Harry had just completed his first year at Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry and was on the train back to Kings Cross.
So much had changed since this time last year. Back then he was just a poor orphan boy that nobody paid any interest in. Then he discovered he was a wizard and the boy who lived - twice now that he had prevented Voldemort or what now remained of him from stealing the philosophers stone. The most famous child in the entire magical world and yet here he was on the train 'home' to the Dursleys' for a summer of solitary servitude.
He couldn't keep up with his friends carefree chattering, he had that terrible mournful feeling you get when you wake up and realise all the wonderful things you had dreamed of were just that – a dream.
Still he tried to think positive. When they had gone down to say goodbye to Hagrid he had given him a photo album with pictures of his parents in it. It was like he was truly meeting them for the first time, he felt guilty that he couldn't remember them – they were not even anything like he had imagined them to be.
He had imagined his mother similar to his aunt Petunia but with softer features, a happy welcoming smile, eyes twinkling with laughter, warm, loving and altogether less bony.
In reality Lily bore no similarity to Petunia what so ever – she was far more beautiful than Harry could ever have imagined, her long red locks shone like sun, her eyes, green, just like his - twinkled like the stars. She smiled and laughed and waved in the pictures, she held her little baby close to her heart and beamed with joy. Harry could almost smell her beside him as he stared wistfully at the pictures.
The image of his father which he had held onto for so many years had been shattered the first glimpse he caught of him. Harry had always imagined him as an exact replica of Harry himself only older, stronger and with more facial hair. This idea was reinforced over the past year by so many people telling him he looked just like his father but while Harry had definitely inherited his fathers' dark hair and failing eyesight , the rest of his features seemed far more Lily.
As the train pulled into the station Harry bade a final farewell to his friends. He was really going to miss them over the summer. He would rather be going anywhere but back to the Dursleys' he had begged Dumbledore to allow him to stay at Hogwarts for the summer but the headmaster had refused. He said Harrys place was with his family and that they would be upset if he didn't return for the summer. Fat chance of that Harry had thought! The summer was going to be torturous.
The Dursleys' acted differently around him now, they treated him with apprehension and suspicion, afraid of what he might be able to do to them now he really was one of the freaks – afraid that some of that freakiness might rub off on their darling little Duddykins. It wasn't nice to be completely ignored but he supposed it was better than the way they used to order and drag him about.
Summer passed by slowly and uneventfully until Harry had his first encounter with a house elf. The small humanoid creature had apparated right into Harrys room and then went downstairs intent on causing mischief until Harry promised not to return to Hogwarts. The Dursley' locked him in his room after that and he probably would have remained there permanently if Ron and his brothers hadn't come to rescue him.
Mrs Weasley had been angry at her sons for taking the car and disappearing into the night but softened when she heard of Harrys misfortune. Ron asked his mother if Harry could come to stay with them every summer
"Please Mrs Weasley" Harry begged "I wouldn't be any trouble… and I can pay for my keep".
"Harry Dear, I was one of many who offered to take you in after parents died. You have a blood ward with your Aunt and Uncle – they might not understand you but you're safest there, Dumbledore wouldn't allow it then and he won't allow it now".
Harry was however invited to spend the remainder of that summer with them and found the Burrow absolutely amazing, it was the first time Harry had a proper glimpse into what life in the wizarding world was like outside of school. He encountered floo powder for the first time traveling to Diagon Alley where they met Hermione in Flourish and Blotts, she was surprised to see them together, they had just finished telling her how Ron and the twins had rescued Harry from little whinging and what Rons mother had said about the blood wards when Malfoy and his father slithered up to Rons little sister. It was clear to see where Draco got his attitude from; Lucius Malfoy was as arrogant and as pompous as it was possible to be. Seeing Ginnys second hand books he taunted her about the family's poverty until Arthur intervened.
Harry wished he had had a father to stand up for him when he had been similarly tormented by bullies. Oh how he longed to have a family like Rons, even if his little sister could be rather annoying at times. He wondered what it would be like to have brothers and sisters of his own. How many would he have had if the dark lord had not killed his parents. He didn't have long to dwell on these kind of thoughts. It was so busy at Rons that it seemed no time at all until they were on their way to Kings Cross to get the train back to Hogwarts again.
Harry and Ron landed with a thud right into the wailing arms of the whomping willow. For some peculiar reason they had been unable to follow the rest of Rons family onto the platform for the train and had in a fit of youthful rashness decided to fly Rons fathers Ford Anglia there instead.
They gathered up their scattered belongings as the car thundered off into the forbidden forest and hurried up to the castle. There they stopped at great hall and looked in at their fellow students and teachers enjoying the start of year feast. The first years were all still waiting to be sorted – maybe no one had even noticed they were missing. Ron looked around for somewhere to stash their things until after the feast while Harry kept watch for an opportunity for them to slip into the hall.
''Hey Ron" Harry half whispered half shouted excitedly.
"Snape isn't here anymore! Dumbledore must have finally seen sense and got rid of him. I wonder where he went"
"Perhaps he was sent to search for the two young miscreants that flouted the statute of Wizarding secrecy by taking a joy ride in a flying car"
Harry turned round to see professor Snape slither up to them, a smug sneer fixed to his ugly face. The intimidating teacher grabbed the two boys by their collars and dragged them squirming to the office of Professor McGonagall the head of Gryffindor house to which Harry and Ron both belonged.
They sat quietly and mournfully as Snape towered over them ranting away about the many muggles they had astonished .They were done for. They would be expelled. They would never legally practice magic again and bad as that was for Ron it also meant Harry would be returning to the Dursleys for good.
McGonagall and Dumbledore arrived then forcing Snape to bring his rant to an end.
"Thank you Snape" Dumbledore said "if you could go back down to the great hall and ensure the rest of the students don't get too overexcited I will take over here"
"As you wish Headmaster"
Snape left and for once in his life Harry was almost sad to see him go at least he knew where he was with Snape – the man hated him, and took great enjoyment out of making him miserable. McGonagall was a different story. The head of Gryffindor house was kind but stern, and he didn't think she had ever been so angry before – she actually looked like she might explode. He gulped.
They actually got off lighter than they might have done. Detention with Filtch and a three foot essay on the necessity of the statute due at the end of the two weeks. They missed the start of year feast – but they were getting to stay at Hogwarts and they didn't even lose any house points.
McGonagall even had a house elf deliver then a bowl of soup each along with some bread and a pitcher of milk as they had missed out on having dinner.
It would be at least another half an hour before the other students would be returning to the common room Ron suddenly realised that he had missed his little sisters sorting and did not know whether she would be joining them in Gryffindor tower or not. They ate their soup excitedly discussing the adventure they had had and then went upstairs to their old dormitory to unpack their things before going back down to the common room to greet their friends.
Harry heaved a sigh of relief he was home.