"We can't say much about you-know-what, obviously. . ." "We've been told not to say anything important in case our letters go astray. . ." "We're quite busy but I can't give you details here. . ." "There's a fair amount going on, we'll tell you everything when we see you. . ."*
Harry sighed longly as he read the latest update, if he could even call it that, from Hermione. Voldemort was back and no one felt the need to let him know what was going on. It frustrated him to no end. He had not expected much from Ron, or any of the Weasleys for that matter, and he knew that Sirius was probably just as clueless as he was, so he was really counting on Hermione to let him know what was going on. Yet every letter she sent was exactly the same. She'd write that she can't say much giving some excuses as to why and end the letter saying she hoped to see him soon.
Add to all that the fact that the prophet had been trying to make it sound like he was some delusional lunatic for the entirety of the summer so far, and Harry Potter was quite upset. His relatives had thankfully left him alone and made it abundantly clear that as long as he didn't bother them and wasn't getting into trouble, that they would continue to let him be. It was more than Harry had expected, and he accepted the offer graciously.
He decided to go for a walk to help calm himself down. He quickly pulled on his trainers, and quietly made his way out the front door as his aunt and uncle were watching the television and he didn't want to mess up this tentative truce they had going. Once he stepped outside and felt the blistering heat radiating from the afternoon sun, he immediately reconsidered the walk, but he didn't want to do anything to risk angering his aunt and uncle, so he decided against going back inside and started at a slow pace around the neighborhood. He found himself nearing the park when he heard a voice yell out his name. "Hey Harry, slow down!"
He turned and saw Dudley walking quickly towards him. Harry quickly debated speeding up, and pretending he hadn't heard him, but as far as Harry could tell Dudley was alone, and he had definitely been nicer to him this summer. He could even say that he was acting decent towards him.
"Come on Harry, slow down." Harry finally slowed to a stop and let his vastly larger cousin reach him before continuing his walk at a slower pace so that Dudley could keep up. Dudley looked rather nervous, and they walked for a few minutes in uncomfortable silence. Finally, Dudley spoke up and asked in a curious tone "Who's Cedric?"
Harry immediately frowned at Dudley and sent a glare his way "How do you know that name?"
"Woah, sorry Harry, I've just heard you saying his name late at night and was curious as to who he was." Harry's face turned pale. He had been having nightmares about the last task, and often woke up drenched in sweat and breathing heavy, but he didn't realize he had been loud enough to seemingly wake Dudley up.
Harry debated telling his cousin anything, but eventually spoke with a quiet voice "Cedric was a friend of mine who was murdered at the end of the school year. I've been having some nightmares about it recently."
"What do you mean murdered? Did someone kill him while he was at the school?"
"No, someone managed to transport the two of us off the school grounds. They killed him instantly."
"You can't be serious." Dudley said shocked.
Harry felt his temper begin to rise "I am serious," he began heatedly "I know what I saw, I'm not just making up stories!"
"I didn't mean to say that I didn't believe you, I was just surprised is all" Dudley said calmly trying to placate him. "So, who kidnapped you guys, and how did you escape?"
Harry really didn't feel up to sharing that particular story "I'd rather not talk about it."
"That's fine Harry." they fell once again into an uncomfortable silence which Harry broke this time
"Why are you being so nice to me?" Harry asked as this was something he was curious about. Dudley had never been very nice, in fact most times he'd been outright vindictive.
Dudley looked relieved at the change of topic and began to contemplate his answer. "I guess it was just a mutual decision by all three of us that we've given you too much shit that you didn't deserve, and a few summers ago after you blew up Aunt Marge I think mum and dad finally realized that pretty soon you would be able to defend yourself. Then we found out that your godfather is an escaped mass murderer, and well, it seemed like a smart idea to leave you be." Dudley responded.
Ah, Harry thought to himself, that explained it. They were afraid of him and what he might do to them in retaliation of all the abuse they'd heaped on him throughout the years. He wouldn't lie and say he never thought about taking revenge on them, but things were different now. He decided that if they left him alone, as they were doing now, for the remainder of the time he spent at number four Privet Drive, then he would leave them alone too.
They fell into another silence that was still awkward, but not as bad. Dudley began to talk about anything he could think of, sports, school, girls, and they continued just walking until Harry noticed that the sun was beginning to drop lower in the sky. "We should probably be getting home soon or else your parents might get worried."
"Yeah, you're probably right." Dudley said, "here cut through this alley it'll save us some time."
Harry already knew that and was just about to suggest it himself, so he complied without question. They walked into the narrow alley with Harry leading the way and Dudley a step behind him. They were about halfway through when Harry felt the temperature drop significantly. The light from the mid-afternoon sun had all but disappeared and Harry could already begin to hear the voice of his mother screaming that Voldemort spare him.
"Dudley get on the ground and go fetal. Say nothing, and don't move, and whatever you do keep your mouth closed." Harry said in a composed and commanding voice. Dudley whimpered but complied. What were dementors doing here? As far as Harry knew after his third year, they had all been confined to Azkaban, but obviously he was wrong. Did Voldemort take control of them? Or maybe Fudge was trying to silence him once and for all? He would have to think about that later, because his breath was already beginning to fog, and his mother's screams grew louder.
He knew that he would most likely get in trouble with the ministry, but at this point there was nothing else he could do. He raised his wand and focused on a happy memory, then with a clear voice he yelled out "EXPECTO PATRONUM!"
Immediately a gigantic silver white stag erupted from Harry's wand. It looked around and quickly went after the dementor that was behind the two of them. Harry could see what the dementors were trying to do as one came from behind them in the alleyway, and the other was blocking the front. They had wanted to trap them in between the two dementors giving them nowhere to run. The patronus neared the dementor, dropped his head, and ran its antlers right through the dementor throwing it back a solid thirty feet. It then turned around and started sprinting towards the other dementor who was already trying to fly away as quickly as it could. The patronus just managed to reach the dementor and smack it forward. It then returned to Harry looked around to see if there was any more danger. Not finding any it just simply looked at him before disappearing along with a warm breeze.
Harry immediately turned around and checked on Dudley who was just staring open mouthed and wide eyed. "What the bloody hell was that?! And why did it get so cold all of the sudden, and why did I feel so helpless?" Dudley started yelling frantically.
"Calm down Dudley, those were called dementors they're gone now. We need to get home and get you some chocolate." Harry said. Dudley didn't make any motion to get up "Can you stand?" Harry asked.
"I… I think so." replied Dudley. They started walking the short distance that remained to reach number 4 and were just about to exit the other side of the alley.
That was when Ms. Figg ran into the alley screaming. "Dementors, what are dementors doing here. Come quick Harry, we need to get you to your house. You'll be safe there and I need to floo Dumbledore."
At this point, Harry was as confused as he had ever been. First, he had managed to have a civil conversation with Dudley, then bloody dementors tried to kill the both of them, and now his crazy neighbor, the one that reeked of cabbage and cat urine was apparently a witch and she knew how to get into contact with Albus Dumbledore. It showed how messed up his life was when he followed the crazy cat lady without question.
Daphne Greengrass heard the floo go off and immediately rushed to the foyer to meet her father as he arrived home from work. Daphne knew that her father Cyrus Greengrass was considered by many to be an imposing man. A prominent pureblood with power, affluence, and if he so desired it, influence. His strong jaw and dark hair meant he was handsome, and he was taller than most men. His most striking feature however was his light blue eyes that were nearly electric in color and did a good job of making him stand out in a crowd. It was precisely those eyes that had caught the attention of Daphne's mother back in their days at Hogwarts. Daphne's mum Ashley was, considered by all to be an extremely beautiful woman. Even at her age, she and her daughters could pass for sisters. Her long hair was a honey blonde that Daphne had inherited, and her face soft and kind.
As her father stepped out of the floo he quickly vanished the soot that had stuck to his robes and then told his wife that she looked beautiful.
Ashley looked at him endearingly and gave him a chaste kiss on the lips, but when she pulled back, he pulled her closer, lifted her off her feet, and gave her another kiss as he spun her around. He put her down and Daphne couldn't hold in her giggling as he looked her way and sent her a wink while her mum halfheartedly swatted at his chest.
Mum sent him a glare and then said, "Why don't we all step into the dining room as dinner will be ready shortly."
Soon enough they were all seated at the table, and after another minute the table was immediately filled to the brink with food. They all thanked Missy, the Greengrass house elf, and began to eat. Astoria was chatting animatedly about what she had been up to today as she had a few friends over for the day and the rest of the family seemed content to just listen. Just after the main course had been cleared and dessert was served an official ministry owl swept through the open window and landed in front of Daphne's father.
The room fell silent as he read the letter. His face stayed completely stoic as he continued to scan through the parchment. This was something that Daphne had become accustomed to. Whenever he was doing something that had to do with his work he put on a mask and was very serious, but at home he was carefree. She had begun to do the same thing. Whenever she wasn't at home she put on a mask of cold indifference.
Her father finished the letter and set it down. Immediately Astoria, spoke up curiously "Who was it daddy, why are they owling you so late?"
"Astoria, it is not polite to be nosy. Especially when it concerns your father's work, you know he is not allowed to say much." Her mum quickly reprimanded her.
"No darling this wasn't from work. It was an official summons to a trial in front of the Wizengamot in a few weeks."
Her mum looked surprised "For who?" she asked, and after a moment's pause she added "And why on such short notice? Surely, they haven't caught Black?"
"No, Black is to be kissed on sight. This is for the trial of one Harry James Potter." Her father replied. He sounded as surprised as all the girls looked when they heard the news.
Daphne's mind began to race. What could the Gryffindor golden boy have done to warrant a trial in front of the Wizengamot? "Potter is going on trial in front of the Wizengamot? What the hell did he do?" She half asked, half thought aloud.
Cyrus looked shocked, and Daphne knew why. She never cursed in front of her parents and rarely cursed at all. "You would do well to watch your language young lady." he reprimanded her, but he answered her question anyway "It seems he has performed underage magic, and in front of a muggle no less."
"Does it state why?" inquired Ashley. She looked doubtful and Daphne was sure her facial expression matched her mother's.
"No that's all that it writes about the matter. It also includes the exact time and the room number for where the trial will be held."
"But surely that isn't cause to be tried by the entire Wizengamot, is it dad?" Daphne asked. She knew like everyone else that Potter lived with muggles and assumed that the muggles that had seen the magic had probably already known about the wizarding world anyway.
"No, as far as I know it isn't, but you've all seen as well as I have that Fudge is running a smear campaign against the young man." Her father responded carefully "This is likely a ploy to try to at the least discredit him, and at the most have his wand snapped and get him expelled from Hogwarts." All three of the Greengrass women gasped at that. "Enough of this talk, it's getting late let's finish our desserts and you two should be going up to bed soon."
Daphne recognized the dismissal and stood quickly with Astoria following her lead. They both kissed their parents good night and headed up the stairs to where their rooms are located.
"So, you really think he is going to get his wand snapped and be expelled?" Astoria asked.
Daphne considered the question. "I doubt it, I'm almost one hundred percent certain that Dumbledore will get him out of this," She said, "but what was the idiot thinking using magic away from school?"
Astoria shrugged "I'm sure we'll find out later after dad goes to the hearing. Good night, Daphne."
"Good night, Astoria." she answered back and quickly headed into her room. Once inside she quickly changed into her pyjamas and crawled into bed, but try as she might, she couldn't sleep. Her thoughts kept returning to Potter and how he would have to face trial in front of the entire Wizengamot for something as trivial as underage magic. The Government really was incompetent. Daphne knew that Potter's story of the dark lord's resurrection was true as Malfoy had spent the last few days at Hogwarts gloating to everyone in Slytherin that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was going to be spending the summer at his family manor.
Most of her acquaintances from Salazars esteemed house were happy with the news, or they were at the least pretending to be. Daphne however was not. Her father had managed to get through the last war while staying neutral, but Daphne doubted that he could make it through this one without picking a side. She knew that he was already being pressured both ways. He was after all, an extremely influential and wealthy man, and whoever he backed would gain a lot. Her only hope was that the war would be taken care of before it began, if not she had no idea what would happen. Finally, she managed to drift off into a restless sleep.