Privet Drive Once More.
It was a warm, but cloudy evening in the small park that was a few streets away from Privet Drive. Nine o'clock had just chimed on the cricket pavilion clock, and all the local children had gone home. There was no one to hear the slight pop that came from behind the old oak tree in the far corner of the park. Harry stepped out from behind the tree under his invisibility cloak. He walked as quickly as he could, Ministry Aurors could turn up in moments, and he had no intention of being anywhere near the place if they did.
Two streets later he ducked into an alley and stuffed his cloak into the large holdall he was carrying. He had left his trunk in the care of the Weasley's. He wasn't going to stay at the Dursley's for long, and he didn't want to be encumbered by it. Now the Wizarding World was more dangerous than ever before. Far too soon Harry found himself outside the door of number four Privet Drive where he paused before taking in a deep breath and pressing the door bell. To his surprise instead of his Uncle or Aunt answering the door he was greeted by the sight of a very grumpy looking Dudley, and when he saw that Harry was there his expression turned to one of horror.
"What are you doing here you're meant to be at your freaky school?"
"I could say them same thing Dudders. You've not been expelled have you?" and to Harry's surprise his cousins face flushed and then scowled at him. He turned away and walked back into the kitchen leaving Harry on the doorstep. Bemused that his flippant comment seemed to have turned out to be true he stepped into the house, and closed the door before he was told to leave.
"What are you doing back so early?" Uncle Vernon said as Harry stood in the doorway to the kitchen. They had just finished dinner and Harry noticed the dirty plates had been stacked by the sink waiting to be washed up. The atmosphere was not pleasant but Harry had experienced much worse, both here and in Hogwarts and chose to ignore it.
"The school closed early this year, and there was no time to inform you. I won't be staying long. Just long enough to fulfil a promise I made to an old friend, and then I'll be gone for good."
"Why has your school closed early?" his Aunt Petunia asked. She was looking older than Harry remembered, with more grey hairs and wrinkles that increased her pinched face.
"Professor Dumbledore was murdered by another teacher." Harry had thought about whether he should tell them the truth, but he had decided in the end that he wasn't going to hide anything from them. That way he hoped they would get an idea on how serious things had become.
"He's dead?" Petunia said a stunned look on her face.
"He was killed right in front of me. I'll see you in the morning," and Harry turned to go but his Uncle Vernon had other ideas.
"You're not staying here without paying for board and lodgings boy, and while we're at it some back rent is due as well." Harry stared at his Uncle in disbelief. He had just told him that his Headmaster had been murdered and all he could think about was money.
"We'll speak in the Morning Uncle Vernon and not before, and I give you fair warning two of my friends will be popping in and out of this house while I'm here."
"I will not have your kind popping in and out. You can stay but only if you pay rent, but your freaky friends are not welcome," he shouted in his usually style.
"We'll talk in the morning," and without waiting for any response he went upstairs to his room. He wanted them to get use to the idea that he was back before they had the blazing row about money, and Ron and Hermione visiting. He put his bag down on the floor and sat on his bed gazing out at the familiar view which had changed little in all the years that he had been forced to live here. His thoughts though were interrupted by a light knock on his bedroom door
"Come in," Harry said remaining sitting.
"Harry you're sure he's dead?" Aunt Petunia said a fearful look on her face.
"But he was meant to be the most powerful," and she hesitated, "one of your kind."
"He was, but that doesn't stop you being betrayed by someone you trust. Just like my mum and dad were."
"That Voldemort is going to come after you isn't he?"
"He'll try, but I'll be going after him as well."
"Will he come here?"
"No the blood protection means no harm can come to any of us, how long it will last after my birthday I don't know, and nor do I care."
"But as soon as you leave we could be in danger."
"Maybe but I doubt Voldemort cares about whether you live or die."
"He might use us to get to you as hostages or something." Harry couldn't help himself and laughed, making his Aunt look most affronted.
"You don't need to worry about that he's well aware that I hate you all, and that killing or torturing you would get no response from me." Snape would tell Voldemort all about their Occlumency lessons.
"You wouldn't help us," she looked shocked at Harry's callous statement.
"No, but not for the reasons you're thinking of, I wouldn't help you because I have more important things to do than risk my life for people who wish I'd never been born." Ashen faced his Aunt closed his door leaving Harry alone with his thoughts once more. He really couldn't get worked up about the Dursley's anymore.
The next day was a Saturday so Harry who had always been an early riser had finished his breakfast before he heard any sound of life from the Dursleys. He washed up his own plate and cup, and waited for them to appear sitting at the kitchen table. Vernon was the first down, which was unusual, he picked up the daily paper glared at Harry and sat down.
"Cook my breakfast boy you know what I like, and be quick about it I'm hungry."
"You what boy, this is my house and you'll do as you are told when you're in it. Now make my breakfast."
"No." Uncle's Vernon's face began to go its usual purple colour when something angered him.
"How dare you use that tone of voice with me."
"Uncle Vernon as I told you last night I have two friends coming over to see me in the next couple of hours, and both of them are allowed to do magic," Harry said in the same level tone.
"Do not use that word in my house," and then realisation dawned on what Harry had actually said. "Are you threatening me?"
"Yes, I am" Harry replied smiling as he remembered Madeye Moody's threats at Kings Cross Station the previous year. His Uncle went quiet at this, and some of the colour left his cheeks.
"I still want you to pay for room and board you owe us that." Harry didn't answer straight away wondering whether he should continue being difficult or try and keep the waters calm.
"If you behave, and act civil to my friends, then I'm sure we can come to a mutually agreeable arrangement." That seemed vague enough he thought.
"How dare you make conditions. We've fed and clothed you for years at our own expense, and this is how you treat us. Such ingratitude the youth of today doesn't know it's born." Harry tuned out the rest of his Uncles rant and looked out the window, and what he saw brought a genuine smile to his face.
Walking down the street was a tall redheaded man holding hands with a bushy brown haired woman. Harry leaped out of his chair and opened the front door totally ignoring Uncle Vernon.
"Hermione, Ron it's good to see you, and early too."
"Hi Harry," Hermione said.
"Long time no see Harry," Ron added.
"Come on in I've spoken with my Uncle Vernon and he took the news as well as I expected." Ron and Hermione both drew their wands when the heard this, and held them so that the Dursleys could see them, but not feel too threatened by them. Harry didn't bother to introduce them to his Uncle who was still seething at the kitchen table at being ignored, and lead his friends upstairs to his bedroom closing the door behind them. Harry and Ron sat on the bed while Hermione took the only chair in the room.
"So Harry where do you want to start?" she asked.
"I need to learn Occlumency, and if possible Legilimency as well, so that when we met Snape and Voldemont I'll be better prepared."
"Are you sure Harry shouldn't we be concentrating on trying to find the Horcruxes?" Hermione said.
"I'm hamstrung until I can use magic legally, and I don't want to give Scrimgeour anything to hold over me, so while I wait for my birthday I want to learn something that I know I'll need."
It had become clear to Harry looking back over his fight with Snape that he had been using Legilimency, and knew what curse Harry was going to use before he could even utter it, as he had chased him out of Hogwarts school grounds. Harry's blood boiled at the memory, and the contemptible easy at which Snape had countered all his curses. Shame was also mixed in for his attempt to use an unforgivable, again, and resolved never to do that again no matter what the provocation was. If he could find some spells unknown to the greasy haired git, not an easy task he suspected, it may prevent a repeat performance, although mastering Occlumency would be better. His suspicion that Snape had been opening his mind, rather than teaching him how to close it had been confirmed in the most brutal fashion.
"Ok Harry I'll see if we can find a book or something on them, if not we'll have to find someone to teach it to us. We should all learn how to master both skills," Ron's face fell as he contemplated the thought of having to study out of school.
"Anything else we should be doing?" Ron asked.
"One little thing I've noticed you both still flinch at the name Voldemort," and Harry smiled to himself when they did it again. "I think we should refer to him by his real name Riddle." They both nodded in agreement.
"I could do with some fresh air is there anywhere we can go?" Ron asked. Harry could tell he was less than impressed with Privet Drive.
"Yea there's a park not far from here. We could go there, "Harry answered.
"Come on then," said Ron, "maybe we can terrorise that fat cousin of yours." The three of them made their way downstairs, trying to make as little noise as possible. It was not to be. Disturbing Uncle Vernon usually lead to a pointless argument and a torrent of abuse. He just never learned, the bully in him would not let things lie. Today was no exception. He had been apoplectic when Harry had informed him that Hermione and Ron would be visiting Privet Drive daily for the next two weeks. Harry never gave him a chance to refuse, letting him know that they were both adult wizards, as he would be in a month as well, and in less than two weeks he would be gone forever. It was perhaps that last statement that final calmed him down enough, and when Hermione began talking about her dentist parents he almost started to behave in a normal and civilised manner. He seemed to struggle with the concept of her being a witch from a family that had no history of it, but didn't dwell on it.
Leaving the house without being challenged further they ambled down to the park enjoying the afternoon sun in companionable silence all thinking theirseparate thoughts.
"He must have been a Death Eater," Ron suddenly said.
What, who, where," Harry yelled, half drawing his wand before Ron replied.
"R.A.B. he must have been a Death Eater, that's the only way someone would have found out what Voldemont was up to, maybe he even helped him set up that lake in the cave you went to."
"Could be," thought Harry, "trouble is if he did he must have been dead for ages. I doubt we can follow his trail after all this time, besides where are we going to find a list of Death Eaters."
"I know lets try and ask Sirius's mad mothers portrait, Harry you could persuade her that you want to join Voldemont, and need some names to make contact," Ron said excitedly.
"Don't be silly Ron it's impossible to have any sort of conversation with that evil women, and as you just said she's mad, and keep your voice down this park is full of muggles," Hermione said in low tones.
"Of course," said Harry smacking himself on the forehead, "I think I know who he is. Sirius's had a brother called Reg or something and he had an uncle who left him some money. I think he was called Alphard, or was it Alphonse. That could be his middle initial. I remember Sirius showing me the Black family tapestry and how his brother had joined up and then backed out when he got in too deep. Then he was murdered."
"Harry that could mean that the locket is at Grimmauld Place or in the family vault at Gringotts, and you have access to both of them," Hermione said her face glowing with excitement and forgetting all about the muggles around her. "We should owl Remus he could tell us if the locket was still there."
"Slow down Hermione we need to keep this information tight the more people who know what we're up to, the more likely that Riddle will get to hear of it. Don't forget he's been working undercover. If he gets caught I don't think he could keep the secret under a Legilimency attack or under Veritaserum."
"Harry," said Ron slowly, "remember all that clearing up we did, and the strange items we found like that music box that started to send us to sleep until Ginny closed the lid. There was a locket that we couldn't open, maybe that was it."
"It maybe Ron, it just maybe." Ron's mention of Ginny had distracted him he, tried not to think about her and to stay focused on the job in hand, but it was much harder than he thought possible.
"Harry you've got that thousand mile stare again, don't shut her out you both need each other." Hermione said softly.
"Sometimes Hermione it's a real pain that you know me so well, or have you been studying Legilimency behind my back." He smiled at her as Ron drifted away not wanting to be part of the coming conversation.
"I saw your face when Ron mentioned her. I know that you want to keep her out of danger, but that doesn't mean you should cut her out of your life."
"It's not just that. I need to stay focused on finding these damn Horcruxes, there is nothing more important than that. Everything else has to go by the way."
"No Harry that's not true if you let this become an obsession you could turn," and here she paused taking in a deep breath, "bitter and twisted like Snape." Harry glared at her and she could sense the power radiating off him, but she held eye contact until he regained control of his anger.
"I can't be seen out and about with her Hermione. She would become Riddle's number one target just to get to me. I can't let him do that. It's more important than what we want, if I lose her I am not sure I could go on, and where would that leave the Wizarding World."
"Fine then don't go out and about with her, but don't cut her out completely she's Ron sister you can still meet and talk, and if nobody is sure whether you're an item or not so what. She's smart and can understand probably better than anyone. She knows you inside and out, and what makes you tick better than you do yourself, and in regard to Riddle she wants him dead just as much as you ."
"I'll think about it ok," Harry said hoping she would leave it alone, and much to his surprise she did her point already made. For a while they sat on the grass in the park talking about everything and nothing, and Harry felt his self imposed burden lift. It was important he realised that time spent with friends should not be wasted, no man is an island, and he should fight his tendency to put himself on one. With that thought he grabbed a handful of grass and shoved it down the back of Ron's t-shirt, and ran.
It was close to nine o'clock in the evening when they made their way back to the Dursley's, still picking out the odd blade of grass from their person, although Ron spent just as much time picking grass off Hermione. Laughing as they went up the garden path the door was suddenly flung open and a purple faced Vernon greeted them.
"What have you freaks done to him?" he yelled at them and to the neighbourhood within earshot.
"Done what to whom?" Harry said not bothering to hide his contempt.
"Dudley's been arrested, and you lot are to blame."
"Perhaps if we go inside Mr Dursley, no need to make a public spectacle," Hermione said calmly. Realising what he had been doing he ushered them in glancing up and down the street to see if any one had been listening. Breathing a sigh of relief when he saw nobody in their gardens. They all went into the kitchen, having been banned from the sitting room when they first arrived, to find Petunia sniffling at the kitchen sink vigorously scrubbing an already shining saucepan.
"So what has Dudley been arrested for?" Harry asked glancing at his Aunt as she gave a little squeak when he said arrested.
"Don't think you can play innocent with me one of your lot used your unnaturalness on Dudley, and made him steal a car." Harry tried his best to keep a straight face and barely succeeded. Ron failed and let out a snort, but it was Hermione who made Uncle Vernon explode again.
"Mr Dursley the only spell that could make Dudley do that is an Unforgivable, and using one would result in a life sentence to Azkaban Prison. If anyone of us had done as you have suggested we would now be surrounded by Aurors. A very careful watch is being kept on this house and the local area."
"Don't talk about your freaky ways in my house. I suppose you think my fine boy did this on his own?" No-one said anything for a moment, wondering if they dared say the obvious.
Harry tuned out the argument which continued to rage behind him, and looked out the kitchen window. It was the sort of day Dumbledore loved, and he would never see another one. It suddenly struck Harry how unimportant the Dursley's lives were, and since the death of his Headmaster there was no-one he could turn to anymore. The thought was terrifying and liberating all at the same time. Everything was on his shoulders. He also believed that there was no one else more capable than he was to succeed in destroying Riddle. Apart from Tom Riddle himself no one knew more about him than any other person alive, and no-one was more motivated than he was to end the reign of fear and terror.
"I think we'll leave you both to sort out my wayward cousin, frankly we have better things to do," Harry eventually said, and they all walked out of the kitchen back up stairs before Uncle Vernon could try to stop them. Once back in Harry's room Hermione put up a privacy charm, and they all roared with laughter.
"It was worth coming back just for that moment," Harry said still laughing, "Finally Dudley's getting some justice. That could almost be a Patronus moment, it's a shame I can't be at the police station when they go and fetch him."
"Perhaps you should suggest sending Dudley to St Brutus's Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys," Hermione said with a broad grin on her face. This set them all off again.
"They're both getting in the car," Ron said looking out the window. "That should keep them out of our hair for a few hours."
A little later Hermione left to go back to her parents armed with a large book, and the boys settled down and started to chat about what they were going to miss about Hogwarts the most, until Ron left for the Burrow just before midnight.
With Dudley's bad behaviour the main focus of Uncle Vernon's attention life had been relatively pleasant and the three of them went out of their way to be pleasant and helpful. This had the added benefit of annoying his Uncle and Aunt even further. Harry had planned on staying for two weeks but one morning, with another two days to go, he said to the other two that he had enough and he wanted to leave. The others agreed and without further ado began to help him pack.
"Do you think your mum will mind us turning up early Ron what with the wedding and everything?"
"I don't think so Harry just be prepared to work, mum won't want anybody looking unemployed," Ron replied.
"Why don't you come and spend a few days at my parent's house, I should see them more than I have and they would like to meet you both properly," Hermione said looking slightly nervous as she said this.
I'd like that," Harry said, "but only if you're sure. I wouldn't want to cause you any problems."
"Oh Harry you wouldn't do that, they're very keen to meet the legend who killed Voldemort, a basilisk and managed to outwit a dragon among other things. At times I think they don't believe you really exist."
"What about me then," Ron asked, "do they know about me?"
"Yes Ron they definitely know about you, and they definitely want to meet you."
"Oh it's like that is it?"
"Look Ron I've never bought a boyfriend home before. I'm not sure what their reaction will be." Harry could see that Ron would rather meet Voldemort one on one than meet Hermione's parents, but he managed to pull himself together.
"I suppose I'd better bite the bullet then, the sooner we go the sooner its over."
"Let me give them a phone call first," Hermione said pulling a mobile from her pocket. In just a few words it was all arranged. They had the whole day to themselves as her parents would be working all day and wouldn't be home until six o'clock.
"So what are we going to do for the rest of the day?" Harry asked.
"Well we could continue to do more research, but I can see by your faces that doesn't appeal. Why don't we show Ron the muggle world, and prevent him being so ignorant." Ron looked somewhat affronted at this, after all only Hermione could make a day out be educational, but the new Ron was much more accepting of her foibles, and agreed without argument.
"To be fair Hermione even though I was raised a muggle I am not that knowledgeable, so you're in charge," Harry said. "One condition though no libraries."
"I second that," Ron said quickly.
"Do you really think I would drag you two into a library against your will."
"Yes," they both said together.
"It's not like you haven't done it before," Ron said.
"On more than one occasion," Harry added.
"Well if I hadn't your OWLS results would have been really bad."
"We know, we know and we're truly grateful. Now what do you have planned for us," Harry asked.
"It's boring I know, but Harry some new clothes that fit wouldn't go amiss, and maybe we can see some of the sites." The decision made everything was shrunk down into one piece of hand luggage and they made their way downstairs for the final confrontation with the Dursley's. The three of them were sitting eating breakfast in silence. Dudley and Vernon occasional glaring at each other their relationship had never been the same since Dudley had been told he couldn't go out and see his car stealing friends. Harry suspected that it was the first time in his life that Dudley had been denied anything he had wanted, and it had hit him hard. Petunia was finding it increasingly hard to keep the peace between them, and spent her time trying to butter them both up with their favourite foods and treats. Harry had a hard time deciding who was biggest, Dudley had given up boxing right after his first defeat to someone a stone lighter than himself. Someone in the park had been delighted to tell Harry on his first day back.
"Give me a few minutes while I say goodbye to them," Harry said to Ron and Hermione who just nodded and stepped into the front garden, while Harry walked into the kitchen for the last time. "I am leaving, and I won't be coming back. I should really thank you for looking after me, but that would leave a nasty taste in my mouth so I won't. You were both the Uncle and Aunt from hell, but worst than that you're both appalling parents, so at least when it's my turn I'll know what not to do, and for that I shall thank you. Dudley I hope prison food suits you, my divination skills tell me you're going to be eating a lot of it over the next few years." With that he turned to leave, but just as he reached the door he turned round and said, "by the way I left a gift in the bathroom, it should last for two weeks, or was it two months. I can't remember the instructions were a bit unclear."
"Everything go alright Harry I didn't hear any yells or screaming," Hermione asked when he reached the pavement.
"Don't worry I give it just a few more seconds," and on queue screams and curses exploded from number four Privet, as it became obvious that they had discovered his surprise.
"What did you do Harry?" Ron asked a broad grin on his face.
"Oh I dropped one of the twins portable swamps, when I fetched my toothbrush. If they want a bath or shower they'll be good and dirty when they get in, the trouble is if they want to stay clean they'll have to remain in it." Harry laughed at the thought.
The day passed pleasantly enough but Harry kept feeling that he was shirking his duties until he passed a jewellers with a sign saying that custom made items could be ordered, and made on the premises. He'd had this thought in the back of his mind for nearly a year now, and this seemed the perfect opportunity to act on it, but he wanted to do this on his own.
"Look you two should have some time on your own, how about we meet in Trafalgar Square at four o'clock. I can amuse myself till then, and I am sure you can entertain yourselves for the next three hours, without me being a third wheel."
"No Harry its fine, we don't mind, if you stay with us, we don't want you to feel you're in the way, do we Ron?"
"Come on Harry stay with us if we want some time alone we'll just tell you to sod off alright, does that sound fair?" Ron replied.
"Sounds very fair, but it should work both ways so sod off you two and I'll see you at four by the fountain, ok."
"You're sure Harry?" Hermione asked.
"I wouldn't suggest the idea if I didn't, besides you'll need to prepare Ron to meet your parents," and with that Harry winked, turned around and made his way back to the jewellers.When entered he was greeted by a tall grey haired man in his mid-fifties.
"Can I help you sir?"
"I hope so, I want to create a special medallion in a mix of metals," Harry replied, hoping he wasn't wasting his time.
"Ok sir, what mix of metals do you need?"
"This is going to sound very odd, thirty-seven percent platinum, thirty-seven percent gold, twenty-seven percent silver and nine percent copper which is to cover the first three metals completely, the total weight should be one and a half ounces. I also want a small diamond embedded in it as well."
"I just want to make sure I heard right you want the precious metals covered in copper, you do realise that the copper will tarnish?"
Harry hadn't but a simple spell would prevent that He needed the copper to conduct, and contain the major spells that he had in mind for the medallion, as he now thought of it. "It doesn't matter, I realise that this is out of the ordinary, but can you do this?"
"Oh yes that's no problem, the cost though maybe, this won't be cheap, one offs never are, and with a design I can safely say it will be more than a thousand pounds, quite a bit more, are you still interested."
"I want you to make six of them, and I think I want a bit of help with the design."
"Come with me to the back office sir, and we can sort it out in private." Harry followed him, grateful to be out of sight. "My name's Philip Clutterbuck, please sit down." The office Harry saw was a place of work piles of books drawings and magazines littered the desk, and floor leaving only the two chairs clear.
"Thank you, I'm Harry, Harry Potter, I expect you'll want a deposit," but he didn't get a reply straight away because Philip was looking totally shocked, and it took a moment for him to recover himself. Harry's heart sank he was known in the centre of muggle London, was there no-where he could go without his past coming to haunt him.
"I am sorry Mr Potter that was a name from my past it quite fazed me for a second there, and the answer to your question is yes we will require a deposit." Thinking that he might not have been recognized Harry made a mistake and ran his hands through his hair in relief revealing his scar in the process. "Oh Lord," Philip said, "it is you what an honour and pleasure, my family has told me so much about you."
Seeing the confused look on Harry's face he went on, "I am a Squib the first in my family in five generations. I decided to join the muggle world, after all who'd want to live without electricity if you're unable to do magic. Will you be paying in pounds or galleons either is fine with me, in fact galleons would be better then neither of us would have to pay commission to the goblins."
A little stunned at this, Harry agreed to galleons and they then settled down to work out the details of his rough design, and a more accurate cost. It took longer than he thought, and with a promise of complete secrecy, even from his family, Harry was forced to jog the half mile to Trafalgar square to meet Hermione and Ron before they panicked.
They took the tube to Hermione's house, as Harry was still without his apparition licence. Ron had managed to retake the test on the first day of the holidays, and passed without fuss or loss of any body parts. Ron found the whole tube experience fascinating, much like his dad Harry thought, saying he wished Hogwarts stairs moved in the same manner as the undergrounds. The actual ride on the train he said was only slightly better than the night bus.
So armed with a bunch of flowers, and a bottle of Mr Granger's favourite whisky they arrived at her parents house, and Harry could feel the nervous energy Ron and Hermione were putting off, and wondered whether he should be feeling nervous too. He wasn't sure what he was expecting to see when he entered the house, but piles of books stacked haphazardly in the hall, half way up the stairs and endless overloaded bookcases everywhere, didn't surprise him. The sheer disorganized mess did. Hermione was if nothing else highly organised, perhaps that was her way of rebelling.
It also became clear that her parents were also nervous about meeting him and Ron, and it took a few minutes of stilted conversation for them all to relax a little.
"How are your parents Ron?" Mr Granger asked, "I always enjoyed our chats at the station, the Ministry treating your father well."
"Err yes they're fine, in fact my dad got a promotion last year."
"Glad to hear that, so your just staying a couple of days then, Hermione said something about a wedding this weekend."
"Err yes my brother Bill is getting married to Fleur Delacour, she was a Tri-wizard champion, not a very good one though," he added quickly seeing a frown crossing Hermione's face at his mentioning her name.
"I expect she found the competition was too good, hey Harry," he smiled at him.
"She's alright and she seems devoted to Bill," Harry replied. At dinner that night Harry was quiet and withdrawn as he attempted to listen to the conversation around him, but his mind kept wandering.
"You seem distracted Harry," Mrs Granger said as she and Hermione brought in the dessert.
"I'm sorry but I kept thinking about the enormous task ahead of us, and I'm trying to find some way to get a grip on the whole thing."
"Oh what task is this," she said looking at her daughter with a questioning look. "I thought Hermione that we agreed that you would tell us everything that happened in the Wizarding World good or bad."
"This is Harry's task that I'm helping with mum, and it's not my secret to tell."
"But if this affects your safety we want to know. Not knowing if there is something to worry about is much worse Hermione. Ignorance is not bliss."
"Is that your family motto Mrs Granger?" Ron asked hoping to deflect the criticism away from Hermione.
"No Ron we don't have a motto," Mr Granger said laughing, "but it could well apply to Hermione, couldn't it dear."
"Yes I suppose it could, but I would still like to know how much danger you're in."
"Mrs Granger there is no question that what we'll be doing is going to be dangerous," Harry said, "and I totally agree that ignorance is not bliss, in certain circumstances it can be fatal."
"So what is this task that you've got to do and who told you to do it?" Mrs Granger insisted and Harry now understood where Hermione's inquiring mind, and refusing to take no as an answer came from.
"We need to find certain things to make sure that when I kill Voldemort he stays dead this time. I don't want to give you any more details than that just in case the worst happens Mrs Granger. In answer to your second question I guess Professor Dumbledore started the task, and now he's dead it's up to me to finish it." Both the Grangers were shocked by Harry cold assertion that he was going to kill Voldemort the most powerful wizard in existence.
"How can you possible think that you can kill him Harry, Hermione has told us all about him, and your history with him, you've not even graduated from Hogwarts yet?" Mr Granger asked.
"I have no idea how to kill him. I guess that's why I'm a little distracted and overwhelmed."
"When I have a problem that seems too big to handle what I find best is to take it one step at a time, don't worry about what you don't know or understand, just concentrate on the things that you have some power over, and sooner or later the pieces will come together and everything will fit."
"Easier said than done dad this isn't one of your chess problems," Hermione said.
"No it's not, but the principle is the same."
"Ron here plays a good game of chess," Harry said wanting to change the subject and Mr Granger's eyes lit up at the prospect of a real challenge. Dinner was hurriedly cleaned up and a muggle chess board was brought out of a cupboard, and once Ron got use to the idea of actually having to physical move his own pieces the game became tense, and to Harry's surprise engrossing.
Two hours later Harry was out of his depth, and had decided that Ron had always played down to his level when they played each other. The game was no where near finished when he suggested a drinks break.
"Harry," Ron whispered once Mr Granger had left the sitting room to get the drinks, "do you think I should let him win so he approves of me as Hermione's boyfriend?"
"Can you beat him?" Harry asked.
"I think so he's good, but I think I've got the measure of him now."
"Well of course you should beat him this is an academic house, and if you want to fit in it better be by chess, because I don't think you stand a chance any other way."
"Yea fair point," Ron said grinning. It took him another two hours, but finally and witnessed by the two female Grangers Mr Granger admitted defeat. Harry wasn't sure who was more pleased Ron or Hermione, but the ice had been truly broken.
The next two days illustrated to Harry that families were not the same. In the same way that the Dursley household were the opposite of the Weasleys, so the Granger's were quite different again. It was a friendly place, but unlike the Burrow it was a great deal quieter and calmer. Harry was able to relax more there without worrying about upsetting the Dursley's, or being pranked by the twins, or fed to excess. He was sad to leave in the end, but keen to go back to what had always been his real and first home the Burrow.