Chapter 2 – Back to Hogwarts
Harry rubbed his eyes, he could hardly believe it, Hermione and Ron looked completely different!
Hermione was the first to spot Harry, she grabbed Ron's arm and the two of them rushed over to the other end of Platform 9 ¾.
Hermione snatched Harry into a bear hug.
"Harry! At last!"
Harry grinned, "Hi Hermione! Hi Ron."
Ron stood smiling slightly at Harry.
"Hi, I'm sorry you couldn't stay with us,"
Harry shook his head.
"It doesn't matter, how are your parents?"
Ron opened his mouth to reply but the train whistle sounded and the trio were forced to scramble onto the train hauling Harry's trunk behind them
Eventually they sat panting in the carriage and they had completely forgetten their previous conversation.
They settled into their seats and smiled at each other, the terrible trio back together.
Harry was so glad to be back were he belonged, among friends, wizards, on his way to Hogwarts.
Hermione and Ron looked at each other then at Harry, they seemed eager to ask him something, Harry smiled at them, he knew them so well.
"What is it?"
he asked trying not to laugh at their serious faces.
Hermione replied, "We were meaning to ask if you'd heard from Snuffles recently."
Harry frowned, "Only a few short letters over the holiday to tell me he was okay."
Ron looked surprised, "So you don't know what's been going on?"
Harry stared at him, "What do you mean?"
Ron's face flushed, "Well, I don't know what to say, I was sure they would have told you."
Harry was getting impatient now.
"Come on Ron, spit it out."
Ron's face contorted, "You-Know-Who has made a death threat…. he's been planning to kill everyone at Hogwarts, but first he's got to get rid of Dumbledore."
Harry's heart skipped, he had been sure that Ron had been talking about himself and he strangely felt that hearing that Dumbledore was Voldemort's main target was worse than if it had been him.
When Harry finally realised that Hermione and Ron were staring at him he said.
"How do you know?"
Ron flushed again.
"I overheard my Dad telling my Mum what Dumbledore's spies had found out. My Dad's been trying to help."
Harry tried to focus.
"So Dumbledore knows that Voldemort wants to kill him at then attack Hogwarts… Wait a minute, spies? You don't think that Snape…"
Ron and Hermione looked at each other again and back at Harry.
Harry realised that they must have already talked about it themselves and he felt a strange uneasy jolt in his stomach and his old insecurities seemed closer than ever.
"What exactly do you guys know?"
Hermione moved over and sat next to Harry.
"Nothing really, we just thought that maybe you might have been told something, we only know what Ron overheard, and we've already told you that."
Ron nodded earnestly, Harry still felt a bit uneasy.
"Okay. Well I'm afraid I haven't heard anything, except that Sirius is working flat out as well as trying to avoid being identified."
Harry's frown returned as he thought with distaste about Pettigrew's treachery and Sirius' predicament.
Ron and Hermione knew what he was thinking, Ron whispered.
"I'm sure everything will work out in the end Harry."
Harry nodded and sighed, "What must come will come."
The rest of the train journey was as light hearted as the friends could manage, the highlight being when Fred and George came in to show Harry their latest invention… Puzzlement parchment.
It was a parchment that made your writing turn backwards or change shape or completely changed the words depending on what it felt like.
Harry and Ron had fun writing rude things about Snape and watching their words go topsy-turvy until they were laughing so hard that Fred and George decided it might be safer to leave and ran off to find Lee Jordan.
When they finally arrived at Hogwarts the weather had become unusually mild for the first day of term to the delight of Hagrid who didn't seem to fancy another year of treacherous lake crossing.
When he saw them he yelled over,
"Harry! Ron! Hermione! I'll see yeh all later, got sump'in to tell yeh!"
They smiled and waved back before clambering into a carriage.
When he entered the Great Hall with Ron and Hermione the first thing that Harry noticed was how thin, tired and terribly old Dumbledore looked.
Harry almost winced, he hated seeing what Voldemort was doing to him. He saw that Hermione and Ron were looking concerned as well.
They weren't placated by Dumbledore's unusually solemn welcome speech, which followed the strangely subdued sorting. Dumbledore had risen somewhat shakily and pronounced in a faintly strained voice.
"I fear that I must impose some extra rules on you all this year.
There will be a curfew, all students must be in their common rooms by sunset.
All Quidditch practices must be supervised by a teacher.
And it is of extra importance this year that the Forbidden Forest and other restricted areas of the grounds remain out of bounds to all students.
I hope that you will heed my warnings. We must all take the threat posed to this school seriously but if we act accordingly I am sure that all will be well."
By the end Dumbledore seemed almost to be talking to himself and it was only a sharp cough from Professor McGonagall which prompted him to add,
"That is all."
Harry Ron and Hermione glanced anxiously at each other as they ate. They didn't even discuss the absence of any new teachers or the presence of Professor Snape at the teacher's table.
They were too worried, and theirs were not the only worried faces that filled the hall. The only table making nearly normal amounts of noise was the Slytherin table where Draco Malfoy sat sneering something to his cronies Crabbe and Goyle their gormless laughter ringing through the Hall.
Back in the Gryffindor Common Room Harry and Ron agreed that Dumbledore must simply be stressed about everything, that once he had school things to take his mind off Voldemort he'd perk up, but Hermione disagreed.
"He looks positively ill! School worries aren't going to help!"
Harry knew that deep down he agreed with her Ron however brushed her comment aside.
"Come on Hermione, you're being so melodramatic!"
But Harry was sure he heard some apprehension in his voice.
"So, Harry, how was your holiday?"
Hermione said trying to change the subject.
"What did you get up to?"
Harry shrugged, "Not much"
but then he suddenly remembered the Auror he'd met at the Leaky Cauldron, he described the strange encounter and Hermione's eyes widened.
"She didn't believe Dumbledore?!" She exclaimed.
"Apparently not." Said Harry glumly.
"Do you think she believed you?" Ron asked.
"I don't know, she almost seemed as if she wasn't listening to me!"
That night as he snuggled into his comfortable Hogwarts bed Harry thought once again about the tall witch, the Auror who'd questioned him.
She'd said that they'd meet again, what had she meant?
Harry had lots of things flying around in his head. It had been that way all summer, but once again the thing that came to the front of his mind was his parents.
Harry clambered over to his trunk and took out the pictures he had of his parents, the photo album Hagrid had given him was getting a bit ragged at the edges, he reminded himself to ask Hermione about a restorative charm to fix it.
He turned the pages slowly smiling at his parents who waved enthusiastically back at him, then suddenly Harry felt a strange sensation, he recognised it as the same feeling he'd had when he'd gone inside Tom Riddle's diary…
Harry blinked as the scene unfolded before his eyes, he stared in disbelief, there, standing in front of him were his parents themselves, and they were laughing together as they fingered through the photos of their wedding.
They turned towards where Harry was standing, and it was only then that Harry realised that he was standing next to a much younger, healthier looking Sirius Black.
The Potters called to him and Sirius strode over to join them. Harry followed, still hardly believing what he was seeing.
He'd always tried to imagine his parents but suddenly they finally seemed 'real' although he knew that this was all an illusion. Harry followed Sirius to the table and leant over his parents' shoulders to see the photos.
He giggled when he noticed that most of them where of his Dad and Sirius pulling silly faces and of Sirius and Remus trying to give the blushing bride a kiss whilst she was trying to talk to her new husband. Suddenly Harry was jolted from his thoughts by his father's voice.
"So, how is Remus?"
He stared at his father's serious face and then turned to Sirius who replied.
"He's been doing his best, but I don't know if Albus will use him again for a while, especially as it'll be a full moon next week."
Lily Potter looked up from the photos her so very familiar green eyes shining with concern.
James nodded sadly, Sirius continued.
"Yes, he's been trying out the latest potions, but I don't think any of them are doing any good."
Harry thought about how Professor Lupin had needed the Wolfsbane potion to keep his mind whilst in his wolfish state, it must have been awful for him not having control before the potion was developed.
Harry watched his parents and godfather discuss their friend and it was a few minutes before he suddenly remembered what was happening, he decided that he must have fallen into his photo album somehow, he frowned, a knot of panic rising in his chest.
How would he get back?
His parents had gone back to looking at the photos, Harry looked around, they must have been at home. It was a cosy room with a crackling fire, but Harry felt a strange coldness flood through him.
He was just wondering what it could be when he felt his scar stab with pain, he yelled in shock, closing his eyes.
When he opened them he realised with a jolt that his parents were looking at him, but then he realised that someone else had joined him, it was Peter Pettigrew.
Harry felt the anger rise inside him, he was just wondering what he would do when he felt himself being dragged back to reality.
All of a sudden he was sitting on his bed once more, clasping the album in front of him tightly whilst the anger ebbed away.
Harry was rubbing his head, how had it happened? He shut the album and put it back in his trunk carefully, then, exhausted, he flopped back onto his bed and fell into a restless sleep.