Disclaimer : I own nothing; it all belongs to J.K. Rowling . I’m just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, and no profit is being made.
A loud explosion rocked the silence of a sleepy village as a huge figure of a green skull with a serpent exiting through its mouth rose into the air. Hooded figures ran in all directions, brief flashes of light from the scattered curses flew towards the backs of fleeing witches and wizards. The ground was littered with bodies - men, women and children - all staring blankly at nothing, life washed clean away. Agonized screams filled the air as the curses continued to fly. Suddenly, the scene flickered and changed. A man in long robes knelt on the floor of a small, dark room, a slight tremble in his body.
“What have you to report?” a cold voice hissed from the shadows.
“Potter remains with his relatives. We…we haven’t found a solution to the blood protection as of yet.”
“I want Potter brought to me, and I want it done quickly. Capture him but don’t kill him; however, you’re free to use force.”
“Yes, m’Lord ”, said Wormtail , trying to scurry out of the room.
“Not so fast. You need to be reminded of how I value prompt fulfillment of my instructions-”
Harry Potter sat upright in his bed, biting on his lip hard enough to draw blood and trying to stifle another scream before it left his throat. Sweat ran down his face and back, and he was completely tangled in his sheets. He felt a wave of nausea hit him as his scar flamed again, and he knew that somewhere, Wormtail was still being punished. Bile rose in his mouth as he raced to the bathroom and heaved. Since he had skipped dinner, there really was nothing to come up. When he was finished, Harry managed to stand and, using the wall for support, headed back to his room. Before he managed to make it all the way back, however, he came face to face with a livid Vernon Dursley .
“What the devil is wrong with you, freak?” he demanded, spittle flying from his jowls.
“Sorry to wake you,” Harry mumbled. He tried to steady himself on the wall as he made his way back to his room.
“I will not have you waking up this house every night with your bloody screaming. Some of us actually have to work for a living, you worthless piece of…every night you’ve been here, you’ve done this, and I’ve had enough. Find a way to stop it, or I’ll stop it for you, boy!”
“Right.” Oh, that’s bloody brilliant. If I thought you could stop these ruddy nightmares, I’dlet you.
Uncle Vernon seemed to grow more enraged by Harry’s lack of an argument. “Don’t you take that tone with me!”
Harry’s own patience, already worn thin, was about to snap. “What tone would that be?”
Uncle Vernon slammed Harry against the wall and raised his hand. For an instant Harry thought he was going to hit him. He silently willed him to do it, feeling he deserved it, anyway. That hadn’t really happened since before he got his Hogwarts letter. Now he had other people in his life who were aware of his existence. But Uncle Vernon let him go, perhaps an image of Mad-Eye Moody in his mind, and snapped, “Get in your room.”
As Harry complied, he heard the deadbolt snap into place. “You can stay there until hell freezes over, boy.”
Harry slumped down at his desk and rubbed his hands through his hair. It was no use setting off Uncle Vernon; he’d only end up paying for it, anyway.
Damn, I practiced Occlumencylast night, too, same as every night since…well, since I got back here. Why did that dream get in again? He was startled from his thoughts as a brown, barnyard owl swooped into his window carrying an ominous-looking red envelope. Who would send me a Howler? Panicking, he grabbed for the envelope and tried to hold it outside the window as it opened, but the sound of Ginny Weasley’s high-pitched rant echoed throughout the house, seeming to shake the very foundation of the Dursley home.
HARRY JAMES POTTER, I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS! IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TALK TO THE REST OF US, THAT’S YOUR PEROGATIVE , BUT YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TREAT MUM THIS WAY! SHE’S WORRIED SICK ABOUT YOU! YOUR REFUSAL TO ANSWER ANYONE’S LETTERS MADE HER CRY YESTERDAY! IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? YOU LISTEN TO ME AND LISTEN GOOD, HARRY! GET OUT A QUILL AND SOME PARCHMENT RIGHT NOW AND JOT DOWN A NOTE TO MUM! YOU’D BETTER LET HER KNOW HOW YOU’RE DOING AND DON’T YOU DARE SAY, “FINE,” AS YOU’RE A TERRIBLE LIAR, AND NO ONE EVER BELIEVES YOU WHEN YOU SAY THAT, ANYWAY! GET OFF YOUR ARSE AND FIX THIS WITH HER NOW, OR I’M GOING TO MAKE YOUR LIFE A LIVING HELL WHEN YOU GET HERE, HARRY! WRITE TO MUM!
The Howler burst into flames as both Vernon and Petunia stormed into Harry’s room.
“What is the meaning of this?” Aunt Petunia hissed in a remarkably good imitation of the voice Voldemort himself had used in Harry’s dream.
“Look, I couldn’t help it. It was a Howler; they open no matter what you do. I had-”
“Do not mention that unnaturalness in this house. I’ve told you that a thousand times, you wretched freak,” Vernon raged. “I mean it, Petunia; I’ve had enough from this…this…this worthless miscreant!”
Aunt Petunia glared at Harry as if he’d somehow arranged this whole thing. “You’re to remain in here for the time you spend in this house, and hopefully the rest of those freaks will get you out of our hair soon. If you can manage to keep the noise level down, then you’ll have your meals returned to you.” With that, the two of them stormed out and pushed the locks on his door back in place.
He angrily sat down and wrote a scathing reply to Ginny. She wanted to know how he was, he’d bloody well tell her how he was. Half-way through his rant, he crumpled up the parchment and threw it in the trash. He’d never send it, anyway. With a sigh, he climbed back into bed and hoped there would be no more dreams. As he fell into a fitful slumber, Hedwig left her cage and retrieved the crumpled up letter from the bin. Without his knowledge, his faithful snowy owl set off, seeking help.
Ginny Weasley had slept in and awoken to find yet another rainy day. “Oh, that’s brilliant,” she mumbled, slipping on her dressing gown over her summer nightdress. The kitchen was empty when she arrived, so she set out getting herself some breakfast. She was just sitting down with a bowl of porridge when Hedwig swooped in the window, carrying a crumpled piece of parchment in her beak. That’s odd, Ginny thought . Why didn’tHarry attach his letter? I hope nothing is wrong. She grabbed the parchment and began to read
Thanks ever so much for the Howler. Arrived at about 2 AM to the Dursleys’endless amusement. Fortunately, everyone was already awake, thanks to my ritual midnight screaming. Uncle Vernon and I had it out, and I really thought he was going to let loose and belt me. Now I’mstuck in this dammed room again. So, you want to know how I am? I’lltell you how I am! I’mbloody awful and I feel like crap. I can’teat, I don’tsleep, I’vegot these Mugglesin my face non-stop, people following me everywhere I go and I feel completely dead to it all. I think maybe the Dementorsgot…
The letter just stopped there. Ginny was horrified; she hadn’t meant to send the letter in the middle of the night and she hadn’t even thought of the Muggles’ reactions . Why did the letter just end there?
“Hedwig , did Harry give you this letter or did you just take it?” she asked, comprehension dawning. Hedwig just hooted and blinked her eyes.
“Damn,” Ginny cursed.
Suddenly, there was a commotion in the hallway, and Ginny peered out to see what was going on. Mad-Eye Moody was calling for Professor Lupin and Kingsley Shacklebolt . “We’ve got Death Eaters spotted all over Privet Drive!
Ginny’s heart thudded in her chest. Death Eaters in Little Whinging ? Oh, Harry, please be okay, her mind whispered. Be safe.
Moody was issuing orders as her father and twin brothers entered the confusion. The look of seriousness on Fred and George’s faces seemed out of place on the usually mischievous duo. “We’ve got Death Eater activity all over Little Whinging , the highest concentration at the opposite end of Privet Drive. They’re going for him. Fred and George, I want you to take this Portkey directly to the Dursley residence and get Potter out of there pronto,” he said as he thrust an old paperweight in the image of a serpent into George’s hands. “Don’t wait for a signal, just get him and move. We’ll ensure the safety of his relatives and get them out if we need to. You two just move with him. If there is any sign of trouble, leave his stuff and go.” The twins nodded, and both of them grabbed onto the paperweight and disappeared.
“Arthur,” Moody continued, but Ginny tuned him out. All over the house, various Aurors and other members of the Order made their preparations to head for Surrey. They continued moving out the heavily gated front door as, like Harry’s home in Surrey, you couldn’t Apparate in or out of Grimmauld Place.
Ginny’s mind was racing. Wasn’tHarry supposed to be safe at his relatives’ house? Wasn’tthat the reason Dumbledoreinsisted he always stay with those awful people in the first place? Had something happened to change all that?
Ginny again cursed the lack of news from Harry this summer; she wanted to know what was going on. She wasn’t really angry with him, because she knew he was suffering. It was true she had a wicked temper; her brothers accused her of it often enough. Because her mum was so upset, she had flown off the handle and sent that ruddy Howler. If she’d taken the time to cool down, she never would have sent it . The Howler? Merlin, she hoped that her sending that Howler had nothing to do with what was happening now. If Harry's location was discovered because of some hot-headed error in judgement on her part…well, she’d never be able to forgive herself for that.
Harry had been through a lot, far too much for any one person. She knew how much Sirius had meant to him. He was an adult that Harry would actually turn to if he needed help, and that in itself was amazing. Knowing Harry, he would also be blaming himself for what had happened to Sirius. To be alone with that kind of guilt had to be wearing away at him, and she had no right to place more demands on him. She was over her girlhood crush on the Boy-Who-Lived, but she’d never stop caring about Harry. She’d forced herself to move on, dating both Michael and now Dean, but Harry would always hold a special place in her heart. Nothing could change that. If friendship was all he could offer, she’d accept that, and as a friend, she’d let him know if he was being a real prat .
Stop it, Ginny, let’s not get on this again; you just finished forgiving him. Ginny grabbed herself a book and plopped down in the entry hall. This is where they’d be bringing Harry shortly, and this is where she’d be.
Harry was staring at the raindrops trickling down his window pane. He was trying to work on a Potions essay but hadn’t gotten very far as his mind kept travelling in directions he didn’t want to go. He couldn’t stop thinking about the Howler from Ginny. The more he thought about it, the funnier it seemed to him. Here was everyone else tiptoeing around him as if he might break, and Ginny hauls off and sends him a Howler. If it weren’t for the fact he’d upset Mrs. Weasley , he thought he might actually be able to laugh at it. And laughing at anything at this point would be good.
It was nearly midday, and Harry was still locked in his room. They hadn’t even let him out to use the loo . If they didn’t soon, he was going to have a real problem. Several times, he’d considered pounding on the door and asking them to let him use the facilities, but then he’d realize that would only encourage them to leave him in here longer. Best to sit quietly and wait. His mind dwelled on ugly memories from his past when the Dursleys had frequently used this as a form of punishment. They’d delighted in his humiliation.
Tick tock, tick tock.
Time seemed to be passing at the same rate as a History of Magic class. His Potions essay wasn’t any further along than when he first sat down. As he began packing it away, there were muffled sounds downstairs, followed by the sound of footsteps bounding up the stairs. None of the Dursleys moved like that. Harry drew his wand and rounded on his door just as it flew open with the sound of “Alohomora!” In stumbled none other than Fred and George Weasley , both looking warily at Harry’s rigid stance and drawn wand.
“Easy there, mate.” Fred put his hands up in the air. “It’s just us.”
Harry lowered his wand slightly, but remained rigid. “What did you nickname Percy when he made Head Boy?”
George grinned. “That’s an easy one, Harry. Big Head Boy!”
Harry lowered his wand and grinned at the twins. “Erm …what are you two doing here? Hold that thought, actually, I need to use the loo.”
Darting past the two, he heard one say, “Start packing his trunk.”
When Harry returned to his room, his trunk was packed, and Hedwig’s cage was perched on top. Both twins seemed agitated and Harry became wary; something was going on. “How long have you been locked in here Harry?” George demanded angrily. “You look awful.”
“Yeah, well, thanks. Nice to see you, too. What’s going on?” Harry asked, sidestepping both the question and the comment, while he dug his stash out of the loose floorboards beneath his bed and stowed the items in his trunk.
“We’ve got trouble, loads of it. Death Eaters everywhere. We’ve got to get you out.”
Harry felt a jolt of fear grip him. Here we go again. His mind began to wander back to the Death Chamber, but he shook his head and tried to clear it. Focus, he needed to focus. “Death Eaters, here? But. . . what about the wards? I thought the whole reason I had to come back here every year was that it was safe?”
“I don’t know, Harry; I’m sure we’ll all get some explanations, but for now-”
“What about the Dursleys - we can’t just leave them here. This is where the Death Eaters will be coming, and you know it.”
“Dad and Moody are on the way. They’ll take care of them, but we have to go.”
Harry’s mind was racing; he couldn’t just escape and leave the Dursleys to face Death Eaters. Though he felt no love or even any emotion at all for his relatives, he didn’t want them to die, and he certainly didn’t want them to die because of him. He tried to sprint past Fred and George but they grabbed him and pulled him back, forcing a paperweight into his hands before he could stop them.
Harry felt the familiar tug behind his navel, and a moment later, he stumbled into the entrance hall of Grimmauld Place. It took him a minute or two to orient himself. Looking around, he saw the covered portrait of Mrs. Black and the bleak, familiar surroundings of Sirius’ family home. He thought he was going to be sick. Before he’d even oriented himself to being there, he saw Ginny jump up off the couch and launch herself at him, hugging him fiercely. “Are you all right?”
“I don’t want to be here,” Harry whispered, holding her tighter than he normally would. Suddenly, his world had yet again spun out of control.
A/ N : Thanks to both ChaoticK and Mistral for all their help with getting this into shape (no matter how adamant I can be about things).