The Sugar Quill
Author: Dark Princess  Story: Harry Potter and the End of All Things  Chapter: Chapter Three: Friends and Nightmares
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: Anything you recognize does not belong to me, however much I wish that it did

Disclaimer: Anything you recognize does not belong to me, however much I wish that it did. Instead, it all belongs to J. K. Rowling. However, anything you do not recognize does belong to me.

Summary: Harry Potter is at the Dursleys’ awaiting the arrival of his friends. Seeing the chaos that the Wizarding World has been plunged into at Dumbledore’s death, Harry is ready to go in search of the Horcruxes.

Author’s Note: A big “Thank You” goes out to PirateQueen for being my beta on this. Now, for your enjoyment, I present “Friends and Nightmares,” the third chapter of Harry Potter and the End of All Things.

 

~**~

 

Harry Potter

and the

End of All Things

 

By Dark Princess

 

~**~

 

 

Chapter Three: Friends and Nightmares

 

The weather all over Britain had been the same for the past several days. It seemed like a great and utter depression had fallen over all the citizens of the nation, both Muggle and Magical alike. Last summer had felt the same way, and every witch and wizard in the country knew the reason why. Unfortunately, the Dementors were not the only cause of the feelings of defeat that permeated the air.

Daily Prophet headlines and pictures glared out in bold, black ink, while the articles below them detailed the terror that had gripped the Wizarding World, either crying out in anger, desperation, or sadness, and sometimes even a great mixture of all of the human emotions. The largest amounts of blame fell upon the Ministry of Magic and Minister Rufus Scrimgeour, but reporters had an amazing habit of and talent for finding fault with just about anybody.

While most of the Wizarding World stumbled around in the darkness of doubt and fear, there was one wizard who knew exactly what he needed to do. He was not precisely sure how he was going to accomplish his task, just knew that it had to be accomplished. This single wizard had been awake for several hours and was barely visible on this ominous morning through an upper window in a house on Privet Drive, Number Four to be exact.

Harry Potter sat on the edge of his bed, his emerald green eyes focussed on the latest issue of the Daily Prophet that had just arrived a few hours ago. The headline did not offer any great surprises to the almost seventeen-year-old wizard, for even though his scar had not caused him any pain in over a year, Harry knew Voldemort had done something the night before. These days it had become predictable. News of another attack came daily, but this time, the headline that jumped out from the page made the boy’s insides twist. He hid his fear and anticipation well, but there was no denying it. Voldemort was gaining power.

 

HE-WHO-MUST-NOT-BE-NAMED CLAIMS AZKABAN PRISON 

By Erin Dumose, Special Correspondent

The summer season has always been a time welcomed by many. Its warmer weather and school-free days have, in the past, been looked forward to with anticipation and excitement by families wishing to spend more time with one another, and in these dark times, being with one’s family has become even more important.

However, the joy and happiness of summers past was sapped from the season this year. This holiday has been tainted by massive death and sorrow in the Magical world.

Last night, darkness claimed another victory.

Witnesses report that at around 2:00 a.m., on the morning of 1 July 1997, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, along with a group of loyal followers, known as Death Eaters, as well as an army of Dementors, approached Azkaban prison. The impenetrable prison had been thought inescapable until the breakout of Sirius Black. (Black spent twelve years in the prison’s high-security block before escaping in the early summer of 1993, and spawning one of the biggest manhunts in recent history. Now confirmed dead, Black has been found innocent of the crimes for which he had been imprisoned.)

According to official reports already released by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Azkaban apparently came under massive wand fire from these Dark wizards, including You-Know-Who. Reports also indicate the Dementors surrounded the island fortress and acted in the same manner as an anaconda — squeezing their ring formation tighter around the prison to prevent any escapes.

Several witnesses gave their statements to both Daily Prophet reporters and Ministry Aurors.

“It was . . . was like nothing I had ever seen before,” said Charles Taylor, 45.

“The sky was alight with many colours, resembling those Muggle firework light shows,” stated Elizabeth Ramose, 37. “That’s why I didn’t dare try to get any closer.”

Aurors have been stationed as guards at the prison since the Dementors’ departure over a year ago. According to reliable sources from within the Ministry, Dana Walsh, 26; Roger Folan, 34; Michelle Branch, 25; and Juan Rodriguez, 31; were those assigned to the prison on July 1st. Details concerning their present state are unclear, but Ministry officials are fearing the worst.

“At this point in the investigation, Branch, Folan, Rodriguez, and Walsh are presumed dead,” stated an unidentified Ministry employee. “But their fate may be that they are still alive inside the prison, and enduring who-knows-what at the hands of You-Know-Who.”

Statements made by witnesses report screams coming continuously from within the island fortress for several hours after the Dark army was first spotted. Though the need for help was apparently clear, there have been no reports of anyone coming to the Aurors’ assistance.

After a night filled with piercing screams and flashing lights, people awoke around midmorning to a blood-red sun, and the Dark Mark — a giant green skull with a snake protruding from its mouth — lighting up the midmorning sky above Azkaban. (Readers of the Daily Prophet know this symbol to be that of the Dark Lord.)

Both Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour and Gawain Robards, the Head of the Auror office, were unavailable for comment. 

 

Disgusted, Harry threw the paper across his room, causing a loud thump to sound as the paper hit a lamp, toppling it off his desk and sending it crashing to the dusty floor. He had barely been back from Hogwarts for two weeks, and the Wizarding World was already in a worse state than when he had left.

The chaos did not shock him, to be honest. Harry knew Voldemort would be far more willing to attack openly and without reservation now that Dumbledore was gone. He just did not think Voldemort would work as fast as he seemed to be doing. It had been little more than two weeks since Dumbledore had been murdered.

Harry rose from his bed, striding over to his trunk, which was still pretty much packed with all his clothes. He had yet to unpack for the summer, instead remaining perfectly content to live out of his trunk. Only a few more days, Harry thought to himself. I’ll be out of here in only a few days.

In fact, had Dumbledore not wanted him to go back to his aunt and uncle at the end of the school year, Harry would not have bothered even returning in the first place. He knew he had to find the Horcruxes, and, with the state of the Wizarding World like it was, he had to destroy them quickly, before the Magical community fell into a state where there would be nothing left to save.

A tapping sound tore Harry’s attention from his thoughts. He turned towards the window, where a small owl was fluttering around on the other side of the glass. Normally, he left the window open, but since Hedwig had returned from her hunting earlier than she usually did, he had decided to shut it last night before he drifted off to sleep. When the Daily Prophet owl had delivered the morning’s edition, Harry had opened the window to let it in but, though he could not remember doing so, he had obviously shut it after the owl had left. Grabbing a pair of faded blue jeans and a simple red T-shirt from his pile of clothes, Harry walked over to the window, lifting the latch to let Pigwidgeon in.

Ron’s small owl zoomed into Harry’s room, landing with a thump that was very much like the sound of the morning’s paper hitting the floor, on his unmade bed. Harry picked up the tiny and hyperactive owl, slowly untying the scroll from the bird’s leg.

“Calm down, Pig,” he said. The owl did not listen.

After much struggling, Harry managed to untie the scroll from the owl and, as Pig began to hover excitedly above the bedcovers, Harry unrolled Ron’s letter and began to read.

 

You are cordially invited to celebrate the marriage of William Weasley and Fleur Delacour on the eighth day of July in the year of 1997, at eleven o’clock in the morning. The wedding will take place at the childhood home of William Weasley. Lunch and refreshments will be served after the wedding.

~ * * ~

Hey, Harry.

Hope this invitation makes you feel better because it allows you to leave the Dursleys’ earlier. Bill and Fleur decided to move the wedding up; it wasn’t supposed to take place until the middle of August. Mum’s going crazy with trying to get the house ready.

Anyway, Hermione’s coming to The Burrow in a couple of days, and then we’re coming to get you. We told you we would. I wish we could have just gone with you at the end of the school term, but Hermione wanted to spend some time with her parents, and The Burrow’s too crazy to bring anyone into now, anyway. Before we go there, however, Hermione has insisted that we go and pass our Apparition tests. This shouldn’t be news to you; she told me she’d already written to you about it, sending you that article in the Evening Prophet. After that is done, Mum wants us back home ASAP, and not wandering around London and Diagon Alley. (The latest news has her a little freaked out, mind you.) Speaking of which, have you seen this morning’s Daily Prophet article about Azkaban?

Back to the wedding. Everyone is here. Charlie came in from Romania, and both Fleur’s mum and sister are here. A lot of the Order is coming to the wedding as well, including Remus, Tonks, Kingsley, and Moody.

Dad’s been working really hard at the Ministry, and Percy’s still being a git. Both Fred and George are doing great in their joke shop; it’s even expanded since last summer. Everyone’s looking forward to seeing you again, especially Ginny.

So, both Hermione and I will see you in a few days.

Ron

 

Harry grinned when he had finished reading Ron’s letter. Any reason to say goodbye sooner to the Dursleys for the final time was a good reason. He was also pretty sure the protection would still work; after all, he had left Privet Drive more than a month early before.

“Well,” he said, turning to face his snowy white owl Hedwig, “at least I’m already packed.” Before he left his room, Harry bent to pick up the lamp and paper from the floor. As he sat the objects back on his desk, his eyes fell upon the article Hermione had sent around ten days ago.

 

APPARITION TESTING AGES ALTERED

By Marie Breeding, Special Correspondent

In a startling announcement earlier this afternoon, Wilma Reeds, the Head Apparition Instructor, issued a statement to reporters of a recent change in Ministry of Magic law.

As of this day, 21 June 1997, any witch or wizard who will be of age on or before 3 September 1997, is eligible to take the test for their Apparition license. They do not have to wait until they turn seventeen. Another date will be set for those still not of age by 3 September.

The new law has encountered both support and criticism from citizens.

“I, for one, am pleased with the Ministry lowering the age,” Christopher Littell, 47, told Daily Prophet reporters. “Side-Along Apparition is too much of a hassle, and my son, Robert, is seventeen in four weeks.”

“Well, I think the law change is irresponsible,” Margaret Taylor, 62, said. “Seventeen is too young for these kids to be able to perform magic, but now we’re going to let them Apparate at sixteen? It’s not logical.”

When reporters approached Wilma Reeds with questions, the Head Instructor’s response was short, yet vague.

“It is the Ministry’s belief that sixteen is an acceptable age for Apparition,” Reeds said. “During these times, it is especially easier on families if there are more members who can Apparate legally. Also, the Ministry is cutting back on the number of days they will offer Apparition testing, and so this change in the law will hopefully help to accommodate those who are prepared to take the test.”

For those interested in the Apparition testing, 2 July will be the next testing date.

 

Below the article, Hermione had scribbled a quick note.

 

Ron and I will be coming to get you so that the two of you can pass your tests.

Hermione

 

A grin crossed Harry’s face as he thought of his two best friends’ differing personalities. It was just like Hermione to find information about taking tests, even when she was not the one being tested, and complaining about having to take the tests was Ron in perfection. Placing the lamp and articles back on his single, small desk, Harry left his room.

Heading downstairs for breakfast, Harry heard the television broadcasting the morning’s news, signalling that at least his aunt and uncle were already up.

“. . . around 2:00 a.m. this morning,” said the newscaster, a short, dark-skinned man with an obviously fake smile. “Although no one can say what type of celebration was taking place, many different colours were seen lighting up the sky. The largest concentration of these lights appeared to be coming from a distant island on the North Sea, however no one can say for sure.

“In other news, a triple homicide was discovered in the city of London yesterday. Mark Davis, a local restaurant owner, was found in his home with his wife Sasha and thirteen-year-old son Sean, by his brother Ryan. Police forces have revealed that there appeared to be no sign of a forced entry, nor did any harm appear to have been done to the Davis family. The cause of the deaths were not evident upon either Ryan Davis or the police’s arrival at the residence, however, investigators are awaiting the post mortem reports. Numbers of these odd deaths have risen extensively in the past few years, completely stumping local law enforcement as to the causes. Medical experts even theorize about a previously undiscovered virus being the cause.

“And now, over to Lane Warner for the weather.”

Harry tuned out the week’s weather report, his mind still on the news about the homicide. Sean Davis was a third-year Ravenclaw at Hogwarts, and, though his father had been a wizard, his mother was a Muggle. Though Harry had never really talked to the shy, blond-haired boy, he had seen Sean around the school for the past two years, and with the boy’s death, the number of people hurt by the Second War just continued to grow.

The television clicked off after Lane Warner had finished her weather report, and Harry’s Uncle Vernon rose from the sofa and headed towards the table in the dining room, where Aunt Petunia had bacon, eggs, and sausages already on the table for breakfast. Just as Vernon Dursley sat down at the table, Harry entered the kitchen, followed closely by his cousin, Dudley, who had come pounding down the stairs and through the door.

Both Harry and Dudley sat down at their seats, with Dudley immediately reaching for a strip of bacon. Aunt Petunia came from the kitchen, and after she had taken her seat, the Dursleys began their Saturday breakfast, which every one of them looked forward to all week long.

“Eat up, Dudley,” said Aunt Petunia as she piled the eggs and sausages high on her son’s plate. “You can’t compete well on an empty stomach.”

“Yes,” replied Uncle Vernon, “your mother and I want to see you win today, Dudley.”

Harry had almost forgotten about Dudley’s wrestling match that day. It was something like the “Youngest or Oldest, Finalist, Champion or Something”. He could not remember what exactly the title was that Dudley was competing for this time. Besides, the specifics were not important to him. What was important was that his aunt, uncle, and cousin would be gone for the entire day, and he would have the whole house to himself.

“While we’re gone, boy,” said Uncle Vernon, glaring his eyes at Harry, “you’re to stay in your room and not mess with anything. Understand?”

“Yeah, fine,” muttered Harry, returning his uncle’s stare with a dead look of his own.

“And no leaving the house or communicating with your kind.”

“Okay.”

“And you’re not to demonstrate anything of your abnormality.”

“All right.”

Uncle Vernon finally gave up, as he continued to get no further response out of his nephew. After the family had finished their breakfasts, Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley left the kitchen and headed out towards the car. Once he had heard the engine start and was sure that his relatives had left, Harry rose from the table, clearing the plates as he did so. He simply laid the pile of dishes in the sink, not bothering to clean them, and went back upstairs to his room.

The intense quiet of the Dursleys’ house was unnerving to Harry. Usually, he could stand being alone in his room, even enjoying it many times before. But ever since Sirius’s death over a year ago, the silence had become nearly unbearable. The feelings had only grown in strength after Dumbledore’s death. Harry needed noise because without it, his mind had time to think, and when that happened, thoughts he would rather not dwell on invaded his mind.

It almost felt like he was constantly surrounded by a Dementor, only without the freezing cold feeling in the blood. When he was left alone in the silence, his thoughts would drift between being in the graveyard with Voldemort, battling Death Eaters and seeing Sirius die at the Department of Mysteries, and watching helplessly as Snape murdered Dumbledore. Those were thoughts he would rather avoid and so, as the silence grew thicker in the empty house and a cool breeze blew through his open window, Harry removed his glasses and collapsed on his bed. Having slept quite restlessly the previous night, he shut his eyes and quickly drifted off to sleep.

Harry slowly opened his eyes, only to find himself sitting in an almost entirely dark room, the only light coming from a fire burning in a grate across the room. There was no sound in the chamber; not even a crackling noise came from the flames as they licked the logs. It did not feel right, and Harry could tell that things were far from okay.

Cautiously, he stood up and, removing his wand from the back pocket of his jeans, slowly took a couple of steps forward, moving hesitantly in the direction of the fire. It was not until he got halfway between the fire and where he had started that Harry noticed that he was not alone and that there was another figure in the room.

A single body lay in front of the fireplace, long, flaming-red hair spread around the pale face like a fan. The face glowed eerily as the bright orange flames flickered and distorted the shadows. Harry momentarily froze and stared at the small body as several thoughts entered his mind, none of them good. The body was not moving.

No, thought Harry as his mind flashed back to a similar scene four years ago. Please, no. Dropping his wand, he heard it clatter when it hit the stone floor as he ran the rest of the way and collapsed beside the limp body of Ginny Weasley. No, Harry’s mind screamed. This can’t be true! She looked like she was simply sleeping at first, but there was no use denying the truth. Once one got close enough to see her, the extensive damage, illuminated greatly by the burning fire, was clear.

Ginny’s beautiful face was hardly recognizable as the youthful witch that Harry remembered her by. Numerous cuts and bruises, all varying in their intensity, disfigured and discoloured her once-gorgeous face. There were several burns on her arms and hands, and a long, deep gash, from which was still flowing a great amount of blood, ran along her left shoulder, the dark liquid seeping out of the wound and staining the cold stone floor.

Harry was shaking, and his sight began to blur as his green eyes filled with tears. He lifted his right hand, which was shaking so badly that he felt he would not have been able to hold anything it in, and hesitantly reached for Ginny’s wrist, the slight hope that she was still alive burning in his heart. But before his fingers had scraped Ginny’s skin, he knew the answer already. There was no pulse.

This wasn’t supposed to happen, Harry thought, letting the tears finally fall from his eyes and stream down his cheeks. You were supposed to be safe.

“Ginny,” he whispered slowly, bending down and, wrapping his arms around her, lifted Ginny’s head from the cold stone. “Don’t be dead, Ginny. Please wake up,” muttered Harry as he held the youngest Weasley child close to him. He knew the plea was pointless, but he could not bear to accept the truth. Too many had died already, but Ginny was supposed to have lived.

“She won’t wake,” hissed another voice from the doorway. Immediately recognizing the cold, harsh voice and familiar words, Harry jerked his head around. His emerald eyes glared at the pale face across the room, the previous sadness immediately replaced by the intense hatred that burned in him as he met the pair of scarlet eyes.

“She will never wake,” said Voldemort, a grin appearing across his face. And as Harry let out an animalistic howl of rage and intense grief, which reverberated around the large, dark chamber, Voldemort laughed a high, cold laugh, and slowly drew his wand from his robe, pointing its tip at the black-haired boy by the fire.

Harry jerked his eyes open and sat up suddenly in his bed, breathing harshly as the images of Ginny’s tortured and dead body, as well as the sounds of Voldemort’s cold laugh, slowly receded from the forefront of his mind, thankful that it was only a dream. As if the actual memories of what happened with Cedric, Sirius, and Dumbledore were not bad enough, he had to keep dreaming about the deaths of those he loved who were still alive. In just the past two weeks, this was the fifth time that Harry had dreamed of Ginny being killed, and her appearance continued getting more and more tragic with every dream.

Finally, his heart beat and breathing rate slowly managed to return to normal. Knowing it was pointless to try to get any more sleep, Harry sighed and reached for his glasses on the bedside table. As he placed them on his face and climbed from the bed, Harry heard the front doorbell ring, its sound echoing throughout the empty house. He glanced at the clock on his bedside table to see that only a couple of hours had passed since the Dursleys had left and he had fallen asleep in his room. It was far too early for his relatives to be home, and no one else should have been calling. All of the Dursleys’ acquaintances knew that the family would be gone for the entire day.

The doorbell sounded once again, and Harry, the image and thought of Voldemort and Death Eaters still fresh in his mind, grabbed his wand from the small table next to his bed, and cautiously approached the window and peered down at the brick walkway below. As he caught the brief sight of a tall, redheaded boy and a brown-haired girl, the thought of Dark wizards vanished and Harry exhaled a deep sigh of relief. He grinned as he ran from his room and leapt down the staircase three steps at a time. Harry swung the Dursleys’ front door wide open to let his two best friends into the house.  

“Ron, Hermione,” he said as the two Gryffindors entered. “What are you doing here?”

“We’re here to get you, Harry,” answered Hermione, smiling. Her brown hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail, and she was wearing a pair of dark jeans and a light blue top. “Ron was supposed to tell you we were coming,” she said, wrapping her arms around Harry and pulling her friend into a hug, which Harry returned.

“I did,” said Ron, and at the same time, Harry responded with, “He did, but his letter said in a few days. I wasn’t expecting you both today.”

Ron responded to Harry’s statement this time. “Well, Hermione had told me she wasn’t coming until the fourth,” he said, shaking Harry’s hand in greeting, “but she arrived at The Burrow today, so we decided to come early and surprise you.” 

Harry grinned. “It’s a great surprise, and you two have really excellent timing. The Dursleys are out for the day, and they aren’t supposed to back until much later tonight.” Harry shut the front door as the trio left the doorway. 

“Well, actually,” said Ron, “we don’t need to stay here very long.” The trio of friends began climbing the staircase to Harry’s room. “Like I said in the letter, Mum’s really been freaked out with the latest news, and if we stay out too long, she’ll probably go completely crazy.”  

The friends reached the top of the staircase, and Harry replied, “That’s fine. My stuff is still pretty much packed from the end of last year; it won’t take long to throw the rest in the trunk, and I honestly don’t want to stay in this house any longer than is absolutely necessary.” 

Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered the bedroom, and together, they finished throwing the rest of Harry’s clothes and books that lined the floor back into his trunk. Once they were done packing, which only took a few minutes because Hermione decided to use magic to speed the process up, Harry slammed the top of his trunk down. Hermione gave her wand one final wave, and sent Harry’s trunk and Hedwig’s cage to The Burrow in the same way that Dumbledore had done when he had come to fetch Harry last year.

“Okay,” she said, pocketing her wand once more, and turning to face both Harry and Ron, “I guess we’re ready to go.” Harry, Ron, and Hermione left the small bedroom and climbed back down the staircase. Together, the trio of friends exited Number Four, Privet Drive, and Harry, turning his head around, took one final look back on the house in which he had lived for over ten years of his life. 

It was now around three o’clock in the afternoon, the sun burning brightly in the summer sky, and a cool breeze was blowing in the trees, sending the green-leaved branches swaying. The three teenagers headed towards the end of the street, walking in silence for a few moments. But the silence was eventually broken when Harry turned to Hermione and asked,

“How did you two get here if Ron doesn’t have his Apparating license yet?”

“We Flooed into Arabella Figg’s house,” answered Ron. “Hermione didn’t want to do things the simple way by breaking the rules and having us just Apparate to your house.” Ron turned to stare at the seventeen-year-old witch, a grin on his face.

Hermione abruptly stopped walking and turned to glare at the tall, redheaded Weasley. “One, it’s rude to simply Apparate into someone else’s home,” she said, placing her hands on her hips as she spoke. “Two, I didn’t want Harry thinking we were Death Eaters or something. And three,” she said, her voice growing in volume, “if something had gone wrong, Ronald, you would be in a lot of trouble, and Harry would have had to wait even longer for us to come and get him. By doing it this way, nothing went wrong. And besides, your mother liked the idea of us using Floo powder rather than Apparition anyway.”

When Hermione finally finished her tirade, Ron had his hands raised in mock surrender, the grin still on his face. It was not long before Hermione could no longer hold her own scowl and had a smile stretching her lips as well. The grins soon turned into laughter, and the trio of Gryffindors continued down the street towards Arabella Figg’s house. 

The sound of Hermione and Ron bickering, and later laughing about it, made Harry grin. If his friends could still argue over just about anything, it showed that things could still be normal, and that the world had not yet slipped so far into the heavy darkness that it was beyond saving. A simple thing like his friends playfully fighting with each other offered the Boy Who Lived hope. There was still a chance, and there were still reasons to fight.         

 

~**~

 

Author’s Note 2: All right, the story finally made it to Harry, and it will continue following Harry for the next couple of chapters, at least. Thanks for reading, and I hoped you enjoyed it. Please take the time to review and tell me what you think about this chapter, as this story is my first on-going fan fiction piece, and I’d really like to know your opinion. Also, stay tuned for Chapter Four: Apparition, in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione head to the Ministry of Magic in London, where the boys will take (and hopefully pass) their Apparition tests.

//
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