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Chapter 1 : A New Path to Travel
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The day was very much at odds with the strange happenings that were occurring that summer. There were some Muggles that knew more about what was happening than others, but all of them knew that what they were experiencing was unusual and hadn’t been seen in many, many years.
The neighbors on Privet Drive had finally realized that not everything was as it seemed at Number Four. The lady at Number Seven had seen several strangers visiting and had called the police several times, certain that underhanded things were happening. She watched the police as they spoke with the Dursleys and their rough nephew and was disappointed each time they left empty-handed. She had been astounded when the last time she had called and been told to stop wasting their time. So instead, she started talking with the other neighbors who began watching to see if she was right or not for themselves. They agreed with her that the Dursleys’ nephew was up to no good.
The very person that they didn’t trust, Harry Potter, lay on the wilting grass under the tree in the Dursley’s backyard and stared at the late afternoon sky with his hands tucked behind his head. While he looked completely at ease, in truth he was trying desperately to keep from thinking about what had happened at the end of this past term without success and kept thinking about questions that he needed to ask Professor Dumbledore.
Questions that now would go unanswered.
He would also catch himself expecting to see an owl arriving with a note from his Headmaster setting up a time to leave Privet Drive to spend the remainder of the summer with the Weasleys.
Of all the people there that night, he was one of the few that knew exactly what had happened and he was the only one alive now that knew the entire story of that fateful night. He had stood hidden under his cloak, unable to move, while he watched the events as they had unfolded. He’d seen Snape use the Killing Curse on Professor Dumbledore as he pleaded for help.
Logically, he knew that Professor Dumbledore was dead.
Emotionally, his heart refused to accept it.
His dark thoughts on the events surrounding Professor Dumbledore’s death turned to his funeral and his break up with Ginny directly afterwards. He had known that she wouldn’t argue with him and she wouldn’t make a huge fuss with hysterics or drama, but it still hurt more than he could say. There hadn’t been one second that he hadn’t wanted to Apparate to her and beg her to be his girlfriend again and every second he had to remind himself that it was in her best interest. She would be safe.
She had to be safe.
It made him ill to think that Voldemort could know she was special to him and make his plans to capture her and use her to draw him out like he had done with Sirius. In fact, Voldemort had already used her when he had tried to come back through the diary Horcrux and the only reason that he didn’t succeed was because he had stuck a Basilisk fang through the diary.
He heard the back door open and close but paid it little attention because it wasn’t Ron or Hermione. They had wanted to stay with him, but their parents had been adamant that they return to their own homes for the summer. Both had promised that they would visit him at least once before his left the house for good, however neither of them had managed a visit yet.
“Harry?” Dudley asked hesitantly as he looked around warily for the people he knew were hidden around their house. He didn’t see anyone but that didn’t mean that they weren’t sitting behind the hedge or standing around the corner of the house.
“Dudley?” he was surprised that Dudley had begun talking with him since his cousin was terrified of wizards. There wasn’t really a time that he could recall that they had actually spent time just talking. Most of his memories weren’t good when it came to his cousin.
His cousin didn’t respond.
Harry glanced over at him. “Why don’t you sit?” he suggested, surprised by the look on his cousin’s face. It was a strange look and one that he hadn’t seen before. When Dudley sat clumsily, he sighed knowing that it was going to be a very uncomfortable conversation. “Does Aunt Petunia need something done?”
Dudley looked at him with wide eyes but shook his head nervously. “No,” he managed to say as he looked suspiciously at the hedges. Who knew what they could hide?
“Did Uncle Vernon call and ask for me to do some chore?” Harry asked, suspecting that the chore was going to be fairly involved. Dudley shook his head again. If neither Aunt Petunia nor Uncle Vernon wanted him to do anything, then why was Dudley… Oh. “Do you need something?”
His cousin was now looking uncertain. “When you leave…”
Minutes passed in silence before Harry realized that he wasn’t going to finish the statement. “Dud, just ask the question, I promise I won’t get mad.” His cousin gave him a cautious look and he closed his eyes briefly. “I promise that I’ve learned to control my temper better last year.”
He swallowed nervously as he looked around again. “When you leave, what’ll happen to us?” he asked in a whisper.
Harry frowned as he considered his question. He had been communicating with the Order, or more specifically Mr. Weasley, on the plans to leave Privet Drive and his return to the wizarding world. He had purposely left the letters on the kitchen table for his aunt and uncle to read. It was surprising that Dudley had chosen to read them himself even if his parents had refused to touch the parchment. “I don’t know,” he finally answered the question. “I could ask Mr. Weasley that question in my next letter, if you’d like.”
Dudley looked around nervously before nodding quickly. “Where will you go?”
“I expect that I’ll be staying with a wizarding family for the summer before going to school.” He replied after a moment’s thought. The precise location was left out as was most of the plan just in case the owl was diverted. Even though he suspected that Voldemort and his Death Eaters could easily guess where he would be. It was the one reason that he was still here because the protection wards were being strengthened at the Burrow.
His cousin looked like he had more questions but he remained silent. Instead, they sat quietly for the first time since they had known each other. He had been surprised when Aunt Petunia had begun to keep her views of the wizarding world to herself and started treating him slightly better, even if it was only because Ron or Hermione might appear at any time. Uncle Vernon, on the other hand, had reacted differently and developed a tic in his eye with the idea that his nephew’s friends could suddenly appear.
He hadn’t really cared what his relatives had thought about him or even how they treated him because he would be leaving by his birthday and wasn’t expecting to see any of them again. What he hadn’t been prepared for was the small worry that he got each time he thought about leaving. What would happen to them when the Protections on the house ended? He’d written to Hermione asking about that question and had had several scrolls from her concerning it.
There was more contained in the letters with Ron and Hermione concerning their mission, all written in code. They would wait until after Bill and Fleur were married to leave on their adventure because none of them wanted an irate Mrs. Weasley following them. He sighed softly when he remembered that Ginny would be there. He would get to see her again, be in the same house as her, but how would he be able to stick to his resolve to stay away from her when he would see her nearly every moment?
He glanced over to his cousin and realized that at some point he had gone back inside, likely to watch one of his favorite television shows before dinner, and had left him to think by himself.
Could he somehow sneak away from the Burrow without Ron or Hermione knowing it? There was one problem with that idea since only Hermione could legally Apparate. He had Apparated before without the Ministry’s reprimand, but that had been with Professor Dumbledore which was likely the reason for the Ministry inaction. After their reaction when he had saved his cousin using magic, he couldn’t see them forgiving him for Apparating all over the place and suspected that they would call him in front of the Wizengamot again. Only this time Professor Dumbledore wouldn’t be able to swing the vote his way.
He let his mind wander as he stared at the sky.
“Hermione, do we really have to read all of these books?” Ron protested as he looked at the pile of books sitting in front of him on the kitchen table.
She looked up at him with a frown. “Yes, you know that Harry’s concerned for his family. After they’ve kept him safe from Voldemort, and quit flinching, we have to make sure they stay safe.”
“Why can’t the Order do something about that?” Ron demanded. “After all, they’ve had experience with adding protections and wards.”
Hermione placed a slip of parchment on the page she was reading before shutting the book with deliberation. She looked at him with her complete attention. “What they’re used to doing would be known by any adult wizard or witch.”
Ron scowled at her. “Why do you insist on speaking in riddles?” he groused.
She sighed with frustration. “Voldemort, stop flinching, and his Death Eaters are adults.”
“Yeah and what does that matter?” Ron grumbled.
“Even if the Order puts the typical protections and wards, they would know what those are and how to get around them.” Hermione explained again. “What we’re looking for are the types of protections that might be overlooked.”
Ron still wasn’t convinced. “So you’re telling me that we’re going to find some random protection that’ll keep those people safe?”
“We would if you’d apply yourself.” Hermione snapped before opening the book and turning her attention to it, ignoring Ron and his mutterings.
Ron glared at her before groaning to himself. Reluctantly, he picked up a book and began to read it. This wasn’t exactly what he’d had planned when she’d come to the Burrow to spend what his mum thought would be the remained of the summer vacation. Of course, they’d been smart enough to not tell her and not to let anyone else hear about their plans to sneak away after Bill and Fleur were married.
The next day, Bill stood hidden under Moody’s new Invisibility Cloak and considered the side yard closely. So far everything was going to plan, but plans had a habit of going awry. He had chosen a number of useful items to help during the execution of the plan. A glance upwards showed that a second floor window had been left open, which should be Harry’s.
The question would be getting there without making a sound and that would be difficult. He couldn’t use magic because Harry still had the Trace on him, however he had orders to use magic should he need to and not worry about it.
He had a small bag that had been tied to hang in front of him. If he remembered correctly, Fred and George had stuck a number of useful objects in there without their mother knowing as they whispered the explanations. He pulled out what appeared to be a clear, thin rod and carefully planted one side in the ground and stepped back, watching the tiny prism created by it as it grew to just above Harry’s window. Taking a deep breath and hoping that the twins had a workable product, he placed his hands on the clear rod and felt himself float up to the top. He hooked his foot over the sill and was grateful that he could let go of the rod as he descended into the room.
Harry was waiting by his closed door with his wand pointed at the window as planned, just in case a Death Eater had figured out what was happening. Pulling the cloak up just enough for Harry to see him, he whispered, “Snuffles’ Mum at Grimmauld Place.” He was relieved when he lowered the wand. “Do you have everything you need?” He didn’t wait for an answer, but pulled another small bag out. “Hermione charmed it. Put what you need in here.”
Harry nodded grimly as he took the rucksack that he had packed and stuffed it in. He blinked when the larger rucksack fit easily into the small bag.
“Tie the bag so it hangs in front for now.” Bill instructed and waited until he had complied. “You’re certain you have everything?”
Harry nodded. “Yes, I’ve got everything.”
“Do you understand the next part of the plan?” Bill asked with concern. “You need to tell at least your aunt good-bye and we walk out the front door until we can find a concealed area for the next portion.”
Harry nodded. “I understand.” His Invisibility Cloak was draped over his arm as he opened the door and walked down the stairs followed by Bill. He found his aunt in the living room and she nodded gravely as he told her good-bye.
“If you could, afterwards, let me know…” she trailed off, unable to finish her statement.
He agreed, pulling the Invisibility Cloak over him and waited for her to open the door and step outside to call Dudley, knowing full well that he was having tea at the Polkisses. Bill and Harry slipped outside and walked carefully to the sidewalk and away from Number Four.
It was several blocks before they found a good place to hide while they prepared for the next portion of the plan. Bill stuffed his Invisibility Cloak into the bag before pulling out two innocent looking hats. Harry quickly copied Bill before taking one of the hats. “Fred said that these hats will change how people see you.”
Harry examined it closely, remembering how they had perfected the Shielding Hats. It would make sense that they would create another entire line that was probably very helpful for the Ministry. He crammed the hat on his head, feeling it tighten around the brim. “No chance for it to fall off?” he asked.
Bill shook his head. “According to them, it should stay on.” He looked at his watch and nodded. “We’ve got just enough time to get to the train station.”
Harry stayed on his heels as they threaded their way through the crowd. Bill looked no different to him and he began to suspect that he looked the same, but it was evident that no one was taking a second look at either of them as they darted past, which he had seen far too many times before.
Quicker than he thought possible, though he thought he recognized Tonks at the counter, they had bought their tickets and had boarded a train to Leeds. Why were they going to Leeds? That made no sense at all, but when he had started to question Bill, he had held up his hand. Only when they were alone in the compartment and Bill had consulted another small item did Bill look at him, “Leeds?” Harry whispered.
Bill nodded grimly. “Throw anyone off track,” he whispered back.
Harry nodded, wishing he had thought to bring something to do on the trip. Normally, he might have tried to sleep, but that was nearly impossible with the acrobatics his nerves were doing.
Bill had to shake him awake and motioned for him to follow silently. They made their way off the train and waited until it had left before leaving the station. Harry sighed at the long walk they had in front of them, but was surprised when Charlie landed in front of them with two extra brooms.
“Snuffles’ Mum at Grimmauld Place,” Charlie said quickly as he landed. “Mum’s going spare, claiming it’s taking longer, so I thought I’d bring a couple brooms to save the walk.”
Bill sighed with relief. “Thanks, Charlie. I wasn’t looking forward to a five mile hike today.”
“What?” Harry shook his head as he took a broom.
Soon the three were in the air, grateful for the low clouds as they flew slightly slower than expected. Harry was still very glad when the Burrow came into view and they flew past the protection wards to land next to the back door which was opened quickly by Mrs. Weasley and they were ushered inside as she peered around for any sign of Death Eaters.
“What happened? Why did it take so long?” she demanded as they placed the brooms by the door and pulled off the bags. She hurried to the kitchen where she dished out three bowls of soup. “I thought you’d have been here much sooner than this!”
Harry was glad that Bill explained how it had taken longer to walk to the train station than they had anticipated, but was certain no one had followed them. He yawned, catching Mrs. Weasley’s notice.
“Why don’t you head up to Ron’s room? You look a bit peaky, but that’s nothing that sleep won’t fix up.” She hugged him before pushing him gently towards the stairs.
He paused by the door to pick up his bag then turned around. “Thank you Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Charlie.” He gave them a wan smile before closing Ron’s door behind him and collapsing gratefully on the cot.
A/N: This was one of my earlier stories. It had been posted earlier, but I deleted it and reworked the story before posting it once more. This story may look fairly different from when you’ve read it before as I am expanding it into a novella.
A/N: As always, I hope you have enjoyed this first chapter. Please let me know what you thought about this chapter, especially if you have constructive criticism! I am always looking for ways to improve my writing! Thank you very much!
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