It was nearly two o'clock in the morning, but at the Burrow in the village of Ottery St Catchpole, a fourteen-year-old red-haired girl was still sitting up awake, reading by the light of a lit wand. This girl's name was Ginny Weasley, and though most people her age, witch or otherwise, would only be awake if they had some particularly difficult schoolwork to complete, she was busy trying to help a friend. Unfortunately, the book she was reading, The Subtle Guide to Transdimensional Travel by William Parry, was most definitely not telling her what she wanted to know. Sighing quietly, so as not to wake the girl sleeping in the bed across the room, she began to read again:
There are many dimensions known to be attached to our own, most are highly dangerous and should not be travelled to under any circumstance as it may also be difficult or even impossible to return. The most common dimension to which unwary – or foolish – travellers go to is one by the name of Caelum. Caelum is the pan-dimensional realm which constantly intersects and communicates with several lesser dimensions as well as our own. Little is known about the inhabitants of this dimension. However, the Council of Custos — who have had dealings with them before — have suggested it is the place where the gods worshiped by many Muggle religions reside. They have also confirmed the presence of several dimensions within its borders inhabited entirely by demons and other non-human creatures. The Capital City of Caelum is also believed to be inhabited by at least six immortals of great power: Auctor the Almighty, Lord Aduro, Lord Vox, Lord Ira, Lady Luxia, Lady Aquari and Lord Fatalis.
The abilities of four of these individuals are unknown. Lord Fatalis, however, is said to be a powerful Seer, with the ability to plot the path of a person's entire lifeline and see past the veils of space and time into other dimensions. Lord Vox, currently rumoured to be a resident in our dimension for the past decade or two, has been seen in the American state of California on several occasions over the years and is believed to have the ability to produce a rock-shattering scream and control people's minds with his voice – much like the Imperius Curse – He is also believed to be highly resistant to most forms of offensive magic and to, despite his small height of around eight feet, possess a strength comparable or even superior to that of a large giant.
Ginny sighed again and turned over the page, this was all very interesting but it wasn't helping. Harry's godfather, Sirius Black had been killed during a Death Eater ambush at the Department of Mysteries about a month before. However, in a letter written to her, Ron and Hermione two weeks before, Harry had admitted that he had been having nightmares about him being in great danger somewhere, and not dead. Ron had characteristically not taken this idea very seriously, and even Hermione had been reluctant to get involved, citing the need to study for her NEWTs (Ginny doubted studying was the only thing she and Ron had been doing up in his bedroom late at night however) so that left Ginny to research the topic alone. After two weeks of searching and not finding the information she was looking for, Ginny was beginning to feel a little foolish about the whole thing, and the looks she got from everyone else in her family told her very clearly that they definitely thought she was. Despite this, she couldn't bear to stop looking, so she confined her reading to the few quiet moments she could get away from the house, and to late at night.
She was just about to begin reading again, when she was distracted by a rustling sound from across the room. Her roommate, Hermione Granger, a Muggle-born witch, and a year older than Ginny, sat up. "Ginny! Don't tell me you're still reading those books about other dimensions! Half of them are Dark Magic and the rest are about as useful than that fake Trelawney!"
"Sorry, but I am," admitted Ginny. "I'll get some sleep now though," she said, putting the book on the floor and extinguishing her wand. "'Night."
"Good night, Ginny."
Hermione Granger may have been one of the cleverest witches of her generation, and it was rare for her to be proved wrong, but today, she would be.
The realm of Caelum boasted many unusual and mysterious locations, but none were the subject of more speculation than the large mirrored chamber at the top of the Golden Tower, home of Auctor the Almighty and his inner circle. This chamber was the Vault of Destiny, home of Lord Fatalis, the immortal all-seeing sentinel of Caelum.
Fatalis — a coal-skinned man of average height, lean, almost frail in stature and clad in Romanesque robes of deep royal purple — sat in his gold and ebony throne in the middle of the room, idly scanning the mirrors, peering into one world or another spotting nothing of particular interest. He suddenly started out of his seat, a frown creased his ancient visage and his hawkish yellow eyes narrowed. "What is he doing there? That is neither his proper time nor place! Nuntius, get in here now!"
Seconds later, a ghost-like being shimmered into existence to the right of the Seer's chair. The being, Nuntius, was a member of an order of minor spectres called Psi-Wraiths, who acted as servants and messengers to the more powerful inhabitants of Caelum. "Yes, my lord. How may I be of assistance?"
"Find Lord Aduro and ask him to come here. Immediately!"
"Yes, my lord." said Nuntius. Then after bowing deeply, he disappeared.
After a moment or two, a chalky-white skinned man entered the room, materialising in inside a column of light, which faded almost immediately. His appearance could hardly have been more different from that of either Fatalis or Nuntius. The warrior stood at eight feet two inches tall and was built of solid muscle making him as heavy as six normal men.
Fatalis sighed. Aduro was good, possibly even the best, but his sense of humour was... annoying. "I need you to go to Necrodemus, find the human who has wandered there by mistake and take him home." He raised a skeletal hand to forestall an interruption. "Then, make sure it doesn't happen again... ever. Understood?"
"Sounds like a plan," said Aduro with a grin, which was not a pleasant sight to see. "I'm on my way." he declared and left the same way he arrived.
"I hope he makes it in time," muttered Fatalis. "This was not part of the plan."
Most of the residents of Privet Drive in the village of Little Whinging, Surrey were happy to say they were quite normal, thank you very much, and so they were asleep at ten-to-midnight on the thirtieth of July. However, one reluctant resident of Number Four was still awake, and he was as not normal as it was possible to be. His name was Harry Potter, and he was a wizard.
This, in and of itself was unusual enough, as his odious relatives, the Dursleys, frequently reminded him, but Harry was unusual even among his own kind. He was attacked at the age of one by the darkest and most evil sorcerer of modern times, Lord Voldemort, and escaped on that occasion with nothing more than a cut on his forehead, while Voldemort himself was reduced to a mere spirit.
As if this weren't enough, he had also been forced to oppose Voldemort on four separate occasions since arriving at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry almost five years before, with the help of his friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger: In his first year he had had to stop Voldemort, who was sharing the body of a Hogwarts professor, Quirenius Quirrell at the time, from stealing the Philosopher's Stone that was hidden under the school. In his second year he had entered the legendary Chamber of Secrets to kill a basilisk and stop Tom Riddle (Voldemort's younger self) from coming to life by draining the life-force of Ginny Weasley. In his fourth year he was used in a ritual to resurrect the Dark Lord and survived another attempt to kill him. And just over month ago, at the end of his fifth year, he and his friends along with Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley and new friend Luna Lovegood, a fifth year Ravenclaw, were caught in a deadly ambush at the Department of Mysteries' offices in London, only escaping thanks to the arrival of Albus Dumbledore, Sirius Black and several more of the Order of the Phoenix, though Sirius was apparently lost to them during the fight.
It was that loss and the guilt surrounding it that was largely responsible for Harry's lack of sleep over the past few weeks, though the ever-present nightmares and visions caused by his link to his nemesis were another reason. Harry couldn't shake the thought that Sirius was lost somewhere and that if he could only find him, or his body, everything would be better. He greatly appreciated Ginny's efforts in researching where Sirius might have gone and ways to find him and — as he had on several occasions previously, when his thoughts turned in that direction — berated himself for ignoring her for four years. She had been a good friend to him the previous year and her sound advice and honest understanding had helped him through a particularly rough patch over the Easter holidays. He scowled as he remembered the original reason why he and Ginny had finally been able to become friends: she had been dating Michael Corner, a sixth year Ravenclaw who was also a member of Harry's illegal DA club. He was very glad that she and Michael had fallen out though — given the fact that he Michael was now dating Cho Chang, a seventh year who had also been in the club, and whom Harry had dated briefly during the year after having a crush on her since he first clashed with her at the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw match in his third year — this was a feeling that slightly puzzled Harry.
There was a whisper of feathers outside Harry's window and a familiar hoot caused Harry to jerk his head upwards. Hedwig was back, and she had brought friends. Picking up his wand he pointed it at the window and quietly cast an Unlocking Charm at the window — unlike on previous years there were no warnings from the Improper Use of Magic Office, he had got Uncle Vernon to sign the permission form for an Underage Sorcery Permit two weeks ago, by threatening another visit from Mad-Eye Moody and Mr Weasley.
Hedwig immediately flew inside, followed by two of the Weasleys' owls — Errol and Pigwidgeon — and three owls Harry didn't know, one of which he did recognise as a Hogwarts owl, all six birds carried at least one parcel. Harry retrieved all the parcels, and the Hogwarts owl and the two strangers flew out back out the window while Hedwig and Errol flew to her cage and Pig continued his frenetic flying around the room.
Hedwig carried two birthday presents and a birthday card, from Professor Lupin and Sirius' cousin Tonks. Lupin had bought him a new pocketknife replacing the one ruined during the Department of Mysteries incident, Tonks had bought him a leather spring-loaded holster that would bring his wand into his hand with flick of his wrist and included a short note:
Sirius asked me to get you this before he died. Have a good summer!
Pigwidgeon's parcel proved to be a joint present from both of his best friend's: a copy of Curses and Countercurses by Professor Vindictus Viridian and a box of Chocolate Frogs. Mrs Weasley had sent Errol with the usual birthday cake, Ginny gave him a wristwatch spelled to be waterproof and unbreakable, and Fleur Delacour and Bill had clubbed together to buy him a long trenchcoat of Hungarian dragonhide, which according to Bill would protect him from a wide range of spells and curses including Stunners and the Reductor Curse. The next two packages, from Mad-Eye Moody and his new friend Luna Lovegood, yielded a Pocket Foe Glass and a year's subscription to The Quibbler, the newspaper run by Luna's father.
The package carried by the Hogwarts owl contained a birthday card and a box of Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans from Hagrid, and the yearly letter addressed in the familiar green ink favoured by the school's Deputy Headmistress Professor McGonagall. As in Harry's third year, it was rather thicker than normal and Harry was sure he could feel something hard sliding around inside the envelope. He quickly tore open the envelope and pulled out several sheets of parchment, most where of plain parchment and written on in McGonagall's neat script but one was on parchment edged in gold and covered with writing in an ornate flowing hand. Putting aside the second parchment he unfolded McGonagall's letter first:
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr Potter,
Please note that the new school year will begin on September the first. The Hogwarts Express will leave from King's Cross, Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters, at eleven o'clock.
I am also pleased to inform you that following the removal of Dolores Umbridge from her post as Hogwarts High Inquisitor, the Headmaster has revoked your lifetime Quidditch ban, and you may return to your position of Seeker on the Gryffindor Team.
Furthermore, after consultation with the Headmaster and Madame Hooch I have decided to appoint you Quidditch Captain effective September the first. Please find enclosed your badge and a list of candidates recommended by Madame Hooch as possible new players.
Harry reached into the envelope and sure enough the silver badge he had seen pinned on Wood, Angelina and (in photos) his father's Quidditch robes gleamed back at him. He set it on his bedside table and continued to read.
You will need to replace Miss Johnson and Miss Spinnet, and I would also suggest you look into replacing Mr Kirke and Mr Sloper too. If you have any queries, please see me after the first Transfiguration lesson of term.
A list of books for the new year is enclosed.
Professor M. McGonagall
After skimming over the other two parchments — one of which, his equipment list, instructed him to acquire: The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 6), A Practical Guide to Self-Transformation by Metam Orpho, Advanced Alchemical Theory by Steven Taylor, The Omnipedia Botanica by Brian Greenmoss, Dangerous Beasts and How to Cope by Arnold Drake, and The Caligus Compendium: A Guide to Common Dark Curses by Lucifer Deville, before the beginning of term — and the second which had a short list of possible candidates for the vacant positions including Ginny, Dennis Creevey, and several names Harry only vaguely recognised from the Sorting Feast the year before — then he put them to one side and picked up the final piece of parchment:
WIZARDING EXAMINATIONS AUTHORITY
Head Examiner: Griselda Marchbanks
ORDINARY WIZARDING LEVEL CERTIFICATE
Candidate: Harry James Potter
OWLs received = 12
Subject - Grades
Astronomy - P/P
Charms - O/E
Care of Magical Creatures - E/E
Defence Against the Dark Arts - O/O
Divination - P/P
History of Magic - D
Herbology - A/A
Potions - O/E
Transfiguration - E/E
NB: Where only one OWL grade is given for a subject,
it refers to performance in the theory assessment.
Where there are two OWL grades given the first OWL
is the theory one.
Harry grinned. "Not too bad, Harry," he said to himself. "Probably not as good as Hermione, but not bad at all." He put the certificate on his bedside table and for the first time in a long while, he fell asleep with a smile on his face.
A/N: Chapter Two is already in the process of being beta'ed and will be up as soon as my beta has finished with it. In the mean time, let me know what you think by clicking on the link below or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you soon, Shamrock.