Harry has a strange day...
Chapter 1: Owls and O.W.L.S.
This must be Thursday, I never could get the hang of Thursdays."
- Arthur Dent, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
Thursday, August 1st, 1996
In a small but typical English suburb in Surrey called Little Winging was an even smaller and more typical road, called Privet Drive. About halfway down this, at Lot number 4, was a more or less entirely unremarkable, small, typical house. In this house, a boy named Harry Potter was just waking up.
As he opened his eyes and stretched he realized that something was wrong, though he couldn't quite say what it was. This was partially because he honestly didn't know what was wrong, but mostly, as he realized a moment later, because he couldn't say anything at all.
Harry had his wand in his hand by that time and had tried to cast the Lumos spell, because he couldn't see a thing, which was odd, because it felt like it was sometime after lunch. For some reason, though, Harry couldn't hear his voice as he spoke. He tried again... Nothing. He then tried something else. He pointed his wand where he knew the desk was.
"/Accio Quill/," he said. Except that he didn't.
When he didn't hear himself say the spell, he assumed that it didn't work, so he was quite surprised when the point of the quill jabbed him painfully in the ear. "Ouch," he said. Only he didn't. /Okay/, he thought, /so I can't speak, but my magic still works/. He then turned his attention back to his eyes.
He still couldn't see a single thing in his room. He opened his eyes. He still saw nothing. Apparently I can't see either/, he thought, a bit redundantly. This wasn't exactly comforting. /Okay/, he thought, /so I can't see anything, and I can't speak either. Well, at least I can still h- Now wait just one minute! Harry paused, and then clapped out the beat to the old surfer song, "Wipeout." Of course he didn't hear it. "Son of a bitch!" he shouted, but luckily for him, as the Dursleys were still home, he didn't.
After he calmed down a bit, he started reviewing the day prior, to see if anything had happened that might have caused this. That was a Wednesday, July 31st, his birthday.
After waking up, he had seen several owls outside his window, and had quickly opened it to let them all in. He untied his copy of the Daily Prophet and the August edition of The Quibbler, an official-looking letter from an official-looking owl, presumably from either Hogwarts or the Ministry, and packages from Hagrid, the collective Weasleys, Hermione, Neville, Luna, and surprisingly, Professor Dumbledore.
When Harry had untied the letter from the Ministry owl, he went and flew straight into Hedwig's cage and fell asleep, which made her extremely annoyed. Harry shrugged it off. Deciding the get the worst over with first, he opened the letter from the Ministry. It was his O.W.L. results. They weren't near as bad as he'd expected:
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you of your O.W.L. results for last term. Your grade results are as follows:
Astronomy: Acceptable... 79%
Care of Magical Creatures: Exceeds Expectations... 93%
Charms: Outstanding... 98%
Defense against the Dark Arts: Outstanding+... 110%
Divination: Poor... 53%
Herbology: Exceeds Expectations ... 87%
History of Magic: Poor... 61%
Transfiguration: Outstanding... 96%
Potions: Exceeds Expectations... 89%
Total O.W.L numbers... 11
We would also like to inform you that you have fulfilled the O.W.L Requirements needed to become an Auror for the Ministry of Magic. If this is still your goal, then you will need to continue with Charms, Defense against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Transfiguration, and Potions. If you would like to continue with this course of study please send an owl stating so, as well as any other courses that you would like to take.
We would also like you to note that lifetime ban on playing Quidditch has been lifted. Also, as the most senior player on the team, you have the right to select the Quidditch captain for Gryffindor. We await your owl by no later than August 15th.
Harry then opened the letter from Dumbledore. It said, in essence, that Fudge had agreed that, as Harry was under constant threat from Voldemort and crew, he should be allowed to use Magic over the summer break. Dumbledore went on to say that Harry should put it to good use, and learn all he could in that time. He also said that, as they were with him at the Department of Mysteries, and so were in possible danger as well, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Neville and Luna would all be given the same notices. Every one of them would also be moved to Grimmauld Place soon, so they could continue their special training in greater detail.
Naturally, this got Harry thinking about life. The problem for Harry was not a lack of purpose, he had that. He had more purpose than he could even account for. No, the best way for Harry to describe it was that he was in a game of chess. But not as a pawn, like others would say. Harry felt more like the king, but that wasn't a good thing. The king was the most important piece in the game, and like Harry, if he was taken, the game was over.
Like the king, Harry was constantly guarded, until the enemy could find a strategy to disrupt the guard. He could only be shuffled around the board, being forced to stay out of the action. And like the king, he was powerless to do anything about it.
That, of course, would have to stop.
Harry didn't feel like continuing to play the game of cat and mouse that he and Voldemort had been in the middle of since before he could even remember. He sat and thought about the people whose lives were affected by it. Not the people who died because of him, that did no good at all, he realized.
He thought about Neville, who had to live with his grandmother because servants of Voldemort had tortured his parents into insanity before he could even really get to know them.
He thought about Ginny, who was nearly killed in her first year, simply for being too trusting.
He thought about Sirius, who had lost two of his best friends in one night, had to deal with the knowledge that a third of his best friends was to blame, and had spent thirteen years in Azkaban for a murder that he didn't commit.
He thought about Remus, who had lost three of his best friends, and knew of a betrayal by the fourth. Then, after he found out that the man he thought guilty of betrayal and murder was innocent, had lost yet another friend.
He thought of Luna, who had followed him into the Department of Mysteries, Barty Crouch Sr., who had lost both his son and wife to Voldemort's influence, Tonks, who had lost both her cousins, and most of her other family as well to him, Alastor Moody, who had been chasing Death Eaters and Dark wizards most of his life, who knew little else, Mr. Weasley, who had almost died from an attack by Voldemort's own pet, Nagini.
He thought of Ron and Hermione, who had been there since the beginning.
He realized that he had only one enemy. Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy, the Dursleys, Severus Snape, they were just small annoyances, people to be pitied, rather than fought. He certainly didn't like them, but he didn't hate them anymore, either. He didn't even hate Voldemort for that matter; he was just another man to be pitied. But Voldemort was also not a threat that pacifism would solve. He, unlike the others, couldn't just be shunned and ignored.
These thoughts didn't bother Harry as much as they once would have. He'd had nearly a month alone since the Department of Mysteries to think about his lot in life. He was bothered by the prophecy, sure. He missed Sirius, of course, but as Dumbledore had said a long time ago, it doesn't do to dwell on dreams. Harry knew that, had learned that time and time again, and he wasn't about to make that mistake again. He wouldn't wish his problems away on anyone, so he might as well accept it, right?
For a while now Harry had wanted to buy some new books to help his powers grow. Advanced Defense, Charms, and Occlumency were at the top of this list, as well as a book on the kind of stuff they just didn't seem to teach at Hogwarts, like making Portkeys, healing magic, and disguising spells, that kind of thing. So when Harry opened Dumbledore's package, and saw a small box of advanced books on just about every subject imaginable, he was very happy.
He turned his attention to the rest of his gifts. Hagrid had given him his usual box of rock cakes (Harry kept these, they would be great for throwing at Dudley, if he started getting annoying,) along with a few photographs to add to his book. From the Weasleys, he got a box of buttermilk biscuits, a Weasley sweater, and... Harry's jaw dropped. A brand new broomstick! Magically downsized, it was in a small, rectangular box, and Harry was expecting something small, though thoughtful, but nothing like this! Quickly he got out his wand out and expanded the broomstick, an Apollo Mach 7. This had only come out just after Harry got home from school and was supposed to be even better than the Firebolt. Harry gaped at it a bit more, and then he read the note.
Happy birthday, mate! Hope you like your present, the thing cost a bundle let me tell you! We all pitched in. Ever since last month, when everyone found out that you were telling the truth, Fudge has really been kissing up to Dumbledore, trying to keep his job. Pretty much everyone working in the ministry that was helping Dumbledore has been given a promotion. Dad's working as the head of the MLE now, Kingsley Shacklebolt's now head of the Auror Division, and Tonks is one of his Lieutenants.
We're not exactly rolling in the dough or anything, but Fred and George! Their shop is doing very well. We thought they were lying until they brought home two Apollos for me and Ginny, (imagine, three Mach 7s on the Gryffindor team, I can just see the look on Malfoy's face, the great oaf,) and a new oven for Mum. The old one was getting all temperamental, it only liked to make desserts, and would spit everything else out. Not that we minded. Anyway.
They've set up shop in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and their working on plans for a new one in France, near Beauxbatons. They've even had to hire outside help. Me and Ginny are working there part time. Anyway, hope you have a good day, and give the Dursleys a good kick for me.
That left three more packages to open, and Harry picked up Hermione's. She had given him a new broomstick servicing kit, (his last one had run out a few months ago,) and a large chocolate cake. Neville had bought him a wand holster, and Luna, two years worth of back issues of The Quibbler. As you're a reader now, you'd better catch up, she wrote.
Harry had been getting The Daily Prophet delivered recently as well as The Quibbler, as Luna's father had given him a complimentary subscription after the events of last year. Because of Harry's interview, most everyone who sided with him and Dumbledore, or who simply opposed Fudge, had a subscription to The Quibbler. Not to read about the developments on finding Atlantis or tips on breeding Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, but to make sure the Daily Prophet didn't "forget" to print anything important. Harry never really read at either one, except to laugh at the trouble Fudge had gotten himself into.
The Daily Prophet was riddled with articles demanding the resignation of the Minister, Cornelius Fudge. One reporter mentioned that "such incompetence at the head of our government should not be allowed. I for one..." Harry wondered if he was referring to the same kind of incompetence that had been at the head of their own newspaper for most of last year.
The Quibbler was also demanding a new Minister, but it was coupled with pages of conspiracy theories, each more detailed than the last, explaining that Fudge had planned this the whole time, or that he, along with his loyal army of Heliopaths, had plans to take over the world, would oppose both Albus Dumbledore, as well as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, for control over all of Europe, or, possibly even more strange, that he planned to retire and live out his days in Majorca, taking candy from babies, and being an all around mean old man.
Harry absentmindedly ate one of the biscuits the Weasleys had sent him, and tried to figure out what to do for the rest of the day.
Now, one day later, Harry, deaf, dumb and blind, knew exactly what the problem was. It hadn't taken him long to figure it out, either.
Harry carefully lay back down on his bed. His knees hurt. While he was thinking about yesterday he had been pacing the floor absentmindedly. Needless to say, this wasn't a good idea. Pacing any room while being temporarily blinded was bad enough, but absentmindedness at the same time is even worse.
/They'll get theirs in the end/, Harry thought to himself, while setting his wand on the bedside table. After all, I am the son of a Marauder, right?
Harry fell asleep soon after, plotting his revenge on the unfortunate Fred and George Weasley.
The next day around noon Harry's senses caught up with him. Anyone who's gone through this will know that this isn't exactly a pleasant experience. To make matters worse he was looking directly out his window when it happened. He wasn't really looking of course, it was just habit.
For a second, Harry thought a Nuclear weapon had gone of. His eyes and ears flared alive. He closed his eyes but it wasn't enough, he put his hands over his ears but that didn't seem to help either.
After a few moments, the pain started to lessen, but for the next five minutes, even the shadows under the bed were too bright for him, and his heartbeat and breathing sounded as though a microphone, wired through a 250-watt amp and turned up full volume, had been placed inside his chest.
He sat down on the bed, waiting for the worst of it to pass. After it had, he tried to speak. His vocal cords seemed to work alright, which didn't surprise him that much. After all, he hadn't said more than 20 words this entire summer with the Dursleys around, but words were still there when he needed them.
He suddenly realized that he hadn't fed Hedwig all day yesterday. He looked over at her cage. Hedwig was awake, but looking somewhat annoyed. The Ministry owl was still there, asleep but still trying to look regal, it seemed. Hedwig was glaring between Harry and the offending owl, not sure who to blame. Apparently she decided on the owl, as she suddenly pecked him sharply right between the eyes.
The owl jumped up, then turned and glared at Hedwig as if to say "You bastard!!! I was sleeping!!!" Then suddenly realizing his place as an owl from the Ministry, hopped out of the cage, ruffled his feathers important like, and flew out the open window.
Unfortunately, the window wasn't open, and a muffled sort of Thunk! resonated from it. The owl lay sprawled on the bed below, and, yet again realizing his place, jumped up and looked wildly around to see if anyone saw. When he realized that both Harry and Hedwig did, he employed the use of a small saunter, as if to say, "Yea, I meant to do that." He then looked questioningly at Harry, who opened the window, shaking his head and trying not to laugh, to save whatever was left of the owl's ego.
After the owl left, Harry fed Hedwig, and started to look over the books Dumbledore had given him. The first one he picked up was one of the kinds he had specifically wanted. He read the title. /Practical Magic: A Guide to the Stuff They Just Don't Seem to Teach at School/. Harry laughed; he wasn't expecting that. Flipping through it, he managed to find the section on making portkeys. The spell was /Portus/, but there were also about 5 different variations of it.
/Portus Fixe/, was the standard spell, which would make a portkey that had a predetermined time and place to go. There was also /Portus Finite/, which would make a 'key that was voice activated, and would arrive wherever you imagined, as well as /Portus Reveali/, which would show if there was a portkey in the area, as well as, if applicable, when it was set to leave, and where it would arrive.
Harry also found stuff like disguising spells, a charm for resizing an object so you could, say, put it in your pocket, advanced cleaning spells, and other stuff that might be good to know. He would have continued to read, but he was interrupted by a knock at the front door. The Dursleys weren't at home, as Dudley had a tournament today, so Harry would have to get it. He got up and went downstairs.
He didn't really want to get it. He was dreading who it might be. Aunt Marge, Yvonne, Peirse and the rest of Dudley's gang. Whoever it was, it probably wasn't good. But it was actually the one person Harry least expected.
A Dominoes pizza delivery guy.
"Hello, sir," he said, "so that's one large pepperoni, olive and ham, with extra cheese."
"Um," said Harry, "I didn't order a pizza."
The man, whose nametag read 'Guy,' Harry saw, shook his head. "No, you did, in fact you called me this morning. 'Hello,' you said, 'I want a large pepperoni pizza, with extra cheese, olives and ham delivered to a Harry Potter, at number 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surry, at 1:07 P.M. today, let's see, yea, I should be home then.' And then you paid for it with a credit card, under the name 'Harry Potter,' and that was that."
"No, you don't understand," said Harry. "I didn't call you this morning, I also don't have a credit card. For that matter, I don't even like olives."
"You said you'd say that," the man said promptly.
Harry blinked owlishly at 'Guy.' He blinked back.
Harry blinked again. So did the pizza delivery guy.
Okay, the books I used in the intro were:
The Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy (in 5 parts) by Douglas Adams. Actually I used it twice:)
The Langoleers by Stephen King, from Four Past Midnight, and
The Science of Star Wars by Someone-or-other. Sorry, can't remember and I'm to lazy to look it up right now.
Hah, now none of you can sue me!