AN and Introduction – This is my first fanfic so please bear with me. Did you ever wonder why Death Eaters prefer to throw stunners at purebloods and more dangerous and deadly ones at half-bloods and muggle born? Why do Aurors only use non lethal curses even when faced with lethal ones? - Join Harry and his new friends - some old and some new - as they find out.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of the HP world JK Rowling does.
Chapter 1 – Wish You Were Here
It was an ordinary evening in Little Whinging. The birds were singing and couples were taking strolls along the walks after tea. The best way to describe this particular place was very ordinary. Plain identical non-descript homes lined the straight streets of this meticulously over-planned subdivision.
A rather ordinary-looking car which looked just about like every other car in the vicinity turned on to Privet Drive and onto the driveway of a house whose paint, finish and landscaping screamed the message "We go out of our way to be as average as possible". Three of the four occupants waddled out of the car and into the house.
The fourth occupant - a teenager - had not yet moved. His emerald eyes were lifeless as they stared out at nothing in particular. He sat there for 15 minutes before the largest of the house's occupants yelled for him to get in the house.
The boy shook his head and looked around as if he hadn't a clue where he was. When the reality of the situation hit him, his shoulders slumped further than they already had and he dragged himself from the car. He went to the back of the car and pulled a trunk and a cage from the boot. Dragging them to the front door, he paused and looked out at the street and sighed - Harry Potter had returned for his annual imprisonment.
Harry went into the house and – ignoring his uncle's ranting – Harry dragged his possessions up the stairs to the smallest bedroom in the house. Once he entered the room, the door slammed behind him and he could hear the click of the locks as they were engaged. For once he did not mind nor really paid any attention to his situation. His mind was where it had been fixated for the past few weeks - the Department of Mysteries and the loss of his godfather Sirius Black.
Harry had been blaming himself for the death of his godfather and the fact that he had lead 5 of his friends into an ambush. A conversation on the train back to London broke him out of this self-loathing and made him see the situation more clearly.
Harry was sitting alone in a compartment near the back of the train. He had bee sullen and withdrawn and had pretty much asked everyone to leave him alone. Ron and Ginny hadn't even talked to him since that night and got on the train with Dean and Seamus.
About and hour into the trip the door opened and Hermione, Neville and Luna came in. Harry tried to protest, but he stopped short of saying anything when he saw the look in his best friend's eyes. Hermione had received the worst injuries and yet here she had a look of heartfelt concern that he couldn't avoid.
"Hi Harry. We need to talk. You've been distant for the past few weeks and we're worried about you," Hermione said as she sat down beside him.
"Why are you worried about me? I thought you would all hate me after I led you into that ambush and almost got all of us killed and ended up killing S..." Harry sputtered and could not finish his sentence. He felt the tears welling up again and he was determined not to break down anymore.
Before Hermione could respond, Neville piped up, "Hate you? Harry, you're one of my closest friends. You're one of the few people who have never made fun of me. You stood up for me in first year during our first flying class. This past year you had the patience to teach me and show me that I can be just as good as anyone else. As for the Ministry, you gave me the opportunity to fight back against the people who took my parents away from me. I am proud to have fought beside you and I can't thank you enough for giving me the courage and the skills to do so."
"But we could have been killed Neville! You broke your dad's wand! What is your grandmother going to say?"
"She came to Hogwarts and talked to me the day after the incident. I was scared when I first heard she was on her way, but when she got there, I walked right up to her and said I had no regrets about what happened and I would do it all over again given the chance. Do you know what she said to me?"
Harry looked at Neville dreading what was coming and asked "What?"
"She said that she had never been as proud of me as she was the moment she was told by the Ministry Aurors that her grandson had stood with four other students and Harry Potter and fought a dozen of you-know-who's inner circle and held out until help arrived. She told me I'm truly my parents' son and worthy of the Longbottom name. She's even taking me straight to Diagon Alley from King's Cross to get me my own wand."
Harry was speechless; this was not what he had expected to hear. Neville continued, "Harry, I know that you don't go looking for trouble and that it always seems to find you. I want you to know that I will continue to stand by you. You have helped me discover who I really am, and I will be by your side as we fight this evil. I never felt as alive and confident as I did that night and I have you to thanks for it. I finally feel that I can live in a way that would make my parents proud."
Harry was stunned. This was a different Neville than he had ever seen before. "Thanks Nev, I appreciate it."
He looked down and Hermione had grasped his hand while Neville was talking. He could feel the warmth, and when he looked at her, he saw something in her eyes - he wasn't sure what it was - that made him feel more secure. "What about you 'Mione, I was scared you might not want to be my friend anymore after what happened."
"Harry, how could you think that", Hermione said rolling her eyes, "You have to understand that as long as you are who you are, I will be your loyal friend and stand with you. You can't get rid of me."
"But what are your parents going to say?"
"My parents raised me to stand up and fight for what is right. They were very concerned about me getting hurt, but I explained the stakes involved here and what could happen. After about an hour they began to understand why I was doing this. They still don't like it, but they understand." Hermione had straightened up and spoke very proudly with a gleam in her eyes as she spoke to Harry.
He smirked, "So you wore them down like you do to me."
Luna, who normally had a dreamy, far away look in her eyes was looking very intently at the other three during the course of this conversation. She suddenly looked directly into Harry's eyes and started to speak to him in a very direct manner.
"Harry I want to thank you as well. You have been the first person at Hogwarts to look past my 'Loony' persona and not judge me for who I appear be. You respect the person I am. You were my first real friend at school and through your acceptance of me I can now count Hermione and Neville as my friends as well. You trained me to defend myself in a time when the Ministry's actions would end up with us being nothing more than some Death Eaters' practice target. Harry, you have my allegiance as well. I will be there to fight with you in this conflict. But on to more important things - Harry you are not responsible for the death of Sirius Black."
Harry tried to interrupt but Luna continued, "Please don't interrupt me, from what you've told us, you've been receiving visions all year, some of them actual ones. You've also had to put up with the Ministry trying to kill you. So when you got a vision that your godfather, one of the last remaining ties to your parents, was in trouble, there was no way you were not going to go."
"Harry, your godfather came to the Ministry along with those other people because of his love for you."
Harry said quietly, "That's why it's my fault."
Hermione picked up where Luna left off, "Harry I talked to Tonks and Lupin about what happened. Remus said that he could feel the pride and love rolling off of Sirius when they entered and saw you and Neville still fighting. Both Tonks and Remus agreed that Sirius would not have wanted it any other way."
"Harry, they both told me that Sirius loved you more than anyone else in the world. He thought of you as his own son. His entire stay in Azkaban was spent blaming himself for not preventing your parent's deaths and protecting you. That night at the Ministry allowed him to make up for those debts that he felt he owed to the Potter family. It's is a terrible tragedy that he had to die, but at least it happened in a way he would have wanted it. The last thing he would want is for you to be miserable and blame yourself."
"You guys are right, I didn't kill him - Bellatrix LeStrange did." Harry sighed, "I'll still miss him though."
"Harry that is part of the grieving process. It's perfectly normal. Try to concentrate on the time you had together. Think about the Marauders and their legacy." She smiled, "He and your father are probably pranking your mother right now."
Harry suddenly laughed at that image. "Thanks guys, this really makes me feel better and I'm honoured to call you my friends. By the way, what's the story with Ron and Gin? I haven't spoken to them since that night."
Hermione's face dropped, "They haven't spoken to me in fact, I think they are avoiding me. I saw them speaking with Dumbledore a couple of times, but every time I approached them they walked away."
Luna concurred, "They haven't spoken to me either."
With a perplexed look on his face, Neville said, "They came to me once last week. It was a strange conversation. They said something about avoiding people like Harry in future and Dumbledore said people like us had to stick together".
"What the hell does that mean?" Harry asked.
Neville looked right at Harry and told him, "Beat's me. However, I told Ron and Ginny that I was disgusted with their actions and that you are my friend and I will not turn my back on you."
"Thanks for standing up for me Neville. You know, Ron was my first friend but he always seemed jealous and resentful. Hopefully this is just a passing thing."
"Harry?" he turned to look at the girl next to him, "Can I get Hedwig's help for a couple of days? There's some letters I need to send and she would make things much easier."
"It's alright with me Hermione, but I'll have to ask Hedwig." He looked up to his familiar in her cage, "What do you think Hedwig? Can you help Hermione for a couple of days?"
Hedwig looked at him and nodded with a single "Hoot".
Harry lay back in his bed and thought about the trip. The four of them talked for the entire trip and he realized how lucky he was to have such good friends.
Hermione didn't leave his side for the entire trip. Harry thought about his best friend - she was loyal to him without hesitation and yet always kept him in line. And her smile...
"Where did that come from?" he thought. "I must be tired."
He decided to unpack a bit before he went to bed. He opened his trunk and found the books he wanted to read this summer and put them on his shelf. He also got a bag of owl treats and put them in his night table.
His invisibility cloak, wand, and a few other special items were always hidden in the secret place under the floorboards. "Better keep my wand close," he muttered and removed the wand from the rest and put it under his pillow.
He pulled up the floorboard and noticed there was something else in there. It was a large envelope. It had a message written on it:
If I don't make it back from the Ministry, please open this and read its contents as soon as you possibly can.