Author's note: I would like to thank the Founders for accepting
this story for posting. I love PhoenixSong and consider this a great
honour. I would also like to thank my beta, Shannon, and my pre-betas,
Nancy and Rachel, who have done so much work to make this a better
story. Y'all are the best! I would also like to thank
PrometheanAlchemist, who came to the rescue with a last minute review
As Harry watched Moody, Lupin, Tonks,
and Arthur Weasley walk away, the joy he had felt at their presence
gave way to a sinking feeling of dread. He wondered if this was how
prisoners felt when they were being taken away to jail. He sighed
deeply, dreading his return to number four, Privet Drive and wondering
what the summer would hold in store for him. Would he be confined to
Privet Drive, or would he be allowed to escape to the warmth and
friendship of the Burrow? He had no idea, despite the assurances of
Mrs. Weasley and Hermione, because Professor Dumbledore had given him
no indication one way or the other.
Looking over at his uncle,
Harry saw he was trying to recover from his exposure to Mad-Eye Moody.
Aunt Petunia stood aghast as if Tonks was still in front of her, while
Dudley shivered quietly next to her, trying to make himself as
inconspicuous as possible. "Come on," he said gently to them as he made
his way to the station entrance. His uncle, aunt, and cousin followed
him wordlessly through the crowds and corridors of King's Cross.
they reached the sun-drenched entrance, Harry looked at his uncle and
waited for him to take the lead. Not seeing him react, Harry asked,
"Uncle Vernon, where have you parked the car?"
"Erm, what?" replied his uncle in a dazed voice. "Oh, yes, the car. This way," he muttered as he strode off to Harry's right.
walked the short distance in silence. When Harry reached the car, he
parked the trolley next to the boot and waited. It took his uncle a few
moments to find the right key and then place it into the lock; he was
still nervous and his hands shook rather badly. As soon as the boot was
opened, Uncle Vernon grabbed the side of the trunk opposite Harry and
they put it into the car together. Harry took Hedwig's cage and pushed
the trolley out of the way while his uncle closed the boot and opened
Everyone piled into the car wordlessly. Harry placed
Hedwig's cage on his lap. Dudley kept as far away from the owl as the
rear seat and door would allow. Harry thought it rather foolish of him
to be scared of a caged animal, but he made no comment as other
concerns began to cloud his mind.
The dread of once again
returning to Privet Drive was turning into a cold knot in the pit of
Harry's stomach. He stared out the window, not saying a word. It didn't
dawn on him until much later that nobody else had spoken, either. He
felt too numb for conversation -- not that he would have got decent
conversation out of the Dursleys anyway.
The sinking feeling
which had started as he left Platform 9-3/4 deepened into a sense of
abandonment. The further away they drove from King's Cross, the more
pronounced it became. As they merged onto the motorway, he wondered
once again what would happen this summer: would Dumbledore force him to
remain at Privet Drive or would he allow Harry to escape to the Burrow
for a little while? Harry shuddered at the thought of another summer
spent in total isolation from his friends.
At that moment, the
loss of Sirius hit him like a tidal wave. With all that had been going
on, he hadn't had much time for reflection. His godfather's death had
been so sudden. One moment Sirius had been there, challenging Bellatrix
Lestrange, and the next he was gone. Time seemed to slow to a
standstill as Harry stared out the window, thinking about his godfather
and what Sirius had meant to him. The sudden shuddering of the car as
it came to a stop finally pulled Harry out of his thoughts. He blinked
a few times as his focus came back to his surroundings and he noticed
they had arrived at number four, Privet Drive.
Harry opened the door and got out. Holding Hedwig's cage, he went over
and stood by the boot, waiting for his uncle to open it. He watched as
Dudley scuttled to the house, rushing inside as fast as his enormous
legs could carry him. It was obvious to Harry that his boxing regimen
had helped control his weight, but he was still not far from obese.
looked over to see his uncle impatiently gripping his trunk. He quickly
took the opposite handhold and the two of them lifted it out of the
boot. Uncle Vernon shut the boot and then motioned for them to carry
the trunk into the house. As they came in, his uncle situated Harry so
he would have to bring up the rear as they carried the trunk up the
stairs into his room. As uncomfortable as it was, Harry was grateful to
be allowed to take it up to his room instead of being forced to store
it underneath the staircase once again.
Upon entering Harry's
room, Uncle Vernon dropped his end of the trunk. Unable to maintain
control of the trunk and Hedwig's cage at the same time, Harry dropped
his end of the trunk as well, quickly moving his feet to avoid its
falling weight. As he steadied himself, he watched his uncle turn to
face him and sensed that his normal disposition had finally returned.
"I don't ever want to see this trunk and your door open at the same time," hissed Uncle Vernon. "Am I understood, boy?"
"Yes, sir," muttered Harry.
"When you are puttering around with that...that rubbish, I want your door shut and bolted. Am I understood?"
sir," muttered Harry, too distracted by the ache in his heart to argue
with his uncle. He saw his uncle deflate a bit. He supposed Uncle
Vernon was surprised at not encountering an argument.
Seeing that Harry was in agreement, Vernon turned and slammed the door shut.
was shocked to hear only his uncle's heavy footfalls going down the
hall and then down the stairs. He had fully expected to hear the bolts
of the locks on his door slide into place like they always did when his
uncle was mad at him. Gingerly, he pressed down on his door handle. To
his utter amazement, it yielded and the door swung open. Harry looked
out into the hall; the house was quiet. Dudley's door appeared to be
bolted against him. Pressing his ear against it, he heard the muffled
sound of music and thought that Dudley was likely listening on his
earphones. He walked back to his room and quietly shut the door.
picked Hedwig's cage up off the floor and carefully placed it on top of
his chest of drawers. He tried to smile as Hedwig glared at him
sleepily, but it just wasn't in him. He opened the dresser and pulled
out an old bed sheet, which he draped over Hedwig's cage to allow her
some relief from the bright sunshine which streamed into the room. He
knew she must be tired from the long trip, not having had a chance to
sleep during her normal hours.
After taking care of Hedwig, he
sat down on the floor next to his bed, mentally and physically
exhausted. Scattered thoughts and memories raced through his conscious
mind like rogue Bludgers, assaulting him constantly. It was an
unfamiliar situation to Harry. Ordinarily Uncle Vernon would have
already been barking orders at him and putting him to work, but not
today. Today he had nothing to do but sit in his room and think. Harry
sighed, wishing for something to distract him from the thoughts that
were crowding his head, but nothing presented itself.
to remember everything that Dumbledore had told him when he had met
with the headmaster in his office at the end of term. If only
Dumbledore had told him about the dangers of the connection he had with
Voldemort. If only Harry had paused long enough to open Sirius'
present. If only.... Harry sighed once again as tears rimmed his eyes.
only bright spot about the past year was that his mind link with
Voldemort had allowed him to save Arthur Weasley's life. In the end,
though, it had cost him his godfather's life, and he had almost led a
team of his friends to their deaths. As Harry turned the issue over and
over in his mind, he came to the inescapable conclusion that there was
nothing else he could have done thanks to Dumbledore leaving him out of
Harry began to feel the anger rising in his heart.
The flickering of a foreign consciousness at the edges of his own
brought back memories of Voldemort possessing him at the Ministry of
Magic and he wondered if his anger was affording Voldemort another
opportunity. Harry quickly forced himself to calm down by focusing on
his friends. He wondered what Ron and Ginny were doing at the Burrow
and which vacation spot Hermione's parents had picked out this year. He
thought about Luna, wondering if she and her father were hunting after
the short stack or whatever it was that they wanted to find. He laughed
a bit as he thought about Luna and sincerely hoped they did find one,
if only to show up Hermione. Harry shuddered as he thought about
Neville having to return to living with his thoughtless grandmother,
and visiting his parents in St. Mungo's. As he thought about Neville,
Harry felt his self-pity and his anger lessening -- Neville was the one
person who may have had it worse than he did. At least he had Ron and
his family and Hermione in his life. As far as Harry knew, Neville had
no one like them.
As his mind filled with the warm thoughts of
his friends, Harry felt the foreign presence depart and he breathed a
little easier. A short while later, after knowing Voldemort was out of
his consciousness, Harry turned his thoughts back to his godfather. He
felt his eyes moisten and he wrapped his arms around his knees, almost
like he was hugging himself. A moment later, he felt the first tear
stream down his face. He made no effort to wipe it away. He just buried
his head in his knees and let the tears come, needing to grieve.