[OotP compliant - except maybe the last chapter or so. May refer to details in HBP/DH]

[Disclaimer and A/Ns on my profile page]

Friday, June 30

It was the final morning at Hogwarts and students were rushing around, busy with goodbyes and last minute packing. Harry Potter on the other hand, was subdued, almost unaware of all of the excitement around him . Unlike the other students, he was not looking forward to returning to his family. After breakfast, Harry went out to the owlery and called for his owl, Hedwig. The beautiful white owl landed on his shoulder and began grooming her masters hair.

"Hey, girl," Harry said to her as he gently stroked her belly. "Listen, I don't know what things are going to be like once I get 'home'. I think it'll be safer for you to fly down on your own. Stay out of site until you know its safe to come by my window, OK? I'll leave it open all the time. I should have enough food and treats for you to last the summer, I stocked up the last time I was in Hogsmeade. Alright?"

Although the bird never stopped her preening, Harry new she understood. When both boy and bird were done giving attention to the other, the owl flew away and the boy walked back towards the castle to meet up with his friends.

Harry spent the whole train ride staring out of the window - brooding. Harry knew he would never be the same again. He knew that since that fateful night at the Ministry of Magic he would forever be different. That night he lost his godfather. That night he was possessed by Voldemort. That night he had the weight of the Wizarding World placed on his shoulders. Even the professors started treating him differently. Or maybe they hadn't, but he was so changed that he felt as if they were.

Harry now knew why Voldemort had gone after his family when he was a baby. He understood now why they went into hiding. Some stupid prophecy, made by a half drunk phony! Unfortunately, as fake as the diviner was, the prophecy itself was very real. Now, Harry was stuck with the task of ridding the world of Voldemort, or die trying. While he was having his mental pity-party, his friends - Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna, were trying to draw him into conversation.

"Are you worried about summer with your family?" Hermione asked him.

"Maybe they'll be nicer to you this year," Ron said hopefully.

Harry didn't hold out much hope for that. "Ron, the day the Dursleys treat me well is the day that Snape and I sit around sipping cocoa and have a heart-to-heart talk." Everyone in the compartment giggled, and Harry turned his attention back towards the window. As much as things have changed for him, Harry knew he could count on summers in Surrey to be full of taunting, hunger and hard work. It was almost a relief to him to know that some things would never change.

After the train pulled into King's Cross station, Harry listlessly pulled his trunk and empty owl cage from the compartment and disembarked the train. He half-heartedly said goodbye to his friends, not even promising them he would write.

When he crossed the barrier into the muggle side of King's Cross, he was met with the sight of his nervous aunt, irritated uncle and bored cousin. Yep, he thought to himself, nothing here has changed. Back to 'life as normal' with the Dursleys.

Harry Potter forgot - nothing in his life is normal.