Author's Note: Okay, this is the story of the seventh book of Harry Potter. I have titled it "Harry Potter and the Past's Forgotten Mysteries." Anyway, please review and enjoy!
Disclaimer: All of the Harry Potter characters and settings belong to J.K. Rowling.
A Hasty Retreat
Crickets were chirping outside on the street of Privet Drive. Mrs. Arabella Figg's tabby cat, Mr. Tibbles, was meowing mournfully from three doors up. Night was falling fast on the town of Little Whinging. On this late summer's eve children were in bed while drowsy adults sat by the television, sipping cool drinks before retiring. But inside number four, in an upper room overlooking the calm street, there was much excitement going on.
Harry Potter was scrambling about the room, throwing strange things into an already overflowing trunk at the foot of his bed. All of his old spell books, his pewter cauldron, a moving photo album with pictures of his parents, and a jumble of wizard's robes were already piled into the trunk. He picked up his copy of A Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi as he turned to speak to his best friend in the whole world, Ron Weasley.
"Are you sure we have to leave tonight! It seems like they would have given us a little more warning! I mean, Bill and Fleur are getting married. They would have sent out invitations, or something!"
Ron was frantically throwing things into his trunk as well. "I told you, they did! The wedding is tomorrow evening. Errol must have collapsed or got lost or something. They sent him ages ago. That's when the note was dated, anyway."
Errol was the Weasley family owl. He was very old and didn't always complete his missions. Harry recalled a time when Errol had to enlist the help of two other owls to deliver something to Harry.
"I'm just so exhausted. You know, I think last night was a poor choice for staying up all night playing Exploding Snap," said Harry, rubbing his bright green eyes and sinking onto his bed.
"Yeah, well we can at least get a few hours of sleep. Hermione's gone to tell Mum we'll be a little late." Ron sighed, sitting onto his own camp bed and pushing his flaming red hair out of his face. "But I really want to get out of here."
"You think you're sick of this place? I've had to live with my aunt and uncle for sixteen years! I've never been more ready to leave in my life."
Harry's aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley, had grudgingly allowed Harry to live with them since he was one year old, after his mother (Petunia's sister) and father had been murdered by the most powerful dark wizard of the age, the evil Lord Voldemort. Harry had to endure his aunt and uncle's horrible treatment, as well as the abusive behavior of his massive cousin, Dudley. But Harry was turning seventeen tomorrow, which is the age of adulthood in the wizarding world, so he would finally be able to leave for good.
"Yes well, all the more reason to retreat back to the Burrow." They sat on their beds for a long while, their tired, puffy eyes staring off into space. Suddenly Ron burst out, "Oh I can't stand this anymore!" He threw back his covers and crawled into bed. "Come on, Harry. Let's get some sleep. We can finish packing when Hermione gets back in a few hours."
Not needing telling twice, Harry threw back his own covers. "Good night," he murmured, removing his glasses and laying down. He closed his eyes and almost instantly fell asleep.
"Harry! Harry, get up! Get up! Where's something to throw at him?"
"Oh Ron, you're so tactless."
"Well, he won't wake up! We've got to go!"
"Here, let me do it."
Harry felt something warm brush his cheek. Then a very familiar voice whispered in his ear. "Harry, happy birthday!"
Harry opened his eyes. Someone was very close to him. He couldn't tell who it was; there was a kind of white and orange blur. He reached over to his bedside table, grabbed his glasses, and put them on. It took a moment for his eyes to focus, but when they did he jumped with a start.
"Well, it's nice to see you too!" Ginny Weasley was sitting on Harry's bed, smiling and brushing back her beautiful long red hair.
"Yeah, well if that's what it takes to wake him up, I'll leave the kissing to you."
Harry turned his head and saw Ron already up and grabbing his minute owl, Pigwidgeon, and throwing him into his cage. Harry turned back to Ginny.
"Why are you here?"
"Oh, well, I thought I'd come and see my long lost boyfriend, so Hermione brought me here. Side-along-apparition." She smiled and looked to where Hermione was standing a little ways behind her, grinning behind her bushy brown hair.
"Hello again," Hermione said. "You get a good sleep?"
Harry was just about to answer when Ron interrupted him.
"He'd better have gotten a good sleep! We're really late. We were supposed to be gone by midnight, and it's all ready half past! Get up, lazy bones!"
"Ron, it's his birthday!" Hermione said scoldingly, reminding Harry strongly of Ron and Ginny's mother.
"Hey!" Harry sat up suddenly. "It is my birthday!"
"You caught on quick," said Ron, smiling. "And I wish you a good one."
"Thanks," Harry replied. "It ought to be! I can finally do magic outside of school! I can't wait to jinx Dudley!" He snatched up his wand and forced himself out of bed. It was, after all, just past midnight, and he and Ron had pulled an all-nighter only the day before.
Hermione put on a very stern face. "Harry, you know you can't do that! That's against the-"
"Yeah, Yeah. The decree for something with Muggles, etc.," Harry interrupted, too used to Hermione's longwinded speeches about breaking rules. "Fine, I won't jinx him. But Uncle Vernon, on the other hand-"
"Oh ha ha. Anyway, Voldemort can do magic at here now, too. So I agree with Ron." Hermione checked her watch. "We'd better get going."
"Yeah, get up and get dressed. Hermione and I will leave the room." Ginny stood and walked toward the door.
"Wait!" said Harry in desperation, standing up. "Ginny, why are you here?"
"I told you," she said smartly, "I came to see my boyfriend."
Harry felt very confused. "But, Ginny. Don't you remember what we agreed on ...that day?" Harry asked, not wanting to mention the sad event that happened a few weeks ago when their beloved headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, had been murdered.
"Of course I do," she replied, "though I can hardly say that I agreed. I've waited long enough. I don't care what happens. I miss you and I know you miss me." And with that she walked out the door after Hermione and closed it. Harry was left to stare after her.
"Well, it looks like you've got no choice, mate. I grew up with her, and when she sets her mind to something, that's it. There's no changing back." Ron put on a sly smile.
Harry looked back at the door for another moment, then turned to Ron. "I see you're taking this well," Harry said, grinning as he began to pull off his pajamas.
Ron shrugged. "I figure that it's the inevitable. Besides, I've got my own girl to worry about."
Ron and Hermione had finally gotten together at the end of last year. Whenever Hermione popped in to say "hi" they were always together. They usually acted normally, but those spare few minutes when Harry would leave the room were somewhat awkward to interrupt upon return.
When the boys had changed, they let the girls back in. Harry and Ron were gathering a few last minute items before they left, and banging about rather loudly.
"Shh!" Hermione whispered. "We don't want to wake Harry's aunt and uncle!"
"I couldn't care less," Harry said, not bothering to speak softly. "I'm finally leaving! They can't complain."
Hermione muttered something to the floor about, "common courtesy..."
"Have they ever shown me common courtesy?" said Harry defiantly. "Or any of you, for that matter?"
They all reflected back to the end of term last month, when they had gotten off the Hogwarts express. Ron and Harry had walked up to the Dursleys and Dudley had scrambled to the car clutching his bottom. Uncle Vernon said something very rude to Ron and had turned away. Then Harry had informed his aunt and uncle the he would be having a friend to stay with him over the summer. Aunt Petunia had gone deathly white, and managed to stumble back to the car before she fainted. Uncle Vernon had turned instantly purple with his vein popping out. But before he could embarrass himself in front of all of the people at King's Cross, Harry conveniently mentioned that Ron was now of age and could do magic outside of school whenever he liked. To that Uncle Vernon had gone extraordinarily pale, turned abruptly around, and headed back to the car. Ron and Harry had to run to catch up.
"Good point," said Ron, coming out of his reverie. "So we really should leave."
"Are you still going to apparate there, even though neither of you have your license?" Hermione sniffed.
"Yeah, why not?" Ron replied fiercely. "I only failed by half an eyebrow and Harry has been able to do it for ages. He even went halfway across the country with Dumble-"
He fell silent. They all looked at the ground. The loss had still not healed in the slightest. It had only been a month ago, after all. Finally, after many moments of quiet, Ginny raised her head.
"Well," she whispered, "we'd better go. Mum is expecting you, and she doesn't even know that I'm out of bed."
They put all of their stuff into a neat pile. Hermione flicked her wand and it all disappeared to the Burrow, just as Dumbledore had done only a year before.
"Well, let's go. Hermione, do you mind if I go with Harry?" Ginny asked politely.
"Not at all! But Harry, you should really write a note to your family. You might not ever see them again."
"I hope so!" He said excitedly. But to Hermione's stern look he added, "Oh all right." Harry sighed, snatched up a piece of parchment, and wrote a hasty farewell note.
Dear Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley,
Thanks for everything. Sorry for all the trouble.
He placed it on his bed and turned back to his friends.
"Shall we go then?"
They all spread out and prepared for departure. Hermione closed the window so the sounds wouldn't carry into the night.
"We should take turns. Ron, why don't you go first?" Hermione stepped back so he would have more space. Ron stood in the middle of the room, eyes closed in pained concentration. For a moment nothing happened, and then...
He was no longer there.
"Well, you two should go next. I can stay behind in case anything goes wrong," said Hermione.
"Nah, you go ahead. We'll need more room with two people. If there's no one here it'll be... er... easier," Harry said, hoping she had bought it.
"Uh-huh. Sure." Hermione grinned. Then she stepped forward into the middle of the room and CRACK! She was gone too.
"Ready?" said Harry, looking down at Ginny.
"More than ever," she replied, smiling up at him.
They stepped forward into the middle of the room. Ginny snaked her arm through his and gripped it firmly.
"Wait a minute." Harry took Ginny's arm and turned her to face him. Then he put a gentle hand on her cheek and kissed her: a long, gentle kiss that seemed timeless. The concerns around them seemed to disappear for one fleeting moment as they found solace in each other's arms. When he finally pulled back, he grinned at her.
"You were right. I did miss you."
She smiled back at him. "I told you so."
Harry looked deep into her eyes, and felt himself getting lost in them. Why had he let go? Where would he ever be without her? How could he have pushed her aside so easily?
But then... it hadn't been easy. Since that fateful day when he had forced himself to end it he had felt completely and utterly lost in a cruel world. Every day he had spent without her, knowing they were no longer together, had ripped at his heart.
"Ginny?" said Harry hesitantly.
"Hmm?" she asked, resting her head against his chest and closing her eyes.
"I love you."
They were silent for a moment as the three words seemed to echo about the room. Harry was scared that Ginny would throw herself from him, angry at him for moving much too fast. Then Ginny slowly opened her eyes and stared up at him.
"Do you mean that?" she asked, sounding anxious.
Harry nodded. "More than you'll ever know."
Ginny seemed to glow as she went on her toes and kissed him back. "On the contrary, Mr. Potter, I already know," she said, smiling. "Because I love you, too."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief, suddenly feeling happier than he had been since the end of last term. He hugged her tightly, trying to imprint forever in his memory this wonderful moment. But then he remembered all that had happened and what his trials ahead might lead to, he frowned slightly.
"But, Ginny," he said worriedly. "What if-"
"Shh." She put her finger to his lips while he was in mid sentence. "Let's just not worry about it. Time to go." She took his arm again. "Ready?"
"Ready," Harry replied, taking one final look around the room. He had been raised in this house since he was one year old. There were so many memories, though most were not very comforting. He struggled to find something that might make him regret leaving and make this place feel like home, any simple happy memory here. In the closet to his right was where he had hid Dobby the house elf from Uncle Vernon when he was twelve. Harry smiled at the thought. But then Dobby had wreaked havoc in the kitchen, causing Harry to be locked in his room for days and nearly expelled from Hogwarts. No, that wasn't exactly the best time of his life. What about the time when Harry had unleashed the zoo snake on Dudley? Yes, that was very funny, but then he was locked in his cupboard with almost nothing to eat for a week. Harry ran through every memory he could dredge up from this place, trying to find one that had not ended for worse.
Well, there was that time when Hagrid came with a letter from Hogwarts and told him he was a wizard. And that time when Ron and his twin brothers had rescued him and caused Uncle Vernon to fall out of the window. The next year Harry had finally taken revenge out on his
Aunt Marge and had blown her up to the size of a hot air balloon. He had been frightened of being caught at the time, but he never got punished for it. Then there was that time when the Weasleys had come to get him and had caused Dudley's tongue to swell to the size of a small alligator. That had been Fred and George's doing. Then there was a band of Aurors that had taken him to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix via a fantastic ride on his Firebolt broomstick. Then Dumbledore himself had come to take him away, scaring the Dursleys half to death. And now Ginny had come and he was going back with her to the Burrow, forever leaving this place. Well, there was no doubt about it, Harry thought. The only good memories I've ever had here were when I was leaving. Deciding to make the most of this revelation, Harry grasped Ginny's hand and she squeezed it gently.
"One... Two... Three!"
And they turned together into blackness.