Chapter 1: A New Beginning
Throughout Wizard Britain every boy, girl, mother, father, aunt and uncle knew the story of their saviour, Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived, the little boy who liberated their world from the clutches of the Dark Lord Voldemort who had terrorised them for many years. At that precise moment in time however, Harry Potter felt less like the hero he was supposed to be and more like a package to be ferried around to where ever the next person said.
The Dursleys had come and picked him up from Kings Cross Station, as they had the previous few years. They had driven him to their home at number Four Private Drive, Surrey, unlocked the front door and ushered him and his belongings in before the neighbours saw the 'delinquent' that they harboured before turning around and leaving him standing in the middle of the living room gaping like a fish. The house was empty. Even the sofa wasn't there.
Standing somewhat nervously in front of Harry, Vernon and Petunia Dursley hurriedly told him that they would not be there for the entire summer as Vernon had won his works summer lottery prize and they were spending it on a two month holiday to Australia. Harry wasn't sure how true this was considering the empty state of the house, but didn't say a word. They also explained that they had received a letter from Professor Dumbledore saying that Harry must remain inside the house no matter what, however it did not say that the Dursleys' had to be there with him. As long as Harry had known the Dursleys they had never acted like this, nor had their rejection ever hurt as much as it did in that moment.
'Are you leaving me here on my own all summer? What about food? If you're gone and I'm not allowed out of the house, how am I going to get food?' Harry asked, his head bowed, not wanting the hurt he was feeling to be seen by them. He was struggling to keep the tears at bay. After the last year at school, after Cedric, he had thought that he would have had some sort of support network to see him through the holidays. He didn't think that he was ever going to be abandoned.
'Yes boy, you are to remain here all summer by yourself. Might teach you a bit of respect towards us having to fend for yourself. You can magic yourself food… oh wait. How silly of me, I forgot you aren't able to use your abnormality outside of your freak school.' Vernon Dursley said, laughing as they left Harry to the empty house.
'Great,' thought Harry 'Summer by myself… alone in the Dursley house…' sighing he went to see if the Dursleys' had left anything in the fridge. Opening the fridge door he let another sigh, seeing that there was nothing. Next he tried the food cupboards, yelling in frustration when he realised that they too were empty. How did the Dursleys expect him to survive the summer like this? The answer to the question came almost as quickly…
Minerva McGonagall had been described as many things by many people throughout her lifetime. She knew what the students said behind her back, walking down the hall after a particularly gruelling Transfiguration lesson, where maybe only one student had completed the set task, or in the common rooms, the popular place to work through the long homework, left until the night before her lesson first thing the next day. She was not one to jump to biased conclusions, especially when an issue involved a fight from to different houses, but generally it was the Slytherin's that complained the most. What none of the pupils seemed to realise was that she had also been a student, like the rest of the teachers.
So it was always a relief when the summer holidays rolled around, when everyone got their two months of order, and a semblance of peace settled across the grounds of Hogwarts, were several of the teachers went on holiday before returning on September 1st with the rest of the school. Of course, teachers had to make lesson plans for the extremely complex lessons that would commence after the holidays, but they did not have to prepare for the induction of new first years, preparing the general outline of the dormitories and predicted influx of new talents, nor the eccentricity of Albus Dumbledore's wants for the new year.
Minerva sighed as she filed away one more of the many rolls of parchment that littered her desk. The pile just never seemed to end. She loved her job, she really did. How could she have been a teacher for so long without loving the joy of teaching? This year had been different though. The fate of the wizarding world had changed, drastically, as a direct result of the 'Tri-Wizard Tournament'. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had been resurrected, using Harry Potters' own blood, the Tournament simply a farce to get at him, to lure him in and take his blood. It made her own blood run cold just thinking about it, yet it could not be helped, for it remained a constant cycle of thought. Luckily the aforementioned Harry Potter had survived, and to be bluntly honest she was worried about him, more than she was willing to let on, even to the Headmaster.
It wasn't just her that was worried though, it was visible in all the professors' eyes. Worry and fear, etched deep into the soul, a fear of what was to come. Even the seemingly emotionless Professor Snape was worried. The atmosphere it created had a horrid, almost acrid feel. She needed to get out, take her holiday, even for a little while, however, she didn't want to feel like abandoning the Headmaster. Making up her mind, Minerva left the office and left the filing and the admin work that came with teaching behind as she made her way to the Headmasters office.
'Come in, Minerva,' came the voice of Albus Dumbledore through the impressive oak door leading to his office, 'What can I do for you today, my dear?' His bright blue eyes twinkled, his spirit not apparently reflecting the general atmosphere within the castle's walls.
Albus Dumbledore was famous for many things. Being the Supreme Mugwump of the Wizengamot, finding out the 12 uses of dragon's blood with old friend Nicholas Flamel, and it was popular belief that he was the most powerful wizard of the current era. Much of his private life was shrouded in secrecy, however, even his closet friends did not know he was married, and had been for many years, nor did they know that he and his wife had had a child, stolen at birth, and finally they did not know… well that was for another time.
'I came to tell you that I'm going to check on Harry,' there was no need to clarify which Harry she was going to check on, '… to make sure he is somewhat okay, goodness knows he will not get the support he will need at that place,' she stated, making no room for question her obvious dislike of where he lived apparent. The Headmaster, whilst seemingly omniscient, did not know that she had been checking on Harry for years without his knowledge.
'As I believed you would,' he sighed, 'How am I to stop you, when you are so clearly on a mission? Very well, I beg of you my dear, to be discrete and careful, we do not know if and what Voldemort is planning,'
'Of course Albus, when am I not?' She said, a ghost of a smile on her face as she turned to leave the office.
It puzzled her as to why he had not argued the issue, that he had not said it would be too dangerous, even for her. Sometimes their relationship went to this strange precipice during the summer, when soon they would return to their home and relax for a few weeks. This year would be different though, as they would have to once again become available to the school and the public in the time of need to aid in the second fight against Voldemort, whatever that may end up entailing. Their relationship went far beyond that for Headmaster and Deputy, and this year, particularly with the issue of Harry and his safety and needs would put strain on the both of them.
Packing a few of her belongings together, Minerva walked the long winding path towards the magnificent school grounds exit and the area just beyond that was free and the school powerful anti - apparition wards. These wards were the strongest in the entire wizarding world, and no-one really knew why. Whilst other wards were used to keep houses and people disguised and hidden from others, the school wards could never be accurately reproduced. Dumbledore himself theorised that it must have something to do with the magic used when the founders constructed the school. He had suggested that the magic was somehow different in the way it was manipulated, therefore they could not begin to understand the way the wards were built.
Before going to check on Harry, Minerva was first going to drop her belongings at her small summer cottage on the edge of Wales. It was here she really wanted Harry to be, somewhere calm, relaxing and free of the stresses that the every day world caused. Unlocking and walking into the house, she saw that one of the Hogwarts elves had kindly cleaned the place. A bonus of being a teacher at Hogwarts was that the teachers were able to utilise the house elves during the summer as they enjoyed doing their work.
Harry really wasn't sure what to do. If he wrote to his friends asking for help on the first day back from school they would immediately know something was wrong, and he didn't want them to know of how hurt he was by the Dursleys complete rejection just yet. Dumbledore was a very busy man, so he couldn't really ask him for help either, especially seen as it was him who had confined to the house in the first place. Another issue was that Harry was sure if the Wizarding world had things like takeaway shops, and he couldn't send Hedwig out and ask some restaurant owner to send him food. No doubt that would get leaked to the Daily Prophet. Harry could see the headlines now: Breaking News: Harry Potter Neglected And Starved By Family! So that option was also out of the window. He decided he would go a few days hungry before asking for help form his friends. It seemed only logical, especially if it meant they would not find out about his summer.
Dropping her things into the small bedroom, she turned once more and left the house. The sunshine made the stresses of the world seem inconsequential as she walked a short while before deciding to apparate to the Dursley residence, not really sure what to expect. Minerva knew that Harry was never treated as fairly as the other boy, and that some of the treatment Harry received was borderline neglect and slavery. However before she had never had been able to go and interfere, as per the orders of Dumbledore, but if she found his conditions less than satisfactory she would take him away and deal with the consequences of that action.
Number Four Private Drive had not changed since her first visit here straight after the death of Lily and James. She had transformed into her cat form and had remained like that all day when she found out the truth, and she intended to do the same today. Hopping up onto the wall she agilely moved along the wall connecting the house with Number Three Private Drive, getting close enough to be able to peer through the living room window, finding it empty. Mentally sighing she sat down, ready for a long day, not really noticing that there was no car in the driveway.
Hedwig was a smart bird. She knew that her master was in some trouble. She had kept pestering him, trying to get him to write a letter, knowing it would help him. Usually this tactic worked, but it wasn't today. She was annoyed that he was going to willingly starve himself for his pride, and because he didn't want others to find out about his situation. Now his was just ignoring her, and that was plain rude. She was only trying to help! Having decided that it was no use trying to get Harry to send a letter she flew out of the kitchen window under the pretext of hunting - it was nearly nightfall anyway.
A clever thing about the majority of owls within the Wizarding world was the fact that they could sense where people were and how close they were, so it was a surprise when as Hedwig flew up and over the house intending to find someone to help her master that someone was already there. Diving down quickly, Hedwig saw the small figure of a tabby cat sitting on the wall between her masters house and the house next. Knowing that this person was here to help, she silently landed next to the cat-human, waiting to be recognised - which did not take long.
Minerva sensed the change in the air behind her, and almost fell off the wall realising Harry's owl was sitting next to her. They communicated in a very animalistic sense, that is they read each other body language and were able to formulate words into something understandable for the both of them.
'Master Harry needs help,' Hedwig formulated, twitching her tail feathers
'I am here, what can I do?' Minerva replied. The response shocked her to say the least. Hedwig told her of the Dursleys desertion of Harry as they went on holiday. To say the least Minerva was furious! To willingly remove ones self from responsibly infuriated Minerva no end, a reason why she was so protective of her House at school, because the parents could not be there, so she was instead.
Hedwig moved suddenly, taking Minerva roughly into her talons and rising up onto the roof of the house. 'Really!' communicated Minerva, but she was quickly 'Shh'd!' by the owl.
'Listen!' was all she said. From the roof of the house, Minerva could hear a whimpering, coming from inside the house. It sounded as though Harry was in the throes of a painful nightmare, 'Take me inside! Now!' Minerva practically shouted at the snowy owl, who once again quickly picked her up and they flew through one of the open upstairs windows.
Harry was to leave this place tonight. He could not stay, not for another second.
(A/N:: Hope everyone enjoys... a different style to my older stuff, but I hope it's readable. Sorry if there's any mistakes... I have gone over it a couple of times, but there's probably something I've missed! )