Harry Potter and the New Neighbors
Details: This is an AU occurring the summer following OOTP and disregarding HBP. It is a HP/DM beginning friendship fic, with viewpoint alternating between HP/DM. It's NOT SLASH, nothing wrong with it, but I'm not writing it. It's not intentionally OOC, but my ability to write in character may suck. Rating is T for mild curse torture and non-graphic character death. Should conclude in 8 chapters.

Disclaimer: Only J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and all the other characters in his world. I'm not her.

Chapter One: Boredom and Incompetence
During the first part of summer break, were anyone to peer into the window of the smallest bedroom of the house at number 4, Privet Drive, they would find a shabbily dressed teenage boy staring off at nothing. Regardless of the time of day or night, that is how Harry Potter seemed intent on spending his summer vacation. The only change came late at night, when the boy would often wake from nightmares in a cold sweat, sometimes screaming, sometimes unable to breathe at all.

Though the boy was not the only resident of the house at Number 4, none of the other occupants appeared to pay him the slightest bit of attention the week he returned there. They seemed intent on pretending that he didn't exist at all. Which was something that the boy mostly felt grateful for.

It was during the second week after he had returned home from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that Harry's routine changed. At first, the day seemed to begin as they all had since he had arrived at the Dursley's. Harry woke in the early morning hours, gasping, from a dream in which he'd watched his godfather die all over again. He spent the next several hours staring at the ceiling, thinking nothing in particular, feeling completely numb. Unlike the last week and a half, however, once the rest of the household got moving, Harry heard a sharp rap on the door to the room from which he'd scarcely emerged since his return to Number Four.

"Boy! Get up and get down for breakfast," the harsh voice of his Aunt Petunia called from the hallway. Though they hadn't bothered to make him come down for meals before now, Harry figured after the incident at the train station, the Dursley's were more convinced than ever they were being spied upon, and had decided that they weren't about to be blamed for Harry not eating.

Sighing in resignation, Harry made his way downstairs to the kitchen, where he was accorded a piece of toast and a slice of grapefruit, and no one dared to look directly at him. This turned out to be misleading, however. When Harry was getting up from the table, his Aunt Petunia snapped that since he had nothing better to do than mope all day, they could certainly provide him with something to occupy his time. For a moment after he was ordered out to weed her flowerbeds, Harry contemplated refusing, and possibly even trying to intimidate his relatives.

The moment passed quickly, however. What was the point? It didn't really matter enough to argue about, and at least it would give him something to keep his hands busy for a few hours. Maybe he'd even be able to go five minutes without thinking about his godfather or the prophecy hanging like a menacing dragon over his life.

Several hours of kneeling in the dirt with the sun beating down on him later, Harry felt exhausted. Yet also better than he had since before that awful night at … he shuddered and trudged wearily back into the house. It'd been nice while it had lasted.

His aunt insisted he join them for dinner, too. Harry was spacing out, thinking of nothing and trying to avoid watching Dudley sulk over his human-sized portion of food, when he heard his uncle mutter something about "freaks and weirdoes." Trying to decide whether he was being intentionally aggravated or simply addressed by Vernon Dursley, Harry looked up at his uncle. Contrary to Harry's expectation, the man's attention was fixed on the portable television set on the kitchen counter.

Harry turned slowly to watch, expecting to see something about a horrific accident, explosions, death and destruction, and was almost relieved the story was about a prison escape. Harry only had a few seconds of relief before he was struck by a cold slap of fear again, when he recognized the face of Lucius Malfoy sneering out of the television. It was followed by other faces with contemptuous expressions, undoubtedly other Death Eaters from the debacle at the Ministry, now presumably Azkaban escapees.

As the story played out, warning the muggle audience about the armed and extremely dangerous criminals, Harry began to feel more anger than fear. How could the Ministry be so stupid? Fudge knew Voldemort was back, he'd seen the snake-faced wizard with his own two eyes! How could he not have taken better precautions and put more guards around Voldemort's captured supporters?

The rest of his dinner forgotten, Harry angrily stomped up the stairs to his room, kicking absently at nothing. With the Ministry as incompetent as it was, it wasn't going to be very long at all before Voldemort finally killed him. While part of Harry rebelliously whispered that at least then he'd get to see Sirius and his parents again, he didn't think they would be very proud of him if he didn't at least try to kill the evil wizard. Particularly since he was apparently the only one who could do it. Harry snorted to himself. Fat chance of that happening, he thought and threw himself down on his bed, punching the pillow.

Harry tossed about, his mind furiously spinning with all the horrible things that'd happened since he'd first been told he was a wizard. As he drifted off to sleep, his last thought was that maybe he'd have been better off if the Dursleys had managed to somehow stamp the magic out of him, and he'd never discovered the wizarding world at all.

Before he knew it, a sleeping Harry found himself in the rickety cabin on the rock where Hagrid had appeared to give him his Hogwarts letter.

"No, I don't want to be a wizard. I'm not going to Hogwarts! You can't make me," Harry shouted at the half-giant, who just looked at him in good-natured confusion.

"But 'Arry," the half-giant replied, while scratching his beard, "you 'ave to save us all, don't ye know? You have to do what Dumbledore says. Your life, it's ours. If ye don' protect us, we'll all die. O'course half of us probably will anyway, the way you're at it, but…"

"No," Harry muttered to himself, "no." Shutting his eyes to block out the sight of Hagrid's disappointed face, Harry was relieved when he opened them again to find himself somewhere completely different. But his relief was short-lived, as he felt a surge of anger from nowhere and it registered on Harry that it wasn't his bedroom on Privet Drive he was seeing.

"Luciusss," Harry snarled while looking down at a hunched-over figure crouched at his feet. Despite the grimy and tattered robes, the long blonde hair marked the groveling man as a Malfoy. Harry felt a wave of disgust that was only marginally his own. "You've failed me. Spectacularly, I must say," he paused. "Leading a group of my most trusted Death Eaters, you were bested by a group of schoolchildren" he chided, the figure flinching at his tone, "and you managed to bungle things so very badly that not even the incompetent fools at the Ministry can deny my return any longer. Your failure leaves me still unaware what is protecting the Potter brat, and put a majority of my remaining servants in Azkaban! But not even that was enough for you, Lucius! How could one of my most slippery servants not manage to bide his time and fix the situation instead of staging a premature prison break?"

"I apologize, My Lord," The figure whispered hoarsely. "In our concern for keeping the prophecy intact, we allowed the Potter brat and his friends too much leeway. After the unanticipated arrival of the Order and our arrest, we did not have any further instructions. I believed with your return revealed to the world, you would wish us to rejoin you from Azkaban as soon as possible. How else could we hope to help carry out your plans and further our noble cause? I was foolish and overeager, my Lord, but I swear on the Malfoy name to do better in the future. Just tell me how I can serve you and make up for my errors. Anything you ask, I will do!" Harry could feel both the terror and the devotion of the man before him, though he certainly couldn't understand the latter coming from someone feeling the former.

Before he could become too tied up in musings about the peculiar nature of the Death Eaters, Harry felt a high-pitched, cold laugh tear itself from his throat. "I already asked you for what I wanted, Lucius. I wanted the prophecy brought to me and the Potter brat destroyed," Harry hissed. "And you expect me to forgive you again? After failing such a simple task so badly? After you already turned your back on me once?" Harry's eyes scanned the room once more, taking in the anonymous silhouettes in heavy black robes and white Death Eater masks. He paused and then, addressing the room at large, he continued in a soft, regretful tone, "I told you two years ago when I first returned that you, my servants, my faithless, owed me for your thirteen long years of abandonment. I thought you understood you had to earn that forgiveness."

Focusing his attention back on the bowed figure at his feet, he added almost crooning, "As forgiving as I have been of you, Lucius, you keep presenting me with failures." Abruptly his tone changed to a sneer when he added, "Worse, you also lost all the connections to the Ministry you swore you worked so hard to obtain to further the cause in my absence. I have no more mercy left for you, Lucius. Avada Kedavra."

As he lowered his wand again, Harry heard a harsh gasp from one of the standing figures in robes. He looked up and intently eyed a short figure standing with one other, much taller, slightly apart from the rest.

He smiled at the two, and knew it was a cold reptilian smile. Then he addressed the taller of the two, the one who hadn't made a sound. "Ah, Severus. How much I've been looking forward to seeing you again. Come forward."