A/N: I'm back! To all those with me before, I salute you! To all newbies, this is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Green Flame Torch. This fic can be read separately, but I'd advise reading my other story first because I will be making references to it in some chapters. It will also explain the Harry/Hermione situation. Alrighty, enjoy this first chapter! (Sooner than expected, I know) What d'you think of the fantabulous new banner? Anamarie in her prime! On a different note, I must warn you that I think I may have lost my beta for good, and I'll begin looking for a new one. Don't despair in the errors, English isn't my first language.
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Previously on Harry Potter and the Green Flame Torch: Harry has passed a sixth year filled with trials and tribulations, in which he must come to terms with Sirius' death and at the same time face up to his growing feelings for Hermione. This leads to animosity with Ron, but problems are resolved at the end of the year. Once again, Harry is faced with the Dark Lord himself and keeps him from lighting the Green Flame Torch. He escapes on the back of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack, landing in Little Whinging and raising awareness of magic there.
A FLAW IN THE PLAN
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As the darkest hour of the night loomed into Little Whinging, most of its inhabitants still lay awake, twisting in their blankets or sneaking down occasionaly with excuses like "going for a mid-night snack." All lights were out, of course. It was such a tidy neighborhood, no one would dare to be caught with the lights on at such an indecent hour. It wasn't the warmth that kept them from dozing off, quite the contrary, it was strangely chilly for that time of the year. But the truth was, they were afraid.
For that past year, all the strange incidents spread over Britain had alarmed more than one, but they had been reassured when Little Whinging was spared of these oddities. However, barely a month ago, an enormous hairy creature ridden by a delinquent, a batty child and an unconcious girl had disrupted all peace that remained there. It had landed right onto a family's front yard, and proceeded to damaging the garden.
The worst of it was, the delinquent boy was now only a few streets away, sleeping calmly in his room at Privet Drive, number four. He was the only one who could get some proper sleep, even though his worries far excelled their own.
Harry Potter was far from ordinary; he was a wizard, one chosen to defeat the most powerful sorcerer of all time. But to his neighbours he was nothing more than a delinquent that attended St. Brutus; and after a rumor spread by his cousin Dudley's girlfriend (she claimed he had been dealing around suspicious packages on the corner of Magnolia Crescent), they avoided him even more.
Harry didn't care, he felt happy thinking of the world that awaited him outside. No matter how many responsibilities he carried, he had many powerful wizards supporting him, a great best friend, Ron, and recently, a girlfriend.
Harry still turned slightly crimson when he thought of Hermione in that light; it hadn't ocurred to him before. He'd never had a girlfriend, either. Cho couldn't really be called a girlfriend, since they had only been on one date, one that had ended rather catastrophically. Wasn't it ironic that he and Hermione had never been on a real date either? But then again, Harry supposed it wouldn't be too challenging when that day arrived, since they had known each other for years, and there would be plenty to talk about. So that area of his life, although it made his stomach churn and a nervous smile come to his face, was reassuring. Overal, Harry was a lot happier this summer than he had been the last.
He owed it largely to magic, as well. A week ago, Harry had received his flood of birthday cards and presents. There were Quidditch things from Ginny and Ron, canary creams that Harry fed constantly to Dudley from the twins, a dodgy book on Defense Dark Arts from Neville, Knowing Your NEWTS from Hermione, and much, much more. To Harry's surprise, a diploma was included with fancy seils and stamps on it, that read: APPARITION LICENSE. Immediately, Harry knew what this meant. Not only was he seventeen, overage and allowed to do magic outside school, he could now Apparate! He'd been able to do it before, but now he actually had permission!
Before he'd fulfilled his brilliant plan of Apparating to the Burrow, another letter had squashed his sudden desire. Albus Dumbledore, his headmaster, had stated sternly that under no circumstance was Harry to leave the Dursleys. He had expected this, but it still came painfully.
Nonetheless, there were a lot of other exciting things that Harry could do. He could set off Dungbombs and send them to Dudley's room in the middle of the night; he could frighten his Aunt Petunia by Transfiguring her cupcakes into real miniature people that sat chatting in the cupboard until she opened it and screamed; he could vanish Uncle Vernon's keys everytime he tried to get into his car... There were a million possibilities, and Harry tried them all. Suddenly he was paying the Dursleys back for years and years of misery.
The Dursleys had used their old weapon; silence, to get revenge. But it wasn't working as well it usually did, now that Ron was popping in almost every week for a chat. The first time he tried it things went rather badly, and he ended up in the bedroom of a Muggle girl in Ottery St. Catchpole. The twins still enjoyed reminding him of this incident, as though he had wished it to happen. Putting it behind him, Ron had tried again and pleasantly surprised Harry one afternoon as he was pruning the flowers. Hermione dissaproved of the visits; she said Apparating was to be used in a productive way, especially as beginners. But Harry was happy with the company. And when Ron couldn't make his occasional stop at Privet Drive, there were other ways to communicate.
The long, lean figure of Harry Potter twisted around at the noise. He thought he had heard something rustling in his room. Dismissing it as the wind, he didn't bother to look up.
Harry sat up in bed, staring dumbfoundedly into the darkness. Then, he suddenly realized where the voice was coming from. Struggling to escape from the covers, he reached over and put on his round glasses. Inside one of the drawers in his nightstand, he found his two-way mirror.
When you looked closely, it revealed not your reflection, but another face at the other side. In this case, Ron's face.
"Hullo, Ron! What is it that can't wait until the morning?" Harry demanded groggily. He watched Ron's freckled face twisting into a grimace.
"Blimey Harry, I'm sorry, but I just can't stand this anymore!"
Harry waited patiently for an explanation.
"Those... Girls are driving me bonkers!" Ron muttered agitatedly, and Harry heard distinct sounds behind him. A bit as though someone was constantly hitting a puppy.
"Who d'you think? Ginny and Loony! They've been talking the whole night, no consideration at all, and Ginny's been crying her head off!"
This made Harry raise his eyebrows.
"What's wrong with her?"
Ron grumbled something unintelligeable, and when his face reappeared in the mirror Harry could see he was gritting his teeth in fury.
"That- bloody- Thomas!"
"Who?" Harry said again.
"Thomas! Dean Thomas!" Ron cried out, and suddenly everything had gone very quiet behind him. Then the sobbing started again.
"That git left my sister! Left her for some Muggle tart!"
Harry tried to supress a grin. Ron had been very displeased when Ginny and Dean became a couple to begin with, and now he was angry that they were apart.
"I told you it would end badly! It should have been you, not him!" Ron muttered, and suddenly they went quiet. There was still an undescribable awkwardness between the two of them, because the year before they had both liked the same girl. Harry knew that Ron didn't really mean that Harry should have been with Ginny so that he could have been with Hermione, but there seemed to be a subconscious message in what he had said.
"Oh well, Ginny will be alright, you know girls," Harry replied hurriedly. "What's this Muggle girl like? Does she know Dean's a wizard?"
Ron sighed, looking grumpy.
"Apparently 'Thomas' met her through his sister, non-magical, you know. Some friend of hers... I've asked Seamus about it, he said she's very pretty but also very stupid. Dean told her he has paranormal abilities, and she seems to believe him." Ron let out a derisive laugh.
Suddenly he went very quiet again and Harry saw movement at the other side. Ron was walking, with the mirror in his hand, and had now pressed his ear against the wall. It looked very much as though he was eavesdropping on the conversation in the other room.
Harry heard muffled voices.
"But Ginny, you're better off without him, really..." Luna was saying in a calming voice. She was met with another flood of sobs.
"Maybe you can get together with Neville now..." Luna whispered.
Ginny's crying stopped and suddenly she burst out laughing.
"What?! Neville?! He actually seemed rather keen on you last year."
"Oh, maybe so," Luna replied dismissively. "But if you take Neville then I can be with Ronald!" She sounded as though it was a master plan.
There was another flurry of movement in the two-way mirror, and Harry wondered whether Ron had fainted. He was trying very hard not to laugh; he knew it would be perfectly audible at the other side.
"Well, Ron," Harry said, when a completely scarlet face had finally reappeared, "I'm thinking of getting some sleep now... Keep me informed of all that girl-business, will you?"
Ron nodded slowly, as though not aware of his surroundings. Harry put the mirror back into his nightstand, and laid back again. It didn't take long for him to fall asleep again, an amused smile playing over his face. He dreamt of Hogwarts, running through the Forbidden Forest with an over-excited Grawp following him. With each giant step he took, small tremors passed through the earth. They were so realistic that for a moment Harry didn't know if he was still dreaming.
It seemed as though he had barely slept for an instant, when loud banging on Harry's door awoke him again. He looked up slowly, wondering what time it was.
"BOY! OPEN THIS DOOR IMMEDIATELY BEFORE I KNOCK IT DOWN!"
Harry jumped out of his bed, puzzled. Uncle Vernon hadn't talked to him in ages, and suddenly he was waking up all of Privet Drive with his yelling. What did he want? Harry thought back to all the pranks he had commited. Had Uncle Vernon discovered the Monster Book of Monsters flying around the garage?
Reluctantly, Harry unlocked his door and Uncle Vernon stormed into his bedroom, enraged. His veins throbbed madly in his temples, and he had a strange crazed look in his eye; anger mixed with fear.
"What did you do to her?"He asked Harry, slowly and dangerously. Although Harry was now taller than the bulky man, he still took a took a step back; it looked as though all the magic in the world wouldn't stop his lunatic uncle now.
"Do to who?" Harry asked politely. This innocence sparked another one of his uncle's shouting attacks.
"WHO? YOU KNOW BLOODY WELL WHO! PETUNIA LEFT YESTERDAY AT EIGHT O' CLOCK TO HAVE TEA WITH MRS. POLKISS, AND SHE STILL ISN'T BACK! DON'T THINK I DON'T KNOW IT WAS YOU!"
Uncle Vernon jumped forward to grab Harry's shoulder, but he was too quick for him. Harry dodged the groping hands and pulled out his wand, aiming it at his uncle.
The enormous bulge of a man suddenly straightened, his arms and legs coming together sharply and his eyes widening. He fell back, hitting the ground with a dull thud. Harry stared down, horrified at what he had done.
He was allowed to do magic, especially to defend himself. That wasn't what worried him. He'd eventually have to release Uncle Vernon, and explain his actions. But not even that was frightening anymore. It was what he had said.
Aunt Petunia had left to have tea at eight o' clock and never returned... Glancing at his watch, Harry realized it was already five o' clock in the morning. What could possibly have happened to her? He knew that the blood that ran through her veins was what protected him from Voldemort while he was with the Dursleys... But what if Voldemort knew that too?
At Godric's Hollow, a month before, the Dark Lord had said that he could read all of Harry's thoughts, or at least most of them... Not only did Harry know about the protection at Privet Drive, which in a way implied that Voldemort knew, he'd also headed straight to the Dursleys when he needed a place to be safe. Voldemort must have found out and decided to finish with this safety once and for all...
Could it be possible that Aunt Petunia had been attacked by a Death Eater, perhaps even murdered? If so, Harry was no longer safe in Privet Drive. Anyone could come for him, at any given moment...
A tinny, whistling sound startled Harry and made him turn to his desk. On top of it, his Pocket Sneakoscope was spinning out of control.
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