Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine.

Harry Potter had been feeling hopeful about this year. His friends were around him, public opinion had once again swung towards his side, and he was going back to the place where he belonged – Hogwarts. Even the fact that Voldemort had returned was little more than an afterthought, as he allowed himself to simply bask in the feeling of being at the train station.

The facts that Draco was acting more suspicious than usual and his friends didn't believe him about his observations were little more than nuisances. Otherwise, he was still quite optimistic about a new year in school and looking decidedly forward to catching up with everyone on the Hogwarts Express.

He really should have known better.


Suddenly, Hedwig's cage, perhaps due to too much jostling, swung open and Hedwig tumbled out, hooting in righteous fury.

"No, it's okay-" Harry snapped irritably as the Aurors by his side attempted to hurry him up. Ron, Hermione, and the rest had already gone ahead of him. Besides, the Aurors really only got in his way. Hadn't he confronted Voldemort last year and came out in better shape than the majority of everyone else in the Department of Mysteries? He could take care of himself.

"Here, I'll go after her," he shoved his bags into the grim-looking Aurors' hands, ignoring their affronted expressions and raced after Hedwig. Strange, it almost looked as though she had been spooked, the way she was flying increasingly farther away from him.

"Come on, Hedwig-" Harry gasped out, racing through the Muggle platforms after her. Maybe something was wrong? He dived around a guard, barely missed a stroller with a baby inside, and continued pursuing her. She really was getting too far away.

He never saw the flash of red that hit him.