Chapter One The Beginning of the End

An old man, bent with many years of age and responsibility, was hunched over his desk in the dead of night. He seemed to be reading letter. His eyes darted around the page, taking in every word that it revealed. The blue behind his half-moon spectacles showed neither anger nor fear; but determination. He nodded once to himself and set the parchment down. A phoenix swooped down upon him, resting gently on his shoulder. The man spoke.

"I never thought the day would come when we would have to resort to the Oracles, Fawkes."

*****

At that very same moment, in a far off land, a tower beaten by time stood alone in the darkness. Deep within its walls a girl no older than fifteen, sat chained to the wall. The manacles that held her ankles and wrists shone with a very faint green light. Her long, hazel hair shrouded her face and her tattered clothes hung to her limp body. She looked up from the molding floor beneath her and stared at the opposite wall. Suddenly, her eyes clouded over in shadow and she smiled weakly to herself.

"Harry Potter...we shall meet at last..."

*****

Harry felt the spell whiz past him, and saw as it smashed the wing of a statue shaped like an angel. His injured leg quivered violently under him as he kept on running, trying endlessly to reach Cedric and the Cup before Voldemort reached him. Soon, both figures loomed out of the darkness only a few feet from him. He dove for them, as the Dark Lord's voice rang through the cold night air.

"Stand aside! I will kill him! He is mine!"

Harry had just clenched his hand onto Cedric's lifeless wrist, but the Triwizard Cup was too far for him to reach. He whipped out his wand hand and performed the Summoning Spell right as Voldemort's footsteps grew closer. The Cup was coming to him, Voldemort raised his wand; the handle was in Harry's hand, the Dark Lord gave a pitiless laugh. Harry closed his fingers over the smooth handle at the same time Voldemort pointed his wand at Harry.

"Goodbye, Harry Potter." He performed the unblockable Avada Kedavra, and Harry felt his life slip away into the darkness...

Harry Potter woke with a start. He blinked rapidly as the sun's brilliant rays stung his eyes. When he had readjusted his glasses and gotten used to the light, Harry looked around himself, breathing heavily. He was in his Uncle Vernon's house, on number four Privet Drive. He had dozed off on his desk in his room from the night before, his unfinished Charms homework spread out before him.

Harry hated having to dream about last year's events, for it brought a chill up his spine and a shiver through his body. Last school year the Dark Lord, Voldemort, had returned to full power; Harry himself had witnessed his horrible reawakening. Harry had dreamed, since that terrifying night, what would have happened if he hadn't returned to Hogwarts in time; if Voldemort did reach him before he could escape.

Harry had returned to Privet Drive in low spirits, his head hung low and his mind reeling. The Dursleys must have noticed, because they seemed to be giving him some peace for once in his life. For this, Harry was truly grateful. But though life on Privet Drive was reaching an all time high, Harry couldn't help but wish he was safe with his best friend, Ron, at his house. Mrs. Weasley would have gladly taken him in, but Dumbledore thought it better for him to return home first; and Dumbledore always had his reasons.

Harry got up from his seat and walked over to his bed. On his way, he passed by his window, and, though he tried to fight it, he couldn't help but look at the window. The shocking green eyes behind his round glasses scanned the street frantically, even though Harry knew that You-Know-Who couldn't be anywhere close by.

Taking a deep breath, Harry continued his journey to his bed and plopped down on the covers. Before he fell asleep again he punched his pillow, angry with himself for feeling so scared and painfully helpless.

*****

She laughed endlessly, watching nothing but the wall before her. She was no longer shackled to the wall, but was curled up in the middle of the damp floor.

"He's coming for you Harry," she sang into the stillness. "He'll find you soon enough." And then she sat up so abruptly that she almost knocked herself over.

"Dumbledore," she said in a voice poised with venom. "Dumbledore, you call..."

*****

Harry awoke, once again, to bright light blinding him. But this time it wasn't from the sun. As he lifted his eyelids he could see, very faintly, the sun setting slowly over the horizon. The light that was blazing through his glasses was coming from inside his room!

A slit had appeared in the air before him, right over the foot of his bed. Realizing what he was seeing, Harry jumped up from his position and pushed himself against the head of his bed, trying frantically, to get away. The first thought that entered his mind was that this could be a trap set my Voldemort; but as he looked closer, he wondered how on earth it could be. It was so beautiful. The light was warm and welcoming; it felt safe and free upon his skin. Harry inched towards it, and as he did the slit grew wider. And then he saw something that made his stomach turn.

There was a face forming through the white of the light. It was a girl's face, her eyes wide and wondering, and her hair tangled and wild. Harry screamed and backed away once more, fear mounting higher and higher in his heart.

"Harry Potter..." The girl was calling to him, coaxing him nearer. But her tone wasn't pleasant, it sounded hungry, evil.

Harry yelled louder as a ghostly hand stretched forth from the rays towards him. He looked around him, trying to find something to ward off this, this...creature. He looked past it and saw his wand lying on his desk. It was too far to reach for. He was trapped.

The hand was at his face now, and suddenly Harry's lightening bolt scar erupted with immense heat. It wasn't as painful like when he was near You-Know-Who, but it sizzled on his forehead and it was a sensation that Harry disliked very much.

"What's going on up there?" Uncle Vernon called. Harry tried to call to him, wishing that somebody, anybody would be in the room with him; he didn't want to be alone.

His uncle's footsteps boomed louder as he came up the stairs. Harry cried louder. The girl smiled crazily.

"What are you doing in there boy?"

BAM! The door came flying open, and Harry's uncle stood there, filling up the entire door frame. Harry was about to warn him about the girl, but there was no need to. She was gone.

As soon as Uncle Vernon had come in she vanished abruptly, leaving no trace that she had ever even been there.

"Why are you yelling in here, boy? What's wrong with you? You'll attract the neighbors!" 'So much for peace and quiet', Harry thought to himself. He brought his hand to his scar gingerly, feeling that it was still extremely warm under his fingers.

"Nothing. I...I just had a bad dream, that's all." His voice sounded unsure unto himself.

"Oh," Uncle Vernon answered. He left the room without another word, not even asking what had happened or if Harry was alright, but Harry didn't mind. He was glad he hadn't questioned him. He did not feel like talking right then and there.

Shaking all over, Harry got up from his bed and opened the window, letting the cool, fresh air sweep over him. That had to be the strangest thing that ever happened to him. What was it, anyway? Or whom?

Not taking any chances with this, Harry decided to write to Dumbledore, telling him everything. It still seemed so unreal to Harry, it happened out of nowhere. But it could be a trap, so he would send him a letter right when Hedwig returned from her nightly flight.

Not risking lingering alone any longer, Harry left his room and went downstairs to eat something. He entered the kitchen, only to be swamped with demands and insults by all three Dursleys. Their temporary silence had ended, and life at Privet Drive resumed as usual.

Harry didn't mind at all. The continuous chatter helped block out the worry that was weighing heavily in his heart.

*****

"Crystal! What are you doing?!" Leo cried, as his sister sat in the middle of the floor, her body radiating light. She was looking into space, stretching out her hand to an invisible person. Leo knew instantly that this was a spell. A spell, nonetheless, Crystal was forbidden to ever do again.

"Crystal stop!" He shoved her aggressivly and the light disappeared into her skin. Her darkened eyes returned to their eerie dark blue, and she shot him a glance of annoyance from the floor.

"What do you want, little brother?" she asked him.

"Crystal, stop this. Who were you contacting any way? It better have not been a human." Crystal looked to the ground. "I can't believe you! A human! What if Dumbledore finds out?"

"He will," Crystal replied, getting up from where she lay. "I went to the boy, Harry Potter."

Leo looked at her in shock.

"No, please say that's not true?" he pleaded. She turned her back to him, walking to the wall. "Oh no, it's true." He buried his head in his hands. "Why didn't you just learn to fight it?" Leo asked himself, looking sadly at his sister. "Why couldn't you just fight, then you would be like this."

*****

"Hedwig!" Harry called through the closed window. He could see his snow white owl soar closer and closer to him. Though she was still a long ways away, Harry opened the window, creating a clear path for her. But when she was only but a few yards away, a small feathery cannonball came pelting from the side and knocked Hedwig clear out of the sky.

The minute owl continued its breakneck course, averting its direction to Harry. He jumped out of the way just in time as the owl zoomed into his room and crashed painfully into the door opposite the window. Harry hurried over to peel the owl, which he recognized as Pig, off the door. He grimaced as he rushed over to the bed and set Pig down on the covers. The Dursleys had set him to work for hours and his body was still sore from it all.

As Pig lay there recovering from his impact, Harry noticed with a smile that he was indeed holding a letter. He unclenched it from Pig's beak and began to rip open the seal, when Hedwig came gliding in angrily. Her feathers sticking out in all different directions, she settled onto her perch and dropped her letter onto the desk. Harry stroked her gently for awhile, straightening her feathers. After she hooted gratefully and began to gulp down water, Harry unfolded Ron's letter.

Harry, How are you doing? I hope your fine... Mom wanted to know if you would like to come over for the rest of the summer. She asked Dumbledore if it was okay yet and he said to go on ahead. Hermione is coming over too. If the Muggles let you go, then meet us at the corner of your street tomorrow. I don't know why we can't get you through Floo Powder, but Dumbledore says that it's safer. Personally I can't see how but if it's Dumbledore, you can't argue with him. Send Pig back with your answer fast. Sorry if he's a little too excited, he hasn't gone out much lately. Hope you can come-

Ron

P.S. Fred and George opened their own joke shop. I don't know where they got the money, but it's nice to laugh nowadays.
Harry bolted from his room and sprinted quickly down the stairs. He rounded the railing and started running through the hall, but skidded to a stop. Uncle Vernon stood in front of him, but to Harry's utter bewilderment, he didn't look neither angry nor annoyed.

"Uncle Vernon," Harry started quickly. "Can I go to my friend Ron's house?"

"Who?"

"Ron. They came here last year, through the fireplace..." Harry stopped. He knew he had said the wrong words.

Triggering the memory would surely restrict him from ever going to Ron's. Harry partly wanted to go so he could have that sense of safety that he always felt at the Weasley's; but knowing Uncle Vernon, he would never let him go now.

"Oh, right. That lot. Well, now that you mention it-" Harry braced himself for the disappointment. "-you can go to these people's house."

"What?" Harry didn't understand; why was he being so nice?

"I said you can go. Do whatever you need to do before they come and don't bother to warn us when the come, just go." He turned his back to him once more, but stopped before either of them could move. "I hope you have a good time." And then he walked away, leaving Harry opened mouthed in the hallway, surprise claiming his every feature.