The ride home from Kings Cross Station had been a silent one, the threat of Moody and Arthur Weasley had actually penetrated even Vernon Dursley's stubborn mind and he had quickly come to decide that harassing Harry simply wasn't worth the trouble in would get him into, so he said nothing to Harry on the ride back to Little Whinging. Petunia Dursley was lost in her own thoughts as well, having seen the haunted look on Harry's face, she knew something bad must have happened. So each in their own way (Dudley was not along for the trip) decided to make the best of the situation and not invite more trouble upon themselves by abusing Harry.

Harry Potter sat in his bedroom at Number 4 Privet Drive and thought, something he had been doing quite a bit of in the 2 weeks since the Department of Mysteries and the death of Sirius Black. It had occurred to Harry on that drive home how little thought he'd actually given to his future. When he had done his career counseling session with Professor McGonagall he had pretty much plucked the idea of being an Auror out of thin air, thinking it would be a cool job to have, but he hadn't really considered it beforehand. Then there was the Prophecy to consider, Harry wasn't sure that he believed it, though he acknowledged Dumbledore's apparent faith in it. Harry found it difficult to believe anything Trelawney said as gospel, particularly something like this. That said, it explained a lot of Dumbledore's behavior over the years, such as placing Harry with the Dursleys.

Upon arriving at his "home" Harry had written a form letter to most of his friends asking them to leave him alone for a couple of weeks, so he could have time to sort things out and grieve. Harry didn't actually expect them to respect his wishes, and he was right, letters had come full bore starting the next day. Typical of them was Hermione's letter:

Dear Harry,

How are you? I know you must be hurting about Sirius, but you need to find a way to move on and live your life, that's what Sirius would want, and you know that. I hope you're practicing your Occlumency, you don't want anything like that to happen again, be sure to tell Dumbledore if your scar starts hurting again. If something happens please tell me, you know I want to help you.

With love,

Hermione

Not for the first time Harry wondered if Hermione was informing on him to Dumbledore, and for how long. Hermione was one of his best friends, and truth be told she had probably been a better friend to him over the years than Ron had, but her devotion to authority bordered on the frightening. Somehow the old man always seemed to know what he was up to, so Dumbledore either had some good surveillance charms working in Gryffindor tower, or he had someone on the inside.

Harry's feelings about Dumbledore had gradually shifted over the weeks as well. Dumbledore had amazingly enough respected Harry's request for quiet, though he knew it wouldn't last. The problem was, the more Harry took stock of his life, both at Privet Drive and at Hogwarts, the more dissatisfied he grew with it. The difficulties at Privet were obvious, a lack of anything resembling affection , and oftentimes a lack of food as well. Harry wondered what kind of threat Dumbledore had over Aunt Petunia to keep taking him back summer after summer, though next summer was supposed to his last there, since on his 17th birthday he would become of age in the wizarding world and be outside Dumbledore's authority, in the summer anyway. He had a sneaking suspicion though that the old man wouldn't let that get in his way and would find a way to confine him somehow, perhaps at Grimmaud Place.

His life at Hogwarts was what really gave Harry pause, once he really thought about it. Harry knew he hadn't made that many friends in his 5 years there, but after he examined it he was shocked at how few there really were. Really his circle was limited to those who had gone with him to the DOM (Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, and Luna), and though he had friendly relations with Dean and Seamus (his other roommates), he was a bit sad to realize there was no one else. Harry knew that a lot of this was due to being "The Boy Who Lived", people either wound up star-struck like Colin Creevey, or disliked him because of it, not taking any time to get to know him. Harry also acknowledged that some of it was due to Ron and Hermione, not the 2 most popular people in Gryffindor tower. Hermione's bossiness and academic mania grated on most of their housemates (Harry could only wonder what most Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs thought of her, what the Slytherins thought didn't need much effort on his part), and Ron………The fact was, Ron wasn't a very bright wizard and tended to be a Gryffindor version of Draco Malfoy, very judgmental about those who did not fit his own ideals. The three of them had been so close for so long, that though others might have liked Harry, they just didn't want to deal with Ron and Hermione on a regular basis.

Each summer since he had been a wizard, Harry had had Hogwarts and his memories of it to hold on to, but the more he thought about it, the less he wanted to return to Hogwarts. Harry knew that he needed to make some plans, plans that couldn't done alone.