Harry Potter & the Dark Lord – Chapter 1

~Friends and Enemies~

A/N:  This is a little of everything.  Eventually, it will be H/G and R/H (the only way it should ever be J), but that's not the focus of the fic.  Not much happens at first, but the chapters get longer and the story picks up (IMHO). And here's the disclaimer bit…I don't own any of these characters, etc., etc.

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Harry Potter woke up on his 15th birthday to a dull and dreary day.  He was excited however, as he knew he would soon be hearing from his friends.  Sure enough, before he had even managed to get out of bed, there was a tapping at the window.  Harry jumped up and rushed over to let in a large snowy owl.  The owl dropped a letter on Harry's head and flew to her perch, shaking her feathers violently and throwing droplets of water everywhere.

"Careful, Hedwig," Harry scolded,  "You're ruining my letter!"  The thin, pale boy shook off the letter as he broke the seal, smiling as he recognized his best friend's untidy script.  Pushing his dark, unruly hair out of his eyes, Harry took off his wet glasses to wipe them before replacing them and anxiously unfolding the letter.

Dear Harry,

Happy Birthday!  I'm glad Hedwig was still here from delivering your last note, because I don't think Pig could've handled carrying your gift.

At this, Harry glanced over at his bed, where he hadn't noticed a large package Hedwig had dropped.  He returned to the letter before opening it.

I got the idea at the Yule Ball, when you didn't know any of the Weird Sisters' songs. Anyway, I hope you like it.  Mum and Dad said Dumbledore'll let you stay with us at the Burrow for the last week before school starts.  I don't know why we have to wait that long, but Mum won't hear a word about disobeying Dumbledore's wishes.  Ginny even got sent to bed without supper when she tried to convince Mum to let you come now.  Better her than me, though.  Anyway, I guess I'll invite Hermione that week, too.  Maybe I'll have her come a little earlier, just to help me finish my homework, I mean.  Well, I'll write again to let you know how we'll get you.  See you in three weeks!

Your friend,

Ron

Harry smirked as he read, knowing very well that homework was not why Ron was inviting Hermione over.  It was very obvious to him that Ron Weasley fancied their other best friend, Hermione Granger, ever since last year, but he would rather kiss a spider than admit it.  Harry himself liked a pretty girl a year ahead of him named Cho Chang.  She played the same position as him, Seeker, on her house Quidditch team, except Cho was in Ravenclaw.  Harry, like Ron and Hermione, and indeed all the Weasleys, was in Gryffindor.  Things had not ended on a positive note the previous year, though, and thoughts of Cho churned up decidedly unpleasant memories.  Frowning, he pushed the thoughts to the back of his mind, determined not to let it ruin his birthday.

Turning back to the gift, he ripped off the paper quickly, and his green eyes soon lit up.  It was a wizard radio.  He had seen one at the Weasley's home.  Now he could keep up with all the news and music of the wizarding world while he was away for the summer.  In the summer, Harry stayed with the Dursleys, his only living relatives.  Petunia Dursley and Harry's late mother were sisters, although Mrs. Dursley did not like to admit this.  For most of his life, Harry had lived with his Aunt Petunia and his Uncle Vernon, along with their very large and very ill tempered son, Dudley, who was Harry's age.  Despite this, though, they never did get along.  However, since Harry had discovered he was a wizard four years ago (on his 11th birthday), things were a little better.  Dudley was very scared of being turned into a pig again (not that he wasn't already one) and stayed out of his way.  Harry found himself relieved that the Dursleys had mostly ignored him that summer – he had spent a lot of time in his room, staring up at the ceiling.  He had found that counting the pinholes in the acoustic tile passed the time quickly, and helped keep his thoughts straight.

Soon, there was another rap on the window, and Harry's attention was drawn to three owls he didn't recognize, hovering outside.  Harry quickly let them in, waiting for them to drop their parcels before they swooped back out.  He watched them fly away as he shut the rain out once again.

The first owl had left behind a note and a gift (obviously a book) from Hermione.  He unwrapped the book first, and noticed it was an autographed biography of Viktor Krum, who had played Seeker on Bulgaria's national team in the Quidditch World Cup last year.  Krum and Hermione had become friends last year, even going to the Yule Ball together.  Harry wasn't sure exactly what was going on with her and Krum now.  He knew that Krum had asked her to visit him over the summer, but he hadn't heard from her since just after they'd left school.

Happy Birthday, Harry!

Sorry I haven't written but my dad was called to Iceland for an emergency root canal on one of his wealthy patients, and he flew us all there for the summer!  I hope your summer isn't going too badly at the Dursleys.  I had your present owled to Bulgaria so Viktor could sign it for you.  Do me a favor though, and don't tell Ron what I got you.  I have a feeling he won't be too pleased.  I do hope we can go to the Burrow soon!  I'm looking forward to seeing all the Weasleys, and you too, of course.  Ginny and I had quite a good time last year rooming together for the World Cup.

I also wanted to let you know that no news about You-Know-Who has shown up in the Daily Prophet.  There are rumors and speculation of course, but no one has been killed.  I do hope that's a good sign.  You haven't been having any nightmares, have you?  If you have, I hope you thought to tell Dumbledore and Snuffles.

Well, if we don't meet at Ron's, I'll see you at Diagon Alley before school.

Hermione

The other two parcels held a tin of treacle fudge from Hagrid, the gamekeeper at Hogwarts, and his normal list of course books for the coming year.  Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was the finest wizard school in England, and Harry was starting his fifth year there.  Ron's older brothers Bill, Charlie, and Percy had already graduated, and his other brothers, twins Fred and George, were entering their seventh and final year.  Little Ginny was a year behind Harry and his friends.  Harry snacked on the treacle fudge (actually pretty good considering it was from Hagrid, who was notoriously bad at cooking) and excitedly thought of the day three weeks away when he could go to the Burrow and practice Quidditch with the Weasley boys.

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"Harry!" Uncle Vernon shouted.  Harry rushed down the stairs, his heart smacking madly against his ribs.  His trunk bounced down the stairs behind him and Hedwig's cage swung wildly at his side.  The Weasleys were early; he had wanted to be waiting for them when they arrived.  He hadn't mentioned that they were coming to the Dursleys at all.

Harry jumped down the last few steps, landing with a thump in the foyer as his trunk crashed behind him.  Mr. Weasley was standing in the front door, Percy at his side.  Although they were politely asking after the Dursley family, Uncle Vernon did not respond, instead standing frozen with his jaw working frantically.

"Hullo, Mr. Weasley," Harry said calmly, catching his breath.  He was relieved to see that Mr. Weasley was wearing an old pair of jeans, and Percy, of course, knew quite well how to dress like a Muggle.  At least it was one less thing he'd have to hear about from his uncle next summer.

"Harry, there you are!" Mr. Weasley said amiably, reaching over to take Harry's trunk.  "I'll just bring this to the car," he continued, seemingly quite pleased to be saying such a Muggle thing.

Dudley, drawn to the voices in the foyer, waddled in from the kitchen, a large doughnut in his hand.  Mrs. Dursley had taken him off his diet as soon as he lost the first five pounds, which he quickly regained with no effort whatsoever.  When he saw the red haired men in the doorway, Dudley gave a frightened squeak, turning on his heel and sprinting up the stairs to his room as fast as his fat legs could carry him.

"Was that your son?  Pleasant chap," Percy said, attempting to continue the one-sided conversation.

"Get….get away…" Vernon sputtered, staring in horror at his front walk.  Mr. Weasley, having placed Harry's trunk in the impossibly small boot of the car, was starting a conversation of his own with the postman.

"Hullo, there," he said, nodding politely to the man.  "Do you deliver letters?  Where's that one from?  Majorca!  Goodness, that's certainly a long way for you to travel…"

"I'm ready to go now," Harry said quickly, pushing past his uncle to the car.  He assumed Mr. Weasley had borrowed it from the Ministry, seeing as his old car was roaming wild in the forbidden forest.  "Bye," he called behind him to Uncle Vernon, not expecting and not getting any response.

Harry shoved Hedwig's cage in the back seat of the car as he heard Percy bid the Dursleys farewell.  Percy then dragged his father from the postman, who was looking at the wizard as if he were an escaped lunatic.  Harry settled back into his seat, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath as the car pulled away.

Having fallen asleep during the long drive, Harry woke up to find himself outside the Burrow.  He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, and happily made his way up to the rickety home, cheerfully jumping over the roaming chickens and a stray garden gnome that was sneaking to the back of the house.

"Harry, you're here!"  Ron's freckled face glowed excitedly as he ran out of the Burrow to greet his friend.  While Harry had grown a bit over the last two months, Ron had grown even more and was now at least a head taller than him.

"Ron!  How are you?"  Harry smiled widely, thrilled to be back at the Burrow.  He followed his best friend inside and they walked up the steps to Ron's room, dragging Harry's trunk and Hedwig's cage behind them.  As they reached the third landing, a door opened and a familiar face emerged.

"Harry, you made it!"  Hermione Granger stepped out of Ginny's room, her face glowing with pleasure.  She had also grown over the summer, looking more like a teenager and less like a little girl.  Her brown hair had lost some of its bushiness, and the new smile she had given herself last year now beamed at Harry.  "I've been here two weeks already.  Ron and I already finished all our homework, and I even beat him at chess once!"

Harry had a funny feeling Ron had let Hermione win and a quick glance at Ron confirmed this in his mind.  Ron's face had turned crimson, matching the bright red hair that was common with all the Weasleys.  He was about to make a comment when someone interrupted.

"Hi Harry, how are you?"  Ron's little sister Ginny had just come out of the room and was blushing slightly as she looked down at her feet.  Harry was used to this, as Ginny had a crush on him since they had first met.  She glanced up briefly, and Harry's stomach lurched unexpectedly.  Ginny had grown a bit, and looked different than he remembered.  Her curly red hair was tied back revealing a face that looked somehow older.  Like the rest of them, she had also gotten taller and looked like, well, a girl, not a child.  Harry blushed slightly as this thought went through his head, but he quickly shook it away and smiled at Ginny.

"I'm fine, Ginny," he answered casually.  Ron, still trying not to look at Hermione, mumbled something about going upstairs.  Harry and Hermione followed on up to Ron's room, dropping off Harry's trunk and letting Hedwig out of her cage.  The owl zoomed out of Ron's window, squawking indignantly as she stretched her wings.

"Harry," Hermione began excitedly, "I didn't want to say anything in front of Ginny, but did you read the Daily Prophet today?"  Hermione rushed the words out in one breath as if she had them bottled in for ages.  Harry grabbed the paper clutched in her fist, and the color drained from his face.

"Several eyewitnesses have claimed to see the Dark Lord appear in Africa.  Unbelievable as it may seem, these wizards swear that You-Know-Who was seen fighting with a large black dog.  Both He Who Must Not Be Named and the dog disappeared into a cloud of smoke before officials from the African Ministry of Magic could arrive.  A spokesperson denies the villagers' story noting that if You-Know-Who were back, he would surely find something more important to occupy his time than attacking dogs."

Harry stopped reading aloud and stared at his friends, his eyes wide.  "Voldemort has Sirius!"

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