xXxEDITING PROCESS: 7/11/09xXx

Disclaimer: Everything HP related belongs to JK Rowling.

A/N: Hello everyone. I'm trying a bit of a serious HP story. Made before HBP or DH so no Albus's or anything. Hope you enjoy! R and R!


Chapter 1: Simple Pleasures

Red and gold sunshine rose over Number 4 Privet Drive; the prim neighbors rose from their comfy beds to start their early mornings. The members of the Dursley's family were already downstairs eating breakfast and watching the news. Everyone except one occupant.

A skinny boy of seventeen sat on the ledge of his rather small window, watching the swirling colors of the sky. He was of the messy haired sort, not at all very comely with his thin round glasses that slid down the bridge of his nose every few seconds. His clothes, baggy and gray, barely stayed over his frame. The one thing about him he rather liked was the color of his eyes. An extraordinary shade of bright green. Deep in them, a silent and secretive gleaming as if he knew something no one else understood.

The boy sitting on the ledge was called many names but he referred to himself as Harry Potter.

And a talented wizard.

He had just returned from his school, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and was now moving from his sixth year straight onto his final year. The last year had been difficult though maybe not as fifth as Harry had decidedly brooded over the summer before about his godfather Sirius Black's untimely death. This summer had been about his glum future.

So he spent the hours daydreaming, sighing to himself, trying to mentally dodge his troubled thoughts. Harry leaned his head against the structure of the window, contently gazing out into the slowly blue-ing sky. He liked watching the sunrise-- the bright warm colors dulling into white or gray, it reminded him of how the simplest things-- the simplest happenings of the world could bring pleasure into life. His strangely thoughtful peace was rudely interrupted by a loud banging on his door and the high pitched shriek of his aunt telling him to get downstairs.

Rolling his eyes, Harry obeyed, much too relaxed to be upset. He made his way to the table downstairs where his Uncle Vernon barked through his bushy mustache, "Comb your hair boy!" That never got old of course.

His blonde and bony Aunt Petunia placed down a plate of shriveled burnt toast in front of Harry curtly and went back to the oven to get his cousin another batch of pancakes although he had three helpings by now. Pink-faced Dudley grinned in his direction, his three or four chins widening, "I learned a new punch this week and I need to test it out on someone. Care to volunteer?"

In response, Harry quietly reached into his back pocket, getting a firm grip on his wand.

How about you try it and I'll shove my foot up your-

Swiftly, Aunt Petunia appeared out of nowhere and laid down the third plate of golden brown pancakes in front of her son. "Now, now, no horseplay at the breakfast table Diddykins. You wouldn't want to get an upset tummy."

Vernon Dursley said gruffly, "Petunia, there's no need to treat him like a ruddy child," he glared at Harry darkly, "You agree boy?"

Harry opened his mouth but she butt in with a coo and pinch of Dudley's flabby cheek, "Noooo. . .he will always be my little Diddy Duds Poopoo Baby. My sweet little Diddykins Honeybunny Dudley-bear." She grinned, exposing her horsy teeth and kissed him, turning her back on everyone in the kitchen.

Dudley made a particularly nasty face at his departing mother and began shoveling food down his hefty-sized throat, giving Harry a glare that stated: Go ahead, I dare you to say something.

Harry ate quickly and retreated to where he could laugh freely and long.

Since it was a typically hot July day, Harry was forced to work outside for his daily chores, having had to finish every single one before having permission to drink water. He fertilized the back and front gardens, washed and waxed both Dursley's cars to perfection, and hung out the laundry. Harry had finished soaking the windows scrupulously with soapy water and rubbing the glass dry when in broad daylight, a familiar snowy white owl swooped into his open bedroom window.

Making sure that none of the neighbors had seen the odd sight, Harry snuck inside. To help disguise his footsteps, Dudley's snores coming from upstairs filled up the whole air-conditioned house, and the sounds of the blaring television from the family room indicated that the rest of the family was waiting for the afternoon news. He locked the bedroom door behind him, the loud snoring muffled slightly.

His beloved owl Hedwig softly hooted once by her cage, proudly presenting him with letters. Since he had not seen an Hogwarts owl with her, he assumed that his letter was still coming. He suspected that his friends had gotten theirs by now, being where they were, they had a certain advantage at Headquarters. Not that Harry minded it. . . .much.

He opened the first letter, scrawled sloppily as if in a hurry.

Harry,

Happy Birthday mate! I hope you liked the gift I sent you. Sorry it took so long to reach you. Errol is getting loads older and has a harder time getting around on time. Pig was too little to carry it.

Nothing happening here. All quiet.

I hope those Muggles are treating you right this time. Or you might have to have a nice row with them; I suggest the Fully Body Bind, or perhaps a Cheering Charm? Any spell would work since they hate magic. Speaking of your family, how's that cousin over yours since Fred and George tested the Ton Tongue Toffee on them? They told me about some side effects...something about their tongues becoming hairy...I dunno.

Have a good summer,

Ron.

As Harry read the last sentence, he felt a smile begin to creep up on him. He remembered all too well when the Weasley's came to pick him up for the Quiddich World Cup. The twins Fred and George had purposely dropped brightly wrapped toffees on the floor upon leaving. Dudley, who couldn't resist a tasty piece of candy to ruin his previous diet, ate several and to everyone's horror--and the twin's glee-- his tongue grew at an alarming rate and thus panicked the Dursleys.

Harry also smiled at his best friend's comment about Headquarters. How it was a complete lie.

Ever since word got out that Voldemort was indeed alive and well, the Wizarding World had to have been in a frenzy; or so Harry thought. This meant more work for the Order. Harry's deceased parents had been a part of the original Order of the Phoenix, along with Harry's godfather. The group of Aurors fighting against Lord Voldemort and his Followers consisted not only of those three but Mad-Eye Moody; the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore; Frank and Alice Longbottom, who were currently registered in St. Mungos for being cursed straight into insanity; Nympthadora Tonks; Remus Lupin, an old friend of Harry's parents; just to name a few. Along with Wormtail, who had betrayed James and Lily Potter to their very deaths. And that was something Harry's core would not let go. . .no matter what.

His uncle's voice boomed from downstairs, blotting out the stifled snores, "Those bloody Cubans! Ruin our holiday, will ya?"

Letting out a clearly annoyed breath, Harry opened the next (neatly written) letter.

Dear Harry,

Hello and happy birthday, I do trust you enjoyed the book I gave you. I know it was a bit early. I simply cannot wait to go back to Hogwarts! There are so many new things to learn our seventh year! We'll learn to Apparate and Disapparate, though not at Hogwarts, as it says in Hogwarts, A History by

Bright green immediately skimmed to the next few lines down.

so make sure you remember. Everything has been quiet. We might be able to see Fred and George's new shop. I really do hope you'll be able to come with us to Diagon Alley.

We haven't got our letters yet. Just to tell you.

Love,

Hermione

Disappointed, he set the letter down. Hermione's letter sounded just like Ron's. . .filled with empty messages. What didn't they want him to know? Was it so Top Secret that they couldn't even tell their best friend who just so happens to be the target of the mad man?

The last letter read:

Harry,

Happy seventeenth birthday. If you were wondering, it's been agreed upon that you should stay where you are for the rest of the summer. You'll be much safer there. I know you dislike your situation but it's for the best, Harry.

Lupin

Out of utter frustration, Harry threw his letters into the nearby trash can. "Great, thanks a lot everyone."

He had been so eager for an escape out of this hellhole-- but that letter shattered every hope he was holding onto. Harry glanced at Hedwig who fluttered her amber eyes at him innocently. Stroking her feathers, he gave her an owl treat before going back downstairs to angrily finish his chores.

-

That late afternoon, Harry found himself in his room studying an old Herbology book when something rattled his doorknob and threw open the door with an almighty CRASH.

Charging in like an wild rhino, his uncle towered over him, glaring furiously with his beady black eyes. Almost nonchalantly, Harry closed his book.

'What did I do now?'

The left side of Uncle Vernon's face twitched as his eyes read the title of hardback in Harry's lap 'Flesh-Eating Trees of the World' and he extended his pudgy finger threateningly, "Listen boy, tonight is a special night."

Harry patiently waited for him to continue, already knowing what he wasn't going to say.

"Your aunt is holding a dinner party and inviting the whole street. If it were up to me, I would lock you up until morning but your aunt doesn't want to risk any gossip about how we raise family, so," Uncle Vernon grinned nastily through crooked teeth, "You'll be on your best behavior tonight in front of the guests. You'll say that you've been going to St. Brutus's Secure Center for Incurably Criminal Boys and that you'll be sentenced away for good soon enough. No funny stuff, got it?"

"Why should I?"

The words came out of Harry's mouth when they were suppose to be an afterthought. His uncle stepped closer, his face turning a rare shade of cinnabar, "What did you say?"

Harry swung his legs over the mattress, sitting up and frowning, "You heard me, why should I listen to you when all you've ever done was treat me like dung and made sure that I'd never think of myself deserving better then being treated like that?"

His logic was now being beaten away by his proud arrogant Gryffindor instincts. He knew he would be paying for his disrespect as Mr. Dursley yelled, spraying spit everwhere, "Because I'll flay you within an inch of your life!" He looked like he wanted nothing more than to put those words into action but Harry heard him mutter to himself, "Petunia. . .she said. . . ."

Uncle Vernon roughly shoved some clothes into his nephew's hands and growled, "Put these on and get downstairs, and fix your hair!" At last he stomped out, slamming the door behind him so hard that the room shock forcefully. Harry changed with a great amount of reluctance into what he was given. Surprisingly, the clothes were a normal fitting white shirt, black dress pants, a black tux jacket, and a very strangling red and purple spotted tie. He vaguely wondered where these had came from.

Loosening the tie best he could, Harry went into the upstairs bathroom to do something with his hair. Wetting his untidy hair seemed to do the trick. He absently took in his reflection and eyed his lightning bolt scar. It hadn't stung or ached in a month. Maybe the Dark Lord couldn't find his location yet.

Voldemort was responsible for his parent's murder and had tried to kill him when he was a baby but failed, leaving him with a damned radar on his head that showed what Voldemort was doing and how he felt. Bothersome if anything.

Pressing his forehead to the glass, Harry murmured to his mirror image, "Thinking about it won't make it go away."

Voices rose from the living room, he took it as his cue to peel his skin from the mirror and join them. Already down in the Dursley's foyer were neighbors chatting away merrily. . .never realizing what dangers there were behind the glam and smoke of their Muggle world adjusted by both their Ministry and the Ministry of Magic. Harry moved into the dining room, invisible to everyone and froze up when he heard, "Evans."

Harry hid behind the door frame as the new clients at Mr. Dursley's company settled into with him. Mr. Moor spoke heartily through an extremely red beard, "Too bad they couldn't show up tonight."

Vernon Dursley had on a superior smirk that just itched to be cursed off, "Yes, I could have shown them the award my boy got for beating up their son. Not everyone can be a winner like Dudley, or else there would be no such thing as losers." That remark caused the room to fill up with their uproarious laughter to which made Harry clench up his fists, fighting the red heat flooding his system.

Remember. . . .Ministry. . . . .expulsion. . .

He had a feeling that blowing up unsuspecting Muggles would upset the poor Ministry of Magic. So instead Harry grabbed some appetizers from a nearby tray and plopped into an empty seat in another room. Only a few strangers sat in the same area, many curiously watching the evening news.

After two hours, he was about to crack from boredom. In the bathroom upstairs he threw off his tight jacket and tie, rolled up his shirt sleeves over the elbows, and splashed his face with cold water. If he could just get through the rest of the night...

Two girls sat on the stairs, looking over at him pointedly as he tried to step past them. Harry stumbled and mumbled an apology, as the one with the blonde hair and freckles raked her eyes up and down his person with obvious approval, as the darker haired and pimply girl giggled childishly. He passed them hurriedly, turning red from humiliation and the obvious attention.

Conversation had struck up in the spare room he had left. His eyes caught a bold headline on the television: Neighborhood Catastrophe!

The cocoa skinned newscaster cleared her throat, "In other news, yesterday evening, a disturbance was reported in the town of Greenmaple. Intelligence has further to say that the whereabouts of suspicious characters might have been connected to the recent incident of a young missing girl. The people of this town are asked to be cautious of any shady personnel and that if you spot any questionable activity, to contact authorities immediately. Back to you Rob-"

His mind raced. . .Greenmaple wasn't close by but he knew where it was. . .he was about to probe deeper into his memory when suddenly, someone grabbed him by the shoulder to whirl him violently around.

Pier Polkiss, Malcolm, Gorden, and Dudley all stood in his way.

Before he knew it Malcolm and Gordon had each lunged at Harry's arms and held him rigidly at their sides as Piers smiled gleefully, "Just the person we were looking for. Dudley here was just telling us how you volunteered to be his punching buddy." Before anyone could say anything or Harry could even struggle, a cluster of teenage girls drew around them. The freckled girl from earlier led them and broke away from the clique to join the boys. She was quite pretty, getting past the mounds of freckles, but in a shallow way that strongly reminded Harry of the Cho Chang he didn't like so much.

Dudley and his gang straightened up as she snapped her manicured nails at them, letting Harry go as she stopped right in front of him. Jutting her thin hip to the side, the girl asked loudly, making sure her reedy voice reached the hearing range of everyone in the room, "Hey, aren't you that boy that goes to Saint Bronx's or something?"

Harry looked around to make sure that she was speaking to anyone else and nodded unconvincingly, "Surrre."

Before she leaned over, the blonde girl made eye contact with Dudley and pushed her lips outward in a way she thought was seductive, (Harry thought she was making a bad fish impression), "Hmmm, I do like the bad boys." Her cold long fingernails brushed his cheek uncomfortably before making a path down his shirt, finding the time to occasionally twist the white material. He was about to push the persistent hand away but her other hand distracted him, as it found its way in an inappropriate region.

His breath hitched in his chest for a full three seconds and he barely heard her remark, "Think about it sweetheart." She glanced back at Dudley contemptuously and swaggered her hips as she strolled back to the rest of the females.

Dudley seized Harry's collar, shaking most of the haze from Harry's senses, and snarled, "Stay away from my Anna, Potter."

He was half tempted to voice his aversion for this handsy girl but this was clearly hurting Dudley. . .he couldn't resist. Harry grinned good-naturedly, "Why, Big D, you jealous?"

Something snapped in Dudley Dursley that forgot his bribe from his Mother and Father to stay out of fights. Harry dunked the mad dive of his cousin, sending the adults in the room running. Dudley began emitting cries of a crazed animal as Harry made a break for it. Dudley's gang tried desperately to calm his friend down as Harry disappeared hidden behind the doorway.

It was then, leaning up against the wall and panting, that Harry remembered his advantage.

"He's a wimp Dudley, don't waste your time--"

Just as Piers ended his sentence, Harry appeared once more in the entrance, his wand in his right hand. He murmured numbly, raising it at chest level to his cousin, "Try me now."

Horrified, Dudley's girlfriend jumped between them to practically leap her boyfriend, "No! Don't hurt him!" Harry just smiled wickedly.

"Oh no...I wouldn't dream of it."

Dudley shoved her away, she was caught by Gordon, "Get away from me!" Anna looked up pleadingly, tears sparkling in the corners of her muddy brown eyes, "I didn't mean it! I didn't mean it! I just wanted to make you jealous! I love you!"

Harry could feel one of his eyebrows seizing up, "Take your friends and leave me alone."

"He can't do anything to us," Piers Polkiss sneered, "It's just a stick." Everyone else laughed along with him, everyone except for Anna who was sobbing into her hands and Dudley who stared stonily ahead at Harry.

The dinner bell rang.

As if an invisible force were controlling them, the teenagers all looked at the ceiling in muted sync and scattered.

Harry blinked twice to make sure he was seeing things correct.

It was like. . . .they forgotten the fight instantly after the bell rang. And he sure that Aunt Petunia's bell wasn't of the enchanted type. As he slipped his wand out of sight, a flash of blue caught the corner of his eye. . .just outside the windowsill from his left. . .but Harry just shook his head and ignored it.

He ended up sitting at the far end of one of the larger tables in the dining room, the seat to his right happened to be empty. Aunt Petunia, in her silk chartreuse dress, paced around to whisper worryingly, "We're missing one..."

As the hostess went to answer the doorbell, Harry wondered. . . 'Who could be coming this late?'

He was soon to find out.

'Oh no, no, NO, not HER!'

Aunt Marge sat down heavily at the empty right chair, draped in a bright red dress that made her look like a giant tomato. She set fierce beady eyes on her most hated nephew, "I thought they sent you away."

'I wish they had.'

Dinner proceeded. Harry was given a fair amount of eat for a change and as dessert was being brought out, one of Uncle Vernon's drunken workers tipped his glass clumsily upwards, "T-To the lovely Mr. and Mrs. Dursley...for this smashing party!" Everyone drank to them, (Harry left his goblet of water untouched), and Aunt Marge (who had drinked far more alcohol than what was natural for the human body to hold) chatted stupidly away.

Turning her watery blurry eyes from the occupant on her right to her left, she slurred, "You thuunk you smart, 'cause they take of you. If I is--caring for you, I'd have beaten you throughly."

He felt the red heat rise.

"I'd love for you to try and have a go at it." Harry said boldly in her direction.

The room went dead silent. Aunt Marge took a moment to swallow her remaining brandy, "If you continue talking like that...you be regretting you ever came here..." Everyone at the table glanced at Harry as he spoke up clearly, "As a matter of fact, I do regret that I was dumped on the doorstep. Every damn day. And I'll say what I please, Aunty."

The fat woman sent her chair crashing onto the floor as she got to her feet, snatching him by the collar-- he could smell the onions and brandy on her hot breath, "You, vile, stinking--!"

THUMP!

Expensive red wine spilled onto even more pricy white lace cloth. Stunned heads turned up the table.

Aunt Petunia held a staring contest with the large woman, she declared coldly, "Get your hands off him now Marge." She had slammed her hands on the table to create the ruckus. Her light hazel eyes flickered heatedly, very much like a certain nephew of hers.

Harry felt Aunt Marge's rock hard grip on him tense in her disbelief.

"Are you defending this no-good thing?!"

Petunia Dursley moved to the side of the long table, her bony fingers gently touching the tablecloth, her voice strangely calm, "Let him go--before I come over there and make you do it myself."

Marge's grip loosened and he retched away from her sausage-like fingers, staring at his aunt who became strickenly pale. Aunt Petunia took in a shaky breath and excused herself.

All heads turned back to Harry. Even the food fight that had been started by Dudley's gang had even came to an screeching halt. He hurried out of the prying eyes, abandoning his full dessert plate. As Harry made it upstairs, he caught a glimpse of his nervous aunt who paced restlessly back and forth in her yellow stilettos. Her voice only a mumble to herself.

Harry locked his room that night, promptly changing into Dudley's old grayed clothes, and went to bed early only to find himself awake at random times in the early hours. . .much too alert to fall back asleep.