A/N: Harry Potter and all other recognisable characters and scenes are the sole property of one J.K. Rowling. Please don't sue. I own nothing but my cat (and even that is debatable… just ask her).

A/N: As promised, I present to you the re-write of Along Came a Family. I will be posting the revised chapters at a fairly quick pace and the brand-new latest chapter will be posted at the same time I post the last revised chapter. The muses have finally returned and I can see my way through to the end. Thank you to all of those who have stuck with me and supported me and this story through all this time. I am very happy with my re-write, and I hope you will be too. Without any further ado-I present to you the (hopefully) new and improved...

And Along Came a Family

Thistles and Dandelions… Beware!

It came as no small irony to Harry Potter how he once dreaded 'coming home' to Privet Drive for the summer. Hell, truth was he hated it, still did. But this year, as much as he loathed the Dursleys and their constant harassment, the desire to escape Hogwarts and the wizarding world had overshadowed all else.

This had been quite literally, the worst year of Harry's life. Ever since he learned that he was a wizard at the age of eleven, Harry had become all too aware of the ever threatening presence of Lord Voldemort.

After all, the bastard came very close to affecting his return during Harry's first two terms. And although his third and fourth terms had been far from uneventful, the impending return of the dark wizard had been the least of worries. He should have known better.

The overly thin and shirtless teenager was, at present, on his knees in his aunt's back rose garden. The weed that he was currently wrestling with was determined to win its fight with Harry. Harry had other ideas.

"Ugh!" he grunted as he yanked at a particularly stubborn thistle. The weed suddenly gave way, but not before it had its revenge by making sure its aggressor landed on his arse by the force of his efforts.

Harry hastily pulled off his worn gardening glove and began to suck on the blood now oozing from his right forefinger. With his left hand, he rubbed his bruised bum.

"Damn it." He really didn't damn the pain. In all actuality, he welcomed it. Anything to get his mind off of the Triwizard Tournament, Lord Voldemort, and most of all, Cedric Diggory.

Yes, this summer Harry welcomed the physical pain that was always assured by his return to the home of his aunt and uncle.

Whether that pain came from the never ending list of unpleasant and backbreaking chores given to him by Aunt Petunia or the inevitable pain he would feel at the hands of Dudley and Uncle Vernon, anything was better than the mental anguish of thinking about the return of Voldemort and the death of Cedric, and knowing that it was all his fault. Something deep down inside Harry was trying to tell him that the events of the past year were not his fault. But Harry's conscience would hear nothing of it. He opted to literally work away his guilt if he could.

Harry could stand the hard work. Harry could stand emotional and physical neglect. After fourteen years, it had become survival instinct.

He was quite used to going a day or two with little or nothing to eat. He had become almost stoically accustomed to Vernon's verbal vitriol and tended to shrug off his none-to-gentle manhandling. He instinctively tried to shake the sting from his right hand.

Harry reasoned if he could survive a Crucio at the hands of Voldemort, he could definitely handle the occasional cuff from the back of his Uncle Vernon's hand.

Paradoxically, Harry was relishing his work in the hot July sun. It was nearly thirty-seven degrees centigrade and sweat was pouring off him in torrents.

All afternoon, his blood, sweat, and the occasional tear would mix with the soil of Aunt Petunia's rose garden and quickly evaporate in the unrelenting heat.

Unconsciously, he was trying to purge himself. Ever since Voldemort's 'rebirth', Harry felt absolutely filthy, and this feeling of filth penetrated much further than mere skin deep. Harry thought back to that day after Cedric was killed.

After the Triwizard Tournament, Harry took an hour long shower in the hottest water he could stand without actually blistering his own skin. No matter how hard he tried, he could neither scrub nor scrape the feeling of Voldemort's touch off of him. The sight of seeing Harry return to his dorm with his skin still red and still literally steaming worried his best friend Ron to no end.

Ron was stunned. "Bloody hell, Harry! What did you do to yourself mate."

Harry stared at him blankly. "What do you mean?"

"Well blimey, Harry…you look like a Chinese Fireball." Ron looked a little unsure of himself, but he asked Harry anyway, "Mate…are you alright?"

Harry was by no means 'alright', but he did not know how to tell his friend that at this particular time. He just took an hour long shower and he still felt dirty.

By the time Harry reached platform nine and three-quarters, he was ready to part company with Ron and Hermione, at least for the time being. His two best friends were practically speechless with worry for him. They both promised to write him, along with Ron's additional promise that Harry could come to the Burrow as soon as Headmaster Dumbledore said Harry was able. Hopefully, they would all be beyond the awkwardness by then.

Snapping himself back to the present, Harry took a minute to look at his bloody and callused hands. The threadbare gardening gloves that he had been wearing certainly did little to protect his hands. Just as well. Harry walked over to the garden hose and let the water run until it cooled down and started to wash the blood and grime off of his abused hands.

"Ssss!" he hissed and gasped all at once as the cool water made contact with his raw flesh.

Once his hands were clean, the pain began to numb and Harry took a long cool drink. Once his thirst was satiated, he drenched his head and his sunburned arms in order to cool himself.

He was glad that Vernon had not come home yet. On an abnormally hot day such as today, Aunt Petunia may reluctantly begrudge Harry a cool-down, but upon realising how sunburned he was, he did not want to risk a clout from his ill-tempered and irrational uncle.

After nursing his injury and having the return of these unwelcome and morose thoughts, Harry chucked is gloves to the side, walked back over to the rose garden, and with his bare hands and doggedly returned to his weeding.

Harry had to take out his frustrations on something.

With a nearly maniacal gleam in his eyes, he lightly chuckled as he imagined every single thistle and dandelion trembling at the thought of its inevitable and impending doom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~To be Continued~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please let me know what you think. It's good to be back. :)