Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chapter 2: Back to the Burrow

I am a huge Harry Potter Fan. Besides reading each book over and over again, I have read a lot of fanfictions from all over the places. So, I decided to try and write one myself. I know that its going to be nothing compared to the original series, yet I would love it if you read and review it for me. 
Note: Anything that you recognize in this story belongs to J.K.Rowling.  ________________________________________________________________________________ 

Next morning when Harry woke up, he realized that he had slept through breakfast. He got up and showered. By the time he went downstairs, uncle Vernonhad already left for his office. ‘Good’ Harry thought to himself. He needed to talk to his aunt and Dudley. Harry entered the kitchen, half expecting to find his aunt still there. Aunt Petunia was there, trying to coax a tired looking Dudley to eat something. “Aunt Petunia, I need to talk to you.” Petunia Dursley looked up. “If you want breakfast then you have to make it for yourself.”
“Its about Dudley.” Harry said not looking at his aunt and busying himself preparing his breakfast. “I think he performed magic yesterday. He might be a wizard.”
“Don’t talk rubbish. My Dudders is not a freak like you. He is normal.” Something in her voice did not sound okay. Harry turned to face her. “Yesterday the death eaters had him in a full body bind curse. Its impossible to move unless the curse is lifted and Dudley was moving, trying to get up on his feet before anyone could help him. Something else also happened. Something that threw the death eaters off their feet and it wasn’t me and they certainly did not do it to themselves. There was no one else around.”
“So what? I don’t know what you are getting at, but my Dudders is not a wizard.”
“Then how did it happen?”
“How do I know? You should know what you freaks did yesterday. You hurt Dudley and now you tell me that Dudley is a freak like you? Some nerve you have.”
“But mum, I think Harry is right.” Both Harry and Petunia Dursley looked at Dudley. He continued in a weak voice. “Odd things have been happening to me. Last time I had a fight with my friends and I got angry. Then suddenly things started flying around the place and crashing against the floor and the wall. One almost hit Piers. Before that at school, few guys cornered me at school and they got hurt without me even touching them. My friends have stopped talking to me because they think that I did some sort of black magic or voodoo.” Both Harry and his aunt sat stunned. The smell of eggs burning brought them back to reality. A reality that Petunia was not prepared to accept. “There has to be some other explanation for this. Dudleycan not be…”
“I was pretty sure about it yesterday, aunt Petunia. Now I am totally convinced. Things like this happen. Remember all the odd things that used to happen to me as a kid whenever I was upset or scared or angry? Only now I have learnt to control it at school. By the way Dudley, can I ask you something?” Dudley looked up at Harry and nodded. “What did you see when the dementors got near you?”
Dudley looked back at his plate. After few minutes, he glanced at his mother from the corner of his eyes and said “I thought of all the times things had gone wrong and I heard mum crying out saying that I wasn’t a freak.”
“But it is not possible. Not after all these years…”
“What do you mean by ‘after all these years’?”
“When Dudley was a kid, even before you landed up with us, things used to happen. Once I got a letter from Dumbledore informing me that Dudley… that Dudley had m-magic in him. He said that it is often seen that there can be more than one magical person over generations in any non-magical family. Lily was first in ours and Dudley was next.”
“Then how come Dudley did not get a letter like me? How come he never did magic in front of me before?”
“When I got the letter, I was so terrified of what Vernon would say… what everyone else would say? Besides, I didn’t get a good impression of ‘your world’ when Lily got herself blown up. She died young and abnormally. I did not want that to happen to our Dudders. I thought that Vernonwould blame me for it. So I wrote back to Dumbledore saying that Dudley would never enter that world and I did not tell Vernonanything. After that I always tried to keep Dudders happy since things happened only when he was upset.” So that explained all the pampering and Aunt Petunia’s guilty look last year when Dumbledore had accused them of mistreating Dudley.
“But its not so bad. Not everyone dies like my mum and dad. Dudleywould have learnt a lot by now and these would not happen accidentally anymore. Life could be much easier for you too with Dudley’s help once he turned of age.”
“How come your parents died so early? Even your godfather died last year and Voldemort is after you. You hang around with people like Remus… and you say it’s safe?!”
“What do you mean by ‘people like Remus’? What do you know about Professor Lupin?”
“He was your mother’s friend. He had tried to talk me into going to Lily’s wedding. He tried to tell me what a nice person Lily was, how much Lily wanted me to be at her wedding… and I know that he is a werewolf.”
“You know a lot about us for a person who pretends that our world doesn’t even exist. If you really know so much, then you should have realized that Professor Lupin wouldn’t hurt a fly. He is a very loving and loveable person. And that everyone’s fate is not like mine or my parents. You should have sent Dudley to school with me aunt Petunia. You just can’t keep these things a secret for forever. It had to come out someday. And now, knowing everything, how will Dudley fit in here knowing that he belongs somewhere else? He has already lost his friends and he will keep loosing people, jobs, everything… unless he learns to control the magic. You did not even think that you and uncle wouldn’t always be around and then he’d be left alone. I can see what Dumbledore meant when he said that you mistreated Dudley more than me. You can’t just stamp this out of a person, you know.” With that Harry left the kitchen, giving his aunt something to think about.

Harry was barely aware of how time passed by him that morning. He had had anything since yesterday evening, yet he was hardly hungry. Soon it was almost noon. The order members would be there to get him. He dragged his trunk and Hedwig’s cage downstairs to wait for them. He had the wand and the invisibility cloak in his hand. He had decided to keep the cloak with him at all times, like last year. Harry did not have to wait for long. The doorbell rang exactly at twelve o’clock. Harry went to get the door. He was surprised to find Fred and George standing and grinning.
“Hello Harry.”
“How are you?”
“Heard you kept up with times and stirred up the death eaters.”
“Yeah, blasted off three death eaters all by yourself!!”
“We are so proud of you.”
“Yeah, real proud.”
Harry could not help smiling at the twins. He said, “You are my escort? Where are the others?”
“Fred, do you get the feeling that ‘the-boy-who-lived’ wanted a bunch of aurors to guard him.”
“Yes I do George. Why? Aren’t we sufficient for the ‘chosen-one’?”
“No, no. Actually, I am glad that there aren’t aurors here. Its just that yesterday Professor Lupin said that the members of the order would be here to get me. I did not expect you two.”
“The order felt that Voldemort might be keeping an eye around here. They did not want to attract their attention by sending a bunch of people. They sent us because everyone knows we are pals and this would look like just a friendly visit and nothing else. Besides, we are now full time members of the Order of the Phoenix. Mum wasn’t too happy. But now that we are of age and out of school, they could not come up with any other reason to stop us.”
“Although mum did try by saying that we didn’t complete school. We dropped out. But George here was good enough to point it out that the last time we tried to join, she had said that we had to be ‘out of school’ and not ‘complete’ school.”
“Last year we could not join because of the business. We had just set it up and had to give time to it. But now with it flourishing and Lee as a partner we were unstoppable.”
“Besides, with Dumbledore gone and all, we want to do our bit too.” Harry’s face paled a bit at the mention of Dumbledore. Fred noticed it and carefully changed the topic. “Now Harry, we can’t stand here at the door and chat all day.”
“So ready to go?”
“Ready to face mum, Harry?”
“Yeah. Just hold on a second. I just need to say goodbye to my aunt. Why don’t you come in? By the way, I need to ask you a question first. When did you give me the Marauder’s map?”
“Oh great! Now you come up with the question?”
“After giving us five whole minutes of cursing time?”
“You are such a genius, Harry.”
“Maybe he hurt his head yesterday.”
“If it makes you happy… we gave it to you as an early Christmas gift back in your third year.”
“Right. Come on in. But please no pranks. Specially on Dudley. He was under Cruciatus yesterday. So please.”
“Alright Harry. If you say so.”
Harry went to look for his aunt and found her in the kitchen, sitting in the same position he had left her in the morning. “Aunt Petunia, my friends are here. I am leaving… Err, thank you for keeping me and providing for me. Hopefully, you won’t have to see me again.” With this, Harry turned to leave but stopped when Petunia spoke up. “Harry, can you ask Dumbledore if he can do something for Dudley now? I will handle Vernon. But you are right; we will not be here forever. So will you ask Dumbledore if Dudders can go to your school now?” Harry did not turn to face Petunia. Instead, he stood with his back to her.
“Professor Dumbledore is… he is… he was killed last term. That is why our school closed down early. But I will ask Professor McGonagall. She is in charge now.”
“Dumbledore is dead?” There was fear in Petunia Dursley’s voice for the first time. “But he was the best wizard. Voldemort was scared of him. Wasn’t he?”
“Yes he was. But now Dumbledore is gone.” Harry almost choked on those last words. ‘Dumbledore is gone.’
“But then, without his protection, you are in great danger.” Harry finally faced his aunt. She seemed genuinely concerned. “I know it can never be the same without Dumbledore. He meant a lot to me. But I still have my friends and I have Professor Lupin. I am not afraid. I know what I have to face and I know that I am not alone. Even if I die like my parents, I will get to see them, Sirius, and Dumbledore again. So, do not worry aunt Petunia. Whether I win or whether I loose, either way I will be happy in the end.” Petunia was at a loss of words. She just stared at Harry. “Now I really have to go. They are waiting for me. And don’t worry; I’ll do my best to ensure that everything is right for Dudley.”

Harry found the twins waiting for him at the door. “What’s this about Dudley going to Hogwarts?” So extendable ears had been in use. “I’ll tell you once we get to the Burrow. How are we going?”
 “We’ve already sent your stuff to the Burrow. You have your cloak with you, right? So put it on. We’ll walk to Mrs. Figg’s and then one of us is going to side-along-apparate you from there.” With one last look at his uncle’s house, Harry left with the twins.

As they apparated in front of the Burrow, Harry felt relaxed and happy after a long time. He had hardly entered the kitchen with the twins when Mrs. Weasley came rushing, “Oh thank god you are here Harry. I have been so worried. Death eaters at Little Whinging! I couldn’t believe it and you had to face them all alone. Oh dear! You have grown so thin. Did those awful muggles starve you?” Harry found himself in a bone-crushing hug and saw the twins grinning over Mrs. Weasley’s shoulders. “Now, let me fix you a proper lunch. By the way dear, your things are already up at the twins’ old room.”
“Thanks Mrs. Weasley. I am glad to be back. By the way, where’s everyone?”
“Bill, Fleur and Charlie have gone over to Fleur’s for the day. Ron and Ginny are upstairs, fixing a few things. They’ll be down soon.” Mrs. Weasley replied while busying herself at the stove. Fred and George bade Harry goodbye and left for their shop.

Mrs. Weasley had barely set a loaded plate in front of Harry when Ron and Ginny entered the kitchen. “We are done for today mum… hey mate, when did you get here?” Ron said sitting down beside Harry.
“Hi Harry.”
“Hi. Just a few minutes back.”
“So, how was your vacation back there? I mean besides the attack?”
“It was okay.”
“Did your aunt and uncle trouble you? You never wrote much,” said Ginny, who was now helping her mother.
“No. They simply avoided me and I stayed out of their way.”
“So what exactly happened there? I mean, I know that you were attacked and that you came out of it okay, but no one told us anything else.” So Harry told them everything in details. He even told them that he actually had a decent conversation with Dudley. Mrs. Weasley stopped whatever she was doing and listened to everything that Harry said. Ginny seemed angry when Harry told that he was put under the crutiatus and Ron mumbled ‘wicked’ when Harry got to the part where the death eaters were blown back. They all discussed the attack throughout Harry’s meal.

 Later Harry and Ron were up at Ron’s room, talking about much lighter things when Hermoine apparated in the room and before Harry could even realize it, he was engulfed in brown bushy hair. “Oh thank God Harry. I was so worried that you would do something stupid and leave without us. And that attack at your home…”
“Hermoine, give him a break. He just got away from mum fussing.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Hermoine. So how have you been?” asked Harry when Hermoine finally let go of him frowning at Ron’s comment.
“Been researching mostly. With my apparition license, traveling has been easy. I have been spending some time here. Also, I went over to Sirius’s library for more books.”
“So did you find anything? I still feel that it’s something of Ravenclaw cause Dumbledore was pretty sure that the sword is Gryffindor’s only relic.”
“No I haven’t found anything about either of the founder’s relics. I just wish that I could access the Hogwart’s library. However, I did find a book on horcruxes at the headquarters. Weird thing is that it tells a lot about creating a horcrux but nothing about destroying one.”
“What’s so weird about that?”
“Well, one would think that people would write more about destroying such a dark thing rather than about how to create one.”
“We can get to the destroying part later. First we need to find one in order to be able to destroy it,” said Harry, clearly disappointed. He was so sure that Hermoine would be ready with all the answers when he finally met her.
“Don’t worry Harry, we will find all the answers with time.”
“That’s exactly it. How much time do we have? With Dumbledore out of his way, Voldemort is killing people outright. I have been getting the Daily Prophet Ron. There has been so many murders. He is killing both muggles and wizards ruthlessly. We have to do something soon.”
“We know Harry. We do realize the gravity of the situation. But we are no Dumbledore. We need time,” said Hermoine, patting Harry on the back.
“I wish Dumbledore was here. If it wasn’t for Draco and Snape, he would have been here. If I ever find them, I am going to kill those two traitors. And, Lucius thinks that I know where Draco is… if I knew I would have already killed him.”
“What?” Hermoine practically shouted.
“I said, if I knew where he was I would have killed him already.”
“No not that. Lucius thinks you know where Draco is?”
“Yes,” said Ron and then he told Hermoine all about the attack on Harry. Hermoine sat there thinking and finally said, “I wonder what made him think so? But this means that Draco is on the run. Maybe…”
“Maybe what Hermoine? You can not possibly think that the order has him. Even if they had him, they would have handed him over to the ministry. After all, everyone knows about his… his involvement now. He has the mark.”
“I was thinking that maybe Voldemort wasn’t happy with his failure. He did not… he did not do it even though he got the chance. So, maybe he came to the order for help and protection.”
“But the order would never protect him. He may not have cursed Dumbledore but he was responsible for having him cornered and wandless and also getting all those death eaters into the school.”
“Yes, but you told us all that Dumbledore offered to protect him and his family. The order would certainly respect that.”
“The order doesn’t have him. I have asked Lupin and Tonks. They said they have to look into it. By the way, what’s up with the order? Who’s leading it?”
“The order members originally thought that Professor McGonagall would be taking over. But then somehow that did not happen. Moody is the new head of Order of the Phoenix. We heard that Dumbledore wanted it that way and even Prof. McGonagall did not want that responsibility. She said she had enough on her plate regarding Hogwarts.”
“So do they know anything about Voldemort yet?”
“We have no idea what they are upto. When Fred and George joined the order, we thought they’d tell us. But have been as tight lipped as the others. They only time we get to hear anything is at dinner when everyone discusses deaths or missing people. But we hardly hear anything new. They basically discuss the things that are already on prophet.” Ginny entered the room at that moment to announce that dinner was ready. Hermoine said that she would come over on the day before Bill and Fleur’s wedding and disapparated. Harry and Ron followed Ginny to dinner.

Harry spent the next few days helping the Weasleys to prepare for the wedding. Charlie was back to help the order. He, Bill and the twins were mostly out on order business. So, Harry was left with Ron and Ginny. They chatted and joked while working together. Time seemed to fly by them. The wedding itself was to be a small affairs. Only the Weasleys and the Delacours were to attend. However, high security measures had to be taken. Bill himself had set up the ward and order members were supposed to be present too. Besides there would be some highly trained ministry aurors guarding too. Bill had made Charlie his best man and Ginny and Gabrielle were Fleur’s bridesmaid.

The Weasley life wasn’t dull for a moment. Bill, who was tall, slim and had the looks of a rock star was simply ‘cool’. Ginny had a bond with Bill that Harry admired a lot. It was perfectly clear from their interactions that Ginny simply idolized her eldest brother and she in turn, was the center of Bill’s world. Bill told them about his experiences at the tombs in Egyptand some of the ancient Egyptian magic. He  often taught them new interesting spells and Harry discovered that Ginny had learned her famous ‘bat-bogey hex’ from Bill. Charlie, on the other hand, was quite different from Bill. He had a broad, weather-beaten face with so many freckles that it looked almost tanned. Charlie's build, like that of his twin brothers, Fred and George, is shorter and stockier than that of Percy and Ron, who were long and lanky. He too had lots of stories to tell about the dragons that he worked on at Romania. Harry liked to talk to him about ‘Quidditch’. He found out that Charlie had completed school the year before Harry started at Hogwarts. He was amazed to hear that Charlie had got an offer to play for a national league team, but had turned it down. Whenever Fleur was around, Charlie had that dreamy look on his face. Bill often had to whack him on his head to get him out of it. Harry realized that Fleur did not affect him any longer and even Ron seemed to be out of it. The twins still lived in their apartment over their shop but often dropped by for dinner.

Dinner, when the whole family got together, was mostly a grave affair at Burrow. Arthur, Bill and Charlie tend to discuss matters at dinner. They always got to hear the news of various deaths and disappearances. Harry found out that Florean Fortescue, the owner of the ice cream parlor at Diagon Alley, had been found dead. His body was left in front of his closed down shop with the dark mark hovering above it. There was also an attack on the Smiths’. They all had however, managed to escape. Their house was later found in ruins and the dark mark had appeared again. Harry knew Zacharias Smith, a fellow Hufflepuff at Hogwarts. Though they did not share a particularly ideal relationship, Harry felt bad for him. Even ernie Pang, the Knight Bus driver, had died in an attack in his neighborhood. There were various attacks on muggles. They were all tortured before being killed. These news always left Harry restless, feeling guilty for not doing anything to stop Voldemort. His nightmares had however reduced. He did have them thought most of the days he did not remember having them when he woke up.

Hermoine had paid a brief visit to show Harry a photo of Godric Gryffindor holding his sword. She too had concluded that the sword was the only thing that seemed important enough for Voldemort’s purposes. She had informed them that she was going to start on Ravenclaw next. Also, she hadn’t found anything about the mysterious R.A.B. Her research led her to a few names corresponding to the initials but they were all either before or after Voldemort’s first reign. All they knew was the initial and that the man (or woman as Hermoine had pointed out) was a death eater as only the death eaters were known to call Voldemort as ‘The Dark Lord’.

Two days before the wedding, Lupin and Tonks stopped by for dinner. For a change the topic of discussion around the table was not Voldemort. Fleur was having second thoughts about her wedding dress. The ladies were trying to convince her that the dress she had already bought was perfect. Lupin was telling a particularly interesting story about the ‘Marauders’ which had grabbed the attention of all the Weasley boys and Harry. Only Mr. Weasley was missing from the table as he had to work late. Harry was relieved by the light mood but his relief lasted only so long. Mr. Weasley’s head appeared in the kitchen fire and announced that there was an attack and that the order members were needed to get to the ministry immediately. Bill, Charlie, Lupin and Tonks left in a hurry. “I can not wait for this war to get over. We can not even have a single meal in peace,” sighed Mrs. Weasley as Charlie left. The rest of them ate their dinner in silence.

After dinner they helped in cleaning up and retired in the drawing room. Mrs. Weasley sat listening to the radio and knitting. Ginny was due to take her O.W.Ls in august and so she started revising her transfiguration paper. Ron and Harry started a game of chess. They all continued their activities quietly for almost an hour. But it was evident that no one could concentrate on their work. Mrs. Weaseley had hardly progressed in her knitting, Ginny was staring at the same page that she had opened at the beginning and Harry and Ron were still in their first game. They were all waiting for everyone to return. Harry remembered Mrs. Weasley’s boggart and hoped that everyone would return safely. Finally, they heard the sounds of people arriving through fire in the kitchen. They all rushed back to the kitchen.

Mr. Weasley and Bill were already there. They looked exhausted and was followed by Tonks, Charlie and Moody. Molly Weasley while busied herself in making tea. When no one spoke, she looked around the gathering and asked, “everything alright? What happened? Who was attacked?” Bill went out of the house in a hurry and the rest of them sat down around the table. Arthur Weasley looked at Harry with an odd expression, “Harry, please sit down. There is something that we need to tell you and it might come as a shock to you.” Harry paled and sat down. He had noticed that Lupin had not returned with the rest of them. He nervously asked, “What is it Mr. Weasley? Is professor Lupin hurt? Or…,” he did not dare to finish his question dreading the worst. ‘This can’t be happening. Professor Lupin is the only one left who he could connect with his parents… No, not him. Please not him.’ Harry prayed.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chapter 1: Magic at Privet Drive

I am a huge Harry Potter Fan. Besides reading each book over and over again, I have read a lot of fanfictions from all over the places. So, I decided to try and write one myself. I know that its going to be nothing compared to the original series, yet I would love it if you read and review it for me.
Note: Anything that you recognize in this story belongs to J.K.Rowling. 

It was past midnight and everything seemed to be calm, quiet and peaceful at Little Whinging. Well, almost everything. There was a boy lying restless, calling out for someone and fighting his nightmares in the smallest room of Number 4, Privet Drive. He woke up with a cry and sat on his bed, sweating profusely. After sitting in the dark for few moments, he switched on the light to check the time on his old, battered table clock.

The light reflected a green-eyed boy with messy black hair and a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead. Harry Potter was no stranger to nightmares. After loosing both his parents as an infant, he had landed up with his only living relatives. He grew up with his aunt, uncle and cousin, knowing nothing but neglect and criticism. As a result, he had learnt to face his own ghosts at a very young age. Then at the age of 11, he was introduced to a whole new world – the world of wizards and magic. There he found true friends, well-wishers and a ‘home’ at Hogwarts, his school. But at the same time, he also found out about Voldemort – the most evil wizard of all times. Voldemort was responsible for his parents’ deaths and was now after his blood because of a prophecy. The prophecy stated that he had the ‘power to vanquish the Dark Lord’ and ‘a power that the Dark Lord knows not’. Harry has already faced him four times and has had numerous encounters with his ‘death eaters’ in the last six years. He had barely managed to escape alive from all those encounters. Each encounter was a nightmare in itself. However, those encounters were not the subject of Harry’s worst nightmares. In his fourth year, Harry had witnessed the death of Cedric Diggory, a fellow student of Hogwarts. The next year Harry had lost Sirius, his godfather and last term Harry’s mentor, Albus Dumbledore, was murdered while Harry was forced to watch on. Each time he was unable to do anything to help the victims. It was these deaths that plagued Harry in his dreams each night. The scenes kept replaying themselves in his dreams as if they were happening over and over again and each time Harry tried to change things but failed miserably. So really, nightmares were nothing new to him.

Harry checked the time. It was just quarter past twelve. ‘I should try to go back to sleep. Maybe there won’t be anymore nightmares tonight’- Harry thought. But just as he was about to switch of the light, he heard footsteps outside his door. He clutched his wand tightly under his pillow. Seconds later, uncle Vernon burst into the room followed by a very sleepy Dudley at his heels. He was clearly furious. “What is the meaning of this? Can’t a person get a decent night’s sleep around here without having you wake up half the neighborhood with your screams? This is the third time this week and I am not going to take any more of this nonsense from you boy. So don’t you dare make any more noise. I do not care if you have to give up sleep for that. But I don’t want to hear a single sound from this room from now on.” So Harry had cried out loud in his dreams again. “I am sorry uncle Vernon. I’ll try not to disturb you again,” said Harry. “See that you don’t. Otherwise even that white bearded, old freak will not be able to save you this time.” With that uncle Vernon shoved Dudley out of the room and closed the door behind him with a ‘bang’. Harry sat staring at the door for sometime. ‘No, Dumbledore can not save him anymore because he is dead… because Snape has murdered him cold bloodedly.’ With a deep sigh and a heavy heart, Harry got up and moved to the window.

Hogwarts had closed early this year due to the unfortunate death of its headmaster. Students were sent back home on Hogwarts express after his funeral and service. Since Harry had only remembered on the very last day to inform the Dursleys about his early arrival, he was not surprised when none of the Dursleys had turned up at Kings Cross to receive him. Being Harry’s well-wishers (and also the members of the Order of the Phoenix) Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks and Alastor Moody had decided to drop him off at Privet Drive rather than leave him alone in ‘muggle’ London. With final parting words to Ronald Weasley and Hermoine Granger, his best friends, Harry had arrived at his uncle’s house with his escorts. When aunt Petunia had opened the door to them, her reaction was worth watching. She had hurriedly ushered them all inside. Then checking if any of the neighbors had seen the ‘new arrivals’ at her doorstep, she had closed the door and had turned to face the group. It was needless to say that she was worried what the neighbors would say if they saw the ‘abnormal people’. She found Tonks’ violet hair and Lupin’s shabby clothes equally revolting and was scared of Moody’s intimidating appearance. Lupin had explained to her that the school had closed down early this year due to ‘certain circumstances’ and that she would be answerable to him if Harry was mistreated. With Moody’s presence, aunt Petunia had kept quiet. Lupin had left saying, “take care of yourself. Write to us regularly and Harry… try not to think too much about anything.” Tonks told him to inform her if he was mistreated and the Order would take care of it. Moody’s parting words were of no surprise, “Constant vigilance, Potter.” Uncle Vernon had not been happy about Harry’s early return. He had shouted at him first evening and has been working him like a slave ever since. He came up with an amazing number of chores for Harry each day. But Harry did not complain as it helped him keep his mind off Dumbledore.

It has been about a fortnight since his return and Harry had received about a dozen of letters from each of his friends and Lupin. Ron’s letters always left him feeling restless as they contained menacing hints about the order and Voldemort, which were always followed by “can’t say much here in case the letter is intercepted.” Hermoine’s letters contained her worried expressions and instructions like “don’t do anything stupid” or “don’t you dare go anywhere alone” or “let it all out, Harry. You can not bottle up your emotions for forever.” On the other hand, Lupin’s letters were quite comforting. It took Harry a few days to realize that Lupin really knew how Harry was feeling. Lupin too was going through the same phase as Harry. Though he had not witnessed Dumbledore’s death, but he too had lost his best friend in Sirius and a mentor in Dumbledore. Harry felt better knowing there was someone who could understand him. But, it was Ginny’s letters that always managed to put a smile on Harry’s face. Harry had dreaded opening her first letter. He had thought that Ginny might be having second thoughts about their break-up. But he had worried for no reason at all. Her letters never contained anything about his decision or any menacing hints or worried instructions or even words of comfort. She usually wrote about her life at Burrow. She wrote about the twins’ latest pranks, Hermoine’s visits, Ron’s distracted behavior when Hermoine was not around, Bill and Fleur’s wedding preparations and Charlie’s odd behavior around Fleur. She just wrote about the things that were normal for a life at the Burrow. There! There was another smile on Harry’s face at the thought of the Burrow. As always, Ginny knew exactly what Harry needed.

But soon the smile disappeared from his face as his thoughts drifted towards the fateful night at the North Tower. He remembered Dumbledore pleading, “Severusplease…” and the look of pure hatred and revulsion on Snape’s face. Harry had begun to tremble with anger. How could Snape do that to Dumbledore after all that Dumbledore had done for him? Dumbledore had taken in him when no one else would have. He had given Snape a second chance and had constantly defended him… Dumbledore had trusted him and given him a new life. In return, Snape had betrayed him in the worst possible way. Anger and hatred pulsed through his veins as Harry clenched his fists upon the windowsill. His knuckles turned white as thoughts continued in his mind. Snape was also responsible for Sirius’s death. Sure, Snape did not fire the curse but he was the man behind it all. He was the reason why Sirius was at the ministry that day and he was the reason why Harry could not learn Occlumency and block out Voldemort. It all came down to Snape. He wanted to wring the life out of Snape with his bare hands. He wanted to make sure that Snape paid for all his betrayals and treachery, that… Harry’s train of thoughts were broken by a concerned Hedwig, nipping at his ear. Harry realized what he was doing and he took a deep breath to calm himself. Hedwig had returned from her hunting. Harry patted her and said, “Sorry girl. Don’t worry, I am fine. I just need time,” ‘and that’s what I do not have’ he added his mind. He could not risk going back to sleep. He may wake up uncle Vernonagain. So he took out a book on DefenceAgainst Dark Arts book that Lupin& Sirius had given him in his fifth year at Hogwarts.

Next morning uncle Vernonwas still in a very foul mood. He was, if possible, grumpier than usual. He surpassed himself and came up with an amazing list of chores for the day. He ordered Harry to have them done before he returned from office and left. Harry skipped his breakfast and started on his list. It was quite a hot day and Harry had to sweat it out. He cleaned the garage, painted the fence, mowed the lawn and watered the plants. By the time Harry was done, it was way past teatime. Harry realized that he had missed his lunch and was famished. Exhausted with all the work, he went inside and took a shower first. By the time he got back to the kitchen, aunt Petunia was already there. She pushed a plate of last night’s leftovers towards him. “Eat. I don’t want those freaks turning up here and accusing us of starving you” and she left. Both Aunt petunia and Dudley had been ignoring him so far and it suited him well. Harry had even followed every order that his uncle had barked at him without passing a single comment. He did not want to get into an argument now. After all, he will be seventeen in a few weeks time and then he would not have to come back here again. Never ever again. Harry finished his food and cleaned the dishes. Then instead of going back to his room, he decided to go out for a walk.

Harry had remained in the house since his return and though he had enough exercise for the day, an hour of fresh air was what he needed. He stayed alert of his surroundings. He kept his eyes and ears open for anything out of the ordinary. He held onto his wand in one pocket and the fake locket in the other. He had been carrying the locket with himself continuously. It worked like a reminder to him. It reminded him of the last term’s events and of what he was yet to face. ‘The cup, the locket, the snake and something of Griffindor or Ravenclaw’… he counted. Hermoine had promised to research on the relics of the two founders while he was away. Did she have any luck? She hadn’t mentioned anything in her letters. After his visit to Godric’s Hollow, Harry planned on going for the search of the remaining Horcruxes. He did not want to waste any time. He wanted to get over with it… either kill or get killed! ‘Get killed more likely’ said a voice in his head. ‘Dumbledore thought I can do it, I can win’ said another little voice. ‘But this is Lord Voldemort and you are nothing compared to him’, ‘But I have the power he knows not’, ‘Sure, and its Christmas tomorrow’… Harry shook his head. He had so many doubts but he had to try anyway. The fate of the entire wizarding world was depending upon him. Harry had reached Magnolia Road. He headed towards the park. ‘The cup, the locket, the snake and something of Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.’ According to Dumbledore, the sword was the only known relic of Gryffindor. So chances are that the other horcrux was Ravenclaw’s relic. Harry tried to think of any relic that he knew belonged to Ravenclaw… As he neared his favouritebench, he saw Dudley sitting alone on a nearby bench. Harry headed towards him. “Hey Big D, what are you doing here all by yourself? I thought you were at Gordon’s.”
“That’s none of your business.” Dudley snapped.
“I wonder what aunt Petunia would say if she knew that her ‘Ickle Diddykins’ is sitting here alone and not having tea with his friends.’
“Don’t tell mom about this.”
“Then tell me, what are you doing here alone instead of bullying some kid with your gang?” asked Harry, sitting down beside Dudley.
“Told you. That’s none of your business.”
“Well, it is my business if you expect me to do what you want. Specially, if you want me to lie for you.” Dudley sat quietly, looking anywhere but at him. “Few days back something happened and my friends stopped talking to me after that. I haven’t told mom-dad about it. I have been pretending to be at my friends place since then.”
“So what happened? Why did they stop talking to their ‘Big D’?”
“Nothing. Actually I can’t remember it properly.”
“Have you tried talking to them again? Tell them that you’re sorry for whatever it was,” said Harry. He was actually feeling bad for Dudley. Everybody deserved to have friends and he knew how it felt to have no friends. After all, he grew up without any. Dudley did not reply. Instead, he sat staring at the ground. Harry wondered how he must be feeling.
“Sirius was your godfather, right? How did he die?” Harry was taken by surprise by this question. He looked at Dudley but he was still staring at the ground.
“How do you know about Sirius?”
“You say things in your dreams. Besides, last year that white bearded man said he is dead.”
After a moment of silence, Harry said “Voldemort’s supporters killed him when he tried to save me.”
“Isn’t that the man who killed your parents? He sent those horrible things last time. He is still after you?”
“Do your friends know that this man wants to kill you?”
“They are still friends with you? Aren’t they scared that this man may hurt them too?”
“They know what the chances are and yes, they are still my friends. That’s what friends are for. They stand by you, no matter what.” Dudleylooked at him with an odd expression on his face. He finally said, “You are very lucky to have them. But then why don’t you tell those people how you are treated here? They would take care of you. Wouldn’t they?”
“Yes, they would. But I do not want to cause any trouble. Besides, I’ll be gone in a few days and this time when I go, I won’t have to come back here anymore.” Both the boys fell silent again. Harry was trying to figure this Dudleyout. Why was he so inquisitive? Was this some sort of prank? He finally asked “What is it Dudley? How come you are being so nice to me now?”
“It’s just that…” But before Dudley could continue any further, there was a faint ‘pop’. Both of them looked in the direction of the noise. It seemed to have come from the cluster of trees few feet away from where they were sitting. The first sound was soon followed by two more. Harry got up in an instant and pulled Dudley behind the nearest tree. “Something is not right. Dudleyrun back home.” But Dudley stood rooted at the spot. “What’s wrong?”
“This is no time to explain. Just run and no matter what you hear, don’t look back or stop. Now go.” Harry felt a bit nervous. He was sure that those ‘popping’ sounds meant that three people had apparated here. The order people would have come up to talk to him. But since he could not see anyone, these had to be death eaters. But even the eaters wouldn’t hide. They would have attacked or tried to capture Harry. He scanned the area where the noise had come from but he could not spot anyone. Just as Harry was about to move behind another tree to try and get a better view he heard a voice. ‘Stupefy’. Harry froze on the spot because the curse was not directed at him. Slowly, he turned to look over his shoulder and saw Dudley lying flat on the ground on his stomach. Harry heard movements in the cluster of trees and turned back to see three hooded figures out in the open. He was right. There were death eaters in Little Whinging. “Come on out Harry. There are no order members here to save your skin today.” Harry recognized the Voice. It was Lucius Malfoy. He fired three curses in quick succession, ‘Impedimenta’, ’Stupefy’, ’Levicorpus’. Two of Harry’s curses missed their targets, but the one in the middle fell to the ground, stunned. The two he missed, did not even look back at the third. More cautious now, they kept coming towards where Harry was hiding. “So, you want to play, Harry? Come on out Harry and then we’ll play.” Harry tried to think of a way to get to Dudley. There was another tree there. Maybe he could run and hide behind it and then revive Dudleywhen he got a chance. Holding onto his wand, Harry slowly moved from behind the tree. “Voldemort wants me for himself. So I know that you can not kill me.”
“Do not over estimate your worth to the Dark Lord, Potter. Now tell me, where is my son,” asked Malfoy still walking towards him. Harry was taken by surprise for the second time that evening. He, however, started stepping back to where Dudley lay. “How do I know where that sick, murdering fool is?”
“Don’t lie to me. I know you lot have him. So tell me where he is.”
“I do not know where he is and you should be happy about that because if I knew, then I would have killed him by now for what he did to Dumbledore.”
“Shut your nonsense, Potter. Dumbledore had it coming for a long time. Now, you can make this easy or tough for yourself. Tell me where he is.” Harry had almost reached Dudley. Few more steps… Keep him busy talking, he told himself. “I always wondered why Draco was so dull in understanding things. Now I know. He got it from you. How many times more do I have to tell you before you understand that I do not know where Draco is?”
“You filthy… Crucio.” Unbearable pain burst through Harry. He fell to his knees. He had felt this once before in the graveyard. But the experience did not make the pain any less. It could have been for a second or a year that Malfoy kept him under the curse but Harry couldn’t say how long it was. It felt like eternity to him before the curse was lifted off him. “Did you enjoy that, Potter? Now do you feel like telling me the truth? Where has the order kept Draco?” Harry could barely move. His whole body was still aching with the effects of the Cruciatus. He did not answer Malfoy. Instead, he tried to move towards his cousin. But a death eater came and grabbed Dudley and pulled him away from him. He revived Dudley only to put him under a full body-bind. Harry turned to face Lucius and noticed that the third death eater was back on his feet too. “So you won’t say? I have my ways Harry. You are only making it hard for yourself. Crucio!” Harry closed his eyes and braced himself for the pain. But it never came. Instead, he heard Dudley’s screams.
“Stop it. I told you, I do not know where Draco is.”
“Harry, now don’t make me use the killing curse. How will you face your aunt and uncle then? Have you thou…” Lucius stopped in mid-sentence. The air around them had gone still and eerie. Harry could feel it in his guts. Then suddenly there was a huge explosion sending the death eaters flying. They hit the nearby bench and collapsed to the ground. Harry got to his feet and went to Dudley who was now moaning and struggling to get to his feet. Seeing that he was in no immediate danger Harry turned to the Death eaters. He stunned two of them and as he turned his wand on the third, the sound of wizards apparating filled the air. At first, Harry thought that more death eaters had arrived but was relieved to see aurors. He too collapsed on the grass beside his cousin, letting the aurors take care of the death eaters. An auror, whom Harry recognized as Dawlish, approached him. “Mr. Potter, can you tell us what exactly happened here?” Harry recounted the evening for him and while he was at it, they were joined by Lupin and Tonks. Harry intentionally left out that Lucius thought that the order had Draco. “So, you were here with your cousin when they attacked you? Did they say anything about their mission?”
“I think they were here to capture me for Voldemort,” lied Harry.
“Okay. As far as I know, your cousin is a muggle. So we need to erase his memory and then we will be gone. But we need you to see if you can identify the ones we have arrested.”
“Yeah. One of them was Lucius Malfoy. I recognized his voice. The other two kept quiet. So I am not sure who they are. But by their built, I guess they are Crabbe and Goyle. You need not perform the memory charm on Dudley. He knows all about the wizarding world.”
“Three? But we caught two of them. The third must have escaped.” Dawlish unmasked the still stunned death eaters and Harry identified them as Crabbe and Goyle Sr. “Are you sure, Mr. Potter, that Lucius Malfoy was here?”
“Yeah. I am sure. He did all the cursing and talking. I’d recognize his voice anywhere.”
“Thank you, Mr. Potter. You will be informed when we capture Lucius Malfoy.”
When Dawlish and the others left, Lupin and Tonks helped Harry and Dudley to get on their feet. “Wow Harry! You sure do know how to stir up things” said Tonks with an impish smile. Harry noticed she was donning long black hair and so he said “But not like you Tonks.” They did not talk anymore on their way back. Harry could not help wondering why Lucius thought that the Order had Draco.

Aunt Petunia must have been peeking outside for more gossips about her neighbors because she came running out when they had barely reached the driveway. “What happened Popkin? What did these freaks do to you?”
“If we could just get him inside, to his room, we will explain everything to you, Petunia.” Harry barely noticed that Lupin had used his aunt’s first name as his limbs too were starting to feel numb from all the excitement and the aftermath of the cruciatus. Once they had put Dudley in his bed, Tonks performed some healing charms on him. Harry joined Lupin, Tonks and aunt Petunia in the drawing room. “Now Harry, tell us everything from the beginning,” said Lupin as he sat down beside Tonks. Harry began telling them everything - from the moment he had heard the first ‘pop’ till the aurors had arrived. “So these death eaters were after you? Last time he sent those demented things and now these death eaters? I wonder, if they are really after you then how come Dudley ends up hurt every time and you get out without a scratch?” Hearing Mr. Dursley’s voice, everyone turned sharply towards the door. “You are bringing trouble to our home, boy. Since the first day, you have been nothing but trouble to us,” Vernon Dursley said. Harry could see the veins pulsing on his forehead and knew he was beyond just furious. “I want you out of my house this instant. I am not going to put my family into danger because of the likes of you. So, go pack your bags and leave with the rest of the freaks right now.” Before Harry could say anything, Lupin ordered him to check on Dudley while he talked to his uncle. Reluctantly, Harry left the room.

It was quite some time before Tonks came for Harry. When Harry got back, he found Lupin alone in the drawing room. “Now Harry, I know that you are tired and need rest but there are few things that we need to talk about before we leave.” Harry sat down in order to rest his aching muscles and before Lupin could ask him anything, he asked the question that was bothering him from the moment Lucius had asked it. “Where is Draco? I cannot understand why Lucius thinks that the order has him. I mean, even if you caught him, you would have to hand him over to the ministry right?” Lupin and Tonks exchanged a look before Tonks replied. “That is something we have to look into. So, tell us Harry, how did you manage to blast off three death eaters at the same time?”
“I do not know how that happened. Even I was surprised. It was so creepy and I could feel it in my guts… All I know is that it was not me. The death eaters had remained in the shadows for quite some time. I think they were making sure that there was no one from the order. So there couldn’t have been anyone else.”
“Surely they did not do that to themselves and if you did not do it either, there must have been someone else. Otherwise it does not make any sense. We really have to look into that too.”
“If there were no Order members there at Magnolia Road, then how come you were there so soon? How did the aurors know?”
“Well, unlike Fudge, Scrimegeour realizes that you are Voldemort’s number one target. He had this whole area monitored for any kind of magic… specially dark magic. When they realized that there was an attack here, they took some time in gathering all the aurors. After all, the only knew that there was an attack but they did not know what to expect here. While they organized, Tonks informed me at the headquarters. I was the only one present there, so I came with her. But it seems that you no longer need our help.” Pride was clearly evident in Lupin’s eyes. “You had them all under control. Now there’s one more thing. Pack your things tonight as tomorrow you’ll be leaving for the Burrow. Some order members will be here tomorrow, around lunch.” Harry forgot all his exhaustion and sat up straight. “Really? I can leave tomorrow?” Lupin had to smile at Harry’s genuine delight. “Yes Harry, you can leave tomorrow. A fortnight’s stay is enough to keep the protection of the magic that Dumbledore had placed. Besides, Molly had been at us for letting you come here even for a day. She will go berserk when she hears about today. In order to keep some of the order members alive, we need to get you to her… else she will simply murder us all to get to you. You know the famous Weasley temper.” Harry’s heart warmed at the thought of Mrs. Weasley and the Burrow. He’ll be seeing Ron and Ginny again. “And let me warn you, she is not the only red-headed witch who is concerned about you.” Lupin added with a gleam in his eyes. Harry could not help smiling. With a final hug, Lupin and Tonks bade Harry goodbye.

After Lupin and Tonks left, Harry went straight up to his room. He was in no mood for dinner. He’ll be leaving tomorrow! Harry emptied his trunk and packed it properly. He checked under the loose footboard for anything that he might have left behind. Then he went to Hedwig’s cage. She had already gone out for the night. Harry cleaned her cage. Finally, satisfied that he was ready to leave Privet Drive the next day, for good, Harry lay down on his bed. He still could not understand why Lucius thought that the order had Draco and what really happened to throw the death eaters off there feet. There was no one else. They did not do it to themselves and Harry hadn’t cursed either. Dudleywas lying on the ground beside him in full body bind. Harry was also sure that he had not performed accidental magic. He had learned to control it ever since his third year, when he had blew up his aunt. He recounted the incident. He thought of the death eaters flying backwards, hitting the bench, collapsing on the ground, Dudley moaning and struggling to get to his feet… Harry sat up on the bed. ‘No, that’s not possible! But then how come…? That explains everything. But its impossible!! Maybe there was another explanation.’ Harry shook his head. ‘Yes… everything fits. But it’s just impossible!’

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Top Ten Bollywood Movies

10: Bheja Fry

9: Black

8: Rockford

7: Guddi

6: Taare Zameen Par

5: Chupke Chupke

4: Chak De India

3: Kahani

2: Swades

1: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge