Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat and pulled out his watch yet
again. He was waiting in Dumbledore's office for him and Sirius, who had
been gone over 6 hours, and he was beginning to worry that something had
gone wrong. It had only been a week since Dumbledore had met with Mr.
Thurston, who was currently serving as temporary Minister of Magic, to
discuss what had really happened between Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew
almost 16 years ago.
From what Harry had been told about the meeting, Thurston was less than
eager to even consider that Sirius wasn't guilty, but he had too much
opposition from other members of the Ministry, mostly due to Arthur
Weasley. Arthur had more support than Thurston had expected, and since he
is only acting Minister of Magic, he did not have the authority to override
them. His few followers, which included Percy Weasley, paled compared to
Harry had been quite surprised to hear this considering the last time
he had seen Thurston and Mr. Weasley together, Thurston seemed to have a
stronger following. But apparently, the people he brought with him that
day, were pretty much the only ones who were behind him. Therefore, he had
agreed to see Sirius today, and requested that the body of Pettigrew be
brought as well. He had tried to say that a dead body would prove nothing,
but was again overridden.
They were lucky they still had Peter's body, which strangely looked
the same as it had on the day he died. Harry could only guess that it must
be because of the knowledge still held within him. Tytros had apparently
done as he said he would, and spoke to Forden about letting them hold onto
it until Sirius' name was cleared, and Forden had come to speak with
Dumbledore about it. Harry hadn't been told anything about that meeting,
except that they could keep Peter until after today. Sirius was grateful
for this, though he still didn't trust Tytros and Harry felt much the same.
It was too hard to forget how he had tricked Harry, and almost cost him
his life, only a few weeks ago.
Harry was stirred out of these thoughts however when he heard a noise
behind him. He jumped out of his chair and spun around to see Dumbledore
come into the office.
"What happened? You've been gone so long!" he exclaimed. Then he
began looking past him anxiously. "Where's Sirius?" He couldn't bare the
thought that Sirius may have been found guilty and sent back to prison.
"Calm down Harry, he's alright." Dumbledore said smiling.
"Then.then everything's okay? He's free?" Harry said in excitement.
"I will let him tell you. He wants you to meet him outside."
Harry smiled widely and left the office in a hurry. He ran through
the halls at top speed until he came to the school entrance. When he
pushed the doors open, he immediately spotted Sirius standing by the lake.
It was a beautiful day and the sun was sparkling on the water. A wonderful
breeze ruffled through Harry's hair as he trotted over to his godfather.
Sirius turned as he heard Harry approaching and for a moment, the two
of them just stood a few feet away, looking at each other. Then Sirius'
face broke out in a large smile, he nodded once. Harry's heart leaped with
joy! He knew; Sirius was free! There would be no more hiding away from
people and no more traveling in his animagus form. Harry couldn't remember
the last time he had felt this happy or excited. He ran forward and gave
his godfather a fierce hug. When they pulled apart, he noticed that
Sirius' eyes were glassy, like he had been crying, but he knew these
weren't tears of sadness. Neither of them spoke, they stood in silence for
a few minutes looking out over the lake. Sirius broke the silence first.
"I have something I want to ask you."
Harry looked at him, waiting.
"I know I've mentioned this once already, a little over three years
ago, but since so much time has passed I want to ask again. Would you
consider.coming to live with me?"
"Yes!" Harry answered without hesitation. He had wanted this since
Sirius had first asked him all those years ago. It seemed like ages now,
but he wanted it just as badly. "I would love to come live with you."
Sirius smiled and it looked like he might cry again, but he didn't,
just sat there with a big silly grin on his face.
"We're going to have to get the house.prepared first," Sirius
continued. "Similar to how everything was set up for you at the Dursley's.
Then when everything is ready we can move you in."
"Will there be another Secret Keeper?" Harry asked nervously,
remembering Mrs. Figg. It was impossible for him not to feel guilty when
he remembered her, or anyone else that had died because Voldemort was after
"Yes," Sirius answered quietly. "I'm afraid it's necessary for your
"Who will it be?" Harry asked.
"Don't worry about that now," Sirius said quickly, then stood up. "I
have to start getting everything ready and let Dumbledore know that you
will be coming with me. I'll be leaving tonight but I'll be back for you
in about a week, okay?"
Harry stood up with him, feeling as if this were the best day of his
life. He had never had a place he considered a real home. The Dursley's
house felt like a prison, the Burrow was nice to visit, and he loved
Hogwart's, but nothing had ever been someplace he could call home. He
nodded at Sirius and the two of them walked back to the school together.
When they were inside, Sirius set off for Dumbledore's office, and
Harry went to the great hall. As he hadn't eaten all day waiting upstairs,
he felt nearly famished. He noticed that some of the Slytherins that had
to take their exams over the summer were there, so he quickly grabbed some
food from his table and headed back for the door. He felt very
uncomfortable being in the same room alone with them, as Malfoy had told
them that Harry had been the one who turned them in and they were less than
pleased with him.
He glanced over his shoulder once more before stepping through the
door, where he crashed head on with Draco Malfoy.
"Why don't you watch where you're going Potter?" Malfoy spat at him
standing up quickly and wiping food off his robes. Harry didn't say
anything, he just picked up whatever he thought he could still eat and
stood up, and was surprised to see Draco still standing there.
"Yes?" he asked impatiently.
"You're in my way," Draco replied icily.
Harry just rolled his eyes. It's not as if there weren't room for
him to step around. He moved to the side and walked past Malfoy, heading
back to his tower. But he hadn't gotten even five feet when he heard
Malfoy speak again.
"How did you get away?"
Harry turned to face him, suspiciously.
"What do you mean?" he asked in a low voice.
"I know where they took you.my father and the others. How did you
"Why do you care?" Harry asked. "You certainly didn't seem to care
that they took me in the first place, or you would've gotten help instead
of staying quiet so what difference does it make now?"
"I don't care," Malfoy said disgustedly. "Not about you. If you're
not gonna answer then fine, just say so. Besides I'd take my father's side
any day over yours."
"So I've noticed. You don't care what's right just that it's what
your father wants you to do."
"If it was your father you'd do the same."
"No I wouldn't. Not if he wanted me to endanger someone else's life.
Besides my father wouldn't have done that," Harry replied.
"How would you even know?" Malfoy sneered. "Your father's dead."
Harry just glared at him in hatred.
"Portkey, I got away using a portkey," he said, then turned and
stalked off down the hall.
Harry was fuming as he walked back to his tower. How dare Malfoy
even speak about his father that way! And why did he want to know how he'd
gotten away? Wouldn't his father have told him, as he knew so much
already? Then another thought occurred to him. How much did Malfoy really
know? Had he been told everything that was going on, or just what his
father.or Voldemort wanted him to know. Harry had to consider the
possibility that Draco might be being used against him, whether he knew it
When he was in the common room at last, he sat down to have dinner;
his thoughts drifted back to a few weeks ago and his recent run in with
Voldemort. He had been lucky yet again, but he wondered when the time
would come that his luck would run out.
Then there was the spell he had witnessed, with that horrible red
snake-like creature. Voldemort had said that he would become invincible
that night, but Harry thought the spell was just to extract his blood from
him. He wished he could ask someone about it, but he knew the only person
who might be able to answer his question would be a Zlam, and he was in no
rush to speak with any of them.
When he finished his dinner, he went upstairs to his dormitory, and
was surprised to see a large gray owl on his bed with a letter tied to his
leg. He grabbed his moneybag, which was painfully light at this point
since he hadn't been to Gringott's in almost a year, and handed him a few
knuts before untying the letter. The bird squawked once before jumping up
in a flurry of feathers and zooming out the window.
Harry sat down on the edge of his bed and ripped open the letter, he
couldn't believe it when he looked down and saw that it was from Hagrid!
He hadn't heard from him in over a year and was wondering what had been
happening. Dumbledore had assured him several times that Hagrid was okay,
but wouldn't say anything else. He scanned the letter quickly and found
that Hagrid would be returning to Hogwart's for the year and would be
teaching Care of Magical Creatures again. He made no mention of what he
had been up to for the past two years, just said he would speak to Harry
when he arrived and not to send a response.
Harry sighed happily. For the first time in a while things seemed to
be going right and he wanted it to continue. He went over to the window
and stared outside at the beautiful pink and gold sunset, wishing his
contended feeling would last forever.
That week went by slower than anything for Harry, as he was eager for
Sirius to return to get him. He was glad, for the first time in his life,
to be leaving Hogwart's. He spent the week mostly in the Gryffindor tower,
as he didn't want to be anywhere near the Slytherins and either read books
on quidditch or polished his Firebolt. When the weekend came, Harry was
fully packed and ready to go by the time Sirius came through the portrait
hole. He looked at Harry with all his things in the common room and
"Anxious to leave are you? I thought you liked it here," he said
with a laugh.
"I do," Harry said quickly, "but I've been here for a full year now,
and the summers are a bit dull with no one around."
"Well you have all those nice Slytherin boys." Sirius began,
"You try spending time with a group of guys that look at you like
they want you dead and tell me how it feels."
"I know how that feels, I got that a lot when I was here. So did
your father as I recall. One of those glares was always from Severus Snape
"I believe it," Harry said, thinking of how Snape usually looked at
him. "So, are we going then?" he asked eagerly. Sirius grinned and nodded
at him, they both lifted the trunk with the rest of Harry's things piled on
top and headed out into the hall.
"We're going to Dumbledore's office," Sirius said as they walked.
"He's having a passage opened for us to use floo powder from his fireplace,
like he did to get you here last year."
Harry just nodded at him, when they reached the office after having
lugged everything up the stairs; they found Dumbledore waiting for them.
"Everything is ready?" he asked Sirius.
"Yes, it's all set. Just as you told us."
"Very good," Dumbledore replied nodding, then he turned to Harry.
"Enjoy the rest of your summer Harry. I look forward to seeing you in
"I will. Thank you, for letting me go with Sirius," Harry said
sincerely. Dumbledore again just nodded and smiled at the two of them.
Sirius grabbed some floo powder from his jacket pocket and together
he and Harry moved to the fire, he threw some of it and they stepped in.
Harry felt the spinning sensation as they were whisked away to Sirius'
When they landed finally, they both had to catch their balance
quickly to keep from toppling forward and spilling all of Harry's
belongings. When they were both a few feet from the fireplace, the put
down the trunk and Harry looked around. Everything was the same as last
year, but somehow it looked, cozier. Much more like a home than a hideout.
There were pictures up now, and the kitchen had a full set up, rather than
just the rickety table and chair that had been there last time.
"Well," Sirius said, "let's take your things up to your room, then
you can explore all you want."
Harry was ecstatic. His own room! Not one that was just a storage
space for Dudley's old things, or a cupboard. And while he loved the dorms
at Hogwart's, it wasn't his own room. When they got upstairs to where the
bedrooms were, he was surprised to see that the few belongings he had that
he left at the Dursley's were there. He looked at Sirius questioningly.
"Remus and I stopped by your aunt and uncle's house two days ago and
picked these up for you. If there's anything missing tell us as we told
them we'd return if they lied to us about what was actually yours," he said
smiling, devilishly. Harry was grinning just thinking about how the
Dursley's must've reacted, he almost wished he'd been there to see it.
"No, I'm sure nothing's missing. Actually I think you have some
stuff here that isn't mine," Harry said, looking around.
"Well, whatever it is they can always get a new one," Sirius said
nonchalantly. "We would have taken you with us, but it isn't safe for you
to be at that house right now."
"I understand. I wasn't in any rush to see them anyway, as long as
they'll be safe. They will be, right?" Harry asked not so sure all of a
"Voldemort isn't after your relatives, and he knows you don't care
for them so using them against you probably isn't something he's planning
on," Sirius replied looking at Harry. "Don't worry about it, they'll be
Harry nodded at him, hoping he was right. It was true he didn't like
the Dursley's but he didn't want anyone else to be hurt or killed because
"I'm going to head downstairs and make us some lunch while you get
settled in up here. Then I'll show you the rest of the house," Sirius
said. He walked over to the door and just before he walked out he turned
to Harry once more. "Welcome home," he said, smiling, then turned again
and left the room.
Harry didn't need to spend any time at all getting used to calling
this house his home, it had felt that way since he first arrived. He spent
much of his time with Sirius talking about quidditch and school, but most
of all, his parents. Harry loved to hear any stories that Sirius would
share with him about what his parents were like in school and all the
pranks they pulled on Snape. It made him feel closer to them in a way.
They didn't go out much as Sirius was still a bit leery that people
wouldn't accept the fact that he wasn't a murderer too quickly. But Harry
didn't mind, he just wanted to spend as much time as possible with his
godfather and it didn't matter to him where they spent that time.
He really wanted to show his friends the house and asked Sirius if he
could invite them over at some point during the summer.
"They're already coming, I've invited them for your birthday," Sirius
"When were you going to tell me?" Harry asked suspiciously.
"I just did, didn't I?" he replied, grinning.
Harry just shook his head and laughed to himself.
On the night before his birthday, he stayed up late as he usually
did, he wasn't expecting presents from his friends as he knew they were
coming that day, but it was sort of like a tradition for him now. One owl
did show up, about ten minutes after he was 17, and it had his school
letter. He read over it quickly and decided to take a closer look
tomorrow, then went to bed.
Harry woke up much earlier than he intended however, he was jolted
out of sleep by a very sudden pain that filled his head. He knew
immediately that it wasn't his scar, but couldn't even think of what else
might be causing it when it suddenly vanished. Harry raised his head
slowly and opened his eyes, which were burning. He tried rubbing at them,
but it only made it worse, so he stopped, hoping the feeling would cease.
When it finally faded, he blinked a few times before looking around
the room. He noticed it was almost quarter after five in the morning, too
early to get up. For a moment he was tempted to wake Sirius and tell him
what had happened, but decided against it. I can't just run to him every
time I get a headache, he thought. He laid back down again, pushing the
covers down, as he was very hot now, and closed his eyes. If it happened
again, he decided, then he would tell Sirius.
It was only a few minutes before he was sleeping soundly, as if nothing had
Later on that morning, Harry felt himself being shaken awake,
lightly. He rolled over onto his back and saw Sirius standing over him.
"Happy Birthday!" he said excitedly. Harry smiled; his godfather's
expression was similar to that of a small child on Christmas morning. He
supposed it was for the same reason he himself was excited, Sirius had
never been able to see Harry on his birthdays until this one.
"Hey," Harry replied, "thanks!" He glanced down and saw that Sirius
had a large tray with him. It was filled with all of Harry's favorite
breakfast foods and the wonderful aroma was making his mouth water. Sirius
held up the tray and moved it towards Harry.
"I thought breakfast in bed would be nice, since I don't think you've
ever had the pleasure before," he said gently placing the tray down.
"No, not unless you count the few days when the Dursley's gave me
cold soup once a day and wouldn't let me leave the room." Harry laughed at
the memory now, though at the time he had been pretty scared.
"I certainly do not count that, horrid muggles," Sirius muttered.
"Well are you going to eat, or let it get cold?" he asked.
"Want some?" Harry asked seeing the overwhelming amount of food in
front of him. It would've been enough for three of him. Sirius grabbed a
piece of bacon and the two of them ate together, chatting about what they
would do when everyone arrived.
When he was finished, Harry got out of bed to get ready and Sirius
took the tray downstairs. When he had just finished getting dressed, he
went to the door and went down. No sooner had he stepped into the living
room then the fire in the fireplace turned a bright emerald green, and Ron
half stepped, half fell forward out of the hearth.
"Ron!" Harry said smiling.
"Oy! Harry! Happy Birthday!" Ron said, then quickly jumped out of
the way as the fire had turned green again, Hermione stepped gracefully
into the room. Soon all of the Weasleys had arrived and they all were
carrying a package of some sort.
"I'm so excited you guys could come," Harry said after saying hello
to all of them, I can't wait to show you the house!" He was about to pull
his friends upstairs and let Sirius entertain Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, when
there was another flash of green in the fireplace. Harry's jaw dropped in
surprise when Cho stepped into the room.
"Harry!" she exclaimed happily spotting him immediately and walking
"I didn't know you were coming!" he said, amazed, then looked to
Sirius, who was grinning.
"You didn't think I'd ask your girlfriend to come?" he asked. Harry
just smiled at him, then turned back to Cho. The two of them embraced for
a moment, but Harry felt a little uncomfortable doing anything else in
front of everyone.
"I'm glad you're here," he said. "C'mon upstairs with us, I'll show
Harry, Cho, Ron, Hermione and Ginny left the adults to talk and
headed up to see the rest of the house.
Harry took his friends around upstairs. He showed them the
guestrooms and where the girls would be staying, then told Ron they'd be
moving another bed into his room for him to sleep in. He showed them his
own room, which still didn't have much in it besides what he took to
Hogwart's with him, as he and Sirius hadn't gone out much. He did have the
few things, that used to be Dudley's, which Sirius and Remus had grabbed
accidentally, but they were mostly just some of his old broken games. Ron
thought they were the weirdest things he had ever seen, and was
particularly intrigued by one of them. He picked it up and started turning
it over in his hands, looking at it intently.
"What is it, what does it do?" he asked finally, looking at Harry in
confusion. Harry held in a laugh, as he didn't want to make Ron feel bad.
"It's called a Rubik's Cube," he said. "And it doesn't do anything.
You mix up the squares so the colors don't match anymore, then you try and
put them back in order."
"That's it? Nothing comes out of it, it doesn't open or anything?"
"That's it. Though I don't know if that one would be any good
anymore," Harry said looking skeptically at the battered cube. Dudley had
gotten completely frustrated with it some time ago and decided to just rip
the colors off and paste them on again so they matched. Most of them were
now ripped, peeling or completely gone.
After they had gone through the upstairs, they headed back down to
"Harry, let's go into the den," Sirius said getting up from his seat,
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley stood up as well.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"I though we should open your presents now, before dinner."
Harry smiled at him and turned back towards the den. When everyone
was sitting down and Harry had a pile of packages in front of him, he
started to go through them. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had given him a sweater
that she knitted, and they also had brought a cake for later. Harry
laughed at the thought that he could probably open a sweater shop with all
the old ones that didn't fit him anymore. They would all be the same color
and style, as Mrs. Weasley didn't ever change what she used for each of
them, but he still loved the fact that she cared enough to do this for him.
He thanked both of them, and went to the next package.
Harry opened the next gift and saw a long, bright yellow box, with no
markings on it. He glanced around the room, not knowing who this was from,
then slowly lifted the lid of the box. Inside there was a note.
Happy Birthday! We're both very busy right now and we couldn't make
it there today, but we'll see you soon. Bring this box with you to Diagon
Alley when you come for your school supplies. Ron will show you where to
Fred and George
Harry looked at Ron questioningly, and he just smiled back. He
decided not to ask anything now, though, as Mrs. Weasley appeared to be
frowning at the box. He just set it aside and picked up the next package.
He knew immediately it was from Ron because, like his mother, the present
was usually the same each year. But that was okay because Harry loved
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and Chocolate Frogs. He knew Ron loved to
give him these because Harry always shared them with him too.
The next gift was from Hermione. Harry opened a very meticulously
wrapped box and slid the lid off. Inside was a large, leather bound book
with Strategies written on the front in block letters. When he opened it
he saw the first page was labeled Chasers, and it was filled with people in
quidditch robes, of all different heights and weights. This went on for
three pages, then there were two pages of beaters and a page of seekers.
The next few pages contained different quidditch maneuvers and explanations
for each of them. When he got to the end, there was a quidditch field
spread out over two pages, but it was completely empty of players. There
were two bludgers, a quaffle and a snitch off to the side. He looked up at
Hermione, not wanting to insult her, but not quite sure what how to use the
She looked at him in amusement, as if she had expected this and moved
closer to him, pulling out her wand.
"Watch," she said. She took her wand and quickly touched the tip of
it to three of the chasers, two beaters, and a seeker. Then did the same
thing all over again. When she flipped to the last page, it was now
showing two full quidditch teams on their brooms in the air. The bottom of
the left page said Team A and the right said Team B.
"Now, touch your wand to Team A, then pick out a maneuver you want to
use, then give it to Ron," she said, "You do the same for team B," she
continued, looking at Ron.
Harry and Ron did as they were told, then flipped to the back of the
book again. An actual game was playing out and the teams were performing
the moves both of them had chosen.
"You can use it to see what the plays will look like ahead of time,
and see what defenses work best," Harry said, figuring it out. This was
fantastic! He looked up at Hermione smiling largely.
"Thank you!" he said happily. She smiled back at him.
"Glad you like it."
"Like it? I love it! Do you know how much this will help when we're
practicing this year? It's great!" Harry said excitedly. He didn't
mention the fact that he had no idea if there was going to be quidditch
this year, after what happened last year. He gingerly placed the book on
the table next to his seat and picked up the last package.
He picked up the last package, and turned it over in his hands,
before tearing the paper off. He pulled the lid off the tiny box and
peered inside, suddenly a flash of gold flew out of the box, and hovered in
front of him. Harry gasped as he saw it was a golden snitch. He stared at
it in amazement until suddenly it zoomed across the room Harry stood up to
go after it but before he could take a step, Cho snatched it from the air,
and handed it to him.
"Look at that, I finally beat you to the snitch," she said playfully.
He just beamed at her. This was so wonderful. He wouldn't have to
practice with apples or rocks any longer; he had his own snitch. She
handed it back to him and he grasped her hand as she did so, he didn't care
who was around this time. He pulled her close to him and kissed her. When
they finally separated, Harry noticed that Sirius had a lopsided grin on
his face, and Cho was glowing.
"Thank you, I love it," he whispered to her. Before she could answer
there was a noise near the hearth, everyone looked to see the flames had
turned green, and not five seconds later, Lupin stepped out.
"Am I in time?" he said looking quickly to Sirius.
"Just," he replied. Lupin smiled then looked around the room. He
said hello to everyone and then turned to Harry.
"Happy birthday Harry. Sorry I couldn't be here earlier but I had a
few things to take care of."
"That's okay Remus, glad you could come. I didn't even know you were
gonna be here."
"Well I had to see your face when we gave you OUR present," Lupin
answered. He looked at Sirius who nodded, then turned and headed for the
Harry looked after Sirius, then questioningly at Lupin. "Should I be
scared?" he asked, knowing the two of them had a very high tendency to pull
pranks. They were like older versions of Fred and George. Lupin just
shook his head at Harry, grinning.
When Sirius came back downstairs, Harry instantly recognized the
shape of the package.
"You see now why I couldn't leave it lying there with the others?
Much too obvious." He walked over to Harry and handed it to him. "Happy
birthday from Remus and I."
Harry ripped the paper away to reveal a brand new racing broom; the
handle read 'Moontrimmer 800'
"Moontrimmer?" Ron asked. "I didn't think the made those anymore."
"It's true they stopped for a while," Remus began, "but they've
started producing them again and this is the latest model. It can reach
speeds that match the Firebolt, and is just as easy, if not easier, to
maneuver. But it can reach incredible heights faster than any broom out
there. The diving capabilities are amazing as well. The best part is,
these aren't even on the market yet."
"How did you get it then?" Harry asked, still staring at the amazing
broom. Remus smirked.
"I ran into Ludo Bagman at the ministry. It just so happens he owes
me from something that happened between us a long time ago, something that
we won't get into now. He offered me a chance to get one of these before
they go on sale in a few weeks, at a discounted price."
"All of the professional leagues are already after these, it's going
to take the place of the Firebolt as the International Standard," Sirius
"Thank you, both of you," Harry said. "I don't know what else to
say, I can't believe all of this!" He looked back and forth from Sirius to
Remus, then to everyone in the room. This was without a doubt, the best
birthday he'd ever had.
"You don't have to say anything, just seeing your face is enough
thanks for me," Sirius said. "Now, who wants dinner?"
When dinner was over, and they all had had some cake, Harry wanted to
go try out his new broom, and practice with the snitch. Since there was a
nice open area behind the house, which was far from muggle eyes, Sirius was
fine with that idea. He also told them it would be okay if they wanted to
use his broom. Harry ran upstairs, grabbed his Firebolt, then into Sirius'
room to grab his Tinderblast, then back downstairs.
The five of them headed for the back, and stepped out into the cool summer
breeze. It was still early evening so they had a couple hours of daylight
left and Harry didn't want to waste any of it. He handed his Firebolt to
Ron, who was looking at it eagerly, and Cho said Ginny could use the
Tinderblast first as Hermione seemed utterly uninterested in participating.
The two girls sat down in the lush grass as the other three mounted their
When Harry kicked off, he felt the familiar exhilaration that he got
every time he flew, rushing back to him. The Moontrimmer was magnificent;
he glided through the air and made a few laps around the area. Ron and
Ginny were doing the same, Ron clearly enjoying the way the Firebolt
Cho let the snitch out after a few minutes and the three of them
began searching for it. Harry was the one to catch it every time, though,
and after a while he went back down to the ground. Cho and Hermione took
turns as well, and everyone kept switching brooms so they all got a chance
on the Moontrimmer. When it finally began to get dark, the five friends
headed back inside.
"You looked good out there," Sirius said.
"Watching us, were you?" Harry asked, smiling.
"Of course, I had to see how that broom handled," Sirius replied. He
left out that he didn't like for Harry to be out of his sight right now, no
matter how many people he was with.
"Harry, dear," Mrs. Weasley began stepping forward. "I wish we could
stay longer but it's time Arthur and I headed home." She came up to him
and pulled him into a strong hug, he hugged her back. "Happy Birthday
dear," she said as she pulled away from him.
Harry looked at her and was shocked when he saw tears in her eyes, he
couldn't think of anything that might have happened to make her cry.
"Thank you, both of you, for everything," he said looking back and
forth between the two of them. Mrs. Weasley wiped her eyes quickly, then
moved towards Ron and Ginny.
"The two of you behave yourselves and do whatever Mr. Black tell you
too, got it?" she said sternly.
"Mum, c'mon, you know we will," Ron said rolling his eyes. She
looked like she might reprimand him, but instead turned and headed back to
Mr. Weasley. The two of them took floo powder back to the Burrow.
"Well, I better be going too," Remus said after the Weasleys left.
"I have a few things I need to do, but I'm so glad I made it in time
today," he said smiling. "Happy Birthday, Harry! Don't get into too much
trouble before school starts, got it?"
"I don't plan on it, though with Sirius around." Harry trailed off
grinning. Sirius looked at him, seeming insulted, but knowing Harry was
Remus said goodbye to everyone and told Sirius he would speak with
him soon, then took out some floo powder and stepped into the fireplace.
Sirius then turned to Harry and his friends.
"I'm sure you want to spend more time with your friends, and you can
see me everyday, so I don't mind if you want to go upstairs now."
Harry smiled at Sirius, he did actually want to hang out with the
others right now, but he wanted to talk with his godfather first.
"Guys, I'll meet you upstairs, in my room, okay?" he asked looking at
them. They nodded and said goodnight to Sirius, before heading up. Harry
then turned back around.
"What was wrong with Mrs. Weasley? She looked very upset just before
Sirius looked at him for a moment before answering.
"Percy has left home, on some bad terms. She's very worried about
him, as is Arthur."
"What do you mean? Did they say why he left?" Harry asked anxiously,
remembering how uncomfortable he felt last time he was with Percy. Sirius
"Percy has graduated, and has a job that will allow him to provide
for himself, but he still has a lot to learn. He's making rash decisions
and basing them only on what his superiors at the ministry will think of
him for it. It seems his position there now comes before his family, and
Arthur confronted him about it a short while ago. I don't know all the
details of what happened, and I didn't feel it was my place to ask, but
Percy ended up moving out. They still don't know where he is, he hasn't
sent any word."
"Wow," Harry said in shock. "I had no idea it was that bad."
"Well, as I said, Percy is old enough to take care of himself, and to
decide which path to take. I only wish he hadn't chosen this one. I'm not
very fond of the Ministry of Magic, and the ministers he seems to have
aligned himself with, are the stubborn, old-fashioned ones. People like
that being in charge makes it very hard to get anything useful
accomplished." He glanced at Harry who still looked a bit surprised.
"Don't worry yourself over it, he will be fine. And Arthur will be able to
keep up on him, if only through work. Hopefully he'll come around and
start speaking with his parents again."
"I hope so, I can't understand why anyone would want to leave their
home, or their parents. It doesn't make any sense to me," Harry said,
shaking his head.
"I'm sure to you it doesn't," Sirius replied. "But let's not talk
about that now. I want you to enjoy the rest of your birthday and your
friends are upstairs waiting for you." Harry nodded, he said goodnight to
Sirius and thanked him again for the whole day. It had really been a
wonderful day for him. He turned around and headed upstairs.
"So, what was up?" Ron asked as Harry walked in.
"Oh nothing, just wanted to check with him on some things we had
planned to do tomorrow, since I probably won't see him for the rest of
tonight," Harry lied. He wanted to talk to Ron about Percy, but not with
"Plans?" Cho asked. "I thought Sirius wasn't too anxious to leave
the house yet."
"Well, he doesn't like to but some things can't be helped. I mean,
we need to eat, don't we?" Harry said, plopping down on his bed next to
her. Ron, Hermione and Ginny were on the other bed that Sirius and Remus
must have moved in there while they were out.
"Have you heard anything from your aunt and uncle?" Hermione asked.
"Nope," Harry said casually, "not that I mind. This has been the
first summer that I haven't seen them at all, and so far it's been the best
one. I'm so glad this worked out the way it did, I love Hogwart's and all,
but I didn't want to spend another summer there."
"Yeah, especially with the Slytherins there for their exams," Ginny
"Exactly, just the few weeks I was there were a little tense. I
didn't really see them except for at mealtimes, but I wouldn't stay in the
same room with a group of them and no one else. I basically lived in the
tower. Though I did run into Malfoy once," Harry said. He looked around
and saw they were all looking at him expectantly, waiting for him to
continue. So he told them about the conversation between the two of them.
"That slimy git!" Ron exclaimed.
"He knew where you were the whole time, and didn't tell anyone?"
Hermione asked incredulously.
"This surprises you?" Harry asked them. "You know he's probably a
death eater in training."
"Harry, you have to stay far from him this year, he must be working
with them to try to get you," Ginny spoke up. Harry actually laughed out
loud at that.
"Did I give any of you the impression I would be hanging out with
him? When do I ever not try to avoid Malfoy? Whenever I see him at school
it's usually with a swarm of people around anyway, I doubt he'd try
"Well he got to you last year, didn't he?" Hermione asked pointedly.
"That's just it though, I don't think he knew originally about what
his father was planning."
"What makes you say that?" Cho asked. Harry thought for a moment
before answering, remembering back to the night of their duel.
"The look on his face," he answered at last. "If you had seen him
when Lucius used the Cruciatus Curse on me.Malfoy just looked,
well.shocked. That's the only way to describe it, really. Like he had no
idea that was going to happen." They were all silent for a few moments,
considering this. Finally Hermione broke the silence.
"What you have to realize though, is that no matter what he thought
was going to happen, he still didn't help you when he knew you were in
danger. He never went to Dumbledore, or anyone else. He ignored it."
Harry stared at her; he had been thinking the same thing just then.
He just hadn't wanted to say it. He leaned back on the bed and sighed.
"Let's not talk about this now, please?" he said quietly.
"Of course," Cho said quickly.
"We're sorry Harry, it's just." Hermione began. But she stopped
after seeing Cho give her a very pointed look.
"What shall we do, then?" Ginny asked, trying to sound cheerful.
"Exploding Snap?" Ron suggested, grinning. Harry sat back up.
"Definitely. Haven't played that in a while," he said, smiling
again. Ron nodded, and stood up to get the deck.
After several games they realized it was now very late. Ginny had
started yawning first and it quickly spread around the room.
"Well, I guess I'm gonna head to bed," Hermione said finally. Ginny
and Cho nodded in agreement. Ginny hurried out of the room while Harry and
Ron said goodnight to their girlfriends. When the girls had all gone to
their room, the two boys got changed.
"So," Harry said casually. "What's new with your family?"
"What do you mean?" Ron asked, stiffly. Harry could tell by the tone
in his voice Ron knew what he was referring to.
"Are you okay?" he asked his friend.
"Never been better," Ron answered too quickly. "Percy was always
whining or complaining about one thing or another. It's actually quite
peaceful now that he isn't there."
Harry looked at him, and decided not to push the matter.
"Well, if you ever need to talk about it, or anything for that
matter, I'll always listen."
Ron laughed a little at that. Harry wasn't sure what it meant, so he
"I really don't miss him. I miss the old Percy, the one who lived
there when he was still in school. Minister Percy is a completely
different person, and I can't understand how his job could've changed him
so much. My dad's worked there for years and he's still the same."
"Your dad and your brother have very different ideas for what makes a
person successful," Harry said, gently.
"I know. Believe me I know," Ron said, looking down. "But Percy has
always been that way. Only recently he was not only stuffy and obnoxious,
but also downright mean. He would get into terrible arguments with my
parents, which was a huge shock because he was always the one to show the
most respect to them. I'm not saying the rest of us were always breaking
rules, but Percy was the one to tell on us when we did. He always wanted
to impress them, and now nothing could be further from the truth." He
raised his head and Harry could see he looked confused and hurt.
"There must be a good reason for his behavior," Harry said after a
moment, "but I don't know what it is."
"I don't either, only that it started around Christmas time last
year, from what Charlie would tell me. He and Bill are the only ones I can
find out anything from while I'm at Hogwart's because mum and dad don't
want me to know. It's so aggravating when I'm home though, they go around
pretending that nothing is wrong, when it's so obvious there's a problem."
"At least your dad might be able to find out what he's up to at work,
since they're both at the ministry," Harry said, trying to sound
"I know, and that's good. I just want to know what made him act like
this in the first place," Ron said looking at his hands. The two of them
sat there in silence for a few minutes. Harry wasn't sure what else he
could say; he didn't feel it would be right to bring up how Percy had acted
towards him last year, it surely wouldn't help anything at this moment. So
he just waited, ready to listen to anything his friend wanted to tell him.
Finally Ron looked up.
"Let's not talk about this anymore," he said quietly. Harry nodded.
"Sure, anything you want," he replied, he smiled at Ron, who grinned
"Well, I guess we should try and get some sleep before the sun comes
up," he said looking towards the window. "Happy Birthday Harry."
"Thanks Ron," Harry said, wishing he had more to say to him, but he
didn't so he stayed silent. Harry laid awake for a short while listening
to Ron tossing restlessly in the other bed, before he couldn't keep his
eyes open any longer, and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, while everyone was eating breakfast, Harry, Ron and
Hermione decided they would meet in Diagon Alley on August 31st to get all
their school supplies. When they finished, Ron, Ginny and Hermione got
their things together, said goodbye to Harry, Sirius and Cho, and headed
back to the Burrow using floo powder.
Cho stayed a while longer as she hadn't spent any time alone with
Harry since she arrived. Sirius left them alone, as long as they stayed in
"So," Harry started, "what have you been up to all summer?"
"Well, I found a wonderful job that I'll be starting next week."
"That's great!" Harry said excitedly. "What will you be doing?"
"Working in the department of Magical Games and Sports for the
Ministry of Magic."
Harry was a bit taken back by this.
"For the ministry? You never told me you wanted to work there. I
would've thought if you wanted to do something to stay with sports it would
be to go professional."
"I thought about it. But you can only do that for so long before you
have to retire. This way I have a job that is working with a sport I love
and starting when I'm young. I'll be able to move up as a gain experience,
rather than wait twenty years and have to start at this point."
"Who says you'd have to work for the ministry after you retire? If
you were successful in the professional leagues you might never have to
work again. And if you wanted to you could do something a bit
more.relaxing," Harry said. Cho just stared at him with a confused
expression on her face.
"Harry, this is what I want to do. I'm sorry for not mentioning it
to you sooner but we never really talked about this kind of thing. Let's
face it, a lot of our discussions last year were about the Zlam, I didn't
feel it was the right time to tell you my after school ambitions."
"Oh, so it's my fault?" Harry asked, heatedly.
"I didn't say that!" Cho said looking hurt. "I only meant that it
never really came up in our conversations and you weren't too anxious to
talk about anything past the end of the school year. I never minded for a
second that we didn't though, because what we were forced to discuss was
more important to me." She sat back, huffily and her cheeks were all
Harry leaned towards her, and took her hand in his.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you upset, it was wrong of me to
say that," he said quietly, looking into her eyes. She stared back at him
in silence and Harry thought for a moment she was going to turn away, but
then she leaned forwards and kissed him softly. When they separated, she
looked at him again.
"Why are you so upset about this, anyway? I was pretty excited that
I was able to get a position there, I was hoping you would be too," she
looked imploringly into his eyes, willing him to be happy for her.
"I'm not upset, I was just surprised because I didn't expect it. I
am very happy for you, and wish you all the luck in the world." He gazed
into her eyes, and any remnants of anger melted away in that second. He
wasn't even sure why he had been angry in the first place; after all, the
dept. of Magical Games and Sports couldn't be too bad. He supposed it was
just the fact that it was still for the Ministry of Magic, which made him
uneasy. He pushed these thoughts from his head though as Cho started to
"I really have to go now, there's so much I need to get done before
next week. I'll send you an owl at Hogwart's to let you know how I'm
doing, and please send them to me every so often too."
"Absolutely," he said, smiling. "You'll hear everything that
happens, I promise."
"That's all I ask," she replied, returning the smile. He carried her
bag to the fireplace for her and kissed her again, before she threw the
floo powder, and stepped in.
The rest of the summer was mostly uneventful. The two of them mostly
had fun together and there was only one low point. Harry had talked Sirius
into coming out with him on one particularly beautiful day, and visit
Hogsmeade. Sirius hadn't been anyplace really besides out for food, and
the idea of a very crowded marketplace sounded very unappealing to him.
But Harry's persistence finally paid off and Sirius gave in, but only if
they went to the Shrieking Shack first, that way they didn't arrive in the
middle of a crowded store. Harry didn't care as long as they went.
When they arrived, Sirius peered cautiously out the windows, checking
out all the people. Not too many were in view as most tried to stay far
from the Shrieking Shack. Finally, Harry pulled him outside and the two of
them began walking towards the main street. But as soon as they neared the
Three Broomsticks, a woman nearby let out an ear-splitting scream.
"SIRIUS BLACK!" she screeched then fell, in a dead faint, into the
arms of the man beside her.
"She apparently doesn't read the papers," Harry said loudly. He was
furious at the woman's ignorance, nevertheless nothing could be done about
it now. Everyone on the streets had started moving towards the sound of
the scream, to see what was going on. Sirius didn't wait to see what was
going to happen, he grabbed Harry's arm and started pulling him back to the
Shrieking Shack. Harry didn't fight him; he knew the day would be ruined
As they passed a few people Harry would hear bits of their
"Isn't that Sirius Black?"
"What's he doing here? And who has he got with him?"
"That's Harry Potter! Where is he taking him?"
"Should we get help?"
"I heard he works for You-Know Who! Someone needs to inform the
Harry was beyond furious by the time they got back to the Shrieking
Shack. He wanted to scream at every person they had passed but Sirius
obviously didn't want to be here even a moment longer. They quickly took
the floo powder back to their house, and Sirius went up to his room without
a word. Harry just stood in the den, not sure what to do. He decided not
to bother his godfather right now, and busied himself with starting dinner.
When the last day of August finally arrived, Harry could do nothing
at all to persuade Sirius to come with him to Diagon Alley. He had asked
Mrs. Weasley if she wouldn't mind watching out for him during the day and
she, of course, was more than happy to. Harry tried numerous times to get
Sirius to go out again but it wasn't happening, he didn't want a repeat of
Hogsmeade. He assured Harry he wasn't upset with him at all, because he
felt guilty for making Sirius come out, but he just didn't want to be out
in public right now.
So that morning Harry grabbed his money sack and the box Fred and
George had told him to bring, and took floo powder to Diagon Alley. He
arrived at the Leaky Cauldron to find the Weasleys and Hermione already
there. They once again took the nauseating cart ride through the tunnels
of Gringott's before emerging back into the wonderful fresh air. Money
sacks full, they began the rounds.
Harry and Hermione's robes still fit them fine from the year before
as neither of them had grown enough to need adjustments, but Ron had grown
just enough over the summer to not be able to get away with it, so they sat
in Madam Malkin's while he got the hem taken down.
From there they went to stock up on supplies, parchment, ink, potion
ingredients and to get their books. When they were fully bogged down with
bags and packages, they stopped at Florean Fortescue's for sundaes. They
sat in the radiant sunlight, spooning and then later sipping, the ice cream
from their cups. When they were done there, Harry suggested they go over
to Zonko's but Ron shook his head.
"There's someplace else we have to check out this year," he said,
"Really? Where?" Harry asked. He didn't know of another joke shop
in the area. Ron beckoned for everyone to follow him, and Mrs. Weasley
decided suddenly that she needed new knitting needles, and would meet up
with them soon. Ron shook his head in disgust and started walking again.
When he stopped in front of a very old building, which Harry had always
thought was abandoned, he pointed up above the door. Harry and Hermione
looked up to see a sign that read: 'Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.'
"They did it?" Harry asked in amazement, looking at Ron and Ginny.
"Isn't it wicked?" Ron asked excitedly. "C'mon, let's go in."
When they stepped inside, Harry was in awe of the rows upon rows of
practical jokes and pranks, and even more so of the number or people
inside. The Weasley Twin's were doing something right because business was
booming. The four of them pushed their way to the front of the store,
where they saw two cashiers ringing customers up. Ron waved to them as he
walked past the counter and through a doorway labeled 'Employees.' Fred
and George were in a very large room going through piles of boxes. When
they noticed their visitors, they stopped what they were doing.
"Oy, Ron! You would have to pick our busiest day to bring Harry,
wouldn't you?" Fred said, pretending to be angry, but smiling anyway.
"Hey, you never gave me a date NOT to come," Ron replied.
"I can't believe you two are doing so well!" Harry exclaimed. "It's
amazing out there!"
"Thanks to you," George said, and Fred nodded. "Did you bring the
Harry pulled the long box out of one of his bags and held it up.
"You can fill that with anything you want, it's yours free," Fred
"But, that's too much!" Harry said, thinking of all the little prank
toys that would fit in the very deep box.
"Harry, you're the reason we have this store, 1000 Galleons was too
much to accept, but because of it we've made that back many times over.
You fill that up till nothing else will fit, whatever you want, it's
yours," Fred said.
Harry was speechless. Not only because of how much that would
actually come out to, but because he could never remember seeing Fred and
George acting so serious.
"Thank you guys, so much," he said.
"Don't mention it, but please let us get back to work, we have so
much to do and we're one person short today."
Harry and the others left the twins to their work, feeling a bit
awkward seeing them act so mature. When they were back in the store, Harry
looked around, feeling a bit overwhelmed looking at everything.
"I could be here all day." he said quietly.
"Well we don't have all day," Hermione spoke up, finally.
"We could help you pick the stuff out if you like," Ron said. "Ginny
and I know the store pretty well by now, we could each take a corner and
work our way in. If you trust us to get things you'll like."
"That sounds like the best way," Harry said, looking around again.
"And of course I trust you, I'm sure I'd like anything in here."
The four of them grabbed baskets and each went to a different corner.
As Harry worked his way through, he found he probably could have filled up
the box in his corner alone, so he tried to take the stuff that looked
best. It was also a little hard to move around, as the store was so full.
At one point he took a step back just as someone was walking behind him,
resulting in that person's basket spilling to the floor. Harry turned
around quickly, very embarrassed and began to apologize.
The woman never even looked at him, but she was looking around his
general direction, appearing confused.
"I said I'm sorry," Harry said louder, bending down to help the
woman. There was no need to ignore him. He picked up a few items and
threw them into the basket before noticing her looking at them in shock and
even fear. Now it was Harry's turn to look confused.
"What's the matter, are you okay?" he asked her. She didn't answer,
but instead picked up the basket quickly and ran up to the front of the
store, leaving anything she hadn't gotten on the floor. Harry just stared
after her, having no idea what just happened. He picked up the things,
threw them in his basket and turned around to continue but came to a dead
stop before he could take another step.
Tytros was standing right in front of him.
Harry stared at him, unsure if he should go for his wand or not.
"I'm not here to hurt you," Tytros said quickly, "or to try to take
you anywhere. I had to come though. I wouldn't have used this charm on
you if there weren't so many people in here, but I can't let them see me,
and it would've looked strange if I only let you see me. It would've
seemed like you were talking to no one."
"Why did you come here then?" Harry asked calmly, keeping eye
contact. "You could have waited until we left the store, or until I was
out of Diagon Alley even."
"Because this was the only time I had. Voldemort knows now that I am
no longer helping him, and as a result he will try to attack the Zlam.
Forden wants us to move, to run basically. Some agree with him, while
others think it is foolish. We can defeat him, so why act cowardly?
Forden does not want to do this because it would seem as though we were
siding with you. He is very adamant about interfering with anything humans
do; we are not to help you."
"So you came here to tell me this?" Harry asked.
"I felt you should know that no matter what he decides, I will still
help you. For the time being I do not want to make my intentions known to
him, so this was the only time I had to get away for a while, to find you.
But if the final decision of my people is to run, I will not run with
Harry looked at Tytros, completely unsure if he should trust him or
not. This was the second time he seemed to be telling him this, and both
times it started as if he was intending to harm Harry, rather than help
him. He decided that it didn't make a difference right now; as long as he
could get Tytros to lift the charm he was under.
"Thank you, I appreciate it," he said trying not to sound stiff.
"But you don't believe me." Tytros said. It was not a question.
Harry didn't respond, just kept his eyes locked on Tytros'.
"I can understand that. I don't know what I can do at this time to
make you believe me, but I assure you I am telling the truth. I will leave
you now, your friends will be able to see you as soon as I am out of
sight." He started to turn away, when Harry called after him.
"Yes?" he asked.
"I wanted to ask you. That night, at the Riddle house, Voldemort
said I would watch him become invincible. I thought the spell he had
Wormtail use was just to extract my blood from him, but how would that make
him invincible? Was there something else to that spell?"
"The only person who can know that right now is the one with the
knowledge. If there is something in the spell that could do that I don't
know how he could've found out. The only Zlam who would ever know the
answer to that is the one holding the knowledge, and Voldemort didn't speak
to our keeper before Corfay got to him, and took the knowledge."
"So how can I find out then? The person with the knowledge right now
can't exactly talk to me, seeing as he's dead."
"You will have to wait until our next keeper is ready, and the
knowledge is given to him. That is the only way."
Harry sighed to himself. That was something that had been bothering
him since that night and it would have been nice to just know the answer.
But obviously that wasn't going to happen today. He glanced back up to see
Tytros was still looking at him, as if waiting to see if there were
"Thanks," he said quickly. Tytros nodded, then quickly turned and
left the store. Harry looked after him for a moment, before setting off
through the crowd to find his friends.
Harry decided not to say anything to his friends about Tytros yet.
They hadn't noticed he had been 'missing' since the store was so crowded
and they had been in different parts of it anyway, so he pretended like
nothing happened for the time being.
After the box was completely full, they walked out to find Mrs.
Weasley waiting for them, somewhat impatiently. As they walked back to the
Leaky Cauldron, Ron explained to Harry and Hermione how his mother thought
the twins' store was a waste of time. No matter how successful they seemed
to be, she refused to see it that way. This didn't surprise either of
them; they remembered how Mrs. Weasley would act when Fred and George were
only talking about the store. The fact that they proved her wrong, and
became successful, must've been even harder for her. But she would come
around, after enough time passed, Ron assured them.
When they were inside they all said goodbye to one another, before
taking floo powder back to their homes. Harry told Sirius about everything
he had done, and about the twins' birthday present to him, but again left
out his meeting with Tytros. He didn't see the reason to get his godfather
worked up over something he could do nothing about. Harry wasn't even sure
anything needed to be done. So far Tytros hadn't tried anything to hurt
him, and he was the reason they were able to keep Wormtail until Sirius had
been freed. He decided he would tell Ron and Hermione tomorrow, they would
take the news better than Sirius, who thought Tytros should be gutted.
The next morning, Harry got up early and double-checked everything in
his trunk to make sure he hadn't forgotten anything. He ate breakfast with
Sirius who spent their time together asking if Harry had remembered
everything. Harry didn't mind though, he'd never had anyone doing that for
Sirius had to leave that day as well, but he was going to meet Remus,
who had asked for his help with something before he had to get to the
school that night. Harry was taking floo powder to the Burrow and from
there they would take ministry cars to the train station. He said goodbye
to Sirius who assured him they would be seeing each other during the year
at some point, and left.
Chaos was ensuing as was usual on September 1st at the Weasley house.
But Harry didn't mind, he helped with whatever he could and soon enough
they were at the train station and through the barrier. Harry, Ron,
Hermione and Ginny found an empty compartment near the back of the train
and settled in for the long ride.
About an hour into the ride, after talking about classes and
quidditch, Harry brought up what had happened yesterday.
"I have something to tell you guys," he said to them. "Something
happened yesterday while we were in Fred and George's store."
"You mean besides us almost getting trampled by the heard of people
in there? Getting out of the path of stampeding hippogriffs would've been
easier than trying to get through that store." Ron joked. But stopped when
he realized Harry was being serious.
"Tytros was there yesterday. I talked with him for a few minutes."
"What?" Hermione exclaimed almost jumping out of her seat. "Are you
okay? What happened?" she asked anxiously.
Harry told them everything from when the woman he had knocked into
couldn't see him until Tytros left.
"So does this mean you trust him?" Ron asked sounding wary.
"I don't know what to think. But if I trusted him I don't believe it
would feel like this. Though I don't think I entirely distrust him
"Why didn't you tell us before?" Hermione asked, sounding upset.
"Because nothing happened. He came, we talked, he left."
"But he could have done anything to you, even taken you with him, and
we never would have known," she continued.
"And he didn't, did he?" Harry asked. "That's why I'm confused. He
always seems like he's up to something, but then it never seems that way
when he's leaving. That's the way it's been the last couple of times
"Harry, please don't wait to tell us these things, you should have
told us right away! Does Sirius know?"
"No he doesn't. He would have completely freaked and so would've
Mrs. Weasley, which is why I didn't mention it to either of them."
Hermione threw him one of her infamous disapproving glares and Harry
just rolled his eyes and turned to look out the window. He watched the
land fly past him, the further away it was, the better he could see it.
But the ground right in front of his face was a giant blur. He kept his
gaze out the window, and felt the stares of his friends on him, none of
them wanting to be the first to speak. Finally he turned back to them.
"Listen, I know that you're worried, but I did tell you guys. I
waited a little longer than normal and I told you why. I'm even planning
on telling Dumbledore because there's something I want to ask him anyway.
So please don't be upset with me for this."
Ron and Ginny grinned at him.
"Not upset with you," Ginny said. "Just worried for you."
Harry looked to Ron who was nodding at what Ginny said, then at
Hermione who, of course, was looking at him skeptically.
"Please just be smart Harry, that's all I'm asking you," she said.
"So you think I'm normally dumb?" he asked, jokingly.
"You know I don't, just stubborn sometimes."
He smiled at her and nodded.
"Okay. I promise you, I'll be smart. Better?" he asked.
"Much," she replied, shaking her head and grinning. They spent
the rest of the ride chatting about more pleasant topics and
thankfully, by the time they arrived; Malfoy had not stopped in to
bother them once. Harry was glad to see Hagrid was once again out
there calling for the first years, and started to head over to him.
But Hagrid simply waved at them and shook his head as if to say not
now, before going back to calling for the first years. Harry didn't
know what was up, but figured Hagrid would tell him later. They took
the carriages to the school and went, together, into the great hall.
Soon enough, the doors opened, and McGonagall walked in with the first
As they watched the first years nervously follow McGonagall to
the front Harry felt Ron elbowing him in the ribs. He turned to see
him pointing at an empty chair at the teacher's table. It was
"Where do you think he is?" Ron asked.
"I don't have any idea," Harry replied. He scanned the rest of
the table and saw everyone else was there, including Hagrid who had
just taken his seat a moment before McGonagall came in. Then the door
at the back of the room opened again.
Snape walked in accompanied by a man Harry had never seen
before. He was very young, maybe five years older than Harry, with
the same height as Snape but with a lanky build and light brown hair.
His eyes were dark, almost black, and he looked as angry as Snape
usually did. Harry had a strong feeling of dislike towards him
The two of them went up to the table together. Snape whispered
something to Dumbledore briefly, while the other man grabbed a chair
for himself. They both took their seats near Snape's end of the
table, before the sorting began.
Harry barely paid attention to the sorting, he clapped when the
rest of his table did but his attention was on this new person. He
didn't know if he was being paranoid, but every time Harry looked up
at him, he seemed to be looking away quickly. He just got a bad
feeling from this person.
When Dumbledore gave his normal announcements after the sorting,
he introduced the person as Mr. Gridman. Gridman would be helping
Snape out during at least the beginning of the year with potions
lessons; he was something of a student teacher.
When Dumbledore finished, and the food finally appeared, Harry had
almost no appetite; he barely even touched his food. This was just
ridiculous, he thought. He had never spoken a word to this man and
just thinking about him was making him feel ill.
Ron kept shooting him questioning looks and obviously wanted
Harry to explain, but Harry just waved them off. He didn't know how
to explain the feeling, or what to base it on, just that it was there.
He was immediately distracted from his thoughts when both Snape
and Gridman got up from their seats. Snape nodded at Dumbledore, who
nodded back, and the two of them started towards the door. Harry
couldn't explain it, but as he saw the two men coming closer and
closer he began to feel nervous, his hands were shaking and he was
He glanced around at his friends who were all chatting and
eating; none of them seemed to think anything was wrong. He looked
back at the two men, who were now less than five steps from him, and
was horrified to see Gridman reach into his robe and pull out a wand.
Harry had no time to react as Gridman stopped walking and turned to
face him, wand outstretched. He shoved his hands into his robes but
it was too late, Gridman had already spoken the curse.
"Avada Kedavra!" he whispered fiercely.
A blast of green light flew from the wand tip and hit Harry full
force, knocking him away from the table and slamming him to the floor,