Harry lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling, having just gotten back from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Uncle Vernon had gone into a tantrum once they'd begun to drive home, furious that those 'freaks' had the nerve to threaten him. Petunia just nodded, her thoughts clearly elsewhere, while Dudley listened to his father rant at Harry with obvious delight.

A spring dug into Harry's back, so he readjusted himself, thoughts dwelling on past events. It was his fault that Sirius had died, his vault that Voldemort had been able to feed him lies, bait that Voldemort knew Harry would take; and Harry had. The result? Harry's godfather had died, and a prophecy saying Harry would either become the boy-who-died, or the boy-who-killed. Neither suited him, since he didn't want to be dead, or a murderer.

Hedwig hooted softly, drawing Harry's out of his thoughts. "Sorry girl, I was thinking. Did you need something?" His snowy owl glided from her perch on his windowsill, to his desk, where his quills, parchment and ink were. She clearly wanted to deliver something. Harry smiled something he hadn't done since well before the Department of Mysteries. "We just got back, and you're bored already?" He asked, she looked at him reproachfully. "Alright, alright. I'll send something in a few days, and in the meantime, you can go out flying whenever you want, how's that sound?" In response, she flew back to the windowsill, and pecked at the glass.

Harry obeyed her unspoken command, and opened the window for her. With a hoot of thanks, Hedwig soared out into the dimming sky.

"POTTER!" Vernon shouted from downstairs. With a sigh, Harry picked himself up off the uncomfortable bed, and trudged silently down the stairs, where his relatives were waiting for him. "Yes Sir?" Harry replied, looking at his uncle.

If Vernon was surprised by the lack of sarcasm, he didn't show it. "About time you got down here," Vernon began, and pulled out a piece of paper from his back pocket, handing it to Harry. "This is the list of chores that need to be done by the end of the summer, you won't get dinner if you fail to complete five of those each day, understood?"

Looking at the rather long list, Harry answered, "Yes Sir. Should I start today?"

Even Dudley looked surprised at this. Dursley Sr. recovered quickly, "You had better." the extremely large man growled.

And so the days went by, Harry doing his chores right after making breakfast, and not stopping until dinner. He wrote a letter to his friends and the Order saying everything was fine every three days.

Two weeks into the summer, it was ridiculous to call it 'vacation' or 'break' since he didn't enjoy it, several owls appeared with letters in Harry's bedroom. The first was Hedwig, who carried two letters, and the second was an important looking owl, holding a letter that bore the Ministry of Magic crest. He opened Hedwig's letters before the Ministry one. The first was from Ron and Hermione, who were both at Headquarters for the time being. They told him that they were studying for next year, book work only since they couldn't do practical magic, and about their OWL results (Ron got six, Hermione got eleven). Harry was glad that his friends were having a good time, even if it was without him- he didn't want a repeat of last year. Putting that letter aside, Harry opened the second, which was from Lupin.

Harry, I want you to know that Sirius' death is not your fault- Harry shut the letter, it was his fault- why couldn't anyone understand that? Angrily, Harry opened his final letter.

Dear Mr. Potter, we have enclosed your fifth-year OWL results below. For every A, E, or O, you receive one OWl, for every D or T, you receive none.

Transfiguration: E

Charms: E

Defense Against the Dark Arts: O +

Care of Magical Creatures: O

Potions: O

Astronomy: A

Herbology: E

Divination: D

History of Magic: T

Congratulations, you have received eight owls out of a possible nine. NOTE: an O+ is worth two OWLs.

-Amelia Bones

Harry smiled as he read his score for potions, Snape would have to take him into the NEWT potions class. As Harry gave both the Ministry owl and Hedwig some treats and water, Harry noticed another letter enclosed in the OWL results envelope. Curiously, Harry opened it- it was from Dumbledore.

Dear Harry,

I understand if you are upset with me, for withholding information from you concerning the prophecy (Like hell I am," Harry muttered), but I ask that you look past an old man's mistakes. Sirius' death was not your fault, and I hope you realize this. You stand against many things Harry, and for many things as well; and dwelling on Sirius' death is not wise.

I congratulate you on your OWL results, and am pleased to tell you that you have been enrolled in NEWT level Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, and Care of Magical creatures. You certainly will be busy this year! (Harry rolled his eyes)

I am going to take this opportunity to tell you that in two weeks time, a member of the Order shall come and escort you to Headquarters, please try to be ready by then. Have a good while at your relatives' house, and I will see you soon.

-Albus Dumbledore

Harry scoffed at the last paragraph. That was Dumbledore, always making the decisions for him, always telling him what to do. Not this year, Harry promised, I run my own life.

A new rebellious feeling arose in him, and Harry began to plan his remaining days at Privet Drive. Each afternoon, while the Dursleys were out, Harry went for a jog around the block for two hours. Sometimes he heard wheezes coming from the air around him, alerting Harry that there was always someone watching him- this only strengthened his resolve to be free of the Order. After his jog, Harry took a quick shower, cleaned the bathroom up, and finished his chores. When the Dursleys came home, he went up to his room and studied magic, and wrote letters when he needed to.

Late one night, the day before someone from the Order was supposed to come and get him, Harry snuck out the back door while hidden underneath his invisibility cloak, along with his trunk. He traveled a few blocks down, careful not to make any noise, and hid his trunk in a clump of bushes near the park. Then he snuck back to Privet Drive, praying that it wasn't going to be Moody picking him up. He fell asleep quickly, and didn't have a single dream.

Harry woke at dawn, and was surprisingly awake. He glanced outside, and saw a flash of movement in the Dursleys' bushes- Mundungus. Harry got dressed, and put his wand in his back pocket, covering it with his shirt. Harry went about his daily chores, working until lunch, and when he heard the crack of an apperating wizard. Harry dropped the shears he was using, and dashed up to his room, where his invisibility cloak waited. Putting it on, Harry went out through the window, dropping silently onto the small shade-cover below, then jumped just as quietly down to the ground.

Harry saw an annoyed-looking Snape walk up the driveway. I hope Dumbledore gives you hell for loosing me, Harry thought savagely, and sprinted to the park. Harry took of the cloak, and put on a baggy, black sweatshirt he'd 'borrowed' from one of Dudley's friends who'd left it at the house, and also a dark blue ski cap to cover his hair and scar. He then made sure no one was nearby, and summoned the Night Bus- his freedom started now.

Coming Up:

Griphook's Return

The Pureblood Vaults


The Will of Sirius Black

(A/N: Thank you to Bellatrix-Vecours for pointing out that Amelia Bones works for the Ministry, and of course, to all who review. Thank you again.)