Chapter 3: Back to Hogwarts
A small pop broke the silence of the small room. The fireplace lit up a bright green and as if from nowhere, a man stepped out.
The man wiped the sweat from his forehead; it had been almost too close of a call. His memories drifted back to Malfoy Manor, he had just escaped by the hair on his neck. He knew it had been a risky operation, but knew also of its necessity. He clinched the rolls of parchment he had been able to make away with tightly in his hand. See the poor conditions of the house elves had really struck this man. It was a coarse reminder that evil would never be truly beaten, but fought at every turn that it reared its ugly head.
He placed the parchment in his desk drawer, uncertain of what to do. The information he had heard from Malfoy was alarming, yet unsurprising. Malfoy had a sinister way about him. He wouldn't forget the man's face he had seen in the dungeon just hours before. It had seemed so familiar.
He tried to shake the memory from his head as he began to write. He did not trust Dumbledore to handle this the correct way, and so he must. Pausing once to wonder if his words were too strong, he sent off the warning anyway. Harry needed to be prepared, and he couldn't rely on anyone to fight his battle for him. Even thought he was so young, he would have more responsibility on his shoulders, far quicker than he realized.
His gaze shifted to the table in the corner, on it which sat an object few would recognize. The Obsidian Jar.
Ginny's tried to stir herself awake, but the dream held her captive for far longer than she had hoped, and she was back in sleeps embrace.
"Good morning Ginny dear," Molly said as she opened the door a crack to check on her daughter. "Dear, it is time to start breakfast."
Ginny silently groaned. Her mother had always gotten her up early to help with breakfast, this summer hadn't changed things.
She slowly fought her way out of the warm sheets, going down the stairs, scowl intact.
"My, much less fight today," Mrs. Weasley observed as Ginny tied her bed hair back, "Maybe there is a reason?"
"What reason would that be?" Ginny asked as she started cracking the eggs for the meal.
Her mother smiled at her knowingly, "The past few days you have behaved a bit differently, that's all I was saying dear."
Ginny furrowed her brow, what was her mother insinuating. The past few days the only difference had been that, Harry was here.
Molly watched Ginny's face as she finally realized what she was insinuating, noticing the growing blush, "Having a crush is normal Ginny, it is certainly nothing to blush about."
"I don't have a crush mum, we are just friends." Ginny said quickly
"As you should be, Lord knows you are way too young to date." Mrs. Weasley said as she slid the toast into the oven, "But I do understand Ginny. He is a famous boy, he seems quite caring. He isn't a bad looking boy either."
No, Ginny thought, he wasn't. "Mum, I told you we were just friends!"
"Okay dear, I just wish you could be honest about things with me like you always have been. I sure hope that school doesn't cause you to grow away from me." Mrs. Weasley sighed, "It's hard to know you're growing up and I can't watch you."
Ginny was slightly touched at her mothers' words; she couldn't really believe that her mother would think she was keeping something from her. Harry and her were simply good friends. Harry was so special anyway, and she had only ever gotten secondhand things anyways. Why should this be any different?
"I'm sorry Mum, I promise that I may be growing up, but I'm definitely not growing away." Ginny smiled at her mother as she ignored the building moisture in her eyes, "What is it that dad always says?"
"Nothing can separate two Weasley's." Molly sniffled, "It's too hard to get lost with hair that bright."
Mrs. Weasley turned her attention to the sausage before she lost her composure, she was lucky to have such a wonderful daughter. "I'll finish breakfast Ginny," she offered as she looked at her daughter, "I'm sure you may want to brush that mane out before the boys wake up."
Ginny look horrified as she took off her apron, "Of course Mum, thanks." she hurried up to her room, stopping to add, "Wouldn't want to twins to make fun of me or anything."
Molly smiled as she took the eggs off the stove. Her motherly instincts were battling to come to the surface. He loved Harry and trusted him, but her daughter's heart was very special to her. She decided to have faith that Harry had Ginny's interests at heart like she did; whatever that would mean down the road.
Dishes clanged on the large table as the Weasleys began their breakfast feast. The twins bantered excitedly about the upcoming trip to Diagon Alley.
Mrs. Weasley perked up at the whispers between the boys, "You will most certainly not be going into Knockturn Alley!"
The clanging slowed suddenly as all eyes turned to the two boys, blood slowly running to their face.
"You misheard us mum." Fred started, "We were talking about the bookstore."
"Tell a lie that is believable," Percy smiled as Ginny held back a laugh.
"Isn't Knockturn Alley a place were only evil wizards go?" Ron asked innocently
"Yes Ron," George said sarcastically, "The second you step into Knockturn Alley, you immediately grow horns and begin to have the insane desire to kill half bloods."
"As a matter of fact," Fred said as he rubbed his shoulder painfully, "I think the change is coming."
The table began to laugh as Fred acted as if he was choking and changing into some monster.
"I think the lesson here, Ron, is that the items a wizard uses and the place a wizard goes is not what he should blame for his actions." Mr. Weasley said as he eyed his youngest son, "But in this case I think it is best if we abstain from the appearance of evil."
Fred and George gave each other a thoughtful look as Ron felt his ears heat up. Harry repeated the words in his head as if to make sense of it. It reminded him of something Dumbledore had said to him after the cave incident. A wizards choices are what make the wizard, but surely good wizards don't do evil things.
"Mother," Percy asked breaking the silence, "Is it true that Lockhart is supposed to be there?"
"Lockhart?" Harry asked
Ginny shook her head, "some wizard mum fancies."
Mrs. Weasley batted a napkin at her daughter, "I most certainly do no such thing!"
"I'm sorry mum you're right." Ginny conceded, "You just own all of his books."
"Don't you have the 'Witch Weekly's' he is in saved as well?" Fred laughed
Mr. Weasley smiled at the byplay in front of him, "I hear there is a rumor he will be teaching at Hogwarts this year."
Mrs. Weasley's face lit up, "That is absolutely..."
"False." Percy said
"The rumor is that He offered his services to Dumbledore and he was flat out rejected." George laughed as his brother clapped his back.
"Turned down cold!"
Mrs. Weasley cut her eyes at Fred and his twin as they seemed to take such joy at the suffering of such a great man, "Well if he is more qualified than Lockhart, then he must be an incredible wizard."
"Or at least qualified," Ginny smiled quietly to Harry.
"Well I believe it is time to get ready for Diagon Alley," Mrs. Weasley said suddenly, getting up to rush everyone upstairs to get ready for the trip.
The family grumbled as they were prematurely pushed upstairs. Harry gave Ginny a small smile as she slipped into her room. Harry continued up the stairs, following Ron as he quickly stomped up to the top. Harry was assaulted by Ron's bright orange room. Harry watched the nervous boy as he sat on his bed. He sighed internally knowing that he would need to be comfortable around this boy. He got on so well with the rest of the family.
"Hey Ron," Harry said merrily as he sat down.
"Oh hey, Harry." Ron said as his eyes lifted to Harry's scar, "In the mood for a game of chess?"
Harry shook his head, "We need to be getting ready for the trip, don't we?"
Ron nodded for show, in truth he knew he could beat Harry in less than the amount of time it would take Percy to get ready. He decided not to share this, "Harry, do you like me?" He asked tentatively.
Harry looked at the young boy, shock on his face. "Of course Ron, don't be silly." Harry studied the nervous boy in front of him, "What gives you the idea I wouldn't?"
"You act as if it is a chore to be around me, you avoid me, and you never include me in conversations." Ron rattled off, "Just to name a few. And I know I'm the youngest, but that doesn't mean I can be left out!"
Harry was astounded at how quickly Ron's voice was being raised. "Ron..."
"Don't Ron me! I know you come from money and don't think that makes you better than me. I've been forgotten my entire life, the youngest of seven." Ron railed. "My best friend had been Ginny all my life and now she's forgotten me too, and I thought if I could be friends with you then I could have that back."
Harry shook his head, "That isn't how it is Ron, maybe you don't know me very well, but I promise I won't forget you."
Ron looked down, "You'll be the first."
"Ginny hasn't forgotten you either Ron." Harry said, "You have a loving family, much better off than I was."
"Than you were? Harry bloody Potter, rich, famous, and popular." Ron sneered, "Don't pretend you know what it means to be forgotten."
"Ron I didn't know I was any of those things until last year. I didn't know I was a wizard until I turned eleven!"
"You're lying." Ron whispered unsurely as he rubbed the back of his ears nervously, the fight leaving him momentarily.
Harry put his hand on his heart, "I am not lying, I am telling you the truth. I was raised with my muggle relatives who never even gave me attention. I got the hand me downs my obtuse cousin never wanted. I lived under the stairs for the first five years of my life until I began to suddenly disappear into the living room, once in the middle of a dinner. The beating was terrible, I still remember it, but I still never had a proper room after that. I had a hand me down room with secondhand broken toys in it. My mattress was more broken springs than anything, and I had an old sweater as a pillow."
Ron's face was so pale Harry decided to go into no further detail, no stories of abuse were necessary today. These were things that he hadn't even told Ginny. He hoped Ron's jealousy had been subsided at least a bit.
"I didn't know," Ron breathed, unable to form a thought after that. He had a new respect for his life, but there was still bitterness.
Harry thought quietly, "Fame, Money, and Popularity?" Harry brought his eyes to meet Ron's, "Is that really what you value?"
Ron shrugged, "It would be nice..."
"What would be nice?" Ginny asked at the door.
"Playing quidditch internationally," Ron said quickly. "From what Harry told me you stand a pretty good chance Gin."
Ginny felt her face flush, "Well Quidditch was fun and all..."
"Don't tell me you don't dream of the next level Gin." Ron pushed. "The lights, the crowd calling your name."
Harry looked at the dreaming look on Ron's face; Harry knew what was behind those eyes. Ginny simply shrugged, "Maybe, I still don't know what I want to be, or what I want to do."
Harry felt uneasy with the statement, but he understood, "We're only twelve Ron, we have to far to go to make any choices now."
"You two sound so old." Ron whined
Harry and Ginny shared a glance; they knew they were young in appearance, but what they had seen last year had aged them quite a bit.
"There is nothing wrong with being mature for your age Ron." Harry got up and picked up his bag. "You ready he asked Ginny."
She nodded politely, smiling as she lifted her shoulder with the bag on it.
"Well come on then," Ron said as he walked between them to the door.
Harry held the door for Ginny as she walked through, earning him a sweet smile. His stomach knotted in a strange way, but he ignored it as he followed down after her.
"Nice of you three to join us," Molly said as she readied the floo powder for the trip.
"What's with her Perce?" Ginny said as she got in line behind him.
"I think she is a bit irritated at the twins for slandering Mr. Lockhart." He answered as he watched the twins go through one after the other.
Harry eyed the fireplace uneasily. He had been watching intently, trying to study what they did and how they did it. He thought he had a pretty good handle on it before it was his turn. He took a deep breath; a sudden burst of nervousness hit him to where he was almost paralyzed. He had no idea how the floo worked.
"Here you go Harry just take a pinch now." Mrs. Weasley said. He gave Ginny a cautious smile before he yelled "Diagon Alley!"
Harry burst from the fireplace onto his knees breathing heavily.
He was grabbed roughly by the back of his collar, "What the hell are you doing here, Potter?"
Harry's heart froze as he was lifted to his feet. His breathing was slightly hampered. He tried to focus his eyes in the dark light, but made no progress before he was shoved into some sort of cabinet. There was a small crack in the doors that Harry was able to see through. He tried to examine the shop. It was obviously a wizarding shop.
"It's best you watch your volume Potter. This is hostile territory."
Harry nodded uncertainly, knowing the man couldn't see him. He wasn't scared of the man, but felt a sense of calm. He couldn't explain, but he was worried about how the Weasley's were fretting without him. He mindlessly tried to send feelings of calm to Ginny and the rest, if only to ease his conscious. He groaned as he rubbed his nose where he had fallen, holding his broken glasses in his hands.
"Draco, please go wait in the store with your mother." Lucius said as he walked with his family, "I have some business to attend to."
Draco's eyes lit up, "Is it the racing broom?"
"In time son, this is personal business." He answered his son.
Draco dropped his head, He wasn't fond of his fathers 'personal business' "Well will we get the brooms later?"
Lucius sighed, his son is nothing but what he had trained him to be, hopefully some of his craftier traits would surface in him soon enough. He heard he didn't have the sense to make friends with Harry Potter while at school and had actually made him an enemy. He needed to see how important the wizarding world thought this boy was, and how important it was to make influential friends wherever you could find them, "Of course, son."
Ginny rushed through the alleyways, looking through every store. Where the hell was Harry? Store after store she searched before she finally reached the end. She doubled over, searching for more breath.
"Did you find him?" George said as he reached her from the other direction.
She shook her head.
"Damn," Fred swore as he arrived. "We've searched the whole alley."
"It was his first time." Ginny gasped, "We should have known something would happen."
"He wasn't far off when we said it right?" Fred inquired, "Then he is nearby, just not where we've looked."
"But we looked everywhere!" Ginny exclaimed, barely containing her panic.
Fred shook his head and looked off to the left, "Not everywhere."
"We can't go into Knockturn Alley," George panicked
"We never back down from danger," Fred yelled, "We won't stop now!"
George shook his head and turned to his right, "What do you think Ginny,"
The twins hurried after their younger sister as she sprinted into the alley.
"I believe this list should be sufficient." Malfoy said as he handed Borgin the list of things he was trying to get rid of.
"Hmm," Borgin looked over the list, quite upset, "Are you sure you weren't here to buy something as well? Maybe this wonderful trinket, it is called the hand of destiny. Friend to thieves and smugglers."
"Nothing today Borgin." Malfoy insisted
"But sir, this would be a fine gift for young Malfoy." Borgin tried
"My son," Lucius said coldly, "Had better amount to more than a thief or a smuggler, Borgin."
"Of course sir, I'm sorry sir." He took the list and hurried into the back.
Malfoy turned and strode out of the shop, leaving Harry mostly alone. "Good Potter. I think it best you run, don't look back."
Harry found himself leaving the cabinet and the walking towards the door, clutching his broken glasses in his hand. He urged his back to turn to look at the man behind him, but his body refused to turn. Harry tried to fight it, but something in the back of his head insisted he get out as quickly as possible, as if suddenly ordering him about.
He heard a small pop as he closed the door behind him, the strange feeling leaving him suddenly. He turned and looked into the empty shop, only questions remained about this man. He quickly examined his surroundings however; he held the two halves of his glasses together so he could examine the dingy alley. It seemed to be made up entirely of shops devoted to the dark arts.
He groaned as he tried to make sense of his surroundings.
"What are those blood traitors doing here?"
Draco Malfoy followed the redheads into Knockturn alley, trying to keep his distance. He watched as they began to look quickly through the shop windows. Curious as it was he couldn't piece their actions together.
He followed for a dozen stores; these fools were headed straight into the heart of the darkest part of Wizarding Britain. How stupid were they? If they were recognized, they would never be found. He grunted as an internal war, one he was not accustomed to, began to take place. He looked to the left and saw a shocking sight.
Harry bloody Potter was standing right in the middle of Knockturn Alley, nose gushing blood. He quickly figured they must be looking for their lost hero. He had to choose between his feelings quickly.
This was his chance to get even with him. If he called out to him, Harry would never be seen again. If they recognized him he would be dead. This was his chance. He watched as a witch did a double take as Harry passed. She was about to call to him.
"Neville!" Draco called, "You bloody idiot, and must you keep falling wherever you go?"
Harry looked up in time to get a stinging jinx right between his eyes. He felt his face swell beyond recognition.
"Neville you poor bloke, what are you doing wondering around here. Let's get you home buddy." Draco said cheerfully
"Don't say a damn word Potter." Draco whispered, "Do you have a death wish? You must be a fool to show up in Knockturn alley."
Harry was shocked into silence. Draco Malfoy, helping him. He may need a coat if he ended up in Hell, because it must be frozen over.
"Oy!" Draco called down the alley towards the frantic Weasleys, barely getting Ginny's attention.
Ginny turned and began to sprint down the Alley towards Harry.
"Draco," Harry said as he tried to leave, "I won't forget this."
Draco paused for a second before answering, "See that you don't."
Harry watched as Draco disappeared into the crowd, but turned in time to catch Ginny as she had hurtled herself the last three feet into his waiting arms, before backing up and hitting him, hard.
"Don't you ever do that to us again!" She yelled
"Do what," Harry tried to defend himself, "It was my first time, I didn't plan it!"
"I don't care!" Ginny calmed down, "Let's just get out of here, Now that I look around I'm really getting creeped out."
Harry ignored the stinging in his face as he followed them out, the stinging in his pride was much worse anyways.
A/N: This chapter had been done for weeks but I was trying to add more and didn't have time. Fan vote, would you rather wait longer for incredibly long chapters, or get smaller ones every week or two? Also what is your favorite part of the story so far and what are your hopes for the end?