Harry stared down at the parchment, wracking his brain for the answer to the question written in front of him. Looking across from him, he could see Ron was having the same problem. Why did Hermione and Mrs. Weasley choose the day that he and Ron finally started on their summer homework to go to Diagon Alley? They still had about a week or so until they needed to return to Hogwarts, couldn't the supplies wait?
Ron looked up from his own homework, meeting his eyes, and Harry knew they were thinking the same. Sighing, Harry returned his eyes to his homework, and made a wild guess at the answer. His mind thought over the last few days as he stared blankly at the next question, and felt his lips curve into a smile. After two days of waiting, the Daily Prophet finally came out with the truth about Voldemort yesterday, claiming that evidence had come up to prove it.
Harry remembered Remus pulling him aside as everyone else in the room celebrated, telling him the only reason why the story had been delayed was because an employee close to Fudge, Umbridge, who Harry vaguely remembered, protested against the story being published. After a shouting match that most people in the Atrium heard, Umbridge managed to get herself fired from the Ministry of Magic. Hardly realizing what she was saying, she had accidentally let slip that she was the one who sent the Dementors to Little Whinging, right in front of Fudge. Harry could hear the relish in Remus' voice as he told them this and briefly wondered why, before the twins had pulled him away and started telling him more of their ideas for the joke shop.
Leaning back in his chair, Harry threw his quill onto the table and stretched his arms over his head, wincing slightly as the tender skin on his back stretched painfully. His back was still healing the Muggle way, while the rest of his wounds were just about gone, just sore to the touch. His stomach felt uncomfortably heavy from the breakfast that morning that Mrs. Weasley had forced him to eat, still concerned about his bony body. Sirius had said James was skinny and small for his age too, but still agreed with Mrs. Weasley, saying that not even Harry's dad was that skinny. Harry had rolled his eyes but said nothing, knowing they were both right. His shirts and trousers hung more loosely than they usually did, and his ribs were sickeningly visible through the skin on his chest. Sirius walked into the dining room, an empty sup of tea in his hands, and chuckled as he looked at Ron and Harry.
"Trouble with homework?" He asked with a smirk, pulling out a chair and sitting next to Ron.
Harry glanced over at Ron, and they both rolled their eyes. Sirius saw and laughed, grabbing Ron's paper and reading over it quickly, then setting it back.
"C'mon, it can't be that hard! Hermione had her paper done before she even showed up here!" Sirius exclaimed sarcastically.
"Well she's a bloody genius, isn't she?" Ron muttered, scribbling down an answer.
"Tsk, tsk, Ron, wrong answer." Sirius said, watching Ron write out his answer, "The Aparecium Spell makes invisible ink become visible, not 'makes ink become invisible.' Honestly." He said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Harry snickered as Ron muttered irritably under his breath, crossing out his answer and writing what Sirius just told him.
"So, is there any reason you came down here other than to annoy us?" Harry asked.
"As a matter of fact yes," Sirius said, " I need to talk to you, Harry. In private." He added, glancing at Ron.
Harry nodded and got off his chair, forgetting about his homework as he gave Ron a quick wave, and walked into the other room with Sirius. Harry sat down on the counter as Sirius put his cup in the sink, and watched as the sponge in the sink started to clean the cup for him.
"What's up?" Harry asked as Sirius sat on the counter opposite him.
"Well, er, I'm just concerned about you going back to Hogwarts." Sirius started.
Harry could see were he was going with this, and shook his head with disbelief.
"You're joking! I'm not staying here while everyone else goes back to Hogwarts, no way!" Harry exclaimed.
"The wound on your back isn't even fully healed yet, and you're still weak-"
"I'm not letting Voldemort have the satisfaction of knowing how much he hurt me," Harry cut in, "I'll be fine to go back. Hogwarts is one of the safest places right now, everyone knows Voldemort's back, so the castle will have more protection than ever!"
Sirius sighed, and ran his fingers though his shaggy, black hair, "I know, but that doesn't stop me from worrying about you." He muttered.
The anger Harry felt swelling inside him vanished, and he smiled over at his godfather.
"You know Dumbledore will be keeping an eye on me, I know he will. And besides, it isn't like any of the teacher's are out to get me, right?" Harry said with a small laugh.
"'Course not, Dumbledore hired someone almost as good as Moony for Defense Against the Dark Arts." Sirius told him, a smirk growing on his face.
"Dumbledore never mentioned anything about the new DADA teacher when he was here, who is it?" Harry asked eagerly.
"I don't know if I should tell you, don't you want to be surprised?" Sirius asked, pretending to consider it.
"Oh c'mon, Sirius! Stop messing around and tell me!" Harry said with mock annoyance.
"Fine, Tonks is taking time off from the Ministry to work at Hogwarts." Sirius told him.
"You're joking!" Harry said in shock.
"No, I'm Sirius." He replied with a straight face.
"That joke got old ages ago." Harry said, chuckling as he shook his head.
"Did not! It's been around since I was at Hogwarts."
"Exactly my point." Harry said with a straight face, pushing himself off the counter and leaning against it.
"You scrawny git." Sirius muttered.
Harry chuckled, hearing the comment, and grabbed his half empty bottle of Butterbeer off the counter from earlier.
"Hold on, back to Tonks. I thought the Ministry would be appointing a new teacher for Defense." Harry said, his voice full of curiosity.
"They would only do that if Dumbledore couldn't find a teacher in time, and they were afraid that Dumbledore would hire someone to help him train you all in combat." Sirius said with a shrug.
"Combat? You're telling me the Ministry actually thought Dumbledore wanted to train us up to fight against them?" Harry's eyes bulged out of his head.
"Biggest bunch of bullshit I've ever heard if you ask me." Sirius told Harry.
"Sirius Orion Black!" A voice scolded behind Harry.
Harry whipped around at the sudden noise, his body tense. He let a breath out when he saw it was only Mrs. Weasley, her arms full of bags. Ron was standing next to her, snickering at the look of surprise of Sirius' face. Hermione and Ginny walked in after Ron, there arms too, loaded with bags. As Mrs. Weasley set her bags on the counter, Hermione and Ginny struggled to keep a hold of everything in their arms. Ron moved over and helped Hermione with her bags since he was closest to her, while Harry hurried over to help Ginny.
"You don't need to help me, Harry. I've got it all, plus you should be resting." Ginny told him with a smile that made his heart flutter.
"I'm not that delicate, I can carry a few bags." He said with a roll of his eyes.
Harry grabbed most of the bags out of her arms, briefly brushing his fingers against her arms as he did. His fingertips felt hot, and he turned away from her before she could see the goose bumps that erupted on his skin. As he set the bags on the counter Hermione caught his eye, a knowing look on her face as she smirked at him, her eyes flickering to Ginny for a moment. Harry felt his eyes widen a bit, and he shook his head at her, pointing with his eyes towards Ron. Hermione gave a quiet snort and rolled her eyes, giving him a look that said 'we'll talk later'.
"Merlin's beard, Molly, what did you buy?" Sirius asked, his eyes roaming over all the bags.
"All their school supplies they needed, more food for here, clothes, and potions for Harry." Mrs. Weasley replied.
"When did we get our Hogwarts letters?" Harry asked, his eyebrows creased together in confusion, "I've been waiting for the past few days for them to come."
"Harry, we got them the day before - before we found you." Ginny said hesitantly.
Harry gave a small flinch at the reminder of his capture, and gave a small nod. Sirius walked over to a drawer in the kitchen and grabbed a piece of parchment, he hurried over and handed it to Harry. Harry looked over the list quickly, and gave a small frown.
"There's only two new ones," He said, "The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5, and Self-Defense Spellwork."
"Who do you reckon is the new Defense teacher?" Ginny asked, peering over Harry's shoulder to look at his list of school books.
"Some lunatic probably." Ron muttered.
"Oi! I take offense to that!" Sirius called from across the room.
"Why? Theres no way you can be the new teacher, the Ministry still thinks your a criminal." Hermione said, looking at Sirius as if he had gone mad.
"Please, I would never be a teacher," Sirius gave a fake shudder, "I just don't like you insulting my lovely cousins sanity."
"What are you - wait, T-Tonks?" Ron spluttered.
"Yes, Ickle Ronikins, gold star to you for getting something right for once." Fred said, leaning against the doorway with George.
Harry glanced over at them, and could see a small piece of string from an Extendable Ear dangling out of George's pocket. Ron glared over at his brother, picking up a scroll of parchment from the counter and playfully throwing it at Fred, who whipped out his wand and flicked it, freezing the parchment in mid-air.
"Very mature, Ron. It's a wonder you were made Prefect." Ginny said with a smirk on her face.
"Prefect? Ron was made Prefect?!?" Harry exclaimed, turning his head towards Ron.
"There's no need to sound so surprised." Ron said with a mock glare at Harry.
"Well no one told me." Harry told him, shock written on his face.
"To be honest I totally forgot, there were, um, more important things going on." Ron muttered, glancing down at his feet.
Harry felt as if he had swallowed an ice cube, closing his eyes for a moment at the second mention of his capture. When he opened his eyes he found sympathetic stares aimed at him, and cleared his throat.
"What else happened?" He asked, eager to change the subject.
"I was made prefect too!" Hermione told him excitedly.
Harry smiled at her, giving both her and Ron his congratulations. He could feel Sirius' eyes on him, but tried his best to ignore him and look away, giving a mental groan inside his head. Sirius would want to talk, Harry knew that. Their conversation from earlier wasn't finished yet. After everyone got their school supplies sorted out, Mrs. Weasley asked them to take them up to their rooms, so that they could start packing before they left for Hogwarts in three days. Harry gathered all his robes, books, potions ingredients, quills, and parchment in his arms. Then he stumbled over to the stairs with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny in front of him, and Fred and George following behind him, their arms full of supplies as well.
Ron, Hermione and Ginny turned the corner as they reached the landing, heading towards their rooms, while Harry and the twins turned the other way, their rooms next to each other. Harry made it to his room and kicked at the door to open it, stumbling into the wall next to him as he lost his balance. He closed his eyes and bit his lip, his body colliding with the wall painfully, rattling his injuries. He heard a few cracks as something fell to the floor, and opened his eyes, giving a frustrated sigh as he looked down at the broken vials of potion ingredients scattered on the floor.
"Need any help?" One of the twins asked, reminding Harry of the train ride in his first year.
Harry looked up and saw George, he had his wand out and was looking down at the mess on the ground.
"Yeah, thanks." Harry replied, leaning against the wall and getting a better grip on everything in his hands.
With a flick of his wand George fixed the vials, the ingredients flying back inside. George bent down to pick them up, and Harry could see Fred hurrying over behind him.
"Everything alright?" He asked, glancing down at George before looking over at Harry.
Harry's back throbbed in irritation, but he tried to ignore it and nodded to Fred. Fred looked at him wearily, as if he didn't believe him for a moment, but looked away and grabbed the potion ingredients out of George's arms so he could help Harry with the rest of his things. Harry followed the twins into his and Sirius' room, dumping all the things on his bed for him to pack later.
"Is that everything?" George asked, his eyes wandering around the room.
"Yeah, it is. Thanks you guys." Harry said, sorting out his clothes from his school supplies.
"No problem, young Harry." They both winked at him and bowed deeply.
Harry laughed and shook his head, watching the twins leave and shut the door behind them. He sat down on his bed and ran his fingers through his hair, making a mental note to ask Mrs. Weasley if she could try to cut it for him. He'd forgotten to ask her to do it when he got to Grimmauld place, with everything that had been going on recently. The thought brought Sirius back into his mind, and the conversation they had earlier in the kitchen. Harry knew that people would talk about what happened, some awkward questions would be asked, but if they all knew that Voldemort was back, wasn't it worth it?
A/N: I am so sorry for the long wait! With school starting back up and all the homework, I've been quite busy. I honestly don't know when I'll have the next chapter up, but I promise you it will be up sometime! Thank you all who have continued reading the story!