Petunia Dursley was chewing on her lip, reviewing her list of things to do, now that summer holiday had begun and she had a house with two boys again. Harry had been more silent than usual this year, even more withdrawn this holiday than last summer. He would do his chores, both the regular standing chores and those she'd leave on a list by his plate before breakfast, and then retreat to his room, where he would most often sit on his bed, staring a hole in the blank wall.
The telephone rang, breaking her train of thought.
"Hello, Mrs. Dursley, this is Hermione Granger, daughter of Dr. and Dr. Granger at Leeds Medical School. I go to school with Harry."
"Oh." Petunia said, remembering with horror the scene at King's Crossing, just two days past. "Oh, well, I'll get him on the phone."
"Actually, Mrs. Dursley, I wanted to talk to you."
"All right then." Petunia began to squirm in her chair.
"Some of Harry's friends that you met at the train station last week need to visit Harry. Is tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 a good time for your family?"
"I'm sure that we'll be out of the house, but Harry will be here. Can you please be discreet?"
"I seriously doubt that any of your neighbors will notice a thing."
"All right then, is there anything else?"
"Can I talk to Harry if he's not busy?"
"He's staring at the wall up in his room. I'll bring him the phone."
Petunia Dursley picked up the cordless phone and carried it upstairs. Harry's door was ajar – she nudged it with her foot and it silently swung open. Harry was draped across his bed, staring at the ceiling.
"The phone, Harry. It's for you." Petunia said sharply. Petunia held the phone out like it was some smelly item that Harry was responsible for bringing into the house. Harry snapped out of whatever reverie he was in and sat up, stretching out his hand to deftly lift the handset from his aunt's grip.
"Thank you, Aunt Petunia."
Petunia turned and wordlessly left the room, returning to the kitchen to brood. Harry looked at the phone for a moment and then put it up to his ear.
"Hello, Harry, this is Hermione."
"As in Granger. Harry, how many Hermiones do you know? I've known you for five years now, surely you recognize my voice."
"I'm sorry, Hermione, I just wasn't expecting a call from you, I never get calls from anyone. I'm sorry."
"Harry James Potter, stop that!"
"Apologizing for everything."
Harry started to say, "I'm sorry" but stopped himself and said "All right then."
"Harry, someone from the Order will be visiting you tomorrow, bringing you some important stuff and some letters. I phoned to let your Aunt know that they were coming – I think you are to be left home, alone tomorrow afternoon, about 2:00."
"Oh, okay. Will I be seeing you?"
"I don't know yet – do you want to see me, Harry?"
"I'm not sure I want to see anyone, Hermione, but if I did, I'd certainly want to see you."
"Thank you, Harry, that's quite a compliment, I think."
There was an awkward silence, Harry could hear the sound of a lawnmower in the background from wherever Hermione was calling from.
"Are you with Ron at -- Padfoot's old house?"
"No, he's at home, and so am I. I'm going to be spending lots of time at home this summer, as my Mum and Dad seem to think that I haven't spent enough quality time with them this past year. I don't mind it, but I do hope that we can all get together before the end of the summer."
"Yeah, me too, that'd be nice." Harry's voice was flat, distracted and dim.
"Harry, you won't always feel this way. Don't shut us out."
"Stop looking inside my head, Miss Granger. Have you been talking to Ginny?" Harry answered peevishly.
"As a matter of fact, she just left before I called. Why do you ask?"
"She said pretty much the same thing before we left school."
"Well, we haven't been talking about you, at least not like that. But you would do well to listen to her, since you never listen to me."
"Hermione, I always listen to you. I just don't always do what you say, even though you are mostly right."
"All right, right so often that mankind's memory runs not to the contrary. Happy now?"
Hermione snorted. Harry imagined that she recognized the quotation, which had come to him in a flash. Some Muggle historian she'd read to him in the library during one of their study sessions.
"How are you, Harry?" Hermione's voice had dropped the tone she used when bantering with the boys, and now swung into the concerned voice she used when hectoring them about their homework.
"I'm hollow inside. If a Dementor were to stroll into my bedroom, other than the darkness and the drop in temperature, I'm not sure that I'd notice. Is that open enough for you Madam Granger?"
"It's a start, Harry. I'll write to you tomorrow, after your visit."
"I'll write back."
"Goodbye, Harry, take care of yourself."
"Thanks, Hermione. You too."
Harry looked down at the handset, trying to figure out how to hang up a cordless phone. The button marked "off" seemed likely and after pushing it with his thumb, the phone went silent. He walked downstairs and wordlessly put the phone back into its cradle, next to the corded phone. The fog that had bound him all day seemed to have lifted with the call.
"Harry." Petunia snapped.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia?"
"Mrs. Figg needs her lawn mowed."
"I'll go do it now."
Harry walked out back door of the house without looking at Petunia, coming back shortly before dinnertime. Petunia looked up from the stove, but never turned to face Harry.
"Wash your hands, set the table, take a shower – I'll call you for dinner." Petunia's voice slid from being harsh, like she'd caught Harry in some infraction, to being almost pleasant.
"Thanks, Aunt Petunia." Harry decided that he'd not question whatever was changing his Aunt's behavior. Being polite didn't cost him anything, and seemed to defuse a lot of the tension that ran in the Dursley house, although it was easy to overdo it, which got him the accusation in turn that he was being "smart."
Dinner was uneventful. After clearing the table, Harry loaded the dishwasher and excused himself to his room, where he stayed until morning.