Chapter 1 : A Reunion at the Burrow
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Turning to his left, Harry could do nothing but watch the black streak float through the air, landing abruptly before the death curse erupted from the end of the wand of Bellatrix Lestrange with a bright flash of green. In an instant, his only remaining family member was dead, absorbed into the blackness of the veil. He watched as his godfather’s body gently floated towards the void and slowly faded out of existence.
His dream, or rather, his silent nightmare was interrupted by a soft and familiar tapping on his windowpane. Sitting up, wiping the sweat from his brow, and grabbing his circular-framed glasses from his bedside table, Harry stood up, surprised to see the stark white body of Hedwig floating outside.
“Hedwig? When did you get out? It’s three in the morning girl, get in here,” opening the window, Harry allowed Hedwig to perch on his bare shoulder, “What do you have there?”
As if she understood his question, Hedwig immediately dropped a familiar tan envelope sealed with the recognizable emblem of Hogwarts onto Harry’s lap. Without needing to look, Harry knew the letter was from Dumbledore; their correspondence had become much more frequent in the last months as Dumbledore obviously recognized Harry’s need for companionship and guidance in his already tumultuous life. Grabbing his wand, he calmly uttered, “Lumos,” and his room lit up, revealing the heaps of clothing obscuring any view of the floor. He ripped open the seal and began to read the rather short letter from his headmaster and mentor:
As you may know, the new term at Hogwarts is to begin soon. I have made arrangements with the Weasleys for you to stay at the Burrow for the remainder of the summer. I trust that will be alright with you. Myself and the other members of the Order will be by to transport you safely tomorrow at noon. I apologize that this will be reaching you on such short notice and at such a time of night, but it seems as if Pig has gotten lost again. The Weasleys must really get a new owl.
I have some very important news to relate to yourself, Mr. Weasley, and Ms. Granger, but this can wait until tomorrow.
Harry smiled as he finished reading the letter and placed it on the already large stack of parchment on his desk. “Looks like we’re going to need to pack girl. We’re going to the Burrow.” Hedwig cooed gently as Harry lightly stroked her head. Standing up and grabbing a new Gryffindor quidditch shirt that Dumbledore had sent him in his last package, he flipped the light switch by his door and with a flick of his wand, the clothes on the floor began to fly about, packing themselves into his trunk, which gently shut as the final sock floated gently into one of the smaller compartments within. Harry laid back down on his bed, grabbing the moving picture of his parents from his bedside table.
“I wish you were. Everyday I wish you hadn’t been taken from me. I promise I won’t let Voldemort win. I’m not afraid. I know I must be the one to defeat him, and I’m getting stronger everyday. I love you mum and dad. Tell Sirius I miss him,” he placed the frame back onto his table and motioned his wand towards the light switch, casting the room into darkness once again. He closed his eyes in an attempt to sleep, but he knew that the excitement of leaving the Dursleys would not let him rest. As he stretched out on his bed, his mind couldn’t stop wandering, thinking about what would come this year as he returns to Hogwarts. Reaching into his bag next to his bed, he pulled out a sleeping potion that he had thankfully been sent by Hermione a few weeks ago and took it down in one swig. Man that tastes like goblin piss. Couldn’t you have made that any less vile Hermione? He thought as he laid his head down on his cold pillow. As the potion began to take effect, that name continued to echo in the back of his mind: Hermione…Hermione…Hermione…
Harry awoke abruptly to the screaming of his Uncle Vernon, “GET DOWN HERE THIS INSTANT BOY! DON’T THINK YOU ARE GOING TO GET OUT OF MAKING US BREAKFAST JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING BACK TO THAT SCHOOL FOR FREAKS AGAIN!” Harry rolled over and looked at the alarm clock on his nightstand; it read 11:15. He quickly got out of bed, springing to his feet and getting into the shower, pretending to ignore the incessant cries from his uncle. He finished getting washed and trudged down the stairs levitating his trunk and Hedwig’s cage behind him as he went.
“WHAT IN GOD’S NAME DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING? YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T USE MAGIC OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL! HA, I HOPE THEY EXPEL YOU FOR…” Vernon’s screaming was cut short, as Harry began to point his wand at the fat muggle man in front of him.
“Now you listen here, and you listen good, Uncle,” Harry’s tone was mocking and severe as he emphasized every word he said, “Do you know what day today is? Probably not judging by the tone of your voice and your history of forgetting important dates. Today is my birthday, my 16th birthday. And while I can’t legally jinx you, yet,” he lingered on that word, making sure his uncle knew that it was a blatant threat, “Dumbledore or one of the other Order members would be happy to silence you when they arrive to take me away. They aren’t going to expel me for levitating a trunk down the stairs, especially not since the Ministry has been so embarrassed by their recent harassment of me. So why don’t you make your own damn eggs and toast and leave me the hell alone.”
Vernon was shocked at the sudden change in his nephew. He had never outwardly spoke out against him like this, and if he had Vernon would have beat him immediately. With the prospect of Dumbledore’s arrival on his mind, he decided not to press the issue further. Dumbledore was the only wizard Vernon was truly afraid of.
A knock on the door signaled that the Order had arrived to bring Harry to the Burrow. Without even saying a goodbye, Harry turned and marched towards the front door, trailing his belongings after him, and walked out, slamming the door behind him.
“Is everything alright Harry my boy?” the tall, bearded figure of Albus Dumbledore lingered on the doorstep as Harry trudged past him, almost knocking him over.
“Yes professor. It’s good you arrived when you did. I was about to jinx my Uncle for a moment there.”
“Ah well what’s done is done. Now let’s get you to your friends, shall we?” Dumbledore and Harry turned and began to walk towards the sidewalk.
“Professor, didn’t you say the other Order members would be coming with you?” Harry looked around at the empty street, searching for a sign of the others.
“Call me Albus, Harry. No need for formalities. Look around my boy.” Harry continued to pass his gaze across every inch of Privet Drive. As he was about to give up, he noticed a rustling in the bushes and walked closer to investigate.
“Would you stop stepping on my feet? You’re going to blow our cover.” Harry took out his wand and pointed at the source of the familiar voice in the bushes.
“Finite,” he muttered, as the redheaded figures of Fred and George Weasley instantly appeared, “well it’s nice to see you two came along for the ride.”
“You didn’t think we’d let old Alby here come and get you without us? Besides, Kingsley and Tonks had Ministry business to take care of, now that Kingsley got appointed Minister of Magic and Tonks is in charge of the Aurors.”
Harry was taken aback by this unexpected news, “Prof…I mean Albus, why wasn’t I told that Kingsley is the new minister?” He couldn’t help but be upset at his mentor for withholding such important information; he was even more upset that his two best friends had not included this in any of their letters. He would have thought that Hermione would have at least mentioned it. Mmmm I get to see Hermione today. Stop it. What is wrong with you? He thought to himself, awaiting Dumbledore’s reply.
“All in good time Harry. Now let’s get you to safety before we get company. Mad-eye is getting antsy,” as he finished his sentence, Moody appeared from his hiding spot by the door of the house.
“Albus, Harry, let’s get a move on, yes?” his magical eye whipped around in circles, scanning the area for signs of unwanted Death Eaters.
“Alright, alright. Grab my arm Harry,” Dumbledore reached towards his student and awaited the tug at his navel that came with the experience of apparating. With a crack, the four wizards were gone from Little Whinging and reappeared at the front door of the Burrow. As they landed, Harry was thrust backwards by the onslaught of hugs from his closest friends who had been anticipating his arrival for weeks. In the sea of red hair that surrounded him, he could only smile as he picked out the bushy brown locks of Hermione. She looks really good. He thought, confused at his sudden affection for his best friend.
Stepping back, Harry Hermione, and Ron were left facing each other in the flat, open lawn. Ron spoke first, “It’s good to see you mate. I see you’re still looking thin as ever.” It was obvious Ron had been working out all summer, his muscles bulging out of his tight grey t-shirt.
“He looks great Ronald. You really do Harry. It’s good to see you,” Hermione threw her arms around Harry once more.
You look great too Hermione, he thought, but he was too taken aback by Hermione’s comment. “Thanks Mione. You don’t know how good it is to see you two,” he said meekly as the trio turned and joined the other inside the Burrow.
They sat chatting around the fire in the mismatched living room of the Weasley home, recounting their summer experiences and reveling in each other’s company. Harry’s mind couldn’t focus entirely on the conversation at hand, instead focusing on the pair of smooth, tan legs that were draped over his lap. Hermione’s skin clearly displayed the marks of the travels her family had done over the last three months. Her denim shorts barely reached mid thigh, and her pink polo complimented her new curves. She has really grown up…down boy. Stop it. Seriously, what has gotten into me?! His thoughts were distracted by his best friend’s newfound beauty.
Noticing his gaze, Hermione laughed to herself and blushed slightly, as she listened to Ron’s recounting of his trip to Romania to visit his brother Charlie. She couldn’t help but realize that Harry had changed a lot since they left Hogwarts for the summer. His hair had grown longer and was shaggier, but fell gently over the lightning bolt scar on his forehead, the jet black hair accentuating the deep green of his eyes. He was still skinny, but he had filled out, looking more like a man than the sixteen year old boy that he was. She stopped herself, realizing that she was talking about Harry, the dorky boy she had known since fixing his glasses on their first day at Hogwarts. Come on now. You know he’s your best friend right? What are you thinking? She tried to turn back to the conversation but couldn’t fully regain her focus.
Dumbledore strolled into the room, interrupting Ron’s impression of the Hungarian Horntail he had encountered with Fred and George while sneaking around Charlie’s dragon sanctuary, “I’m sorry to disappoint Harry, but it seems that important news I was to give you three will have to wait until you are back at Hogwarts. I must go.”
“Where are you going Professor?” in the excitement of seeing his friends again, Harry had totally forgotten about Dumbledore’s letter.
“I cannot tell you. Do you trust me Harry?”
“Of course sir,” as Harry finished his reply, Dumbledore disappeared with a loud crack, leaving Harry and his friends confused and a bit disoriented.
“What was that all about?” Ron stood up, grabbing a pastry from the table, and returned to his seat on the floor.
“I’m not sure Ron, but I’m sure we’ll find out.” Harry looked at Hermione, whose face gave Harry the impression that she was equally perplexed. The trio sat in silence for a few moments as they tried to comprehend the situation at hand. Breaking the silence, Harry gently moved Hermione’s legs from his lap and jumped up from the couch, “Fancy a quick game of quidditch mate? You think Fred, George, and Ginny would want to play?”
“You read my mind Harry, but I get Ginny!” Ron ran from the room, grabbing his broom from beside the door and racing outside.
“Looks like your on my team Hermione,” Harry smiled at his best friend, who looked concerned at the prospect of getting on a broom.
“You know I don’t fly well right?” Hermione’s voice wavered slightly, her apprehension clear in her tone.
“Well, I’ll teach you. GINNY, FRED, GEORGE, QUIDDITCH! LET’S GO!” Harry winked and followed his redheaded friends out the door, leaving Hermione on the couch.
I bet there’s a lot of things you could teach me Mr. Potter. Woah. HERMIONE! That’s HARRY! she was conflicted about her newfound appreciation for best friend, but trudged outside anyway.