Harry walked with a slow pace finding each step more difficult. Other smiling students raced past him in eager anticipation of all the joys of summer. Harry on the other hand looked to this with a sense of dread. Hearing the call of his name, he looked up and noticed Ron and Hermione. They waved him on to join them.
Harry couldn't help but to notice another girl with them. At first, he mistook her for Fleur Delacour, but upon closer examination, it wasn't. Her hair was longer, wavier, and golden blond in contrast to Fleur's silvery blond hair. Her legs seemed longer and her chest even more voluptuous. Was that even possible that Ron found a girl even more beautiful than Fleur?
Harry finally got close enough to hear their conversation. "Ok, fine, I take it back," Ron admitted. "Please, let me take your picture." He went for his camera.
"Sure," the gorgeous blond said with a smirk. The girl's voice sounded familiar, but Harry was too distracted by his own depression to fully register it.
"Blow me a kiss," Ron requested just before snapping a picture.
The girl laughed as she complied to his request, but then she transformed and now has merely average appearance with bubblegum pink hair and a pig-like snout for a nose.
Harry managed to crack a smile at the sight of Tonks, but then he spotted Cho Chang. He strolled right up to her as he pondered exactly what he would say. This would be his last chance before next year. He had to know where they stood with each other. He knew he needed to apologize. After all, she did nothing wrong. He overreacted to her telling about the Order of the Phoenix. He should have known it wasn't her fault.
"Sorry! I hope we can still be friends," Harry said. Who was he kidding? He wanted to be more than just her friend.
"Sure, we can be just friends." Cho nodded, much to Harry's relief and disappointment.
"Any friend of Harry's… I don't believe we have been formally introduced. Call me Tonks." Tonks reached out to Cho to shake her hand.
"Ah, pleasure to meet you." Cho shook her hand and introduced herself.
"The pleasure is all mine," Tonks said just before Cho left to get on board the Hogwarts Express.
"We better board too. We don't want to get stuck here for the whole summer," Ron said.
"Speak for yourself," Harry said. He was not looking forward to another summer with his poor excuse for a family.
"She seemed nice," Tonks commented.
"Yeah, my first ex-girlfriend." Harry let out a deep sigh.
"Girlfriend? Please. You kissed her once, maybe twice. Only one real date. First crush, more like it." Ron gave Harry a gentle pat on the back.
Hermione rolled her eyes at Ron. "Excuse him. Sometimes he doesn't know when to shut up."
"What? I was just trying to comfort a friend."
"And doing a terrible job," Hermione and Tonks said in unison.
"Come on, admit it. He didn't really lose a girlfriend," Ron said to Hermione.
Harry just grunted in annoyance not really wanting to hear it. Tonks gave Harry a nudge. "Don't worry. You will be ok."
Professor Minerva McGonagall approached the group and said goodbye to three of her favorite Gryffindors. Harry, Ron and Hermione boarded the train and quickly found seats. Ron and Hermione continued to talk on the train, but Harry wasn't really listening.
Harry stared out the window at Professor McGonagall and Tonks as they talked. Ron looked out the window too. "I don't get it. Tonks could be as hot as she wants to be, yet she chooses to be so… Average."
Hermione rolled her eyes at Ron. "Maybe she wants a guy to love her for her and not what she looks like."
"Oh, that is so dumb. If I had that power…"
"Oh, honestly, would you really want every girl only interested in you for your looks?" Hermione asked.
"Yes! Definitely!" He smiled and nodded in the affirmative. Hermione rolled her eyes at him. "What about you?" Ron tapped his best friend on the shoulder.
Harry failed to even acknowledge the question. He just continued to stare out the window. All he could think about was Sirius Black. "Harry?" Ron questioned doing his best to get his attention.
Once Harry returned to the Dursley house, nothing has changed. He still had the same cramped bedroom under the stairwell. Dudley remained free to eat, play video games and hang out with his friends while Harry did all the chores.
On one of the hottest days of the summer, Harry couldn't believe the tasks he was asked to do. They wanted him to mow the lawn and go on the roof and scrape off the bird droppings that accumulated at an unprecedented rate thanks to all the mail from Hogwarts Harry received over the years.
As he set up the ladder, he cursed himself and his rotten luck. He climbed up and got on to the roof. The sun beat down on him relentlessly and he had to be careful where he put his hands. He began cleaning the roof, then he heard a loud crash. He looked behind him and sure enough one of Dudley's friends knocked the ladder to the ground. He heard them laughing.
"Should have knocked it down when he was on the ladder," Dudley snickered.
"Ha, ha, ha, now he will be stuck up there all day," the boy replied with a snicker. The boys all ran off.
Harry wished he had his wand on him. He could surely use that to get out of this. He looked around to see if any of the trees were close enough to use as an escape. One thing was for sure, if he did remain stuck on this roof, he would suffer serious sun burns, dehydration or worse. Maybe he could shout out to a neighbor for help?
Harry continued to sweat, and he wasn't really sure how much time had passed because at this point every minute felt more like an hour. But then he heard a familiar voice he couldn't quite place. "What are you doing up there?" a female voice asked.
He carefully peered over the edge and was going to request that she put the ladder back up, but she was already one step ahead of him. He immediately climbed down. "Thank you," he said to the girl. He didn't recognize her, but something seemed familiar about her. She was a very beautiful Asian girl who reminded him of Cho Chang, only she was prettier. She also had unusual dark purple highlighting in her hair. The unusual hair coloring reminded him of Tonks. "My name is Harry. What is yours?" He reached out to shake her hand.
She paused and thought for a few moments. "My name is… Um," After a dramatic pause she finally said, "My name is Nora." Then she smiled at him. "A pleasure to meet you. I am new to the area. I live in the house next door. Would you want to come over my place and join me for lunch?"
"Sure." Harry smiled at her.
They went around the back of the house to the porch which had a nice white wicker table with matching chairs. "I am surprised you said yes so quickly. Haven't you heard the old saying, stranger, danger?"
"You are either going to give me a much better lunch then I have waiting for me back home or you are going to poison me. Either way, I am better off."
"What?" Nora asked unable to hide her shock.
"I am kidding." Harry tried to pass that off a as a joke and he chuckled. "I think I can trust you. You did help me off the roof after all."
Nora handed him a very tall glass of raspberry iced tea. "Ok, but what if I am a terrible cook?" Nora asked.
"I will take my chances," he said with a grin. He was pretty sure that whatever she brought would be much better than the two pieces of stale bread he had waiting for him next door.
Nora chuckled. "Very well then. Make yourself comfortable." She stumbled on the rug on her way to the kitchen. She came back with two plates of food consisting of a generous portion of pot roast with a side of peas and carrots.
"Why were you on the roof?" Nora asked.
Harry told the truth about all the chores the Dursleys tasked him with. Nora listened with a mixed reaction of shock, anger and disgust as the two of them enjoyed their meal together.
"Thank you. This was way better than…" Harry began to say.
"We are not done yet. Let me get the dessert." Nora took away the dishes and came back with two slices of banoffee pie.
Of course, for Harry, nothing would beat treacle tart, but he really enjoyed every bite. "I can't thank you enough." Harry shook her hand.
"My pleasure. Hug?" she asked.
Harry couldn't help it but to smile as he complied to her request. He felt so clumsy as he maneuvered his hands around her. He couldn't help feeling so awkward about this. He wanted to hug her tight and press his body against hers, but he only just met this girl, so he managed to remain a gentleman and keep the hug soft.
"I really should get going," Harry said reluctantly. "I still have a lot of chores to do. I hope I can see you again some time." A voice in the back of his head nearly screamed at him to blow off the chores and snog with the pretty girl.
"Count on it," She declared with a determined voice. She looked him over and seemed on the cusp of saying something else but managed to hold her tongue.
Harry wished he knew what thoughts were going through her head. He kept turning around as he left and sure enough, she watched him as he returned to the Dursley house. Knowing she was still watching, Harry waved goodbye to her one last time. He decided this summer might not be as bad as he thought.
Nora went to the sitting room and drew her curtains to block the view of any onlookers. Then she transformed her appearance to a Caucasian complexion and bubblegum pink hair. Tonks used the fireplace to contact Ms. McGonagall. "Why does Harry have to stay with those particular muggles?" she asked angerly as she reported on everything she had seen and what Harry had told her.
"Dumbledore's orders. We can't do anything about that. Just don't forget it is your job to make sure he stays safe. If you know who attacks, he will be a sitting duck," Ms. McGonagall said.
"I certainly will," Tonks said. Ms. McGonagall ended the transmission on her side, but Tonks didn't realize it. "He needs more than that. He needs a friend and I will be that friend." Then she realized she was talking to herself.
I would like to thank Chaos Snow Kitsune and CSGT for their help with this story.