Chapter 23. The New Year

As Harry and the others boarded the train to head back to school, he thought hard about the past few weeks. Family; it was the one thing that stuck in his mind. The Weasleys were family. Even Dudley was trying…and then there was Ginny. In his wildest dreams he would never have imagined how much he felt for her was even possible.

As the trip progressed and friends stopped by, Harry felt comforted by the young witch beside him. In fact, he felt home.

As the carriages pulled up to the castle, the Headmaster made his way to the Great Hall. The meal tonight would not be as grand as the Welcoming feast in the fall, but it was no less important. As he nodded and smiled at the students making their way in, he watched as Harry and his friends entered the castle. There was a glow on their faces that made him smile; ah, to be young again!

"Ah, Mr. Potter. Would you join me in my office after dinner? We have some matters to discuss."

Harry glanced at Ginny then at the Headmaster. "Of course, sir. Should I come alone?"

The older wizard chuckled. "Why don't you bring Miss Weasley?" At Harry's nod and Ginny's grin, the Headmaster excused himself and went to his seat.


As Harry and Ginny entered the office, Fawkes sang a short burst of Phoenix song. Harry smiled at him as Dumbledore entered the room. "Ah there you two are!" He took his seat and offered them the customary lemon drop which they refused.

"Sir? Did something happen?"

"No, Harry. I just wanted to chat for a few minutes. I hope you two had a pleasant holiday?" At their nods he continued. "Oh, while I am thinking of it, thank you for the gifts. They are appreciated. Now on to the reason for you being here.

"Harry, I think it's time to increase your training. What do you think?"

"Well, sir…I have to protect my family. I do not think that I am ready yet, so any help you could give will be appreciated."

"Wonderful! And will Miss Weasley be joining you?"

Harry looked at Ginny before answering. "Sir, I think she will need to protect herself. But it's her decision." At this, Ginny smiled.

The Headmaster chuckled. "Evidently, young Harry, you made a wise decision."

Darkness. Cold.

That is all that the little boy could remember. After awhile, the young boy could hear things. His mother screamed. His father cried out in anguish then…silence.

David Creighton, a muggleborn photographer for the Daily Prophet, was driving home from visiting some muggle friends in Holyhead when he decided to stop off to visit his grandmother that lived near Caerwys. He was driving along a country road when he saw a large dark cloud moving toward a nearby village. Normally he would have thought nothing of it, as rainstorms were no stranger to Northern Wales; this one, however, was occurring in the late morning on a sunny day.

Pulling off the side of the road, David decided to pull out his camera to capture the event. Snapping off several shots, he adjusted his zoom lens and got the shock of his life; these were not storm clouds! There were dozens of dementors! He decided to go get help…and there was only one place he knew he could get it quickly. He apparated to the gates at Hogwarts and ran towards the doors.

Harry was just preparing to leave the Headmaster's office after a private discussion regarding his training when there was a knock on the door. He opened it and was surprised as Professor McGonagall pushed by him followed by a young man with sandy blonde hair dressed in muggle clothes and sporting a camera.

Dumbledore looked up in surprise. "Mr. Creighton! It's always a pleasure when one of our former students drops by to pay us a visit! However, I can tell from your expression this is not a social call. How can I help you?"

"Sir…dementors! Southwest of Caerwys near Pandy Cott! Hurry, sir!"

Harry watched as the Headmaster jumped up. "Don't worry, my boy. It's a good thing you were able to witness it. Harry, come here. You will join me. Minerva, contact the Order and any others you can find." He grabbed a cylinder from his desk and made a portkey. "Let's go, Harry."

As the two disappeared, David collapsed in a chair. "Blimey…and he took Harry Potter."

As Harry landed in a field next to his mentor, Professor McGonagall made several floo calls. Harry was just pulling his wand as he heard the tell-tale sounds of apparition signal the arrival of the first members of the Order.

Molly gasped when she realized Harry was standing before her. But the look in his eyes was the look of a warrior, not a sixteen year old boy. He smiled grimly at her before he turned to follow the Headmaster toward the village.

They fanned out in pairs and cautiously moved forward. Soon they encountered the first victims. They had already been kissed, so they moved on. Harry felt the cold from the dementors before he saw them. There were two moving towards a small boy. Harry felt his heart break; he knew that he could not reach him in time. His thoughts briefly turned to Ginny and what it would be like to have a boy like that of their own. Suddenly, a calm came over Harry; as he started to cast his Patronus, a nimbus of light exploded from him and a fairly solid shape of a stag leapt to the boy, scattering dementors.

Albus Dumbledore, having lived a very long life had thought he had seen everything. He was wrong. He felt the wave of magic from Harry before he turned and saw his protégé covered in light. He watched in awe as the stag leapt from Harry's wand without the incantation, and was staggered when a second stag followed shortly thereafter! He sent his own Phoenix Patronus to join Harry's, and soon the dementors fled, leaving behind dozens of victims and one very shocked Headmaster.

Harry, who did not realize what he had done, suddenly became aware of the silence. Knowing that they had won, he lowered his wand and carefully placed it back in its holster. Looking around, he saw the young boy. Slowly Harry approached him and sat down heavily beside him. "It's all right, little one. I won't let anyone harm you." As the young boy started to sob and hold on to Harry, the young wizard looked up into the face of his mentor and smiled. Then he promptly passed out.