Well, here's the start of another long haul. I wrote "When Things Start to Change" with the full intention of
finishing it, but OOTP beat me to it. I
just didn't feel right about continuing.
I'm also writing under a new name.
I want to keep Hermione-G-Weasley as pre-OOTP fiction and crispyone as
This story will have a darker tone overall, but, of course, there will still be plenty of fluff in it, which is always good. J
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters discussed in this story, nor do
I own any of the locations. They are
all property of J.K. Rowling.
The sun was so bright that Hermione Granger was forced to close the blinds on her bedroom window. England had never been this hot before; it hadn't rained a single time since she'd been home from term. She had no clue where this insane weather was coming from, but she was wishing very hard for time to rush forward quickly, so she could get back to a nice, freezing cold Scotland winter.
But, of course, that wasn't going to happen.
She'd been home for three and a half weeks now, and she couldn't remember time ever going so slowly; it seemed as if three years had passed since she'd last seen Hogwarts. And she was simply dying of boredom.
Not that she didn't enjoy being at home with her parents, but she couldn't lie and say that Muggle life wasn't a bit dull compared to the life she lived for ten months out of each year- the life of a teenage witch at a boarding school for other young witches and wizards. All she wanted now was for the next five weeks to hurry up, so that she could get back to that part of her life quickly.
She knew that school was going to be different this year than it had in the past; this year was going to be covered by a heavy veil of solemnity and a foreboding of fright that wouldn't be felt for no good reason.
The Darkest wizard in the world was back to full power, and now everyone in the wizarding world knew it. She couldn't pretend that school was going to be anything close to what it used to be; the normally fun atmosphere of Hogwarts was probably going to be replaced by things much less enjoyable.
Still, though, she was looking forward to returning to Hogwarts simply because she felt at home there. It was her home; those were the people who were like her. She didn't feel like an outsider at Hogwarts, and she had friends at Hogwarts.
Friends that she missed.
She'd had the same best friends since her first year at Hogwarts, and she missed them terribly as she did any summer when they were apart. However, this year it was almost worse because one of them was barely speaking to her.
Harry Potter was considered by many to be the hero of the wizarding world. When he was just a baby, his parents had been killed by a curse that had moments later been aimed at him. The Darkest wizard of his time, Lord Voldemort, tried in vain to kill Harry and only succeeded in sending himself back into hiding for thirteen years after the curse rebounded off of Harry and hit Voldemort instead. Now, though, Voldemort was back, and Harry was in more danger than ever. Not only that, but his godfather Sirius, the closest thing to a parent he'd ever known, had been murdered just a month ago, sending Harry into the deepest of depression.
He was writing, but his letters were short and nondescript. He seemed incredibly distant and didn't seem to want to communicate very much. He'd written once that he was being allowed to use the telephone, but he hadn't once phoned her even though she knew that he had her number. Luckily, though, she had expected as much.
At the end of the school term, Harry had started putting as much space between himself and his friends as possible. Hermione hadn't blamed him; it wasn't really as though she or their other best friend, Ron Weasley, could empathize with him very much. They were sad, too, that Sirius had died, but he hadn't been their godfather, and they still had both of their parents. Harry probably felt as if they didn't understand, and truthfully, they didn't.
Ron, on the other hand, was writing her more often than he normally did. She suspected that this had more to do with him being bored than it did with anything else. He normally spent much of his summer writing to Harry, but Harry had apparently cut him off as well, and he had taken to writing Hermione instead. It wasn't as if she minded hearing from Ron, though; on the contrary, she enjoyed his letters immensely. As much as he was a prat, he was extremely hilarious, and even his written words had the potential to make her laugh.
Hermione pushed aside the book she was trying to read, finding it far too boring to keep her attention. Sighing, she stood up and started pacing her room, trying to find something to do. Her parents were still at work, and she didn't have a clue as to when they'd be back.
A letter caught her attention, and she picked it up and read it for what was probably the millionth time. A smile played on her lips despite her already sullen mood; she couldn't help but be pleased every time she saw the words.
Dear Miss Granger,
It is with great pride that we send the result of Ordinary Wizarding Levels. Please take these marks into consideration as you plan the rest of your wizarding education. Your school, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, will be contacting you soon with a suggested schedule.
The grading scale for the Ordinary Wizarding Levels is as follows: O- Outstanding, E- Exceeds Expectations, A- Acceptable, P- Poor, D- Dreadful, and T- Troll. Please keep in mind that all scored of O, E, or A are considered passing.
Your scores are listed below.
Ancient Runes- O
Care of Magical Creatures- O
Defense Against the Dark Arts- O
History of Magic- O
Your total number of O.W.L.s scored is ten.
The Federation of National Wizarding Examinations
She'd received straight Os and had, therefore, exceeded any and all hopes that she had possibly had. The exams had been horribly strenuous, but she had finished them feeling overall strongly about her performance; she was a bit worried about a few of them and certainly hadn't expected to receive nothing but Os, but she was pleased beyond belief.
Her Head of House and Hogwarts adviser had sent her a letter two days after the receipt of her scores. Professor McGonagall had seemed overly pleased with the results as well and had praised Hermione immensely, stating that she had never had a student receive perfect scoring with that many attempted O.W.L.s. But since Hermione had still not decided on a career, her professor hadn't been able to set a suggested schedule. Hermione didn't care, though; she had planned on continuing with all of her subjects anyway.
She had, of course, written to Harry and Ron right away to get their scores, and though she'd been a bit apprehensive about their results, she had been overall happy with theirs as well. They'd each done pretty well on the whole.
Harry had received a P in Astronomy, but Hermione wasn't surprised as they had witnessed the arrest of Hagrid and the stunning of Professor McGonagall that night. His Care of Magical Creatures score was better; he'd received an E. Charms had also gained him an E, and he had received an O in Defense Against the Dark Arts. The only subject he'd attempted that she hadn't was Divination, and he had, as expected, failed that O.W.L with a D. He'd managed to pull an A in Herbology, but had failed History of Magic with a P; Hermione had expected as much, though, because he'd fainted in the middle of the exam and left the hall before finishing. His most surprising score by far, though, was his Potions one; somehow, none of them had yet figured it out, he had managed to pull an O on the exam. This was shocking, of course, because he'd barely scraped by in the subject ever since their first year. His Transfiguration score was also quite good; he'd received an E and seemed quite pleased about it. His grand total of O.W.L.s was six, and though that didn't match Hermione's ten, it was still quite good.
Ron's scores, though, had surprised her greatly. His Astronomy score had ended up being A, despite the interruption of the night. Care of Magical Creatures and Charms had both earned him Es. Defense Against the Dark Arts had earned him an E, but he, too, had failed the Divination exam with a P. He'd gotten an E in Herbology and had managed to get an A in History of Magic even though he had never once listened to Professor Binns and even though Harry had caused such worry during the examination. Somehow, he, too, had gotten an O in Potions, which had shocked him so much that he said he dropped the letter with the results when he saw it. And while Transfiguration had never been his strongest subject, he'd studied enough to get an E. His grand total of O.W.L.s earned came out to eight.
Hermione couldn't help but feel proud at the results of her best friends; she knew they were smart, and she'd been telling them so for five years. It was because she knew they had such potential that she constantly bugged them about studying and nagged them about their lack of motivation.
She groaned as the full heat of the day set in upon her. Even in the confines of her air-conditioned bedroom, she was still burning up. It had to be the hottest day ever, and she went over to her closet to find something cooler than the jeans and t-shirt she was currently wearing. Pulling out a tank top and a pair of shorts, she started shedding her clothes to change. But as she pulled her shirt over her head, she stopped and stared into the closet mirror.
"Why won't it go away?" she whispered to herself, fingering the large purplish bruise that was still evident on her lower abdomen. She frowned and winced slightly at her own touch.
Her mother had spotted the bruise when Hermione had fallen asleep on the couch one afternoon, and her shirt had risen up just enough to display the mark. When she asked about it, though, Hermione had lied and said she'd gotten the bruise after tripping over her trunk and landing hard on the corner. She certainly hadn't told her the truth- that the bruise was the result of a Death Eater's hex that had knocked her out cold for several hours. And she definitely hadn't told her mother that the hex had occurred just minutes after one of the Death Eater's mates had sent the Killing Curse at her and just narrowly missed.
She was, after all, anything but stupid.
No, she remembered perfectly how her parents had reacted after she'd spent the last part of her second year Petrified. Her father had flat out refused to let her return to Hogwarts, and no amount of pleading changed his mind. Hermione had even pitched what was probably only the third temper tantrum of her life, but it had resulted in nothing except getting her grounded for a month. And even her mum, who usually defended her and sided with her, stood firm with her father in his insistence that Hogwarts was not a safe place for her. She'd written a tear-stained letter to Ron, begging him for help, and he'd gotten his father to brave the telephone long enough to speak with her own dad and assure him that Hogwarts was perfectly safe and that the monster that had attacked his daughter was very much dead. Finally, they had given in and agreed to let her return.
She hadn't mentioned a single even slightly dangerous event since.
Not wanting to look at the reminder of that night back in June, she tugged the tank top on and slid into the denim shorts. Her hair was already tugged into a ponytail because she couldn't even bare to think of what it would like with all the humidity and her sweating like she was.
Suddenly, though, a tiny little furball zoomed to her window and started pecking at it incessantly. She recognized it immediately and hurried over to let it in, heaving her heavy window up and shutting it after the tiny owl flew in and started fluttering around her bedroom madly.
"Pig!" she said firmly, diving for it just as it made a zoom for her bedroom door. Pigwidgeon, Ron's owl, was hooting fondly as he tried to cuddle underneath Hermione's chin after she caught him and started tugging at the letter it was clutching. The writing on the envelope, though, wasn't Ron's- it was his sister's, Ginny's.
Hermione opened the letter, already knowing what it was about. Ginny only ever wrote about one thing- boys.
Hermione had listened to Harry, Harry, Harry for years while Ginny was suffering from her massive, one-sided crush on the Boy-Who-Lived, and she'd been forced to take in every possible detail of Ginny's first real boyfriend, Michael Corner. Now, she was rattling on about Dean Thomas. Hermione still had to stifle a giggle every time she thought about Ron's expression when Ginny had informed him that she was dating one of his roommates.
Still, though, Hermione was having a bit of trouble imagining Ginny and Dean together- not that she didn't understand why Ginny liked Dean, though. He was fairly smart and funny and nice and quite cute. There were lots of boys like that at Hogwarts; the problem was, though, that they all liked girls who looked like Ginny Weasley.
Ginny was gorgeous, to say the very least. She had a long, thick sheet of straight red hair that hung well past her shoulders. She was still very petite and small, but her small frame didn't do anything except make her cuter. She had milky white skin that Hermione had never seen have so much as a single spot, and a sprinkle of freckles covered the bridge of her nose and settled on the tops of her cheeks. And she had the hugest brown eyes, too, and not the dull average brown like Hermione's but a deep dark chocolate brown.
Of course, Hermione considered everything about herself quite average. She had average brown eyes and average brown hair (even if it was a bit... well, big). She was average height, and she considered her body just average, too. Even though she was nearly sixteen, she still hadn't developed some of the curves that most of her classmates had come into a few years ago. She was pretty much just thin and flat.
And boys didn't like average.
Even Harry and Ron, who she would have liked to think weren't that superficial, had proved her wrong and shown themselves as being completely blinded by beauty. Harry had spent three years drooling over Cho Chang, who was, as a vast understatement, beautiful; he'd been completely taken with her even though he'd never even had a real conversation with her. However, when he had gotten up his courage to actually talk (and do a bit more than talk) with Cho, he'd realized that they didn't have any real connection at all. And Ron was even worse- he'd made a complete prat out of himself when they were in fourth year, asking some stupid, French, half-Veela to the Yule Ball. And where was that Veela at now? Shacked up in a London flat with Ron's oldest brother; Hermione thought it was quite humorous actually.
But what could really expect from teenage boys?
She focused her attention back on the letter and unfolded the parchment. Rolling her eyes, she saw that she had been exactly right in her prediction that Ginny was writing about boys.
'Dean invited me to a Muggle football match next week. I don't know anything about it! Help!'
Well, it wasn't as if sports was one of her area of expertise, but Hermione got out her own writing supplies and started a letter back, trying very hard to remember as much about the rules as she could.
For the first time ever, Ron Weasley was outnumbered by females.
His father was working so much overtime these days that Ron often wondered why he hadn't just set up a camp bed at the office and started sleeping there; after all, he came home so late at night anyway and left right after breakfast each morning. And none of his brothers were at home, either. Bill had just started renting a flat in London, and he had a new 'roommate' that he hadn't yet introduced to the family; new roommate must be code for much younger, gorgeous French half-Veela. Charlie was still in Romania, apparently with a new girlfriend of his own, a fellow dragon trainer from Spain named Luisa. As for Percy, well, he'd had no choice but to acknowledge the fact that You-Know-Who was back, but he'd made no effort whatsoever to reconcile with his family, and Ron personally hoped he never did because as far as he was concerned, they were all much better off without that stupid prat. The twins were gone now, too, having done exceptionally well with their joke shop and now able to afford just about anything they wanted. They were renting a flat in Diagon Alley, just a block away from their store; Ron reckoned it was pretty good that they'd moved out because they're mum still wasn't too pleased with the fact that they'd simply flown out of school without finishing.
So, now it was just Ron and his mother and his only sister, Ginny.
And it was completely bloody annoying!
He'd had just about enough of being the only male around; it just wasn't natural for him to be the only boy. He'd grown up in a house that had the ratio of seven to two, and now it was two to one. It just wasn't fair!
The worst thing of all, though, was the fact that his mother had now decided he could take care of all the manual labor, leaving him with more chores than could possibly be considered fair. It was stupid, of course, because Ginny could do all the same things; she could throw a gnome as far as any of her brothers, and she could just as easily yank up the overgrown weeds as Ron could. But his mother didn't seem to be of the same opinion; instead, Ginny was spending her time inside, pretending to be interested in the new recipes their mum was so keen to teach her and acting as though she actually enjoyed learning how to knit.
It was a lie, of course, and Ginny knew that Ron was onto her faking as well as she knew it herself. But it wouldn't have done any good at all to blow her cover because Ginny would just accuse him of lying and proclaim that she couldn't possibly think of a better way to spend the summer than learning how to take care of the house; she was quite a good actress when it came to fooling their parents. But Ron knew the truth; the only reason she was pretending to be interested in those things was so that she could stay inside instead of out in the blazing hot sun that had suddenly decided to take residence over England.
Ron decided just one thing as he picked up a particularly wrinkly gnome and hurled it over the garden wall: He was perfectly sick of women.
Well, that was if he was going to consider Ginny a woman, which he definitely wasn't. Because she was just a little girl, a little girl who definitely wasn't snogging older boys or taking invitations to Muggle football matches from them, either.
Stupid Dean Thomas.
And what the hell was that about anyway? Dean Thomas, oh, come on. Well, at least he was better than Michael Corner, but that wasn't saying much. Dean had plenty of flaws himself, even if he wasn't a right shady bloke like ol' Corner was. Dean's marks were okay, but he goofed off a lot in class; it was very difficult for him to take things seriously in any situation. And he was just downright obsessed with Muggle football, so, of course, he had written inviting Ginny along to a match, knowing fully well that she probably didn't know anything about the sport.
When did Ginny get so old anyway? Okay, so she was eleven months younger than him, but eleven months was a lot. She was still too young to be running around with boys, and she was definitely too young to be doing anything else. And if he ever saw anything else, well, Dean Thomas better just hope he was able to outrun a very upset older brother.
And not only was Ginny spending her summer lying to their mother, running off to Muggle sporting events with people she called her boyfriend, no, she was also so moody that Ron didn't know how he was going to make it through the summer without murdering her. What was with girls and their mood swings, anyway? It was like they could go from happy to angry to blubbering with the drop of a hat.
And Ginny wasn't even anything compared to Hermione.
Hermione was perhaps the moodiest person on the planet. One minute, she was happy and smiling, and then the next she was screaming her head off and bursting into tears; it was insane, really. Why couldn't girls just be normal?
Of course, Hermione had never been the easiest girl to deal with. She was incredibly bossy and somewhat of a know-it-all, and it was also very easy for her to get far too carried away with outrageous schemes. There were times when he really didn't like her (mostly when she was calling him the 'most insensitive wart she'd ever had the displeasure of meeting' or when she was writing huge, novel-length letters to grumpy Bulgarian prats), but she was okay most the time. And sometimes, she was even better than okay.
"Want some help?"
Ron looked up just in time to see Ginny strolling up with a butterbeer and looking extremely at ease. He sneered at her.
"What's the matter? Run out of older blokes to write to?"
"Shut up, Ron," she said lazily. She balanced the bottle between her teeth and bent down to grasp a giggling gnome by its ears and spun around for good leverage before sending it flying a good forty feet over the fence. "Not bad," she commended herself as she lowered the bottle.
"Yeah, so you can count that as your one real chore of the summer," said Ron with a shrug.
Ginny pursed her lips. "Excuse me, but you must think it's all fun and games what I'm doing."
"Yeah, pretty much."
"Well, you're wrong," she said briskly. "Mum is just a bit mad when it comes to cooking, and if I hear, 'You're stirring it the wrong way, Virginia!' one more time, I'm going to strangle her!"
"Well, then perhaps you ought to tell her that you don't really enjoy it as much as you've been letting on."
"What? And spend all day out here with you? I don't think so." She took a sip of her butterbeer and offered it out to him. He took it and finished it in one drink.
"Has Dad come home at all?" Ron chucked the bottle to the side and lunged for another gnome.
Ginny shook her head. "No, but he popped in through the fire for a second. I don't know what he wanted, though, because Mum made me leave the kitchen."
Ron frowned. "Why're they always sending us out whenever they want to talk? I mean, it's not like we don't know what's going on."
"Well, maybe we don't really," said Ginny with a shrug. "You know Mum doesn't want us to know anything the Order's doing because she thinks we're too young."
"Not for long," he answered resolutely. "I've only got eight months until I'm seventeen, and then they can't keep anything from me."
To his surprise, though, Ginny just laughed and plopped herself onto the garden ground. "You're completely crazy if you think that's going to change anything. Mum is still going to find a way to keep you out."
"She couldn't with Fred and George," he said firmly, giving up momentarily on the degnoming and joining her in the grass. "And I'm already way more involved than they were."
"Exactly the reason she'll find a way to keep you out." She picked at a blade of grass and glanced up, squinting in the bright sunlight. "Mum's already worried out of her mind about you as it is, so there's no way in hell she's just going to give up and let you get in even more danger than you're already in."
"She can't stop me. She can't keep acting like I'm ten years old."
"Perhaps if you stopped behaving like you were..."
Ron glared at her, but she just beamed sweetly.
"Oh, you know perfectly well that Mummy isn't going to let her precious ickle Ronniekins hear anything his little ears can't handle."
He didn't break the glare. "Shove it, Ginny before I shove it for you."
"That might be painful."
Ron was just about to retort with something quite rude when their mother's voice drifted toward them from the direction of the house. "Ron, Ginny! Come inside!"
Ron, thankful for a chance to drop the degnoming, jumped to his feet and headed off toward the Burrow with his sister hurrying along behind. It was blistering hot, and the sun was bearing down on them even more brutally than it had been in the slight shade of the garden, and he was thankful for the coolness of the house when he entered through the back door.
"Shut the door, shut the door," said his mum briskly. "You're letting the cool out."
Ginny shut the door and slid into place beside Ron. "Is lunch ready?"
"Yes, no thanks to you." She handed them both plates and shooed them toward the table. "I could have used your help, Ginny," she said disapprovingly, sitting down with them.
Ginny looked up sheepishly from her sandwich and offered an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Mum, I was helping Ron."
Ron resisted the urge to remind her that her 'help' included a single gnome and a bunch of talking. Instead, he took a drink of lemonade and attempted to slip in a sly question. "Is Dad coming home for lunch?"
"No." His mother took a small bite of her own sandwich and answered curtly. "He's very busy."
"Ginny said he called earlier."
"He did." That was as far as her answer went.
Ron wanted to ask more, but a loud hooting interrupted him, and a tiny, fluttering ball of fur burst in through the open window and started soaring around the room.
"Oh, somebody control that bird!" His mum had long ago lost her patience for a lot of things, Pigwidgeon being one of them.
Ron stood on his chair and snatched Pig just as he flew by his head. He wrapped his hands tightly around the tiny bird's neck and tore the letter from its grasp. He jumped off his chair and shoved a few crumbs of bread crust toward Pig before sitting back down and looking at the letter.
He recognized Hermione's handwriting, but it wasn't addressed to him. "It's for you," he handed the letter over to Ginny and tried very hard to ignore the disappointment that he felt at not being the intended recipient.
Ginny tore open the seal and started reading immediately. A grin spread over her face that made Ron quite curious as to what was so amusing.
"What did Hermione write you?"
"Recognize her handwriting, do you?" Ginny glanced at him over the parchment. "Well, I expect you would, as I'm sure you copy off of her enough."
Ron looked immediately at his mother, who was staring at him with an expectant look. "I don't!" he said defensively. It was the truth, he didn't copy off of her nearly enough. "And anyway, why's she writing you?"
"Maybe because she likes me, you prat."
Ron wanted very much to slap her, but he somehow didn't think he would get away with that when his mum was sitting right across the table.
Oddly enough, though, Ginny finished the answer to his question anyway. "I asked her to tell me about football."
"What's so funny about that?"
"Well," said Ginny snickering, "she's telling me what she can remember of the rules from primary school. I was just trying to picture her playing."
The visual of Hermione playing any sport was quite hard to imagine, but Ron got a sudden image in his head of her playing Quidditch in her Hogwarts uniform. Blinking a couple of times to get the picture out of his mind, he hastened to change the subject. "So, Mum, did Dad say when the next meeting of the Order is?"
"It's none of your concern if he did."
"Well, when are we going back to Grimmauld Place?"
"I don't know if we are," she said sharply. "So, stop worrying about it."
Ron rolled his eyes, but he knew well enough to stop when he was ahead. His mother had a very short fuse lately, and she was very likely to start shouting at him relentlessly if he pushed her too far. But he still couldn't understand what the big deal was; Sirius had left Grimmauld Place to Lupin, and Lupin had agreed to keep it as the headquarters, but so far, it seemed as if there were very little going on with the Order; at least Ron wasn't aware of it if there was. Still, though, he couldn't resist just one final question.
"Well, did Dad have anything important to say when you talked to him?"
"Yes!" she said, suddenly fiercely and standing up. "He said for you to shut up and stop being so nosy!" She glared at him and stomped off toward the sink where she dropped her sink and then left the room, slamming the door behind her.
Ron and Ginny shared a silent look of confusion.
Ministry Official Dismissed; More Facing Inquiries
Kingsley Shacklebolt, long-time respected Auror, has been dismissed from his position with the Ministry of Magic after an extensive investigation into his performance.
Shacklebolt has been employeed with the Aurors for eighteen years, and he was placed in charge of the team assigned to track down and recapture escaped murderer Sirius Black. Black escaped from Azkaban three years ago after serving twelve years of his lifetime sentence; believed to be in the service of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Black has been one of the Aurors main priorities, and Shacklebolt headed up the team responsible for his recapture.
However, after a spectacular turn of events last month which resulted in Black's demise and the reappearance of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Shacklebolt was put under investigation by the Ministry. He was found guilty of being involved in a secret organization called 'The Order of the Phoenix.' 'The Order of Phoenix' is comprised of several witches and wizards and is believed to have been formed as a direct opposition to the Ministry. Not only was Shacklebolt a member of this secret organization, he was also working side-by-side with Sirius Black the entire time he was supposed to be working on the recapture of the prisoner.
Shacklebolt was dismissed from his position yesterday and is possibly facing other charges, including but not limited to treason.
Shacklebolt was not the only Ministry employee found to be involved in 'The Order of the Phoenix,' and there are now others facing inquiries that will quite possibly lead to investigations. Another member of the Aurors, twenty-eight year old Nymphadora Tonks, has admitted to being involved with the group and has openly agreed to her proceeding inquiry. Another Ministry employee, Mr. Arthur Weasley, head of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts, has also openly admitted to being a member of the group.
When asked about the possibility of his dismissal and other charges, Weasley seemed quite passive. "The charge of treason is ludicrous," he said vindictively to a group of reporters yesterday afternoon after being informed of Kingsley's dismissal. "The definition of treason is to trade secrets to the enemy. None of us have traded any of the Ministry's secret because none of us believe or have any interest in anything that the Ministry has to say about the return of You-Know-Who."
The other members of 'The Order of the Phoenix' have yet to be formally identified, but Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, admits to having his suspicions. "Yes, we definitely have an idea of who else is involved with this abomination of insubordination, but we have no control over the occupations of anyone not employed by the Ministry. We at the Ministry, though, would like to express our complete and total outrage at the blatant discourse, which was clearly the main intention of this 'Order of the Phoenix.' "
"Bloody wonderful!" Harry Potter stared in disgust at the copy of The Daily Prophet in front of him for a moment before chucking it across the room in a fit of many rage.
The stupid Ministry was shoving their nose in where it didn't belong, and people were losing their jobs because of it! Not just any people, either- Kingsley, who had sacrificed so much for the Order and done Sirius such an honorable favor by keeping his secret. And Tonks, who didn't even have the benefit of a long career behind her. And Mr. Weasley!
Mr. Weasley, who had given Harry food from his table, a bed to sleep in, a roof over his head on countless occasions. Mr. Weasley, who was probably the hardest working person in the world and probably one of the very few who cared so much for his family that he would put in countless hours working just to support them.
And now what good had any of it done him?
He was going to be investigated, probably lose his job, and maybe even have formal charges brought against him. It was just one more thing to add to the already long list of things Harry was blaming himself for.
He got up and started pacing his bedroom, finally stopping beside his small window and peering out at the street below. It looked exactly as it had for years, each house the same as the next, each yard perfectly groomed, each car equally expensive. He scowled and wondered when his uncle would be back from work. Aunt Petunia was downstairs, and Dudley had run off to meet some of his mates for 'afternoon tea,' but Uncle Vernon was still at work. Harry wondered vaguely if he'd somehow struck and important deal, perhaps sold an extra large shipment of drills.
Things weren't as bad at Privet Drive as they had been before. His relatives were still anything but nice to him, but they weren't all that horrible, either. Harry knew, of course, that this was all due to the fact that they were probably very scared of one Mad-Eye Moody, but it didn't matter. If they were tolerable, things weren't quite so miserable.
Bypassing the discarded newspaper that he'd just flung across the room, he walked over to his trunk and pulled it open. He still hadn't completely unpacked from Hogwarts and wasn't really planning on doing so anytime soon. It was almost useless, as he would just have to pack it right back up before too long anyway. He dropped to his knees and started rummaging through it for something to do to get his mind off of everything. His copy of Quidditch Through the Ages was buried underneath a large pile of wrinkled school shirts that he had hastily thrown into his trunk in way of packing at the end of the term, so he pulled it out with the intent of reading it for what could possibly be the thousandth time.
However, just as he sat down at his desk, a loud pecking drew his attention, and he looked over at his window to see an unfamiliar owl beating its beak against the pane. Not knowing whose bird it was, Harry got up and opened his window; the owl soared in and sat obediently on the back post of his bed. The letter it was carrying was addressed to him in writing that he didn't recognize, so, as his curiosity got the best of him, he removed it from the owl's talons and slit open the scroll.
You're probably wondering how I got your address, aren't you? Ginny Weasley told me where you lived, though I am pretty sure she only did so to get me to stop writing to her. I hope you don't mind, but I wanted to tell you that my father wants to give you a free subscription to The Quibbler. You made him a lot of money with that interview, and he says it's only polite to return the favor.
We've recently gone on holiday to Sweden with the money Daddy made selling your interview to The Daily Prophet. We didn't catch any Crumple-Horned Snoracks, but we did meet a woman who claims she had a whole herd of Dinkleplums. Dad is going to feature her in next month's issue. It was just a shame that she didn't have them anymore, but they don't have very long life spans, of course.
We also visited my mother, well her gravesite, anyway. I don't get to go very often, as she is buried far away, but it is always nice to visit when I can. It makes my father sad, though, but I find it quite uplifting actually. I'm sure you know what I mean.
Well, that's really all I had to say, and if you want to write me back, you can. If you don't want to, though, that's okay; I'll understand. Please give Sonar an owl treat, though, because she gets very moody if she isn't rewarded for her work.
Say hello to your friends for me.
Harry stared at the letter for a moment after he finished it.
He certainly hadn't expected Luna to write him over the summer, but he found that he wasn't at all bothered that she had sought him out. He wondered, though, if Ginny really had given Luna his address just so she wouldn't write to her anymore. He doubted it because Ginny had seemed to grow quite fond of Luna towards the end of the year.
He had no idea what Dinkleplums were, but he wasn't at all surprised that the entire herd had 'died' out. Grinning despite himself, he read the letter again.
The other thing that really caught his eye was Luna talking about visiting her mother's gravesite. He was surprised that he himself had never wondered about where his parents were buried. He wondered if visiting their gravesites would make him depressed or if he would, as Luna, find it uplifting.
He wondered who would know where they were buried.
In a sudden fit of curiosity, he got up from his place on the bed and headed for his bedroom door, tossing a few treats to Luna's owl and closing his window so it couldn't leave. Then he went downstairs.
He entered the living room where his aunt was dusting and wondered briefly if he were completely mad. She was busy and probably wouldn't want to be bothered by his question.
She probably wouldn't answer anyway.
But he wanted to know, suddenly found that he needed to know. And he stood silently, waiting for his aunt to notice his presence.
Finally, she turned around and started at the sight of him.
"What are you doing?" she asked suspiciously.
Harry gathered up his Gryffindor courage and prepared himself. "I just wanted to ask you something."
"I'm busy," she said shortly, holding up the dust rag as proof.
He almost nodded and turned around to leave but stopped himself. "It'll only take a second, though."
"Oh, what is it?" she asked, clearly irritated at his interruption.
The question suddenly sounded very stupid in his head; asking Aunt Petunia sounded even stupider, but he knew that he would regret it if he didn't ask her when he had the chance. "Do you know where my parents are buried?"
She stared at him, obviously quite surprised that he had dared to do the one thing she'd always fussed at him about- asked a question about his parents. He realized she wasn't going to answer, but she shocked him in the next second and briskly said, "Up north somewhere, I suppose," and turned back around to resume dusting.
"But you don't know exactly where, do you?"
"How would I?" she asked sharply, spinning back around with an irritated look on her pointed face. "It's not as if your mother and I were on best of terms when she got herself killed."
There was something about her tone, something about the way she'd said, 'got herself killed' that made Harry suddenly angry. In a tone he realized could fairly be considered smart-aleck, he said, "Why not? Because she married my dad?"
Aunt Petunia glared at him for a moment and then answered in her signature pinched voice. "That wasn't even the half of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am busy."
"So you hated her because she was a witch?" he asked daringly, not at all deterred by her threatening look. He wasn't afraid of her; he was no longer the tiny boy she'd once bullied, and he wasn't scared of her anymore.
"You be quiet!" she said fiercely, glancing around as if the whole neighborhood had suddenly crowded into her living room and were waiting breathlessly to hear the rest of the conversation.
"Did you hate her from the first day she got her Hogwarts letter?" He stared back at her unblinkingly, demanding an answer with his stance.
"Hush!" she said again loudly. "Now go away."
He didn't move.
"I said go!" She pointed to the door warningly.
He wanted to continue his questioning, but he realized that there was no way she was going to say anything else. With a hateful glance at his aunt, he spun around and started to stalk about of the room. At the last second, though, he heard her sigh and say very, very quietly, "She didn't exactly like me, either."
Harry stopped dead in his tracks and turned around slowly. His aunt was now facing him with somewhat of a defeated look on her face. He had never seen her look so... well, he wasn't exactly sure what it was, but it was something he'd never imagined seeing on Aunt Petunia's face.
It was clear that she was waiting for him to continue the conversation, and he wanted to say something highly inquisitive since this was possibly going to be the only chance he ever had to ask questions like this of her, but all he came up with was, "But why did you hate each other so much?"
"We didn't hate each other," she said primly, pursing her lips slightly. "She was my sister. I didn't hate her."
Harry could hardly believe that this was happening, that his aunt was actually talking about his mother without referring to her as a freak. He couldn't believe that she was actually taking time to answer his questions after spending fifteen years pretending he didn't exist.
"We were just very different," she said simply with the air of someone who was explaining something quite uncomplicated. "That's all."
"Because she was a witch, and you weren't."
"We were very different before she even knew that," answered Aunt Petunia briskly. "We always were."
"She was older than you, wasn't she?" Harry couldn't remember ever speaking to his aunt without something of contempt in his tone, but now he was just amazed that this was actually happening, and he wanted to know everything he could because he was quite sure she wasn't going to continue talking for very long.
"Just by a year. But yes, she was older."
"And you never liked each other?"
"I didn't say that," she frowned. "I said we were different."
"But how were you different?" Harry took a step closer to her and perched himself on the armrest of the sofa, surprised when she didn't scold him immediately and demand that he get off.
Instead, though, she just looked toward the window and hesitated a moment, as if she were gathering her thoughts. Finally, though, she looked back to him and spoke very quietly; it was almost as if she was getting lost in her memories. "She was never much of a girl, even when we were very young. She always preferred climbing trees and catching frogs to playing with dolls, and I wasn't like that at all. She used to get irritated with me because I wouldn't want to play outside, and I would feel the same whenever she insisted on bringing some horrid insect to my tea parties." Aunt Petunia frowned slightly and said, "We just never had much in common. She would get in lots of trouble at school, and I was very quiet and cautious." Harry couldn't imagine his aunt being anything close to quiet and cautious, but he listened intently anyway. "But even though she caused all that trouble and spent all her time outside, our parents still thought she was magnificent."
Harry had the sudden image of his aunt being overshadowed by her older sister- sort of like Ron, in a way. He watched as her battle with herself showed through her features.
"It was always Lily this, and Lily that. She was a troublemaker with a smart mouth, and everyone still thought she was perfect."
Harry wanted to be upset that Aunt Petunia had just referred to his mother as a troublemaker with a smart mouth, but remembering Snape's pensieve, he realized that anything he had previously imagined his parents to be probably wasn't correct. His mother probably had been a troublemaker with a smart mouth.
"But what about you?" Harry looked over at her as he quietly asked the question. He wasn't sure where it had come from.
She stopped and stared at him. "What about me?" she asked, clearly a bit confused by his query.
"Well, what did people think about you?" He anticipated her blow-up right then, but to his surprise, she just paused and seemed to be considering the question.
"I was the good one," she said earnestly, pointing a finger to her chest. "I was the one that never caused any trouble at school. I was the quiet, polite one." She frowned. "But what did it get me?"
Harry knew that she was asking the question more to herself than she was to him; she certainly wasn't expecting an answer.
And suddenly, she didn't want to talk anymore.
"I'm busy," she said sniffily, clutching her dust rag tightly. "Now get out of my way."
Harry watched her silently for a moment more and somehow knew not to press the subject any further. He left the living room and wandered back upstairs to his room where he got out parchment and a quill. He was going to write Luna back.
And he was going to find out everything about his parents.
Well, there you have the first chapter of my new story. I hope you guys enjoyed it and want to read more because there's lots more to come! J
As always, feedback is greatly appreciated!