"Yet again, you surprise me." an even, smooth voice said. The figure lifted an arm and shook back the pure white sleeve to reveal a perfect hand with long, strong fingers. The hand hovered over a piece on the chessboard, while the other hand stroked its cleanly shaven chin in deep thought. The figure's eyes came to rest on its opponent and long time friend as the other figure let out a harsh laugh, before replying in a rough and gravelly tone.

"I know that you sometimes struggle to understand why one would play sub-optimally, despite the fact that that unease is why I do it. It unsettles you, knowing that I'd willingly go down material just to have a chance to see the grin slide off of your face." The other being dragged a scarred and calloused hand through the wild beard that sprouted from its jaw, a faint stream of smoke rippling off of his form. The white figure decided on its move, and picked up its knight, weighing it in its hand before placing it firmly and precisely in the correct position.

"Check." The dark figure grunted, taking the knight with its bishop, before the white pawn recaptured the material. The dark figure moved its queen, haphazardly placing her onto the board such that she was clearly on a particular square, but not centered. The light figure frowned softly, a slight wrinkle passing across its otherwise flawless face.

"J'adoube." it said, correcting the black queen's position out of habit, causing the dark figure to laugh once again. It moved its own king out of check, frowning as the black queen once again gave a check, keeping up the pressure. The light figure continued running with its king, before pausing as the black queen infiltrated all the way into the position, allowing it to gain the upper hand as the white queen gave a check to the black king. The figure smirked as its queen moved forwards, giving another check. The king had only one square open to him, and the dark figure grimaced. The queen moved once more, protected by the pawn.


"Indeed. Do you wish to play again?"

"Of course."


Harry found himself, once again, lying in the shrubbery under the window, listening to the news. He was sure that any news of Voldemort would be headline-worthy, even in the muggle version of events. If he was being honest, he was merely listening out for any odd attacks, disappearances, or funny deaths, but none of those had appeared to have happened, even though it had been more than a month since the return of Voldemort. Harry wiped the sheen of sweat from his forehead as the anchors began to wrap up the news programme, frustrated at the utter lack of information from any of his friends, angry at being, once again, cast aside and stuck at the Dursley's while his friends got to at least be together.

Suddenly, a loud crack was heard, a sound which most muggles would attribute to a backfiring car, but was to any wizard the unmistakable sound of apparation. Harry shot to his feet, pulling his wand out of his pocket, before smashing his head on the bottom of the window frame with a grunt of pain. His uncle ran towards him, purple in the face, and he barely managed to dodge out of range of the meaty fists that grasped for his neck.

"Put it away." uncle Vernon growled, halfway between fury and terror, but incapable of reaching any further to grab Harry, who was still scanning the hedgerows for any signs of death eaters and the like. Harry slipped the narrow wooden shaft back into his jeans before turning and walking away from the house. "I haven't finished with you boy!" Harry turned and raised an eyebrow at his uncle, who now had a vein pulsing at his temple, before deliberately continuing away from him, heading out towards the second least vandalised playground in the neighbourhood.


Harry sat on the singular intact swing, watching the vibrant colours of the sunset paint the sky like a canvas. He swung his legs idly, kicking up gravel in boredom. That emotion summed up Harry's summer fairly well, seeing as he'd finished his homework the week he had returned simply out of having nothing else to do. Harry had written letter after letter to his friends initially, asking constantly for details and any information, but simply getting frustrated when he learned how they were together, in a place surrounded by other wizards and witches, but apparently knew nothing. They had even stopped replying to him, after he'd sent them a flurry of frustrated letters in an attempt to gain any information from them.

Now, Harry took to wandering the neighbourhood, sitting in a park for an afternoon and reading textbooks or other academic texts. He'd disguised them as simple muggle literature to avoid questions about them, but he'd finished all of his books and had yet to go to diagon alley, and so he hadn't had an opportunity to pick up any more.

Harry knew he'd overstayed his welcome at the park when he heard loud, obnoxious teenage laughter, and smelled smoke and cheap beer, all of which heralded the arrival of Dudley's gang. They froze when they saw him sitting on the swing, and muttered among themselves for a few seconds before they broke out in laughter.

"Alright big D?" Harry called out, "beat up another ten year old? Very brave of you, seeing as it was, what..." Harry pretended to count them, "eight on one?"

"This one deserved it," slurred Dudley, "insulted mum."

"If he said she looked like a cross between a horse and a giraffe, that's not an insult, Dud, that's natural selection! In fact, he could have made it an insult about the entire family, if he'd continued and said that you looked like a pig, and your dad looks like a sunburned elephant." They jeered a bit at Harry at that, and he rolled his eyes, standing up and brushing dust off of his jeans.

"Well, I'm going home, you might want to come too, I know how you're scared of the dark and all."

"Not as scared as you."

"What do you mean?"

"I hear you. Every night, crying in your sleep," his voice turned into a high pitched caricature of a child's, "'d-don't kill Cedric! Kill me instead!' who is Cedric, your boyfriend?" The sun finally dipped below the horizon, throwing shadows over the scene, and a bitterly cold wind whipped at their clothing.

"I'm leaving now." Harry pushed through the group, and Dudley followed him, scratching his oversized neck with one hand as he plodded along beside him.

Harry was the first to notice, as the crickets buzzing in the grass fell silent, and the stars began to go out. Harry pulled his wand out.

"But you're not allowed to use that!"

"Shut up, Dudley."

"I'll tell mum! They won't let you back!"

"I said shut up!"

Suddenly, Harry heard the all-too-familiar rattling breaths behind him, and the ice closed in on his heart.

"S-stop that."

"I'm not doing anything!"

But Dudley didn't believe him. A ham-sized fist connected with the side of his head, and he crashed to the floor, lights flashing in front of his eyes. A dementor appeared over him, and he scrabbled to find his wand. Harry felt a cold hand grip his ankle, and drag him inexorably backwards. He heard a choking sound, and looked up to see the dementor forcing something which protruded from its hood down Dudley's throat. He returned to finding his wand, but was unable.


The wand lit up, illuminating the dementor who was holding it. The creature released his leg, bringing its other hand up to grip the wand too, before snapping it in half with a horrific splintering sound, and a flash of red smoke. Harry went limp, losing all hope as his only tool, only method of defence against the foul creature above him was destroyed. But more than that, his wand was as much a part of him as an arm, and the loss of it was as terrible and serious.

The dementor floated over him, pinning his arms to the ground with one of its oversized hands, and lowering its hood with the other. The slow rattling breaths somehow sounded excited, and a long proboscis extended from a ragged hole of flesh that was in the center of the dementor's face. The creature gripped his face with one hand, forcing his head up towards it, and pushing rotted fingers into his mouth, prying it open even as Harry gagged. The proboscis wormed its way down Harry's throat, pulsating slightly as it went, before it stopped, about level with his chest. He could feel it, moving around deep within him, and fought down the wave of panic that threatened to overcome him.

The thing stopped moving around, and he felt a sudden and painful jerk behind his navel, as well as from his scar. Harry nearly blacked out from the pain as the pain in his forehead mounted. It was an even greater pain than any cruciatus curse, even greater than the agony of basilisk venom. Then the pain began to move, sliding down from his forehead towards the end of the proboscis, painfully cold inside him. The pain left his body and he could have wept from relief, before a flash of golden light ripped the dementor from the top of his body, eliciting a screech from the creature. Harry sensed pure, abject terror from the creature which was commonly believed to be unkillable as the golden light ate away at it, burning it into dust. The other dementor, having finished destroying his cousin's soul, simply fled, chittering with fear. Harry gripped the end of the proboscis that protruded form his mouth, and pulled. He almost blacked out as he felt the thing move within him again, but he had to get the foul thing out of him.

After it was removed, Harry slumped back onto the ground in a state of exhaustion, noticing neither the golden aura that played around him, nor the black sludge that oozed from the severed end of the proboscis.


The chess puzzle is this, note the blunder on move 5 by black.

1... Bxf6 2. exf6 Qe8+ 3. Kd2 Qd8+ 4. Kc2Qa5 5. Qg5+ Kf8(?!) 6. Qg7+ Ke8 7. Qe7#

This chapter was shorter than what will be normal, just an introduction to a (hopefully) intriguing world. I'll try to dodge cliche, but I'm not making any other promises.