Early morning sunlight streamed through the open bedroom window as a flash of white wings brought a snowy owl to a stop on the small desk. Harry rolled over to shield his eyes from the sun. Too sleepy to face Hedwig, his message bearing owl, he tried to snuggle under the sheet to block out the brightness. Today would be another hot day.
Unable to go back to his blissfully dreamless sleep, Harry sat up straight and ran his hand through his completely rumpled bed hair. Hedwig leapt onto his shoulder and nuzzled Harry's ear. Taking a slow breath, he took the message and returned the owl's affectionate gesture by rubbing her feathery head. The owl seemed satisfied and flew into her cage for a long drink of water.
The message was from Hogwarts. "Mmm...Too light to be my O.W.L. results.... Only one way to find out," Harry thought. Sure enough, the letter enclosed was another checking-up-on-Harry note from the professors at Hogwarts. This one was from Professor McGonagall.
"Dear Mr. Potter:
How is your summer going? Hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. I am writing to ask you to give some thought to the Gryffindor House Quidditch team. As I said in my previous letters, the ban imposed on you last year has been lifted so I anticipate your help next season as our Seeker and team Captain.
Madam Hooch will be writing to you soon to give you her recommendations for additions to the team.
Please let me know how you are doing and what your suggestions are for next year.
Head of Gryffindor House
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry"
Harry had been receiving these thinly veiled requests for his status every few days from either a friend or a professor all summer. Moody had warned the Dursleys that they would need to hear from Harry every three days or someone would be arriving to ensure he wasn't having a difficult time.
The owls were arriving and departing mostly at night or early morning, so Uncle Vernon wasn't complaining about too much suspicious owl traffic. In fact, Uncle Vernon wasn't saying much of anything, which suited Harry fine. The Dursleys and Harry had a truce this summer. They still didn't feed him much, but he wasn't all that hungry. He had a lot on his mind.
The traumatic events at the end of the year had brought him to a crossroad. Once the flood of conflicting emotions became less raw, Harry realized he had much to sort out. Clearly many people cared about him. The show of solidarity that his friends made by threatening the Dursleys at Kings Cross station and their frequent owl messages gave Harry a wonderful feeling of community to replace the loss of his family. Yet, he couldn't ignore the fact that he had lost his only semblance of family when Sirius died at the Department of Mysteries last June.
The events of that night had produced a flood of emotions within him. He still cringed when he thought of his tirade in Dumbledore's office. A month wasn't long enough to figure everything out, but Harry had decided one thing. He wouldn't be ruled by his emotions. It was time to choose his own path.
Harry stood up and stretched. Standing a good four inches taller than he had a month ago, he couldn't wait to surprise Ron with his new stature. He might even be up to Ron's nose by now.
Along with his growth spurt, Harry had experienced an interesting increase in magical energy. One morning at the Dursley's, he had a dream about breakfast in bed. He could even smell the food. When he awoke, he was shocked to see a breakfast tray on his desk with a steaming hot mug of tea fixed just the way he liked it and a plate piled high with toast, bacon, eggs and tomatoes. Hedwig stood next to the tray softly hooting for a handout.
He knew that Aunt Petunia would never make him such a feast. First he thought maybe Dobby had somehow followed him to Privet Drive. Finally he realized that he had somehow conjured the breakfast tray while he was half-asleep. How had he conjured something without his wand? He spent that morning in a panic about getting another letter from Mafalda Hopkirk at the Ministry. All day he expected to see ministry officials arriving to snap his wand, but nothing ever happened. Either Mafalda had decided to ignore the infraction or the ministry had never detected it. Every morning since then, Harry started the day by conjuring a nice breakfast tray. Wandless magic wasn't that surprising. He'd seen Dumbledore do it many times. After a few weeks, he didn't even think about it anymore.
Reaching into his desk for some parchment to send McGonagall a return note while he sipped his morning tea, Harry reflected on his summer so far. The Dursley's home had never felt like his home even as a small child. When he arrived there this summer, he moved silently to his small bedroom and shut the door.
The Dursleys' opinions no longer mattered to him. He wouldn't stand around while Uncle Vernon berated and belittled him. He had held his head high and walked with a purpose out of King's Cross Station and kept going until he was in the relative safety of his room. Maybe Dursley sensed the newfound maturity in his nephew or maybe the image of Mad-Eye Moody stumping up their walkway in Little Whinging had kept UncleVernon from giving Harry any welcoming warnings or challenging his silent and proud carriage as he walked past them and shut himself in his room.
Harry had decided that he had to stop letting life happen to him. Otherwise, he would be lost in a sea of self-pity, stumbling toward the unknown. If he didn't make plans for his own life, then fate or Dumbledore or Voldemort or even Uncle Vernon would make those plans for him. He couldn't live his life just reacting to everything and everyone anymore. He was going to hold his emotions in check and take charge somehow.
Before he could make plans, he had to first decide what he wanted. Kind of a new idea for him. Harry had never asked himself, "What do I want?" He had been raised to assume that it didn't matter what he wanted. The Dursleys sure didn't care. He couldn't change that. Harry had to start caring himself. What did he want? Did he even know?
The Mirror of Erised had told him that he wanted family. All of his family was in his past. He couldn't change the past. If he wanted family, he needed new people. He needed to grow up and marry and have children or adopt some of his friends and make them his family. Marriage seemed a far off in the future idea, but Mrs. Weasley seemed ready to adopt him. She had said he was "as good as family." Did he want that?
As he finished the note to McGonagall, he took out another sheet to write to Ron Weasley. If he was going to adopt the Weasleys, he should start with Ron. After all, Ron was the first Weasley to befriend Harry. Ron was really Harry's first best friend.
Of course any kind of future was going to have to include surviving his adolescence. Without Dumbledore, he would not have lived so far. Aunt Petunia taking him in as a baby had kept him safe. While he was now willing to acknowledge his gratitude to these two people, at least to himself, he was not willing to let them run his life. Not that Aunt Petunia was interested in the job. Professor Dumbledore was another matter. Harry refused to become a pawn in Dumbledore's game. If he were to survive, he needed to take things in his own hands.
Step one in preparing himself for some kind of future was facing the prophecy that Dumbledore had finally shared with him. Hearing that he would have to kill or be killed was a motivating factor. He couldn't change the prophecy. He wouldn't ignore it either. The fate of the wizarding world might depend on how Harry dealt with the prophecy. Dumbledore alone knew what Harry faced. He hadn't told any of his friends and he was sure that Dumbledore hadn't told anyone but Harry himself.
Harry was willing to accept Dumbledore's help. He needed that help, but he wouldn't be made into a weapon for Dumbledore to wield. Yet, he knew he couldn't go off in his own direction. That kind of thinking had led to the fiasco at the Department of Mysteries. That kind of thinking got Sirius killed. Shaking off these heavier thoughts, Harry wrote a lighthearted note to Ron telling him about his summertime routines: chores for Aunt Petunia, working out in Dudley's new exercise room and reading ahead to be ready for next year. Since the note could be intercepted, Harry didn't mention meeting with members of the Order of Phoenix over tea at wacky Mrs. Figg's house once a week or taking regular morning runs around Little Whinging.
Harry always wore his sweatshirt hood up as he took his morning run. He also wore sunglasses so he looked more like the Unibomber than Harry Potter. He had negotiated with Aunt Petunia to buy him some cheap Muggle clothes and contact lenses in exchange for the many chores and do-it-yourself home improvement projects she wanted him to do this summer.
Harry finished up his message to Ron and set the two notes aside for Hedwig to take in the evening. Happily thinking about the Burrow, he put on his sweats and sunglasses to go face the new day.
So the first month of Harry's summer had gone swiftly and smoothly. He wasn't over losing Sirius. He didn't think he ever would be, but it felt like life would go on. He would make the rest of his life count for something. The sacrifices that others had made for him would find a purpose.