He sat crossed legged in bed as he threaded his fingers through and pulled at his salt and pepper hair. Pain helped sometimes; it reminded him what was real and what wasn’t. His dreams were on fire again, a raging inferno that nothing seemed to remedy. He rubbed at his face hoping to remind himself the rest of his body that he was awake.
He felt the ball of nerves squirming inside him as his eyes landed on his backpack. The growing light outside told him that it was too late to go back to sleep but too early to leave. He took a deep breath and let it out gently as he swung out his legs and began to dress. He couldn’t believe it was his first day back at Hogwarts. He grimaced as he realised that he wanted to tell Draco so badly. He felt the momentary excitement leave him as he deflated. He longed to go and talk to Draco again, get him to listen to reason. He sighed as he pulled his hoody over his head. He needed to concentrate today, there would be so much going later that would require him to be focused.
He trotted downstairs, the smell of breakfast floating up to meet him.
“Morning, Master Harry” Came Kreacher’s gravelly greeting.
“Good Morning Kreacher, what’s for breakfast this morning?” Kreacher turned his beady eyes to Harry before answering
“Sausage sandwiches” Harry nodded in approval as Kreacher dished up his food. He smiled as he put the sandwich to his mouth, and after sniffing deeply bit in. He savoured the taste for a moment before eating another bite.
“Will Master Harry be wanting me to stay here or return to Hogwarts for the term?” Harry considered the question as he chewed the food.
“Where would you prefer to be Kreacher?”
“Hogwarts, master” Harry nodded.
“That makes sense, alright Kreacher, return to Hogwarts and I’ll see you in a few hours,” Harry replied as Kreacher disapparated with a crack.
The silence seemed to ring out after the sound, leaving Harry alone in the kitchen to his thoughts. He tried to ignore the memories that threatened to overwhelm him. Memories of late nights, kissing and chocolate. He sighed sadly feeling the most alone he had felt in a long time. Teddy was at the Weasley’s with the rest of the children. He took another bite of his sandwich as he tried to cool the angry flames which licked his mind’s eye, a reminder of the scorching fire. He shook his head as he tried to rid his mind of the dream’s residue. He sighed again as he stood up; for a change, he wasn’t overly looking forward to going to platform 9 ¾, the row with Molly had left a sour taste in his mouth, not that he could really blame her, nor could he back down. He didn’t know whether Draco was even still talking to him or whether it was even a valid argument anymore. He just felt tired and worn, like a sea pebble, all features worn away to a bland, smooth and uniform.
He looked at the clock and sighed. At least if he got there early, he could grab a hot chocolate and a muffin from the coffee shop down the road. With his mind finally made up, he grabbed his backpack and apparated to the small secluded courtyard behind the coffee shop. Trees had grown within the confines of the buildings, blocking out any unwanted witnesses from the flat above. He stepped out onto the quiet street, looking around to make sure no one had seen him. He had done this before and knew that the small courtyard only lay a single building away from the coffee shop. He stepped in and the warm air and noise hit him fully, making him pause at the door.
The smell of coffee and cake hit him immediately, however, the aroma was missing the magical element that Madam Melchett’s seemed to have. Maybe it was the magic itself missing in the air, he thought to himself. “Hello again” Came a voice as he stepped up to the counter, his eyes absorbed by the cakes in the cabinet. He looked up suddenly, instantly on guard. The girl behind the counter smiled at him, unaware of his sudden alertness. He smiled back, embarrassed. “Haven’t seen you in here for ages?” She said when he didn’t reply. He nodded sheepishly as he tried to place her face. Her eyes were the colour of hickory and her skin, the colour of gingerbread. She had a small, pretty, round face with dimples in her cheeks highlighted by a dermal piercing on the right side. He could see men eyeing her up from the seats around but felt nothing himself.
“It’s term time again” He replied with a smile, his eyes appreciating her colourfully braided hair.
“Oh? You a teacher?” She asked, her eyes widening
“In training, yeah”
“Teachers didn’t look like you when I was at school” She laughed “What can I get you?”
“Hot chocolate please?” He smiled, he had never been good at flirting, not that he felt the desire to.
“Good choice,” She smiled again, and Harry was captivated by her piercing.
“I like your piercing” he pointed at his own face as he spoke, and her smile widened.
“Oh, Thanks” She turned as she made his drink up.
“You didn’t have that last time, did you?” He asked, hoping he was right.
“No, it’s new.” She turned around with his cup in hand.
“Want anything else?” She asked, a smile playing on her face.
“Just a muffin please” She nodded as she reached into the cabinet with her tongs.
“Here you go, I’ve written my number on the bag too, don’t leave it so long next time” She winked as she handed him the bag with the muffin in. He smiled, not knowing what else to do.
“Thanks” He replied as he handed over his muggle money. She winked again as she put the money in the till. As she gave him his change, her hand lingering in his for a moment longer than necessary.
“Look forward to hearing from you soon” She smiled as she stepped away to serve another customer.
Even though it was Sunday morning, the little café was busy, most of the tables being occupied. It was a different type of clientele that frequented during the working week, younger professionals in their office finest. The tables were filled with exotic looking people from all the corners of the globe, obviously tourists with their cameras, backpacks and maps. He managed to find a high seat at the window. He peered out into the dull day and could see the twin, domed ceilings at the back of Kings Cross station, the cast iron structure holding hundreds of glass panes in place. He shivered as he remembered the moment after the killing curse hit him; The blinding whiteness of the station. The station had never looked right since. He sighed again as his tugged at his hair. He was annoying himself now with the frequency of his sighs. He needed to get a hold of himself and not be a lovesick, schoolboy. He finished his hot chocolate quickly before taking a deep breath, trying to imbue himself with purpose and motivation. He nodded to himself that it was time to go. He gathered up his courage as he gathered up his stuff. He heard the girl call a goodbye after him as he left with a wave.
The walk was short to the station and was quiet for the city until he got to the main road which offended his ears with the noise from the traffic. He grit his teeth as he entered the building.
The muggles had refurbished it in recent years, ever since they renovated the neighbouring station of St Pancras. But Harry now knew the layout off by heart after having to bring Teddy here for the last three years. He looked around him briefly before pushing through to the magical platform. The familiar smells and sounds filled and soothed his senses and he felt slightly more at ease than he had in the muggle world. He waited for a particularly thick cloud of steam to dissipate from the waiting red engine before stepping forward. He strolled along amongst throngs of parents and children saying their goodbyes. The scene was devoid of the animal life that Harry was used to but it wasn’t the beginning of a new school year, so all the animals would be waiting for their owners return. Some of the children and parents gasped as he walked passed some even glared and he bet he could put money on which parents were avid readers of the Prophet. Some children waved at him as did some of the parents whom he recognised from his time at school.
He smiled and nodded guardedly at them all as he made his way to the ginger crowd up ahead; Teddy’s teal hair standing out like a sore thumb in the sea of copper locks. He felt his anxiety spike as he slowed before reaching them. He wondered how they would react after how he left so abruptly from the burrow the day before.
“Harry” He heard a deep whisper. He stopped completely as he turned around. Hermione was leaning against the stone wall smiling at him. She was leaning oddly, and Harry could only assume it was because of the baby.
“Hermione?” He asked glancing back to Ron, he caught his eye and waved as he turned back to Hermione.
Everything seemed to happen in a flash. Roughly, he was twisted around as a wand was pointed at his neck. He could feel cool boney fingers digging into his neck as he was held still. He heard a scream somewhere to his left and suddenly everyone was looking his way with horror-stricken faces.
“Hermione? What’s going on?”
“Shut it Potter” Came the gritted reply.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Hermione of course, I’m surprised you didn’t recognise your best friend” Came the sarcastic reply.
“Mione? What’s going on?” Came Ron’s voice and Harry moved his eyes to look at him. The platform was getting quieter in waves as word spread outward from the scene they were making.
“I’ve realised we were wrong, The dark lord was right” Came her voice clearly over the eerily quiet platform. “Mudbloods and Halfbreeds shoot be killed on sight. They take our jobs and contaminate the bloodlines.
“Everyone, calm down” Ron shouted over the rising panic and again it stalled, and Harry could hear children whimpering. “What are you doing Hermione?” Ron cried horror across his face.
“I am going to succeed where the dark lord failed, I am going to kill the great Harry Potter.” She opened her mouth to begin the incantation.
“Why?” Asked Ron calmly “What are you doing this?”
“Like I could expect a blood traitor like you to understand? You and your muggle born and mudblood friends. You should be just as angry as the other purebloods. Weasley’s!” She laughed then, a harsh and haughty sound “A pureblood family getting by on scraps when the Muggle-borns are wining and dining”
“Why do you care about purebloods? You’re a mudblood, your parents are Muggle dentists”
“I’m ashamed of my background and my parents, but I’ll do something worthwhile with my life” He saw George step forward angrily before the wand pressed firmer into his throat. He grunted at the pain.
“Who are you?” he chocked out.
“I’m surprised you’ve not worked it out yet, Potter” She whispered, and he felt her smile against his face. “You were so very quick at destroying the dark lord and his followers.”
“Put your wand down,” Ron said sternly
“I will not Weasley!” she sneered “I will kill Harry Potter and anyone who chooses to get in my way.” She shouted.
“Let the children get on the train first, if you’re going to kill me, don’t make them watch”
“And obviously what you say must be obeyed” She sneered again
“Pansy, please. Don’t make them watch, it’ll be like the battle of Hogwarts, all over again” He felt her tense and felt the briefest of nods.
“All the brats get on the train and pull the blinds!” She spat. Harry could hear the murmurings down the platform as parents pushed their children into the arms of older siblings on the trains.
“Harry!” Teddy called as he tried to rush off the train.
“Get on the train, Ted,” Harry said, sounding surprisingly calm.
“You heard what he said freak, I’m not above killing werewolf spawn” she spat, turning her eyes to him. There were a few small gasps down the platform.
“No!” Ted repeated.
“Ted, please! Get on the train, make sure all your cousins are safe, you have a duty being the eldest”
“That’s enough chatter!”
Harry choked as the wand poked him harder, he could feel the tip digging into his Adam’s apple, his eyes watered from the sudden pain.
“Ted, back on the train” He heard Ron mutter and saw, with relief, through tears that Ted did as he was told.
“Draco will be so disappointed when he returns and finds out you’re dead” She mused quietly.
“He wont care, you and your stupid paper made sure of that”
“Seriously Potter, you are so dense!”
“So, I’ve heard” He glanced up the platform and saw that all the children were on the train now.
“Any last words?” She asked sweetly.
“Actually” He nodded slightly as he caught Ron eye. “NOW!” He brought his elbow down into her stomach as hard as he could. He heard the breath leave her in a sharp whoosh and cough. He heard the magic whistle over his head as he dived to the ground. He grabbed a baggage trolley and pulled it between him and Pansy, as he heard another spell crackle at him. It hit the metal with a fizz as the metal began to melt. He swore as he reached for his wand and cast a shield time just in time to deflect another spell. He could hear yelling around him as more magic filled the air. He saw Pansy firing light from her wand in every direction and had to admire her duelling abilities. There were suddenly Aurors all over the place, crouching behind trollies and squeezing behind walls. There were more shots fired and Harry caught the sudden intakes of breath when it was other people who could do this.
“She’s down!” Came another cry from Ron as the world were silent. There was a groan and sob as Harry watched Ron step over him. He roughly rolled the fake Hermione onto her front and bound her hands.
“Pansy Parkinson, You have the right to withhold your comments and memories, However, it may harm your defence during your trial before the wizengamot.” Ron said sternly as the fake Hermione lay face down. “Do you have anything to say?” He asked as he pulled her to her feet. Her brown, bushy hair had already begun to change back to her trademark black bob.
She spat at his feet with a sneer before she began to laugh “Looks like I got the other brother” She giggled gleefully as Ron spun round.
Harry’s eyes looked over the Weasley clan and he felt his blood run cold. He stood up in what felt like slow-motion as he rushed over.
“Harry?” Ron asked and Harry heard his voice break.
“It’s George, He’s been hit”
“No! No! No! Nononono!” Ron screamed as he launched Pansy towards one of the other Aurors as he ran to his brother. Harry saw panic fell his face as he stared down to his deathly still brother. Ron forced his way into the crowd and grabbed at his brother stroking his face and pulling him to his chest.
“’Mione? Talk to me please?”
“What?” Harry felt the bottom drop out of his world as the gravity of his words hit home. Suddenly he was sat on the floor watching as if he didn’t exist. The only sounds clear enough was his heartbeat racing
He could already see the shoulder-length ginger hair growing darker and unrulier as his body returned to Hermione’s still form. He heard someone say that she needed to be taken to St Mungo’s. “What happened?” he asked again, to no one in particular.
“It was Ron’s idea, So that Hermione could see the kids off without being recognised.” Said Percy Solemnly
“Where’s George?” Harry asked,
“He’s at the shop”
“She’s awake” Came Molly’s voice full of relief. Harry released a breath that he hadn’t realised he was holding.
Harry scrabbled closer to them to find Ron crying into her shoulder. He needed to see it for himself.
“Ron, I’m alright,” she said quietly as she patted his arm sloppily.
“She didn’t get hit, just knocked over!” Said Angelina with a sigh. The rest of the crowd seemed to all start talking at once and suddenly Harry was aware of the rest of the platform returning to life. He looked down the platform as parents started to pull their children off the train. There were lots of tears streaked faces but not many casualties. He was thankful for a moment that Pansy had managed to avoid almost everyone.
He was knocked backwards by a hot, soft weight. He looked up to suddenly see a flash of teal hair.
“Ted, I’m ok!” Harry smiled.
“I’m not happy with you,” he said sternly into Harry’s ear.
“Oh? Why’s that?”
“I could’ve helped” Harry pulled him back and looked at him.
“Ted, I won’t apologise! How do you think I’d feel if I lost you?”
“That’s not the point!”
“It bloody well is! Molly & Andromeda would kill me if I let anything happen to you!”
Ted opened his mouth to say more when a ball of light flapped into the station. They watched as the shape took form and Harry felt his breath catch in his throat at the reappearance of his long-lost owl.
The owl Patronus appeared and hovered no more than a meter before him and the world zoned out to nothing when he heard the voice.
“Please help. Dragons resilient to magic, find us on the ridge east of Macfusty’s, be careful” Draco’s voice sounded cracked and distance and Harry felt his blood freeze for the second time. He felt his breath coming quicker to his chest as the owl began to disappear “Hurry” came the voice before the owl faded completely.
Harry couldn’t move for a moment as the reality of it hit home, Draco needed help. He looked into the soft grey eyes of Teddy as if asking permission to go.
“Quick Harry, he needs you” Ted replied and started to pull him up.
He caught Ron’s and Hermione’s eyes as they lay on the floor “Will you two be alright?” Hermione rolled her eyes and Ron nodded solemnly
“Bloody hell Harry! Go already!” Came Hermione’s croak. Ron smiled a lopsided smile at her as if rediscovering a lost memory. He pulled her into his arms again.
“If you need help-” Came Ron’s reply,
“I know, I know! Call some other bloody idiot” Harry laughed as he caught Ron’s gaze again before Molly started to take control of the situation.
Harry gave Teddy his backpack with a smile and a nod before apparating to Scotland again.