September 1st.

The start of Harry's second year. Only two months since he had last seen his friends, but it felt like a lifetime.

After the disastrous trip to the US, his parents hadn't let him out of their sight for a minute: if it wasn't his mother asking him if he wanted another biscuit, or his father enthusiastically proposing a Quidditch match in the Orchard, it was Sirius suggesting a prank war or Severus wanting him to help brew his potions (apparently he was moderately less incompetent than the rest of the dunderheads he had class with, and therefore could be trusted to chop ingredients) or Remus taking out on a field trip to some of the magical places of Power in Britain. They were all doing their best to "help him through this difficult time." Unobtrusively. Hah. If hadn't known it before, this summer would definitely confirmed it; his family sucked at being subtle.

He loved them, but sometimes he needed some time alone. And that was why he felt completely justified in shutting his bedroom door with a powerful Sticking Charm (temporarily, he hoped. At least Dad said the spell would wear off in a couple of months) and Apparating to the Orkney Islands (not that his parents would ever know about this. Dad would confiscate his entire Dungbomb stash and, even worse, his mum would probably ask him whether he wanted to talk to her about it.)

"Harry mate! Over here!" Ron yelled, waving his hands madly, trying to get his attention.

He made his way over to his best friend, his red hair standing out like a beacon.

"You were off with the fairies there. Everything okay?"

"Yeah." Harry said, "Yeah, fine. Just thinking"

"Do I want to know?"

Harry grinned.

"I was wondering how to start the year off with a bang. Can't let the teachers relax too much: they might have forgotten me during the summer!"

"No chance of that happening! I think Trelawney still flinches at the sight of cats."

As the sound of Ron's voice washed over him, Harry relaxed. Everything was back to normal.

It wouldn't even be an hour later that he'd be proven wrong.

In an empty carriage on the Hogwarts's Express, two children sat.

"So, what is it?" Hermione asked curiously as she poked the small black book.

It sat there innocuously, practically radiating innocence. Hermione had drawn her wand on it at first sight. Thanks to an entire year with Harry Potter, she knew exactly what to do when confronted with an object like that. Chuck it someone else and run like hell.

"It's a book Granger. You'd think that after spending so much time in the library, you'd learn to recognise one."

Hermione smacked Draco's arm.

"Obviously it's a book. What I want to know is what's so special about it?"

Draco shrugged.

"Dunno."

"You don't know?! You stole a magical artefact from your father, and you don't know what it does?!"

"As hard as it is to believe, not all boys are as dull-witted as Weasley. Watch."

Draco grabbed the book from the middle of the table, took a pot of ink from his bag and promptly dumped the entirety of the pot on it.

Hermione made a convulsive movement as if she had to physically restrain herself from saving it, and a low groan of distress escaped her mouth as she watched the unforgivable transgression.

And then the ink vanished.

Hermione frowned.

"While I see how it'd be useful to spell a book to repel ink, it's not exactly Dark Magic, is it?

Draco was about to reply with a scathing retort (he was! He was a Malfoy damnit! As soon as he realised he was going to spend a large amount of time around Hermione, he had started stockpiling witty retorts for every occasion imaginable) but the compartment door opening interrupted him.

"Look who I found skulking outside," said Ron.

He blinked down at the book on the table and the empty ink pot.

"Honestly Hermione, at least let us get to Hogwarts before starting you study schedule."

"It's not a study schedule!" Hermione shrieked furiously, "and I don't see you complaining, Ronald, when I pencil in an extra hour every evening to help with your homework!"

Ron's ears turned pink.

"You, er, you do that?"

"I hate to ruin the moment guys," said Harry, "but could anyone tell me why we have a piece of someone's soul on the table?"

Outside on the station platform, Lily brushed tears out of her eyes as she watched the train disappear into the distance.

She then twirled on the spot and DisApparated; appearing immediately in the back garden of her house where James, Sirius and Remus waited.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Remus asked quietly, a large leather-bound book, covered on Norse runes in his hands.

"Certain." Said Lily.

"Just remember, this mightn't work. We don't know what state the Bifrost is in, judging by Thor's comments."

"We have to try, at least."

And the four friends, some of the best and brightest of their generation, pointed their wands at the same spot, and solemnly intoned: "Aparatum!"