AUTHOR'S NOTE Newest fic time! Yay! Okay, so just a few notes. Actually, only one. When I say that the first innocent person Harry saw die was Cedric, I mean that he didn't really see his parents die because he was only one. Or, at least he doesn't remember it.

DISCLAIMER Don't own anyone…I'm just borrowing them for a little while.

Harry Potter's life was defined by death. Death had shaped him, molding his life into what it was. It was because of death that he was who he was. From toddler to teenager, everything was about death.

Lily and James Potter were the first to die. His parents. Harry was only one year old that night that Voldemort had attacked. They had died to protect him. In doing so, they forged an unbreakable bond. Harry was forever blessed with the gift of love.

Ten years went by and Harry's life was quiet. His eleventh year, marked by his entrance to Hogwarts, began a new deadly cycle. Who knew that the quiet, stuttering Professor Quirrell was possessed by Voldemort's evil spirit? In Harry's second face-off against the Dark Lord, Professor Quirrell was the unfortunate victim. And it was Harry himself who inadvertently killed him.

Harry was fourteen the first time he saw someone innocent die. Cedric Diggory, Hogwarts champion for the Tri-Wizard tournament, was only in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the blink of an eye, he was dead. That night, Voldemort was resurrected.

But the last year was by far the most painful. Sirius Black, Harry's beloved godfather, was in battle with Voldemort's Death Eaters. Two words, a bright green light, and Sirius was gone forever. Thinking of him drove a knife through Harry's heart. He was part of that battle. He should have done something to save him.

Now, at the start of his 6th year, unease had settled back over Hogwarts. Harry could feel something was wrong. The wizarding world had finally accepted that Voldemort was alive and no one thought he was crazy anymore. But something other than Voldemort was wrong.


The boy turned away from the window of the train and looked at the redhead across the compartment. "Huh?"

Ron Weasley, owner of the red hair and Harry's best friend, pretended to look hurt. "Staring out the window's more interesting that us?"

Harry laughed. "Of course not! I was just thinking."

"About what?" asked Hermione Granger. She was the third member of their group: the brains that got them through everything. And they had been through everything.

"Just about this year," Harry answered.

"Are you worried?"

Harry looked at Hermione, who did look worried. "No," he lied.

Ron looked at him doubtfully. "Come on, Harry. We were there with you. People understand now how powerful You-Know-Who is."

"For Heaven's sake Ron!" Hermione cried. "Will you please stop saying You-Know-Who? Just say his name!" She turned to Harry. "If you are worried, it's perfectly understandable."

Harry smiled gratefully at his friends. "I wonder how Hogwarts will be different this year," he said.

"More security," Hermione answered. "That's for sure."

"Not the Dementors again!" Ron cried. Harry shuddered. His memories of the black-robed, soul-sucking Azkaban guards were less than pleasant.

"No," he replied. "Not the Dementors. Now that Voldemort's back…" Ron cringed at the sound of the name. "Who knows where their loyalties lie."

"That's true," Hermione mused. She sighed and stared out the window. The three students all grew quiet.

Harry tried to keep his mind off of Voldemort. But the nearer they drew toward Hogsmeade and Hogwarts itself, more memories of the past years grew stronger. He couldn't help but picture the Great Hall, usually so cheerful, draped in black mourning Cedric Diggory. He saw Sirius' body falling almost gracefully and disappearing through the mysterious black veil that had haunted Harry every night since.

Harry sighed quietly, knowing that it would be a difficult year at best. He tried to shake off that feeling he'd had – that dull foreboding feeling that something else was going to happen.

"Would be difficult" was an understatement.


Ron looked up and down the Gryffindor table at all of the new students. This year was going to be different; he could feel it.

It was strange to be among nearly the oldest students at the school. After growing up with five older brothers and only a younger sister for company, Ron was used to being the youngest and smallest and most picked on. Ginny was a girl and therefore untouchable. Sure, Fred and George, the mischief-making twins, teased her sometimes, but they never seriously picked on her.

But now, there were five classes of students younger than him and only one older. It was an interesting feeling, this superiority.

All of his older brothers were supposed to have left Hogwarts by now, but Fred and George were taking two days off a week to take class. Their joke shop in Diagon Alley was outrageously successful, but their spectacular departure from Hogwarts the year before left them technically not finished school. Dumbledore had invited them back to finish. Ron guessed he'd been bored without them.

There was something else mixed with that superior feeing though. Something felt…darker. It wasn't the feeling that accompanied fear of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. It was something else.

Ron wasn't used to these strange feelings. Harry could feel things coming, not him. But he could tell something was coming. It almost felt like whatever it was was already here.

Ron's eyes widened and he suddenly knew. You-Know-Who wasn't the real danger, at least not this year. Whatever was was already at Hogwarts.