Harry Potter awoke screaming.
His pyjamas clung to his body, sticky with sweat as he lay in his bed, tangled in the sheets. His mind was racing faster than he could fly on his Firebolt.
He'd dreamt of the graveyard again.
The dream was plaguing his mind; Harry could see Cedric slumped on the ground, dead…Pettigrew's bloody stump of an arm…Voldemort's red, gleaming eyes…his promise of revenge…his scream of fury as Harry escaped…
Harry could feel his heart thumping wildly as he grabbed for his glasses and put them on. The wizard disentangled himself from his bed sheets and searched his room looking for anything to distract his train of thoughts from his nightmares and the pain that was pounding in his scar. He had been back at Privet Drive for a number of weeks now and he'd been having nightmares about his last term nearly every night. Luckily for Harry, it seemed that he hadn't been screaming very loudly because his Uncle Vernon hadn't barged in, tell him to be bloody well quiet.
"Where is it?" Harry muttered quietly to himself as he stepped over his higgledy-piggledy pile of schoolbooks and scanned his desk. Stray sweets, pens, and socks lay discarded all over the desk; it wasn't there either, Harry saw. He tiptoed towards his bed, past the sleeping form of his pet snowy owl, Hedwig. Turning to look under his bed, Harry caught sight of himself in his mirror.
His hair was sticking up in all directions, and there were bags under his eyes; his scar stood out in vivid contrast to his skin, as though the pain was making the old scar stand out more. There were sweat stains down the front of his shirt; the night air was hot and thick as it streamed from Harry's open window. Harry thought he looked horrible, but he knew he felt worse than he looked. His nightmares made him feel ill and feverish, and combined with the pain in his scar it made Harry feel as though he had a particularly bad bout of the flu. What he would do for a Pepperup Potion right now…
The magical world fresh on his mind, Harry resumed his search for Parvati Patil's most recent letter.
His girlfriend had been the only one who had written him all summer. Well, Ron, Hermione, and Sirius all had written to Harry, but Parvati's letters actually contained substance. Harry's friends and godfather's letters were very vague; Parvati's were detailed, and even though Parvati stated in them that she thought her letters were very boring, Harry found them interesting to read and an excellent way to pass the scorching hot summer.
"There you are!" Harry whispered, spying the letter. It had been quickly stashed under his lamp on his bedside table when his Aunt Petunia had poked her horsy head into his room, shouting at him to take the rubbish out to the bins. The letter was crumpled, but Harry smoothed it out and found comfort in Parvati's words.
In the letter, Harry's girlfriend had written about how her summer was going. She, thankfully, hadn't had any nightmares, although in her previous letters she had written that the first few nights it was hard for her to sleep. Parvati had seen her best friend Lavender Brown a few times, as they lived in the same suburb. Parvati had mentioned how she hadn't had another vision apart from a rather odd one where she Saw her twin sister going to feed her cat two hours before Padma was going to do it. Parvati had gone on about how exasperated she was; what type of vision was that meant to be?! She was very much in the dark about her psychic abilities, which unnerved her. Harry had written back yesterday, telling her that she shouldn't worry about it. He had told her that he missed her much more than she could, which had become a recurring teasing argument between them; they both believed that they missed the other more.
Harry had also written that he couldn't wait until the end of the holidays when he would see her; Parvati's mother had been in contact with Ron's father as Harry would be staying at the Burrow with the Weasley's and Hermione. However, apparently there was a problem with the Floo network. As far as Harry could understand (for both Ron and Parvati were rather undescriptive about what was happening), Harry would be going from the Dursley's fire (which would be hooked up with the Floo network once again) to Parvati's house, and then he would be going to Ron's house via Parvati's Floo. According to Ron and Parvati, there was a glitch in the network and the only way they could get around it was to go via two fires. Harry honestly didn't care about if there was a problem with a Wizarding travel system: he would be seeing Par and Ron and Hermione! He had missed them so much!
Harry's mind and heart eventually slowed as he relaxed and settled back into his sheets. Still wearing his glasses and holding Parvati's letter, Harry fell asleep once again, and didn't wake til late in the morn.
Padma was leaning in the doorway of her sister and her's shared bedroom. The late afternoon sunlight was streaming in through the window. Parvati shared a smile with her sister as she apologised.
"Sorry, I was daydreaming…" She had been trying to think of what Harry had bought her for her birthday. The darkhaired girl had celebrated her fifteenth birthday a short time ago, and Harry had been dropping unhelpful hints in his letters as what it might be, which left her guessing.
Padma rolled her eyes. "I've tried calling you like a million times, Lavender's downstairs waiting for you."
"Oh!" cried Parvati. She'd almost forgotten that Lav was coming over today.
Soft footfalls sounded that Lavender was coming up the stairs, and a moment later, she appeared at the door. Lavender was wearing a short blue dress; appropriate for the scorcher the summer was turning into.
"Parvati!" she cried and engulfed her best friend in a huge hug.
"Hey, Lavender!" said Parvati happily. In the corner of her eye, she saw Padma leave the room, taking a novel with her. Parvati and Lavender sat down on Parvati's bed, Lavender hugging her favourite purple cushion. "How have you been?"
"I've been great, I got this new shampoo, and it smells like lavender." Lav and Par shared a smile.
"Ironic, I like it," said Parvati in approval. Lavender giggled and waved her hand towards Parvati's hair, "I like the new haircut, the layers really make your cheekbones stand out. And it's started to curl at the ends! It's no wonder since your mum has a head full of ringlets."
Parvati settled back, leaning on the pillows. With the last few months being so eventful, it was lovely to just sit and have a normal conversation.
"How's your mum going? She'd be what, four or five months along now?"
Lavender just rolled her eyes. "It's like this baby has renewed their love for another or something. I mean, it's nice to picture it, but when it's your parents… Lavender made a retching sound. I found them snogging while they were cooking the tortellini last night!"
"It's called hormones."
"You'd think when my mum has a stomach the size of a Quaffle they'd stop doing that stuff. But whatever. Enough about my family. So Dean and Seamus and I were going to the movies or something because Seamus has no idea what they are, and they want to know if you want to come."
Parvati faltered, and summoned up her Gryffindor courage the sorting hat had told her she possessed.
"Lav," confessed Parvati, "I've gotta tell you something. It's a big secret, you can't tell anyone. I've just got to get it off my chest, and you deserve to know. It's why I won' be able to come with you, Dean and Seamus."
Lavender leant in closer. "How important is this secret?"
"Remember how you told me never to tell anyone about what you and Blaise Zabini did in the secret hiding spot behind the portrait near the Slytherin common room instead of being in Potions class?"
Lavender had the grace to look guilty, but nodded.
"Yeah, well, this secret is like that, except if you tell anyone people could actually die," Parvati said seriously. "No joke."
Lavender nodded in understanding, being uncharacteristically focused. Parvati took a deep breath and revealed the secret.
"I won't be around for the last few weeks on the holidays. Mum's joining this thing called the Order."
Harry kicked back, and the chains creaked as he swung. The playground was in need of repair; Dudley's gang had made sure of that. He had woken up late and had seized his opportunity to get outside. Although the weather was hot, it was better than being near the Dursley's, even if the swing seat was a little hot.
They were much more annoyed at his existence this year because of the incident with the Floo when Harry was going to the Quidditch World Cup. It didn't help that he would need to leave via their fire again this summer, but Harry didn't care; he would be free of this hellhole soon. Aunt Petunia could give him all the chores she wanted; he was leaving soon, regardless.
Loud cheers brought Harry out of his reverie; Dudley's gang were near the slide at the park.
"Hey, Big D!" they were shouting. "Look who it is, it's wee little Pothead!"
Harry groaned bitterly. Great, just what he needed.
The gang sauntered over to Harry. The green-eyed wizard stuck his hand in his jacket, his hand clamped in his wand tightly. He stood up, ready to face the gang.
"Hey Potter," said Dudley as his gang of loyal idiots chortled. "I heard you moaning last night."
A long, thin gang member whistled as the others continued laughing.
"What?" spat Harry.
Dudley's five chins wobbled as he too laughed, "I hear you moaning in your sleep! 'Don't kill Cedric! Mum! Dad! Please, help!' who's Cedric, your boyfriend?"
Harry raised an eyebrow, his stance cocky. "No, and I don't think my girlfriend would be too pleased with me if I did."
Dudley and his ugly friends stopped laughing. "That little slag you kissed at the train station?" Dudley repeated. "Who the bloody hell would want to go out with a freak like you! She must be a bit of a freak herself then."
"Don't you dare!" growled Harry grabbing his wand and threatening at Dudley.
"Oh no!" wailed Dudley's ratty friend Piers mockingly. "Pothead's got a stick! What are you going to, Potter, beat us with it?"
Piers, nor any of Dudley's crew, didn't notice Dudley who had gone quiet and deathly pale. Harry and Dudley stood, staring at each other for what seemed like an age. Dudley seemed to be too scared to move and Harry wasn't going to back down.
"Aww, man, this is shit. I'm gone," muttered Piers after a while, and slowly the gang trickled out until there was no one left.
Dudley finally turned away, and then quickly froze.
It was then that Harry felt it. A cold, sickening hand was grabbing his heart. He felt like he had been doused in a bucket of ice-cold water. The icy fear of Dementors.
"What are you doing, Potter? Stop it!" Dudley screamed, terrified. "Stop it!"
When Harry looked back on it, it just seemed like such a blur.
Cold, so cold…death…his mother's terrified screams…"Expecto Patronum!"…Mrs Figg…carrying Dudley…Sirius and Mrs Weasley's letters: Stay where you are…Aunt Petunia's pale face…remember my last…
"Give me your hand, Harry," Aunt Petunia snapped, her fingernails raking into his wrist as she grabbed it. She opened a bottle of disinfectant and started to treat the wounds, and Harry winced.
"Oh, grow up," his aunt ordered, and Harry frowned, trying to ignore the sting of the disinfectant on his cut hand. He'd fallen when he had carried Dudley, scraping his hand on the concrete. He was sore and bruised all over.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked, suspicious of his aunt's actions.
"I am cleaning your wounds," started Petunia, pressing harder on a particularly deep cut than before, "because I do not want the neighbours to see you like this." Here she indicated his rather battered and bruised body with a tilt of her head before continuing rather shrilly. "I will not have the neighbours thinking less of Vernon, Duddykins and I- our reputation is damaged enough as it is with the idea that you go to a school for criminals!"
Harry did not even bother to mention that it was her husband's idea to say Harry went to St Brutus' School for Incurably Criminal Boys. The raven-haired teen waited a few beats before venturing to ask about Dumbledore's warning.
"What other letters has Dumbledore sent you, Aunt Petunia?"
Afterwards, Harry realised that he should of waited until Petunia had finished tending to his hand, as the question shocked her greatly enough that she knocked into the bottle of disinfectant, which toppled over and spilled onto Harry's cut up hand. The green-eyed teenager yelped out in pain, jumping backwards, while Petunia shrieked at the mess that was now on her floor.
Harry's aunt shrieked at him, her eyes wide. "Out, out! Out of my kitchen! Go get cleaned up in the bathroom, I will not have the neighbours see you look like this!" Petunia's voice was shrill as she continued to order her nephew. "Come back down once you're done and I'll fix up your cuts!"
Harry started to back away, deciding to leave as his aunt continued to rave. "Stupid, stupid boy, completely ruined my tiles…"
The green-eyed teenager exited quickly, the thought of a warm shower enticing him. He didn't see his aunt pause, a concerned, almost frightened expression covering her face. He didn't know that the source of her concern was him.
"The Order?" questioned Lavender, obviously confused.
"It's this organisation that's going to fight against You-Know-Who and try to get people to realise that he's back."
Lavender's eyes were wide.
"You do believe Harry and I, don't you Lav? We did see You-Know-Who, he is back!" protested Parvati. Now that Parvati thought on it, she and Lavender hadn't talked about what happened at all, apart from the fact that she was a Seer…
"Of course I do, Pav!" cried Lavender. "You would never lie to me, and it was obvious that whatever killed Cedric Diggory in that graveyard wasn't just a tragic accident like the papers are saying. But, wow…so where is this Order place?"
Parvati smiled broadly; Thank Godric for Lavender Brown. Although she was sometimes she was shallow, Lavender always pulled through in the end. She was very loyal; a mark of a true Gryffindor.
"I don't know where it is exactly," replied Parvati, "somewhere in London, I'm pretty sure. Harry's coming via the Floo to our house, and then we'll all head to the Order headquarters. According to Mum, the ministry is watching the Floo network, so we're going to try and throw them off the scent by going through two fires."
"That's so cool," said Lavender, awed. "It sounds more fun than my summer's going to be. I'll be avoiding my parents all holidays. So Harry's going to join the Order too, or something?"
Parvati frowned. "Um, no…he's going with us because he's got to be protected. Professor Dumbledore- who's the head of the Order- thinks that Harry and maybe me will be targeted by You Know Who."
Lavender gasped and grabbed Parvati's hadn't tightly. "You Know Who wants you dead?"
"Well, I am Harry's girlfriend…" Parvati began easily, but was cut of by a rather alarmed Lavender.
"Then why don't you break up with him! Then the crazy murderer guy won't kill you!"
Parvati sighed; she had already had this conversation with her mother. "No, I'm not going to break up with him. I won't, I can't. I feel like we've got something really special--"
'It's a special present for a special girl…' A man smiled, and a little girl giggled.
'Daddy, can we open it now?'
'We're just waiting for Mummy, sweetheart…Parvati, have you got the camera? Parvati?'
Lavender slapped her friend across the face, and the dark-haired girl was brought back to present. Parvati's heart was racing.
"What the hell was that?!" cried Lavender hysterically. "Your voice went all weird and you kept saying 'special' and you didn't blink for like five minutes."
Parvati tried to keep herself calm. "I had a vision…"
"A vision? What happened?"
"I don't know, it was really vague…but it was the future, I could tell, it felt like it was the future…and there was a little girl, and a man- the girl's father – and she wanted to…to open a present and then the man asked if I had a camera, and kept calling my name…"
Parvati looked down at her hands; they were shaking. She and Lavender heard footfalls ascending the stairs, and a second later Padma had rushed into the room.
"I heard Lavender scream," she said breathlessly. "What happened?"
"I had a vision," replied Parvati, and explained her vision once again. Padma was fiddling with her long plait as she said thoughtfully, "Do you think you could have been the mother in the vision?"
Parvati quirked an eyebrow and Lavender's mouth fell open. "You think I was the mum?"
"I know there's got to be thousands of other Parvati's in the world," reasoned Padma, "but you were talking about Harry and you just before you had the vision. Maybe that train of thought brought upon the vision?"
Parvati shook her head. "I wasn't thinking about You-Know-Who when that vision happened, and I wasn't thinking about Liquorice when I got the vision about you feeding him."
"Maybe strong emotions trigger visions."
Lavender looked impressed by this idea. "Professor Trelawney often says that emotions are vital in divination."
Something registered in Parvati's mind. "When I first Saw You-Know-Who, I'd been anxious because I had handed in my essay with all this junk written all over it, and then I had a vision that made me even more anxious…but that doesn't explain the vision about the cat…"
"Maybe you were feeling hungry?" offered Padma weakly.
Parvati groaned. "This doesn't make any sense."
Padma crossed her arms over her chest, looking determined. "There's got to be logical reason, Parvati. Don't worry, we'll figure it out."
Parvati nodded miserably; it seemed she had all these questions and no answers. Were her visions triggered by something? Who was the man in the vision? Could the girl be her daughter?
Lavender glanced at her best friend's twin, muttering, "Ravenclaw," as Parvati sighed.
She hoped Harry was having more fun than this.
Harry savoured the feel of warm water on his skin, as the chill the Dementors had brought slowly started to ebb away. The cold feeling had remained all last night and this morning; Harry had been sent up to his room following the incident and had not been allowed out to get anything to eat or have a shower. Dudley had eaten all of his secret stash of chocolate (as Aunt Petunia in conjunction with Dudley's diet forbade sweets in the house); the sweet substance seemed to be the only sure-fire cure to get rid of the Dementor's ghostly chill. The warm water cascaded down Harry's face and back, and he ran his hands through his messy, now wet, hair. The warm water felt so good…
The bathroom door banged open, and Dudley stood in the doorway. Harry cried out, embarrassed and outraged at the fact that his cousin had walked in on him naked, silently thanking the stars that the heat from the water had created enough steam so that he was not fully exposed. Dudley locked his piggy eyes on Harry, rested a hand on the hot water tap of the sink basin and turned it on full. "Here's for what you did tonight, freak." Dudley sneered. Harry yelled out in anger, letting out a few choice swearwords as Dudley quickly waddled from the room and Harry's shower water suddenly turned frigidly cold.
The boy with the lightning scar's brain seems to be stuck for a moment, before he quickly reacted. Harry turned off the water, and the hot tap, grabbed a towel, shivering. Once dry, he hurriedly put on his clothes, trying to get warm again.
With the way things were going, he'd probably get a lecture from his paranoid aunt and angry uncle about how the neighbours might have heard him scream, and that there would be no more funny business or he wouldn't eat for a week. Of course, precious Diddydums wouldn't get in trouble; all three of them would see Dudley's antics as justifiable payback. His relatives were just so- so- arghh! Harry kicked the side of the bath angrily, grimacing as pain shot up his foot.
Harry just hoped his friends were having a better time of it.
Half an hour later, there was a knock at Parvati' door. Leah Patil poked her head in, looking worried. "Lavender, dear, I'm afraid you'll have to go home. Something's come up and I need my girls."
Parvati and Lavender traded looks. "Okay, Leah," said Lavender, seeing that Ms Patil was rather concerned by something and she said her goodbyes.
Downstairs Lavender Brown gave a wave before stepping into the fire and yelling "Marigold Cottage!", the affectionate name of her home given by her grandmother, and disappearing from Parvati's home.
"What's going on?" asked Parvati and Padma in unison. Their mum sighed.
"Harry Potter's been attacked by Dementors."
Parvati swore loudly, and Padma asked sharply, "Who sent them?"
Leah shook her head. "I don't know, I haven't been given all the details. The point is, Harry's tonight. We need to start packing now." Her eyes looked watery.
Leah moved forward and pulled her girls into a warm hug. "I'm so sorry, girls, but it just seems like without your father here we can't stay out of trouble." Leah stroked Parvati's face. "I'm sure Harry will be fine, sweet." Parvati nodded into her mother's embrace.
Behind them, someone coughed. Parvati turned and stared.Professor Lupin, a tall dark man, a pink haired woman and a blonde woman were standing near the fire. The pink haired witch was brushing Floo ash out of her hair.
"Professor Lupin!" exclaimed Parvati and Padma together. "What are you doing here?"
"He's part of the Order," explained their mum.
Lupin smiled. "It's lovely to see you two again. Now, I suppose I should introduce these guys…" He pointed to the tall man, "Kingsley Shacklebolt," then to the blonde woman, "Hana Aldridge," and finally to the pink haired woman, "Nymphadora Tonks."
"It's just Tonks," interjected the witch. "I curse my mother every day for giving me a name like Nymphadora."
"We're going to get Harry and then come back here," finished Lupin.
"Do you know if Harry's okay?" asked Parvati worriedly. Lupin gave a reassuring smile.
"Yes, he's fine, just probably a little bruised and confused about the whole thing. He doesn't know about the Order or anything like that, you see, Dumbledore thought it too dangerous for that type of information to passed on through the post."
Parvati was satisfied with that answer, but couldn't wait to see Harry again.
Shacklebolt nodded to Lupin, and the Order members stepped through the fire, yelling "Number 13, Privet Drive!"
Leah gave her daughters a smile. "Time to start packing!"
Harry ran downstairs to see the oddest thing he'd ever seen in his life. Remus Lupin and three other magical folk were sitting at the Dursley's dining room table with Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley. The Dursley's looked frightened and the Wizarding people seemed to be very amused by this. The blonde witch traded a grin with Lupin.
"Harry," said Remus warmly. "It's lovely to see you again. I must get straight to the point, I'm afraid- there's been a slight change of plans. You'll be leaving tonight. In light of recent events, it's easy to see why. Be ready in ten minutes, and then it's off to the Patil's."
Harry stepped out of the flames that engulfed him and fell straight into the tightest hug he had ever had in his life. He recognised Parvati's jasmine and citrus scent, and he looked up into her beautiful face. He felt happier than he had been in so damn long.
"It's great to see you," he said, and Parvati kissed him soundly.
A strangled sort of noise broke them apart. They looked up to see Parvati's mother looking highly amused. Parvati's blushed. Harry readjusted his glasses and held out his hand.
"Harry Potter, m'am, it's a pleasure to meet you, Ms Patil."
"It's very nice to meet you too Harry," said Leah kindly, sharing a look with Parvati as she shook her daughters' boyfriend's hand. A look that said, I'm impressed.
Parvati giggled. She was pretty sure that her mum had never been called m'am in her life. Thank Merlin Harry was polite!
Harry let go of Parvati's mother's hand, and turned to Remus, who was motioning for him to step through the fire. "Harry, I want you to say Grimmauld Place clearly, okay?"
Harry frowned. "I'm not going to the Burrow?"
Tonks shook her head. "No, and we're all coming with you to the same place. Just say it, Harry, and we'll explain when we get there."
Harry nodded obediently, gave Parvati a cheeky smile, and said the words and the fire blanketed him as he spun around, around, and around…