Chapter One Secrets Unraveled Harry slowly raised his head and stared morosely at the familiar visage of number four, Privet Drive. What had already been a horrible day was rapidly getting worse. Not only did he have to appear unannounced on the Dursleys’ doorstep (something he knew they’d have no problem expressing their displeasure over), but he’d also have to tell them that two other freakswould be joining him this afternoon. The corner of Harry’s mouth twitched humorlessly as he envisioned how they’d take the news. He’d left Ron and Hermione at King’s Cross station a little over an hour ago. They were each going to make quick stops at their respective homes before Apparating to Privet Drive. Harry smiled fondly, remembering their show of solidarity. He hadn’t been expecting it; he’dthought he’d be going on alone. Although he was desperately worried about them and the remainder of their quest, he had to admit that the thought of some support while facing his relatives was quite nice indeed.
Harry had thought it would be if he arrived at Privet Drive their arrival. He’d wanted to the other students as quickly Ginny.
better – or at least less embarrassing – first andprepared his relatives for get away from the Hogwarts Express and as possible…before he ran into Ginny.
Harry quickly shook his head – he couldn’t afford to think about Ginny. He still didn’t think his resolve was strong enough to hold. Since he wasn’t yet of age, he’d quickly slipped away without speaking to any of the crowd at King’s Cross and taken the train to Privet Drive. The long, hotjourney had left him irritable. It didn’t bode well for the coming reunion. He’d considered just Apparating back from Hogsmeade to avoid the Hogwarts Express altogether. So what if the Ministry chucked him out of Hogwarts now? He wasn’t going back, anyway. Hermione, always the voice of reason, reminded him that there was no need to give the Ministry an excuse to break his wand, and Harry had to admitthat she had a point. Rufus Scrimgeour wanted Harry under his control, and Harry wouldn’t put it past the man to make life difficult in an effort to force Harry to comply. Harry had no patience for the man or his politicking. Still, recklessly using underage magic for the sake of mere convenience was a risk not worth taking. He hated when Hermione was right. So, he’d sat in a compartment with Ronand Hermione and tried to ignore the hole in his heart that Ginny’s absence created. He hadn’t seen her the entire journey home and wondered which compartment she’d sat on the train. Neither Ron nor Hermione had asked him where she was, but he’d caught Hermione staring at him speculatively on several occasions.
Harry had been steadfast in avoiding her gaze. He’d stared out the window miserably,his thoughts focused on happier days… Ginny. Stuffing his hands in the pockets of his jeans and squaring his shoulders, Harry trudged across the street towards the immaculately pruned garden of number four, Privet Drive. He’d promised Dumbledore that he’d return one more time before his birthday, and he intended to keep that pledge. Harry’s chest tightened as he thought of his headmaster, but heblinked the moisture from his eyes and continued forward. This was what Dumbledore had wanted, and this was what he was going to do. Still, knowing what he had to do didn’t make doing it any easier. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with the Dursleys’ nonsense. He had no patience for their petty bigotry…he had bigger challenges to face. The days when Vernon Dursley’s purple face could make him cowerwere long past. He wondered what he could expect when they opened the door to find him standing there after his eventful departure last summer. All in all, he supposed it could be worse. He’d rather face the Dursleys’ ire than Molly Weasley’s fury when Ron informed her of his plans to ditch the Burrow this summer and head straight into the war that she’d been so adamantly attempting to shield him...
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