(Of course, I am borrowing all Harry Potter characters, etc. from J.K. Rowling)

Chapter 1: On The Lookout

It was an unusually chilly July morning on Privet Drive, but few of the inhabitants of the quiet neighborhood were acknowledging it. Indeed, it seemed that the early morning gardeners and car-washers were intentionally ignoring this uncharacteristic change in the weather, as the stubbornly donned their T-shirts and shorts and began their weekend chores. The only person on Privet Drive who took any notice of the chill was a thin, knobbly kneed teenager who was perched by his bedroom window, atop an old desk, gazing intently into the distance.

Harry Potter was certainly aware of the cold breeze that blew back his hair and made him squint his strikingly green eyes. There was definitely something strange going on, and Harry felt a dull but familiar sense of worry flutter through him. He continued, however, to focus his attention on a house far down the street.

The house belonged to Mrs. Figg, a neighbor Harry had known most of his life. And though he still had not gotten over the shock of discovering that old Mrs. Figg was a member of the wizarding community to which Harry belonged, his interest in her home had very little to do with herself.

Only a few days ago, Harry had chanced to glimpse a familiar figure prowling the garden of the house: an unbelievably rigid looking tabby cat. Though Mrs. Figg owned several felines, Harry couldn't help but notice that this cat looked awfully like Professor Minerva McGonagall, his animagus Transfigurations teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry had not seen the cat again since the first day, though he watched night and day, but he had no plans of giving up. He was eager for any news from the wizarding world.

Though he kept up a relentless correspondence with his wizard friends, none of the mail-carrying owls brought anything to give him a clue as to what might be going on while he was locked away with his muggle relatives; everyone feared what might happen if any information fell into the wrong hands. Fear had rapidly swept of the people of the magical world after the Ministry of Magic had announced a month ago that the evil Lord Voldemort had returned after nearly fifteen years of peace.

As Harry's thoughts drifted to Lord Voldemort, he recalled with a pang of loneliness how much the Dark Wizard's deeds had affected his life. He was known throughout the wizarding world as the one who destroyed Voldemort all those years ago, when he was still just an infant. He realized now, though, that his own life had been destroyed that very day by the terrible wizard, who had killed both Harry's parents and was also responsible for the recent death of Harry's godfather, Sirius Black.

Harry had been trying not to think about Sirius since he had arrived back at the Dursleys' this summer, but no matter how hard he tried to forget, images of Sirius' last moments kept slipping into his thoughts. Even now Harry tried the push the memory away, but could not stop himself from reliving his godfather's defeat by a Deatheater, one of Voldemort's loyal followers. A painful pressure built up in Harry's chest as he fought once more against the angry roar which struggled to escape him, but he knew all too well that if he did let it out, he could not stop there. So, he did all he could to control himself, knowing that his ribs were too sore and his eyes were too red to cry anymore.

Finally, with a deep sigh, Harry opened his eyes and looked again out the window with a feeling of overwhelming helplessness. For the past month he had been fighting a constant battle against the grief that threatened to overcome him. What he missed most about Sirius was having someone to confide in-someone to comfort and advise him. But Sirius was gone now, just when Harry needed him most.

He turned again to the window and forced his eyes back onto Mrs. Figg's lawn, but still couldn't clear his mind. At the end of last term, Harry had learned something which had haunted him ever since. After avoiding subject for many years, Harry's headmaster, Professor Dumbledore had decided to tell the truth about his destiny. A prophecy, uttered before Harry was even born, declared that he, Harry, was destined either to destroy Voldemort, or die by his hand. Though he felt like a coward, hiding away and refusing to face the inevitable, Harry knew he wasn't ready to confront his future, or Lord Voldemort. And so, roughly shaking his head, he started watching again for the elusive tabby, rather than think of the terrible fate which awaited him outside his aunt and uncle's house.

He set his face against the cool wind and prepared to watch for a long time. So intent was Harry on watching the house that he didn't even notice as a sleek, furry animal darted up through his second story window and landed gracefully on the desk beside him.