One: Letters from Hogwarts
Harry Potter woke with a start. Drenched in sweat; his chest was tight, he clawed wildly at it his eyes bulging into the darkness as he thrashed on his narrow bed, his mouth opening and closing feebly. Finally, his chest relaxed and the air that eluded him came rushing down his still straining throat, he rolled on his side, coughing. The high cold laughter that chased him out of the dream world echoed in his ears, fear chilled him. F or a great terrible moment it had felt like Voldemort was back! The notion itself was impossible. But it felt all too real.
The room was hot and stuffy and the darkness pressing in on him. Groping with sweaty fingers, Harry flicked on the light’s switch and dull yellow light illuminated the scattered narrow place that was his room. An open trunk rested against the foot of his bed, half crammed with books, robes and socks, a sneakoscope and various knickknacks he had collected over the years in Hogwarts. He had been in the middle of packing before falling asleep. The Weasleys have once again for the last eight months invited him to The Burrow.
Harry had been refusing their invites. He needed some time away from the giant spotlight that had been turned on him as a result of defeating the greatest dark Wizard. It wasn't as if there wasn't a spotlight on him before. A long while ago when he was one, Voldemort had tried to kill him to prevent a prophecy from coming to pass, only for his curse to rebound and destroy his body. Harry was the first person to survive a killing curse, because his mother gave her life to protect him. Over the years Harry had lost more loved ones. In year five he had lost his godfather and then Professor Dumbledore. Recently, he had lost Lupin and Fred. Harry had gotten justice for them by defeating VoldemVoldemort. After all his precautions, the dark lord had died like another mortal man. Harry had seen him die, he kept repeating this to himself to banish his fear of the Voldemort he had seen in his dream.
Harry might not look it, but he was a wizard. A very good one, he'd been told several times by a number of people. He had spent six years learning magic at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and sixteen years at the Dursleys’. They were muggles - what magic folks called people of no magic - and the worst there was. His mother's sister, Petunia, bony and horse-faced and her hateful bulky husband, Vernon, had taken him in when he had been dumped on their doorstep shortly after his parents’ demise. For years he had been treated worse than dirt and had believed the story they had fed him: his parents had died in a car accident, his scar a memento of the crash. Until his eleventh birthday, when Hagrid showed up and told him about his heritage, which gave an explanation to the bizarre things that were always happening around Harry, and what had truly killed his parents, Lord Voldemort, and the scar was a relic of that dreadful night.
Harry made Hogwarts his home. With his friends, Hermione and Ron, the years he spent as a student within the castle walls were his happiest and most memorable. Until Dumbledore died and left him a mission. For a year, when they were supposed to be in the seventh year, the three of them had been on the run, hunting Horcruxes, little pieces of junks Voldemort had splintered his soul into to make himself immortal, and destroying them. Their journey led them back to Hogwarts where Harry learnt he himself was a horcrux, one unintentionally created on that awful night years ago when Voldemort had first tried to kill him. So Harry had to die, but he did come back and when the last Horcrux was destroyed, Voldemort was not so invincible anymore.
It had been a disarming spell that destroyed him. Expelliarmus! A simple one Harry had learnt in his second year at Hogwarts, from Snape the late potions master that Harry hated and he had been sure Snape hated him in return because of his striking resemblance to his father. It wasn't much later than Harry got how much he had misjudged Snape. The man was the catalyst that ultimately led to the dark Lord's downfall. His unending love for Harry's mother and staunch support of Dumbledore.
After the event of the war and the subsequent trials, an overwhelmed Harry had taken a break from the Wizarding world and taken refuge for the last time in NO. 4 Privet drive. Harry wasn't sure of the Dursleys’ feeling when he popped up on their doorstep once again, only after they'd just arrived there themselves some days ago. They too had been hiding from the dark lord in case he wanted to get to Harry through them. They had of course been helped by some wizards on Harry's side. Aunt Petunia had merely held the door open when he rang the doorbell and shut it gently behind him after he entered. Uncle Vernon had glared stoically at the Telly, only his bristling moustache told tale of his feeling. Their big son, Dudley, who had tormented Harry growing up, had given him an encouraging smile.
Harry never thought he'd willingly return to the Dursleys'. He had always had to return because he couldn't spend the summer break at Hogwarts and was always happy for an excuse to leave early for the Burrow or somewhere else. But now, he seemed to almost like it here. No one treated him like he was special, they didn't treat him like -anything. Except Dudley who seemed to want to make up for his years of mistreat.
It was simple at the Dursleys’, the same routine every day, Uncle Vernon went to his work at the Gunning’s - a drill company he owned - and Aunt Petunia spied and gossiped and cleaned up dirt and spots with a diligence bordering on obsession. It was the perfect for Harry, he could mourn in peace without interference. No one knew where he was, except of course for Hermione, Ron and Ginny, his girlfriend. Hermione and Ron had taken a trip to Australia to find Hermione's parents and break the memory charm Hermione had put on them to keep them safe from Voldemort and his followers who were rapidly taking over Britain piece after piece, plunging both the wizarding community and the muggle community into terror. They were all gone now.
Harry frequently corresponded with all three of them, sending letters with the grey owl Hermione had bought for him to replace his owl Hedwig that he had lost to Voldemort. Ron and Hermione had developed a relationship in the months that they travelled together and their letters to Harry had been filled with stories about their trip and little adventures together. It made Harry jealous but he was glad they were both alright. It had been Ginny that changed his mind about hiding away from his world. Her last letter that been forceful and bullying that Harry wondered why she hadn’t saved herself the bother and sent a howler instead. Still it was her letter that shamed him into confronting the fact that his sulking and moping about was doing no one any good. Those that died did so in order to end Voldemort and Harry himself had carried and embodied their purpose, finishing the deed. Their sacrifices should be celebrated and they would be furious their hero was hiding away, wallowing in dark emotions.
Thoroughly shamed, Harry wrote back back that he would be arriving in their place in two days. Which reminded him, he hasn't told the Dursleys of his plans to leave, not that he thought they would mind but it would be rude and they've been...WHAT!!!
A pair of round luminous yellow eyes was staring at Harry through his window, startling him so much he tumbled off his bed hitting his shin quite hard against the trunk. It smarted and his eyes watered, from the next room he heard Dudley's snore falter. His heart thudded against his chest, for fleeting moment he thought it was Dobby staring at him through the window. But that wasn't possible. Dobby was dead, another casualty of the won war. It was only an owl, Harry saw now and cursed himself for being stupid. He picked himself from the floor, wincing when he rested his weight on his still smarting foot and limped to the window.
The owl was huge and dark, it flew unto his bedside table and held itself importantly as Harry removed the letter it was carrying. It took off at once and was lost in the darkness. Harry wondered who sent the letter. This wasn't the owl Hermione or Ron or Ginny sent their letters with. He soon found out who as he spotted the purple seal wax bearing a coat of arms; a lion, an eagle, a badger and a snake surrounding a large letter H. Harry recognised it, it was the seal of Hogwarts and the animals were the emblem of the four houses of Hogwarts. The lion for Gryffindor - Harry and his friends house - the eagle for Ravenclaw, the badger for Hufflepuff and the snake for Slytherin; the house that turned out more dark witches and wizards than any other. It had been Voldemort’s house when he was in school and Snape’s house. Harry had let go of his prejudice against the house in the wake of the brave Slytherins he had met.
Harry turned the envelope over in his hand, occupied in his thoughts. He had felt a jolt at seeing the seal and the longing for the castle that had been his home. The last he had heard about Hogwarts was that it was undergoing repairs. Harry immediately felt guilty again about his hiding away. It felt stupid now.
Why was Hogwarts writing to him? A thought occurred to him and hope rose in him, his hands trembled with anticipation as he broke the seal and fished the letters out.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL of WITCHCRAFT and WIZARDRY
Headmistress Professor Minerva McGonagall
(Order of Merlin first class…)
...so McGonagall is made headmistress, good for her, Harry thought anxiously squashing guilty feeling, getting on with his reading.
Dear Mr H. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been reopened for school activities and you've been invited back for your seventh year.
We await your owl no later than the 31st of August. Term begins on the 1st of September. Please find enclosed your list of school books.
Professor Pomona Sprouts,
Harry sat on his bed heavily, his thoughts racing. To return to Hogwarts, to return home… tears filled his eyes. Astonishing, he felt sad. Hogwarts was where Dumbledore had died, where Fred had died, Lupin and his wife, Lavender Brown and so many others. It was also the place Voldemort met his end. Hogwarts was the culmination of the battle. Would he really want to return to the scene of those horrors? Would he want to walk the place where they had died? But it was the scene of many joys for him. It was his first and true home, he loved it, the good and bad. Harry pondered a while, his chest tightening as he tried to push those painful memories away and focus on this letter. He would see Hagrid again, the half-giant that was his friend. He would see the Gryffindor’s common room for one last year, he would play Quidditch - the wizard sport played on brooms -, he would have feast in the great hall, visit Hogsmeade on weekends and he wouldn't be alone. He wasn't wrong in his assumption that he was the only one the letter was sent to. If he chose to go, he would be surrounded by others like him, survivors. He made his choice.
Harry sat at his desk, vibrating with such urgency. He penned a hasty letter to Hermione and Ron - since they were both in the same place -
I just got a letter from Hogwarts inviting me for the seventh year and I've decided to go. Have you gotten such letter? Ron, I'll be at the Burrows the day after tomorrow. If you'll be back from Australia by then.
He had to wake, Snape, his new owl and tied the letter around his leg.
‘Take this to Ron,’ he urged.
Snape fixed him on him a reproachful look, clicking his beak sharply, not unlike the way Hedwig used to, and nipped him rather hard for disturbing his sleep before taking off. Harry felt oddly drained as Snape's dark body merged in with the darkness. He picked up the second letter and read what books he was going to have to buy.
Course books: All students should have the following.
The Standard Book of Spells (Grade Seven) by Miranda Goshawk
An Advance guide to potions and draughts making by Livonia Battlestone
Defence against the dark arts: simple and complex ways to evade and survive dark arts by Stefan McGregor
Complex transfigurations for Advanced students by Antonius Digger
Dangerous and carnivore plants of the magical world by Lydia Battlestone.