Disclaimer: Though I wish, 'tis not mine. I may get thanks but its all.

Summary: What would it take for Harry and Snape get along after Sirius' death? In this chapter, Harry is worried because something's up at the Grimmauld place and no one is once again telling him what.

The Journey

Ch.1 Mice

Privet Drive was soaked. The water pooled in the most impractical places, making cars and pedestrians yield their normal routes. The flowerbeds were long spoiled. The colourful petals torn away and buried in the soil made soft by the huge raindrops. Only those who absolutely had to left their warm and dry houses.

Harry Potter didn't even want to venture outside. The miserable summer weather served him just fine. It spared him from most of his chores and the grey world smoothed his mind. It felt like someone was at last agreeing with him. His godfather, Sirius Black, had been gone for nearly a month now but Harry still couldn't quite comprehend it all. The last weeks in school had not allowed him to begin mourning and now that he was away from the magical world, everything seemed too unreal. It felt as if he had gone back in time a year and nothing had changed. Nevertheless, when he looked at the pile of letters on his desk, he knew there was no going back. There were no letters from Sirius and never again would be.

He tore his eyes away from the window and buried his face in his hands. He had been in his room for days as his aunt didn't want to see him loitering around the house or have him bring in all the mud from outside. Not that it should have mattered to her because Harry did the cleaning. Speaking of which, he really should have opened his window and begun tidying his own room. The stench of wet feathers was becoming unbearable, as the owls hadn't been able to avoid the weather any better than anyone else could when they had to go outside and Hedwig's cage was a mess. Sighing Harry stood up and got to work. He didn't need his Aunt Petunia complaining about it for the third time.

The outer window was stubbornly swelled up and refused to move an inch. That was why Harry's aunt walked into a very odd scene. The desk was pushed aside and the chair was carelessly thrown onto the bed. Her nephew was on his knees by the window and was currently using a fork and a hammer on the window frame, muttering to himself. There were miscellaneous things around his knees that certainly didn't belong in his room.

"What are you doing?" She demanded to know irritated, her hawk eyes going around the room and noticing everything. "You better not have scratched any of those?" She snapped and pointed at the collection of spoons, knives and other mix-matched kitchenware.

Harry didn't stop what he was doing, just answered, "You told me to clean up. I am doing that but the window is stuck."

His aunt harrumphed and shuffled around at the doorway as if she still had something to say but was not comfortable saying it. Harry practically felt her wandering eyes pass his back repeatedly. Frustrated he hit the fork so hard that it bent in two.

Sighing again, he turned to his aunt. "What do you want Aunt Petunia?"

She looked at the fork and obviously struggled not to complain about it.

"Have you heard of them already?" She asked tersely.

"No. Hedwig's still not back."

"They're better to take you in. Martha certainly won't," she said and glared at him accusingly. "It's the least they can do. We assumed that they would have come and taken you already."

"Well, they haven't," said Harry and turned back to the problematic window.

His aunt harrumphed from the door. "If the bird isn't back today, we will come up with something appropriate. You are not going to be left here alone to demolish the house so don't try to come up with any excuses."

She waited for a moment for a reply but when Harry refused to say anything, she clipped her heels and stomped to the hallway. Banging the door closed while she went.

Harry leaned his forehead on the cool window frame and cursed. He couldn't deny it, he was worried about Hedwig. She should have been back days ago. In addition, he was worried about his friends. It had been over a week since he last heard from anyone.

The Dursleys were going to leave for a holiday to Majorca and he needed to be out of the house by then. He had sent a letter to Dumbledore, somewhat against his own wishes, telling the man that he needed to come and stay at Grimmauld place for a while if not for the rest of the summer. And his aunt had been right. Last summer he had been picked up days earlier.

Of course he could've simply asked his uncle to give him a ride to London and there either go to his godfather's house or in an emergency, stay at the Leaky Cauldron but he wanted to hear from somebody first. What if Voldemort had made some idiotic grand scale attack and the magical world was in ruin? Why hadn't Hermione or Ron written back to him? Were they hurt? And what was keeping Hedwig this long? He could've written to Neville and ask about things or ordered a Daily Prophet if he only had had an owl. He really didn't want to spend any more time in this house that he absolutely had to.

He couldn't be sure if it came from that desire that he had a feeling that he was simply stashed away in a safe while the others planned what to do with him. Or more bitterly, for what to use him. Because he had spent some time thinking about the night he lost Sirius. It hurt, damnably much, but he had thought about it if just to reason who was to blame. And he had remembered what the order had called him all last year. A weapon. Though most didn't know they were talking about him but there was no mistaking about it. Dumbledore had never come out and clearly said it to him but the others had repeated the headmaster's words out in the open.

He had heard them say how there was this weapon meant to be used against Voldemort, something that could destroy the dark lord and end this starting war. The weapon wasn't, misleadingly thought, the prophecy in the department of mysteries. Oh no, that was just a lead to who the weapon was and the instruction manual of how to use him.

Dumbledore had also let him understand that his coddling was finished. The headmaster, the man he had looked upto and trusted his life with, had said that he had made a mistake. A mistake to think that he, Harry, was a normal boy. A person who someone could love. Dumbledore had said he had seen his mistake and would correct it. Would stop loving him and start using him. It was all for the greater good.

However, and here was when Harry smirked to himself bitterly, he had already been used, hadn't he? Ever since his first year when Ron had suggested that Dumbledore had manipulated things to go the way they had gone, to the previous year when everybody had been controlled to such length that they had started fighting back. The pressure had been so heavy that they, the chess pieces, had begun to react instantly in order to get free. And Voldemort had used that. It wasn't a joke when Dumbledore had said that Riddle had been one of the brightest students ever.

o0o

Few hours later, just in time when he had managed to hit his frustrations away and open the window, Hedwig finally arrived.

"Where have you been at?" Harry demanded to know while he attacked to untie the two letters she was carrying. "I expected you back days ago."

Hedwig didn't seem to be in the mood for taking his accusations and sniped at his finger. Then she hooted obviously irritated and flapped her wings.

Harry got the impression that whatever had kept her had not been her fault. He looked at the letters and felt bad. "It's alright, Hedwig," he said. "I know you don't mess up deliveries. I was just worried. Last time this happened, you were injured. You're alright now?" He asked worried and reached to touch her. Needing to know that she was truly fine.

She was easily satisfied and cooed back happily but tired. Then she took off to her cage where after sipping some water, put her head under her wing and fell asleep.

Harry on the other hand was more worried. If it wasn't Hedwig's fault the letters were late then the order must have been busy to take this long to answer back. Not to mention that whatever it was, had affected his friends as well. Not for the first time he wished he was an avian animagus. That way he could've flown to London on his own and check up on things. No one would have needed to know. But as he wasn't, he turned back to the letters.

He ripped the first one open. It was short and not from Dumbledore as expected but from Professor McGonagall.

Mr. Potter,

It will take two more days to arrange a safe travel for you to your last summer's residence. You can assure your relatives that the wards around your home are fine by now and that they can have a safe holiday. I hope the schedule above is acceptable to you. You can expect your escorts at noon the day after tomorrow. Please be ready Harry.

Professor Minerva McGonagall

Your head of the house

It was absolutely uninformative. There was no hint to what was going on and no reason told why the letter had taken so long. He doubted his 'escort' last year had taken a week to plan. Then again, they had planned the silly competition to lure his relatives out of the way. And McGonagall had not mentioned who was coming to pick him up.

Frustrated, Harry tore into the second letter. He recognised the hasty scrawl on the front though it seemed to be even more messy than usual. It was from Ron and much in the same style as the previous letter. Short and evasive.

Hi Harry,

Everything's fine here though Hermione doesn't agree xxxxx. The place is a bit crowded and noisy but mostly the same. Everybody sends their 'Hello's and mum, Hermione and Ginny wanted to know how the muggles have been? They better have behaved themselves or they are more stupid than we thought!

I'm - We're in a bit of a rush writing this beca...xxxxxx I hear we'll see you soon and THEN we can fill you in, in everything.

Ron xxxx and Hermione

Harry easily imagined after all the interruptions and corrections how Hermione had been watching over Ron's shoulder while he wrote this, adding her input and opinions. They really must have been in a hurry if she had agreed to send the letter without rewriting it.

Both letters left him very uneasy and asking one question. What the hell was going on?