Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters, places, events, etc.

Summary: Set after HBP. Harry decides to hold firm to his promise of searching and destroying Voldemort's remaining four horcruxes. Aided by his friends and all those whom he calls family, Harry's quest begins and continues with danger, puzzles, new friends, new foes, and an ever-continuing lesson of life's many surprises, good and bad.

Chapter 1: Farewells and Beginnings

Lightning flashed outside as thunder crashed, its voice tearing through the air like a vicious predator. Mist rose from the ground, which was being pelted by the rain. Trees' limbs bent from both rain and wind, the wood creaking even as leaves were torn from their stems. Though it was well past dawn, no trace of the sun was visible through the opaque clouds that gathered in thick swarms over the city of London.

In the house number 4 Privet Drive, in the smallest bedroom on the second floor, a young man watched as the storm raged, mirroring the emotions he had felt just three weeks ago. His black hair was messy and stuck up in the back, as if he'd just rolled out of bed and not bothered to comb it. His emerald green eyes were gentle, yet blazing behind his round-rimmed glasses. He was a bit thin for a seventeen year old, and wasn't as tall as most teenagers his age. In fact, were it not for the thin scar on his forehead, he would seem like the kind of person who could easily go unnoticed. However, this, though he dearly wished for it to be so, was not.

Harry Potter, the 'Chosen One', 'Boy-Who-Lived', and supposed future savior of the magical world, had just turned seventeen at one minute past midnight that morning, or rather, pre-dawn, for the darkness of night and the shadows of the storm had still had their reign over the skies. He watched through his window as the clouds continued their domination over the sky, growing larger with each moment. They seemed to signify the growing challenge that would eventually be his, the war that was growing to higher levels, the revenge that was so desperately thirsted for on both sides of light and dark. But where am I? He thought. In the night or in the day? Perhaps in the middle? He shook his head, a faint smile crossing his face. He was not in the night, the dark, the evil that was Voldemort's side. He never would be, too many people had sacrificed themselves, too many people had been forced to make choices that they did not want. He would not let their efforts go to waste.

Harry stretched, moving off his bed to ready his possessions. Naught but a day ago had he received a letter from Remus Lupin, the last true Marauder, that he would be leaving Privet Drive, once and for all. Hedwig, his faithful snowy owl, was already secure in her cage, and his trunk was packed and locked. His presents and cards that he'd received that morning were carefully tucked away in a backpack he'd gotten from Dudley, or rather, one that's straps could no longer fit around the miniature whale's bloated arms. His wand was tucked into his jeans pocket, Harry grabbed the cloak he'd left out and threw it over his arm before levitating his things down the stairs.

Along with his birthday cards, Harry had received a letter from the Ministry of Magic, officially declaring him a legal adult in the magical world, and therefore allowing him free usage of magic. He grinned when he thought about how the Dursleys would have reacted if he had been remaining here for the rest of the holidays. His grin vanished. He would not be returning to Hogwarts.

That much he had decided after Dumbledore had died, no, been murdered, by the man he had trusted so much: Severus Snape. Just thinking of him made Harry's blood burn, but he quickly squashed the memories of the slimy traitor from his mind; he had more important things to concentrate on, namely the lost horcruxes of Tom Marvolo Riddle.

Reaching the landing downstairs, Harry left his things in the hall and went into the living room, where the Dursleys were on this Sunday morning. They looked at him with a mixture of irritation and fear as they took their gazes from the telly. "Yes?" barked Uncle Vernon, the large, beefy, senior-whaleman with more muscle than common sense; and-- seeing as how sorely he lacked the first-- that was saying something.

Harry took a breath, ignoring his Uncle's rudeness. "Remus Lupin is coming to pick me up," he said quietly, his voice just audible against the crashing of thunder that sounded outside. "I'm seventeen now, and I won't be a burden to you anymore. I won't be coming back."

Only Aunt Petunia seemed to realize the importance of what he was saying. The two males simply nodded, or rather, wiggled their enormous and various chins in acknowledgement before returning their attention to the telly. Petunia looked at Harry, and he thought he saw a flicker of concern, but the faint thought that it could be for him was replaced by an inner sigh of what-else-did-I-expect when she asked. "So the wards here won't work anymore?"

"No," Harry answered. "They probably won't. With Dumbledore-" his voice caught in his throat, but he cleared it and forced himself to go on. "With Dumbledore dead, I don't think they even exist now, and I don't know anyone else powerful enough to re-create them."

She nodded. "Very well." At that moment, the doorbell rang, but its faint chime was nearly lost due to the thunder.

"Get that, would you boy?" Vernon barked.

"Yes, Sir." Harry replied. "Good-bye." Petunia nodded, but her husband and son did not notice.

With the oh-so-touching farewells over, Harry went to the door, and opened it to reveal a rain-covered Remus, who was smiling slightly. "Hello Harry, ready to go?"

Harry nodded, putting a smile on his face as well. "Yup." He replied, grabbing the handle of his trunk and putting on his cloak.

"Don't you want to say good-bye to your relatives?" Remus asked, a faint look of concern on his face.

"Already have, thanks though."

"Alright, then let's be off, shall we?" Remus offered Harry his arm, and the younger wizard grasped the trunk and Hedwig with one hand before laying his other on Remus' arm.

He took one last look at his 'home' for sixteen years of his life, and brought up the memories it had come with. With a slightly bitter smile, Harry realized that the only good one he had was the day he had received the letter from no one, it now seemed so long ago, nearly a lifetime. As he took in the gardens that were overflowing with water, the grass that was bent and drowning in mud, the pressure of apperation overwhelmed him, and number four Privet Drive vanished from view.

Harry and Remus arrived in another part of muggle London, only about two blocks away from the Leaky Cauldron. It was a small, neat, normal neighborhood, with small, neat, normal houses. One of these houses was number 35, the house Remus had just bought last month under a new name when he had invited Harry to live with him.

It was raining here as well, but the storm didn't seem so ominous, unlike it had at Privet Drive. It seemed like the rain was washing away all the dirt and grim of the past, and the lightning was lighting the way to a new beginning as the thunder boomed its support of change. All in all, it was already an improvement for Harry, and he hadn't even been inside.

Remus led him up the driveway, jogging so as to get out of the wet sooner and out of public view, though most people would not be looking outside anyway. Unlocking the door with a key and tap of his wand, Remus opened the dark wood door and held it open for Harry. Immediately as he stepped in, Harry was swamped by a soothing warm he'd only known during his visits to the Burrow, and on his returns to the Gryffindor common room after a particularly disappointing day.

"Well," said Remus, "Home sweet home." Harry grinned as he took in the house's appearance. The walls were a nice cream color, with dark wood borders on the bottom and top of the walls. In the entrance hall, oak flooring was polished and smooth. A stairwell was to the left, and a hallway to the right. If he made a u-turn to the left from where he was standing, there was a large room, with one wall made entirely of an enormous mirror. It was furnished with squishy, dark red couches and a mahogany coffee table, chessboard, and end table. Through that room, which was the living room, another hallway led to the dining room. There was a simple, square table,big enough for four people, and a lamp hung over it, while a window allowed a view of the storm outside.

From the dining room led an entryway to the kitchen, with white tiled flooring, a large refrigerator, a stove, oven, microwave, cupboards, and other cooking supplies. To the right of the fridge was another entryway, leading three ways. One led to a bathroom, the one to the right led to the entrance way again, and the one straight ahead led to the parlor room. The parlor room was blue-themed, with a white trim and several paintings on the walls, namely of scenery that was very soothing to Harry. A large brick fireplace commanded the left wall, while a sliding glass door took over the right, leading to the backyard porch.

Remus led Harry up the stairs, to where the bedrooms, bathroom, and study were. The bedrooms were connected via the bathroom, and the study was around the corner to the right. Harry's bedroom was the one on the left of the bathroom, and he entered it with his trunk floating behind him. It was slightly bigger than his bedroom at the Dursleys, and much more welcoming. Remus had already gotten him a bed, dresser, desk, bookcase, and a perch for Hedwig, which was next to the window. The carpet was a light blue, and the walls were white, the smell of fresh paint was still hanging faintly in the air.

"What do you think?" Remus asked as Harry looked around.

Harry turned around and smiled, "It's great Remus, thank you."

Remus smiled back. "No trouble, Harry, no trouble at all. After you unpack, how about some lunch?"

Harry nodded in agreement and began to remove his things from his trunk, and let Hedwig out, setting her cage next to the perch. Harry mentally used the incantations needed to put his things away, something he had been working on since early that morning. Although it reminded him of Snape, Harry did his best to keep his thoughts off the former head of Slytherin house.

His robes he hung up in the closet, while he packed his muggle clothes in the dresser. His schoolbooks went into the bookcase, and his school writing supplies in one of the drawers in the desk. Since he didn't know what to do with his potions equipment, Harry just set it aside for now, planning to ask Remus later. This took him about forty-five minutes, since it was harder and more time-consuming to silently spell everything. But instead of disappointing him, it only served to urge Harry to practice it more often, now that he was legally allowed.

Looking around at his room, Harry smiled. For the first time since that fateful Halloween, he had a home.

Author's Notes:

So, what do you think of the first chapter? I know it's not terribly exciting, but I do appreciate you taking your time to read it anyway, and I would like to hear your opinions. Although the main action bits might not be starting until maybe chapter four or five, I hope you'll stay with me that long. Also, I believe I should tell you know that this story is not going to be a year-long story. It is going to take Harry several years to recover and destroy all the horcruxes. Unlike in my other story, he doesn't have anyone to teach him about horcruxes or ancient magic, he's got to learn it all on his own. Even so, the years might pass faster than you might, or might not, be thinking. I don't want the story to drag, you see.
I'm hoping to get things accurate in this story, so I'll be doing a lot of research for the places I'm planning forHarry to visit in his quest. So, if I miss anything or make an error, please, I ask you now, let me know! I want this fic to be accurate, enjoyable, and satisfactory. Thank you, once again, for taking the time to read this.
Sincerely, A .S .Leif