Harry was sitting on a swing in the park near his aunt and uncle's home and thinking about the past year.

His thoughts were particularly plagued by one Sirius Orion Black, first escaped convict from Azkaban. Declared guilty of fourteen counts of murder, rumoured to be Voldemort's most loyal servant.

The man that had broken into Hogwarts to get to a rat.

The same man who had then proven his innocence, only to have the moment stolen away from him, leaving Harry with the echo of a desperate promise whispered in the safety of the night.

His godfather.

Harry leaned forward and rubbed his hands over his face then abruptly stood and looked up at the sky. His baggy clothes weighed down on him and made the heat even more unbearable than it would normally be. He brushed the hair out of his forehead and started to head out of the park. A shadow fell over him just as he reached the gate, but Harry thought nothing of it, not until said shadow began to move, became bigger and bigger until Harry could clearly make out the silhouette of two wings flapping on the asphalt.

He spun around on the spot and stumbled back when the sight before him threatened to knock him off his feet.

A familiar hippogriff was tumbling out of the sky towards him, talons held in close to its body and wings spanning the height of two grown men as the majestic animal dove to the ground. Buckbeak didn't give Harry any time to scramble out of his way. When he was mere inches from the ground, the hippogriff tucked its wings close to its body and landed on four hooved feet, grunting and snapping its beak as it clawed the floor.

It occurred to Harry then, as he watched the outline of a person jumping off Buckbeak's back, that standing petrified in the middle of the street as a wizard advanced on him was not the best way to deal with a a possible oncoming danger. It did not help his state of mind at all that he could've sworn he recognized the man sauntering up to him.

"I'll admit, I expected more of a response out of you than shocked speechlessness," said the man, speaking with a familiar voice, "but I suppose a standing ovation will have to do."

Sirius' arms were around him before he could process the man moving. He ruffled Harry's hair as though it was something he'd always done and then moved to hold him at arm's length, scrutinizing the boy from head to toe.

"Come on, pup, don't leave me hanging."

Harry swallowed. "I—you're not supposed to be here," stammered Harry. "They'll come looking for you, they know you want to find me—I don't—"

"I came here because I promised you I would, remember?" Sirius interrupted him. "I'm just sorry it took this long before we could make it—"


It was then that Harry heard the distinct sound of retching coming from behind Buckbeak. The hippogriff stepped aside to reveal Professor Lupin, of all people, leaning over some flower bushes on his hands and knees. The man stumbled to his feet and leaned heavily against Buckbeak's side.

"Hullo, Harry. I'd say it's nice to see you again, but I sincerely wish it could be under better circumstances," he attempted a smile which pulled on the half-healed scar on his cheek and had him wincing in regret.

"I don't understand. Professor Lupin—"

"Just Remus, now. Moony if you'd like."

"—what are you doing here?"

"I'm getting you outta here, Harry. You never should've landed in that house in the first place and I couldn't live with myself knowing you're living with that… genetic abnormality and her tub of lard."

"I have a cousin."

"A tub and a half, then," Sirius grinned. "We would've come sooner, but we had a few hiccups."

"Nothing for you to worry about," added Remus when he saw the question written on Harry's face.

"It's not the homeliest place on earth, but we have a house where we can stay and there's not a chance anyone can find me there…" Sirius' sentence trailed off uncertainly the longer Harry remained unresponsive. "I'll understand if you don't want to come though, not many people would choose living on the run over suburbia, and you said you didn't like it here, but—"

"I can really live with you?" Harry held his breath.

"Yeah, but it's completely up to you if you don't want to—"

"When do we leave?" He could feel the life bleeding back into his body and took the first deep breath since Sirius had brought up leaving Privet Drive forever. "I don't need to think about it, anything is better than staying here, trust me."

Sirius looked like he had more to say, but bit his tongue at the last second.

"Midnight is when we leave on Buckbeak, here." Sirius patted the animal on the side of his neck. "Be ready by then, have all your things packed tight and come meet us out here, at this park. We'll pretty much be hiding around until then, biding our time 'til it's safe to come out."

"There's a specific time for that?" Harry caught the pointed look shared between the two grown wizards and knew he was missing something. "You're not telling me something."

"Not yet," his godfather didn't bother denying it.

"You should head back now, Harry, and start packing. It would be best if you didn't alert your aunt and uncle about anything being different today, just act normal," said Remus.

"Then they'll know something's different," Harry muttered to himself. "Midnight?"

"Midnight," said Sirius. He leaned in for another hug, which Harry returned this time, then walked over to Buckbeak and heaved himself onto his back.

Remus sent Harry a shaky mock-salute, staring at the hippogriff with clear trepidation before sucking in a lungful of air and pulling himself up behind Sirius, grappling at the other man's clothing like they were the only thing keeping him upright.

Harry winced in sympathy and watched as Buckbeak swivelled on his heel and galloped a few metres down the road before thrusting himself in the air in a flurry of feathers. When he was nothing more than a speck in the sky no bigger than his thumb, Harry turned down the road and trudged over to the Dursleys'.

Quietly pushing the front door open, Harry snuck into the house and tip-toed his way up the stairs, making sure to avoid all the loose floorboards bound to give him away. Once inside his room, he closed the door behind himself and leaned his back against it, head making a soft thud against the wood. He closed his eyes for a moment and just enjoyed the strange silence that filled the house. Strange, because he couldn't hear his uncle yelling at the TV downstairs and complaining about the jews raising the taxes again, or his aunt scrubbing and vacuuming her way through every dirt particle that had the gall to show up in her home.

Opening his eyes, Harry surveyed the room that he had been living in for the past three years. It was small, he couldn't deny that, and it had never really felt like his room. If he took away his trunk and Hedwig then it would look like a normal guest-room—a guest-room with an air thin mattress and paint chipping from the walls—but a guest-room nonetheless.

Is this all he had to show for the thirteen years he'd lived in this house? There weren't any pictures of him around the house—the Dursleys would rather pretend that he didn't exist than admit to themselves they were housing a freak—and he had barely had any interaction with the neighbours, so they probably wouldn't even notice if he suddenly left.

He'd be gone by the end of the day and there would be nothing left behind to prove he'd ever been here in the first place.

It was a startling realization.

Thankfully, before he could explore it any further Hedwig choose that moment to swoop into the room through the window and land gracefully on his desk.

"Hey girl, how was hunting? Did you get anything good?" he lightly scratched her behind her head and watched as she leaned into his touch and hooted softly. "Really? That good? Well I'm glad you got something nice to eat; it's probably better than what I get here."

Hedwig let out another hoot, this one louder than the first one.

"You don't have to worry about me, we're getting out of here soon. Tonight, actually, so don't go flying off any time soon, alright? Midnight's the deadline."

Hedwig turned her head and lightly nipped at his fingers before holding out her leg for him. Harry looked down and noticed the letters tied to her leg.

"Sorry. Here, let me get that off you." He gently untied the letters and then led her over to her cage where he already had a bowl of water and some snacks waiting for her. Hedwig jumped onto his shoulder, nipped his ear in thanks before fluttering back down to eat and rest.

Harry sat down at his desk and opened up the first of four letters.

Dear Harry,

How are you? Have you enjoyed your holidays so far?

Mine have been great; mum and dad decided to take a trip to France and that's where I am right now. We've only been here for five days but we've seen so much and still have even more left to see! My dad got me a camera this summer and I'm taking as many picture as I can so I can show you later.

Do you think you did well in the exams? Do you think our test results will come soon? I am sure I must've mistranslated at least two runes and I know that I made a mistake in Arithmancy. Astronomy was alright but I think I drew Venus a little too far to the right and they might take away points for that. What about you?

I got a letter from Dumbledore a few days ago. He says he just wanted to check up on me after you-know-what happened. He said to get back to him if I heard from you-know-who and also asked about you. I think he might be concerned. Are you alright, Harry? I read in a book that losing a someone important to you so suddenly can be very hard on a person so I don't want you to keep everything bottled up. We are here to listen.

See you in September 1st,


Harry shook his head half-exasperated and half-fond as he reached the end of Hermione's letter. Leave it to her to be in France for the summer and still spend time worrying about exams she more than likely passed with flying colours. He appreciated her efforts at comforting him (that she'd spent time doing research for Harry instead of enjoying her holidays was typical Hermione and spoke to him more than anything else could have) but ultimately it was her mention of Dumbledore's letter that caught his eye.

As far back as Harry could remember, the headmaster had never had any personal correspondence with neither Harry nor his friends. Even after everything the three of them had been put through in their first and second years, Dumbledore had never bothered to write to them before. He had that weird feeling again, like something nagging at the back of his head, a feeling that told him he was missing an important piece of the puzzle.

He pushed it aside and opened his next letter.

Hey Harry!

Guess what, mate? The Quidditch match between Ireland and Bulgaria is just a few weeks away! All of us want to go and dad promised that he'd get us all tickets. I can't wait to see them play! I know they won't be as good as the Chudley Cannons, but it'll still be awesome to be there and watch them play. Did you know that Bulgaria's Seeker is still in school? Just think, that could be you in a couple of years if you play your cards right.

Anyway, I talked to mum about you coming over this summer, but she says it's up to your fami guardians to decide. Do you think they'll let you come over in time for the World Cup?

Dumbledore stopped by and asked about you, by the way. It was weird, too. He's never stopped by before (when the twins aren't involved, anyway) and when I asked him about it, he said it probably wouldn't be a good idea for you to leave Privet Drive with Scabbers running free.

Maybe you can come over after the Cup and stay at the Burrow for a couple of days? You still have to buy your stuff for school, right?

Let me know what the muggles say and I'll talk to mum.


Harry placed Ron's letter on top of Hermione's, removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes and sighed.

Dumbledore again.

Why was he taking such a sudden interest in Harry's friends? That's twice now that Dumbledore had inquired about Harry to others and Harry didn't know how he should feel about it. Annoyed, perhaps, that with Dumbledore himself saying that he shouldn't leave the house, his chances of seeing any type of freedom this summer would've been reduced to zero if it weren't for his godfather's escape plan.

He grabbed the next letter. This one had his name on the front written in elaborate cursive which clued Harry in to whom it might be from.

Dear Harry,

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I think it is only prudent to inform you that your prospects for this summer might have just become severely limited. As I am sure you understand, it would not be prudent to leave the safety of your home for the Burrowa place we both know a certain someone is intimately familiar with.

Loathe as I am to admit to this: the disappearance of one cowardly rodent has had the consequence of adding a danger to the world which would only serve to backfire upon you were it to catch you unawares.


Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

Turning over the piece of paper in his hands, Harry slowly came to realize that the headmaster hadn't written anything else. No deeper explanation as to why Harry couldn't even leave the house for a few hours to spend time with his friends in a public place like Diagon Alley, where Wormtail would be hard-pressed to make a single move against Harry (without calling on the attention of dozens of witches and wizards at least). He found no justification for why the Headmaster was leaving Harry to fend for himself for two months in the house of relatives who would give both their eyes to be rid of him once and for all.

Harry had the sudden thought that he would love to see the look on the headmaster's face when he realized that Harry, who had not been allowed to leave the premises, was no longer living at Privet Drive.

After unceremoniously throwing Professor Dumbledore's letter in his trunk, he picked up the last one and turned it over in his hands. Who else would be writing to him? He didn't recognize the handwriting and when he brought it to his nose instead of smelling rock-cakes like he had expected, he detected a faint flowery smell clinging to the paper. Turning it over again, he opened it up and started to read.

Dear Harry,

I know we don't really know each other but I'd like to fix that. I know Ron has probably been telling you all sorts of horror stories about me (and my behaviour around you probably hasn't helped much) but I swear I'm not nearly as barmy as he makes me out to be.

You're Ron's best friend and that means you're going to be around for a while, so I'd like it if we could at least say hi to each other without me putting my elbow in the butter dish again or running away to lock myself in my room because you caught me off guard.

Anyway, answer whenever you want (preferably in a few days, though) and if you don't want to be friends then I'll accept it, but I feel I must inform you that I am a wonderful person so it would be your loss...

If you do decide that you could use another friend, then let me tell you a little bit about myself:

My full name is Ginevra Molly Weasley but never call me thatit's Ginny. My favourite colour is red and the Holyhead Harpies wipe the floor with Ron's precious Canons. Nearly all of my brothers treat me like I am still five years old, but don't worry, I learned how to deal with them a long time ago (ever heard of the Bat-Bogey Hex?). Fred and George are the only ones that don't treat like a toddler and I love them for it. They sometimes let me help with their pranks and those are the absolute best. No one ever suspects little ol' me.

I love flying, but don't tell my brothers I told you that because they don't know I can even mount a broom. Serves them right for always forgetting to lock the door to the broomshed, if you ask me.

In any case, Ron's been championing against Mum and Dad to bring you here for the summer. They didn't need much convincing (they were already planning on having you over for the last three weeks) but it could still be a couple of weeks before they send a letter. They seem to think your relatives would like to spend some quality time with you before we take you away again. I didn't personally see Ron's jaw hit the floor but I was told it was a close one.

See you soon


Harry's lips tugged to form a smile as he read Ginny's letter. It was true that they hardly knew each other, but he wasn't about to judge her on what her older brothers had to say, or that one time he'd literally popped out of nowhere at her house while she was still in pyjamas. He already knew that he was going to write to her, but he didn't know what to say.

An apology would be a good way to start, he thought, since he practically ignored her after the whole fiasco with the Chamber of Secrets. As he thought back on it now, Harry was ashamed to remember that he hadn't even bothered to visit her at the infirmary. He remembered Ron going to visit her during mealtimes and coming back with updates on her recovery but couldn't think of a single reason why he hadn't even put in the effort to go see her himself after all they'd been through together at the hands of Tom Riddle.

With his mind made up, Harry pushed himself away from his desk and leaned down to grab a bottle of ink and a quill out of his trunk. He placed everything on his desk then took a piece of parchment from one of the drawers, unscrewed the top from the ink bottle, dipped his quill inside and began to write.



Petunia Dursley's shrill cry woke Harry up with a start. He rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hands, nearly knocking off his glasses in the process, and then chanced a look around. He was still in his room and the letter he had written to Ginny was lying on the floor; probably from having been knocked down while he was sleeping. He grabbed the letter and smoothed the creases on the parchment, folding it in half and leaving the letter lying next to Hedwig's cage where said owl was on the verge of waking up.

"It's okay girl, go back to sleep, you can deliver this tomorrow."

Hedwig emitted a lowly hoot and lowered her head to rest under her wing, shuffling a bit more on her perch before settling in and falling asleep again.

"Boy! What is taking you so long? Get down here right now!"

Vernon Dursley's booming voice startled Hedwig out of her light doze. She flapped her wings in alarm and snapped her beak in warning, head swivelling back and forth as she attempted to assess the new threat.

"Shh, it's just Uncle Vernon, you know how he gets. Go back to sleep and by the time you wake up again, you won't ever have to hear him again," Harry reached a hand through the open cage to run it soothingly down Hedwig's back, smoothing her feathers.

Once Hedwig had settled down, Harry thundered down the stairs to the kitchen and was greeted with the sight of Dudley and Uncle Vernon sitting at the table stuffing their faces full of roast beef and potatoes while his Aunt Petunia primly picked at her food, taking a few miniature sized bites more befitting a bird than a human.

Harry sat down on his chair and felt a hysterical laugh bubbling up in his chest when he spotted his own meal. His one slice of meat was paper thin (if he held it up to the light, he was certain he'd be able to see through it to the light bulbs hanging from the ceiling) and the potato lying next to it had a yellowish, filmy tinge to it that Harry knew from experience meant it had been undercooked.

He swallowed down his food and waited. Time seemed to crawl by as he watched his uncle and cousin decimate their portions and grab second, third and fourth helpings.

When there was nothing left on the table but dirty plates and meagre crumbs, Dudley pushed off his chair and waddled into the living room where the blue glow of the television was calling to him like the most beguiling of sirens. Harry was half off his chair when Uncle Vernon's voice stopped him in his tracks.

"Boy, where do you think you're going?"

"My room." Although his own voice came out calm and collected, Harry could feel the first flicker of anger licking up the inside of his chest cavity.

"You're not going anywhere 'til you've washed the dishes and cleaned the whole damn kitchen," said Uncle Vernon, all red cheeks and bulging eyes. "Come to think of it, my car needs a good cleaning too. It's still dirty from when we had to drive you back here from the station and I don't want any of your freakness left in my car."

"Why me? Why don't you pry Dudley off the couch and make him do it? I've got better stuff to do."

Harry had no idea what had come over him. He'd never had the courage to talk back to his uncle before, not like this. It felt exhilarating.

"What did you just say to me, boy?" Vernon's face deepened from fire-engine red to a scarlet hue.

"I'm not going to do it. Make Dudley do it, it'll be a nice change from all that sitting he's majoring in." That spark in his chest had turned to a steady warmth, like hot coals were settling on the bottom of his stomach.

"You do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it."


Harry watched his uncle's mouth open and close as he tried to search for words he couldn't find and the longer he took, the redder his face became until Harry half expected to see steam pouring out of his nose and ears like a train engine getting ready to start.

Uncle Vernon straightened out to his full height and marched up to Harry, putting his face inches away from his nephew's. Harry had to force himself not to take a step back. He looked his uncle straight in the eyes and was surprised to find out that he no longer had to look up to him, they were the same height now. Vernon seemed to have noticed as well, but other than the split flash of something that crossed his eyes, he didn't let it deter him.

"It is because of our generosity that you even have clothes on your back," Uncle Vernon began, carefully enunciating each word that passed his greasy lips. "We have taken care of you and fed you with the food from our very own table while you spread your… your unnaturalness… your witchcraft," he whispered the word as though fearful it's very mention would have God strike him down, "in our very own home. You owe us everything that you are. You will show me some respect."

"You can't tell me what to do, not anymore. And I don't owe you anything, I never have." Turning his back on his uncle, Harry headed out the kitchen. He felt a prickle in the nape of his neck, like the feeling you get when you know someone's staring at you, and ducked down just in time to avoid being hit in the back of the head by a china plate. It flew over him and shattered against the wall. With his back tight with tension and his fists clenched, Harry turned around and eyed his uncle.

"You threw a plate at me." The last thing Harry should've been was surprised, but there it was, after all these years.

"You're damn right I did. We have taken you in out of the goodness of our hearts, treated you like a part of this family and this is how you repay us. You think I'm just gonna stand by and watch—"

"The goodness of your hearts? Family?" Harry interrupted. A feeling he'd had only once before came over him again accompanied by the memory of Aunt Marge, blown up to a balloon of immense proportions, bouncing off the ceiling before floating off onto the street. Magic, energy, electricity—he didn't know what it was but it was pouring off him in droves and he imagined that if he tried hard enough he could probably reach inside himself and grab onto that feeling until that was all he was—an assortment of atoms moving faster and faster until they're nothing but a blur of sound and colour.

"How could you possibly say that? You never bought anything for me, I got Dudley's old clothes, too big and too ripped to be more than rags. You insulted me and my parents at every turn and never, never did you show me any kindness or love! So tell me, what gives you the right to slave me around and use me like your own personal punching bag? You think I owe you something for all these years in this cookie-cutter hellhole? If anything, you owe me years of my life." Harry's hands were shaking with how mad he was. He clenched them into fists by his sides and tried to convince himself now wasn't the time to wonder what it would feel like to finally give as good as he got.

"You insolent boy," whispered Aunt Petunia, hands clutching one another at the base of her throat as though that was the only thing holding her together. "How dare you speak to Vernon that way? To us? You think it's been fun taking care of someone like you? You're just like my sister and if you don't watch it you'll end up just like her because that's what happens to people like you. You have your magic stick and you wave it around every chance you get like it somehow makes you better than us, well let me tell you something." Aunt Petunia pushed in close down as though she were sharing a secret. "I should've dropped you off at the furthest orphanage as soon as I saw you lying on our doorstep."

Aunt Petunia kept talking at him, but Harry had stopped listening, the rushing in his ears didn't allow him to hear anything other than the thumping of his own blood as it flowed through his body to his racing heart.

Something pulled inside him, some inside begging to be known and calling out for something he couldn't identify until his wand was in his hand and it sated that feeling inside him. His wand was hot in his hand, like it had pulled the heat from the room and stored it in the eleven inches of holly. The television white noise would've drowned out whatever Aunt Petunia threw at him if she had still been talking, but she'd been left staring out the window alongside her husband, both of them stealing glances between each other and then at Harry.

Harry chanced a look outside and saw what had caught their attention: flowers were being ripped out from the ground by invisible hands and the trees bordering the Dursley backyard were engaged in a dance they didn't know the steps to. He looked up to grey clouds and forking lightning striking the ground with a shriek. The garden chairs from the neighbour's house were being blown about and some were even lifted off the ground by the wind surging across Privet Drive.

Harry felt that same pull inside him again, the one that called for his wand and was now calling on something else entirely. Something larger and stronger that took over him until he couldn't tell where the storm ended and he began.

"Stop it," Aunt Petunia's command was warbled by fear, but it still carried to him over the howls of the storm. "You stop this right now. Don't think I don't know it's you. Enough, I said!"

"I don't think I could stop it now, even if I wanted to," said Harry. The noise in his ears had quieted down to a dull throb and though he didn't doubt for a second that it was because of him that there was a tropical storm outside destroying the neighbourhood he'd grown up in, he felt equal parts removed and absorbed. He imagined this was what it must feel like to be possessed. He could see everything going on around him, hear the thoughts that went along with his actions and relate those to his body's movements, but it was as if he had no control over it. He was a spectator in his own mind and the wheel was there, right there in front of him begging him to grab hold and be the captain to his own ship but he couldn't.

"I can't stop this." He didn't know if he was talking to himself or to his aunt and that didn't take any of the truth out of his words. "I don't want to." Years of fear, resentment, anger and humiliation were being let out in a matter of minutes and it felt so good to finally let go.

"Why you little—" His uncle pushed past his wife and marched up to Harry. His fist was raised shoulder height and he punched forward, hard and brutal, aiming for the skin of his nephew's cheek. He was stopped millimetres before it could come into contact with anything and just like that, he was suspended mid-movement, as though someone had clicked pause on their remote.

Heart stuck in his throat, Harry stumbled back a step from his uncle's prone form and wished for him to get away, far enough that he wouldn't be able to reach Harry.

Uncle Vernon was hurled across the room and plastered to the wall like a fat starfish. He didn't fall to the ground like he should have after making impact, instead he remained glued to the flowered wallpaper, eyes squinting against the pounding in his head as his nephew approached him with careful steps.

"You didn't have to love me, you know," he said. "It wouldn't've killed you to just treat me like a human being instead of the monster hiding under the bed. I don't want to hate you, but I think it's better than trying to love you just because you're the only family I have left."

Uncle Vernon opened his mouth to say something, but a thought from Harry stuck his tongue to the roof of his mouth and all that came out were grunts and moans. Harry was shaking as he watched his uncle struggling to get a word out. He felt sick to his stomach, a sickness of guilt and fear and power that he didn't know how to handle.

A snake-like sensation was uncoiling in his chest and it begged Harry to let it out, to give these people what they deserved after everything they'd done to him. It spoke to his deepest and most hidden memories and begged for vengeance.

"You wish I'd never been left here? Me too. But I can't change that, so I'm just gonna make both our lives easier and leave right now. You won't see me again and if you do, take something from all these years of practice and pretend I don't exist."

Harry turned to walk out the door but found his aunt standing in the way.

"You can't leave," she said. Harry had to strain to hear her over the sound of the howling wind outside. "If you do, that headmaster of yours will—"

"It's not my problem anymore."

"Listen to me, we—"

"Aunt Petunia, just stop, alright? Stop it. I don't care whatever deal you made with Dumbledore, what he promised you in exchange for keeping me here, that's your problem." He looked into her eyes, really looked at them, for the first time since he was five, when he learned that he'd find nothing there but hate and revulsion, and saw something he couldn't identify. "I'm finally giving you what you want, what we both want. Let me go."

She shook her head and stood her ground. Tears were dripping down her face and gathering at the collar of her shirt.

"You can't," she said. "If—if she could. This isn't what she—"

"You're talking about my mother?" asked Harry incredulously. "Now you think about her? Not when you locked me in a cupboard for days, or when your husband broke my arm because I pushed Dudley off the swing, or the hundreds of other times when you should've said something? You can't even bring yourself to say her name, can you? Is that what you're so afraid of? You think if I stay here because it protects me from Voldemort that you'll somehow be forgiven for everything else you didn't protect me from?

"Let me tell you something, Aunt Petunia: there is no doubt in my mind that if my mum was half the woman everyone says she was, she'd want me to get as far away from you as I could."

All the colour had drained from Petunia's face and she trembled like a leaf in the wind as her nephew moved her out of the way and walked off without a glance back.


I have to leave, he thought.

He couldn't wait for midnight, he had to leave right now before he did something that he would regret later. He could still sense his magic moving out of control inside his body and, though it had calmed down a bit after the episode in the kitchen, he was afraid that any moment now that snake poised in his chest would break free and cause irreparable damage.

His trunk was dragged out from underneath the bed and anything he could get his hands on was dropped inside. His hiding spot under the floorboards was emptied out of all of his hidden treasures and Hedwig was woken up mid packing and had to be calmed down and coaxed to retreat back to her cage from atop the dresser.

Harry's heart was beating a mile a minute in between his ears as he locked his trunk shut and propped it up against the wall. His mouth was dry and tasted bitter. He felt like he'd just run a marathon in under five minutes and his body was only catching up to that fact.

A branch hitting the glass on his window had him chancing a look outside and he didn't know what he should feel like when he saw the aftermath of what he had caused. His mind flashed back to last year, when he'd come so close to being called into the ministry for underage magic and if it hadn't been for Fudge's guilt and fear, he probably would have.

His wand was unnaturally warm in his hand. Harry could almost picture it sending off an indecipherable signal to the ministry, the Trace having been activated the second the first lick of air whispered down the street. It hadn't taken them this long to get a letter out to him last time.

He had no one to protect him now.

He clutched his wand in hand and wheeled his trunk to the top of the stairs. He eyed Hedwig in her cage and let the trunk drop, bouncing between the wall and the bannister before it skidded to a stop at the bottom of the staircase, having left a black stripe of grime on the wall. The ruckus would've definitely been heard all over the house, but no one came to stop Harry from opening the front door and dragging his belongings outside.

The Dursleys' car was gone. Harry took a moment to wonder if Vernon had managed to get down from the wall or if Petunia had left her mute husband hanging in her kitchen like a prized buffalo while she took the car and disappeared with her precious Dudders.

A strange feeling overcame him as he stepped onto the sidewalk, it was like pushing through a membrane of cold water. It hit him first in the face and then passed through the rest of his body until he had fully stepped on the pavement and the feeling was gone, replaced by a warm, humid breeze. It hit him just then that he had nowhere to go until Sirius and Remus came for him and as much as Harry relished the thought of walking down Privet Drive holding a trunk full of magical school supplies, a cage with an owl and a wand, he'd rather find a private corner in the world and sleep off this day for the next decade or so.

A screech sounded from above and then Buckbeak was dropping to the ground in front of him where his godfather immediately jumped off his back and rushed to Harry's side.

"What are you doing out here?" he asked. "Didn't you see the storm that came in just now? You should head inside before it gets worse aga—"

"It's all my fault. I can't go back inside, Sirius, I think the Dursleys left and I said I would leave, too, but I guess I forgot about the time and now I have no place to go and I'm just… I think I'm gonna pass out." Harry's eyes slipped shut for a second and he felt himself careening to the side before a pair of arms reached out and steadied him again.

"What're you going on about, pup? What's your fault?"

Harry blinked through the clouds in his head and said, "The storm thing. Pretty sure it's my fault, but I swear I didn't mean it, it just came out and then Uncle Vernon tried to hit me again and I couldn't hold it in anymore. I'm so sorry. I rrr—really didn' m-mean it."

Harry blinked some more and wondered if it was already late enough to be night time because there was a definite darkness creeping in around the edges of his vision and he had half a mind to ask one of the three Siriuses standing in front of him if they knew what time it was.

"He tried to hit you again?" Sirius' nose flared as Harry's words sunk into his head.

"Pads!" Remus had jumped off Buckbeak and was now standing in front of the hippogriff, hand running soothingly over his head as he eyed the darkening sky uneasily. "I don't know how much longer we have before the next shift starts. We'll run out of luck soon if we don't hurry."

"Right right," muttered Sirius, "pass me your wand, Moony."

Harry's trunk and Hedwig's cage were shrunk to the size of pencil sharpeners and placed in Sirius' pocket. Harry watched as Sirius murmured something to Hedwig and then the owl took off, wings flapping in the air the higher she rose.

"Alright, pup, nice and easy does it." An arm was placed around Harry's shoulders whilst another held him around the waist. It took both Sirius and Remus working together (and some lucky intervention from Buckbeak) to get him atop the hippogriff's back.

"Don' think I forgot abou' the shift thing," slurred Harry, wagging finger almost hitting Remus in the eye. "You're keepin' somethin' from me. Ah know it and s'not nice."

"I promise to tell you everything once we get to the house and you don't sound like you're speaking Gobbledegook, how 'bout that?"

"Two minutes," said Remus. "We're cutting it close already. Let's go."

They climbed onto Buckbeak, keeping Harry in between the two of them as the teen rested heavily on his godfather's back and fluttered his eyelids.

Buckbeak rolled his shoulders and took off in a gallop down the street. As soon as he had enough momentum he opened his wings and beat them once, twice and lifted all four of them off the ground and into the sky.

Harry kept his eyes open long enough to see the dishevelled remains of the Dursleys' ideal home become nothing but another tally to the number of equally ordinary houses lining the streets of Privet Drive.