Chapter One: Letters from Privet Drive

"Oh, come on Hedwig, you know you're my lady," Harry said in a comforting tone. "There isn't an owl alive that can match you. I just need another owl for the summer holiday. I promise that I'll give it to a friend at the end of the summer."

Harry was beginning to get exasperated. "I'm gonna have a lot of post this summer and what would I do if you were never here? I'd miss you terribly." This last remark seemed to get his lovely snowy owl's attention. Hedwig paused for a moment. She then gave him a loving look and a soft hoot of agreement.

Harry smiled at her then said in soft tones "Just take this note and give it to anyone at headquarters. Then go to Diagon Alley to the owl shop. I wrote a note saying you would choose the owl, ok?"

Harry received another soft hoot.

"I know you won't find an owl as incredible as you are, but do the best you can." Hedwig leaned in to nip his ear affectionately, gave another soft hoot, and then proceeded out into the dawn sky.

Dear Fred and George,

How is the store coming along? I hope to get the chance to see it sometime. Unfortunately I doubt it will be any time soon. Look, I hate to ask this but I need a favor. I've ordered several things from Flourish and Botts, and from several other shops around Diagon Alley. One of the items is a sorcerer's trunk, which can't be sent by owl. I need someone to collect all the books and equipment I ordered, pack them into this trunk and arrange middle of the night delivery using the Knight bus. And the biggest favor of all is forgetting all about it afterwards. Let me know if you two are willing to help a mate out.


Well after midnight Harry Potter sat at his desk finishing his Transfiguration summer work. Looking out the window he saw a pair of owls crossing the moon heading right for him. Harry smiled and made room by the window for his old and new owls. Hedwig floated onto his shoulder while another stunning snowy owl landed on his desk. Harry knelt down with a broad smile to stroke his new owl.

"Hello my new friend," he said softly. "I see my Hedwig found herself a beautiful male friend." He looked to his shoulder and saw Hedwig give him a bashful look. Harry couldn't help but chuckle, but he couldn't understand why he suddenly thought of Ginny.

Dear Ron and Hermy,

I'm writing this letter to the both of you because I need to tell you both the same things, and I don't think I can bear to write it all twice, so I'll just copy them. You may have noticed that the owl that delivered these letters is not Hedwig. She's fine; I just needed another owl for the summer. His name is Snuffles. A small tribute I suppose, guess Sirius has been on my mind. What with having to send a message to headquarters every 3 days, and having the owl stay with Hermione, in case she has a response, or needs to send something out, there is little time for the extensive use I'm putting Hedwig to. I'll explain what I mean after I get to the point of this letter.

I really need to apologize to the two of you. I've been a total prat the entire year, and to top it off I nearly got us all killed. Forgive me if this isn't all written that well, I have a tough time expressing myself. So I reckon it's better in a letter than in person. I love you both very much, you two are the first friends I ever had, you are a brother and sister to me, and if I ever lost either one of you....well I don't think I could bear it. I know I wasn't a good friend this year, I know I was moody and snappish and a real moron most of the time. But you two didn't deserve it. My temper was out of control most of the time and you two usually got the receiving end of it. It was totally unfair. Ron, your family is the only one I've ever known, and I can't help thinking about how much danger I've put them in, just by being your friend; and not a very good one at that. I promise that I will try harder to be a better friend to you both, that I will try to control my temper and my hazardous instincts, and if I fail sometimes I hope you can forgive me and remember how much I care for you both. I've never told anyone this, but last year, when the dementors came after me-- well you know you need to think happy thoughts to make it work, and I was feeling so terrible. I couldn't do it, I was gonna die. The last thought I had was of you two; that was my happy thought. That's what saved my life. I just thought you should know. I hope that expresses how I feel about you two better than I could tell you.

It's been a little over 2 weeks since I've last seen you, and I miss you both terribly. I haven't left the house since I got here. I've rarely left my room except to eat (on occasion) and use the bath. I haven't been sleeping much either—nightmares, you know. Don't worry, they aren't that kind, I've been practicing Occlumency every day since I've been home, and I can usually block him out completely. These are just regular nightmares, I dream of Sirius and that night every time I close my eyes, usually accompanied by Cedric and the end of the Triwizard Tournament. God I miss Sirius, still hurts so much...Well it's given me ample time to work and train, most of my summer school work is done already. (I'll give you a minute to catch your breath, Hermy!) I've also figured out a few ways around the ministry's sensors to detect underage wizardry. So I've started work on improving my dueling skills, among other things. Please keep that to yourselves though, and if you want to know how, I'll have to tell you in person, ok? Hedwig has been busy with my messages to headquarters, and with letters to various witches and wizards that have been known to fight against the dark. I've also been in touch with the Dark Arts Defense League, getting advice on books to read and so forth. So that's how I've been spending my summer so far and I reckon that's how it will continue till school starts again. I've already spent a small fortune on books and equipment. (Another thing Hedwig has been doing.)I don't think it's a good idea for me to leave here till school starts-- puts too many people in danger. It's obvious that I've given Voldemort even more reason to want me dead, and I don't want anyone else hurt because of me. Well, it's 3 am, and I have some more letters I need to write. I will speak to you both soon. Take care of yourselves.

Love, Harry

Dear Mad Eye,

Just a note to check in with the Order. I had a question and wondered if you had the answer. That night at the ministry, that filth Dolohov used a strange curse twice. It was a sort of a slashing move with his wand; the spell looked like a purple flame. The first time he was silenced and still hurt Hermione really bad. The second time he used it on me, I managed to get a shield charm up in time, but I was still thrown. Do you happen to know what this curse is? Is it widely used by dark wizards, and is there a better way to defend against it?

Thanks Harry

Ron Weasley sat at the scrubbed wooden table in the kitchen of the Burrow reading his letter from Harry. He sat staring into space, slightly stunned over what Harry had written to him.

"Is something wrong, Ronald dear?" asked the always cheerful Molly Weasley.

"What...uh, no, nothing mum, just a letter from Harry. He says he isn't sleeping much and that he doesn't plan to leave the muggle house at all this summer."

"Well I've seen his bedroom light on till all hours of the morning, but why doesn't he want to leave those horrible people?" Molly asked a bit concerned now.

"What do you mean you've seen the light on, mum?"

"The order is still keeping an eye on Harry, now more than ever, Ron"

"Oh, I should have thought of that, I guess that's part of the reason Harry hasn't been going out; says he doesn't want anyone else hurt because of him."

Hermione Granger sat in her parents' tidy muggle kitchen; silent tears fell down her cheeks, as she read Harry's letter. She had always loved Harry like a brother, but was afraid to tell him, boys were just so annoying when I came to feelings. She also hadn't realized that she meant so much to him. Hermione knew he was hurting very much, and was glad that he admitted it. She was awfully worried about him, and this business about getting around wizarding law, well now was not the time to carry on about it. This business about not leaving the house got her worried as well; she was certain it wasn't healthy. When she went to Ron's the two of them would have to convince him to stay at the Burrow. And she would tell him that she loved him too. And possibly hug the sweet prat to death.

Dear Ginny,

I sent an owl to Ron today, and I wanted to write to you as well, to tell you how sorry I am for getting you involved that night at the Ministry. My stupidity nearly got us all killed. I am very proud to say you are my friend; you showed bravery and toughness as great as any witch I've ever met. I'm glad that you decided you didn't fancy me anymore. That doesn't sound right, I'm sure, but you gave me the chance to know the real you. How smart and quick you are, tough and sure; with enough of George and Fred's influence to break the rules and know how to have fun. I learned what a wonderful person you are and I'm glad of it. A wonderful person wrapped of in a pretty redheaded body. (o; You're very easy to talk to and someone I trust.

I should also apologize for not being a very nice person most of the year. I could blame it on the stresses of the past year, but I won't. You didn't deserve my attitude a lot of the time. You deserve to be with someone a lot better then me. Well I hope you accept my apologies, and I will try not to act like such a git in the future.

My summer so far hasn't been anything special; I've just been studying hard. Don't sleep much, and have a lot to learn. Next time the bastards come for me, it won't just be me defending myself. I plan on serving up more than I get! (I hope to, anyway) I know I can trust you to keep a secret, so I'll tell you a few things I didn't tell Ron. (Not that I don't trust Ron, but I sent him and Hermione the same letter and she's not quite forgiving when it comes to bending rules) I had Fred and George help me get some- let's say, 'dodgy' magical equipment from a few shops in Diagon alley, so I can train and get around magical law. I also got quite a few books. Let's just say if Dumbledore or McGonagall found out I had some of these, they might consider locking me in a dungeon with Snape for a couple of weeks. Don't worry, it's mostly white magic, but I did get a few dark magic ones (for reference only!) I've done several rituals of knowledge, which help me learn a lot of things very quickly which would otherwise take years to learn. Unlike dark rituals which I've read about, (which are quite terrible, and I would never take part in them) the usual price for white rituals is pain, quite a lot of pain, but nothing I can't deal with. You kinda get used to pain. I told Ron I haven't been sleeping much because of nightmares, which is true, but I'm usually so bruised up from training it doesn't help. Please take care of yourself.

Your Friend, Harry

Ginny finished her letter. She vaguely heard the conversation Ron and their mum were having. She looked up, eyes slightly shining and her cheeks a bit flushed, and she asked in a quiet but slightly dangerous sounding voice, "Ron, where did Harry hear that I no longer fancied him?"

Ron looked sharply and slightly fearfully at the tone of voice his younger sister used "Wha...What Ginny?"

"You heard me, Ron, who told Harry I don't FANCY him any more?" she said a little louder now.

Fortunately for Ron, Fred and George chose that moment to enter the kitchen for breakfast, and both their eyes lit at the last statement.

'Yes,' they both thought. 'Perfect material to torture Ginny with.'

"Oh Gin? So you do," said George.

"Still fancy Harry, do you?" said Fred. The smiles broadened across there identical faces.

The sharp looks aimed at them from both their mum and younger sister froze them in there tracks and wiped the smiles off there faces.

"Uh, Gin, I think Hermione mentioned it to Harry, but I'm not sure..." Ron said before he hurried from the room.

"Hrmm, I'll have to send my friend Hermione a little note," Ginny said quietly

Dear Mr. Dervish,

Thank you for your response to my query. I will indeed take the sorcerer's trunk with the five compartments, the one containing the largest chamber, along with the rest of the items I asked about in my previous letter. I will be arranging for payment immediately, and for shipment within the next day or two. Thank you for your help.

Sincerely Harry J Potter

Harry just sat there at his desk, staring at the letter he received from Ginny. 'Did I really say she was a wonderful person wrapped up in a pretty redhead's body?' Well, it's true, he thought. But he hadn't meant to say it. Come to think of it, he had been thinking a lot about Ginny. Her smile, her eyes, her hair.

'What's the matter with me? I've never thought about her this much before.' Harry sat there, confused. 'Oh well, I'll just write her back.'

Dear Ginny,

Ok, Ok, so calling you a pretty redhead was an understatement. I should have said lovely and enchanting, but I didn't want you to start blushing and stop talking to me. I apologize for not getting it right the first time. I'm glad you relayed the message from Ron, I was starting to worry that he was too uncomfortable with what I said to write back. Well I suppose he is from what he wrote, but I'm willing to wait till he can figure out what to say. Training is going pretty well, can't really do much more tonight, hurting a bit too much. So I've been mostly reading tonight. I know you are worried about my health, but this is something that has to be done. I don't have time to grow up and learn slowly. They want to hurt me and they want to hurt the people I love, and I won't have it. Ginny, you're probably the only person I can say this to, but I'm afraid. Not for myself really, at this point. I feel sad and tired most of the time, you know? I'm afraid of loosing someone else I care about. Quidditch doesn't even seem to be that important anymore. The only thing that really makes me smile anymore is thinking about you, Ron and Hermy. Well enough of deep thoughts.

I really should go get a haircut, I can't believe my hair is almost to my shoulders already. Never really noticed how fast my hair grows, and I think some of the magic I've been doing is making it grow even faster. Lucky I don't see my uncle that often. It's actually been a week since I've seen him. If he saw my hair I think he'd go through the roof. Well it's late. Gonna try to get some sleep. Wish me luck.

Always, Harry

Dear Mundungus,

Glad to hear you found as many of the books on that list as you did. I know the rarity of some of them. The cost of the books and the finder's fee are acceptable and I'm sending the Galleons along with this letter. It's too bad that Mr. Thatcher wouldn't part with his book at any price; I believe he has the only existing copy. But if you can keep your eyes peeled for another copy I'm willing to double your finder's fee. Thanks, and I know I don't have to tell you to keep quiet about all this.

Also if you could let the order know that I checked in.


Harry Potter, he of great fame and legend, lay in a puddle of sweat, shivering in pain on the cool stone floor of the chamber inside his sorcerer's trunk. Lying there, clutching his ribs, silent tears running down his thin pale face, Harry thought of the things that mattered most to him. The reasons for all his pain.

Sirius had told him last year- he was a weapon, he needed to be ready. It was up to him to protect his friends, to defeat the Dark Lord. He had to fight. He imagined something happening to Ron, Hermy, Ginny, any of the Weasley's, if they face to face with Voldemort. Harry remembered Sirius, remembered that night every time he lay on the floor like this after his training. It kept him going through all the pain and hurts. Tonight was the worst it'd been after more than three weeks hard training and study. He had done the best he'd ever done but was hurt worse than ever before. Clutching his ribs, Harry began to try to sit up.

What he hadn't told anyone, not even Ginny, was how he was training. He acquired, with a little help from Mundungus Fletcher, 6 battle training orbs, (officially called orbs of Onuris) which were used by aurors at the end of training. Each orb was used to conjure a sort of illusion, a construct of a dark wizard to duel against. But most illusions don't cast such powerful curses at you, the aurors never trained against more than two of them at a time. And they only used 2 at the end of their training, both set at moderate. Harry fought tonight using four of the orbs, one set for moderate and thee at novice. It was a grueling match, but he eventually won. The rituals he already went through slightly raised his skill level, and gave him more knowledge, and unlocked a little more of his potential. The only thing they couldn't do was give him the practical knowledge to do what was needed. In order to get his body to move like it should, to be as strong as it needed to be, and to use the new magic he now knew took loads of work and practice. Actually much of the 'new' magic he learned was ancient magic. Harry purchased several spell books about ancient aurors, Greek, Roman, Egyptian and British. They used powerful magic to fight the dark arts, magic mostly forgotten and too powerful for most wizards to use. Harry fought with power and speed; but he was still too inexperienced to have the finesse or style of someone like his headmaster, the most powerful wizard of the age.

Still, Harry was getting better, stronger, faster-- if someone was in the room with him when he began his matches, they would be able to feel the magic radiating from him. Finally managing to get his feet, he flicked his wand, and a sturdy wooden chair appeared out of no where. Sitting down with a groan he said softly 'Going to have to take a few days off, I'll just have to stick to my books for a while; and there are two more letters I've been putting off.'

Harry thought about the two letters, one to Neville and another to Neville's Gran. The one to Neville would be easier. He wanted to apologize to him, as he did with everyone else, including Luna. He also wanted to tell him how proud he was. Proud to have Neville as a friend. But Neville's Gran was different. He wanted to tell her who Neville really was, how brave and true to his friends the boy had been that night. How Neville was a true Gryffindor, truly his father's son. But she was a stern woman, and he would have to word it just so, to get her to understand. With that thought, Harry flicked his wand again, and a small sturdy table appeared before him. With his non-wand hand he summoned parchment and ink from the shelves across the room and began the letters.

Dear Ginny,

I can't believe Fleur and Bill are getting married. You said they are so happy together, so I think it's just wonderful. I can only imagine how nutters your mum is right now, don't let her get you down. And I know you'll just love your new sis in law. I found that I liked her as I got to know her during the tournament.

How is Ron enjoying his summer job at Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes? He wrote me a short note about it. It sounded like he was having fun. I'm taking a few days off from training, not really by choice, but my last session was a little rough. I know, I know, please don't worry about it. So I'm just mostly reading, actually I found this neat little ritual that I want to try. It's supposed to trace your family tree. It only works on magical families, so I won't see much on my mum's side, but I wonder what will be on my dad's side. I'm not allowed to ask questions about my family when I'm here, but I thought that if I wrote down the names I find out, maybe I could do some research when we were back at school. I know it must sound foolish and a waste of time, but I guess being alone all the time, I don't know, I just want to know where I came from. Well I will talk to you soon, lovely lady.

Always, Harry

Ginny was sitting at the kitchen table, as usual, while Molly started breakfast. Ginny had just finished her latest letter from Harry. She usually felt the same way after every letter from him. Worried, and unsure. She cared for Harry, very much, even if she told Hermione that she didn't anymore. It was a lie, and the letters from Harry seemed different now. She was almost frightened to hope, it sounded like he was thinking of her differently too. He called her lovely lady; her heart did a total flip flop when she read that. But she couldn't help but worry too. He said he was hurt so often, and Harry usually didn't admit hurts that easily. It meant he was more than a little hurt as he continued his training. Ginny couldn't say anything to anyone though. Harry trusted her. So she had to keep this to herself, for now, anyway.

Ron came in as she was reaching for the teapot. His eyes looked in the direction of the parchment in front of her.

A small smile came across his lips "Another letter from Harry, Gin?"

"What...oh yes." Her face flushing slightly as she thought 'lovely lady' yet again.

Ron noticed of course and his smile broadened. "Ginny, why is it you're always blushing whenever you finish one of his letters?" He said in an overly sweet voice.

Ron noticed his mum hiding her smile, and noticed Ginny flushing more, but not saying anything. "Should I send my best mate a letter demanding to know the things he writes to my little sister?" he said in a falsely indignant voice.

Ginny was now blushing fiercely and stuttering slightly "D...Don't you dare Ron, I'm just worried about him being alone all the time."

"Uh huh." His smile was broad across his face now.

"Ronald, leave your sister alone this instant, and come get your food." Mrs. Weasley said. Her voice was stern, but her broad smile and the twinkle in her eye gave away her true thoughts on the subject.

Ginny waited till it was just she alone with her mum, and she tentatively asked "Are Bill and Fleur going to ask Harry to the wedding?"

Molly Weasley tried to keep her smile as small as possible and answered "I'm not sure Ginny dear, why do you ask?"

"Well...I was thinking of asking Harry to be my escort," Ginny said in a small voice, her cheeks rosy red.

Dear Hermy,

Just wanted to check in and see how you were. I've been working hard, though my summer work is long finished (ha ha). Just doing some background training. Also been trying to work out a way we can all communicate when we're not together. Like wizarding telephones or something. There are several ways to do it, some slightly dodgey when it comes to wizarding law. Some are much too expensive or complicated for me to do right now. But I'm working on it; I'll let you know how it goes. Just a warning, that might mean your lots Christmas presents. (o; Well I hope to hear from you too. I'll have Snuffles wait in case you want to send something back or to someone else.

Love Harry

Dear Ron,

Thanks for your letter, and I'm glad you understand how I feel. I thank you for forgiving me, but it was a big deal, and I am truly sorry. So how goes work at WWW? Stocking up for school? Any new dangerous inventions for us to try out? What else have you been doing this summer? Gone to see any Quidditch yet? I see from the Prophet that the Cannons are having a pretty good season. Have you seen any matches? I don't think it's a good idea for me to come by the Burrow, even when Hermy gets there. As much as I want to, it's just not safe. Talk to you soon,

Your Mate, Harry

Harry sat at the small wooden table in his trunk chamber, leafing though a pile of books, searching for a spell he wanted to learn. The chamber around him wasn't empty as promised when it was delivered. But Harry didn't mind, there was a small round table, with four wooden chairs, a small camp bed, a small wardrobe, and three bookshelves along one wall. He found an old wizards wireless tucked in the bottom corner of the wardrobe, so he was able to listen every day and keep up with the news.

'Should have bought one myself after the first year' he thought to himself.

Harry was wearing a nice set of wizards robes, plain dark brown, but of very good material. His training robes, which he always wore in this chamber. It took a bit of transfiguration to get the fit right, but he needed the practice and it was a comfort to feel like a wizard all the time. There also was a simply stunning set of dress robes, deep black that seemed to shimmer sliver and green as he moved. They took a lot longer to magically alter, and he wasn't sure when he would need such fine robes, but his skills were improving. Harry picked up his wand, and a small tea set appeared, slightly chipped, but it was his. He still couldn't make already prepared tea appear as Dumbledore could, but he could do it in three steps, with three small spells. As he sipped his tea, listening to the latest tune by the Weird Sisters, he looked around the room.

Several oil lamps hung from the high ceiling, and Harry had several candles lit in a saucer to give a little extra light for reading. The trunk also had a load of parchment and ink, several dozen empty potion bottles, and various other potions making equipment. Harry was trying to figure out how to make a wizarding window, like they had at the ministry. With that it would be the perfect workroom. But he was more than comfortable the way it was now.

Just then he heard something on the wireless. He reached out his empty hand, waggling his fingers, and the volume came up a touch. Damn. Another attack, another dark mark. This was the forth he had heard about since he returned to Privet drive. A husband and wife killed, no other details, no names. Harry sipped his tea. What had they done to deserve to die? Or was it because they refused to join Voldemort? How many people had he convinced to join the death eaters? How many did he have under the 'imperious'? Harry gulped down his tea and began going through his books with renewed conviction.

Dear Remus,

See, I can call you just by your first name, although it'll take some getting used to! Here's my usual note to check in. I heard about that last attack. Voldemort seems to be gaining momentum. I know you won't speak of Order business, so I won't ask. My studies are going well, thanks for the information on those spells you gave me in your last letter; I think I'm beginning to understand the theory better. I still say you're the best teacher we ever had (but please don't tell McGonagall, she is my head of house and I should say she is).

I'll speak to you soon,


Harry woke up feeling great. It was just after dawn, and for the first time this summer he had slept an entire night. It was three days since that last dueling session, and the potions and salves he brewed up really did the trick. He was still a little stiff, but other than that he felt great. Another first for the summer. He was starved, but it was still too early to go down and get breakfast. He would wait for the Dursleys to stir.

Gathering clothes, Harry figured a long hot shower would loosen the last of the stiff muscles. After what seemed to be an hour, the hot water ran out, and Harry took some time to dress properly which he had almost gotten out of the habit of doing. He took the time to thoroughly brush his long dark hair. He brought with him a piece of rawhide (one of many he had to strap packages to Hedwig and Snuffles' legs, when needed) and tied it into a loose ponytail. The hair in the front wasn't really long enough to tie back, but hung around in front of his face. To Harry's pleased surprise, it looked Being able to use magic over the summer also did something for his wardrobe. He was able to transfigure all of Dudley's old clothes to fit him properly. Harry also changed the colors and patterns of all his shirts and sweaters, from loud harsh colors, to black and dark blue, the same with the jeans and trousers he had. That is how he dressed today; black jeans and a black short sleeved tee shirt. As he was done dressing, he checked what he looked like in the mirror, and got a pleasant surprise. Although still too thin, and a bit too pale, he was looking well toned, and slightly muscular. He couldn't help but grin at his reflection. Harry was in a thoroughly good mood, for the first time in months. How quickly a mood and a day can change!