began the search, nothing fancy by any means, but a few bedrooms, with an ample backyard were on the list and after a few weeks of looking, the house of Number 6 Privet Drive was his.
Jacob drove up the day after he got the keys, to work out exactly what he needed to make this house his home and that was where he met Vernon and Petunia Dursley and their very new baby, Dudley. Jacob liked to think he was a good judge of character, many years dealing with new officers and wet behind the ears Privates had helped fine tune it and while the Dursley’s presented a front of respectability, behind closed doors, Jacob had suspected that things were not as they seemed.
There was a lot of crying from the newborn, which Jacob knew they did, but even in public, the response was usually to present the child with food or something else, to keep him quiet. At home, Vernon was a very brief man, keeping things as consistent as he could.
When July moved into August, in the year 1980, Jacob finally moved in, with Petunia making herself known within the first 30 minutes of the moving truck turning up and while she initially dismissed him as no-one of important, his many years of serving in the military, gave her cause to think. Petunia had explained the new neighbour to her husband that very night and while they were thinking their thoughts were private, the warm summer nights had many people leaving their windows open and as the Dursleys were never quiet people when they were inside, Jacob could hear everything quite clearly.
“Vernon, you have to introduce yourself to our new neighbour”, Petunia insisted, while the program he had been watching had switched to commercial.
“Oh, and why is that Pet?” Vernon asked.
“He was in the Army, someone like that has got to be worth knowing, even if he has no job right now, being friends with a veteran can always be a good thing” Petunia supplied, knowing that Vernon always wanted to be in, with the right people.
“Ok, I will go and meet the man tomorrow, I too tired to worry about it now though, be sure to remind me will you” Vernon replied, the speed of his words increasing as the commercials ended.
Next door, Jacob had overheard everything and knew right away, that these people were definitely going to be a pain, but as he had invested a lot of his money into the house, he was going to have to make the best of it. One thing Petunia had mentioned did make Jacob think though, he had no job and while he was ok for now, he needed something to do, so out came the paper and Jacob started to look.
Over the next few days, Jacob had settled in, his routine still set in stone from his army days, a 5am wake up, was followed up by a good 90 minutes of exercise, thankfully, there was a park only a few streets away, that offered some variety. Breakfast was basic, no need to waste money on food that he was not a fan of and once he had eaten and then showered, the job hunt continued.
After a few weeks, Jacob had gone and introduced himself to most of the houses on his new street, with a lot of housewives making up the majority of those he had met at first. Speaking to one of the residents, he found out there was a new Gym nearby, who were looking for people, so after making himself presentable, he headed in, to see about a job.
The owner, Robert Amendola, knew right away that he was going to hire the man, he was fit, disciplined and knew how to use the bulk of the gear they offered. “Well, I think you are perfect for the position and would love it, if you could start as soon as possible” Robert said as he finished showing Jacob around.
“That would be perfect Sir, I was getting a little stir crazy at home and would be happy to start tomorrow” Jacob had replied, a smile covering his face.
“None of this Sir business, please, I work for a living” Robert had replied almost right away, Jacob knew at once, that he was going to like this man.
“Sure thing, Mr Amendola then” Jacob had replied, with only a few micro-seconds before Robert replied, “No, Robert or Rob is fine, I won’t stand on ceremony here”. Jacob threw his hand out, giving a nice firm handshake and then making his way out the door.
As the months passed, Jacob had evolved his routine, while he still woke up early and went for a run, the run did not return him home, instead it took him towards his place of work, Jove’s Gym, a place where he felt content. Rob was a straight forward man and the rest of the crew were much the same, with a lot of the regulars knowing that if you wanted to be pushed hard, Jacob was the man to ask.
“Morning Jacob, nice run in today?” Adam had asked, thankfully, Jacob knew it was Adam, he was the only one here at 6am.
“Yes Mr Oltermen, it was a little brisk, but what can you expect from an early November morning. Though once you get going and your body warms up, there is no denying how good a run can be” Jacob replied, while he went towards the towels.
“Come on now Jacob, how many times have I said to call me by my first name” Adam had replied, with some humour to his voice.
“Well, you are the customer, so as always, just once more. Of course, you might need to remind me again tomorrow” Jacob knew he would never do it, he was not a friend, just someone he knew from the gym and regardless of how friendly the man was, he was not a friend.
Jacob completed his routine, a quick and simple breakfast, before hitting the showers and making a start on his day. The day itself, proved to be quite routine, until three men walked into the gym, looking quite strange and lost as if they were in China and not Surrey.
“Can I help you sirs?” Jacob asked as he approached the men, the one at the front, seemed more relaxed than the other two.
“Oh yes, if you don’t mind, I am trying to find Privet Drive, but I am unable to find it.” the man with the messy black hair replied, his friend to his right scoffed.
“Come on James, I don’t know why you are even bothering, they have not spoken in ages and there is no way in the world that Petunia cares about anything to do with Lils or you or even us.” His face doing nothing to hide his disgust as he mentioned the name Petunia.
“Now Sirius, you know how upset Lily has been and while Harry has been a handful and keeping her busy, she still misses her sister, how can I not try” James looked back at the other man, a sigh escaping.
“Sorry, James was it?” Jacob had asked, hoping to get a little more intelligence about these three men and their little mission they were on.
“Yes, sorry, I never introduced myself, James Potter, the quiet one to my left is Remus Lupin and the loud one on the other side is Sirius Black.” James replied, with a simple gesture towards each man.
“Nice to meet you all, Jacob Tuttle at your service and in relation to your directional issues, I might be able to assist, I live next to a woman named Petunia on Privet Drive” Jacob had replied.
The three men, had immediately spun into a circle, conferring in whispers about this new development, while Jacob thought it was odd, he got the distinct impression that they were very close.
“I would be happy to show you the way, though I don’t have a car here, so you would have to walk it” Jacob noted, interrupting their little discussion.
“Jacob, it would be a huge help if you could, I have something to discuss with Petunia and the sooner I can do that, the sooner I can return home to my family” James responded.
“Well, give me a few moments to collect my things and I will show you the way” Jacob responded, his hand pushed forward, in a quick manner, ready to seal the deal as it were. James shook his hand and nodded his head, “Thank you, this is really appreciated”
Jacob had dashed out to the back, collected his jacket and then went to the boss, “Rob, I need to head out early, some folks here are in need for directions and they are heading my way, so going to help them out”
“Some folk you have waiting for you, I mean, one of them appears to be wearing a dress” Rob had replied, looking out at the three men.
“Yeah, but who knows with people these days, fashions can change in an instant” Jacob replied, his thoughts drifting to why someone would wear, what appeared to be a heavy dress.
“Well, who am I to judge, I spend most of my days in shorts, even in winter” Rob joked back, “No worries, head out and enjoy your weekend and I will see you back on Monday.” A wave of his hand had shooed Jacob out the door.
“Thanks boss, have a good weekend” by the time Jacob had finished speaking, he was out the door and headed back to the three strange men. By the time he got back to them, they appeared to be in an even more confused state, looking at the machines as if they were some sort of medieval torture device or something.
“Well, come on, it is a bit of a walk from here, but thankfully, it is also a nice one” Jacob spoke up as he approached them again.
“Oh, well, let’s get to it shall we, we have not a moment to lose” James replied, “Maybe on the way, you can explain some of the things here” He said, pointing at the equipment.
“Sure, thing James, be happy to” Jacob noted and with that, they were off. While the run from home to work would only take Jacob around 20 minutes, if he pushed himself, at a walking pace, it took almost four times that, and for some reason, it took even longer with the three men. After the first 10 minutes or so, James and Sirius had started to pant, like they had run a mile, Remus looked fine, but by the hour mark, all three of them looked like they were ready to pass out.
Along the walk, which seemed to be taking far longer than expected, Jacob had heard some strange conversation happening behind him, words like Muggles and You-Know-Who were used quite frequently. Being used to hearing people talk about their lives while doing their routine, Jacob had learnt not to ask anything, in fact he usually ignored the conversation entirely, but this one, what he could hear of it, kept him listening, albeit discreetly.
Once they turned onto Privet Drive, Jacob noted they looked dead on their feet, but Sirius had pulled a small bottle of liquid from inside his dress and downed it. Before Jacob had even thought to ask what, it was, Sirius looked in perfect condition and as Jacob turned to the other two, they were also looking perfect.
“What did you guys just drink?” Jacob asked, confusion in his voice. “Oh, nothing special, just an old family thing, use it when you need a boost to your day.” Sirius replied, a smirk on his face.
“You need to be careful of what you put into your bodies, you never know how something might make you feel after repeated use” Jacob replied back, the instructor in him shining through, “But if you think you are fine, then who am I to stop you.”
As number 4 came into view, Jacob stopped and turned back and let them know, “Well, here you go, number 4, I am right next door at number 6” Jacob noted as he pointed to the houses. “I should let you know, Petunia can be a little abrupt at times, more so if her little angel is upset” Jacob tried hard to avoid rolling his eyes when he mentioned Dudley, but the other saw it.
“Ah, a mother like that” Remus had said, speaking aloud for the first time, “Quite a common thing really, some mothers just think their children are perfect and will see nothing or no-one say anything against their view” Jacob nodded his head as Remus spoke, that was Petunia alright.
“In any case, this is where I leave you, I have to grab my car and head to the shops, gotta re-stock the cupboards, if I want to eat” Jacob said, joking as he began to turn around. Before he could complete his turn, he noted that all three of the men had some strange looks on their faces, as if they had no idea what he was saying.
“Of course,” James replied after a moment, “Please don’t let us keep you and thank you again for your help, it really was very nice of you” James put forth his hand, letting Jacob shake it in return. Jacob then made for his place, preparing to get his things together for his weekly shopping trip. Just as he made it to his car, an almighty shriek was heard from next door, Petunia could be heard clear as day.
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE FREAKS, I WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU OR MY SISTER AND NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR FREAK OFFSPRING” Her face was as red as a ripe tomato, fear and anger etched onto it as well. While the three men all ran out of the house, as if the hounds of Hades were on their heels, Dudley started to scream. “LOOK WHAT YOU DID, YOU MADE MY DUDDYKINS CRY, GET LOST FREAKS AND NEVER RETURN HERE AGAIN”
James looked sad, not for himself, but still sad, Sirius and Remus shook their heads, as if to say they knew this was how it would play out. The three of them had looked up to see Jacob there, each placing a very strained smile on their faces. Jacob waved, as if to say he was sorry, but he still climbed into the car, knowing he had things to do.
As the car moved out of the drive, he saw the three men standing at the edge of number 4’s driveway and by the time he passed them and looked in the rear-view mirror, they were gone. Jacob stopped at this, where could they have gone, it was not like someone could vanish into thin air, but no matter where he looked from the car, he could see nothing. Confused, he began to move forward again, thinking that the three men were quite strange, but they clearly had bonds between them, the world was far more complex than Jacob was used to.
While that evening, Jacob was treated to the Petunia encore of her early screaming, it thankfully did not last anywhere near as long as it had earlier, and it seemed Vernon agreed, he shouts far shorter. But as things are wont to do, life moved on, November soon became December and then the New Year rolled around and soon, Jacob had finished his first 12 months in his new home. He had only hoped the next 12 months, might bring some change, something new and exciting, if only he knew.