Chapter 1

Happy Birthday Harry

Harry sat at home attempting to write an essay on the three uses of the Bluegee Root, but all he could do was stare at his calendar, with the days marked off by a thick red marker. In three days, he would be sixteen, and soon after he could go back to Hogwarts. He'd promised McGonagall that he'd stay put for the summer, not go back to the Department of Mysteries.

But once he got back to Hogwarts, he was going to research more about the veil and find a way to get Sirius back. After the conversation with Luna, he couldn't get the thought out of his head—the voices, behind the veil; there must be a way to see him, to talk to Sirius. A part of Harry knew better; he knew that he shouldn't dwell on impossible dreams. But what if it was possible? All he wanted to do was apologize. "I'm sorry; I'm sorry Sirius." Desperately Harry wanted to take it all back. If only he'd listened!

Letters poured in from his friends, more so than any summer in the past. Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Neville, even Luna and other members of the DA, would send letters. They all seemed overly cheerful, with the exception of Luna's, and asked lots of questions. Perhaps they were all checking up on him, making sure he was staying safe and not doing anything stupid.

Sure enough, every three days a letter would arrive from someone in the Order. Usually it was a letter from the Weasleys, but occasionally Lupin or Moody would write. They always requested a reply, making sure that the Dursleys were treating Harry well.

At the beginning of the summer, the Dursleys all tip-toed around Harry. After all, Mad Eye Moody's threats were fairly frightening. So for the most part, the Dursley's just ignored Harry, which was just fine as far as Harry was concerned. They never acknowledged his presence. He could do, say, or take whatever he wanted and none of them would complain. Even Dudley had given up on bullying him.

But as time went on, Vernon got a bit more daring, adding in insults here and there. Annoying as it was, Harry ignored most of it. He wanted to get through the summer as quickly as he could and with as little trouble as possible. Only a tad longer than a month remained and then he could go home to Hogwarts. But little did Harry know that today everything would change.


Aunt Petunia was holding her monthly Tea and Read party. All the neighborhood women would come to drink tea and discuss some random book. Harry had yet to see any of them actually read a book. Most likely, the women used the time to all sit around and share gossip.

Harry came down to the kitchen for breakfast. Entering the room, he heard a gasp. Immediately Harry looked behind himself, expecting to see some hideous monster or something incredible. But everything was normal. Slowly Harry realized, they're gasping at me. Forgetting breakfast, he hurried out of the room.

As the door swung closed behind him, Harry heard all the women talking at once, "Is that him Petunia. How do you do it Petunia? Doesn't he scare you, Petunia?" and on and on they went. Without thinking, Harry left the house and Privet Drive completely. He had to get away.

He spent most of the day plotting ways to rescue Sirius, but each plan seemed lousier than the first. I have to find a way to save him, I must, Harry thought, it's my fault that he died. Died?! But he can't be dead. What kind of death is that? Harry hadn't noticed how cold he was getting, until a startling shiver ran down his spine. The sun was setting; he needed to return to the Dursley's.

Nearing Number Four, Privet Drive, Harry could hear Dudley yelling to his dad, "Hold the door shut, Daddy, don't let it out. It wants to kill me!"

Instinctively, Harry ran over to help. Once in sight of the house, Harry saw Vernon holding the door shut by leaning his whole, plump body back. Standing a few feet back, Petunia had her arms wrapped most of the way around Dudley's massive body. She looked as though she was humming in an attempt to calm the boy down. Dudley's face was pale; he looked at the door as if it were about to kill him.

"What's going on?" Harry asked, reaching his hand down towards the pocket that held his wand. He knew he wasn't allowed to do magic outside of school, but he wasn't about to be caught defenseless.

"You!" Vernon yelled at Harry, but didn't move away from the door, "You let this thing lose, to kill Dudley."

"What?" Harry was thoroughly confused; "I didn't let anything… what are you talking about?"

"I… I," Dudley blurted, "I was just walking by your door. And it came out… it was trying to get me, to eat my feet! It wants to kill me!" A loud thud came from something as it banged against the door. Dudley visibly jumped and nearly knocked Petunia to the ground.

"You better put this right, boy. I will not be driven out of my house," Vernon said. Even though Vernon didn't remove a hand from the doorknob, Harry could visualize the man shaking his chubby index finger in his face.

"Look, Uncle Vernon," Harry said in the calmest voice he could manage. "I could be more helpful if I knew what you were talking about."

"You'll fix this," Vernon threatened. Turning towards Petunia and Dudley, he continued in a sweet comforting voice, "You two best wait further back, in the yard perhaps." Dudley and Petunia tried to move away as quickly as possible. Dudley lost his footing when they attempted turn around. And, by clinging tightly to his mother, Dudley managed to pull Petunia down on top of himself.

Harry snickered at the sight of Petunia trying to pull the mammoth boy back up to his feet, but stopped when Vernon began to speak again, "Harry, I'm going to open the door." Vernon had an overly calm voice and an insane look on his face. "And you do… you fix… well do whatever you do…"

"You want me to do magic?" Harry asked innocently.

Uncle Vernon's face turned red; he looked ready to pummel Harry. But the door behind him banged loudly again. And Vernon's face changed. He looked almost gleeful. One hand on the door, Vernon was actually smiling sadistically now. Then, he jerked the door open swiftly. Harry had his wand in hand—ready for attack. But he didn't see anything. He glanced over to where Vernon had been standing. He wanted to ask him what to look for, but Vernon was halfway across the yard hiding behind a shrub. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw something move. Examining it closer, Harry couldn't help but laugh. The Monster Book of Monsters was scurrying towards him.

"It's just a book," Harry managed to say, after gasping for air. He hadn't laughed so hard in a long time. The others didn't seem convinced. Vernon was still huddled behind the shrub, and Petunia and Dudley were out in the street hugging each other. Remembering the book just in time, Harry jumped up and landed on it. The book let out a muffled scowl. He looked around for something to tie the book up with, but couldn't find anything. So he bent down and stroked the spine. When he felt the book relax, Harry stepped off and scooped it up to hold it in his hands. It began to purr and flopped open, ready to be read.

"See," Harry said, about to walk over and show Vernon. But the man backed further away.

Shrugging his shoulders, Harry walked inside. He almost dropped the book once he saw the condition of the house, apparently the book made its appearance when all the women were still here. Broken and spilled teacups filled the room, two lamps were broken, and half-eaten shoe bits were scattered around the room. Well at least the ladies will have an interesting book to discuss in the future, Harry chuckled to himself. Back in his room, Harry secured the book with his belt; it had been left flung on the floor. Dudley! Harry decided. He must have been snooping through my things again. Serves him right!

With the book safely in his trunk, he went back to find his uncle. Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley were all huddled just outside the front door, their wide eyes darting around searching for any sight of danger.

"Where is that- that thing," Vernon sputtered.

"My book is back where it belongs," Harry said calmly. "Where it would have been all along if someone hadn't been poking around my personal belongings. I should think-"

But Harry was cut off, "You, boy," Vernon spat, waving his finger a millimeter from Harry's nose, "you will be cleaning this place up. Back to normal. And no- no… none of that funny business."

The glare from Vernon let Harry know he was getting off easy. Not wanting to bother with a long, drawn-out fight, Harry submitted and began picking up the mess. Vernon stomped upstairs, Petunia and Dudley following closely behind him. It took a long time, and Harry was starting to get very hungry. He hadn't had a thing to eat all day. With two of the lamps broken, the room was very dark. Therefore, it was hard to see all of the crumbs. Finally, when he was fairly certain the room was clean, he went to look for his uncle. He found the man coming down the stairs, dragging his trunk behind him.

"I'll have no more of this nonsense," Vernon yelled! Harry began to protest, but Vernon yelled over him, "You and all your abnormalities will go into the cupboard and stay there."

Harry was about to argue, but then he caught sight of Petunia and Dudley carrying down Hedwig's cage. They held the cage at a very awkward angle, trying to stay as far away from it as possible.

"You be careful with Hedwig," Harry yelled charging up the stairs towards them.

But Vernon caught Harry by the hair and pulled him back down to the ground floor. "Boy, get into that cupboard," yelled Vernon as he pulled Harry towards the small door.

Twisting, Harry managed to push Vernon away. Bits of his hair hung from his uncles clenched fist, "I'm not-" Harry began to argue.

He stopped abruptly when Vernon pulled out Harry's wand. Harry's hand automatically jerked towards his trouser pocket. But, my wand, he thought frantically. How did he get my wand? II left it on the bed, when I put the book away. How could I be so stupid?

"You give that back," Harry said. He tried to sound forceful, but it came out a bit desperate—a detail that Vernon had not overlooked.

Smiling joyfully, Vernon continued, "Get in the cupboard or I will break your little stick."

"You wou-"

"One," Vernon's face was absolutely cheerful, chipper even.

Harry stepped forward, maybe I can pull it out of his hands.

"Two," Vernon began to bend the wand gently—just a bit more pressure and his wand would snap.

"Okay, okay, okay," Harry yelled, waving his hands. He probably looked really foolish, but Harry didn't care. Vernon couldn't break his wand—only two wands shared that same phoenix feather. That fact had saved his life before.

Harry hesitated momentarily, but complied when Vernon nodded towards the cupboard. He found it hard fitting into the tiny space; he was much bigger now than before and his big trunk was in the way. Sitting all scrunched up, Harry looked up at his uncle's smiling face. "If you break my wand, I'll kill you," Harry said plainly.

If the comment had any affect on Vernon, it didn't show. Hedwig's cage was shoved onto his lap and the door was slammed shut.

"You'll stay in there till the summer's over. Then you can have your bloody stick back. But you'd better behave. I don't want to hear another sound out of you or that bird again." Harry heard the thunderous footsteps as Vernon stomped away.


The night passed and Harry didn't hear another word from any of them. The next morning as the Dursleys walked past his cupboard, Harry yelled, "Once I leave here, I'm never coming back."

But that was perfectly fine with them. Vernon was wandering around the house in a sort of bliss, contemplating ways to erase all evidence of Harry from their lives. They had plans to move to a perfectly normal house, in a perfectly normal neighborhood, so they could begin their perfectly normal lives once again. No one would know of Harry or his abnormalities.

And so the day continued to creep by. Another night came and went, and the Dursley's never acknowledged his presence. He attempted to work on his schoolwork, which was hard with Hedwig on his stomach and his feet all cramped up. There simply wasn't enough room to even be somewhat comfortable. And his stomach was growling madly now. He hadn't had any food in a while.

Harry threw down his quill! What was the point of completing his summer course work? Darkness was filling the cupboard—a sign that another night had come. As he looked up at the ceiling, he listened intensely for any hint of movement in the house. He thought about all the sleepless nights that he had experienced because he was thinking about Sirius, and now sleep seemed even more impossible in this tight space.

But he was just so tired, and without noticing it, Harry's body slipped into slumber and his mind drifted off into a dream. Oddly enough, he found himself standing alongside Hermione at Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions. She held in her hand the most hideous purple and yellow poke-a-dotted bow tie. She was trying to purchase it using muggle money. Harry tried to explain to her that he didn't need the tie, that he didn't even like purple. But Hermione couldn't hear him; it was like he wasn't even there.

She began to cry, "I don't understand. What do you mean muggle? Money is money, I must have this, I need to get it for-" But then Hermione's face flushed, and her eyes darted around the room. Suddenly, Hermione tossed the tie into the air and ran to the door. She ran straight into a man who wrapped his arm around her, like a father comforting a scared child. Harry realized he recognized the man—Voldermort smiled back at him.

Harry awoke, his scream piercing the silent night. Before Harry became cognizant that he was still crammed into that tiny cupboard, he heard a loud bang somewhere in the back yard. He could hear windows shattering all along the back side of the house. Harry used his arms to cover his head; he thought everything above him would collapse. The temperature around him was rising fast. I'm gonna burn alive, stuck in this damn cupboard, he thought.

For a moment, Harry almost lost consciousness, but then just as quickly as the blast came, it disappeared. Silence and calm filled the air like nothing had happened at all. Harry expected to hear the sounds of panicked Durley's bumbling down the hall, but all he heard were snores.

A creepy feeling swept over Harry—the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. His throat became dry. He was afraid to open his eyes, afraid that perhaps he was imagining everything. Am I going crazy? Perhaps I am still dreaming, yes that's it…

But then Harry heard a sound; the front doorknob was being fumbled with. Slowly it crept open; Harry was breathing quickly now. He held a hand over his mouth. I wish I had my wand, why did I leave my wand? Tears welled up in his eyes; he was so scared, he thought he might cry. Footsteps swept quickly and quietly across the room and he heard them climb up the stairs. There's two of them, he thought, one of whom is fairly big. Are you robbers? Please let it be just average muggle robbers. But the footsteps walked directly to his room, as if looking for him. What do I do? How do I protect myself?

Harry tried to position himself so that he could fight, should it come to that. His body didn't seem to want to respond like normal. He was so tired and cramped. Hedwig, sensing his tension, looked at Harry as if to say, "Open my cage, I'll attack whoever wants to hurt you."

No, Hedwig. I don't want you to get hurt either. Harry was ready, or somewhat ready. If I have to, I can leap out, hopefully catching them off balance. And then I can run away, and hide till morning. But the plan seemed feeble at best, and he wasn't even sure he could get his legs to work.

Above, the footsteps circled the room. They sound a bit frustrated, angry…if footsteps can sound like that. Oh, I'm just going mad, plan mad. If only I hadn't left my wand! The footsteps began to walk out of the room—quickly, determined. They know where they're going; they're coming for me.

The figures stopped, right in front of Harry's cupboard. They quietly began to open the lock. They still think I'm asleep, good, I can catch them off guard. This gave Harry a bit of confidence, just a tiny bit.

The door started to open slowly, but Harry didn't wait. He lunged forward with all the strength he could muster. Little good it did, the man barely even flinched. Harry, meanwhile, toppled limply to the ground. Not willing to give up, Harry tried to crawl away, then tried to struggle to his feet. But his legs just wouldn't move properly!

The bigger man stooped down and scooped Harry up like he was a rag doll, and then placed a hand over Harry's mouth so he couldn't scream out for help. Harry flailed his arms around wildly, and kicked the other man with his feet.

"Lumos," whispered the smaller man, so quietly it was almost silent.

The larger man now held Harry's wrists; his grip so tight Harry that could barely move. As his eyes adjusted to the light, Harry could make out one man's face. Snape, Harry thought to himself with a gasp. Why are you, Dumbledore trusted you, you're supposed to be a spy. Why, I knew you were… Tears welled up in Harry's eyes; he was nearing a complete panic attack.

Snape saw the boy's face and lifted his wand near to Harry's brow. Harry squeezed his eye's shut, expecting some painful curse. But when it didn't come, Harry opened an eye. Glancing upward he saw his captor's face. Instantly, his whole body relaxed. Hagrid!

He felt like turning around and hugging the man, but then questions raced through his mind. What are you doing here, why are you holding me like this, what was that loud blast…

Hagrid's caring face looked back at him, his eyes full of determination. Releasing Harry's wrists, he brought his hand up his mouth and held his index finger across his mouth. You want me to keep quiet? Harry nodded that he understood. Hagrid released Harry from his firm grip and waved his hands, motioning Harry to follow.

My wand, what about my wand, Harry thought. And so he quietly whispered, "Um, Hag-"

But before Harry could continue, Snape had his hand covering Harry's mouth. His force was so strong that Harry fell backwards. Before he could fall to the ground, Snape caught him and righted the boy. Again Hagrid put his finger to his mouth; he looked more scared than he had before. Harry didn't want to leave without his wand. He darted his eyes around, looking for a way to communicate without words. He pointed towards Snape's wand, then at his own body, and then back at the wand. My Wand, he desperately thought.

Reading Harry's thoughts, Snape pulled out Harry's wand from his pocket and held it towards the boy. Harry reached out quickly to snatch it away. But before Snape let go of the wand, he made his grip on Harry's mouth a bit tighter. Okay, no talking, Harry nodded. Snape let go of Harry and Harry's wand, and pointed in Hagrid's direction.

Harry was about to obey, but then thought, What about Hedwig? She's being so quiet; it's like she knows… Harry pointed towards his cupboard and opened his mouth to talk. Snape looked livid, ready to pounce. But no sound came out of Harry; he just mouthed the word "Hedwig."

Looking relieved, Snape nodded understanding and motioned for Hagrid to gather Harry's things. Silently, Hagrid scooped up Harry's trunk with one arm and gracefully grasped Hedwig's cage with the other hand. It was amazing how he hadn't made even the slightest sound.

Harry didn't have much time to contemplate this, though. Snape took hold of Harry's arm and was more forcefully urging him out the door. Harry tried to walk, but his legs felt like jelly. After a few steps, he flopped to the floor. Snape looked down at him, clearly annoyed. Harry looked back up, apologetically. I'm sorry, he thought, and struggled back to his feet. A few steps later, Harry fell back to the floor. This time, Snape pulled Harry up to his feet. He turned to look at Hagrid, as if trying to pass the boy off. Hagrid obviously had a lot to carry already, so begrudgingly Snape lifted Harry up and slung him over his shoulder. Harry attempted to break free. I can walk by myself. But the strong arms wouldn't let him go. Blushing, Harry gave up. He didn't want Snape to carry him, but there wasn't much he could do to get away.

Once outside the door, Harry saw three brooms. Snape extinguished his wand, but Harry didn't hear the spell. Snape deposited Harry on one of the brooms and then got onto his own.

Meanwhile, Hagrid freed Hedwig and positioned the trunk on the other broom in such a way that he could fly without letting the trunk go. Strange, why don't you use magic to levitate it behind you? Harry thought, but everything is just so weird, what's going on?

Hedwig circled above, waiting for Harry and the others to come. As the brooms lifted from the ground, Harry could see Privet Drive below him. The glow from the full moon was the only light visible, but it was enough to make out the havoc below. Off in the distance, cloaked figures rushed towards the Dursley house—they scurried like a pack of ravenous dogs. Weaving around the many houses, these figures appeared to be searching for something.

Harry nearly screamed, or even thought he did, but he heard no sound leave his lips. Sensing him, all the figures froze and stared up towards him. He couldn't see their faces, but Harry knew they were looking at him. He felt their glare pierce through him and a sharp pain stabbed at his scar. The world was beginning to blur, a strange tingling spreading up from his feet and hands to the very core of his body. He felt his body slipping off of his broom, but someone caught him before he fell. How odd, he thought, as he slipped out of consciousness.


When Harry woke, his first thought was, what an odd nightmare. But then he realized he was not waking at the Dursley's—the bed was soft, too soft. He jerked back into consciousness. It wasn't a dream, where am I? He reached for his pocket, but his wand wasn't there. Vernon, Vernon has my wand. But Snape gave it back. Snape, where's Snape? The room was dark, so he couldn't see anything. He climbed out of bed. His legs were still very wobbly. Someone had removed his shoes and his glasses were gone. He reached around blindly, feeling for a nightstand, but couldn't find one. Looking around the room, Harry saw yellow light vaguely hinting at a doorway. He tried to walk to it, but couldn't. Falling to the floor, he submitted to just crawling. Before he could reach the door, it swung open. Harry closed his eyes tight; the light was just so bright.

"Good, you're awake," said Snape's voice dryly, then muttering a spell to illuminate the room. And then he added, "Eat, Potter." Harry's eyes slowly adjusted to the light. Snape was carrying some sort of tray and hovered it above the bed. Leaving the tray, he came back to Harry, who was still on hands and knees. Harry tried to protest, but Snape pulled him by the arm back to bed. Without complaint Harry climbed onto the bed and sat down. Meanwhile Snape stood there, staring at Harry, as if unsure what to do next. "Eat," he commanded.

Harry flinched, automatically preparing to shove food into his face, but then opened his mouth to ask a question. Unsure if he should speak, he closed his mouth again. Perhaps with the light, he could find his glasses on his own.

"Speak Potter," Snape said, in a more casual tone of voice. "What do you need?"

"My glasses," murmured Harry, "I, I can't see well without my glasses."

"Accio Potter's glasses," ordered Snape. Harry could hear the glasses leave the bedside table, and land in Snapes hand.

"And my wand, where's my wand?" Harry said as Snape gave him his glasses.

"It's on the night stand." After putting on his glasses, Harry scrambled across the bed. Once his hands wrapped around his wand, he felt much more at ease. Harry openly sighed in relief, but Snape said nothing, just watched him closely. Then he spoke, "Now eat. When was the last time you ate?"

"That depends, what day is it?" Harry asked, finally able to look around the room. They were at Grimmauld Place; he was in Sirius' room. Harry's heart sank as feelings of guilt flooded back to him.

"July 31st," replied Snape.

"Then three days, I think," Harry replied casually. Picking up his fork, he started to consume his meal.

"Why in Merlin's name would you go without meals for three days?" Snape spat, as if accusing Harry of starving himself.

"Well, if you didn't notice, I was in a tight spot," Harry replied sarcastically. "I didn't have much time to run down to the market as it were."

"Fine, eat your meal. Later on, we have much to discuss," Snape said, and left the room. It was only after Snape left that Harry realized, perhaps Snape wasn't accusing me at all, maybe Snape was angry that I had been deprived of food for so long? Oh, but that's stupid, Snape's probably happy to find someone that hates me just as much as he does.

After finishing his meal, Harry lay back, he was so tired. At least he could stretch out completely; he could feel the nutrients beginning to move throughout his body. Aches and cramps that he hadn't realized he even had were beginning to relax. I wonder if Snape slipped some sort of potion into my food.

Whatever the reason, he was feeling much better and decided to go and find Snape. First, he put his wand back into his pocket and then, finding his shoes, he slipped them on. He was still a bit wobbly on his feet, but managed to walk out the door. Harry went down the stairs to the kitchen where the Order used to meet. Standing at the doorway, Harry saw Snape sitting at the table, bent over a pile of paperwork. Unsure about entering the room, Harry just stood there.

"Come in and sit down, Potter," ordered Snape without looking up from his work. Harry obeyed and sat down at the table; he didn't know what to do next. "Potter, if you haven't realized, it is now okay for you to speak. You're out of danger."

Blushing, Harry asked, "Um, about that. Why wasn't I allowed to speak?"

"The werewolves would have heard you," Snape calmly replied, as if it were common knowledge.

But of course, the werewolves, Harry thought to sarcastically respond. But, instead, he said, "Sir, what werewolves?"

Clearly annoyed, Snape replied, "Surely you saw the werewolves. You've seen a werewolf before."

"So those cloaked things," he asked, "those were werewolves?"


"Um, why were they after me?"

"The Dark Lord sent them."

"But how did he do that?"

"A potion."

"But how would a potion send werewolves after me?"

Snape, speaking slowly, as if talking to a five-year-old, said, "The potion was to control the werewolves. The Dark Lord gave them a command to find you. And so they did."

Harry was getting angry, "Look sir, obviously I don't know what's going on. How could I? Why don't you just explain it all to me, instead making me fish it out of you with twenty question?"

"Oh Potter, you exaggerate. You haven't asked twenty questions," Snape calmly replied.

"Fine," Harry said, starting to get up from the table.

"Sit, Potter," Snape commanded. "I'll explain everything." Snape got up and cleared the paper work from the table. Then he sat back down with two glasses of water. "You remember Lupin's assignment to work with the werewolves?"

Harry nodded.

"Well, just this morning, Dumbledore received an alarming message. All it said was, "wolves sent to find Harry." And it was signed "L". Dumbledore sent Hagrid out to see if he could find any sign of werewolf movement. What he found was surprising. Out, no more than two miles in every direction, werewolves were converging on your location."

"But the wards," interrupted Harry. "Shouldn't they protect me from harm?"

"Werewolves are different. It involves ancient magic, much of which we can't understand. We had no idea if the wards would hold or not. When Hagrid sent a message about the situation, Dumbledore was out. He said he was going to attempt to find Lupin at one of his safe houses. I had no way of getting word to him about the situation. I waited for as long as I could; at first, the werewolves were progressing very slowly. But then something happened—an explosion of some sort. It marked your house so that the werewolves knew where to go. And suddenly, they were moving much faster; there was no time, so I took the floo to Mrs. Figg's and joined Hagrid."

"You came to save me," Harry mumbled in surprise.

Snape ignored him and continued, "We had to be as quiet as possible in your house. Any sort of noise or commotion would have drawn the werewolves' attention."

"But I thought the house was marked already."

"True, but werewolves are mostly beast. They're attracted mainly to motion, sound, and smell."

Harry opened his mouth to ask a question, but he wanted Snape to continue, so he didn't say a thing.

Snape hadn't noticed and spoke on, "When we got to your room, you were gone, and we saw your wand discarded on the bed."

Harry thought he heard Snape's voice waver, was he worried about me?

"But then, Hagrid motioned to look downstairs. So I followed him. What were you doing down in that cupboard anyway?"

At first, Harry was angry. How dare he ask that? But then Snape didn't look like he was trying to be mean, or to poke fun. Suddenly, Harry blushed and looked away. He didn't want to answer. But Snape didn't say a word; he just waited for a response.

"I.. um, my…" Harry didn't know where to start, but Snape remained silent. " Dudley let my book loose and it messed up the house," Harry blurted, and looked up to Snape for some sort of reaction.

Snape just looked confused, "Your book? I don't understand. Did you have some sort of Dark Magic book?"

"No, I..."

"Why are you afraid to tell me?"

"I'm not afraid," Harry defended himself. But Snape didn't look antagonistic, so Harry continued. "I'm embarrassed." Harry paused. Snape was the last person he wanted to be explaining things to. "I was out for a walk. And Dudley must have been going through my things. He undid the belt around my Monster Book of Monsters…. I knew I should have thrown out that book. I'm not in Care of Magical creatures anymore. It's just that Hagrid gave it to me. For my birthday." Harry realized he was rambling, "Where is Hagrid anyway?"

"He returned to the castle, to wait for Dumbledore's return."

Harry waited for something more, but realized he ought to get back to the subject. "Well, the book got loose in the house. When I got back from my walk, it had the Dursley's all outside on the front porch. Uncle Vernon was holding the door shut, so it couldn't get out and hurt Dudley." For a moment Harry was sure he heard Snape snicker, but when he looked up, Snape's face was stoic. "Well. Vernon opened the door, and I got the book under control. Then I put it back in my trunk. And then I went downstairs to clean up the mess. I hadn't realized at the time, but I'd forgotten my wand upstairs on my bed." Harry flushed an even darker color. "I was so stupid! How could I have forgotten my wand?"

Harry expected him to reply, "That's not such a shock, Potter; you've done stupider things before," but Snape said nothing of the sort. Instead, Snape said, "I still don't understand why you were in the cupboard."

"By the time I had finished cleaning up, Uncle Vernon had stuck all my stuff in my trunk. He shoved it in the cupboard. And he said if I didn't get in the cupboard, he'd break my wand."

Snape snorted.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Harry shouted, feeling defensive.

"You realized that you are the target of the Dark Lord?"

"Yes," Harry muttered. He didn't think he liked where this was going.

"And you know, that at any moment someone might come along to try and attack you?"

"Yes, but—"

"I cannot imagine any reason for you to be without your wand," Snape lectured. "It is a rather stupid mistake. Do you want to die? Would you like the Dark Lord to torture you?"

Harry kept his eyes down, he didn't want to respond.

After a long, awkward silence, Snape continued, "And you've been there for the past three days, I assume." Snape was looming over him; it made him feel very uncomfortable.

"Yes, sir," Harry sheepishly replied.

Neither of them spoke again for a few minutes. Harry didn't know what to say, and he assumed Snape didn't either.

"Well," Snape said, breaking the silence, "Happy Birthday." The way Snape said the phrase; it sounded more like a reprimand. Harry had to think hard, to actually realize what the man said.

"You knew today was my birthday?" Harry asked, both confused and annoyed with the man for bringing it up.

"Famous Harry Potter, but of course I know your birthday," Snape spat. "You had a good number of owls waiting to be paid in your room. It took several knuts to get rid of them."

"I'll pay you back later," Harry snapped. If he had a cake, he'd blow out all the candles wishing that Snape would just disappear.

"I'll be back down later, I expect you to be in bed by then. I assume you can manage on your own?"

"Yes!" Harry said, grinding his teeth.

Harry stared at the stairs for a while, making sure Snape was actually gone. He couldn't believe that Snape had found him in his cupboard… he'd never live that down. It wasn't until some time had passed that Harry noticed the chocolate cupcake in front of him. How did that get there, Harry wondered. Did Snape? No, it couldn't be. Well, obviously Snape gave it to me, but Hagrid must have asked him to.

Author's Note:

So this is my first fanfic ever. Please leave some reviews; they'd be much appreciated. After reading AYLNO I have been inspired to write. (Especially since AYLNO is complete, I'm sure to go through some withdrawal…) I'll try my best to keep my story in-character and free of any Mary Sues. Oh, and I should be updating frequently. My friend Nefla, pesters me daily to write.

I've gone through this again, briefly... trying to fix errors and oocness. I know Snape's off, he gets better I think. If you have any suggestions for further improvement, let me know.