Disclaimer: Mine: Hatori Vears (you haven't met her yet)
Disclaimer: JKR's: Everything.
A/N: Please be kind.
Harry Potter and the Green Flame Torch
Harry, Ron and Hermione's fifth year at Hogwarts, as told by me.
Chapter 2: Going Home
Thump. Thump. Thump. Harry's trunk made the same dull noise on each step as he lugged it down the flight of stairs that separated his room and the front door.
He could smell a whiff of bacon sizzling in the kitchen and his stomach grumbled, as the miserable excuse for a dinner he'd had the night before hadn't been
nearly enough to satisfy it.
But Harry didn't care about that. Because, if Mr. Weasley and Ron were on time, Harry would be leaving for the Burrow in exactly (Harry checked his watch)
From the dining room, he could hear Aunt Petunia setting down silverware for the dinner party they would be throwing that night for Uncle Vernon's superiors
from work. And from the kitchen he could hear Uncle Vernon grumbling something about tourists over his newspaper, "...blasted people coming in and
overstaying their welcome," he muttered. And he followed up with a list of all the things he would do about them if he were in charge of things.
Harry grimaced. He could only imagine how Uncle Vernon would react when Harry told him that he, himself, was about to be visited by two very unwelcome
people. After the Weasley's visit last year, when a stray ton tongue toffee had enlarged Dudley's tongue to the size of a Christmas goose, Harry was sure the
reaction wouldn't be pleasant.
But as he pondered this, he found that the thought caused him as little concern as his empty stomach. Gone were the days when the Dursleys could frighten and
threaten him. The days when he hadn't had a convicted (though wrongly accused) murderer for a godfather. The days when he hadn't had a half-giant friend who
had given Dudley a pig's tail. The days when the most desperate desire of the most powerful dark wizard in history wasn't to see Harry dead.
No, he thought. Anything that had to do with the Dursleys, in fact, just didn't seem that important anymore.
He walked into the kitchen and passed right by Dudley, who, despite still being on his diet, was now dependent upon two chairs at once to support his weight as
he miserably picked at the quarter grapefruit that was his ration for the morning.
Harry stopped in front of Uncle Vernon and cleared his throat. Uncle Vernon grumbled, but did not look up. Not surprising, as this had been about the only
reaction Harry had gotten from Vernon and Petunia since he had returned from Hogwarts two months ago. Just like to the last month before Harry had made his
very first trek to Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station, the Dursley's way of dealing with Harry lately had been to simply ignore him and hope he would go
Harry wasn't entirely sure why this was, but he had his suspicions. This had started the day that a school owl had arrived with a letter from Hogwarts, reminding
his 'family' that he would be taking his Ordinary Wizarding Levels exams this year. And it was about this time when it had finally struck the Dursleys that Harry
was not a little boy anymore.
He was fifteen now. He was growing up. And Harry was sure it terrified the Dursleys to know that he only had three more years left at Hogwarts before he
would be a fully qualified wizard, allowed to do magic all year 'round. He suspected their remedy for the situation was to simply not think about it.
Well that was about to change. Because they would be thinking about it in a moment, whether they wanted to or not. Harry cleared his throat again. This was
followed by a long, uncomfortable silence. Until.... "What?" said Uncle Vernon's irritated voice from behind the newspaper. He sounded highly annoyed that
Harry was even there, let alone trying to get his attention.
"I just wanted to let you know," Harry said. "I'll be going to my friend Ron's house for the rest of the holiday."
Uncle Vernon grumbled something else and still did not look up. Harry took a deep breath. Here it comes, he thought.
"He and his dad are coming to pick me up."
There was a loud crash in the dining room that sounded very much like Aunt Petunia had dropped a lot of silverware on the hard wood floor. Simultaneously,
Uncle Vernon's pipe fell out of his mouth and into his bowl of cereal, splattering milk all over himself. Harry glanced over at Dudley, who was looking white as a
ghost as a large, slimy lump of grapefruit fell out of his open mouth.
Uncle Vernon stammered, "Those p-people... are c-c-coming here?.... Again?"
Uncle Vernon bolted for the dining room and said something in a low voice to Aunt Petunia. A moment later, she screamed bloody murder. Dudley shrieked in a
voice much more high pitched than the one Harry was used to. Then, clasping his mouth with both hands to protect his tongue, he waddled as fast as his pudgy
legs could carry him to join his parents. There was then a mad dash for the front door, which was held up when Dudley got stuck in it and Aunt Petunia had to
wedge him free with a large umbrella.
Uncle Vernon turned back to Harry and quickly blurted out, "Yes, well... we've got some business to attend to... ah... in the city, you know. Should take a few
hours. Er... I suppose you'll be gone before we're back?"
"All right then! Off we go!" Uncle Vernon spun around and sprinted for the car outside without even bothering to shut the door behind him. And Harry could
smell the stench of burning rubber as the Dursleys' sedan peeled out of the driveway.
Closing the door, Harry smiled a little. That had been rather fun. And lord knows he never had much of that when he was there.
Harry headed back into the kitchen and helped himself to the bacon that had begun to burn on the stove. Burnt bacon was better than nothing, and Harry was
He checked his watch again. Any minute now.
Minutes later, a loud honking noise coming from the driveway told Harry that Mr. Weasley and Ron were right on time. He jumped up from the table and ran to
the front door, throwing it open.
And there was Mr. Weasley, climbing out of a large, black car with license plates that read 'MNSTRY'. Harry stopped when he saw him. Mr. Weasley looked
quite different from the last time Harry had seen him. He looked older somehow. Thinner. And he had dark circles under his eyes. Harry thought back to Ron's
letter, which was now packed away in his trunk next to his Firebolt racing broom. He imagined Ron hadn't been exaggerating when he'd written that there had
been a lot going on in the magical world since Harry had last been up to speed.
Mr. Weasley greeted Harry with a warm smile when he saw him. At least that hadn't changed. "All right then, Harry?" he said.
"All right. Want to come in for a minute? There's some bacon left if you're hungry."
Mr. Weasley eyed the front door with a trace of apprehension. "That's all right. Wouldn't want to go upsetting your aunt and uncle again."
"No, it's okay. They already left."
Mr. Weasley frowned. "They didn't even wait to see you off then?"
"You sound surprised."
He shook his head and sighed. "No. I guess I'm not, at that. Still, we'd best be going. I only put the morning aside to come pick you up and I need to get back to
the Ministry. Need to bring this car back too."
"Right. I'll get my trunk."
Mr. Weasley helped Harry load his trunk and Hedwig's empty cage into the trunk of the car. Then Harry climbed into the front passenger seat. Suddenly, looking
at the two empty seats in the back, he realized something.
Mr. Weasely dropped into the driver's seat and shut the door. "Wanted to come, Harry, but he had some chores to do. Said he wanted to be done with them
before you got there."
Harry nodded as the car started and moved out of the driveway. He didn't look back. Instead, he looked at Mr. Weasley, who was quickly peering about in every
direction. He seemed to be checking to see if anyone was watching them. Probably not, Harry thought. Most people on Privet Drive liked to sleep in on
Saturday. The only exception being old Mrs. Figg who was always up with her cats at the crack of dawn. But unlike Aunt Petunia, she always kept her drapes
closed as she never seemed very interested in what went on outside her house.
Without a word, Mr. Weasley took out his wand. He pointed it at the dashboard and muttered a quick incantation. And then, the entire car vanished.
Harry chuckled. Mr. Weasley must have used the same spell he'd used on the car that Harry and Ron had flown into the Whomping Willow tree at Hogwarts,
three years ago. Then Mr. Weasley muttered another spell. And immediately, they lifted off the ground and shot into the sky.
He glanced over at Harry, looking a bit nervous all of a sudden. "I won't tell if you won't, Harry."
Harry nodded and said nothing. That was so Mr. Weasley. Well, he certainly wouldn't spill to anyone about Ron's father's association with another invisible,
flying car. He'd felt guilty enough after his and Ron's airborne journey to Hogwarts and subsequent crash in the first one had gotten Mr. Weasley into trouble.
"Had to do it the hard way this time," he said. "I'm just borrowing this car from the Ministry, so I couldn't... er, fix it up like the last one. I'd appreciate it if you
didn't mention this to Molly. I didn't want to have another row with your aunt and uncle by using floo powder again and this was the fastest way to get here."
"That's all right. They don't have the fireplace anymore anyway. They had it taken out after, er...."
Mr. Weasley surprised Harry by chuckling, just a little. "Suppose we can't really blame them for that, now can we?"
Harry smiled as he remembered the Weasley's visit last year when they'd had to blow apart the electric fireplace to get out of it, making a giant mess of the living
room and scaring at least ten years off Uncle Vernon. "I guess not."
Then there was a pause in the conversation. Mr. Weasley looked suddenly uncomfortable. It looked to Harry that he was thinking very carefully about what to
say next. Then.... "Have a good holiday?" he blurted out rather quickly.
Harry grimaced. "About the same as usual, I suppose."
There was another uncomfortable silence. This time it was Harry who broke it. "So. I got a letter from Ron last night. He said that a lot of big stuff's been going
on. But he didn't say what."
Mr. Weasley's cheek muscle gave a noticeable twitch. "Yes. Quite a lot, actually. And none of it good."
There was yet another uncomfortable silence. Harry leaned forward, frowning. Surely, Mr. Weasley wasn't going to cut him off like that. He had to tell Harry
now. He was about to say something, himself, when Mr. Weasley took a deep breath and continued. "A lot of people are afraid, Harry- the ones who know, at
least. And that's not as many as you'd think. Just about everyone's heard the rumors that... that You-Know-Who is back. But most of them think they're just that.
Mr. Weasley looked deadly serious. Harry felt unnerved by this. The only time he had seen Mr. Weasley looking like that was when the Death Eaters had
attacked the Quidditch World Cup last year.
"They think that since there hasn't been anything in the newspapers, or on the Wizard's Wireless Network, and since the Ministry hasn't said anything, then--"
Harry cut him off, "--there isn't anything to say."
"Thanks to Fudge." Mr. Weasley frowned. "It hasn't been easy, Harry. I won't lie to you. We've been trying to spread the word that this is really happening.
But... not many people want to believe--" Mr. Weasley stopped short and winced. He looked like speaking that last sentence had caused him actual, physical
pain. He turned his head and looked out the driver's side window for a moment. It made Harry wonder if there was something Mr. Weasley wasn't telling him.
But he decided not to press the issue. There were still other things he wanted to know.
"Doesn't anyone believe us?"
Looking grateful that Harry had not asked him about what had just happened, Mr. Weasley went on. "Oh, yes. There are some people. Fudge isn't all that
respected by everyone at the Ministry. There are some people we've convinced with Dumbledore's help. And yours."
"Mine?" Harry asked; confused. "But I haven't done anything."
"You were there, Harry," said Mr. Weasley firmly. "You saw it happen. You told Dumbledore the whole story and he trusts you. And Dumbledore's trust still
means a lot to some people. Enough that we've got some sway now. Not a lot, mind you. But enough to allow Dumbledore to work some magic of his own. He
wouldn't say what it was exactly. Just that it made it safe for you to come stay with us for the rest of the holiday."
Harry smiled, but it faded quickly. "I'm still surprised anyone believes him. What with Fudge covering the whole thing up."
A snarl curled up Mr. Weasley's mouth. But when he spoke, his voice was quite controlled. "Well, there was also Barty Crouch Jr's dead body to consider when
it should have been buried at Azkaban over a decade ago. Fudge had quite a time explaining away that one. And then... Cedric Diggory."
That was another name Harry had been trying not to think about. But he couldn't do it now. He felt his chest tighten, making it difficult to talk. But he managed
to get the words out. "How are his parents doing?"
Mr. Weasley sighed. "Not well, I'm afraid. I talked to Amos last week. He's putting up a good front, but I know he's still... and his poor wife. She hasn't been
talking much at all."
Now it was Harry's turn to look away. Mr. Weasley reached over and squeezed his shoulder. Harry took a deep breath.
This was accompanied by yet another one of those uncomfortable moments of silence Harry was getting so accustomed to.
"Are you sure you want to--"
"--Yes. Tell me."
Mr. Weasley furrowed his brow. "It's not good, Harry."
"Seems like not much is lately." Harry's voice was very quiet now. "What is it?"
Mr. Weasley took in a sharp breath. "It's the dementors. They've disappeared from Azkaban."
Harry went white. He had been expecting to hear this ever since the night Voldemort had returned, but it didn't make the news any easier to take. He shivered
and tugged on the sleeves of Dudley's worn flannel shirt.
"The Lestranges, too," Mr. Weasley went on. "Fudge is keeping it all quiet, of course."
Harry looked at Mr. Weasley, who nodded knowingly. "Dumbledore told us you knew who they were- beasts. I remember the days when they were free. They
were two of the worst of You-Know-Who's lot. Inhuman people, Harry -- torturers. They did horrible things to so many people, those two. Most cases, the
Ministry could never prove it was them, though. Except for the time they were caught in the act."
Harry remembered that very well. He had seen it in the Pensieve in Dumbledore's office, one night last year. They had been caught torturing the parents of
Neville Longbottom, a boy in Harry's own class at Hogwarts. The Longbottoms had been permanently scarred -- left insane from the pain of the Cruciatus curse-
a pain Harry was all too familiar with. And when face-to-face with a life sentence in Azkaban, the Lestranges hadn't even tried to deny it. In fact, they'd
beenproud of it.
That was what scared Harry the most.
"I remember their trial," said Mr. Weasley. "Listened to it, broadcasted on the WWN- talking about how they'd just bide their time and how You-Know-Who
would rise again and come for them. Everyone thought they were insane."
Harry felt ill all of a sudden. His stomach churned and he wished he hadn't eaten that bacon after all. "I suppose they knew something we didn't," he said in a
very quiet voice.
No, he thought. Ron's letter had not been exaggerating at all.
Harry turned to look out the window again. He didn't talk for the rest of the trip.
NEXT: "Ten Things I Hate About Percy," by Ron Weasely.