(Disclaimer: Harry Potter and any other characters from the Harry Potter series of books are not my characters, I just borrowed them for the purposes of this story. I don't plan to make any money with this story, and I don't want to print it either, except for personal backup purposes. The other characters however are mine, and I'll do with them as I please. Although I'm going to do that with JK's characters too I guess, but yeah, don't sue me.)
Harry was walking beside the Hogwarts lake, wearing dress robes of all things, looking for something. He didn't know what the something was, he just knew that it was really important, and that if he didn't find it soon, he'd lose it forever. It was a strange feeling, like knowing that you have to find a certain puzzle piece, and that the rest of the pieces will just slot in afterwards. Spurred on by this unknown sense of urgency, Harry broke into a run, and sprinted along the side of the lake, chasing the threads of sense that were just beyond his vision.
He never tired, no matter how fast he ran, and after what felt like half an hour Harry saw something in the distance, and as he ran even faster, he could feel the wind in his hair, hear the birds in the trees, he could even smell something both unknown and utterly fascinating at the same time… if asked, Harry would say he was somewhere close to heaven. Nobody asked though, and Harry didn't see a single person on his run, even though he tried his hardest to catch up with the unknown entity that always seemed to be just out of his line of sight.
So Harry just kept running.
When Harry awoke that morning he felt incredibly well rested, and he realised straight away that it was later than usual, and that for some reason he'd slept through his relative's normal morning routine. He remembered little of his dream, he just knew that he'd been looking for something or someone at Hogwarts lake, and that he never found whatever or whoever it was.
At least I'm having my own dreams now, or else Voldemort has gone off the deep end. Well, I guess he's already gone off the deep end. So he'd probably have gone off the shallow end if that's what he's thinking about. The mental images of Voldemort having a change of heart, and suddenly giving out free sweets, made Harry chuckle. He sobered quickly enough when he thought of the prophecy though. True, that scenario would make things easier for Harry, he wouldn't have any reason to kill Voldemort then, but it was never going to happen. Harry knew that he would one day meet Voldemort for the last time. He thought about what the prophecy said he must do. What does it mean by 'vanquish'? Why not just say 'defeat' or 'kill'… Why vanquish? No matter how hard he thought about it, he couldn't think of an explanation. I'll ask Dumbledore the next time I see him, he did say he would tell me more. I just don't want to be a murderer if I get through this! Is it murdering to kill a dark lord? While thinking this, Harry stared out of the window at the blue sky above Privet Drive, and he was surprised to see that Hedwig was making her way gracefully over towards his bedroom window, as she usually arrived earlier in the day. Harry continued his thought train as he quickly got dressed and opened his window for Hedwig to fly through.
Well every time I've met Voldemort, he's tried to kill me first. It's not like I set out to ruin his plans in particular. All that just happened! The tournament… he was the one that wanted to try and finish what he started, but will knowing what I'm supposed to do now change things the next time he tries to kill me? If I do manage to kill him, will the fact that I knew I was the only person who could, make me a murderer? Even if it's right for the world to live in peace, is it right to plan to kill another person? That's what I'm doing by getting all these books. I'm planning to kill Voldemort.
At that moment Hedwig came soaring through the open window with three letters tied to her leg., and with another two mice, a live one hanging by its tail from Hedwig's beak, and a dead mouse clutched in her talons. She settled on Harry's desk, and held the leg with the mouse and letters attached out first.
"What have you brought Hedwig? Three letters again! I'm popular. Why have you brought me two mice girl?"
At this question Hedwig turned her gaze towards the box that had the dead mouse from the night before still in it.
"Oh Hedwig, I almost forgot about Shara's mouse! Thank you for reminding me!" Hedwig bobbed her head in acknowledgement and stood patiently as Harry detached the various letters and animals from her. The live mouse was placed in Hedwig's cage, and the snowy white owl shook her head at Harry, and motioned that she would prefer the dead one.
"Are you sure girl? I don't think Shara would mind if you had it." Again, Hedwig shook her head and gestured towards the dead mouse, so Harry placed the dead mouse inside Hedwig's cage, and put the live mouse in a separate box rather than with the dead one from the previous night.
"There you go girl, as long as you're happy, you can have whatever you want. I don't mind. I really appreciate you carrying my letters. It's the only thing I have to look forward to here. I really should go and give these to Shara. Enjoy your mouse!" Hedwig ruffled Harry's hair with her wing as she glided from the desk to her cage, and seeing that she was happy, Harry left his room.
Harry cautiously listened at the top of the stairs for any sign of activity, but all he could hear was his Aunt making something in the kitchen, and Dudley watching television. He'd noticed earlier when he opened his window that the car wasn't in the driveway, so his Uncle had already left for work. Harry casually walked down the stairs, with a bit more confidence than he usually would have dared to show in the Dursley household, and walked into the kitchen.
Aunt Petunia was preparing a casserole, and Harry could see that she'd also kept some breakfast aside on a plate.
"Oh you're awake Harry dear! I didn't want to disturb you, you looked so tired yesterday! I saved you some breakfast, sit down at the table and I'll bring it over for you. Would you like a drink?"
"Er, just a glass of orange juice please Aunt Petunia."
This is how a normal family is. I bet if my parents were alive my Mum would save me breakfast. I just have to remember that it's not real. He couldn't help adding I wish it was to the end of that thought though.
Harry ate his breakfast in silence, his Aunt tried talking to him a few times but Harry just nodded, shook his head, or shrugged, depending on which would fit best. In all honesty, he didn't have a clue what to say back.
After he'd finished, Harry cleared away his breakfast things, and headed towards the back door.
"Harry, remember I'm taking you shopping for new clothes today, we'll be leaving at 12:30. Please make sure you're ready for then, ok?" Harry nodded, and then went out into the garden to look for Shara.
"Shara? Are you there?" There was no reply, so Harry moved towards the bush that he'd seen her disappear into the day before.
"Shara? Can you hear me?" A few seconds later, Harry heard rustling from inside the bush, and he heard,
"Is that you Harry?"
"Yes Shara it's Harry, I found you two mice!"
There was more rustling, and then Harry saw Shara's little green head poke out from under the bush.
"You found me two mice Harry?"
"Yes Shara, my owl hunts mice all the time, and she brought me a dead one last night, and a live one this morning for you." Harry replied.
"You should thank your owl from me, I love mice! I was supposed to eat two days ago, but I was too tired to catch little mousey… can I please have the dead one? I may be able to catch the live one if I eat the dead one first. Here little dead mousey!"
"Of course Shara, here you go." Harry took the box with the dead mouse in it out of his pocket, and tipped the mouse onto the ground just in front of the bush where Shara seemed to have taken up residence.
"Thankssss..." Shara trailed off as soon as her tongue picked up the scent of blood on the mouse, and Harry looked away as she swallowed the mouse whole. He didn't mind giving the little snake food, but sitting there watching as the little mouse disappeared into Shara's jaws would have been a bit much. It was bad enough having to put it in the box the night before, as Hedwig usually ate her meals outside, or deposited them in her cage to be eaten later. Even then Harry always looked away. He wasn't going to ask Hedwig to always eat her mice outside though, Harry knew what his Aunt and Uncle were like, and therefore it was possible that the poor owl wouldn't get to go hunting for days, and Harry would have to sneak her some of the food he was given. Hedwig was a very smart owl, and always had a spare mouse on hand in case the Dursleys were particularly cruel, and she always tried to hide her mice behind her perch, so that Harry wouldn't have to see them every time he looked over. She even carried the remains out with her when she was finished.
Once Shara was finished her meal, she hissed her pleasure, and when Harry looked round there was a lump on the little snake that wasn't there before.
"Is that better little snake?" asked Harry.
"Very much so Harry, very much so indeed! Already I can feel the tiredness leaving me… although… could you please hold on to little mousey for a while, as I don't think I could fit any more." While she was speaking, Shara had retreated slightly into the bush, far enough for her to be difficult to see, but not so far as to remove herself completely from the path of the sun's rays.
"Of course Shara, I prefer not to be carrying dead mice around with me anyway. Although, I'm not sure which one smelled worse!" said Harry, screwing up his nose.
"They both smell like dinner to me! The live ones are far more fun in my opinion, there's nothing like chasing a little mousey through the grass, and catching it between your jaws, and then letting the juices flow! I will eat you later little mousey! Run as fast as you like, I don't mind chasing you..." said Shara, her head swaying from side to side as she digested her latest meal, and contemplated her next one.
"Shara, I thought snakes only had to eat one mouse every few days? I'm sure that's what they said when I was at the zoo, and those snakes were much bigger than you." Harry was sitting cross legged in the grass by now, his hands picking out single blades of green and twirling them in his fingers, and then discarding them to the side when they became limp.
"Thanks for reminding me of my inadequate size! Just because I am small doesn't mean I don't have feelings you know. Those snakes hardly need to move, it's not like they have much space. Humans think we don't eat much, but neither would they if they were stuck in a cage! I have a friend that lives in lots of trees and bushes near here; he used to live in a zoo, until a little wizard set him free. He said the glass vanished, and he got out while he could. He told me… but then you wouldn't be interested in what he said. The main point is that he eats like mice are going to run out!" and at that, Shara looked as outraged as a snake ever possibly could, and rested her head on her rather dirty looking green coils.
"I'm sorry if I offended you! I'm considered to be small among humans too. The snake you mentioned… I might know him. Is he around six feet long, and a brownish colour?" asked Harry curiously. It would be nice to see the boa again.
"Don't be silly Harry! Snakes don't have six feet! See? I don't have any feet. I thought you would know what a foot looks like, considering you have two of them! Anyway, yes he is long, and I would say brownish was about right. How do you know him?" Replied Shara, seemingly having forgotten the supposed slight on her size.
"Well Shara, if I'm right, then I would be the wizard that set him free. I didn't mean feet as in these feet-" Harry stuck his foot out "-I meant feet as in a measurement of distance. Like, from here to the house I would say it's about forty five feet," said Harry.
"Oh right. I'm glad, because I didn't think you were stupid when I met you, and usually I'm pretty good with telling whether or not humans are stupid. I see things that humans try to hide," said Shara, flicking dry dirt around with her tail.
"What do you mean Shara? You can tell how smart a person is?"
"No Harry, just whether or not they are sincere. Whether or not they mean what they say. Last moon I sensed that someone was lying, but that's new. I haven't had much opportunity since then to explore that sense. I knew that you would come back with a mouse, because your words were those of a human who does what they say they're going to do. Lots of humans say things they don't mean. When I mistook your meaning for feet, I sensed that you were sincere in your words, so they took on a different meaning, so I am not always correct, you see. A lot is interpretation, but I am young. Mother said I would learn in time," said Shara, as if she was merely stating the weather for the next day. This was all news to Harry, he had never heard of a snake that could sense people's intentions before. That ability could be useful, if Shara was willing.
"Wow Shara, you're a very smart snake for being able to read humans so easily. I wish I could do the same! Do you still see your mother sometimes?" asked Harry.
"I used to go back sometimes. Mother taught me lots of things. The knowledge is there but it's locked away until I need it. She said I am a very special snake, and that it's not every one of her young that she shared her knowledge with. She said I was different. She once told me that if I chose the correct path, I could do great things for all snakes!" Shara replied proudly, and her entire body seemed to take on a regal pose, which was ruined slightly by the big bulge in her midsection.
"Fascinating! I would like to speak to her someday, she sounds very nice. Maybe your mother was right, you have chosen to come with me to Hogwarts, maybe that is what she meant."
"Maybe Harry. I would like to speak to her again someday too, but the last time I went back, she was gone. I don't know where she is, she was just gone. I would like to rest now Harry, but please come and talk to me again, I like you. You're a nice two-leg," said Shara, and indeed, the little snake did look tired.
"No problems Shara, I will leave you to rest. I don't know when I will be able to come and see you again, because my relatives are acting strange towards me, but I will try to come often. I like you too, you're a nice no-leg," Harry said, with a big smile on his face. There was a lot of hissing from Shara, which Harry took to be laughter, and as he got up and walked away he heard her say,
"Funny little two-leg! Yes, he is the one. I like him."
When Harry got to the door, he turned and looked for Shara under what he'd begun to refer to in his mind as Shara's 'hidey-hole', and he could just make out a little green lump, and Shara's head once again settling down on her coils, presumably for a nap, or whatever snakes did to rest. Harry was puzzled about her last sentence, but those thoughts were quickly driven from his mind as his Aunt came towards him with yet another plate of food as soon as he stepped in the door.
"Harry dear, you should really eat more, you're far too thin! Here's some sandwiches, I just finished making them. You're just in time actually, I was about to call you in! DUDLEY! LUNCH! Now you just sit here, what would you like to drink? I'll get you a chocolate éclair from the fridge too, since there is an extra one. Let me know if you like it, and I'll make sure we have extra more often! Now, here's your sandwiches, What did you say you'd like to drink? We have apple juice, orange juice, pepsi, lemonade, blackcu-"
"Orange juice would be fine, thank you Aunt Petunia," replied Harry.
"That's fine dear, I'll bring it out in a moment! DUDLEY! LUNCH! NOW!"
Aunt Petunia almost ran into the kitchen in her haste to get Harry his orange juice. The Dursleys were acting ridiculous in Harry's opinion, but he wasn't going to mention it and risk being locked up and starved again, so he dutifully picked up a sandwich and started nibbling on it. He'd just finished his first triangle of sandwich as Dudley sat down at the table across from him and picked up his own triangle.
"Hey freak, just because Mum and Dad have decided to be nice to you doesn't mean that I will be, and if you tell them, I'll pound your face in." Dudley said through a mouthful of sandwich.
"Look Dudley, I'm only here for a few weeks, I don't care if you go out and smoke pot round your friend's houses when you're supposed to be out 'studying', and I don't care if you sneak vodka from Uncle Vernon's drinks cabinet and top it up with water, and I particularly don't care that you got arrested last week for trying to steal an old woman's handbag, but I think your parents will. All I want is to be left alone and to be allowed to eat. It's not really much to ask, when you think about it. Is it Dudley?" Harry allowed himself to smirk across the table at his cousin, meanwhile Dudley's face had gone white as a sheet, and his sandwich was now a messy pulp in his fat left hand, and his eyes were almost falling out of his face.
"You sneaky fuck. You backstabbing little freak! You wouldn't dare. They wouldn't believe you. How do you know anyway?" spat Dudley, once he'd regained his composure a little.
"It's amazing what you can do with a little bit of magic Dudley, and do you really want to risk them finding out? Do you really think they're stupid enough not to believe what's been right in front of their noses the whole time? You might not have noticed, but this house revolves around me while I'm here. You get nice presents because I don't. You get to stay out late because I don't. Everything you have, you have because I don't. Do you see now Dudley? They will believe me now, because they have to. Now leave me alone, and nothing will come of this. Annoy me, and I'll make sure your parents know everything you do outside this house, including that girl!"
"You wouldn't- no, you can't- how dare you! You can't do this!" Whispered Dudley nervously, glancing towards the kitchen, where he knew his mother would be emerging from shortly, probably laden with tasty treats for the two boys.
"Like I said Dudley, you play fair, and I'll keep my mouth shut. Simple. Now do you agree or should I prepare my speech now?" said Harry coldly, not letting any emotion show in his face. Dudley blanched, and quickly whispered his agreement across the table, moments before Aunt Petunia came out of the kitchen with the two biggest bowls of ice cream Harry had ever seen in the Dursley household. Fortescue did bigger bowls, but not many people were brave enough to even try those, and Harry had never personally seen one. He'd seen a picture though, and boy was it impressive.
Harry quickly ate what he could and gulped down his juice, as Aunt Petunia rushed round the house, setting things straight before she took Harry out shopping.
"Now Dudley, you said you were going to Piers' house this afternoon, didn't you pumpkin?" Dudley nodded.
"Ah good, well can you ask nicely if you can stay for tea, I'm taking Harry out for some new clothes, as he's ruined his other ones. We might be back late, and I don't want my Diddydinkums starving!"
"Okay Mum," said Dudley, and he stole a quick nervous glance at Harry before saying goodbye, and dashing out of the front door as quickly as his weight would allow.
Harry and his Aunt Petunia left the house soon afterwards, and headed towards the nearest bus stop that would take them into town. They only had to wait about 5 minutes before the correct bus came, and Harry headed towards an empty seat at the back of the bus so that he would be able to see people boarding. He doubted Voldemort or his Death Eaters would be waiting for him at a muggle bus stop, but he'd learned to be a little paranoid. As long as I don't end up like Moody! Harry thought to himself as his Aunt sat on the seat in front of him, and the bus moved off.
Within ten minutes, the bus arrived at the closest shopping centre, which Harry recognised from when he was five, and the school nurse had demanded that his relatives buy him some glasses. It had expanded since then, and at some point a multi-storey car park had been added too. Harry could tell that a lot of the shops had changed in those ten years, and he was now looking forward to taking a look round some of them, if he could convince his Aunt he'd be alright for 10 minutes while she had a cup of tea. He hadn't brought any of his own money with him because it was mostly in galleons, and what little muggle money he had, he wanted to keep in case there was an emergency. It was well past time that the Dursleys spent some money on him anyway.
The first shop Aunt Petunia took him to was a large department store, which seemed to stock all kinds of clothing, from underwear to shoes, and there was even a small sports section at the back.
"I'll go look in the ladies section, I need a new dress for entertaining our guests on Tuesday, go find yourself a few pairs of trousers, and some t-shirts and jumpers too. Don't worry about cost, this shop seems to price things fairly. Come and find me when you are done," and with that, Aunt Petunia disappeared into the maze of stands that were the ladies section.
The men's section wasn't nearly as cramped, and Harry had no trouble finding two pairs of normal jeans that actually fit him, two pairs of nice black trousers that were made of a soft shimmery material, and a pair of shorts for the really hot days. He also picked up some underwear while he had the chance, since even his underwear was second hand. I'll be glad to be rid of these horrible rags, thought Harry as he looked down at his present attire in disgust. He chose a black woollen jumper with a turtleneck, and decided that since he liked it so much he'd get the one they had in green too. Harry also managed to find some t-shirts that didn't have anything too stupid written on them, and he just had to add two t-shirts that he particularly liked, but had slogans. One said, "It's rude to stare", and the other had "Boy Wonder" across the front. Not many people would understand why he found the second one so funny, but he hoped his friends would, or at least Hermione. Most people would think he was just showing off. He saw one that had "Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon" and decided that he should also add that one, as it was his school's motto. It had a rather oriental looking dragon printed on the front and back. The dragon's head was on the shoulder, with the dragon's body on the back, and its tail curling around the front again. He though the dragon might be a bit much, but then thought about what the other students at Hogwarts wore, and decided it wasn't bad at all.
Harry walked through the ladies section looking for his Aunt, blushing madly as he quickly walked through the ladies underwear, and he spotted his Aunt in a section full of evening dresses.
"Aunt Petunia, I'm done now." Harry stated.
"Hold on dear, I've narrowed it down to two dresses. What do you have there?"
Aunt Petunia quickly gave Harry enough money to cover the cost of his clothes, and told him to go and pay, and that she would either be beside the dresses, or in the changing rooms. Harry heard her muttering as he walked away towards the tills.
"Quicker than I expected, and hasn't cleaned us out either. Same with the food earlier. Strange boy. It's not normal, I tell you!"
Harry didn't know whether or not to take that as a compliment, but in the end he decided not to, since they were just playing a game with him until he went back to school. He'd play along if he had to, but he'd much rather they just left him alone. He wanted to be around people who liked him for who he was, and he knew by experience that the Dursleys couldn't care less. Even if he was unsure about whether or not Dumbledore cared about him, at least at Hogwarts he had Ron and Hermione, and now Ginny too. Of course, there were people at Hogwarts who would rather see the back of him, but Hogwarts was large enough that as long as he had his friends, he could be happy.
Harry paid for the clothes he'd picked up, and as the salesgirl was putting his purchases into a large plastic bag, he noticed that there was an assortment of baseball caps and beanie hats on the wall behind her. After all his purchases had been rung up, there was still twenty pounds left, so Harry bought himself a black beanie hat, and a red baseball cap. He figured that with all the Gryffindors out there wearing red hats, he wouldn't really be noticed. As an afterthought he also bought a blue cap, since people wouldn't expect Harry Potter to wear Ravenclaw colours.
Feeling pretty pleased with himself, Harry once again went to search for his Aunt in the dress section, and met her halfway to the tills. She'd settled on an elegant grey dress with black trims, which Harry thought wasn't too bad, seeing as his Aunt Petunia had a habit of buying dresses with big ugly flowers all over them.
"What do you think Harry? Your Uncle is trying to sign a new customer, and he's invited the CEO of the company over for dinner, and he's bringing his wife. From what I've heard, they're rather strange, but can't complain… very enthusiastic Vernon said…"
"Err, it's nice Aunt Petunia. Very um… Elegant. I'm not really the best person to ask. The lady behind the counter would know more than me," floundered Harry, trying his best not to seem rude. Dresses were not his thing. In his opinion, it was the girl that made the dress, and no dress on Earth would fix his Aunt's aesthetic problems.
"Oh good! I think elegant is the safest bet for this customer… I just need to find shoes, but we'll be going to the shoe shop anyway since yours are falling apart at the seams."
Harry looked down at his rather worn trainers, which were grey when he'd gotten them in the first place. His right big toe was sticking out of a small hole, and he'd noticed that they'd been letting in water for a few months now. It would be nice to have some new shoes of his own, since his relative's were feeling so generous.
"Sorry Aunt Petunia."
The shoe shop was only a little further along the row of shops, and after figuring out what size he was, it didn't take long for Harry to settle on a pair of black boots, that looked like they'd last a while. They were really comfortable too, as it turned out that Harry had been wearing trainers that were far too wide, and a size too small. When Aunt Petunia saw them, she approved and sent Harry off to pay for them while she chose some shoes to match her dress. Harry waited outside the shop for his Aunt, who came out five minutes later, apparently having found something suitable.
"You're going to get a decent pair of trainers as well, since knowing you, you'll probably end up in some trouble before long, and need something a bit better than boots to run in." Aunt Petunia said as she came up to him.
Harry had personally never been in a dangerous situation where he'd had the time to stop and change his footwear, but again, he wasn't going to turn down a free pair of trainers. If the boots were that comfortable, then the trainers would be luxury.
"Okay, thanks Aunt Petunia."
Harry and his Aunt Petunia made their way to the sports shop which was a bit further into the shopping centre, as Harry subconsciously looked at the people around him to see if he recognised any witches or wizards in the crowds. They had an uncanny knack of choosing just the right clothes to make them stand out to everyone, it was just lucky that the muggles truly had no idea about their world at all, and that most of them were passed off as eccentric. Every now and again, in the Daily Prophet, there would be an article about how some prominent witch or wizard was mistakenly taken to a lunatic asylum by the muggles, and how they would just apparate out of the building as soon as they had two minutes by themselves. They generally thought it was quite funny, as they saw the muggles as naïve, and didn't realise how far they'd advanced. There was one case where the wizard apparating had been caught on a security camera, but luckily a ministry squad had sorted out that mess.
Once inside the sports shop Aunt Petunia led Harry to the men's trainer section.
"Right Harry, I'm going to give you a little more of an allowance in here. After all, you'll need clothes to properly train in. I want you to start doing some running in the mornings, we'll put you in for swimming, and a martial arts class too. The fitter you are, the easier it will be to defend both yourself and your family - and friends if it comes to that. So get yourself a decent pair of trainers that will give you the biggest advantage over the Death Eaters. Get yourself some running and swimming things too, martial arts provide their outfits as far as I know."
Now right there, his Aunt had hit the nail on the head. Harry wasn't stupid, and he'd been waiting for his Aunt to mention defending the family since they'd left that afternoon. He tried not to get angry, as he'd been expecting it all along, instead he thought of his friends, and how hopefully right now some sort of plan was forming to come and get him. If not, it was only five more weeks until Hogwarts was open. Instead of making a scene and shouting at his Aunt, which was what Harry wanted to do, he calmed himself down, and thought about the fact that he hadn't had so many new clothes in his life, ever.
"That sounds fine Aunt Petunia."
Once back at Hogwarts, none of this would matter. Or at least that's what kept Harry level headed enough to actually choose some decent clothes. It would also be nice not to have damp feet when it rained. Martial arts actually sounded fun too. That's it Harry, calm down. Choose your clothes, go back, sit out five more weeks at most, and then it's off to Hogwarts!
Harry chose some Nike Air running shoes, that had some sort of air bubble inside them that made Harry's feet sigh in relief as he walked, some tracksuit bottoms and shorts for running in, and a couple of sleeveless tops. Once everything was paid for, Aunt Petunia suggested they head towards a café for a bite to eat, and so they ended up in a place called McDonalds, which Harry had heard about but never been to. He learned two things whilst there; one, he was going to teach the elves at Hogwarts how to make these Big Mac's, and two, the fries really weren't all that. He had no idea why the house-elves didn't make more muggle types of food, but at a guess he would say that it was because of ignorance at what they could offer.
On their way out of the shop, Harry saw a reflection in the glass door that made him stop and throw his arm out to the side so that his Aunt didn't walk out.
"Shhhh," said Harry.
Harry's wand was up his sleeve as it usually was, and he'd worn his new trainers out of the sports shop, but unfortunately Aunt Petunia was wearing a pair of heels that really were not suitable for running.
"Aunt Petunia, we have to sneak out the back, out of the staff doors. I know it's not allowed, but there are three wizards and witches with black cloaks, with wands in their hands, and their hoods up. They don't seem to care about fitting in, so I'm guessing they mean business." Harry whispered quietly, out of the side of his mouth, so that only his Aunt could hear his words. Aunt Petunia in turn grabbed Harry's arm, and started leading him casually towards where the toilets and staff doors were.
"I know this place quite well Harry, Dudley has sneaked out on me more times than I can count, and I followed him once so I know which way the staff exit is. Did any of them see you?" said Aunt Petunia.
"I don't think so; they were keeping watch on the front of the shop, like someone had tipped them off. They might think it odd that the door opened and closed with nobody coming out though, so we better hurry."
There was silence after that, and Aunt Petunia led them through the back of the shop and out onto the delivery bays. Harry took a look around, and not seeing anyone or anything out of place, Harry and his Aunt made their way to the nearest taxi rank. They got into the first taxi that was conveniently parked there, and gave him the address.
"Four Privet Drive please, and we're in a hurry. I don't mind paying extra, we just need to get there urgently."
Harry hoped that the Death Eaters still thought they were in McDonalds, since they could easily apparate and block off the street before theirs, which would make it a lot more difficult to get back.
It took five minutes to get back to Privet Drive, and nothing was amiss.
"Lets get inside Aunt Petunia, there are a couple of things I need to do now."
Aunt Petunia nodded sharply, and carrying a few bags, she walked as fast as her shoes would allow, and disappeared into the house while Harry brought the rest of the bags, which were all his anyway. Mine.
Once inside the house, Harry put his bags upstairs and started unpacking his new things into drawers, at the same time trying to think of a way to communicate with Dumbledore without leaving the house. Mrs Figg's was out, as the Death Eaters may still appear nearby, hoping to catch them before they got home. Hedwig would take too long, and the only other way Harry could think of to get in touch with the old professor, was by phoenix mail, but he didn't know how to call Fawkes. He'd called him once before, in the Chamber of Secrets, but Dumbledore had said something about showing loyalty… That didn't really apply this time. Therefore, Harry decided to keep it simple.
"Fawkes!" Harry said firmly. Nothing happened.
"Fawkes! I need to get an urgent message to professor Dumbledore, and I know you're a smart Phoenix, so if you can hear me, please answer!"
Harry sat down on his bed and put his head on his knees. Why do these things always happen to me? Oh yeah, it's because I lived when I should have died. Well seeing as I don't know what it's like to be dead, I'll just see how far this life takes me, and see what happens.
Suddenly, there was a bright red flash of flame, and Fawkes appeared on the bed next to Harry, and looked down apologetically at the burn mark on Harry's bedcovers that had appeared at the same time. Harry's eyes widened, and not caring about the burn mark, he jumped off his bed, ran over to his desk and started scribbling on a piece of parchment.
"Sorry to keep you waiting Fawkes, if I'd known it would work, I would have written a letter already! I only tried because I couldn't think of any other way to reach Professor Dumbledore."
Fawkes just tilted his head, and glided onto Harry's shoulder, and started what Harry could only describe as humming. Both as barmy as each other, thought Harry. At least they're well suited.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
My Aunt and I went shopping earlier today, and I saw three Death Eaters reflected in a shop door. We managed to sneak out through the back of the shop, and we got a taxi straight home. We just got back and we're safe now, but I think I need to understand exactly what this protection does, and who it applies to.
If Uncle Vernon thinks I'm putting them in more danger after this, I'm not sure how long they'll let me stay. They've been acting really strange. I need to be able to explain all of this to them, but I can't unless I know the facts myself.
Harry folded up his letter to Dumbledore, put it in an envelope, and gave it to Fawkes.
"I'm sorry to use you as a messenger, but it's important that Professor Dumbledore gets this. You really are a beautiful Phoenix you know."
Fawkes bowed his head to Harry, and disappeared in a flash of flame. Harry turned around and left his room to go and speak to his Aunt. What he didn't notice however, was the shining golden feather coated in a pearly substance that Fawkes had left behind, which was now floating lazily down to the ground. Low voices could just be heard from downstairs, and the unseen guardian rose from her customary position next to Harry's bed, and walked across the room. She slowly bent down, and as if she was handling a newborn baby, she gently lifted the glistening feather from where it had rested on the ground.
"Harry my boy, you have no idea just how lucky you are. I'll keep this safe until you know what to do with it, or else you'll turn it into a quill or something."
Saera straightened, and smiling to herself, she traced a pattern in the air, and disappeared through the newly created portal, only to return a few seconds later.
"Although, I don't envy him. He needs all the luck he can get. Imagine! Forcing a child to do an elders work! He deserves some tools along the way. Such a nice boy, I do hope he succeeds, I'd miss him if he passed on."
That said, Saera sat back down in her transparent chair, brought a transparent book out of her pocket, and settled down to read.
(A/N: I know it's been a while, but here's a nice long chapter. I know it drags on a bit, but I'm one of these people that reads extremely fast and is disappointed when details are missed, so my writing will be the same way. I'll give my readers every advantage I can to help them understand my thoughts and ideas, because I get the feeling that by the end of this story, a lot of the smaller details, especially about Harry's emotions, will come together for the ultimate ending. Things will pick up around his birthday, and that's all the clues you're getting! Feel free to let me know what you think!)