The Potter Conspiracy
A/N: This is an AU story that begins at the conclusion of Goblet of Fire and continues through Harry's final confrontation with Voldemort and beyond. The story will be Harry-centric but will occasionally have other points of view. It mostly follows canon events for Books 1-4. The biggest change to early canon is that Harry never met Sirius during third year. Sirius escaped Azkaban successfully, but was captured at the end of the school year; he received the Dementor's Kiss immediately. Harry is thus unaware of Pettigrew's existence or the history of the Marauders.
Spoiler-Free Summary: this story will include a very manipulative Dumbledore and a Harry with the backbone to fight for his freedom. A wizarding civil war is coming, and not all of Harry's friends wish him well. Buckle your seat belts! Rated M mostly for violence, but also occasional language and sexual situations.
Pairing: This will be a Harry/Parvati story; she won't appear in the story right away and their relationship will proceed in a realistic fashion (i.e., this won't be one of those Harry-sees-Parvati-at-the-local-dance-club stories). I think this relationship will be fun to write, but don't expect too much fluff.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. JKR and her partners do.
Chapter One – The Graveyard
June 24th, 1995 – Little Hangleton Graveyard
"Come out, come out, wherever you are, Harry," the high-pitched voice called out mockingly. "Do you think we are playing hide-and-seek?"
Crouching behind the headstone of Tom Riddle, Sr., Harry Potter knew he was about to die.
His leg was injured badly and his body was still trembling from Voldemort's cruciatus curse. Outnumbered over 20 to 1 and unable to run away, his only option was to die with dignity.
Harry rose slowly from behind the headstone and glared defiantly at the red-eyed creature standing twenty feet in front of him. It was like something out of a nightmare, a macabre marriage of human and snake, with small slits for nostrils and pale, skeletal limbs.
Voldemort smiled menacingly at Harry as he rose.
"So the child has chosen to die on his feet, just like his father. He would be so proud, Harry, so proud…"
Chuckles of laughter echoed among the ranks of the Death Eaters as they spread out behind their newly resurrected Master.
"Nothing to say?" Voldemort inquired silkily. "Very well, then. Goodbye, Harry Potter."
As Voldemort raised his want to strike Harry down, Harry raised his own and shouted the first offensive spell that came to mind.
Harry was stunned when the spells they fired collided in midair. Instead of an explosion, there was a sudden burst of what sounded like phoenix song, and Harry was heartened by the sound. A thin beam of golden light now connected his wand with Voldemort's, and it began vibrating erratically as Harry struggled to control it. He gripped it with both hands and focused on maintaining this connection.
Voldemort, too, seemed shocked by the result. He gripped his wand with both hands, staring intently at the beam of light that connected him with Harry. Harry noticed that a bead of bright green light was moving slowly toward him on the beam, and that Voldemort seemed to be willing it forward.
There were sudden shouts and questions from the ranks of the Death Eaters, but Harry ignored them. Voldemort screamed for silence and told them to do nothing. His pride demanded that he finish the boy before him without aid from his followers.
As the bead slowly approached him, Harry realized that this was somehow a contest of wills. He didn't understand what was happening, but he knew he didn't want that bead of light touching him or his wand. He focused all of his concentration on the bead, willing it forward, and he was astonished when it did exactly that.
As the bead steadily approached him, Voldemort's wand vibrated violently, and Harry saw his red eyes widen in disbelief as it made contact with his wand.
There was a bright explosion of light, and everyone but Harry was thrown violently to the ground. Though knocked off his feet, Voldemort maintained a grip on his wand.
Despite the strangeness of the whole encounter, it was what happened next that Harry would later be unable to explain.
Green beads of light, much thicker than the bead he had been pushing towards Voldemort, rushed toward him from Voldemort's wand. His wand still extended, Harry felt locked in place. There was no question of stopping them.
As the beads entered his wand, Harry sucked in a shocked breath and closed his eyes. His scar exploded in sudden pain, doubling him over in agony. It felt as if his head were being cleaved apart with an axe. Just as suddenly the pain stopped, followed by a sensation unlike Harry had ever experienced. A wave of intense euphoria nearly overcame him, and he had to resist the urge to laugh. Pulse after pulse of what felt like raw energy flooded through him.
Finally it stopped. Harry collapsed to his knees, gasping for breath.
He felt as if he had just been destroyed and then remade in a matter of seconds. It was blissful and intoxicating. Suddenly lightheaded and no longer cognizant of the danger he was in, Harry staggered to his feet.
He surveyed the scene before him curiously, noting absently that only a handful of the Death Eaters had begun to stir. Voldemort himself seemed to be unconscious.
Harry had enough presence of mind to stumble towards Cedric's body, thinking that they had to get away somehow. It did not occur to him how he might accomplish such a thing.
As it turned out, no ingenious escape plan was required. The moment that Harry grasped Cedric's cold hand, a bright flash of fire erupted around him and he heard the comforting sound of phoenix song again. Strong talons gripped him by the shoulders, and the next thing Harry knew he was staring into the twinkling, disbelieving eyes of his Headmaster.
July 10th, 1995 – Little Whinging, Surrey
A little over two weeks after his encounter with the newly resurrected Voldemort, Harry Potter lay on his bed in the smallest bedroom of 4 Privet Dr., bouncing a tennis ball off the nearest wall.
The Dursleys were away for the evening, or he would not have risked making such a noise.
Since his return to Privet Drive one week ago, Harry had been growing increasingly frustrated and bored. It was now clear to him that Voldemort had established his death as an immediate goal, and here he was, stuck in the muggle world and unable to prepare himself for his next encounter with Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Harry had no doubt that there would be a next time. He felt like a hunted animal, and it was clear to him that he was now in a fight for his life. He had done some serious thinking since the fight in the graveyard, and he realized it that it was time for him to start taking his well-being more seriously.
That was why Harry's current frustration threatened to erupt into rage. He simply couldn't understand why Dumbledore insisted that he return to the Dursleys. Harry knew that he was protected by some sort of blood protections here, but surely whatever protection he was afforded was canceled out by the fact that he couldn't practice magic for over two months.
Dumbledore had placidly told him that "that there would be time enough for fighting," and to enjoy his summer as much as he could. It was utter rot, and Harry knew it.
The situation was not helped by the fact that he had no new books to read and no contact with his friends. Dumbledore had refused to allow him to take advanced defense books from the library, citing Madam Pince's policies, and Ron and Hermione were currently incommunicado.
Hermione, he knew, was on vacation in France for most of the summer, but Ron's seeming lack of concern for his situation was beginning to grate on his nerves. Three days ago he had written Ron an urgent letter asking for news about Voldemort, defense books, his vault key, and another early rescue from Privet Drive, but so far Ron had yet to reply.
He and Ron had tried to repair their relationship after Ron's post-First Task apology, but they had not regained the closeness of their previous years. Harry still felt a little betrayed by Ron's quickness to condemn him, and he suspected that Ron's apology had come on the heels of a heated argument with Hermione. Whatever the case, it was starting to look like he just couldn't rely on Ron when he really needed him.
Sighing in frustration, Harry tossed the old tennis ball into his closet and stood to pace around his room. He knew he needed to be practicing new magic and learning how to defend himself properly, but he felt hemmed in by Dumbledore's restrictions. If Ron didn't come through for him, he wasn't sure who could help him. He wasn't very close to Neville, and the other members of Gryffindor, even the quidditch team, were more like close acquaintances than friends.
Harry's brooding was interrupted by a sudden barking sound and the arrival of Hedwig at his window. She had an issue of The Daily Prophet grasped in her talons. He had subscribed to the paper in an effort to stay up to date on news about Voldemort, and anxiously awaited each issue in hopes that everyone would finally acknowledge the madman's return.
"Hello, girl," Harry said softly, affectionately stroking his familiar's brilliantly white feathers. "Have a safe flight?"
Hedwig cooed and rubbed her head against Harry's hands. He knew that he could have the paper delivered by the Prophet's own army of owls, but he wanted to give Hedwig a chance to feel useful. She didn't get to fly enough when she was cooped up in Little Whinging during the summers.
Harry opened up The Daily Prophet eagerly, but groaned when he saw the headline. The paper had been taking subtle digs at him for the past two weeks, each edition growing bolder in its condemnations. Now it looked as though Rita Skeeter had joined the pile-on, even though Hermione was supposedly blackmailing her:
Harry Potter's Secret Obsession
By Rita Skeeter
The events of the recent Tri-Wizard Tournament continue to be on the lips of wizards and witches everywhere. Your intrepid reporter has dedicated herself to unearthing the facts behind the shocking and tragic death of Hufflepuff champion Cedric Diggory and the controversial "victory" of Harry Potter.
Prepare yourselves dear readers, for our illustrious Boy-Who-Lived may not be the young hero we thought him to be. The Daily Prophet has discovered that Harry Potter has developed such a thirst for fame that it governs his every action. Says classmate and confidant Blaise Zabini, "Potter is always strutting through the halls like a king. The professors let him get away with anything he wants because he's a celebrity." Indeed, Mr. Potter was allowed to compete in the illustrious Tri-Wizard Tournament even after he found a way to enter himself illegally. Why have Mr. Potter's professors done nothing to curb his desperate need for attention?
As is well-known by now, Mr. Potter returned from the final task of the tournament clinging to the body of the true Hogwarts champion, Cedric Diggory. When asked to explain Mr. Diggory's death, Potter concocted the ludicrous excuse that You-Know-Who had come back to life and murdered him. This is such an obvious lie that one wonders why Mr. Potter is not in Ministry custody.
Rumors abound that Supreme Mugwump and Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore exerted all of his considerable influence to keep Mr. Potter out of Azkaban. One can only wonder if galleons exchanged hands.
The Ministry owes it to the wizarding public to discover the truth about the death of Cedric Diggory. What is Harry Potter hiding?
"Damn it!" Harry yelled at the empty room, tossing the paper into the corner. The Prophet had progressed from petty insults to outright character assassination, and Harry felt helpless to combat it. It was clear to him that Fudge was behind the plot to smear his name, and Dumbledore wasn't lifting a finger to stop the man.
Harry's opinion of Fudge had plummeted when the incompetent Minister had refused to even entertain the possibility that Voldemort had returned.
"It can't be, it can't be," Harry mimicked sarcastically, causing Hedwig to look at him in concern. Her human had taken to talking to himself more often lately, and even she knew that this was not healthy behavior.
In Harry' latest letter to Dumbledore, delivered only two days ago, he had demanded not only to be released from his sentence at Durzkaban as soon as possible, but also for the Headmaster to do something about the near-constant slander that was building in the press. Dumbledore had replied calmly that he had the situation under control, and that he would be removed from Privet Drive as soon as it was feasible.
Harry thought the Headmaster's idea of "under control" was ludicrous.
"What the bloody hell is he playing at, Hedwig?" he inquired bitterly. "There's a Dark Lord on the loose and he's not telling anyone!"
Hedwig had no answer, but barked sympathetically.
Harry had expected the wizarding world to acknowledge Voldemort's return almost immediately. Instead he found himself being blamed for Cedric Diggory's death and portrayed as a pathological liar. Trapped in his bedroom at Privet Drive, Harry wasn't sure how his situation could get much worse.
His bitter musings were interrupted by the sound of the Dursleys returning home from dinner. Harry could hear heavy footsteps pounding up the stairs, stopping in front of his room. His cat flap opened and a small white paper bag was shoved roughly through.
"Looks like it's dinner time, Hedwig," Harry sighed, opening the bag to find two small, hard dinner rolls. Obviously the Dursleys had pilfered them from a restaurant to fulfill their obligation to keep him alive.
So far this summer the Dursleys had seemed content to ignore his existence, and he didn't want to do anything to provoke them. Even the chores had been few and far between. Aunt Petunia insisted on feeding him through the cat flap again this summer—freaks like him didn't belong at the dinner table, after all—but he had yet to be locked into his room.
Harry took a bite out of one of the hard rolls and began ripping the other one apart for Hedwig.
"Bon appetit, girl."
July 11th, 1995 – Little Whinging, Surrey
Harry awoke with a start and looked at his clock. 5:47 AM. He had been dreaming of the graveyard again. Cedric's unseeing eyes. The look of pure malice on the face of the snake-like creature that had arisen from the cauldron. The sounds of terrified mirth coming from the ranks of the Death Eaters as Voldemort taunted him. The locked wands and the rush of power at the end of the fight.
Harry had been dreaming of the Dark Lord's rebirth almost every night for the past two weeks. It wasn't a nightmare, exactly. The dream wasn't accompanied by a sense of fear. Nor was it accompanied by very much guilt.
Harry was sorry for Cedric Diggory's death, but ultimately he knew he wasn't responsible for it. He had simply done a decent thing—proposed to share the Triwizard Cup—and it had backfired beyond anything he could have predicted.
Harry put down the recurring dream to his inability to understand what had happened there. He simply could not understand how he had survived the fight. By all rights he should be dead right now; he had known he was about to die when he stood up and shouted "Expelliarmus," a spell any second year would know, at that monster.
But he didn't die.
He was 14 years old and untrained, and had badly hurt a self-styled Dark Lord.
The question was how? Dumbledore had told him that his mother's protection enabled him to defeat Professor Quirrell at the end of his first year. But this situation was not at all similar. His wand had locked with Voldemort's, and then he had won a contest of wills that resulted in blinding pain and then overwhelming euphoria. It made no sense to him.
Neither did Professor Dumbledore's explanation. When Harry had finally been able to speak with him alone, Dumbledore explained that the wands had locked because they shared the same core—tail feathers from Fawkes. But that didn't explain the rush of power that had overwhelmed Harry at the end of the fight. The Headmaster had simply told him not to worry about it.
That sense of euphoria and power—like pure magic was literally pulsing through his veins—had lasted for another two days; he had awoken the morning of his third day in the hospital wing and that comforting feeling was gone, replaced with the cold realization that Voldemort was back and Cedric Diggory was dead.
His few remaining days at Hogwarts had done little to lift his mood. His classmates, especially the Hufflepuffs, seemed to blame him for Cedric's death, and no one from the Ministry had believed his story about Voldemort's rebirth. The real nightmare had only begun after he returned from the graveyard.
Harry groaned and got up from his rickety bed. He was wide awake now, so he decided he might as well take a shower and prepare for another day of boredom before the rest of the house began stirring.
Harry stood under the hot water for almost twenty minutes, letting it wash over him as he contemplated how to go about making some changes to the status quo. He felt he would go slowly insane if he were forced to remain at the Dursleys for the next two months.
When he finally returned to his room, feeling absolutely ravenous after his meager dinner of stale bread rolls, he was startled by the smell of bacon permeating the room.
Looking around warily, he discovered a steaming hot plate of bacon, eggs, and roasted potatoes lying on his bed.
What the bloody hell? Harry wondered in confusion.
He thought hard for a few seconds, but could come up with no explanation for how a hot, fresh breakfast had appeared in his room. The Dursleys weren't awake yet, and they certainly would not have fed him such ample portions. Was someone trying to trick him or poison him?
Then realization struck. The last time someone had tried to render him unsolicited aid at Privet Drive was when…
"Dobby?" Harry spoke hesitantly into thin air.
There was no response for a few seconds, then with a loud pop the little elf materialized in front of Harry. Hedwig hooted indignantly at him; she remembered just how much trouble this creature had caused her human three summers ago.
"Harry Potter Sir has called his Dobby?"
"Er, hi Dobby…how are you?"
"Oh, Harry Potter's Dobby is doing fine. Does Harry Potter Sir need Dobby's help?"
"Well, I, er—yes, I suppose I do. Did you make this breakfast?"
Dobby nodded, his huge ears flopping back and forth. "Dobby brings Harry Potter Sir his breakfast. Dobby has been watching, and Harry Potter does not eat enough," he said shyly.
"You've been watching…" Harry trailed off, a little disconcerted at the idea that Dobby could probably watch him anytime he chose to. Even when…best to not go there. Harry shook his head and tried to regain control of his thoughts.
"I appreciate it, Dobby, but why are you calling yourself 'Harry Potter Sir's Dobby'?"
Harry hadn't seen Dobby since he freed him at the end of his second year, and as far as he knew Dobby was still a free elf.
Dobby shuffled his feet and looked at the ground. He nervously twisted one of his ears. Softly, he spoke up at Harry.
"Dobby is choosing Harry Potter Sir as his new master."
Harry looked intently at the little elf for a few seconds, trying to comprehend whether this was a good thing or a disaster waiting to happen. Dobby's usual idea of helping him involved trying to get him in serious trouble.
"But…why, Dobby? I thought you wanted to be free?"
Dobby pulled down viciously on one of his huge ears, causing Harry to grow slightly alarmed.
"House elves is needing a master, Harry Potter Sir, and Dobby wanted to serve the great Harry Potter. Dobby is knowing you are a kind master, and you have need of him."
"Er…alright. I just wish you had asked me first, okay? But I'm glad that you want to help me. I need all the help I can get right now."
Harry paused, thinking over his next words carefully. He didn't want to offend Dobby. "But I want you to understand that we're friends, all right? I don't like it when you call me master. And I don't want you to hurt yourself anymore. Maybe you can explain to me sometime why house elves need a master?" Harry phrased the question as gently as he could.
The elf smiled widely, his teeth looking unnervingly sharp and goblin-like. "Dobby can. Dobby is happy to call Harry Potter Sir a friend."
Harry smiled in return and stuck out his hand for Dobby to shake. Hermione is going to have me drawn and quartered, he thought, but a bloke's got to eat.
Harry sat down on his bed and dug in heartily to the first real meal he had eaten since returning to Privet Drive. In between groans of contentment, he realized that his dull summer of confinement had just grown a little less unbearable.
July 16th, 1995 – Privet Drive, Little Whinging
Five days after his first encounter with Dobby, Harry sat on his bed, absentmindedly chewing on a piece of black licorice while he read a thick book from Hogwarts library. Dobby had come through for him in ways that stunned him, and Harry chided himself on a daily basis for not seeking out Dobby's help sooner.
Really, freeing Dobby from Lucius Malfoy had been one of the luckiest breaks he had ever caught.
It turned out that Dobby could pilfer food from the Hogwarts kitchens with no trouble at all. Harry could look forward to three huge meals a day with Dobby's ability to pop back and forth between Privet Drive and Hogwarts. Evidently Dumbledore's wards around the house didn't detect house elves, or Harry was sure someone would be knocking on the front door right now.
Harry had also discovered, to his great amusement, that Dobby could filch books from Hogwarts library, including the restricted section, without being detected. Since Dobby had no formal bond with the school, just a financial relationship, he felt no guilt whatsoever about using its resources to serve his Harry Potter Sir. Harry had grinned maliciously at the thought of the insufferably rigid Madam Pince catching a house elf nicking her books.
The only problem with Harry acquiring every defense book in the library was that Dobby couldn't read. He knew and recognized letters, but titles of books were too much for him.
So Harry had spent a few hours of the past five days teaching Dobby how to read basic words and recognize important ones like "defense," "dark arts," "charms," and "dueling." Dobby would then bring Harry a few books at a time on the subjects that he desperately needed to know. He had already acquired a dozen books on various subjects, but didn't want to go overboard lest the disappearance of too many books raise the ire of Madam Pince and Dumbledore.
Unfortunately, Dobby could do very little to help him with his primary problem: being able to perform magic for the summer. House elves were not able to remove charms from wands or perform warding magic. Really, Harry discovered, they could only perform magic that involved manipulating air in various ways.
Aside from their unique form of "popping," most house elves were only capable of weak banishing and levitation charms. They could defend their masters in desperate situations, but were unable to perform general offensive magic against wizards.
Without a master's magic to feed it, a house elf's magic would slowly dissipate and eventually die out altogether. This explained in part why house elves exhibited such slavish behavior toward wizards; their continued existence literally depended on their bonds with their masters.
So much for SPEW, Harry had smirked.
He found this new information fascinating, and couldn't wait to tell Hermione, although he couldn't quite predict what her reaction would be. She was the most headstrong girl Harry had ever met, and sometimes her crusades against injustice refused to be tempered with logic; would she accept Dobby's explanation and give up on her mission to free the elves, or would she just dig in her heels?
All in all Harry felt much better about his summer confinement now than he had five days ago. He was able to take copious notes on spells and techniques that might one day save his life, even if he couldn't practice them at the moment. It felt good to actively pursue his goals.
Dobby's ability to feed Harry had even made it possible for him to exercise every day. Pushups and situps didn't count for much, but any little thing might make the difference between life and death. He had even begun a daily running regimen through the streets of his neighborhood. He didn't particularly enjoy running, as he associated it with running for his life from Dudders and his gang, but Harry knew he needed every advantage he could get.
For the past two hours Harry had been taking notes from a book entitled Jinxing the Jinxer: A Guide to Underhanded Dueling Techniques. There was an asphyxiation hex in that book that he would love to try out on Malfoy the next time he uttered the world "mudblood." He didn't understand the arithmancy that accompanied the descriptions of most of the spells, but he did understand the wand movements and incantations. He just needed a way to practice.
Yawning, Harry noticed that the sun was starting to set, so he decided to take a break from reading and get in his daily run.
After donning a huge pair of old gym shorts and lacing up his ratty trainers, Harry exited 4 Privet Drive and began jogging his usual route toward the park. He knew he couldn't perform magic, but he never went anywhere without his wand. It was tied around his forearm with an old, frayed shoelace. Harry was sure he looked ridiculous to passersby, but found he just didn't care. Let them think it's my lucky drumstick, he smirked mentally. They already think I'm a deranged criminal.
As his muscles loosened up and the blood began to flow into his legs, his thoughts traveled to his best friends.
He had not sent a letter to Hermione yet since he assumed she was unreachable, but his letter to Ron had still yet to be answered. The fact that Ron hadn't bothered to respond in over a week bothered Harry immensely. In the past Harry had thought that Ron would stand with him against whatever nastiness came his way. Hadn't he accompanied him in their attempt to protect the stone? Hadn't he and the twins rescued him before second year? Hadn't Harry saved his sister's life? With every passing day Harry grew more irritated with Ron's lack of communication.
As he approached the end of his run, Harry realized he was nearly in a dead sprint. His adrenalin was pumping, encouraged by his resentful state of mind. Checking his digital watch, which he had nicked from the junk pile in Dudley's room, he was shocked to find that he had just completed his usual two miles in 13 minutes. I'm starting to get fit, he thought triumphantly. Time to start going for longer runs.
Harry's buoyant mood continued as he bounded the stairs and entered his room. He marched over to the calendar on his wall and made another large X through the previous day. It was now July 16th. I have less than two months left to train, Harry thought. I have got to get out of this place and go somewhere that I can use my magic. Maybe I can convince Dumbledore to get me out of here before my birthday.
As if in answer to Harry's thoughts, an owl pecked exhaustedly on Harry's window, and he recognized it as Errol, the Weasley family owl. The ancient owl had both a letter and a small package attached to its leg, and it looked to be on the verge of passing out.
"Finally," Harry sighed.
Removing the owl of its burdens and sending it to Hedwig's perch to rest, Harry opened the letter eagerly. Its contents made Harry's brow furrow.
Got your letter, mate, but I'm not allowed to say anything about You-Know-What. Dumbledore says we shouldn't owl each other this summer. Everyone knows your owl and she could be intercepted. Mum says Dumbledore has your vault key, and he doesn't know when you'll be able to leave the muggles yet. Sorry, but we didn't have any books to send. Mum sends her love and says to make sure you're eating enough. She's sending some homemade cauldron cakes with Errol. I'll owl again as soon as Dumbledore gives the okay.
"What a load of bollocks," Harry growled, balling up the letter in his fists. He had waited over a week for that? He missed his close friendship with Ron, but this new missive had merely increased his impatience with the redheaded boy. Why was Ron listening to Dumbledore's advice at all? And why would Dumbledore have his vault key? Harry wanted to invest in some advanced defense books when he next visited Diagon Alley, but he didn't even know how much money his parents had left him.
Harry knew that he owed Dumbledore an awful lot, particularly for protecting him from the crazed betrayer of his parents, Sirius Black, during third year. But he was getting increasingly resentful of just how omnipresent Dumbledore was in his life. Everything always comes back to Dumbledore, he thought spitefully. He makes all the important decisions in my life. Why?
Harry was starting to feel like a dog on a very short leash.
He absentmindedly picked up one of the cauldron cakes that Mrs. Weasley had sent along with Ron's letter. Despite being well fed by Dobby, he would never pass up an opportunity to eat her spectacular homemade cooking.
Munching on it as he stripped down for his shower, Harry's thoughts turned to the youngest member of the Weasley family. Ginny had talked to him a few times during the last school year, and now she could look in his general direction without blushing madly.
Her shyness really is adorable, Harry thought distractedly. And her long, red hair is quite fetching, now that I think on it…I'll have to get to know Ginny better this year.
A/N: Thanks for reading. The first chapter is similar to other indy!Harry stories, I realize, but we will soon be departing from that template. Next chapter, we get some Dumbledore POV and the summer moves along quickly.
Kudos to whoever coined the term "Durzkaban."
(Chapter revised on 5/28/09; thanks to Voice of the Nephilim, Nukular Winter, and Perspicacity for their suggestions).