Harry sat on his cot, reflecting on his summer. Things had deteriorated and he really had no explanation as to why.
He had arrived on the platform and left with his Uncle. He should have noticed the angry determined glint in his uncle's eye, but Harry was so focused on his past year, that he ignored the obvious signs.
And it had cost him.
The moment Harry entered Number Four and the door had shut, he had been kicked to the ground. Harry had tried to roll away, using some skill to escape. Nothing had worked. The inhabitants of Number Four Privet Drive had closed in from all sides, each beating or kicking him. Even his Aunt who had never been one to physically attack Harry previously was involving herself in this new assault.
After several minutes and after Harry was certain he had a broken rib at the very least, the attack eased. Harry looked up to see the very purple face of Vernon.
"If you ever dream of telling anyone you are a freak, or going to that silly school, you will once more wish we were this gentle, do you understand me?"
Harry, with cracked glasses and blood pooling in his mouth nodded the best he could. With that his uncle had dragged him once more to the cupboard under the stairs. After throwing Harry unceremoniously into the tiny room, he had slammed the door shut.
Harry had been left there for two days. Due to the pain, he had been unconscious for most of it. When he was dragged out on the third day to make breakfast, Harry discovered why he had been unable to budge the door, though he never heard Vernon lock it. Harry's trunk was tucked up right beside the door with the floor showing signs of having been dragged before it.
But it was the mangled cage which had nearly set Harry off. He was worried that the Dursley's had done something stupid such as kill his owl and that was something Harry would not stand for, no matter what happened. Harry's concerns had quickly been assuaged when Vernon began to boast about letting the 'stupid creature' go. Harry knew Hedwig would come to him.
So Harry's summer had been. He was apparently living in the cupboard once more and Harry had no idea what had changed to make his relatives so violent. They had been rough with him in the previous timeline, but this was a whole new level of pain. Each night he focused his magic to work on healing him, but each new day brought new injuries.
Of course the alone time in the cupboard did give Harry time to focus on his meditation and therefore his two cores. While he was not able to do much actual magic, his magic was able to sustain and heal him. And Harry made a point to use both cores as Nicholas and Pernelle suggested.
Harry had been upset with the two when he discovered that Pernelle was a Potter. He had actual blood relatives in the wizarding world! Ones who could probably take much better care of him than the Dursley's, obviously.
Sadly, reflection on the conversation with his soul mates had confirmed his fears. Pernelle was no longer recognized by magic as a Potter. As such, she could not legally claim him. Nor could Sirius, since Harry had yet to get him out of prison.
So Harry's summer had become hell, once more. And to make matters worse, Harry had yet to receive any contact from anyone. It concerned Harry, though it was not unexpected. He knew Dobby would be interfering. While Harry had hoped to do something about it earlier this go round, he had failed thus far. As such, he had to suffer through this change once again.
And once again, Dobby had come in and ruined his uncle's dinner, leaving Harry trapped. Whereas last time, Harry had the Weasley's to help him escape, he was not close to Ron this go round. Add in that he was trapped beneath the stairs and the hope of escape was gone.
And of course the letter had arrived once more. The looks of malice mixed with glee on his relatives' faces had made for a very long night for Harry.
And that was how Harry found himself sitting hunched on his cot, unable to fully sit up as he had grown a bit in the past several months, meditating. Then a call broke his concentration.
Harry opened his eyes. He knew that voice. It was not a voice he wanted to hear just yet.
Sure enough, sitting across from him in a space where neither of them truly fit sat Ian.
"Ah, so you remember me, do you?" The Irish Brogue rang true. Harry could see a look in Ian's eyes where the reaper would not actually meet Harry's eyes.
"Unfortunately. Now what is going on?"
"Ah, well, yes, you see, umm…" As Ian began to rub his hands, Harry got nervous. Then he recognized the look in Ian's eyes. It was a mix of fear and nervousness.
"Spit it out." Harry felt his own nerves give in to frustration. If Ian was actually showing up, this could be bad.
"Ok, well now Harry, understand that working for Death, Chance, and Fate, things are uncertain. You understand?" At Harry's nod, Ian went on. "Excellent! Ok, so you happened to have done an excellent job so far. Some things you couldn't really change because Fate has already decreed them. Sirius must escape, for example. That it why you haven't actually done anything just yet, Fate has prevented you. He has to get out on his own and prove his innocence to you."
"Yes, I know he already has. But that is a part of his fate. Just like it is your fate to defeat Riddle. So Fate has been playing her part to assist you, such as seeing Daphne's memories and what not. But apparently Chance has wanted into the game as well. And that is where things get dicey."
"Yes, exactly! You know how you had five soul mates and had to find them?" Harry nodded dumbly, attempting to follow this line of thought. "Wonderful, I knew you were a smart one! Well, you see, Chance decided you ended his game far too early."
"Too early? I'm still playing it! The torture my soul mates went through? None of it is fair!"
At Harry's outburst, Ian got a grin on his face. It made Harry very uncomfortable.
"And that is exactly why this new 'game' of Chance's. You are so worried for those ladies, he feels you can help some others." Suddenly a light went off for Harry.
"Others? No. NO!" Ian simply raised an eyebrow, so Harry continued his rant. "No. I have already ruined the lives of five wonderful young women and I will not do it to anymore!"
"Well, see, you don't really have a choice. Chance has already set the game in motion and not playing it will definitely hurt you and them, according to fate." After a few minutes of glaring, Harry gave in.
"Fine, so what is this twisted new way Chance has found to entertain himself with my life?"
"Well, you have a habit of gathering life debts. 163 in your first timeline, fyi. Not that we are counting or anything. Dumbledore was the only one close and at his age only had 158. Disregarding all of that, you will gather life debts. It happens. Especially to you. So Chance has decided to add a few of these to your little harem." Ian grinned as he called Harry's group a harem. Harry just groaned and buried his face in his hands.
"Why? Why me?" He stopped as he thought back to the last year. He thoughts about what happened when he kissed his soul mates. He thoughts about Katie's reaction when they kissed and how she had been avoiding him. "How do I know which of these will be soul mates and what happens when we kiss?"
"Now you are thinking! Well, obviously there must be a life debt before they can be a soul mate. Once it exists, Chance will make the decision. Can't really tell you more than that, but you will have that same feeling you did with your other soul mates the first time your eyes meet afterwards. And when you kiss, they will probably get their memories back too."
"Indeed! Considering your list of life debts, there are some I am sure you would not want to get their memories back. Trust me on that."
Harry thought about that statement. Who the hell did Chance expect to join this wild adventure he was on? It could not be good if there were some who would be better off without memories, especially considering Daphne's reaction or Luna's history. Any of the girl's histories for that matter. Harry let out a deep sigh and brought his attention back to the reaper.
"So what now? And have I created a bond since?"
"Well, for now, enjoy your summer. I am not allowed to say if any more bonds have formed or not. Chance does love games. But remember that once the bond forms, even if the person hates you and you never talk again, they will be unable to betray you. Also, you should probably know that Dumbledore is the reason behind your abuse this summer. Decided they were not treating you roughly enough if you were so defiant."
"You are not really making me feel any better!" Harry dropped his face into his hands once more. When he looked up, he was once more in his cupboard alone. He laid back, trying to settle once more into relaxing when he heard another voice cut through.
Harry tensed. This was not a voice he had expected, and he was not sure if it was a voice he wanted to hear. After some twitching and squeaking, he heard the trunk being dragged away from the door. And as the door was flung open, Harry's eyes fell upon his once girlfriend and potioneer.
Ginny Weasley stood before the door.
Their eyes met and after a brief moment of staring, she squeaked and ran. A few moments later, Fred and George popped into view.
"Well Hello there-"
"-Mr. Potter! You have some-"
"-rather concerned people."
"As such, we decided-"
"-That we should pop in and say-"
"Hello!" The two finished together. It brought a smile to Harry's very tired face. He had not had much to smile about over the past few weeks, but this was good. Harry was confused though as Ginny peeked around the door. Pointedly looking in her direction, Harry got the twins attention.
"Pardon us Harry-"
"-but we really should introduce our-"
"-youngest sibling. This is-"
"-Ginny Weasley. Right-"
"-terror she is. You should-"
"-see her bat bogey hex."
"Now, Let's be on our way!"
"Before those muggles wake up-"
"-from the little potion we slipped them."
Harry found himself being dragged outside with his trunk in short order. As he did, Hedwig flew down to join him. After a brief and emotional reunion, the two jumped into the Ford Anglia. It was a few hours later that found the car settling into the ground near the Burrow. While Fred and George had been talking animatedly from the front, Ginny had been sitting in the back blushing. She wouldn't even look in his direction and Harry was relieved for that. But also annoyed.
And the annoying feeling grew as Harry saw who was waiting at the back door as they approached.
The conversation which followed was very similar to the previous one, discussing his being trapped beneath the cupboard. It was nearly breakfast time and the issues arose as the youngest Weasley son ambled down the stairs. As Ron's eyes fell on Harry, all discussion stopped with the shout.
"WHAT IS HE DOING HERE?!"
"Ronald Weasley!" His mother admonished him. "You be polite to our guests or you will get a much smaller breakfast."
Harry almost broke out laughing at the young red head's blushing and lowering of his head to that threat. But what came next was indeed a problem.
"Now, since you are here, Harry, you can room with Ronald."
"What?!" The four simultaneous shouts from Harry, Ron, and the twins threw everyone off. Including Mrs. Weasley. But she recovered quickly.
"Well of course. It would never do to have the young man sleeping on the couch and there is no other room."
"Mom, you really don't want to do that."
"Yeah, give him Bill and Charlie's room."
The twins jumped in. They had seen the interaction between their younger brother and Harry. It would be a shock if Ron lasted the summer. And more than that, they liked Harry.
"Nonesense. Besides, we need to keep those rooms for when Bill or Charlie visit. I'm sure Ron and Harry will be the best of friends by the end of summer, right Harry?" Here she turned to face Harry. As she did, Harry felt something tugging at him to just agree. She was so nice and must be right after all. And suddenly Harry looked down. He had been drinking tea provided by Mrs. Weasley. Harry fought for a moment. He would not lie to Mrs. Weasley, but he wanted to keep his plans hidden. All that said, there was no way he could comfortably sit in the same room as Ron.
"Mrs. Weasley, while I am sure under different circumstances you would be correct, I can not in good conscience share with Mr. Weasley. He has been the direct reason this past year for a great deal of danger for my friends. As such, it would be betraying them. You have been more than generous by sharing your home with me, however, and I would not wish to impose. As such, while I cannot agree to share with Ron, I would not mind either the couch or sleeping on the floor of the twins room perhaps?"
At Harry's words, the room grew quiet. Molly knew that if Harry felt safer sleeping with the Twins than Ron, her youngest son was a waste. All he had to do was become friends with Potter, then she would have an in. And even with his potions in him, he seemed to be standing up to it just fine. She was going to have to increase the dosage while he was here. She had hoped to wait a few years yet before starting it on him, but it was obvious that would not work. So if it took giving the older room to get the young man to stay comfortably, she would do it.
"No, I don't think that will be a problem. I'm sure that Bill and Charlie would not mind you using their room."
"Of course non mum."
"Yeah, Charlie hasn't been home in two years."
"Since he left to work on the preserve."
"And Bill hasn't stopped by…"
"-in three years."
Mrs. Weasley offered the two a glare before sending them into action.
"Well, it is time for breakfast. You two help Harry get his trunk to the room, and then everyone can come eat."
It was a few minutes later when Harry found himself situated beside Ginny. As he sat down, she blushed the brightest red Harry had seen from anyone. As Harry began to move things to his plate, the table settled down. It was when He raised his tea glass to drink that something interesting happened.
Rather than actually being allowed to drink his tea, Ginny reached over and pulled his arm down. Harry looked at her, confused. As he did, Harry noticed the twins distracting Molly and Ron. Ginny leaned in close.
"Don't drink the tea. Mom put something in it, but just yours. The twins and I have some pumpkin juice you can have later."
Harry just looked at her. This was certainly unexpected. Ginny stepping in and stopping Molly? This was either a trick or she was being honest and at the moment Harry was not sure which. When he saw one of the twins turn and wink at him, he decided to trust them for now. Then they both turned to look at him, Ginny and Harry still close together from the whispering.
"Well look at that! Harry is already making a move on our poor innocent sister!" This drew the attention from everyone else back to the duo. As Harry and Ginny both blushed, the twins started making kissing sounds. Ron looked ready to burst in anger while Mrs. Weasley suddenly had a contented smile on her face. Then all Hell broke loose as Ginny stood and began to move toward the twins. Harry noticed that as the twins stood, they deliberately hit the table, knocking the tea over.
As the twins fled from Ginny, Harry moved to get away from Ron. The younger red head had decided Harry was not worth his fury at this point.
Something very strange was going on at the Burrow.
The next few days were a whirl. Harry made the trip once more to the Leaky Cauldron with the Weasley's, but did not get to meet the Granger's on this go round. Harry moved to Gringotts and was able to get some time alone to stop by his vault and visit his account manager. Mrs. Weasley did not seem happy to let him go, but she did not voice her opinion either. Her lack of vocal responses was really beginning to concern Harry.
So Harry was moving to complete his shopping when he happened upon some familiar faces in Florean's. Daphne, Hermione, Luna, Padma, and Anemy, were all gathered around a table. Harry came over and plopped into a seat between Hermione and Daphne with a grin on his face.
"Hi ladies. How has your summer been?"
Rather than respond to him, let along look at him, the group seemed to be ignoring him. After a few more attempts at saying hello, Harry got frustrated.
"Ok, I give. What's going on?!" At this, all five women turned to glare at him.
"Oh, so now you want to talk to us?" The accusation in Hermione's voice hurt.
"We write to you all summer." Daphne followed. Harry felt as if all the hard work with her was collapsing.
"And you can't even write us back?" Anemy seemed upset, a new look on her.
"Not even let us know you're ok?" The hurt in Padma's tone was breaking Harry's heart. The kicker, however, came when he reached over for Luna's hand.
Hurt silver eyes stared back at him while pulling her hand away. Harry had enough.
"Ok, this is too much. You all wrote me? How would I know? I was trapped in the cupboard under the stairs once more until the twins and Ginny saved me four days ago. And sending me letters? I understand if the rest of you forgot, but Hermione, remember a little elf named Dobby?" Harry felt his anger taking hold. He really did not want to be angry at them. It wasn't their fault and he could understand their position, but taking it out on him after his summer was difficult. As his magic flared, he saw a glazed look hit Hermione's eyes.
"Dobby…Dobby. YES!" Suddenly Hermione shook her head. "That Bastard!"
Instantly all eyes focused on the bushy haired pre-teen. It was Harry who summed up what they were all thinking.
Hermione just rolled her eyes at him.
"Harry, I need you to do that again, where you flared your magic? But you need to focus it on each of us."
A Confused looking Harry did as he was told. It took some effort, but after his meditation exercises this summer, it was not overly difficult. As he did, he saw the glazed looks followed by anger in each of the girls eyes once more. Their statements were similar to Hermione's. It took a few more minutes before anyone could answer Harry's request for more information.
"I had just arrived home when Dumbledore showed up. He was telling my parents about how dangerous being friends with Harry was before he turned to me, telling me how Harry did not really care about me and would not respond to my owls." Hermione was furious. Based on the looks from the other girls, it was similar with them. "He cast a compulsion on us!"
"Apparently he doesn't like the idea of me having friends."
The group settled down, discussing what Dumbledore's actions meant.
After a pleasant discussion, Harry and his soul mates stood to move toward Flourish and Blots. Everyone needed their books and Harry was told they saved it till last because of Hermione. While she blushed, Harry laughed.
It was his laughter that drew Gilderoy Lockhart's attention.
"Ah, if it isn't Harry Potter!" The Blond one came over and grabbed Harry for a photo. It was all Harry could do to push with his magic. As the photographer snapped the photo, Gilderoy flew away from Harry. While Harry desperately wanted to laugh and his soul mates did, Harry held his composure and moved to help Lockhart stand.
"I'm sorry sir. I have bad reactions when attacked."
"Attacked? No, my boy, I was just coming to say hello." He paused and turned back to the crowd. Harry hid a grin as he saw Rita taking notes on him stating Lockhart had attacked him. Harry knew the witch would cause problems, but he did not mind letting her play with that tidbit.
"Besides, I have an announcement to make! I, Gilderoy Lockhart have been named the Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor for Hogwarts this year!" Harry hid a groan as Lockhart once again gave Harry a fee set of books. Harry noted the fight between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy. Harry made a quick pass by Ginny's cauldron, placing the books there and meant to grab the diary. He was shocked when it was not there.
As Harry sullenly moved back towards his friends, he was grabbed by his shoulder. He looked back to see Molly Weasley staring at him.
"Where do you think you are going, young man?"
"To speak with my friends, ma'am." Harry indicated the group of friends. His soul mates stood watching the interaction. They had hear about his summer earlier and were all tense for any interactions with the Weasley Matriarch. They noticed the dangerous look in Molly's eyes before she carefully withdrew her hand.
"Alright, just be careful. Meet us in the Leaky Cauldron in an hour."
Harry certainly had an interesting summer. Mrs. Weasley's easy withdrawal and not demanding more since he was a child was concerning, as was the fact that she was already potioning him. Ginny's actions were also confusing.
Then harry looked around. As green eyes met chocolate, silver, grey, blue, and brown, Harry relaxed. Between Ian, Dumbledore, Dobby, and the Weasley's, this year would be tough. But with his friends, they would get through.