It was on a scorching Tuesday afternoon under an engorged orange sun that Harry Potter finally understood what the expression ‘the dog days of summer’ meant. He couldn’t quantify exactly how that knowledge had come to him, only that it had. This foggy burst of information in actuality had a very obvious source: his brain was frying.
He was slumped on a swing whose rubber seat seemed to be melting into the bottom of his pants. There was no shade and not even a hint of a breeze in the playground. Shimmering waves rippled off the pavement and the car roofs as they baked in the sun. The metal bars that made up most of the playground’s construction were blistering to the touch. The urban surroundings seem to trap the high temperature like a furnace, a sweat-sticky summer in the asphalt heat. It was probably fairly similar to hell, except that in hell he’d have a lot more company. Unsurprisingly, the playground was deserted. He supposed there could have been an Order member watching him from somewhere nearby. He might have raised his head and looked around, but under the crushing noon it seemed like too much work.
He never should have left the house. And he wouldn’t have, had the unbearable weather not driven Aunt Petunia to rarely seen levels of irritability as she was forced to watch her carefully manicured garden wilt below the brutal sky. After spending his morning dodging both job assignments and the occasional household item, he had decided to try his luck outdoors.
In one way, the scorching climate was a blessing. He was able to concentrate fully on his discomfort, and in so doing, didn’t have to think. He was tired of thinking. It got him nowhere, the same circular patterns wearing themselves onto the inside of his skull like tracks in sand. He’d rather sit in this kiln of a playground while his skin melted and ran than crawl back into his darkened room for another round with his demons. Madness lurked behind the drawn shades. Memories turned his room into a killing jar.
It hadn’t been the best of summers. And with his past record, that was saying something.
He wouldn’t think about it. He absolutely refused to. The playground had been designated a thought-free zone, an environment sterile of emotion or impulse. There was only the sun, the heat, the swing, and the gravel beneath his feet. Anything else had been sanitized. The sun would cook away all impurities, boiling his rage and regrets off the top of his head to dissipate in the atmosphere.
He sighed and tried to open his eyes against the blinding glare before giving it up as a bad job. If anyone decided to sneak up on him, he’d just have to hope he heard them first. It was too hot to see.
As if the thought had somehow summoned noise to his position, he heard the crunch of the playground gravel. Caution banished his uncaring stance. No matter how attractive apathy was, he couldn’t bring himself to surrender entirely. He opened both his eyes, using his hand to shield them from the sun.
Another young man about his age was in the process of sitting down on a nearby bench. There didn’t seem to be anything particularly remarkable about him, though Harry couldn’t discern anything in the brightness other than his raggedy blond hair.
It was public property, after all. The other boy could sit on the bench if he felt like it. Really, Harry wished he had thought of it first. The swing was an adequate seat but didn’t support his back, and that lack of bracing was slowly developing into an unpleasant stiffness. But the blond-haired teen probably had not the persistence born of desperation that Harry did. He’d move along eventually and surrender his choice seat. Harry couldn’t imagine anyone else willingly subjecting themselves to the midday climate for long.
Sure enough, no more than five minutes passed before the boy rose from his position. Harry would wait until he trudged away, and then take the bench. But instead of moving along like he was supposed to, the blond made his way to the swing set on which Harry was perched and slid into the next swing over.
It was public property, Harry reminded himself again. There was nothing to say that the stranger couldn’t sit wherever he wanted. Harry only hoped he would not attempt to start any sort of conversation. He was not feeling at all sociable and preferred for the time being to be left to his misery. Brooding might be hard on the back but it was easier than doing anything constructive.
The other boy said nothing. Harry said nothing. Then they both said nothing together. In a scene that would have looked bizarre had there been anyone around to witness it, the two sat next to each other for over half an hour without exchanging a single word. Small circles of shadow lengthened beneath them. Neither of them moved.
After quite some time had elapsed in this way, Harry thought he’d better get back to number four, Privet Drive before he became dehydrated. The last thing he needed was to pass out in the middle of the playground – his relatives certainly wouldn’t come looking for him, and he didn’t know if he could count on the stranger to help. Maybe that was why the boy was sitting there. He was waiting for Harry to pass out so he could not help. The bastard.
Harry thought his brain must be liquefying. On further review, he was feeling a little light headed. He’d best be moving. Standing painfully on knees inflexible from disuse, Harry shuffled over a few feet of gravel and started the walk back to the house.
“Nice talking to you, Harry,” the blond boy said.
Harry turned and stared at him. The boy met Harry’s green-eyed gaze with a grey-eyed one of his own. Neither backed down. Slowly, Harry reached one hand to his right pocket and slid his wand out from where it was hidden beneath his shirt, being careful to let his arm conceal it.
The boy blinked owlishly. “I don’t have a wand. If you’re going to let me have it, then just get it over with. Anticipation is sometimes worse than pain, you know.”
Harry didn’t put his wand away. “That’s an American accent,” he said slowly in a voice rusty from a day of neglect. “I don’t know you.”
“American? Maybe. Home is where the heart is, after all – work, church, school, a jar of formaldehyde,” the boy mused before continuing. “And I don’t know you. But I do know of you, and you don’t know of me. So where does that leave us?”
“It leaves us,” Harry growled, “with you answering some questions before I hurt you.” It wasn’t entirely false bravado – he wouldn’t mind hurting someone in his current mood. A pointless fight picked with some wizarding admirer might be just what the doctor ordered.
“I’ll tell you anything you want to know,” the boy said, shrugging.
“Who are you?”
Harry frowned. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
”It’s the answer to your question. It’s not my fault that it doesn’t mean anything.”
“Come on,” Harry scoffed. “You were obviously looking for me. What do you want?”
“Maybe I want to talk to you.”
“So talk. I’m right here.” Harry was tired of not knowing what was going on in his life, and rage was an easy remedy for impotence. The anger fuelled him, stole his clarity back from the heat.
“Not here. We can go to your house.”
“Do I really look that stupid?”
The boy – no, ‘Scott’—grinned at him in obvious amusement. “Don’t ask questions where you might not like the answers.”
“Just tell me what you want,” Harry said coldly. “I don’t want to play games. Just tell me.” His fingers twitched on his wand. He was ready to fight, run, or both. This ‘Scott Kharan’ – presuming he’d told the truth about even that much – was quite possibly a Death Eater and there weren’t any guarantees he was the only one around. Harry held tightly to his wand, but knew that his feet might well serve him better.
“Dumbledore sent me.”
Harry hesitated at that – but then, it was an easy thing to say. “Can you prove it?”
“No, because it’s a lie. He didn’t really send me. But I did talk to him before I came here.”
“If you’re trying to gain my trust—” Harry glared at the boy “—then you’re doing a bad job of it.”
Scott shrugged again. “What kind of proof would you accept?”
“Are you a member of the Order?” If he was, he’d know certain things, including what ‘the Order’ meant in the first place.
“Then I don’t think you can tell me anything I’ll believe. So I’ll ask you again,” Harry said: “What do you want with me?”
“I’m here to talk about the Prophecy and what we’re going to do about it.”
“What Prophecy?” he bluffed. The rumours in the wizarding world weren’t specific. Scott might know that a Prophecy existed, but he wouldn’t know what it said.
“The one about the seventh month, being marked as an equal, defying Voldemort three times, or ‘thrice’, I guess…. You know the one I’m talking about.” Scott waved his hand dismissively.
For a moment, Harry didn’t even breathe. Scott was still talking.
“There’s sometimes a Prophecy. As it would end up, this one is pretty important. Still, what interests me is why they get worded in that sort of mangled old English vernacular. Supposedly impressive, I guess.”
There seemed little point in denying it further. The blond teen had somehow heard the Prophecy. But what that meant, Harry didn’t know. “Dumbledore told you this?”
“Trelawney. You took it from her, didn’t you. You got into her mind.” Harry felt the brief pinch of fear at the thought of having to battle a Legilimens, alone and unprepared in a Muggle playground.
Scott raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Who?”
“If I sit back down,” Harry said, holding Scott’s gaze intently, “will you tell me what this is all about?”
Had Harry had not spent so much of his life in the dark, he probably would have left the boy right then and there. Instead, he found himself thinking again that answers were sometimes worth a risk. Scott Kharan knew something. And Harry wanted to know what that was. Tucking his wand back into his pocket, he reseated himself on the swing.
“I’m sorry for the way this is going,” Scott began, “but it always seems to happen like this; whenever I have to explain myself to people... Well. It gets complicated. In order to fully explain what I have to say, I’d have to talk and keep talking until sometime tomorrow afternoon. And that’s only if you didn’t have any questions.” He sighed. “You’re not going to believe me, but that’s not important. You just have to remember what I say.”
Harry made a derisive noise. “I think you might be surprised what I’d believe at this point.”
The other boy nodded. He opened his mouth with a breath like he was going to speak, then closed it. It was another few seconds before he started again. “Harry – do you believe in destiny?”
Harry thought about it for a second. “After the Prophecy, I don’t see how I could not.”
“Exactly! Good. Yeah, the Prophecy is essentially a verbal proclamation of destiny. It states what has to be done and who has to do it. Most people never get to hear their destinies spoken. Most people don’t have one either.”
“Lucky them.” Harry wasn’t sure where Scott was going with this.
“Well yes – and no. You see, most people don’t know what their destiny is, assuming they have one. They’ll live their whole lives without ever realising if they’ve fulfilled it. But some people, people like you, have a destiny so strong and so specific that it drives them. But once it’s completed, you know you’re free. Very few others get that kind of surety. Once you kill Voldemort, that’s it; you can do whatever you want with your life. It’s a tough goal to have hanging over you, but at least you can see the finish line.”
“No I can’t,” Harry muttered, feeling that familiar sense of defeat come over him. “I don’t even know where to start.”
“I can probably help with that,” Scott stated offhandedly.
“So that’s what this is about,” Harry said, all but sneering as he looked at Scott with bitter eyes. The answer to this conundrum should have been obvious from the start. “You want to be a hero. You want to join the Chosen One on his great quest for victory.” He turned away, staring down at the gravel. “I’ve already got enough friends who might get killed for this. Go find some other source of glory.”
“I’ve known a lot of Chosen Ones,” Scott said vaguely. “The best of the lot came from Arroyo, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is I’m offering a little help to someone who could probably use it.”
“Are you deaf?” Harry retorted angrily. He felt like his eyes were burning a pit in the ground. “Or just stupid? People around me get killed. Didn’t you hear the Prophecy? You can’t help me. Nobody can.”
Scott rolled his eyes dramatically. “Yeah, okay. If you’re done sobbing on your shirt sleeve, I’ll continue.”
Despite himself, Harry chuffed out a short laugh. It was hard to hold onto his anger for any length of time these days. Emotions seemed to drain out of him, like he was sporting several holes. “By all means.”
“So you’re willing to accept the idea of destiny. The universe has a purpose. Sometimes.” Scott rubbed the side of his neck, looking a little lost in his own speech. “Let’s suppose that there are people who are aware of this purpose. They can see what has to happen and who has to do it.”
“Seers, you mean.”
“No, not Seers.” Scott blew out a breath. “God, why don’t the facts just come pre-packaged? I gotta dress this shit up ten different ways every goddamn time…”
Harry started to grow angry again. “I don’t want the small bits of the truth that you think I can handle. I’m tired of people not telling me things for my own good!”
“The whole truth is inconceivable for the uninitiated, and I can’t fully explain something that I don’t totally understand myself. So how about – no, that’s no good.” Scott frowned in thought for a moment. “This doesn’t get any easier with time. Everyone has their own level of understanding when it comes to things like this… The trick is to find a common ground.”
“It’s really very simple,” Harry said impatiently. “You open your mouth and tell me the truth.”
“Well aren’t you the communications expert,” Scott responded scathingly. “Let me file that advice under ‘B’ for bullshit and then you give me a couple seconds to think about this, alright?”
“Fine,” Harry said shortly, feeling more of his anger return.
“Okay let us pretend, together…” Scott started again, “… that sometimes a universe might get a destiny. So then naturally we could conjecture that, if the universe doesn’t meet that destiny, then bad things will happen, right?
Bad things. Scott had a flair for understatement. Harry nodded in agreement with that lacklustre assessment.
“Now we’ve got this destiny to complete. But it’s not easy, you know? Of course you know. Maybe the person who has to do this huge thing could use some help. So if there were people who knew about the destiny and about the person who had to do it, then they’d be obligated to lend a hand.” He gave Harry a sideways glance. “These people operate, or, uh, might operate outside of normal perceptions. They come in and change things since that’s what is required. Because this ‘destiny’ is so important to the shape of things, all things, it stands to reason that making sure it comes to a satisfactory completion would be in the best interests of everyone, and that’s exactly what these possible people are all about – the best interests of everyone.” He paused. “This is theoretical, obviously…”
Harry put his head in his hands and rubbed his eyes tiredly, trying to repress either manic laughter or a scream of frustration – he wasn’t sure which. “So you’re trying to tell me you’re my guardian angel.”
“Okay, I fully admit my speech was less than perfect but how the hell do you get ‘angel’ out of any of that? I’m not an angel.”
“You’re barking mad, that’s what you are.”
“I know, but not because of what I told you. Look,” Scott said seriously, leaning towards Harry. “Don’t bother thinking about it. You don’t have to believe me. When I came looking for you today I wasn’t going to tell you the truth yet. I had some crap thrown together about how I was a transfer student and Dumbledore said I should meet you before I started going to Hogwarts so I could make at least one friend first. But after sitting here and looking at your sad sorry ass, I figured you’d had enough of that to last you.”
Harry appreciated the sentiment, even if it was coming from an insane person. “Thanks. I think.”
“Okay, alright. You don’t have to be my friend if you don’t want to. But it is important that you at least believe that I can help you. If you want, you can convince yourself that I suffer from mild schizophrenia and delusions of grandeur. But while I may be a weirdo, I’m still useful – and I’m on your side. That’s all you have to believe.”
“And what can you do that I can’t?” Harry asked, though without any real scorn.
“What can you do that I can’t?”
That was a fair question, and one that Harry didn’t really have an answer for. Instead he addressed something that Scott had said earlier. “You said Dumbledore was going to let you in as an exchange student to Hogwarts. You convinced him somehow.”
Scott nodded. “That mean anything to you?”
It would have meant more in the past, a thought that filled Harry with both with shame and disillusionment, and a small surge of an old anger. “There was a time…” he mumbled in response. “I bet he won’t even tell me he talked to you.”
“No, because I told him I was coming to see you myself. Here—” Scott reached into his pocket and deposited something on Harry’s lap. Harry picked it up and unfolded it and saw it was a student transfer form, signed at the bottom with the Headmaster's familiar, sprawling signature.
Harry knew then that at least Scott wasn’t lying about his attending Hogwarts with Dumbledore’s permission. He handed the paper back to Scott and nodded slowly. “I can believe that much then; but you can understand—”
“No worries. Like I said, just count me as an ally, if a crazy one.” Scott looked around, taking in the sunstroke-worthy surroundings. Harry thought there was something odd about his face for some reason. After a moment, he realised it was because the other boy wasn’t squinting in the unbearably bright afternoon sun. He appeared unaffected by the glare that had Harry all but blind. “Your shadow is still watching us. Do they know if you have any Muggle friends?”
“What?” Harry swivelled his head, but didn’t see anything. “My shadow?”
“There’s someone to your left, in the bushes. They’re invisible. I’m not sure how.”
“How…” Harry tried to see the spot out of the corner of his eye, but it was too bright. “Are you sure? Maybe you imagined it.”
“No, I can see them. Wait.” Scott looked up at the sky over the patch of brush as if scoping for any clouds. “They’re under some sort of covering. Looks like a sheet.”
“An Invisibility Cloak,” Harry said, Scott’s words confirming his suspicions. “They must not have it on all the way if you can see them.”
“If you say so. I haven’t read about Invisibility Cloaks yet.”
“You actually do have a wand, right?” Harry asked tersely. He pushed out with his feet and moved the swing backwards, trying to get a different angle on the bushes.
“I told you I don’t. I still haven’t gotten around to it.” Scott’s eyes widened slightly. “If you’re going to do something, you’d better do it. They’re—”
A jet of red light shot from the bushes towards Scott – but he had already reacted to the possibility. A cloud of dust rose from the gravel as he hit the ground, having flipped himself backwards off his swing. In one smooth motion, he did a reverse somersault onto his feet and dove through to the other side of the swing set, dodging another Stunner sent his way. This time when he hit the ground, he stayed down, rolling sideways as a third stunner threw up a geyser of gravel until he reached the small cover offered by a nearby bin.
Harry hadn’t been idle while this was happening. He fell flat to the ground, in the shallow furrow carved by the feet of people who had used the swings. “STUPEFY! STUPEFY! STUPEFY!” He shot three spells in quick succession into the area from which the incoming fire had originated, spacing them out for a blanket effect.
Whoever was under the Invisibility Cloak threw themselves downwards to avoid the spells – he could see the bushes compress under their weight. “STUPEFY!” He blasted the flattened shrubbery and tracked the attacker rolling sideways through the brittle twigs. “STU—”
Before he could finish the incantation, the Invisibility Cloak fell away, revealing one flushed and dishevelled Nymphadora Tonks lying on her side on top of the now decimated hedge. They stared at each other for a long moment before she winked at him from her undignified position. “Wotcher, Harry!”
Harry let out a breath that was part relief and part fury. “Tonks! What the hell are you—”
“Sorry, sorry, Harry! But we can’t be too careful, you know.” She pulled herself to her feet, trying to remove some of the detritus that was caught in her hair and clothes. “Constant vigilance and all that! I was just going to Stun the Muggle bloke to see if he was a Death Eater, then Obliviate him. No harm done.” She paused. “Bit of a quick mover though, isn’t he? I suppose we’ll have to Obliviate him anyway.”
“Oh, well if that’s all, why’d I even bother dodging?” Scott’s sarcastic voice came from somewhere behind the bin.
“He’s not a Muggle,” Harry said, picking himself up. He paused. What was Scott, exactly? Introducing him as a possible lunatic didn’t really help his chances of escaping a Memory Charm. “He’s an exchange student from America. Dumbledore wanted him to meet me.”
Tonks’ face lit up. “You don’t say! America, is it? I’ve often fancied a holiday there.” She turned to Scott, who was back on his feet but prudently still behind the bin. “I knew a girl from school who moved to New England – have you ever been to Innsmouth? They have quite the Merpeople population there, I understand.”
Scott shook his head. “Can’t say that I have.”
“Uh, anyway,” Harry said, breaking in. “He’ll be attending Hogwarts this year, so we were going to go back to the house and go through my supplies…”
“Yep,” Scott immediately agreed.
Tonks looked a little disappointed that she wasn’t going to get to bombard Scott with questions on the spot, but nodded anyway. “Oh, alright then. Let me grab my cloak and I’ll escort you back.”
“Tonks, how long have you been following me?” Harry asked her.
“All day today, luv. It’s my shift.”
Harry clenched his fists. “I don’t need a keeper.”
“We all have to make sacrifices, Harry. Some things are bigger than we are,” she said carefully, shooting a meaningful look at Scott.
“I suppose,” Harry granted grudgingly, if only to avoid an argument. It was too hot for a row.
“It’ll be back to school before you know it; no need for the long face, Harry. Off we go then!” She covered herself with the cloak and disappeared from sight.
“Wait,” Harry said before they started walking; “if you’ve been here all day then why didn’t you just Stun him right away?” he asked, motioning towards Scott.
“I wasn’t sure whether to risk it or not at first,” Tonks’ voice said from his left. “But then he didn’t leave after awhile, so I started looking for a clear shot. Bad move on my part to get in those bushes – I was a bit stuck, what with having the cloak on.”
As they walked down the street, Harry had the odd sensation of his trainers sticking to the still shimmering pavement whenever he put them down. He realised with a start just how thirsty he was. The events of the afternoon had put his discomfort temporarily out of his head. He heard Tonks sigh somewhere behind him. “Rotten weather for an Invisibility Cloak. You wouldn’t believe how miserable it is in here.”
“Out here isn’t a vast improvement,” Scott observed.
Harry silently agreed, feeling the sweat roll down into his collar. “You don’t have to sit outside the house all day, do you, Tonks?”
“Oh heavens no, I only need to watch you when you go out. If you’re inside, I can go somewhere cooler – preferably with a big icy glass of lemon squash.”
Harry thought that sounded really good right about then. He’d settle for a glass of water though when he returned to the house. If not, maybe he could ask Tonks if she knew how to conjure anything good to drink—
He stopped dead in his tracks, a chill running through him. “Tonks?”
“Oh, Harry, it’s awfully hot for talking.”
“I performed underage magic back in the park.”
There was a pause. “Oh my,” Tonks said worriedly. “I hadn’t even thought of that. If I was on Auror duty it wouldn’t be a problem, but…”
Harry closed his eyes. Even if his past offence really had been stricken from the record, he knew he couldn’t count on the Ministry to be fair. He was in serious trouble.
“Maybe they didn’t detect it,” Scott suggested.
“Well, there’s a chance,” Tonks said. “But to be honest it’s very small. Oh, I’m so sorry, Harry. I didn’t think of how you’d react if I missed...”
“I doubt it’s a problem,” Scott said nonchalantly.
What exactly was Scott trying to do? Harry looked at him in confusion.
“Relax,” Scott told him. “We’ll see what happens when we get back. But I bet it’s nothing.”
“Let’s at least get out of the sun,” Tonks added. “I can’t think anything through in this bloody heat.”
Number four, Privet Drive didn’t seem so much to come into view as coalesce from the refracted light, constructing itself in bits and pieces pulled to it in flickering waves. If anything, it was hotter outside than when Harry had left. The driveway showed that Uncle Vernon hadn’t returned home yet, which was good news.
Clumping wearily, Harry opened the front door and stepped through. The air inside washed over him as if he had walked into a freezer. He was suddenly, blissfully cold.
If Scott enjoyed the transition as much as Harry did, he didn’t show it as he came in behind, holding the door open just a second longer than necessary so that the still invisible Tonks could enter. Tonks said nothing, but Harry was fairly certain he had heard the release of a pleasurable sigh.
He poked his head into the kitchen and found Aunt Petunia doing something on a cutting board. There were no unusual letters anywhere, and certainly no owls. He couldn’t be certain he was safe until he checked his room though. With some trepidation, he motioned to Scott to follow him and went up the stairs, stepping carefully to avoid attracting attention.
“This is my room,” he said to Scott, though it was self-explanatory. He briefly felt embarrassed over the mess he knew was inside, but Scott didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would hold it against him. His suspicions were confirmed when, upon entering the clothes-strewn bedroom, Scott slumped onto the end of Harry’s bed and pillowed his head on a discarded pair of jeans without comment.
Relief didn’t set in until Harry had scanned the room and seen nothing out of place. Hedwig was the lone owl in his living space, and no letters had been dropped anywhere. Somehow, he had escaped punishment. The tension fleeing his body, Harry collapsed on his bed and propped himself up on the pillows.
The bedroom door closed itself by way of an invisible hand and Tonks slipped out from beneath the cloak. “I see things haven’t improved since the last time I was here. I don’t suppose there’s something to drink under all this?”
That seemed like a worthy reason to get up. “I’ll be right back,” Harry said.
Seeing that Aunt Petunia had moved on to some other room of the house Harry felt particularly daring and stole several cans of pop from the fridge. Returning with his bounty of condensation-wrapped cans, Harry resumed his position against the headboard of the bed and took a deep, delicious drink of the cooled liquid.
The next couple of hours slipped by in pleasant conversation though it was mostly between Harry and Tonks. Scott understandably said little, lying at the foot of the bed with his eyes closed for the majority of the time and opening them only to answer Tonks’ occasional questions about America. Harry diligently avoided such topics as schoolwork, Voldemort, and Sirius, and Tonks followed suit.
“Right,” Tonks said eventually. “I’ll call it a day then. Just don’t leave the house again, Harry, or I’ll have to come back!”
“I won’t be going anywhere,” he assured her. “Be seeing you.”
“Bye for now, luv. You too, Scott, I’m sure you’ll love Hogwarts – I know I did!”
Throwing her Invisibility Cloak back on, Tonks left through the door, closing it behind her. Harry looked at Scott, who appeared to be perfectly content to fall asleep where he was. “Do you actually want to look at my school supplies?”
“Nah.” Scott still didn’t open his eyes. “I’ve got a list.” He sat up with a groan. “I better head out though. Just a few more things to tell you.”
Harry felt he already had quite enough information to absorb as it was, but he nodded anyway.
“Just to summarize, I’m going to be going to Hogwarts with you in order to help you fulfil the Prophecy. I can’t kill Voldemort for you. But I can help clear the way.” Scott smiled a little bit. “It probably would have been easier just to do this without jumping on you first thing about who I am, et cetera, but you have a right to know.”
“I don’t ‘know’ anything about you,” Harry stated firmly. He didn’t want Scott to get any ideas about acceptance. As far as Harry was concerned, Scott was completely mental.
“Fair enough. Just give me the benefit of the doubt at least.” Scott stood. “I’ll see you around, I don’t know when or where. But if you don’t see me before the train, you’ll definitely see me then.” He looked somewhat distracted. “I’ve got some things to do.”
Harry looked at him. He really didn’t know what to make of Scott Kharan. He decided that he would write to Dumbledore immediately, and ask him about it. “Alright. Nice meeting you.”
“Oh, I’m sure,” Scott said with mocking self-awareness.
“I’ll let you out,” Harry told him, reluctantly rising to his feet.
The street was empty of cars or people when Harry opened the front door, and he wondered where Scott was going to go. Surely he didn’t live close by.
The blond teen stepped outside and began walking back towards the playground. “See you later, Harry.”
Harry frowned after him. “You got someone to pick you up?”
“Yeah, my sister will get me,” Scott called back, but for some reason Harry didn’t entirely believe him. Why couldn’t his sister just come get him at the house?
Well, that was Scott’s problem, Harry decided as he shut the door and went back up to his room. For all he knew he’d never be seeing blond teen again.
As he lay back onto his bed, Harry put an arm over his eyes and tried not to think too hard about the day he’d had. There was something almost laughably surreal about having spent a lazy summer afternoon with a complete stranger who claimed to have been sent to help him complete the Prophecy. But there they had been, drinking cans of pop and talking about nothing – a scene insane in its normalcy. It was almost frightening, the sort of twists his life could take – had already taken – without falling apart. Scott’s absurd explanations of his intentions had left Harry not feeling much of anything – but then, what on earth was he supposed to feel? What was the accepted range of emotional response for blandly delivered information that was impossible to take seriously?