Harry Potter and all characters, etc. belong to J. K. Rowling, not me.

Dumbledore Answers Harry – Chapter 1 – Harry's First Question

When Harry woke up in Hogwarts' hospital wing after facing Professor Quirrel, who was possessed by Voldemort, he found Professor Dumbledore with him, and he asked the elderly headmaster to answer some questions, "…things I want to know the truth about…."

"The truth." Dumbledore sighed. "It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution. However, I shall answer your questions unless I have a very good reason not to, in which case I beg you'll forgive me. I shall not, of course, lie."

"Well…Voldemort said that he only killed my mother because she tried to stop him from killing me. But why would he want to kill me in the first place?"

Dumbledore sighed very deeply this time.

"Alas, the first thing you ask me, I cannot tell you. Not today. Not now. You will know, one day…put it from your mind for now, Harry. When you are older…I know you hate to hear this…when you are ready, you will know."

And Harry knew it would be no good to argue, but he had to anyway. "Sir, this makes twice that Voldemort's tried to kill me. How can I put it from my mind?" Harry asked politely.

"It would be…too great a burden for one so young. You should enjoy your childhood," Dumbledore answered softly.

Harry made sure to be polite as he argued with the headmaster. "But sir, I already know that Voldemort wants to kill me. How would knowing why make it worse? With all due respect, Professor Dumbledore, I think that knowing that he's after me is the burden, and there's no way that can be taken away from me. I have never enjoyed my childhood until I came here. The Dursleys have treated me like a slave not worthy of the air I breathe.

"The first happy day I ever had was when Hagrid came for me. I've had fun here, but I've also faced a troll, a possessed broom, a possessed teacher, and Voldemort himself. I've always wanted to be a normal boy, but I'm not. Please tell me why. I need to know that I'm not just some kind of freak!" At this point young Harry was losing his battle against tears.

Professor Dumbledore was watching the little boy in front of him crying, and he realized that Harry was right. Putting him with the Dursleys, whom Professor McGonagall called, 'the worst sort of muggles imaginable,' did insure that Harry didn't enjoy his childhood. He made the decision so that Harry could have the blood protection that his mother provided, and now it was probably too late to change his mind.

But the fact was that Harry was right. He never did have, nor would he ever have, a normal childhood. Dumbledore thought to himself, 'He already knows Voldemort's after him, and he's not going to forget it. Why not tell him the reason?' Dumbledore made his decision.

"Harry," he replied, "I had hoped that you would be grown up before you faced Voldemort again, but I see now I was wrong. You haven't been back in the wizarding world for a full year yet, and you've already faced him. And this won't be the last time. You see, before you were born, a prophecy was made that said you would have the power to destroy Voldemort."

Harry looked genuinely surprised, "M-Me?"

Dumbledore nodded gravely, "Yes, you. This is a secret. Don't tell anyone, not even Mr. Weasley or Miss Granger. Voldemort heard part of the prophecy, and that's why he tried to kill you, and will, I'm afraid, continue trying to kill you when he has the chance. I can't tell you the exact contents of the prophecy, until you have learned a skill called occlumency, which is a way to stop Voldemort from reading your mind, should he attempt it." Dumbledore sighed, "I shall endeavor to teach you next year, if you so desire. Although it may be too difficult at that age…"

"I-I'll try," interrupted Harry, "sir. I want to know what it says. I have to know." Then Harry's expression changed from determination to fear. "Why hasn't Voldemort attacked me at the Dursleys? Will he do it this summer?"

"Relax, Harry," said Dumbledore, "Voldemort cannot attack you at the Dursleys' house. There is a reason I placed you there when you were a baby. There is a type of protection that I put there that required that you call the place where your mother's blood resides home. In other words, it works because your Aunt Petunia is your mother's sister. While you can still call home the place where your mother's blood dwells, there you cannot be touched or harmed by Voldemort until you turn seventeen. That is when you become an adult in our world and that protection expires."

Harry half-smiled, "Well, at least there is a reason I live there. But can't you do something about how they treat me?"

"Not very much directly, but I believe I can make sure that you stay there for as little time as possible. You only have to live there for six weeks per year. I can make sure that six weeks is all you have to stay with them. If I'm not very much mistaken, Mr. Weasley will be asking his parents if you can spend part of the summer with them. I will speak to them of this matter, and see how they feel about this. I will also speak to a few other families, as well. I am certain that I can arrange for you to spend all but the first six weeks of the summer away from the Dursleys. I will write the Dursleys about this matter, and send it in the muggle post." Dumbledore looked at Harry and smiled. "I should probably send another copy of the letter with you, just in case they dispose of mine. I shall let them know that someone will be at the house to pick you up on July 21st at noon. I shall also remind them that if they do not find you there, I will send Hagrid after you."

"Thanks," replied Harry excitedly, "Then I won't have to spend my birthday with them."

The school year ended quickly after that, with Gryffindor winning the house cup after Dumbledore awarded extra points to Harry and his friends. When he went home, the Dursleys had gotten the letter. Uncle Vernon commented, "I wish you wouldn't come home at all." They made him keep Hedwig in her cage, but aside from that, they didn't treat him very badly.

The main reason for this was that they didn't know he wasn't allowed to do magic outside of school. Harry hadn't told them that rule, but he had feared that Aunt Petunia would remember that from growing up with his mother. He spent most of the day up in his room. Since Professor Dumbledore had specifically mentioned that Harry needed his books so he could study during the summer, they even allowed him to keep his trunk in his room (Dudley's second bedroom), with the instructions, "Don't you dare take any of that freak rubbish out of that room!"

Harry did enjoy the way they seemed to fear him without admitting it, but he wasn't about to push his luck. He kept his copy of the letter from Dumbledore on his desk. The only thing that concerned him was that he hadn't gotten a single letter from either Ron or Hermione since the summer began. He hoped they hadn't thought it over and realized that he got them into too much trouble last year, so they didn't want to be his friends anymore. 'Well,' he thought to himself, 'I'll deal with that when I have to. It wouldn't be the first time I didn't have any friends. At least Dumbledore will get me out of this place soon.'

Despite the lack of communications, Dumbledore was as good as his word. At five minutes before noon on July twenty-first, there was a knock on the door at Number Four Privet Drive. Harry was already waiting downstairs with his trunk and Hedwig's cage. Dudley was not at the house. Uncle Vernon opened the door to reveal a middle-aged red-haired man in a bad muggle outfit who was smiling as he said, "Hello, my name is Arthur Weasley." He held out his hand as though to shake Uncle Vernon's. However, Vernon silently stared at him. "Er, I'm here to pick up your nephew, Harry Potter."

"Hello, Mr. Weasley," called Harry as he got up from his chair and grabbed his trunk and cage, "It's good to meet you. I'm Harry Potter." He put down his trunk for a second to shake Arthur's hand, which was still pointed at Uncle Vernon. "I've got all my stuff in my trunk, so I'm ready to go."

"All right then, Harry." He turned back to Vernon, whose face was purple by this point. "Mr. Dursley, you won't see your nephew for nearly a year. Aren't you even going to say goodbye to him?"

"It doesn't matter," replied Harry, as he grabbed his trunk and started to step out of the doorway. However, Mr. Weasley put a hand on Harry's shoulder to stop him.

"Well," said Arthur to Vernon, who was eying the wizard's wand.

"Bye then," muttered Vernon.

"See you later," responded Harry.

It apparently was enough to satisfy Arthur, because he let Harry leave. Harry walked outside to see an old turquoise Ford Anglia parked in front of the house. He saw his best friend, Ron, standing next to the car. He happily walked to the car, struggling with his stuff. When he got to the car, Ron opened the trunk so Harry could put his stuff in it. Ron asked, "Harry, how come you haven't returned Hermione's or my letters?"

"What letters?" inquired Harry, sounding confused. "I didn't get any letters, and Uncle Vernon hasn't allowed me to let Hedwig out of her cage, so I couldn't send any, either."

Ron smiled. "I figured it was something like that, but I wonder why you haven't gotten any letters. I mean Errol, our owl, is old, but he always delivers his letters, even if it does take him longer than most."

"Well, anyway," stated Harry, "It's good to know that you and Hermione have been writing me, and even better that I get to leave the Dursleys." By this time, Mr. Weasley was back at the car, so Harry said, "Mr. Weasley, thanks for letting me stay with you."

"It's an absolute pleasure!" replied Arthur, "You'll have to tell me all about those wonderful muggle devices in there that run off of eceltricity."

When he arrived at the Burrow, he was greeted by the rest of the Weasley clan. Percy politely said, "Hello, Harry," and shook Boy-Who-Lived's hand.

Fred commented, "Hey, Harry. We wish we'd have picked you up."

"We'd have flown the car," added George.

"Flown?" asked Harry, not sure if they were pulling his leg.

"Boys," said Arthur, smiling, "Just because it can fly, doesn't mean we should fly it. If we were seen flying the car, I could get into serious trouble."

"So the car can fly, but you're not supposed to?" asked Harry, unsurely.

"Exactly," responded Mrs. Weasley. "It's against the law. It's good to see you, Harry!" She then squeezed him into a bone-crushing hug.

He then saw Ron's little sister standing there, looking uncomfortable. He was proud that he remembered her name. He walked up to her, greeted, "Hello, Ginny," and reached out his hand to shake her hand. Her face paled and she ran out of the room. Fred and George started laughing and then Mrs. Weasley started yelling at them. Harry was worried he'd gotten the girl's name wrong. He turned to Ron. "Er, what did I do? Did I get her name wrong?"

Ron chuckled slightly, "No, her name's Ginny all right. She's been talking about you all summer is all. I think she fancies you."

"Now Ron," scolded Mr. Weasley, "It's just a crush, and you shouldn't have told Harry."

"I should apologize for embarrassing her," stated Harry.

"Don't worry about her," replied Ron, "She'll get over it."

"She shouldn't have to be uncomfortable in her own home. If your family is kind enough to let me stay here, I should be friends with all of you. I don't want to ruin Ginny's summer."

He then walked off in the direction she'd run. As he did, he looked around, fascinated at all the magical objects there. A magical clock with hands for all the family members that said where they were particularly intrigued him. He saw the petite redhead outside sitting on the porch.

He walked up to her and saw she was looking away from the house. "May I join you?" She turned toward him, startled, and got up. He noticed she was crying. She started to walk away from the house and he called after her, "Please don't go. This is your house. If you want, I'll leave. I just wanted to apologize for making you uncomfortable."

She stopped and turned around. "Y-You don't have to go," she said quickly.

He smiled, causing her to blush furiously. He could tell she was fighting the urge to run away. He commented, "I guess you've heard a lot of the things people say about me, huh."

"Y-Yes," she replied, still standing still watching him.

"You, like almost everyone else, have probably been raised to think of me as some kind of hero. I don't know what happened on the night my parents died. I do know that I wish it never happened. I don't think of myself as some kind of hero. I'm just a boy who's trying to make a new friend."

"F-friend?" asked Ginny, not daring to believe it.

Harry smiled again and walked up to her, extending his hand to shake hers. "Friend." She shyly took his offered hand and briefly shook it. "Do you think you feel like coming into the house?"

"Er, okay. But everyone is gonna tease us," stated Ginny, "They, er, seem to think I, er, have a crush on you, for some reason."

Harry smiled, deciding not to let her know how obvious it was. "That won't bother me. I've had a lot worse things said about me than that I was dating a pretty girl."

He pretended not to notice how red her cheeks went when he complimented her, and held the door open for her to walk through. She walked through the door, and together they came back into the living room to a lot of teasing from the twins, who started singing, 'Harry and Ginny, sitting in a tree, G,' which caused them both to blush. Harry was surprised that he'd blushed over that, but then, that had been the first time he'd been accused of that particular offence.

He greatly enjoyed his time at the Burrow, playing quidditch with the boys, and Ginny, at Harry's insistence, once he found out she liked to play. He even let them all take turns using his Nimbus. The boys were surprised at how good a flier Ginny was. She confided in Harry that she'd been sneaking their brooms out of the broom closet for years. Before he knew it, he was silently celebrating his birthday, happy to be away from the Dursleys. He hadn't mentioned anything to the Weasleys about it, because he felt they were already being too kind to him. He refused to guilt-trip them into doing something special for his birthday.

The day started out as any other, with a quick chess slaughter by Ron after breakfast, followed by a game of quidditch with George and Ginny against Harry and Ron. Fred was a random beater against both teams. Harry and Ginny were chasers, while the others were keepers. Harry found that Ginny was at least as good a chaser as himself (which was fine because his favorite position was seeker), but fortunately, Ron was a better keeper than George, so when they decided to quit, Harry and Ron's team was still barely in the lead, so they won 250 to 230.

After the game, while everyone else was going inside, Ginny asked, "Harry, could I talk to you for a minute?"

"Sure, Ginny. What's up?"

"Er, I just want to thank you for, y'know, insisting that they let me play quidditch. Now that I've proven I'm a decent player, I think they'll let me play whether you're here or not. You're a really good friend."

"Er, thanks, but it was nothing. I just knew how I used to feel when no one would pick me to play on their team at muggle school because they knew Dudley and his gang would beat them up."

"What? That's terrible. And your aunt and uncle let him treat you like that?"

"They encouraged it. At least until this summer. They don't know I'm not allowed to hex them so they were afraid if they pushed me too far I'd turn them all into lizards."

"That's advanced magic," commented Ginny.

"I didn't say I could. Truthfully, the worst hex I know is the full body-bind, 'Petrificus Totalus,' and that's cause I saw Hermione do it to Neville the night we went after the stone. I'm sure Ron's told you about that."

"Er, yeah, although he's probably a bigger hero in his version than yours," replied Ginny, appearing to look over his shoulder toward the house.

"My oldest brother, Bill, who's a curse-breaker, taught me a hex when he visited earlier this summer. He said if anyone tried to bother me at Hogwarts, to use it on them and they'd never bother me again."

"Really," asked Harry excitedly, "What is it? How do you do it?"

"It's called the 'Bat-bogey hex,' but I'm not telling you how to do it, in case you end up using it on me."

Harry looked slightly hurt. "Why would I use it on you?"

"For revenge after I end up using it on you," she answered, smiling. She then said, "Come on, let's go inside," before he had a chance to argue.

He followed her inside, and was surprised to see that no one was in the living room. Ginny commented, "I guess it's already time for lunch. Everyone's probably in the kitchen."

"It's strange that your mum didn't call us inside," noted Harry as he opened the door to the kitchen.

"SURPRISE!" was shouted at Harry from behind and in front of him. He looked around to see the Weasleys, Hermione (who for some reason had soot on her outfit), Professor McGonagall, and Professor Dumbledore. He saw a table full of goodies, including a cake that said, 'Happy Birthday Harry!' He blinked back tears as he realized that he had just walked into the first birthday party of his life.

Hermione walked up to him timidly and greeted him. "Happy birthday, Harry. I'm glad they got you away from the Dursleys. They didn't seem too friendly. I hope you've enjoyed your summer."

"Yes, I've been enjoying my stay here. It's great to see you again, Hermione!" he replied, beaming. Harry didn't notice Ginny frown for a moment behind him. "I thought you were on vacation with your family."

Hermione answered, "I am. We're staying at a wizarding house, so I just flooed here for the party. It was my first time. It's a lot different to do it than to read about it. I fell over. At least I got the destination right. I would hate to wind up in some dodgy place like Knockturn Alley."

"Flooed?" asked Harry. "What's that?"

"A magical way to travel by fireplace," explained Mrs. Weasley. "We'll be going to Diagon Alley that way when we get your booklists."

"Oh," replied Harry, nervously, thinking that if Hermione fell on her first try, he'd probably break his leg on his first try.

"Happy Birthday, Mr. Potter," greeted McGonagall with a small smile on her face.

"Thanks, Professor," responded Harry.

"Happy Birthday to you," said Dumbledore. "If you've no objections, I've taken the liberty of asking the Weasleys if it would be all right for me to stop by once a week starting this Tuesday at seven p.m. to begin your lessons during the summer so that it won't take as much time away from your studies during the school year."

"Er, that should be fine, professor. Thank you."

"Lessons?" asked Hermione, sounding extremely interested, "What kind of lessons are you giving Harry, Professor Dumbledore? Is it something I could learn as well? I'm sure I could get my parents to let me floo here on time for the lessons."

Albus smiled at her, "If only ever student at Hogwarts were as eager as you. Well, I don't suppose an extra student would make much difference if you wish to learn it as well. What I'll be teaching Harry is called occlumency. It is…"

"…a defense against legilimency, which is an invasion of the mind with the purpose of stealing information from the victim." She smiled broadly. "That sounds absolutely fascinating! I'd love to learn it, although I am curious why Harry is studying it."

"Alas, Miss Granger," replied Dumbledore, "That is an extremely confidential matter which I'll thank you for not asking Mr. Potter about."

Hermione's ears turned pink. "Er, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry."

"That's perfectly all right, Miss Granger. Curiosity is not a sin. In truth, your thirst for knowledge is most refreshing. I wish that more students had a similar desire to learn."

"I'd like to learn occlumency, too," declared Ginny, who'd been listening in.

Dumbledore's eyebrows raised, "Really, Miss Weasley?"

"Yes," Ginny answered firmly.

Albus' eyes twinkled. "Apparently, your thirst for knowledge is so great that you can't wait for your first year to begin. You may join the lessons if you wish, but you may find it difficult to keep up. Normally, I'd wait for a student to be in his or her fourth or fifth year, but it is important to Mr. Potter that he learn it now. Mr. Potter, the gift I gave you, which you haven't opened yet, is a book on occlumency. I'd like you to read chapter one before our first meeting. I request that you share that book with your new classmates until the first lesson. I'll bring two more books with me then."

"But, professor," replied Hermione, "We can buy…"

"Nonsense," interrupted Dumbledore with his eyes merrily twinkling. "If I'm not mistaken, Miss Weasley's birthday is in August and yours is in September. Consider them early birthday presents. I can't show favoritism toward Mr. Potter, now can I?"

"I guess not," responded Ginny, happily.

"Then, we're in agreement. If you'll excuse me, I believe that there is a slice of cake that is calling to me."

After Dumbledore walked away, Ron, who'd been listening from afar, walked up and commented, "I can't believe you guys! Taking a class during the summer? That's nuts!"

Harry explained, "I have to for reasons I'm not allowed to say, and if the girls want to take the lessons too, why shouldn't they?"

"This class isn't even part of the Hogwarts curriculum, so it's a unique opportunity," added Hermione.

"And it's being taught by Dumbledore himself," stated Ginny.

"Maybe Harry has some important reason," conceded Ron, "but you girls are both mental."

"Come on, Hermione," said Ginny to the brunette, "I'm sure Ron doesn't want to hang around 'mental' girls like us. Besides, there's something I want to talk to you about." They both left the boys by themselves.

Ron smiled and commented, "I'm glad we got rid of them. Let's have some cake."

Harry replied, "You shouldn't treat them like that."

"Like what?"

"Like they don't mean anything to you! Like they're freaks. That's the way the Dursleys treat me." Harry stormed off in the same direction the girls had gone.

Ginny had dragged Hermione to her room, not completely closing it, and asked, "I need to know, is there anything going on between you and Harry?"

Hermione blushed, "Er, no, er, why?"

"Then why'd you blush?" demanded Ginny.

"Honestly, he only likes me as a friend…"

"…but you'd have no objections if he started to fancy you?"

Hermione's cheeks got pinker. "Er, maybe, why?"

Ginny put her head down to hide her red face. "Er…"

"Don't tell me?" asked Hermione. "You fancy him, too?"

"Maybe," responded Ginny, "but since right now he doesn't fancy either of us, I think he's fair game."

At that moment, they heard someone walking down the hall, with Ron shouting after him.

"Come on Harry! Why do you care so much? Especially about Ginny. You've only really known her for a few weeks! Do you fancy her or something?"

Harry turned pink. "Er, well, I, I don't know. Maybe. I'm not sure." At that moment, Ginny was smiling ear to ear behind her door. "I do know that I'm her friend."

"Do you think you might end up dating her?" asked Ron.

"Er, maybe. I don't know. I'm just as likely to date Hermione." Hermione was smiling at that moment.

"HERMIONE?! Why would you want to date her?" asked Ron, sounding as though Harry had said he wanted to date a goblin. Hermione was glaring at the door. It's truly amazing that a hole didn't burn through the door from Hermione's glare.

"SHE'S A NICE GIRL!" shouted a clearly upset Harry, causing Hermione to calm down a bit. "They both are! Any bloke would be lucky to date either of them!"

"I know Hermione's nice, but she's, she's, …it's like dating McGonagall!" It took all the restraint Hermione had, in addition to Ginny's hand on her shoulder, to stop her from opening the door and slapping Ron across the face right there. She'd never been so insulted in her life.

"Just because she studies more than us doesn't mean she wouldn't be a great girlfriend. She's always been nice to me. Do you know she said I was a great wizard before I went and faced Quirrel? Me."

"Oh, I get it. She's joined the 'Harry Potter fan club' like Ginny, so now you're deciding which one you want. Must be nice."

"You know what, Ron, let's just drop this conversation. I'm going back down to my party."

The girls heard Harry walk down the stairs while Ron went on to his room. "Well," stated Ginny, "That was informative."

"Yeah," agreed Hermione. "Ron thinks I'm scum and Harry can't decide which of us he fancies." She sighed. "I guess this is a competition."

Ginny said, "May the best redhead win."

After a few minutes, the girls rejoined the party, followed soon afterward by Ron, who seemed to remember that there was food downstairs. Harry enjoyed the rest of the party. After he'd opened his gifts, he told Hermione, "You're the fastest reader I've seen. Do you think you can read that chapter and return the book tomorrow?"

Hermione smiled at Harry. "Of course, Harry. You can always count on me. I'd be glad to talk about the chapter with you once we've both read it."

Ginny suggested, "Why don't we read it together once Hermione returns the book?" At that moment, Hermione realized she had a tactical disadvantage.

After the party was over and the guests had left, Ginny asked, "Harry, can you come up to my room to talk about our occlumency lessons?"

"Er, I suppose so, but there's not much to talk about yet."

When they got in her room, Ginny surprised Harry by saying, "Either you know something or Dumbledore wants to tell you something that needs to be kept a secret."

Harry's ears turned red. "Er…"

"I knew it!" declared Ginny excitedly, "Which is it?"

"I, er, can't say…"

"I know you can't tell me what the information is. I'm just curious if you accidentally learned something you shouldn't have or if you're about to be told something you should know."

Harry sighed, "I'm going to be told something. That's all I can say."

"I know," said Ginny, "I was just curious. I…"

At that moment, a house elf appeared in between them, and said, "Harry Potter, sir, Dobby is honored to be meeting you, and your Wheezy. Dobby is having trouble sir. Dobby is needing to tell you both something…"

"Then why don't you sit down," suggested Harry.

"S-Sit down?" replied Dobby, beginning to cry.

"Yeah," agreed Ginny, "There's room on my bed."

"Dobby has heard of Harry Potter's greatness, but never has Dobby been asked to sit down by a witch or wizard, like an equal."

"I guess you haven't met many decent people then?" responded Ginny.

"No I haven't. Bad Dobby!" At that moment he started banging his head on the wall until both Ginny and Harry pulled him away. "I is punishing myself! I has spoke ill of the family I serve. They is planning great evil against you two!" When Dobby tried to punish himself again, Harry and Ginny, together, held him so he couldn't move.

"What family is that," asked Ginny.

"Malf," answered Dobby, before shutting his mouth.

"The Malfoy family?" asked Harry.

"Yes, diary, Wheezy girl, Riddle," he managed to say before struggling away from them, snapping his fingers, and disappearing.

"Great evil, the Malfoy family, diary, Weasley girl, riddle," repeated Harry.

"Apparently there's a riddle that involves me and a diary," surmised Ginny, "The Malfoy family is behind it, so naturally it's evil."

"Strange," commented Harry. "I guess we should be on the lookout for the Malfoys."

Hermione returned the borrowed book the next day as promised, and Harry read the first chapter at the table with Ginny sitting next to him, reading along. It was actually surprisingly quite interesting. It told about a technique to clear your mind before you sleep every night, which they both vowed to begin immediately.

It warned that a full out assault on the mind of one who has no occlumency shields will always destroy what little resistance they may naturally have, making them completely vulnerable to all mental assaults. It would always give them severe headaches, and is likely to cause serious brain damage if the victim's mind isn't extremely strong to begin with.

Therefore, the way to learn occlumency is by the teacher starting with a weak legilimency attack, and slowly increasing the intensity of the assault as the student's occlumency shields strengthen. It said that occlumency requires extreme concentration to learn, and is therefore recommended for people over the age of fourteen. However, it can be learned at any age as long as the student is willing to work hard and concentrate. It suggested a few mental exercises that help people learn to concentrate.

The first lesson went all right (Dumbledore brought the two books for the girls), although Hermione (whose parents did allow her to come) did best, with Harry next, and then Ginny, they all were able to block a low level assault by the end of the first lesson. Dumbledore complimented, "I'm very impressed with all three of you. You've obviously been practicing. If you do as well in the next lesson, I may wish to increase the frequency of these lessons to twice a week. Is there anything else you wish to discuss before I depart?"

"Actually," replied Harry, "Ginny and I got an unusual visit from Malfoy's house elf."

This got both Hermione's and Dumbledore's attention. After they'd explained exactly what had happened, Dumbledore suggested, "I believe that it would be wise to be especially attentive should you encounter the Malfoy family. Do not touch anything they give you. However, if you notice them slip you anything, perhaps this diary, or a parchment with a riddle, pretend you didn't notice so that they believe they were successful. Most importantly, do not touch whatever they give you, and contact me immediately."

Dumbledore left, and the three children quickly decided that it would be best if no one else knew about it. Otherwise, they may act more suspicious of the Malfoys than usual. Hermione offered to help Harry in occlumency, but he declined, saying, "I think I'm doing all right in this, and I don't want to take more of your vacation time away.

Soon afterward, Ginny decided that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach, so she asked her mum to teach her how to bake. This plan backfired in two ways. It took her away from Harry for more time than she'd expected, and Harry ended up being the one to taste her first failed attempt at cookies. She nearly burst into tears when she saw him desperately trying to be polite as he forced the foul thing down his throat.

She said as steadily as possible, "Harry, you don't have to pretend it's good. Just spit it out. I'm sorry."

Her mum helped her by immediately getting Harry a drink and saying, "My first attempt at baking was even worse than this. You watch, by the end of the summer, Ginny will be an excellent baker."

Harry smiled, "I remember when I was eight, and could finally reach the stove, Aunt Petunia made me learn to cook. It took weeks for me to get everything right so that they didn't have any serious complaints. Not that they'd ever compliment my cooking.

"Of course, she never taught me to bake because she was afraid I'd sneak into the kitchen and bake myself cookies or something. Ginny, I'm sure you'll learn quickly. In the meantime, we can give your cookies to Ron. He'll eat anything." At that statement, both Molly and Ginny laughed.

They were interrupted by an owl bringing them their lists of schoolbooks. They then decided on the day they would visit Diagon Alley. Hermione had just gotten back from holiday and arranged to be there as well, and to leave with the Weasleys and stay at the Burrow for the last few weeks of the summer, to make sure she could be on time for her lessons (at least that's what she told her parents).

Harry, who'd witnessed Hermione traveling by floo several times over the past few weeks, confidently stepped into the fireplace first and stated, "Diagon Alley," clearly, and soon found himself on the floor of the Leaky Cauldron with his glasses missing. While he was still feeling around for them, Ginny landed on top of him.

She said, "Sorry, Harry," and noticed him blindly feeling around the ground. She got up, looked at the floor, and spotted his glasses quickly. She picked them up and handed them to him, saying, "Here, is this better?"

"Thanks, Ginny," he responded, while putting them on.

After an uncomfortable trip to Gringotts, where he saw how much more gold was in his vault than the Weasleys' vault, they made their way to Flourish and Blotts, where the famous author, Gilderoy Lockhart, was signing books. After being forced into a photograph with Lockhart and handed a collection of the pompous git's (as Harry thought of him) books as, to his horror, it was announced that he was the new defense teacher, Harry gave his free books to Ginny, claiming he could pay for his own. Then the Malfoys showed up.

First, Draco was showing how jealous he was of Harry's attention by telling Harry how much he must have loved it. Ginny immediately came to Harry's defense, and got labeled as Harry's girlfriend by Draco before Lucius Malfoy introduced himself. After looking at Harry's scar and insulting the Weasleys, taking a second-hand book out of Ginny's basket as evidence of their poverty, Lucius got in a fight with Arthur Weasley until the owner of the bookstore sent a bat bogey hex at them.

It hit Malfoy Sr. Lucius managed to return the old book to Ginny before running out of there, pursued by mucus bats, while she, Harry, and Hermione were watching very carefully.

After the shopping, Harry, Ginny, and Hermione immediately went up to Ginny's room to carefully inspect the book Lucius had placed in Ginny's basket. Inside it, they found a diary with the name, 'Tom Marvolo Riddle' written on the side.

"Riddle!" exclaimed Hermione. "This is it! It must be some kind of dark object!"

"Let's floo Dumbledore now before it hexes us," suggested Harry.

"Are you sure," asked Ginny, staring at the offending book, "It just seems…"

"Snap out of it, Ginny," said Harry, "You heard Dumbledore!"

She shook her head, "Oh my…sorry. I don't know what I was thinking. It's like the book was calling me."

"Let's floo Dumbledore now," insisted Harry, and all three marched downstairs.

Ginny grabbed some floo powder as the rest of the family watched. She threw down the floo powder, called, "Professor Dumbledore's Office," and stuck her head into the fireplace. Ginny's head disappeared for about sixty seconds, and then she stood up (her head intact). "Dumbledore's coming here now. He almost fell off his seat when I told him the name on that diary. That's when he…"

"Good evening," greeted Professor Dumbledore as he appeared in the fireplace.

"Good evening," replied Molly, "but why are you here?" she asked as the headmaster walked out of the green flames.

"You saw the Malfoys today in Diagon Alley?"

"Yes," answered Molly.

"Lucius hid an enchanted diary that used to belong to Voldemort among Ginny's things."

"What?" everyone asked at once.

"Tom Marvolo Riddle is Voldemort's real name. He invented the name Voldemort because he disliked how common the name Tom is." Albus ignored all the flinching everyone but Harry was doing at the name. "Where is the diary now?"

"Upstairs, in my room," answered Ginny, now really scared.

Dumbledore rushed up the stairs, followed by everyone, and pointed his wand at the diary, which glowed green as a result of whatever spell he was casting. Albus put down his wand and declared, "This is not just a bewitched object. It holds a piece of Voldemort's soul. I believe that it was Mr. Malfoy's intention for that piece of Voldemort's soul to possess Ginny, and to use her to bring him back."

"Can we prove that and send that Death Eater to Azkaban?" asked Arthur angrily.

"No," replied Hermione sadly. "We only know that the diary was inside Ginny's book when we got it home, and that Mr. Malfoy handled the book. We didn't see him actually slip the diary in the book."

Albus looked thoughtful for a few seconds. "There may be a way."

Chapter end