The very last night of the cicle were always the worse. Harry could feel his body at the brink of collapse. Every bone on his body hurt. His hypersensitive senses made his head feel like would exploded.
But the worse was the thirsty. His mouth and throat were so dry that he could feel the cracks on his lips. Even open his mouth to breathe was hard.
He was in the dark, inside the little shag at the backyard. The first sunlight coming through the cracks of the door. He listened, unable to move just yet, as the locker was unlocked, and the door opened. He smelled, a smell hi known all too well even before his enhanced senses take place. The smell of excitement coming from the enormous man in front of him. It was nauseating, Harry felt even weaker.
"Well, well, look at you" Vernon Durlley said, Harry could almost feel his smile through the words "I didn't think you could become an even bigger aberration that you already was… but look at you" his breath speed up, as Harry listened to him unlocking his belt buckle "you know, the other freaks, your friends, payed a good money to get my permission to build this monstrosity here" he was rolling his belt on his hand now, breathing even faster "but no one told me about the noise… no sir… I couldn't get a minute of sleep this night, with all your crying and howling" now hi was panting, Harry was sure the man had an erection "and poor Petunia, so scared… that woman gave you everything… I think you deserve the buckle of the belt today, to learn a little gratitude, don't you agree?" Harry found some strength to look up, only to see a smile on his uncle face, and the belt coming in his direction.
Fleur had just finished packing her things for the school year in two large trunks. One containing her books, quills, parchments and other practical materials, like the potions kit and her broom. In the second one, her robes, both for day to day classes and the more formal ones, for special occasions, an assortment of casual mundane clothes (she always loved mogle fashion, specifically concerning lingerie) and for this year, a bigger number of cold weather garments, as England were famous for its winters. Completing the space, she was also taking some things she was sure Gabrielle would forget to take with her, as always.
She closed her trunk with a smile, Fleur once again though about the wolf, the dream keep coming every night now, maybe it has some meaning, she was lost in though wen she listened to a knock on the door. Apoline came in, looking as stunning as always with her high couture clothes.
"Everything packed my little dove?" She asked "Yes mama" answered Fleur, smiling at the nickname her mother used. "Say Fleur" her mother continued "I try to stay out of it, but let me ask, anyone in particular you are looking to see again this year?" Taking by surprise, Fleur blushed for a second, but answered with resolution "Only Regine mama, and as a friend. You know I tried, but was to no good. The boys can't see past the dam alure, and most girls can't overcome their jealousy. And the ideas people have about us are simply disgusting. So no, I had fun for a while, but not anymore" to her surprise, Apoline just smiled. "I know how hard it is. It took me a long time to find you father"
"Ah , now we are getting to the point" Fleur tough to herself.
"I assume you already talked to your father" Fleur nodded and her mother took a deep breath "then, here goes" she extended her hand, and in it was a photograph "it is not without pain I gave it to you, but is for the best" Fleur didn't understand, but grabbed the picture and looked at it.
There was, smiling and waving at the camera her mother and father, to the left she could see the man she met early this month, Remus Lupin, to they're right there was another young couple, Fleur tough the green eyes of the redheaded woman looked familiar, and more to the right the man she now knows as Sirius Black. But what really caught her was the kids. On the ground, side by side, smiling like she didn't even know she could. She recognized herself, and a little boy, no much more than a year old, with green eyes and messing hair. She looked to then, hypnotized for some seconds.
"Why?" she asked.
"My dear… let me tell you about when me and your father were young…"
"Here, the books you asked" Daphne Greengrass said, giving Hermione Granger a stack of 3 books . "I still don't understand what you want with it. I thought you found the magical world to be too backwards". "Actually they are for Harry" Hermione said putting the books aside. "He told me about a plan of his on the end of the last term"
As weird as it looks, both girls had become friends on the previous year, after the broom incident, that had divided the Griphindor golden trio. But, after this summer, said trio may he no more…
Hermione looked around nervously, looking for Harry, she didn't saw her friend for almost three months now, three lunar cicles, she didn't even know what to expect.
She saw Edwiges first, inside her cage. Them she saw the mass of black hair and couldn't contain herself. She run in his direction and dove into his arms, tears rolling down her face. She could feel his surprise and hiss, like something hurt on his back, but he embrace her back and didn't let it go. "Oh Harry" she started, sobbing, "I am so sorry, I tried to call several times, your aunt would not pass you the phone! Is not right to let you like that!" She left his arms, a little blushed, and looked at him.
He was a mess. He looked thin , with big black bags under his eyes, and he was pale… but his smile was the most sincere and warm thing she saw in months "how can u be a mess like that and still beautiful" she caught herself thinking and blushed even harder.
"Please, don't look at me like that Mione" Harry said looking at her, she bit her lower lip, sending shivers through his body, "you know I had some bad nights… I will make up to it in the train. Had you seem Ron?" She looked at him with a weird expression, and he took the clue. "Never mind, let's find a cabinet on the train".
They entered the express and moved to their favorite cabinet on the back, the Wesleys were late and Hermione was thankful for that. Neville joined then a couple minutes later, and they started doing small talk about the summer and the new year. Hermione felt Harry's head leaning against her shoulder and realized he was asleep, a warm fuzz runned through her body, and before she realized, her hand were running trough his hair. That was the moment Rob showed up, his face becomes almost the same color of his hair, and he turned away. Ginny entered the Cabinet and looked at then. "He doesn't look well…" she said in a low voice.
Harry woke up, or rather was awaken next to the arrival. "Believe it or not, I am actually feeling better" he said to the other occupants of the cabinet, while putting his robes, and some color had actually came back to his face. "Where is Ron?" Nobody seems to know.
They exited the train and got to the carriages, Harry could see Ron some feet way, with Seamos and Dean. He was about to ask Hermione with was happening when they head a loud voice. "Arry my lad" the could see Hagrid approaching. "So good to see you" he gave the boy a big hug, sending Harry to a world of pain for some seconds, only Hermione seem to notice. He release the teen and continue "but I am getting carried away, a I'm here to pass a message from the headmaster. He want you to meet him at his office to discuss you new… eeeer… condition" Neville and Ginny looked at him, worried, and he nodded his head as if saying "later".
"Also" Hagrid carried on "we will have a biiiiiig surprise for you all this year!"
As they entered the carriage, Neville asked "What you guys think is that surprise?" "I don't know" Harry said "I just hope is not something that tries to kill me" he said with a grim. "Prat" Hermione said slapping him on the shoulder.
The great Hall was all laughs and greetings, friends meeting each other, Hogwarts was a prison alright, but at least a good one, Harry though. He complimented his colleagues both from Griphindor and from other houses, after a long and solitaire summer he had decided this year he would try to make a change. To hell with house rivalries, he remember the Heir fiasco all too well. It was an uphill battle, but one needed for his plans.
He sited at his usual place at the table, Hermione seethed at his right side, and he feel really good when their legs touch, she smiled at him. Ron decided to sit at the other side with Seamos and Dean, leaving his left side empty and Harry signed, another uphill battle ahead. Angelina and Katie were passing, giggling at his back when the Katie suddenly stopped. Angelina looked at her, while a big grin appeared on her friend's face.
"Hello Harry" Katie said touching his shoulder and sitting at the empty space on his left, to his big surprise. They had been friends and played quidditch together, but that was new. As Angelina sited on the other side of the table, looking somewhat amused by the shy boy, Katie took what to Harry seemed like a really deep breath and continued. "I am betting you had a really, really interesting summer" "What do you mean Katie?" He asked confused, but secretly enjoying the attention, the brunette was beautiful, and there was something in her eyes. "I don't know Harry, you… look different…" Katie looked at a confused Angelina and a somewhat bothered Hermione. "So, this year championship…" she changed the subject and let the conversation flow.
After the sorting, Harry took a good look at the professor's table. Up his feed, in a corner he saw the weird man full of scars, holding a strange looking walking stick, like an old worn out soldier. But what really caught his attention was the magic eye rolling on his socket. The eye stopped at Harry, looking directly at him, and the man took a sip from a small bottle.
Hermione was trying to make sense of what was happening in front of her. She knew Katie always had a crush on Harry, she heard the older girl talking to Angelina once or twice, but the same was true to many other girls. What made her act like that, with so much courage was the mystery, and although she would not admit to herself, Hermione was a little envious of that. Katie was practically leaning on Harry's shoulder, and Hermione was pretty sure, by the way he was tense, that the girl's hand was on his knee or thigh. But it was over when both Harry and Katie, as well as Angelina and many others on the great Hall said almost in unison "WHAT!"
"Yes" the headmaster master continued "there will be no quidditch championship this year, as Hogwarts was chosen to host the Triwizard tourney" he go on to explain about the tournament, as most of the things wizards door, most of it sounded unnecessary convoluted and dangerous to Hermione, but the prospect of getting to know students from other magical schools around Europe was fascinating.
After the initial shock, Katie came back to talk really close to Harry, he was cute all clumsy and blushing this way, she tough. No, she was the only one that knew what happened and that he needed help. Library first thing tomorrow!
Fleur stood at the desk after organizing her things at her dorm in Beauxbatons. It was a cosy double bedroom, with mirror sides,each one consisting in a four post bed with a trunk at its foot, a big closet and a writing desk. Fleur had the side with the window and her best friend Regine has the door's side. On the opposite side there was also a small door that leads to the common upper year girls bathroom.
"I didn't know your family was friends with "The Boy Who Lived"" Regine said after entering the room and looking over Fleur's shoulder. "What do you mean?" "Here, those are your mom and dad right? Those two here are James and Lily Potter, and I assume those beautiful kids are you and Harry Potter!" Fleur looked at the picture once again, she couldn't remember. Regine had family in England, and past some time with them almost every year, so the blonde decided to ask. "Do you know how he is like?"
"That depends if you believe the english media" she said after a while, studying Fleur's face "the say he is a mentally unstable boy, with illusions of grandeur and attention seeking issues…" she could see by the looks on her friend's face that this was close to home for her, and she didn't buyed "my cousin plays quidditch with him…" she finally said. "Angelina always talk about him with some kind of awe , she said that almost nothing the tabloids had written about him is true, that he is a passionate and courageous person, an incredible seeker, and if half of the things she thinks it happen really happened to him than he is more incredible that people can even imagine. She says he even killed a basilisk when he was twelve or thirteen" "That is a little hard to imagine, non?" Fleur said with a smile. "True, but as I see, this boy had gone through hell and back, and is for things he didn't even choose, I mean, if you believe my cousin and her friends" she finished laying in her bed. "It is incredible that your father didn't used this on his campaign, people would kill for this kind of connection with the Potters" "Friendship and respect were always more important to him" Fleur said a little annoyed "I know, that is the reason he will win" Regine finished.
Fleur though for some time, looking at the picture, there was something there, she wanted that smile back… then she got a piece of parchment, a quill and started writing.
Albus Dumbledore watched as the boy entering his office with attention, looking for signs of the curse.
"Good night Harry, would like a lemon drop?" "No, thank you headmaster" "please, have a sit Harry" . The headmaster looked at him over his glasses, with a grandpa expression on his face. "First of all, let me apologize for the somewhat clumsy solution we could arrange for your summer, we had to do it in such a short notice, also I understand that you got upset about loosing the quidditch world cup, bit been the smart boy you are, I believe you understand the reasons" he said in a rather patronizing tone that he could see annoyed Harry. "I do understand, professor…"
"Good, Harry, Remus has studied at Hogwarts for seven years, and we never had any dangerous incident, and I wish to keep this record. All the relevant professors had already been informed of your… condition…" Harry sighed " I am glad to inform, that at the school, you will at least be allowed to run free during the cicle, all the school wards had been updated, you will not be able to enter any building during those nights, so that the other students will be safe. Also Hagrid will be responsible for monitoring you during and after your… changes… and Severus will provide you with wolfsbane every first night." Harry was astonished with that much information. "Well, any doubt we can discuss later, people are perfectly capable of living with this curse Harry and you will be too."
Harry direct himself to the door, and turned to Dumbledore before opening it. "Professors, what about Sirius…"
"It is been taking care, my boy"
Harry exited the office and the headmaster leaned on his chair, the boy looked tired and defeated, he may even lost some weight during the summer, in other words, he looked great for him.