(Author's Notes: This is the first chapter of Nest of the Phoenix. I know I should be working on my other stories, but this story idea has been stuck in my head for months, and I finally decided to write it down.

Disclaimers: All characters in the story belong to J.K. Rowling.

Warnings: This story will eventually be slash. If you are against homosexual relationships, please do not read this story. Any furious rant against slash in a review will be mocked. Thank you.


Nest of the Phoenix

By Cinaed, Born of Fire

Chapter One

The teenager known by all of the wizarding world as the Boy Who Lived, by Hogwarts as Harry Potter, by his enemies as Potter, and by his close friends as simply Harry, gazed out of his window. He was barely aware of Hedwig shifting in her cage, the owl's feathers rustling as she moved. He watched the scenery that lay stretched out before him, a barren, worthless Muggle area compared to the scenery he would've seen if he had been gazing out of the window of his dormitory at Hogwarts.

His untamable locks were as wild as ever; even as Harry glanced over at Hedwig, a stray lock of black fell in front of his deep green eyes, obscuring his vision. The thin, pale boy bit back a sigh, knowing why the owl kept fidgeting. Yet again, the Dursleys had locked Hedwig in her cage, paranoid that one of their neighbors might see such an 'odd' creature flying from one of /their/ windows. Perish the thought!

"Sorry," was the simple, apologetic word that Harry offered his companion. Hedwig gave out a sound that could almost be considered a sigh before shuffling a final time and then falling still. Intense emerald watched the snowy owl for a few seconds before the teenager turned his attention back towards the window, the expression on his fatigued countenance melancholy.

It was July 4th. Off in America, Muggle and wizard alike were celebrating their freedom, while Harry Potter, one of the most famous wizards of all time, was trapped in a house that was supposed to be his refuge.

A sigh escaped the young wizard's lips as he contemplated his life at the Dursleys'. While it was true that Dudley was terrified of him and refused to come anywhere near him despite the fact that he wasn't supposed to use his magic (Harry could only presume it was because he had used it to blow up his aunt the summer before his third year), Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had grown, if possible, worse due to their newfound cockiness. Dumbledore had sent a letter to the two, explaining the situation at hand (i.e., Voldemort was back and after Harry). His aunt and uncle had decided based on the letter that Harry /needed/ them, and he had found himself back to being their tangible slave once more.

Add that fact onto the detail that he had nightly dreams about Cedric Diggory and hadn't had a full night's rest since before the final test of the Triwizard Tournament, and it was relatively easy to see why Harry had become even more sunken and drained than he had been when Hagrid had kicked in that door on his eleventh birthday and changed his life forever.

The only thing that really kept the young wizard going were the weekly letters from Ron in the Burrow and occasional letter from Hermione, who was busy traipsing in China with her parents for the summer, learning of the ancient Chinese wizards. Although Harry lied with every fake-cheerful line he penned back to his two best friends, it did the black-haired Potter good to know his friends were safe, for the moment, from Voldemort.

You-Know-Who had not been heard from since that fateful night, and Harry could only guess that he was gathering his forces, waiting for the right time to strike, waiting for the moment when Harry and Dumbledore and the wizarding world least expected it..

The thought made Harry shudder once, and run a trembling hand through his messy mane in an unconscious gesture that usually calmed him. He just had to get through this summer, this hell of a summer, and then he'd be back at Hogwarts, where he'd be safe under Dumbledore's watch.

A sudden, shrill squawk from Hedwig earned a quizzical look from her feeder. The owl seemed to be going berserk, flapping wildly and slamming herself against the unyielding bars in a fruitless attempt to get out of the coop.

"Hedwig, stop that!" Alarm was obvious in the teenager's voice, for the cage was wildly swinging with the owl's spasms, and he had no doubt that she was hurting herself. "Stop it!" Hedwig didn't heed him, and let out another piercing screech, a shriek that made Harry's ears ring.

"Boy!" Now another voice rose over the owl's continuous screeching; Uncle Vernon's, loud and thunderous. "Quiet that beast of yours before I come up there!"

"Yes, Uncle Vernon!" Harry hollered back, his hands reaching for the cage. In the next instant, the teenager hissed in a mixture of pain and surprise, cradling his left hand where Hedwig had nipped him. Blood seeped between his fingers as Harry stared at the still shrieking owl in disbelief. She had never nipped him that hard before. Scurrying over to his desk as he heard Vernon begin to mount the stairs, Harry yanked out his wand, at a loss of what to do. He had never seen Hedwig this way; something had to be seriously wrong.

With trembling fingers, Harry pointed his wand towards his beloved pet, and yelled, "Hedwig, calm down or I'll stun you!" The owl continued to screech, slamming again and again against the bars of her cage, oblivious to the white feathers that whirled around her pen like leaves being swept around by the wind. Frantically racking his brain for the proper words of the Stunning Spell (he had remembered it when he had used it during the Triwizard Tournament-why couldn't he remember it now?), the teenager heard Vernon storm down the hall towards his room-

And then suddenly Harry's vision blurred and the ground lurched beneath his feet. The teenager stumbled, a startled oath escaping his lips as he quickly regained his footing. Blinking rapidly and waiting for his vision to clear, the wizard was relieved to note that Hedwig had stopped screeching. What he didn't expect to happen next was for something to strike him hard across the face.

The teenager fell without a word, stunned into silence as he landed on his face, on dry, dusky ground, a rock jutting into his lower back painfully. After a staggered moment, he regained his senses, and sat up; warm liquid from a gash across his temple slid down and dripped onto his cheek at the action. What had struck him?

"E-Excuse me?" This time, the unexpected second blow wasn't enough of a surprise to keep Harry from crying out even as he found himself sprawled on his back once more, the newest gash on his left cheek trickling blood towards his ear. Staying down and reaching up with shaking hands to rub at his eyes, attempting to gain better vision, it was only then he realized why his vision was so poor.

He had lost his glasses.

Cursing miserably under his breath, the teenager called out, his tone tentative, "Who's there, and what the bloody hell did I do to earn being struck like that, and twice no less?" He jumped and sat upright automatically when a slightly amused voice answered him.

"Well, I'm here, but I didn't hit you. And the reason you just got your arse kicked was because you ventured too close to the Whomping Willow, my foolish friend." The voice sounded very familiar, but Harry couldn't place the cheerful tone.

Harry was hauled upright and then immediately dragged a few feet away from the aforementioned Whomping Willow, even as he protested, "Since when has the Whomping Willow been outside my window?"

"Well, I wouldn't know that, seeing as I didn't think anyone would live be stupid enough to near the Whomping Willow," the cheerful voice replied as a warm, soothing hand patted him on the shoulder. "Listen, you're a sight. How about I take you up to the infirmary, and get those gashes taken care of?"

"My glasses. I can't go until I've found my glasses." Harry's voice sounded numb to his own ears; the wizard was trying to unscramble his brain to figure out how he could have gotten from his bedroom to Hogwarts without any type of spell being used. He squinted at the fuzzy blob that had to be the person who had dragged him away from the Whomping Willow, but couldn't even make out a hair color.

"Well, here they are, mate. A bit banged up, but I'm guessing from the tape that they're not in any worse condition then they had been." The familiar object that was his glasses was pressed into his right hand, but before Harry could put them on, the voice exclaimed, "What happened to your hand?"

"My hand?" Compared to the gashes on his face, his bleeding hand was nothing and had been forgotten. "Oh, Hedwig—my owl—nipped me. I don't know what got into her. She just went berserk."

"That's interesting; my brother's owl just went nuts too and flew out here to the Whomping Willow. That's the only reason I was here to save you from being properly smashed by the Willow. Of course, by now the stupid bugger has flown off to another place, but I think I'll be forgiven if I don't find the nitwit."

Harry couldn't help but smile at the cheerful declarations even as he frantically racked his brains in a vain attempt to figure out what had happened. Had someone used a spell while Hedwig had been screeching at him? But that still didn't explain how he could end up near the Whomping Willow.. After all, Dumbledore had said himself that no one could Apparate onto the grounds. He was so busy musing of these odd events that he didn't put on his glasses as his 'rescuer' dragged in the direction of Hogwarts and the infirmary.

"So, what're you doing here exactly, kid? I mean, if you're here for school, you're a couple weeks later. Hogwarts has been in session for three weeks...."

"What are you talking about?" Harry challenged, probably looking as bewildered as he felt. "We're not even halfway through summer yet! It's July 4th."

"Well, I checked my calendar, kid, and it told me today is /not/ July 4th. What house are you in?"

"Gryffindor," said the wizard, wondering why the man (for he had finally figured out that the voice belonged to a man) didn't recognize him for being the Boy Who Lived. "And I'm telling you, today's the Fourth."

"Gryffindor? Well, that's funny." The man's voice had turned thoughtful. "I thought I knew every Gryffindor.... What year?"

"I'm going into my fifth year," Harry said, sticking stubbornly to the idea that it was still July 4th. To his surprise, the man laughed outright.

"You can't be. For one, I'm sure I would have met you, since that's my brother's year; for another, you're too small. You must be a third or fourth year."

"I am not! I'm a fifth year! Just ask your brother, whoever he is, and he'll tell you who I am."

"Sure, I'll ask-" The man was cut off as a concerned voice slashed into their conversation.

"What have you dragged in this time?"

"Some boy I found being walloped by the Whomping Willow. He claims to be a fifth year, but I've never seen him before. Want to take care of his scratches? Oh, and his owl apparently nipped him, so you might want to take care of his hand too."

Harry moved to put on his glasses so he could see the duo, his features betraying his indignation. "Why do I get the feeling you don't believe a word I say?"

"Hmm, probably because I don't, good chap."

"Don't put your glasses on just yet, child," the womanly voice ordered, snatching the reassuring object from his hands. "Let me heal your gashes first. Now, I'm just going to put some gel on the cuts, and they'll sting for a few brief moments."

By now, Harry had recognized the voice as Madam Pomfrey, but since the woman didn't seem to notice it was him, he kept quiet. Had he really changed that much in the first few weeks of summer? He knew he had become much thinner and had lost most of the color in his cheeks, but he hadn't thought that would make him undistinguishable to his former friends and elders at Hogwarts. So he remained silent as Madam Pomfrey tsked over his cuts before slathering the ice-cold cream on them. The gashes closed up immediately, and then a warm, damp towel was washing the dried blood from his visage and his hand as Madam Pomfrey announced, her tone reproachful, "There, although from the looks of it, you haven't been eating properly. Or sleeping enough, I wager."

"Yeah, I'll work on that," Harry muttered, not meaning it. After all, how could he stop the nightmares or eat when it made him nauseous, thinking of how Cedric would never get to enjoy the pleasure that was taste. He stretched out his now completely healed left hand for his glasses. Clutching at the cool, black texture for reassurance before moving to slip it on, the young wizard said, louder than his agreement to her comment about his lack of health, "Thank you." He blinked as he set the glasses on his nose, tilting his head a little in bewilderment before realizing that his glasses had been busted enough by his fall that they were now a little askew. As he fumbled with them and attempted to fix the broken frames, he knew that Madam Pomfrey and the person who had dragged him to the infirmary were watching him.

"Need any help?" The man's voice was amused, and Harry smiled faintly even as his slender fingers fumbled with the glasses once more.

"No, I've got it, thank you," he said politely, and then added after a brief pause, "Unless you have some tape?"

The man laughed. "Here, let me help you." From behind Harry, a work- roughened hand snaked around to snatch the glasses from the dark-haired teen. Squinting into the blurriness that was the infirmary once more, the teenager waited as the man mumbled something softly under his breath. Then the hand snaked around once more to press the glasses once more into his hand. When Harry put on his glasses this time, he blinked in astonishment. Not only were his glasses fixed, but the spell had even cleaned his dirty lenses for him.

"Thanks!" he said with a smile that was nearing a grin on his face as he began to turn towards the cheerful man. Dark green met equally dark blue, and Harry felt like he had been punched in the stomach. His eyes wide with disbelief, an incredulous whisper escaped his lips. "Charlie?"

The wind-beaten, heavily freckled Weasley who was Charlie and yet not him at all simply raised an eyebrow in return, smiling a genuine, if a tad puzzled, smile.

(To be continued)