Chapter 1: A Knock at the Door
Harry Potter looked out at the dimming evening sky from
the window of his small bedroom at number four, Privet Drive. Three
days had passed since his return from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry, and he was still exhausted. Indeed, what Harry had
gone through on the twenty-fourth of June would have been enough to
Harry groaned softly as he massaged his right leg. It
didn't hurt anymore, but the memory of what had happened kept tricking
Harry's mind into thinking the pain was still there. He had suffered
a nasty bruise on his shin during the final task of the Triwizard Tournament
competition when a giant spider had dropped him awkwardly from a height
of twelve feet. He could never have gotten past the spider if it hadn't
been for Cedric- No, not Cedric! Harry shuddered at the thought.
Cedric Diggory had been co-champion with Harry in the
Triwizard Tournament, a contest featuring students from three leading
European schools of magic. When Cedric and Harry had knocked out the
giant spider and grasped the Cup together, they were magically whisked
away to a cemetery where Lord Voldemort, the most evil wizard in the
world, had ordered his servant Wormtail to kill Cedric. Harry had been
extremely fortunate to escape and bring Cedric's body back to his parents.
Why Cedric? Harry thought. Why did Cedric have to die? It
was me he wanted.
And this was entirely true. At the age of one, Harry had
become the first person ever to survive the dreaded Avada Kedavra curse.
Avada Kedavra, the killing curse, the worst of the three Unforgivable
Curses of the wizarding world. Harry's mother, Lily Potter, had died
to save him after the murder of his father James. Then, when Voldemort
attempted to finish off the newly orphaned Harry, the curse rebounded
on its source. Voldemort was not killed, but his powers were shattered
as he fled to the Albanian forests as a formless shadow. Only on June
the twenty-fourth, after the death of Cedric, had Voldemort returned
to his proper body, using a potion made with Harry's blood. No, not
that again- Harry shivered, trying to shake off that memory too.
Curse you, Voldemort, thought Harry. You killed
my parents. You killed Cedric. How many more people are going to have
to die on my account?
And now Voldemort, wherever he was, wanted Harry dead.
And this, Harry reflected, had turned out to be the reason why he was
now staying at Privet Drive. Voldemort himself had acknowledged, "Not
even I can touch him there." As long as he stayed with his relatives,
he was safe. Unfortunately, Harry's aunt and uncle, Vernon and Petunia
Dursley (not to mention their son Dudley) hated Harry with a passion.
They had spent ten years after Harry's parents' deaths making Harry's
life miserable, and they still tried to do as much of that as they could
manage while Harry was at home on his summer holidays. Curse you
again, Voldemort- if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have to stay in this
Just then, Harry was stirred from his restless thoughts
by a hint of a movement in the swiftly darkening sky. An owl! And that
was indeed what it was, bearing a message from someone in the wizarding
world. Harry didn't know from whom it might be, but he felt it was bound
to be good news. He grinned as the owl approached his open window. It
almost felt a relief to smile- he hadn't done much smiling since his
return from Hogwarts three days earlier.
The sophisticated-looking brown owl at his windowsill
turned out to be from Hogwarts. He quickly opened the envelope and unfolded
the parchment within. Written there in green ink was the following message:
Greetings. I trust you are enjoying your summer.
As you know, your safety is a matter of serious concern
to many of us in the wizarding world. Accordingly, I am seeking to
have you protected by the Fidelius Charm. As you may be aware, this
will involve your protection by a Secret-Keeper. As long as the Secret-Keeper
guards the knowledge of your whereabouts, your enemies will be kept
from finding you even if they walk so close in front of you that you
could breathe on them. And so the Secret-Keeper should be someone
whom you would trust with your life- for that is exactly what you
will be doing.
I have contacted several qualified candidates- Remus
Lupin, Professor McGonagall, Arthur and Molly Weasley, Rubeus Hagrid,
and your friend Snuffles- and they all have declined the role of Secret-Keeper,
feeling that I should fill that role instead. If you are willing to
have me as your Secret-Keeper, please indicate in a reply by this
owl. Also, please return the envelope with a hair from your head enclosed.
It will be an necessary ingredient in the Fidelius Potion, which is
essential for this charm and which is presently being prepared by
your good friend and mine, Professor Snape.
My very best wishes to you in these darkening times.
Harry excitedly grabbed a quill from on top of his bed
and scribbled Yes, please at the bottom of the parchment Dumbledore
had sent, plucked a few strands of his messy black hair, slipped them
into the envelope, sealed it, and gave it back to the school owl, saying,
"Back to Professor Dumbledore!" The owl obediently launched itself into
the air and disappeared back into the night sky, heading north toward
Wow, thought Harry. Dumbledore's going to be
my Secret Keeper! Unable even to think of going to sleep,
he kept going over in his mind the contents of the letter from Dumbledore,
trying to figure out what the implications might be. Soon an even happier
thought struck his mind. The reason for his being stuck at Privet Drive
was because he was safe from Voldemort and his Death Eaters there. But
if Dumbledore was his Secret Keeper, then he had no such limitations.
He could go to the Burrow in Ottery St. Catchpole, home of his best
friend Ron Weasley and the rest of Ron's family. Or, perhaps even better,
he could stay with his godfather, Sirius Black. He could go freely to
Diagon Alley, the secluded street in London that was full of the finest
collection of shops that wizarding England had to offer. The world was
open to Harry like it had never been before. He only needed to hold
on for a little bit longer, while Professor Snape brewed the Fidelius
Professor Snape. Harry grinned wryly at the phrase
"your good friend and mine." He supposed that it made sense that Snape
would be the one to do it- he did have a reputation as one of the best
potion brewers around. Unfortunately, he also happened to be one of
Harry's worst enemies at Hogwarts, along with his favorite student,
Draco Malfoy. Snape had been a student at Hogwarts along with Harry's
father, James Potter, and long held a grudge against James and his friends
Sirius and Remus. It was Snape who had revealed that Remus Lupin was
a werewolf at the end of Harry's third year, resulting in Lupin's immediate
resignation from the Hogwarts faculty. And this grudge had carried over
to Harry as well: Snape had made Potions class a weekly misery for Harry
from the beginning of his first year.
And then, a little more than a month ago, Harry had found
out something new about Snape. Professor Snape had at one time been
a Death Eater, one of the Dark Lord's most loyal followers. But, according
to Professor Dumbledore, Snape had "rejoined our side before Voldemort's
downfall and turned spy for us, at great personal risk." Dumbledore
had refused, however, to tell Harry what made him so confident that
Snape had really changed sides.
What if Snape isn't really on our side?, Harry
worried. What if he does the potion wrong on purpose, just to spite
me and let me get killed by Voldemort? It occurred to him that he
was being forced to trust not only Professor Dumbledore with his life,
but Professor Snape also. The Dumbledore part was easy; trusting Snape
was rather more difficult. He was still excited about getting to do
the Fidelius charm, but having Snape involved added a degree of uneasiness
to the excitement.
Sometime around midnight, Harry's mind finally calmed
down enough to let him fall asleep.
* * *
A bright green fire roared in the fireplace of the house,
as a tall wizard with slanted red eyes and a flat snakelike face stood
before the fire like a medieval monarch holding court, amid the circle
of his followers. The others in the circle were all wearing hooded robes
and masks that somewhat resembled their Master's face. A rather short
wizard was groveling on the floor before his leader, saying, "Master,
I would be honored... if it should be your desire..."
"Silence", interrupted the tall wizard's unnaturally cold,
high-pitched voice. "Have you forgotten our timetable, Wormtail? We
will release the Dementors when the time is right, and not a moment
sooner! Is that understood?"
"Yes... Yes, Master", whimpered Wormtail.
"Very well. Don't try to get creative on me, Wormtail,
your 'creativity' has spoiled more than one of my plans before this.
And I think you won't need me to tell you what awaits you should I deem
you to need a reminder about the wisdom of airing your worthless ideas
"No... no, Master... I quite understand..."
"Good," cackled the Master. "Even your dense little brain
should be able to process that particular point, I should hope. And
now, my dear Death Eaters, we have one further order of business...
as soon as our favorite 'spy's' ever-so-tight schedule should permit
him to grace us with his honorable presence... Ah, here he is now."
Another masked wizard had suddenly appeared in the room.
A lock of long, greasy black hair was visible behind his mask.
"And what news have we from Saint Dumbledore, that most
magnificent of Muggle-lovers? I must confess that I have been disappointed
with the extent of the information you have thus far been able to provide...
And I do prize loyalty among my followers, as you no doubt recall, and
I would hate to see so accomplished a servant suffer the penalty of
disloyalty at the hands of Lord Voldemort...."
"Master," replied the newly-arrived wizard, "Dumbledore
has formulated his plan for the Potter boy." He spoke the name Potter
with especial distaste. "He plans to allow young Potter to escape the
unpleasant confinement imposed by his Muggle relations before the summer
"Oh, does he, now?" said Voldemort, sounding almost impressed.
"And how does our precious Headmaster intend to keep young Potter safeguarded
from the threat of Lord Voldemort without the security provided by the
ancient magic which protects him at his relations' home?"
"With the Fidelius Charm, of course," replied the wizard's
silky voice. "And your Lordship will no doubt have guessed whom Dumbledore
trusts to prepare the particular potion on which this charm depends."
Lord Voldemort laughed, a high, joyless laughter which
caused even the Death Eaters (who of course had heard their Master's
laughter many times previously) to feel as though the blood were about
to freeze in their veins.
"Of course," added the Death Eater with a sigh, "I fear
that I may not be quite the potion-brewer that our dear Headmaster esteems
me to be... One small slip, and the potion will be worthless..."
The Master laughed again, and then stopped. "Severus!
I would like to make sure of your loyalty. Tell me plainly and without
your crafty wordsmithing: What shall be the result of this Fidelius
Potion, my friend? Do not lie to Lord Voldemort. He knows. He always
"Harry Potter shall be delivered into your hands, my Lord."
"Ah, yes! Hatred for all things Potter! That's what I
like to see. But, dear Severus, just in case your loyalty should ever
be tempted to waver, let me remind you..."
"No, my Lord!" interrupted another Death Eater, with a
voice as silky as Severus' but with greater urgency. "Severus has remained
loyal to us throughout, my son is in his house at Hogwarts..."
"Lucius!" shouted Lord Voldemort, and then spoke again
more quietly. "Well, now, perhaps I should just step down then. Take
your place at the fireside, Lucius, you would make so much better
a Dark Lord than I. You, who renounced me for thirteen long years, are
so much better qualified to judge loyalty than Lord Voldemort.
Don't you think so?"
"No, my Lord... I never intended..."
"Very well, I should hope not indeed. Then let's get back
to business, shall we? As I was saying, my dear Severus, let me remind
you that should your loyalty waver, a curse even more, shall we say,
unforgivable than this one awaits you." He pointed his wand at
the Death Eater spy. "Crucio!" And the spy rolled on the ground,
screaming in pain.
* * *
Harry sat bolt upright in bed as the nightmare faded.
The scar on his forehead was hurting terribly. The scar-something
in the dream-Voldemort! Dumbledore will want to know about this,
he thought. I've got to remember it-what was it? A plan-some plan
of Dumbledore's-that was it, the potion! He scrambled to grab a
parchment and quill to start writing when the sound heavy footfalls
in the hall told him that he had inadvertently awakened his Uncle Vernon.
"What's all the yelling about?!" Uncle Vernon demanded.
"I'm sorry, Uncle Vernon", replied Harry. "A bad dream...
and my head hurts..."
"So, which is it? A nightmare, or a headache? Can't keep
your story straight, can you, boy? Trying to disturb your Aunt Petunia's
sleep again, are you? This better not happen again, or I'll give your
head a reason to hurt, see if I don't."
Harry wasn't sure if Uncle Vernon meant the threat literally,
but he couldn't rule out the possibility. As arguing the point would
have done him no good-he knew this from long experience-he
rolled back under the covers and groaned, "All right." Uncle Vernon
watched him for an uncomfortable minute, and then went back to bed,
apparently satisfied that Harry was going back to sleep.
Harry waited a minute or two after he heard Uncle Vernon's
bedroom door close, and then stealthily got back up and grabbed a parchment.
What was the dream about again? Voldemort, of course... and something
about a plan... oh, bother, I can't remember what the plan was.
He felt dead tired, and the pain from his scar didn't help matters any.
He had almost given up trying to remember when he glanced at the window
and remembered the previous night's owl from Hogwarts that had brought
him the message about the Fidelius Potion. That's it... the potion...
Voldemort was finding out about the potion... but how? Snape? Yeah,
it was Snape! Snape told Voldemort about the potion! And... what did
he tell him? Was he going to sabotage the potion? I think he was...
Did Voldemort do the Cruciatus Curse on anyone this time? I think so...
I think it was Snape... but why would he, if Snape was going to make
it so the potion didn't work? It all made sense at the time... was it
just an ordinary dream that doesn't make sense after you wake up? No,
it had to be real, it seemed just like the one in Divination class
He took a deep breath, and began to write.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
I just had a dream about Voldemort. I woke up with my
scar hurting. Professor Snape was talking to Voldemort about the potion.
I think he agreed to sabotage the potion so the Fidelius Charm wouldn't
work. It seems like Voldemort was doing the Cruciatus Curse on him
at the end, too, but that doesn't make sense. I'm sorry I can't tell
you more, it's hard to remember, and my Uncle Vernon came in and yelled
at me before I could write anything down.
He wanted to ask Dumbledore why he was so sure that Snape
was on their side, but he had asked that before and been told, in effect,
that that was none of his business. So he decided to leave that one
alone, and simply added,
I hope this all works out. Thanks again.
Hedwig, his snowy white owl, was of course a nocturnal
creature and was quite happy to see her master keeping proper hours
for once. She eagerly accepted the letter once Harry had sealed it.
"To Professor Dumbledore!" he whispered as he opened the window for
her. Hedwig nibbled his ear affectionately and soared off into the night
* * *
Harry was awakened far too early the next morning by the
sound of Aunt Petunia's shrill voice calling through his bedroom door:
"Harry! Are you awake yet?!" Of course I'm awake now, you
idiot, he thought (but restrained himself from saying out loud).
"Yeah... I'm awake", he droned wearily.
"Well, then, let's get a move on! Time to set the table
Harry grudgingly set out the Dursleys' plates and silverware,
wondering why they couldn't do such a simple chore themselves. At least
he didn't have to cook, though. In past years the Dursleys had often
made Harry do their cooking for them, but after the previous summer's
distressing incident involving a magical toffee produced by Ron's twin
brothers Fred and George, they had apparently decided against allowing
anyone magical to be involved in the preparation of food. They seemed
rather superstitious about it, in fact. Harry didn't feel he'd gotten
the full story quite yet, but from the parts he could piece together
it seemed that Dudley had refused to eat anything for about two weeks
after having his tongue restored to normal (it had swollen to a length
of over four feet). It wasn't clear just how much time Dudley had spent
in hospital, although he knew that Dudley had apparently fainted from
exhaustion (Aunt Petunia talked about that part fairly often).
In any case, the experience had certainly seemed to cure Dudley of his
overeating, and he was looking a bit slimmer. He looked more shrunken
than fit and trim, but it was still an improvement. Harry had suggested
that perhaps the Dursleys might write Fred and George a thank-you note,
but this suggestion was not well received.
Harry spent the whole morning and most of the afternoon
doing whatever chores Aunt Petunia could think up. Anything not involving
food preparation seemed to be fair game. Much of it seemed unnecessary,
too. He agreed that their lawn needed to be mowed from time to time,
but three times a week seemed a bit much.
"All right, I'm done," he said on his way in the house
late that afternoon, not daring to look directly at Aunt Petunia. After
a few seconds of silence, she snapped, "Took you long enough". Harry
knew Aunt Petunia well enough to conclude with relief that she had tried
to think of more chores and failed, and that he could come and rest
inside. As he hadn't slept well the previous night, he was glad of the
opportunity of a nap before dinner.
But exhausted though he was, he couldn't drop off to sleep.
He started to think about Cho Chang, a very pretty girl
who played Seeker for the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. But then-no, he
couldn't think about Cho, not that way, not anymore. She had been the
girlfriend of Cedric Diggory before he was killed-And if I hadn't
told Cedric to take the Cup with me-no, don't start that again,
he told himself. But in any case, he found that could no longer imagine
Cho smiling at him after some great triumph-he could only see her as
she had been at the end of the school year, with a background of the
Great Hall decorated in black, mourning the loss of Cedric, crying as
if the world would end. And, he supposed, it must have seemed to her
as though the world was indeed ending. She and Cedric had been a really
nice couple; they had belonged together. Harry wondered how he could
have been so stupid not to see it at the time. And now it's all over,
all because I told Cedric to-no, don't even go there.
And yet-Harry felt a strange inexpressible longing. Now
that he couldn't think that way about Cho anymore, he felt that he had
somehow lost something in the process. It was strange. For the whole
first thirteen and a half years of his life, up to the first time he
had played against Cho in a Quidditch match, it would never have occurred
to him to want a girl to look at him the way Cho had looked at Cedric
last year. Now he was almost fifteen, and still had never had a girlfriend,
and once again there wasn't any girl that he could even hope for that
way-but now it somehow felt terribly like he was missing something.
On one hand, he did feel a kind of freedom, as if his
liking for Cho had been a heavy weight about his neck for the past year
which had now been removed. But on the other, he also felt a strange
loneliness, a new kind that he had never felt before, and which somehow
seemed deeper than any loneliness he had felt before. He supposed it
was stupid to feel like this-At least I've got friends now, which
before Hogwarts I didn't used to. But the feeling didn't go away.
He wished he knew how to handle feelings like this. It seemed like there
ought to be somebody... somebody... somebody special; but there wasn't.
He found himself almost involuntarily ticking off the
names of all the girls he knew. Hermione? No, she's just a friend,
I could never think of her that way. Ginny? She's Ron's little sister,
hate to think what Ron would say if I started liking her. Lavender or
Parvati? No thanks... He stopped himself. How ridiculous to be
thinking about girls that way. If he were ever going to have a girlfriend,
he wanted it to be because he really liked that person and she really
liked him, the way Cho and Cedric had liked each other, not because
there was some kind of vacancy that needed to be filled, like when people
applied for jobs to work for Uncle Vernon at the Grunnings drill factory.
But maybe there's some really nice girl that I just
haven't met yet, his mind insisted. Certainly none of the
Slytherins would do-the thought of Pansy or Millicent in that context
made him gag. But he didn't know the Hufflepuffs very well, and the
Ravenclaws even less-one of them, maybe? Maybe that one girl from Hufflepuff
with the dark hair and haunted-looking eyes-Susan, was that her name?
She might be interesting, she seemed like there was some mystery about
her that Harry didn't know. Or maybe someday he'd meet a girl from a
foreign school? All the Beauxbatons girls he had met last year were
three or four years older than he, and Durmstrang hadn't brought any
girls at all. But that kind of situation might be tough, because they
wouldn't speak each other's languages. Was there a wizard school in
America, perhaps? Harry remembered Dean and Seamus talking (a bit wolfishly)
about a really beautiful and talented American girl named Mary Sue who
was reportedly going to be transferring to Hogwarts; but that sounded
like a pretty far-fetched rumor to Harry. He doubted such a person even
existed, or if she did the stories probably weren't even half true.
Again Harry forced himself to stop. There I go again.
Why am I getting like this? He sighed. If things won't work out
with the girls I do know, what makes me think that some new
girl is going to come around the corner and solve all my problems? I've
just got to face the facts, he thought gloomily. I'm just a short
skinny kid with glasses and an ugly scar. Not much here that a girl
could want. Maybe I'll just end up going through life on my own.
The strange lonely feeling was stronger now than ever before.
Harry wished there were somebody that he could talk to
about these things. Ron? No, Ron was just as confused about girls as
he was, maybe even more so. Ron had obviously been very jealous when
Hermione had gone to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum the previous year.
But afterwards, when Hermione had told Ron, "Next time, ask me before
someone else does, and not as a last resort", Ron had amazingly failed
to cotton on.
No, Harry needed somebody he could talk to like a father.
He had never known his real father. Uncle Vernon obviously would be
no help. Sirius, he suddenly realized, I should write to Sirius!
That was what a godfather was for, of course, to take the place
of a father should anything happen. And he was sure Sirius would be
happy to help, if only Harry could think of the right way to ask the
But how to ask the question was the difficulty. Harry
got out a parchment and began:
Did you ever like a girl?
No, that's stupid, thought Harry. He tried another
How did my Mum and Dad get together? You know, like,
as boyfriend and girlfriend? How does that work, anyway?
Even stupider, thought Harry, reaching for the
stack of parchment once again.
About three crumpled pieces of parchment later, and after the very rude
interruption of having to eat dinner with the Dursleys, he finally got
through a complete version of what he wanted to say:
Can you help me understand girls? I mean, how to deal
with them as girls, that is? If my dad was here I'd be asking him
of course, but since he's not I guess my godfather will be the next
It's like this: There's one girl that I liked, Cho Chang,
but she liked another guy, and that was Cedric Diggory, and now that
Cedric's dead I'm not sure that I like her any more, and besides it
would be kind of like insulting Cedric to go out with his girlfriend
after he's dead.
There's another girl that seems like she likes me, but
that's Ron's little sister Ginny. She's a really nice girl, and I
wouldn't want to hurt her or anything, but I've never really felt
like that about her, and even if I did it would be just too weird
to go out with my best friend's little sister. She really acted weird
around me in her first year, but now she seems more normal, so maybe
she doesn't like me that way any more anyway. She went to the Yule
Ball with Neville Longbottom last year, and so maybe she likes him
now. After what happened with Neville's parents, it would be really
nice for him to have a good girlfriend like Ginny.
And everybody thinks Hermione is my girlfriend, but she's
not, we're just friends. If anything, she and Ron might like each
other, but don't tell them I said that. Last year at the Yule Ball
Ron got really mad when Hermione came with Victor Krum, and Hermione
gets mad when other girls pay attention to Ron too.
The girl I went to the ball with was Parvati Patil, from
Gryffindor in my year, but there's nothing going on there. It was
kind of bad, I suppose I should have danced with her more at the ball,
she was kind of unhappy with me for a while afterwards. But I was
kind of forced into the situation, since I was a school champion I
had to take somebody. Nice of her to go with me at all, I guess.
I hope we don't have another Ball or anything like that-well,
maybe-no, I don't know what I hope. But if we do I suppose I ought
to be ready for it and not be such a total prat as I was last year.
I suppose this has been a totally stupid letter, but
if you can say anything to help I'd really appreciate it.
Hope whatever you're doing this summer is going okay.
I got an owl yesterday about the plan for keeping me safe-sounds great!
Tell Professor Lupin I said hi.
Harry hid the letter in his trunk, to be sent to Sirius
once Hedwig returned from her delivery to Dumbledore, and then worked
until bedtime on his essay for History of Magic, "Political and Social
Factors Related to the Goblin-Dwarf Alliance of 1846."
* * *
The next day, he was awakened at sunrise by an owl tapping
on his window. Hedwig!, he thought. And so it was.
Hedwig had brought another letter from Professor Dumbledore,
but it wasn't as encouraging as Harry might have hoped. Indeed, what
Dumbledore had to say made Harry feel a bit uncomfortable:
Thank you very much for your reply to my owl of yesterday.
Our plans are going forward as I had described them.
I appreciate also your information about your dream of
last night. I spoke with Professor Snape after receiving your owl,
and he confirmed that everything happened as you saw it. It seems
that your connection with Lord Voldemort allows you to see his doings
in your dreams. Professor Trelawney will be most impressed-unless
perhaps you'd rather I restrain myself from telling her? Ah, very
well, I suppose not. It would have been fun, I admit.
As for Professor Snape: His is the most difficult role
in the newly-revived conflict with Lord Voldemort, more difficult
than yours or even mine. As I have said before, it is essential that
those of us who know the truth and are willing to act on it trust
one another. I am aware of the personal animosities that have existed
between you and the Potions Master over the years, but the need to
stand together against Voldemort is far more important than whatever
petty conflicts may exist among ourselves. Therefore I must insist
once again: Trust Professor Snape, Harry.
And please do continue to give me any information you
may have about Lord Voldemort's doings. Any information may make a
difference. Again I thank you.
Receiving even a gentle rebuke from Dumbledore was always
painful to Harry, and so when he went downstairs to breakfast, it was
with an empty feeling in his stomach that had nothing to do with hunger.
He still hasn't told me, Harry thought, why is he so sure
that Snape is on our side?
After feeding Hedwig and sending her off to Sirius, another
long day of chores lay ahead for Harry. This time they kept him busy
all the way up to dinner, and it was only after dinner that he had a
chance to think again. This time, he forced himself to think of
the more pleasant times he had had at Hogwarts the previous year. For
there had been plenty of good things last year as well: Draco Malfoy,
Harry's worst enemy at Hogwarts, getting transformed into a white ferret
and bounced around the corridor; his victory over the Hungarian Horntail
in the First Task of the Tournament; getting to know the foreign schools'
Champions, Viktor Krum and Fleur Delacour, both of whom had been very
nice to Harry; and the time spent with his two best friends, Ron and
Hermione. Harry almost laughed-the closest he had come to laughing in
a long time-when he remembered how the three of them, along with Ron's
brothers Fred and George, had left Malfoy and his friends Crabbe and
Goyle on the floor of the Hogwarts Express, knocked out by a slew of
hexes, after Malfoy had boasted about the Dark Lord's return and insulted
the memory of Cedric.
Yeah, Harry thought with only a slight touch of
grimness, last year wasn't all bad-
Suddenly, from downstairs, he heard a knock at the door.
He sat silently, and a minute later Uncle Vernon's voice came up the
staircase. "Boy!" he yelled at Harry with what seemed to be a mixture
of anger and fear. In a harsh whisper he said to Harry, "There's a man
at the door... and he's one of your kind."
Sirius! Harry eagerly leaped down the stairs, taking
them three at a time, expecting that his godfather had come to visit.
But he was wrong. There was indeed a wizard at the door,
but it was not one that Harry recognized. He flashed a Ministry of Magic
badge at Harry as he spoke.
"Harry James Potter", came his voice in a calm but threatening
tone, "My name is Brundage Avery from the department of Magical Law
Harry's mind raced... Avery! I know that name! He's
a Death Eater! He's one of Voldemort's!
"It is my duty", Avery continued, "to arrest you for the
assault and battery of Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe, and Gregory Goyle...
and for the murder of Cedric Diggory... and for the aid and abettance
of a convicted mass murderer, Sirius Black." At the mention of Sirius,
Avery drew out of his cloak a letter that Harry recognized as the one
he had sent to Sirius.
Suddenly stricken with fear, Harry's mind madly scrambled
to find what to do next. At first he wanted to make a mad grab for the
parchment, but Avery anticipated this move and brandished his wand at
Harry. Harry then made as if to turn around and run back into the house,
but Uncle Vernon, looking suddenly gleeful at this turn of events, blocked
the hallway, standing with his arms crossed and saying, "They've got
you now, boy."
Finally, Harry's nerve broke entirely and he made a run
for it. Strangely, Avery stood out of the way with a smug grin on his
face. Why was Avery letting him run away? But Harry didn't care-he was
pelting down the driveway toward the street, thinking of nothing other
than getting away from there any way he could. And then, in an instant,
he heard in his memory the evil voice of Lord Voldemort telling Avery
and the other Death Eaters, Dumbledore invoked an ancient magic,
to ensure the boy's protection as long as he is in his relations' care.
Not even I can touch him there....
That's what they're doing! They want me to run
away, Harry realized suddenly and tried to put on the brakes. But
it was too late. As his right foot touched the pavement of Privet Drive,
he heard Avery's voice shouting "Stupefy!". The last thing he felt was
himself falling down toward the pavement.
Continued in Chapter Two...