Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the creation of JK Rowling, I own no part of it.
Summer Potter Watch
As promised, loyal readers, we have
the inside scoop on Harry's excursion to
Our regular readers will remember
from our last article concerning Harry
Potter's journey to the Amazon that
the Boy Who Lived is traveling this
Summer with his school mates.
This time, Harry traveled with a
muggleborn boy and his family. From
Berlin to Stuttgart, Harry visited a
number of muggle German landmarks
Muggle neighbors to Harry's hotel
room report that the Boy Who
Lived has found a duet partner in
his muggleborn friend. It seems
that Harry continues to practice his
violin every day.
[Translated] "He was very polite,
when he wasn't getting up to
mischief down at the pool side," said
one of their neighbors, who had been
told that Harry was a muggle film
At just twelve years of age, thirteen
at the publishing of this article, it is only
to be expected that Harry can't behave
all the time; after all, boys will be boys!
Young, rich, and internationally famous,
we wonder what's next for the Boy Who
Next week, find out about Harry's
tour of Egypt!
Not for the first time, Hermione wondered if she was doing the right thing. In only a few days, Harry would only be turning thirteen, and yet here she was plotting to turn him into a fighter.
Not a fighter though; a warrior. A killer.
It was the rational thing to do, of course. If you knew your fate, then it was best to prepare for it; all the better if you're still a teenager. Training to kill Voldemort now was the smart thing to do, she was sure of that. Furthermore, agreeing to train Harry had gotten a number of concessions from him, though she wished she'd had more time to think over her demands. She wondered if she would ever have another opportunity to talk Harry onto a therapist's couch.
But Hermione didn't think it was the right thing. Children weren't supposed to train for war, and Harry was still a child, though she knew better than to tell him so.
Still troubled, Hermione lowered her eyes from the passing scenery to the book she was taking notes on. It was a parent's guide to adolescent health, and it was helpful, but Hermione was tasked with more than just making Harry a healthy teen. The best way to get the information she needed, was to get a consultation. This is what brought her to her current taxi ride, on her way to an Army Career Center.
She had called ahead and made an appointment, and the recruiter saw her only a few moments after she arrived.
"Miss Granger, do come in," said the career advisor from his doorway.
"Thank you for seeing me so promptly," said Hermione.
"It's no problem," said the man. "Though I must say. We've seen an upsurge in female recruits since the integration last year, but it's usually only the boys we see at your age."
"Well, I'm not here to upset your statistics, as it happens. I'm actually here on behalf of a friend. His guardians aren't too keen on him joining, so he isn't able to come himself."
"Well, it's kind of you to come here for him, then. How old is your friend?"
"Harry's going to be thirteen in a few days," said Hermione.
"Well, with his guardian's permission, he could join up in three years. Otherwise he would have to wait until he becomes of age. Now, we do have some programs for youth who are looking to join up, but of course, he would need his guardian's permission for those as well."
"I know, and I wish he could join one of those programs. I think it would do him a lot of good, but it's not really an option. No, what I'm here for, what he's looking for, is some solid advice."
"That's right," said Hermione.
"Well, now's a great time for him to start. Do you know what his career goals would be?"
"He want's to join the SAS," said Hermione.
"Well, I wouldn't want to discourage him, but you should be sure to tell him that less than ten percent of people who enter SAS training pass through it."
"Is that so?" asked Hermione.
"Oh yes. The selection process is particularly grueling. It takes a great deal of motivation to get through it. Might I ask why your friend is so set on the SAS?"
"Well, you see, he lost his parents to a bombing when he was very young. I guess he's keen on fighting terrorists, and he knows that the SAS is very good at that."
"Tragic," mused the man. "But he'd hardly be the first to join for such a personal reason. The important part is that he know that the military is not a place for personal vendettas."
"Oh, he knows that," said Hermione. "No, the people responsible are long dead. Harry just wants to do his part."
"Well, as I was saying, selection is grueling. Academics are always important if you want to rise in the service, and when he first joins he'll take the BARB, that's the British Army Recruitment Battery, as well as tests on literacy and numeracy, which will help show us what career paths he's suited for. The better he is academically, the more options he'll have when the time comes. It also helps if you know another language; Farsi is becoming a good one to learn.
"Now, he'll want to be in good physical condition, but he hardly needs to be able to doing triathlons by the time he joins. The SAS recruits from the regular services, and they have excellent training regimens once you join. Those are the Army, the RAF, and the Royal Navy. Now, to get into the Army, there is a standard fitness test. It's fairly basic; you need to be able to run 2.4 kilometers in nine and a half minutes. You need to be able to do fifty sit-ups and forty-four press-ups in two minutes each. Things of that nature. Unless he has any physical infirmity, or is particularly frail, he should have no trouble training well past those standards, especially if he starts now. Then, when the time comes, there will be a career advisor waiting to set him on the right path for him."
"Well the thing is," said Hermione, "he's living with some cousins now, but before he was living with an aunt and uncle, who mistreated him, I'm afraid to say. I believe the neglect may have stunted his growth."
The man nodded with a frown. "It's certainly possible."
"It isn't that he's frail," she said. "He's actually quite athletic. But we both feel that this is a critical age for him, and we'd like to maximize what potential he has."
The man put on a thoughtful look. "In that case, I'm not the only one you want to talk to," he said, as he opened a desk to shuffle through some papers. After a moment, he selected one. It was an old page torn from a spiral bound notebook. Taking a pen, he started writing something from the page onto a fresh notepad. Eventually, he tore the note off and handed it to her.
"Professor Hardwick there at the university is the head of the sports medicine department. He'll see anyone during his evening office hours, whatever those are this term. Doctor Eastman though, she does a lot of consultations for young athletes, and I've referred a few aspiring soldiers to her. She only does paid consultations, I'm afraid. I think you'll want to speak to both of them though."
"Do you know how much she charges?" asked Hermione.
The man gestured to the note in her hand."
"Oh," said Hermione. "I think I must have mistaken that for a suite number."
"She's reasonably priced," the man said, "but I wouldn't recommend spending the money if this is just a passing fancy."
"Oh no," said Hermione, "No, I believe he's set on this." As was she. But she'd be asking Harry for the funds none the less.
The cave was just as Padfoot remembered it. A little damp, but protected from the elements, and out of the way from the village.
He wished he had more information to go on. He didn't know where the Weasley's lived, if they were still on vacation, or if Harry was still with them. What he did know was that the Weasley boy would be returning to Hogwarts in less than a month's time, and Padfoot would need to get to him before the rat could get to Harry.
Killing the rat was the most important thing. Or was protecting Harry the important part? Thinking was hard.
Shaking his head, ears flapping about, Padfoot abruptly transformed into Sirius, who took a seat on a handy boulder. He had spent too much time as Padfoot; his thinking gone too simple. Killing Wormtail was important for many reasons, chief among them, that it would help protect Harry. He had two priorities, and they went hand-in-hand; he couldn't forget that. Yet neither could he spend too much time as himself. He knew his face was plastered across Britain, muggle and magical alike. Taking a calming breath, Sirius became Padfoot once more.
Tomorrow, he would check the school wards to see if they had been updated for Animagi. A part of him was certain that Remus would never tell the Headmaster their secret, but a small part of him understood the length of time, twelve years, since he had seen the man. Anything was possible; he had already learned that the hard way. Assuming he could get through the wards, he would just have to bide his time to catch the rat, but catch the rat he would. At any cost.
Professor Dumbledore arranged for Harry and Professor McGonagall to meet the Weasley's and Hermione in Hogsmeade to shop for school supplies. The all-wizard village didn't have quite the selection as Diagon Alley, but it was judged to be safer for it's proximity to Hogwarts. Harry and his head of house rode a horseless carriage down the winding path towards the village.
"Professor," Harry addressed his chaperone, "will you be signing my permission slip?" He wasn't hopeful, but it couldn't hurt to ask.
"No Harry," said Professor McGonagall resignedly. "Scheduled Hogsmeade visits would be too tempting a target to Black."
Harry sighed and looked forlornly out the carriage window.
"However," said Professor McGonagall after a moment, "it may be that I could take you into town with me when I make the odd errand."
"Really?" asked Harry with a glimmer of hope.
"We shall see," said Professor McGonagall. "It will depend on whether or not you can keep yourself out of trouble this quarter."
"The other students don't have to stay out of trouble to go to Hogsmeade," Harry said, a touch mulishly.
"Is that so?" asked Professor McGonagall, a hint of a smile on her lips. "Perhaps you should ask the Weasley twins about the detention they served during a Hogsmeade visit last year."
"Hm," said Harry. "At least they know when they have to behave."
"I certainly hope that you weren't planning to only behave prior to visits, Mr. Potter."
"I don't plan to misbehave," Harry said.
"I should hope not," said Professor McGonagall.
"Can we go to Honeydukes?" asked Harry to change the subject.
"We can," said Professor McGonagall, with a touch of asperity. "Though you receive enough sweets from the elves."
"Only after dinner," said Harry. "The rest of the time, we just have what we have stored in our trunks."
"You poor dears," said Professor McGonagall.
"You know, I bet you could fund some new school brooms if you started selling sweets at school, you know, like out of a student store, or something. Slytherin wouldn't have such a lead with their 2001s then."
"We wouldn't be able to fund anything other than a steady supply of cavity vanishing potions that would be needed in such a situation. That's to say nothing of the havoc caused by a constant sugar rush."
"Humph," Harry replied. "I hope they capture Black soon," he said.
"I as well, Mr. Potter, though I suspect for different reasons." She glanced out the window. "And here we are," she announced. "Gather up your things."
Harry picked up his bag and stood, though the carriage had yet to come to a complete stop.
"You have your wand holstered?" asked Professor McGonagall.
"Yes professor," Harry replied. A week prior, Harry had been presented with a holster that strapped to his forearm for easy access. Harry had been admonished to never leave the castle without his wand holstered, with the recommendation that he always have it on his person regardless. The leather holster was comfortable enough, so Harry had had no trouble with keeping it on. The bracelet that Ron had given him for his birthday now rested on his opposite arm, purely decorative.
"And what are you to do should you come across Black today?"
"Run and get help," Harry muttered.
"Quite right," said Professor McGonagall. The carriage jerked to a halt, and only Harry's hand pressing against the roof of the carriage kept him from flying into his head of house. Professor McGonagall shook her head at him and stood to exit.
When Harry stepped out into the light, he saw that they were outside of what looked like a pub. A wooden sign with three animated broomsticks, riderless, and seeming to be jockeying for position, proclaimed it to be the Three Broomsticks.
"We'll be eating lunch here," said Professor McGonagall.
The only other wizarding pub Harry had ever been to before had been the Leakey Cauldron, which had a dark and mysterious air. By comparison, the Three Broomsticks was bright and inviting. A merry fire dancing in the fireplace across the room, which somehow managed not to flood the room in oppressive heat during the summer month.
He was quickly beset by Weasley's, before his vision was engulfed by Hermione's bushy hair as she swept him up in a big hug.
"Oh Harry, it's good to see you again," she told him.
Harry hugged her back. "It's good to see you too," he told her. "You too, mate," he said to Ron.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione soon had a table to themselves, after Ron chased Ginny away. They had important matters do discuss, he told her, and she wasn't involved. Ginny went over to share a table with the twins, and judging by the looks that they were shooting over at Ron, Harry thought that his friend would regret it, no matter that they did have important matters to discuss.
"So," he asked Hermione, after a woman named Madam Rosmerta had taken their orders, "what have you figured out for me?"
"Quite a lot," she said, "though I'm still looking into things. But first, you owe me a solo."
"What, you can't take my word for it?" he asked.
She just continued to look at him expectantly.
"Fine," said Harry, before digging his fiddle out of his pocket and triggering the expansion charm on the case with his wand.
Harry pondered his choices for a moment before running through a verse of the Tennesee Waltz. He felt his face warm up when the pub erupted into scattered applause as he finished. Harry quickly put the fiddle away.
"Anyway," he said. "You were saying you still had stuff to look into?"
"The more I research this, Harry, the more I've come to realize that what you're looking for involves a complete lifestyle change. This is going to be a big commitment for us."
"What do you mean, for us?" asked Harry.
"Oh, come off it Harry," said Ron. "You didn't think you'd be doing this on your own, did you?"
"Well…" said Harry.
"You usually finish on your own, Harry," said Hermione, "but getting there's always been a team effort. And we're your team."
"Oh," said Harry, a touch awkward. "So, a lifestyle change, you said."
"That's right," said Hermione. "The mind, body, and magic are all one, in the end. You need to take care of yourself if you want to be ready to defeat Voldemort."
Ron twitched in his seat, but didn't correct Hermione's use of the dark wizard's name.
"So, what are you talking about here?" asked Harry. "Not just studying magic, but eating my vegetables, and not eating junk food as well?"
"That's part of it," said Hermione, "but you're thinking too small. Suppose you're on your school's rugby team. Your coach wouldn't just tell you to eat right, he'd tell you to get nine quality hours of sleep every single night. He'd tell you that it's not just about running into people and throwing a ball, it's also about having the stamina to keep going through a whole game."
"Nine hours?" asked Ron. "I thought you need eight?"
"That's for adults," said Hermione. "Teenagers need more sleep. And it's more than that. We'll go to bed at the same time every night, even on the weekends, and no sleeping in, either."
"I think I can live with that," said Harry grudgingly. Ron, though he had a put-upon look on his face, nodded as well.
"What about spells, and stuff?" he asked.
"We'll get to that," said Hermione. "Let's get through the stuff you won't like first."
"Alright," said Harry. "Um, what about homework?" He asked. "If we're supposed to finish our homework, and go to bed at the same time, every night…"
"Then finish your homework in a timely manner," said Hermione. "We'll be scheduling our time pretty carefully, so that shouldn't be a problem." She pulled out some papers, and Harry saw that they were week long individualized schedules. Ron voiced his first complaint.
"This says we're going to bed at nine, and waking up at six," he exclaimed.
"Well," said Hermione, "we need time to exercise in the morning. We'll go running for stamina building, as well as strength training. I'm still working on the workout routine, but I think I should have something drawn up by the time school starts.
"As for nutrition, Ron, you mostly just need to swap in some more fruits and vegetables. Harry, you need to start putting more food away, and not just carbs, like you usually do. You need more proteins, fruits and vegetables. We'll work on that more when we get to school, but I have some notes for you to go over before then," she said, handing Harry and Ron even more papers.
"Wait," said Ron, who was still looking at the schedules, "why does Harry's say Arithmancy? He's down for Divination with me."
"We can still wiggle some things around," said Hermione, "but I want us learning all of the electives offered, and none of us have time for all of them. I'm taking Ancient Runes, because, well, I'm the one most likely to be referencing ancient texts. Harry's taking Arithmancy because he's most likely to need the background in numerancy and spell creation that it will give him, since he's going to need to take charge of how he fights Voldemort. At the end of the day, we'll be able to teach each other what we've learned. This should have the added benefit of cementing the knowledge in our own brains."
"So what? I'm taking Divination because it's the easiest?" asked Ron with a touch of heat in his voice.
Hermione had a look upon her face that clearly pointed out that Ron had chosen Divination himself for just that reason, but instead she said, "You're taking it because your great-great-grandfather was a moderately talented seer, and there's a chance some of that talent has been passed on to you."
"Really?" asked Ron who sounded very surprised.
"Yes, really," said Hermione. "After we found out that magical talents can be inherited, I researched both your family lines. I didn't find much, since there's a lot that just doesn't get recorded, but I did find that Harry's family may have some sort of Talent for Flight, though no one's sure if that's actually a thing or not."
"You saw him the first time he got on a broom," said Ron, seemingly mollified.
"Hey, what about quidditch?" Harry asked as he quickly checked his schedule, relieved to see that it was still there.
"Don't worry, Harry," said Hermione. "We're not going to be working every second of every day. That would just drive us mad."
"And you've still got me down for my fiddle, meditation, and my diary."
"Yes," said Hermione. "Other than the fiddle, how have those been going?" she asked.
"Good," said Harry.
"He was doing all three, every day of our trip," said Ron.
Hermione beamed at him.
"I think I'm just barely getting the hang of meditation," said Harry, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. "It helps me fall asleep at night, at any rate."
"That's fine," said Hermione. "Anyway, I've compressed them down to an hour-fifteen all together. I couldn't make things work otherwise."
"That's fine," Harry replied in kind, not letting on how relieved he was to hear it. Not that he terribly minded any of the three activities, but they had taken up a lot of his time over the summer. "Can we talk about spells now?" he asked.
"Certainly," said Hermione. "Here's a list of spells we should work on first." More papers came out of her bag.
As Harry perused the list of spells that she had handed him, one thing quickly became evident.
"These are all defensive," he said.
"Well yes," said Hermione, "I thought we'd focus on those first for obvious reasons."
"Not so obvious, no," said Harry. "We're training to kill Voldemort, not run away from him."
"No," said Hermione, "we're training so you can survive to kill Voldemort. Or do you think you can fight off ten death eaters at once, using only offensive spells. Don't forget that you've been in at least seven life threatening incidents since you started at Hogwarts." Apparently, Harry wasn't the only one keeping count.
"Fine, but couldn't we get a mix of spells in?" asked Ron.
Hermione took the papers back without another word. She studied it for a moment before taking a pen out and crossing out 'Hastings Feint - Counter Curse to The Standard Slashing Curse', and writing 'Bombarda - Bludgeoning Curse'.
"Okay," said Harry.
"You can start doing the background reading on these, Harry," she said. "You too, Ron. I'm sure your brothers still have the defense texts that they're in. I think we'll need to go over studying methods when school starts though."
Madam Rosmerta brought them the steak sandwiches they had ordered with fresh crisps on the side. Hermione saw this as an opportunity to go into further detail for their dietary plans.
"So today, Harry, you should probably have some fruit for a snack later, since you probably haven't had any all day. And then for dinner-"
"Mr. Potter! How wonderful to see you again." Harry recognized the voice, but he had never heard it in such a jovial manner. He turned his head to see Fudge walking up to their table.
Fudge was apparently happy to see everyone. When Fudge had arrested Hagrid, he had completely ignored Ron as though he hadn't existed, and paid Madam Pomfrey little mind. Today was a different story.
"And you must be Arthur Weasley's youngest boy. I've heard you're good friends of Harry's. And this must be your little muggleborn friend."
Mrs. Weasley got some attention too. "And Molly, we missed you at the Ministry's Yule Party last year. Oh, and I hear young Percy has made Head Boy this year, quite the achievement. Right in his oldest brother's footsteps. You must be so proud."
Fudge fondly ruffled a very confused Harry's hair at one point, and a flash went off somewhere.
"Well, I must be off," the man said. "Black will hardly turn himself in," he said with a laugh. "But don't you worry, we'll have him out of your hair in no time. Ta ta, now."
He managed to shake hands with half the establishment before he made it to the floo and disappeared in green flames. All before Harry could become indignant over the man's familiarity; and after Fudge had practically threatened to arrest him last year.
"What just happened?" asked Harry.
"Fudge wants to drum up some positive publicity," said Professor McGonagall with a resigned air. "I'm sorry to say, Mr. Potter, it's something you will have to learn to put up with."
Harry nodded with a frown, remembering his talk with Bill when they had been in Egypt. Bill had said much the same thing.
The rest of the shopping trip passed uneventfully. Hermione wanted to hear all about their vacations, particularly about Egypt and the Amazon, neither of which she had been to before. Harry and Ron regaled her with stories of their travels, and Ron told them about his progress in the chess by owl league he had joined.
"I've gone up seven divisions already," he told them excitedly.
"But how can you have had time for so many games?" asked Hermione.
"Nah," said Ron, "I've only played six so far, well, I'm in the middle of my fifth and sixth. See, they do them in rounds of three at a time. After the first round, they moved me into the division I'm in now, after they'd gone over my strategies. They'll probably move me up more once I finish these last ones."
"I told you it was a good idea," said Harry with a grin. Hermione expressed how proud she was of Ron, before telling them both about her trip to France.
"The Louvre was fantastic, but we didn't spend near enough time there. Did you know they had works by magical artists? Only we can see them properly, of course."
"Were there any magical artists I'd recognize?" asked Harry.
"Oh, I'm not sure," said Hermione. "There was Prieur, he was a sculptor. I was able to see his statue of Henry IV as Jupiter interacting with the eagle it was paired with. Of course, there's speculation that Da Vinci was a wizard, but I'm pretty sure that that's just from prejudiced wizards who can't accept that a muggle could be so brilliant, since no one's recovered any magic artifacts created by him."
The shop owners they saw seemed happy to see them, as Diagon Alley was still the more popular location for school shopping. Hermione loaded both Harry and Ron up with books at Scrivners, giving them reading assignments. By this point, the three of them were getting odd looks from the rest of their group, who could all tell that something was afoot. On their way back to the castle, Professor McGonagall asked him what he was up to with his friends.
"We're just taking our studies more seriously this year," said Harry.
"Then I'll expect nothing but O's in my class from now on," said Professor McGonagall.
"Oh," said Harry. "I hope it's not too late, but I want to switch from Divination to Arithmancy."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "First Ms. Granger drops Divination and Arithmancy just as I was making arrangements for her class load, and now you wish to take Arithmancy instead of Divination."
"We thought it would be a better use of our time to teach our electives to each other. Plus, I'm sure Hermione will be doing a lot of independent study. She said something about still taking the NEWTS."
"Is this all to do with what we discussed last term?" asked Professor McGonagall.
"Maybe," said Harry.
"Very well," said Professor McGonagall. "Do come to me if you require assistance."
"Thanks," said Harry.
"I feel as though I should be the one thanking you, Harry," said Professor McGonagall after a moment. "I know that you are giving up much of your childhood in order to give our society it's best chance. I only hope that you remember that you are not alone in this. Nor even that it is just you and your friends. You have myself and the Headmaster."
"I know Professor," said Harry, blushing and turning his face to peer out the window.
Newly appointed Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Remus Lupin peered at his former head of house Minerva McGonagall across her desk as they sat down for tea in her office.
"Three sugars, please," he told her.
"You still have a sweet tooth, I see," she replied as she put three cubes of sugar into his tea. "But what was it that you so urgently needed to see me about?"
"I wouldn't say that the need was urgent," said Remus.
"Phaw," said Professor McGonagall, "it's always urgent with the young."
"I think perhaps you've confused me with my younger self. I hope I'm not still the teen you once knew in your eyes."
"Well he is hard to forget," said Professor McGonagall. "He may have been the sensible one in your little group, but that was hardly saying anything."
"Yes well, perhaps I was the angel on their shoulder, and they the demons on mine."
"Don't think that I don't know who was the brains of the operation," Professor McGonagall chided. "Now, before we go too far down memory lane, I do believe that you wanted to speak about something else."
"I wanted to speak about Harry, actually."
"Was there anything you feel we neglected at the security meeting this morning?" she asked.
"No," he said. "I mean, I do still object to the use of dementors, but I know that that is at the ministry's discretion. No, it's something that Professor Dumbledore mentioned in private, that he wanted me to be available to Harry to teach him any advanced defensive spells should he ask. I have no objections, but he was very vague as to why."
Professor McGonagall sighed. "There is a private matter at hand," she said. "Should he choose to confide in you, that is fine, but it is not for me to say."
"Minerva," Remus started with a touch of impatience.
"No, Remus," she interrupted him. "I know, had things been different, you would doubtless have been one of Harry's unofficial uncles, and you would have been kept privy to the happenings in his life, but that was not how your lives played out. Now I am sympathetic, but-"
"No," said Remus, "I understand."
"Good," said Professor McGonagall succinctly.
"I heard him playing the violin earlier, he sounds like he's getting pretty good."
"Fortunately, he is beyond the noise stage," said Professor McGonagall. "But if you ever speak of it to him, be certain to call it a fiddle. He says that violin music is much too gloomy."
"I will consider myself forewarned," said Remus, "though I hope someone will introduce him to the other side of the violin."
"I blame the clerk at the music shop," said Professor McGonagall. "She did play the most melancholy of pieces when she demonstrated violin music."
"He began playing recently then?" asked Remus, who was mildly surprised. If Minerva had taken Harry, then it would have been within this last year.
"Just this Summer, actually. He has progressed much faster than I would have thought."
"That's quite an achievement."
"It's a pity, because I suspect he only took up the hobby under duress. I would hate to see the talent go to waste should he no longer feel that he has to do it."
"Who's making him take a hobby?" asked Remus in bewilderment.
"One of his friends," said Professor McGonagall, "Hermione Granger, you'll enjoy having her in class. Of course, none of us are certain what leverage she used, but I have my theories."
Remus pointed an accusatory finger at her. "I knew it," he said. "You Professors just get together in your lounge and gossip about us."
"'You professors'?" said Professor McGonagall. "Why Professor, perhaps you should check your new title. I do not seem to be the only one forgetting the years that have passed since you were a student."
I met our new Defense professor today. His
name is Professor Lupin. There doesn't
seem to be anything wrong with him, but
I think I'll keep my eyes open. You can't
be too sure, what with the last three.
The professors all seem to like him though,
so I guess he can't be too bad. Actually,
Snape seems to hate him already, but that's
not saying much. On the one hand, he hates
me, but on the other, he hated Quirrel and
I think I actually managed to meditate last
night, but I'm not sure. Maybe I just fell
asleep for a second. Not sure if I'll ever kick
butt at meditation, but we'll see.
I went flying today, but was sure not to do
anything crazy. I'll keep the crazy for quidditch.
Still had fun though. I just wish someone else
were here to play with. Madam Hooch flew with
me the one time, but she's been gone since.
I'm excited for the start of term so I can start training
properly. I've already started adjusting my sleeping
habbits, but I'm taking it slow like Hermione said in
her notes. I also ran a little around the pitch today,
and did not get very winded. I guess I can thank
Harry Hunting for that.
When Professor Babbage had come back from her vacation to muggle New York, she had come back with sheet music for the Fiddler on the Roof as a small gift for Harry, telling him that it was a belated birthday present. She had apparently seen the musical on Broadway. Harry had been unable to think of any more fitting a place to practice than atop the astronomy tower. That wasn't quite true, actually; Harry's first thought had been the actual roof. However, he had promised too many people that he was done with death-defying stunts to try it.
Dementors were sweeping the school and its grounds that day, only one day prior to the arrival of the other students, and Harry had been instructed to stay inside after noon, and in the Great Hall before six o'clock. With not much better to do, Harry was determined to learn the opening piece to the musical before dinner. He thought that he was starting to get the hang of it when the air suddenly chilled.
Harry had seen the dementors down on the grounds below as little specs gliding over the grounds; no one had told him that they could fly. The creature that appeared suddenly atop the tower exuded darkness and fear. What had been a black spec from above was now a terrifying abomination. Harry fell backwards towards the staircase, scrambling back even as his vision began to darken. Reaching the stairs, Harry felt his left wrist crack as he came upon the sudden decline. Lashing out with his foot, Harry slammed the door shut on the Dementor before passing out.
Someone was screaming; a woman was screaming. There was a flash of green light.
A shout. "Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off —"
They died, over and over, they died. No one could save them. No one could be saved.
*Thump* The sound of his blood pumping through his head echoed and the world changed.
"You are helping to keep Voldemort alive."
Hands grabbed him by the arm and leg, and he swung through the air. There was a sickening crunch.
There was a green flash of light, and he was alone. His mother was lying there on the floor in front of him, but he was alone. He would always be alone.
The world would be better off without him. A single step was all that it would take to end it all.
Ginny's body lay on the ground, lifeless. All because the heir wanted to frame Harry. She died, and it was all his fault.
Venom coursed through his veins, but Harry knew now that he had to stay alive. He would die, and no one would stop Voldemort. It was all his fault.
He was naked and alone, left to die by his own blood.
"Stand aside, foolish woman." There was a green flash of light. He was alone; forever alone.
Enormous spiders surrounded them. He had led Ron to his death.
Everyone died. He was always alone.
Just one step.
Slowly, Harry became aware of his surroundings. He started to feel the sharp edged stairs pressing into his back, the cold stone leaching what little warmth remained in him. Light began penetrating the darkness. Slowly, Harry oriented himself to where he was, and repositioned himself so that his head was no longer beneath the rest of his body. Grabbing the hand rail, he stood up on shaky legs.
Clutching the hand rail, he made his way down the stairs.
Something was broken in him, he knew. Never again would he smile, or be happy. Never again would he feel joy when he saw his friends' faces. Was he doomed to live a half-life, as Quirrel had been for drinking unicorn blood? Still shivering, Harry made his way to the door at the bottom of the stairway.
Harry didn't know how long he had been insensate on the astronomy tower stairs, but he had a deadline to be back in the Great Hall, before they let the Dementors into the castle. Using the wall as a support, Harry made his way through the castle, certain the whole way through that his next step would send him crashing to the ground. He was still so cold, his teeth chattering together, his hands too numb to hold his wand. Would they ever thaw? The only thing that kept him moving was the fear that if he did not make it there in time, the Dementors would be allowed into the castle regardless, and once again feast on Harry's despair.
Of a sudden, a warm flash of fire burst into existence next to Harry, and Fawkes swooped forth. His beak opened, and out poured phoenix song. Glorious golden melody washed over him. It was as though a dam broke within him. Harry sank to his knees as he let out a great shuddering sob.
It was different than when Fawkes had sung in the Chamber. Then, it had stirred feelings of bravery and nobility; now, it kindled just a spark of hope within him. He cried as Fawkes landed on his shoulder, talons sinking into his his robe, and then Harry was surrounded by flames.
It did not occur to him to be alarmed. He couldn't have said whether it was faith in Fawkes, or a complete inability to be alarmed, but the warm flames did not burn. The flames disappeared as quickly as they had arrived, and Harry found himself in the Great Hall. He let himself slump to the floor. Fawkes took off, continuing his song. The warmth that Harry had felt on his skin began to combat the cold inside.
"Harry!" someone cried. Or perhaps it was multiple someones. He wasn't sure, and didn't care; he was safe. He let out another sob.
"Mr. Potter," said someone standing over him. It was Professor McGonagall. "Where have you been? What happened?"
Harry opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out. A part of him still felt as though he were somehow removed from the world of human interaction; wasn't sure if he ever would rejoin it again.
Suddenly, there was chocolate in his mouth, and when the first crumb of it melted on his tongue, Harry felt as though doors that had shut in his soul had been thrown open. He started chewing in earnest, making short work of the awfully large piece of chocolate that had been shoved into his mouth. Another piece was put in front of him, by Professor Lupin, he noticed. He set into it as though he were starved.
"What happened, Mr. Potter?" asked Professor McGonnagal.
"A dementor," said Harry shakily after a large swallow, "on the Astronomy Tower."
He noticed magnificent silver creatures patrolled around the hall. There was another phoenix, Fawkes' double, a tabby cat, a wolf, a badger, and-
Harry was pulled from his observations by an acerbic voice. "You were told to stay inside," said Snape. "You were told to be here by six o'clock. What were you doing on the astronomy tower past six-ten?"
"It wasn't even five-thirty," said Harry. "And I thought I was just supposed to stay off the grounds."
"It is not your place to interpret the rules set in place for your safety, merely to-"
"Severus," Professor Dumbledore cut in. There was no hint of reproach in his quiet voice, but Snape fell silent with obedience that he likely found lacking in Harry.
"Harry, for how long were you under the Dementor's powers?" The headmaster asked.
Harry looked at his watch, for a moment incapable of performing the simple subtraction.
"Half an hour," he finally said with a shiver. There were a number of gasps and exclamations from the staff.
"Why did you not run away?" asked Professor Sprout.
"The Dementor could not have followed you into the castle," said Professor McGonagall, as though she thought that Harry had withstood the Dementor in order to protect the school. Harry couldn't fathom being so brave.
"I did run away," said Harry. "I passed out just past the door."
Grim looks were exchanged by the staff.
"Child, I think it's best if you slept in the hospital wing tonight," said Madam Pomfrey, handing him a cup of hot chocolate. "We'll get some Dreamless Sleep into you."
Harry, usually loathe to step foot into the hospital wing, thought that a dreamless sleep sounded too good to pass up. He wished he could sleep for a year. He drank down the hot chocolate, though it was slightly too hot. Closing his eyes, he rested his head in his hands, only to become painfully aware of his broken wrist. A trip to the infirmary was definitely in order.
Half an hour after the Dementors of Azkaban had left the grounds of Hogwarts, the portkey affixed around Petunia Dursley's neck activated and dragged her away from her simple abode. It was now her third time traveling by portkey, but she certainly had not gotten used to the form of travel. After far too many dizzying seconds had passed, Petunia stood in her chambers in the bowels of the school.
The old bastard was there to meet her.
"Petunia," he greeted her from a chair by the fireplace. "I do apologize for not warning you before hand, but I suddenly found myself needing you here sooner rather than later."
"I believe that we've established that you do not care about offending me," said Petunia icily. "Please do not pretend otherwise. Now where is my son?"
"I will arrange to bring Dudley here tomorrow," said Dumbledore pleasantly. "Unless you have any pressing needs following your journey, I will bid you good night and allow you to settle yourself."
"I require nothing but a meal. I assume you've seen to it that my pantry is stocked."
"Alas, I had only a little more warning of your arrival than you. But if you like, I will see to it that the elves stock it presently rather than prepare you a meal." He turned to leave through the floo.
"The next time," said Petunia suddenly, "send me to the same isle."
He turned to her again, his eyes studying her. "As you wish," he said, before leaving the room.
She stood, rooted to the spot she had landed on, for a long minute. Now alone once more, she wept.
A/N: Super sorry that I didn't finish this a lot sooner, like in December. I was pretty busy these winter hold, so when I didn't finish before school started, I had even more on my plate.
Just an extra note. One reviewer pointed out that there is no physical difference between a fiddle and violin, it's all about what you play on the instrument. I've made the appropriate changes to the chapter.