All year I wanted to talk to you, but I was far to afraid. Not just of what you might say, but also the ridicule and potential punishment from my housemates. You see, I'm in Slytherin house. Please don't stop reading. Give me a chance to explain myself.
I often feel that I was sorted into the wrong house, despite my family's history. My parents were both in Slytherin, and so on. But I don't think I belong here. With the exception of my best friend, I relate to no one. I can't stand all the pureblood propaganda that is spewed constantly, and I spend almost all my time studying. Hidden in the library, or my dorm.
For the past four years I've watched you, and found you not only brave and friendly to almost everyone, but there is sadness in your eyes. I don't know if your friends even notice it. I wanted to ask you to the Yule ball, but when I had gathered my courage, I had heard you asked Cho Chang. Imagine my surprise when you turned up with Parvati Patil on your arm.
Anyway, I'm just rambling on and on. So, I came up with an idea. If you are interested we can write back and forth, but I will not tell you my name. I want you to get to know the real me, and I'm afraid that once you know who I am, you may not want to talk to me. This way, there's no prejudices. Just send a reply either way with my owl.
Harry Potter re-read the letter from the anonymous sender for the fifteenth time. All the while his mind was weighing whether or not to reply. Having a new friend would be quite nice, but a Slytherin friend…of that he wasn't sure. It could be a huge trick. After all there was no love lost between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Yet, the letter seemed sincere.
With a heavy sigh, Harry took out a clean piece of parchment and began to craft a response.
I appreciate you wanting to be a friend. I would never decline a new friend, however I must express my concern that this is some kind of prank. However, I will give it a chance.
Tell me a little more about yourself. Give me a sporting chance to figure out who you are. I will try to keep my prejudices to myself, but I must tell you the so far, my experiences with people from Slytherin have not been the best. I'm sure not everyone is the same, but so far, I've seen little proof of it.
Waiting to hear from you again.
Harry attached the letter to the patient brown owl and watched as it took flight. When the owl was nothing more than a speck, Harry laid back in his bed and closed his eyes. It had been almost a month since the end of term and the death of Cedric Diggory. Harry's nights had been spent fighting through endless nightmares of Voldemort's return. Every night it was the same high laugh and the empty dead eyes of the Hufflepuff champion. How ever in his dreams, Harry never could beat the Dark Lord. Every night Harry awoke in a sweat just as the Dark Lord cast the killing curse.
During the days, Harry would work in his Aunt Petunia's garden. Weeding, pruning, mowing the lawn, building a new fence and any other chores that his Uncle Vernon could think of. Harry did everything without complaint, and it seemed to please his Uncle. Harry had been kept very busy this summer, and not once had he mentioned is Godfather to scare the Dursleys. He did every job without complaint.
Harry was actually thankful for the work. He toiled away in the boiling summer sun, and had been able to keep his thoughts away from the dark thoughts that haunted his nights. The work was good for him. He'd been working quite hard, and he'd developed a little more muscle as a result. He was sure that if he'd been given more food from his aunt and uncle, he'd probably have more. However, The Dursleys were still enforcing the diet that his cousin Dudley had been forced on last year. Dudley had actually shown a difference as the result of a years worth of dieting and exercise. His bulk had turned into hard muscle, and he'd become the Smeltings school boxing champion. Harry didn't think that Dudley learning to hit harder and more accurately was that great. However, Dudley was hardly home this summer.
Harry sighed again, and for the umpteenth time this summer wondered why he had not heard from Hermione or Ron. Hermione had sent one letter early on in the summer, but had been oddly quiet since. She had express deep concern for Harry, asking if she could help in anyway. Harry had been thankful, but told her not to worry. He thought it might have been why she hadn't written, yet he knew Hermione well enough to know she'd not stop writing. In fact, Hermione would normally have pestered him until he opened up about his feelings.
Ron on the other hand was not reliable at all when it came to writing letters. It was this fact that comforted Harry. If there was any news about Voldemort, Ron would have written him straight away. And this made Harry quite curious. What was the dark lord up to. Surely he was causing chaos and death all across the country. Where was Voldemort and his Death Eaters?
Harry noticed the clock read one in the morning. Harry had to finish the new fence his Uncle Vernon had made him build. Tomorrow was supposed to be the hottest yet, and Harry knew he'd need to get some sleep if he were going to make it through the day.
He'd awoke early again, thanks to his recurring nightmare, and wasted no time in getting a shower. He then hurried down for a quick breakfast and headed out to the back yard and began his work. He had found early on this summer, that the sooner he got to work, the less he had to deal with his relatives. Uncle Vernon would come out before he would leave for work and give Harry a list of chores he wanted done, and then Harry would be left alone the rest of the day.
His day went by quite quickly. Harry easily lost himself in his labors, especially in building the fence. He had to be accurate with his measurements, and like carrying a heavy pile of wood from the garage to where he was working. Swinging the hammer allowed him to vent at least some of his frustrations each day. Around five o clock he put the final nail into the new wooden fence. He stood back and admired his work. Harry wondered, not for the first time, if he had not been a wizard if he might make a career in wood working. He had come to really like working in the garage with tools and wood. It really made it easy to forget his real world woes.
He began putting away the tools when his Uncle Vernon came out and looked over the new fence.
"Finally." he growled lowly. "It took you long enough. Tomorrow I want it stained. There are brushes and new stain in my car. Get it into the garage, then come in for supper." He grumbled. Harry thought it was quite a compliment that his uncle couldn't find anything to criticize in his work.
After a small supper and cleaning the dishes, Harry decided to take a long walk. It was still hot outside, but he didn't care. He just walked, fists shoved into his pockets and hung his head low. His unruly black hair had settled somewhat, but only because his hair had grown quite long. Harry knew he needed to have it cut, but he'd never let his aunt do it. The mere memory of the last time she cut it, and the accidental magic that follow made him smile momentarily, but his thoughts turned dark once again.
Harry was quite sick of Privet drive, and his relatives. He wanted nothing more than to spend his birthday with his friends and his godfather. Just once he wanted to be away from what he considered his temporary jail and with his friends. He was tired of not knowing the reason he was forced to go back here every summer.
More frustration built inside him as he entered the park. It was quite empty this evening. Harry sat heavily into one of the swings and began slowly pushing himself. A new thought came to him. The mystery letter he had received. It still felt like a prank. Something cooked up by Malfoy to get at him.
Still, there was something there that was eating at him. A sincerity in the words, that Harry doubted Malfoy could come up with. He would just have to wait and see, keeping his wits and his eyes open for anything that might be wrong.
It was approaching midnight and Harry was finishing the last of his summer homework. He had begun it almost as soon as he returned to Privet drive. He was nearing exhaustion with his lack of sleep, but he was also afraid to sleep. The nightmares had worsened. He tried everything he could think of, even meditation, though it seemed every time he closed his eyes he saw Voldemort's red eyes staring back, and he could hear the high cold laughter.
With a final swish of his quill, Harry sat back and capped the ink bottle.
"Finally." He sighed. Leave it to Snape to assign the longest essay of all about the most complex potion he could find. It had taken Harry two weeks to finish it. Harry was sure that a fair teacher would give him top marks, but would be satisfied if Snape gave him "Acceptable". He glanced through the window and smiled to himself. He saw them coming closer, and immediately chastised himself. He'd forgotten that it was his birthday. He was now fifteen and four large owls were gliding toward his window burdened with gifts.
Quickly Harry stood and opened the window as one after another, the owls swept in and landed gently on his bed. Harry moved to each and released the packages and offered each owl a treat. They all took off just as quickly as they had entered, and Harry watched them go until they were little more than dark specks.
Harry turned back to his pile of gifts and began opening them. The first was from Hagrid, The Hogwarts Groundskeeper, and Harry's first friend. It was a magnificent book on Dragons. Harry smiled as he remembered Hagrid's fondness for the giant creatures. He flipped open the book and stared intently at the first photo. A giant Welsh Green breathing fire at a small cove of trees.
Harry picked up the next gift. It was from Ron. A selection of sweets, mostly chocolate frogs. His gift from Hermione was surprising. It was dragon hide wand holster that fit on his wrist. Harry was delighted to discover that it had a mechanism that would launch his wand into his hand with a slight flick of his wrist. Harry couldn't stop himself. He kept firing his wand into his hand, his smile growing bigger with each correct catch.
"This is so brilliant. Harry grinned broadly.
The next gift was from Sirius, and it came with a note.
Your father and I used these while we were in school. All you have to do is say my name, and we will be able to talk.
Harry opened the package and found a small hand mirror. He looked puzzled, but said clearly, "Sirius"
After a moment, Sirius' face appeared. He face was fuller now, but his eyes still looked haunted. His smile was broad and he looked quite relieved.
"Hello Harry. Happy birthday."
"It's so good to see you. Where are you?"
"I'm happy to see you as well. I have a lot to tell you, but right now isn't the best time. But soon. Very soon. Keep this mirror with you as much as possible. You never know when I might be calling. How is everything there?"
"Fine." Harry lied. He didn't want to put his troubles on Sirius. "Do you know when I might be sprung?"
"Interesting choice of words. I don't know a specific date, but I know it will be soon. Very soon if Molly and I have any say. Your friends are dying to see you."
"Ron and Hermione? They're with you?" Harry asked shocked.
"Yes. Again I can't say much, but suffice to say, we've all been in a sort of lock down. It's late Harry. Get some sleep. I'll try and contact you tomorrow. This is very important Harry." Sirius said becoming quite stern. "Stay low, keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble. Keep close to your home. I promise I will tell you everything the next that we speak. Good night."
"Good night Sirius, and thank you."
Harry put the mirror aside and picked up the last package. It was only a letter, but a letter he'd been waiting for. It was the same elegant writing as before.
I'm glad that you're taking a chance with me. Maybe I will work up the courage to speak to you when we get back to Hogwarts. Remember it isn't just house lines I'm crossing.
I want to wish you a happy birthday first off. My sources tell me it is today.
I guess I can tell you a little about myself. If you can guess who I am before September 1st, there could be a prize. Although I am unsure of what a suitable prize might be. Perhaps we can figure something out together.
You already know that I am in Slytherin House, I am also in the top ten students in my year. I don't want to tell you which year as it would give me away more easily. After all, there are only four girls in my year. I will say I am above third year. I have black hair and I am partial to lilies. I don't like quidditch unless I'm watching you play. Not to be too flattering, but it just seems more exciting when you're up there. Something interesting always happens.
Well, I want to get this to you so I must finish this. Anything you'd like to ask of me, please don't hesitate. I swear I will answer everything honestly. I want this to be a real friendship, possibly more, and I know you have to be able to trust me. I'm sorry there is no gift, but I don't know you well enough yet to get you anything of real substance.
Waiting to hear from you.
Harry sat back on his bed and grinned. Something more? Then an awful thought occurred to him. What if this was Milicent Bulstrode, Harry might be in more trouble than if Malfoy was plotting against him. If it were Pansy Parkinson, Harry slapped his forehead…He didn't want to finish the thought.
Harry closed his eyes. He wondered who the person might be. A Slytherin who was taking a risk in trying to be his friend. It said a lot to him. Any one who would be willing to risk inner house ridicule was worth their weight and more in gold. On top of that, they might hear things from the children of death eaters.
That thought was the last before succumbing to sleep.
The graveyard was dark. The laughter was cold and taunting. Cedric's eyes stared lifeless. But something was different. Something in the dream had changed. He wasn't afraid this time. He was calm.
Possibly more…the words echoed in his mind, and a face appeared behind Voldemort, who seemed frozen in place. He couldn't see it clearly, but the eyes comforted him. They were deep pools of chocolate brown, and they seemed to be smiling at him. They seemed to warm him inside. A voice was calling out his name. Harry… Harry….
Harry awoke later than usual. It was after nine. He lifted his head and heard his name. Harry knew it wasn't his aunt or uncle because there was no banging on his door. He sat up quickly and found the source. The two way mirror he'd received the night before. He picked it up and was quite surprised to see Ron Weasley's face smiling back.
"Bout time mate. I've been calling out for ages." He smiled. From out of view he heard Hermione sigh and say that he'd only been at it a few seconds.
"How are you? Where are you? Sirius said you were all in lock down. What did he mean?"
"Slow down mate. We'll tell you what we can, but I imagine you'll see it all soon. I think they're planning to come get you in the next few days. We're all together at a place I can't tell you. Not that I don't want to, I just can't. Only the secret keeper can tell you, and I've no idea who it is. Hermione's been here for a few days, and it's been kind of boring."
"Sorry to hear it." Harry said sarcastically.
"No need to get snippy." Hermione said, her face coming into view. "We said we'd tell you all we could. We're at the headquarters for the Order Of the Phoenix. It's a group that Dumbledore assembled to fight Voldemort."
"What's he up to?" Harry asked, suddenly interested. He'd been monitoring the muggle news in hopes that he might hear anything that might be related. The Daily Prophet had had nothing to say on the matter. It was like there was a big cover up.
"Nothing that we know for sure." Ron said sadly. "We're not allowed at the meetings."
"We've tried to listen in, and we've gotten a bit of information, but nothing solid." Hermione said sadly. "We're sorry we couldn't write, but Dumbledore said we couldn't, for your safety."
"Don't worry about it. It was worth it, thanks to these mirrors. We should get Sirius to make us some more, or teach us how to make them."
"They really are brilliant." Hermione said brightly. She was obviously impressed by the magic work.
"So what else is going on?" Harry asked.
"Nothing other than that. Well, we've been put to working cleaning the house. Mum's in a right state about how much work there is. What about you?"
"Nothing much. Except I have an admirer."
Both Ron and Hermione gapped at him. Harry quickly explained the letters from a secret Slytherin admirer, and his concerns. Predictably Ron seemed disgusted that any Slytherin would be interesting. Hermione on the other hand seemed to be puzzling through something.
"Harry, would it be alright if I looked at the letter when you arrive?" she asked.
"I don't see why not. Should I continue to write this person though?"
"I don't see the harm in a pen pal, but be careful. Don't share anything important. Not until you know for sure if this person is trust worthy."
"That's sound advice. Thanks."
"Look mate we have to go. We'll be seeing you soon alright?" Ron smiled. Hermione waved and then they were gone. Harry picked up the newest letter from his new Slytherin friend. He decided that Hermione was right. There was no reason not to write to this anonymous friend, so long as he kept everything of any importance from them and out of his letters.
Harry got up and made his way downstairs. His uncle had already gone to work, and Dudley had left the house for who knew where. His Aunt was also absent. In her stead was a note that told him of the chores that were expected of him that day. Harry made some toast, and got dressed. He made his way out to finish staining the fence. While he was brushing on the wood stain, his thoughts were on who might be writing him from Slytherin house. He knew that it must be a girl. The writing was far to nice to be a bloke's. but he couldn't think of any Slytherin girls, short of Bulstrode and Parkinson. He racked his brains for hours and couldn't think of a single other Slytherin girl. He chastised himself for not knowing more names, and not just in Slytherin.
Late that afternoon, his Aunt called him in. He put away the stain and headed inside. He finished the meager salad his Aunt had made for dinner and them headed up to his room, peeling off the sweaty shirt and closing his door. Hedwig, his snowy owl blinked at him as he sat down at his desk. He had been thinking all day about what to write to his new friend.
Thank you for your birthday wishes. I've tried to think of who you might be, and am sad to say I've no idea who anyone in Slytherin house is. With a few exceptions, Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson and Milicent Bulstrode, Crabbe and Goyle, I don't know anyone from Slytherin.
I expect this is not uncommon in most houses. But I might be wrong. I wonder if you are younger or older than me. What is your favorite subject at school? What do you do when you're not studying? Who's you favorite teacher?
This is all I can think to ask. Maybe by the time you write me again, I will have thought of more questions.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Harry attached the letter to Hedwig and lovingly stroked her feathers. He watched her take off and smiled. Thanks to Sirius, this summer, locked away at the Dursleys was turning out to be not so bad.
Harry was contemplating how to thank Sirius when the mirror spoke his name again. Harry picked it up and grinned widely as he saw his Godfather smiling face.
"How are you, Harry?"
"Good. Thanks for letting Ron and Hermione use the mirror earlier. I t was really great to talk to them."
"Good. Hermione has already asked if I could show you all how to make some more. I imagine it would've been handy last year. Harry, I promised to tell you what's been going on. I finally was able to get some time to myself.
"What's been going on? What's Voldemort up to?" Harry asked quickly.
"Quite frankly, he's lying low. You weren't supposed to live. You ruined his resurrection, and so he's lying low and trying collect new members. But that's not all. He's after something. A weapon. Something he didn't have last time, and something that contributed to his downfall."
"What? What could he need?"
"Harry, what I'm about to tell you will cause me a lot of problems. So I want you to swear you won't tell anyone about it. Promise me." Sirius looked quite stern and troubled.
"I promise." Harry said solemnly.
"Harry, You're parents killed protecting you, because of a prophecy. A prophecy that he didn't hear. He's after that prophecy. He is convinced it will give him the information he needs in order to finish you off."
"Do you know what the prophecy says?" Harry asked, trying to hide the horror on his face.
"No. I'm sorry. Only your parents knew, and I made James keep it to himself. It was for the same reason I begged them to choose Peter to be the secret keeper. I thought it was safer."
"So what is the Order doing?"
"The same as Voldemort. Trying to grow our numbers and to protect the prophecy. It's hidden in the Department of Mysteries deep inside the Ministry. I tell you this, because it's near impossible to get in there. Voldemort himself won't risk it because the Ministry is very graciously denying his return. In fact, they've taken to bad mouthing you and Dumbledore in the press. Dumbledore isn't concerned. So I want you to follow his example. Don't let it get to you. There are other things to concern yourself with."
"So what happens now?" Harry wondered.
"We're trying to get Dumbledore to allow us to come get you. He keeps saying that you'll be allowed to leave there soon. In the meantime, stay safe, and keep your head down. You'll be among family soon."
With that, Sirius bid Harry goodnight. Harry laid down and closed his eyes. Soon, he'd be home. That thought lulled him into a restless sleep.