The next morning after breakfast everyone was sitting in the great hall anxiously waiting to begin reading about Harry's second year.
Hermione looked nervous causing Harry to shoot her a worried look. "What's wrong Mione?"
"We broke a lot of rules in our second year," Hermione said before casting a worried glance at the staff table and lowering her voice to barely above a whisper. "And I stole from Professor Snape, he's going to kill me."
"You'll be fine, Professor Dumbledore said we can't get into trouble for anything we read in these books," Harry said trying to comfort her. "I hate reading these books, do you think I want everyone reading every little detail of my life? No I don't, but it will make everyone see the truth about Sirius and Voldemort being back. All the bad stuff is worth it."
"Yeah," Hermione sighed. "You're right."
Dumbledore stood up and cleared his throat. "We will now begin reading book two, which is entitled Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."
The students began to whisper to one another, none of them knew what really happened the day Ginny got taken, and now they'll all find out. Ginny looked around the hall nervously, she wasn't looking forward to anyone finding out about her part in the chamber opening.
The adults who didn't know about it looked confused.
"The Chamber of Secrets?" Tonks said. "Isn't that just a myth?"
"Oh no Miss Tonks, I assure you it isn't a myth," Dumbledore said. "Now who would like to read?"
"I will read Albus," Kingsley said in his soothing voice.
"Very good," Dumbledore said cheerfully passing him the book.
"The Worst Birthday."
"What a lovely way to start the book," Ginny said sarcastically.
Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive.
"Bloody hell, we have to read about those horrid people again!" Charlie said annoyed.
"It would appear so Mr. Weasley," Dumbledore said.
Mr. Vernon Dursley had been woken in the early hours of the morning by a loud, hooting noise from his nephew Harry's room.
"What's wrong with Hedwig?" Hermione asked concerned.
"You'll see," Harry told her.
"Third time this week!" he roared across the table. "If you can't control that owl, it'll have to go!"
"What?" Ginny snapped. "He can't do that!"
Harry tried, yet again, to explain. "She's bored," he said. "She's used to flying around outside. If I could just let her out at night -"
"They locked her up?" Hagrid asked in outrage. Harry nodded his head yes.
"Not the only thing they locked up that summer," Ron muttered but no one heard him.
"That's animal cruelty!" Hermione exclaimed.
"How does she hunt?" Charlie demanded.
"Hedwig's fine guys," Harry said. "I wouldn't let her starve.
"Do I look stupid?"
"Yes." Fred and George said, there mother didn't even bother to reprimand them, not liking the Dursley's either.
snarled Uncle Vernon, a bit of fried egg dangling from his bushy mustache.
"Ew," Lavender squealed.
"Lovely," Parvarti said wrinkling her nose.
"I know what'll happen if that owl's let out."
"What exactly does he think is going to happen?" Neville asked.
Harry shrugged, "He's just paranoid."
He exchanged dark looks with his wife, Petunia.
"For Merlin's sake!" Hermione said exasperated.
Harry tried to argue back but his words were drowned by a long, loud belch from the Dursleys' son, Dudley.
Most of the hall looked at the book disgusted.
"I want more bacon."
"There's more in the frying pan, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia, turning misty eyes on her massive son. "We must build you up while we've got the chance… I don't like the sound of that school food…"
Everyone looked at the book in disbelief.
"Build him up?" Ron asked incredulously.
"He's bloody huge!" Fred said.
"He looked like a bloody whale when I saw him," George said.
"My aunt is delusional," Harry said with a shrug.
"Nonsense, Petunia, I never went hungry when I was at Smeltings," said Uncle Vernon heartily. "Dudley gets enough, don't you, son?"
Dudley, who was so large his bottom drooped over either side of the kitchen chair, grinned and turned to Harry.
"Ew," Ginny said. "I can't believe someone who actually let themselves get so big."
"He's even bigger now," Harry said.
"Pass the frying pan."
"You've forgotten the magic word," said Harry irritably.
Ron and Hermione groaned.
"Don't even say it." Harry said knowing what his best friends were thinking. "I know I shouldn't of said that."
The effect of this simple sentence on the rest of the family was incredible: Dudley gasped and fell off his chair with a crash that shook the whole kitchen; Mrs. Dursley gave a small scream and clapped her hands to her mouth; Mr. Dursley jumped to his feet, veins throbbing in his temples.
"Really they're acting like You-Know-Who himself had shown up," McGonagall said.
"That whole family is over dramatic," Daphne said.
"I meant 'please'!" said Harry quickly. "I didn't mean —"
"WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?"
Most of the hall burst into laughter.
"The M word?" Fred said in between his fit of laughter.
"Honestly," Sprout said shaking her head. "They're acting as if he said something vile."
"To them magic is vile," Harry said.
"But I —"
"HOW DARE YOU THREATEN DUDLEY!" roared Uncle Vernon, pounding the table with his fist.
"I'm sorry but where in there was a threat?" Tonks asked.
"Just the fact that I'm in the same room as them is considered a threat," Harry muttered.
"I just —"
"I WARNED YOU! I WILL NOT TOLERATE MENTION OF YOUR ABNORMALITY UNDER THIS ROOF!"
"Abnormality?" The hall shouted.
"You're the abnormal ones!" Ernie snapped.
Harry stared from his purple-faced uncle to his pale aunt, who was trying to heave Dudley to his feet.
"I really hope she hurt herself." Ron spat, remembering the bars on his best friends window.
"All right," said Harry, "all right…"
Uncle Vernon sat back down, breathing like a winded rhinoceros and watching Harry closely out of the corners of his small, sharp eyes.
Several pairs of eyes were rolled.
"Honestly," Hermione muttered.
Ever since Harry had come home for the summer holidays, Uncle Vernon had been treating him like a bomb that might go off at any moment, because Harry Potter wasn't a normal boy.
"Of course you aren't," Fred said.
"You're completely abnormal," George said.
As a matter of fact, he was as not normal as it is possible to be.
"Exactly." Fred and George said.
"Thanks guys," Harry said rolling his eyes.
Harry Potter was a wizard— a wizard fresh from his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And if the Dursleys were unhappy to have him back for the holidays, it was nothing to how Harry felt.
Most of the people in the hall sent him sympathetic looks, which he ignored as usual.
He missed Hogwarts so much it was like having a constant stomachache. He missed the castle, with its secret passageways and ghosts, his classes (though perhaps not Snape, the Potions master),
"And here I'd been pinning for you all summer," Snape drawled to the amusement of the room.
Harry rolled his eyes.
the mail arriving by owl, eating banquets in the Great Hall,
"The foods the best," Ron said smiling.
Hermione and Harry exchanged amused looks.
sleeping in his four-poster bed in the tower dormitory, visiting the gamekeeper, Hagrid, in his cabin next to the Forbidden Forest in the grounds,
Molly shot the gamekeeper a strict look, clearly not happy with the way the trio found out about the stone from him in their first year.
and, especially, Quidditch,
The students who love quidditch cheered.
the most popular sport in the wizarding world (six tall goal posts, four flying balls, and fourteen players on broomsticks).
"Why is the book explaining all this again?" Ron asked.
"Most likely in case someone didn't read the first one," Hermione told him.
All Harry's spell books, his wand, robes, cauldron, and top-of-the-line Nimbus Two Thousand broomstick had been locked in a cupboard under the stairs by Uncle Vernon the instant Harry had come home.
Glares were sent at the book.
"Better your stuff than you," Hermione said.
Harry and Ron exchanged looks, both were wondering what Hermione was going to say when she found out about the bars.
What did the Dursleys care if Harry lost his place on the House Quidditch team because he hadn't practiced all summer?
"You're the best seeker Hogwarts has ever seen, there is no way I wouldn't of put you back on the team," Oliver said.
"How exactly would you of practiced anyway?" Hermione asked. "You do live in a muggle town.
Harry shrugged. "I don't know actually, it was just the fact that it was locked away."
Harry looked nothing like the rest of the family.
"Thank Merlin," Harry muttered.
Uncle Vernon was large and neckless, with an enormous black mustache; Aunt Petunia was horse-faced and bony; Dudley was blond, pink, and porky.
"Lovely," Lavender said.
Harry, on the other hand, was small and skinny, with brilliant green eyes and jet-black hair that was always untidy.
"James and Lily," Remus said quietly.
He wore round glasses, and on his forehead was a thin, lightning-shaped scar.
It was this scar that made Harry so particularly unusual, even for a wizard. This scar was the only hint of Harry's very mysterious past,
"I wish it wasn't such a mystery," Harry muttered.
"Don't we all," Ron said.
of the reason he had been left on the Dursleys' doorstep eleven years before.
Many glares were sent towards the headmaster.
At the age of one year old, Harry had somehow survived a curse from the greatest Dark sorcerer of all time, Lord Voldemort, whose name most witches and wizards still feared to speak. Harry's parents had died in Voldemort's attack, but Harry had escaped with his lightning scar, and somehow — nobody understood why —Voldemort's powers had been destroyed the instant he had failed to kill Harry.
Harry looked towards the headmaster. 'Dumbledore knows, he knows and now he won't even look at me.' He felt anger boil inside of him but pushed it down, now isn't the time to get mad.
So Harry had been brought up by his dead mother's sister and her husband. He had spent ten years with the Dursleys, never understanding why he kept making odd things happen without meaning to, believing the Dursleys' story that he had got his scar in the car crash that had killed his parents.
Glares were sent towards the book.
"I still can't believe those horrid people told you that," Hermione said.
And then, exactly a year ago, Hogwarts had written to Harry, and the whole story had come out. Harry had taken up his place at wizard school, where he and his scar were famous…
"Unfortunately," Harry mumbled.
but now the school year was over, and he was back with the Dursleys for the summer, back to being treated like a dog that had rolled in something smelly.
Harry thought that if looks could do damage then the book would've exploded into a thousand pieces by now.
The Dursleys hadn't even remembered that today happened to be Harry's twelfth birthday.
"This year you're having a proper birthday," Molly told him.
"That really isn't necessary Mrs. Weasley," Harry said looking embarrassed.
"Oh hush now of course it is," Molly said waving him off.
"Don't bother," Ron whispered. "Once she's determined there's no stopping her."
Of course, his hopes hadn't been high; they'd never given him a real present, let alone a cake — but to ignore it completely…
By now most of the hall was looking at Harry sadly.
"How anyone could treat such a kind boy so horribly is despicable." Sprout said to McGonagall who nodded in agreement.
At that moment, Uncle Vernon cleared his throat importantly and said, "Now, as we all know, today is a very important day."
"No way," Dean said. "They actually remembered?"
Harry looked up, hardly daring to believe it.
"I don't believe it either," Bill spat.
"I don't think anyone does," Arthur said sadly.
"This could well be the day I make the biggest deal of my career," said Uncle Vernon.
"Oh yes, a business deal is so much more important than a little boy," Molly growled.
Hermione was glaring at the book.
Harry went back to his toast. Of course, he thought bitterly, Uncle Vernon was talking about the stupid dinner party. He'd been talking of nothing else for two weeks. Some rich builder and his wife were coming to dinner and Uncle Vernon was hoping to get a huge order from him (Uncle Vernon's company made drills).
"I think we should run through the schedule one more time," said Uncle Vernon. "We should all be in position at eight o'clock. Petunia, you will be —?"
"They seriously plan these sorts of things?" Terry asked incredulously.
"Yes," Harry said.
"And here I thought they couldn't get any weirder," Anthony muttered.
"In the lounge," said Aunt Petunia promptly, "waiting to welcome them graciously to our home."
Ginny snorted. "I doubt that woman even knows what gracious means let alone knows how to behave that way."
"Good, good. And Dudley?"
"I'll be waiting to open the door." Dudley put on a foul, simpering smile. "May I take your coats, Mr. and Mrs. Mason?"
"If I saw him I'd run as fast as I could in the opposite direction," Neville said.
Everyone turned to stare at the boy in shock, it wasn't like Neville to say something like that.
"What?" Neville asked turning red. "It's true."
Fred and George clapped him on the back. "Well said Neville."
"They'll love him!" cried Aunt Petunia rapturously.
Several people snorted.
"Somehow I doubt that," Tracey said.
"Excellent, Dudley," said Uncle Vernon. Then he rounded on Harry. "And you?"
"I'll be in my bedroom, making no noise and pretending I'm not there," said Harry tonelessly.
Everyone turned to look at him sadly.
"That's how you spent your twelfth birthday?" Hermione asked looking like she was about to cry.
Harry shrugged. "I'd rather be in my room than with them."
Hermione gave him a hug. "That's horrible, no one should be forced to stay in their room on their birthday."
"Exactly," said Uncle Vernon nastily. "I will lead them into the lounge, introduce you, Petunia, and pour them drinks. At eight-fifteen —"
"I wonder how they'd react if their schedule was off?" George asked.
"My uncle would probably have a heart attack," Harry said.
George and Fred exchanged looks, pulled out a piece of parchment and began to write something down.
"What are they doing?" Hermione asked.
Ginny looked over Fred's shoulder and raised an eye brow. "You don't wanna know."
Hermione looked at the twins warily. "Probably not."
"I'll announce dinner," said Aunt Petunia.
"And, Dudley, you'll say —"
"May I take you through to the dining room, Mrs. Mason?" said Dudley, offering his fat arm to an invisible woman.
"These people are ridiculous," Susan said exasperated.
"My perfect little gentleman!" sniffed Aunt Petunia.
"I think I'm going to be sick," Ginny groaned.
And you?" said Uncle Vernon viciously to Harry.
"I'll be in my room, making no noise and pretending I'm not there," said Harry dully.
"Precisely. Now, we should aim to get in a few good compliments at dinner. Petunia, any ideas?"
Most of the hall snorted or turned to give the book odd looks.
"They actually practice compliments?" Daphne asked, half in amusement, half in exasperation.
"They take being pathetic to a whole new level," Tracey said.
"Vernon tells me you're a wonderful golfer, Mr. Mason… Do tell me where you bought your dress, Mrs. Mason…"
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"How about —'We had to write an essay about our hero at school, Mr. Mason, and I wrote about you.'"
"It would be funny if Mr. Mason asked him what exactly was in that essay," Hermione said.
Harry smiled, "I would've loved to see my uncles face if that had happened."
This was too much for both Aunt Petunia and Harry. Aunt Petunia burst into tears and hugged her son, while Harry ducked under the table so they wouldn't see him laughing.
"Don't let them see you," Molly said worriedly.
"Don't worry Mrs. Weasley they didn't," Harry assured her.
"And you, boy?"
Harry fought to keep his face straight as he emerged.
"You have better self control than me, there's no way I would've been able to stop laughing," Dean said.
"I'll be in my room, making no noise and pretending I'm not there," he said.
"Too right, you will." said Uncle Vernon forcefully. "The Masons don't know anything about you and it's going to stay that way. When dinner's over, you take Mrs. Mason back to the lounge for coffee, Petunia, and I'll bring the subject around to drills. With any luck, I'll have the deal signed and sealed before the news at ten. Be shopping for a vacation home in Majorca this time tomorrow."
Harry couldn't feel too excited about this. He didn't think the Dursleys would like him any better in Majorca than they did on Privet Drive.
"I don't know why I even thought that," Harry said shaking his head. "They wouldn't take me anyway."
Hermione squeezed his hand and Ron clapped his back.
"You'd be able to come to the Burrow," Ron told him.
"Thanks Ron," Harry said.
"Right — I'm off into town to pick up the dinner jackets for Dudley and me. And you," he snarled at Harry. "You stay out of your aunt's way while she's cleaning."
"At least they aren't making you clean," Neville said.
"I wouldn't say that yet," Hermione said. "Chances are she'll make him do something."
Harry left through the back door. It was a brilliant, sunny day. He crossed the lawn, slumped down on the garden bench, and sang under his breath:
"Happy birthday to me… happy birthday to me…"
Harry turned red at all the pitying looks he was receiving.
"That's so sad," Susan said.
"Pathetic Potter." Malfoy sneered before paling at all the death glares he was receiving.
"You're such a git Malfoy," Daphne said.
"You aren't seriously standing up for Potter are you Greengrass?" Draco snapped.
"Just because I'm a Slytherin doesn't mean I'm a junior death eater like you Malfoy," Daphne snapped back.
Harry looked shocked that a Slytherin was standing up for him, especially the so called ice queen of Slytherin.
No cards, no presents, and he would be spending the evening pretending not to exist. He gazed miserably into the hedge. He had never felt so lonely. More than anything else at Hogwarts, more even than playing Quidditch, Harry missed his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
Hermione smiled and gave his hand a squeeze while Ron grinned at his best friend.
"We missed you too Harry," Hermione said.
They, however, didn't seem to be missing him at all.
"That's not true!" Ron and Hermione both said looking scandalized.
Neither of them had written to him all summer, even though Ron had said he was going to ask Harry to come and stay.
"What?" The majority of the great hall shouted.
"You two didn't write?" Bill snapped. "You promised you would!"
"We did!" Ron and Hermione said quickly.
"They did," Harry said. "You'll see later why I didn't get them."
Countless times, Harry had been on the point of unlocking Hedwig's cage by magic and sending her to Ron and Hermione with a letter,
McGonagall shook her head. "That wouldn't be a good idea."
but it wasn't worth the risk. Underage wizards weren't allowed to use magic outside of school. Harry hadn't told the Dursleys this; he knew it was only their terror that he might turn them all into dung beetles that stopped them from locking him in the cupboard under the stairs with his wand and broomstick.
More death glares were sent towards the book.
For the first couple of weeks back, Harry had enjoyed muttering nonsense words under his breath and watching Dudley tearing out of the room as fast as his fat legs would carry him.
Fred and George snickered.
"It was pretty amusing," Harry said with a smile.
"I want to yell at you or something but I just can't," Hermione said.
But the long silence from Ron and Hermione had made Harry feel so cut off from the magical world that even taunting Dudley had lost its appeal — and now Ron and Hermione had forgotten his birthday.
"We hadn't," Hermione reassured him.
"We never would," Ron said.
"I know guys," Harry told them.
What wouldn't he give now for a message from Hogwarts? From any witch or wizard? He'd almost be glad of a sight of his archenemy, Draco Malfoy, just to be sure it hadn't all been a dream…
Draco raised an eyebrow.
"Now that's going too far," George said wrinkling his nose.
Harry snorted. "I was desperate to know that it wasn't all some crazy dream."
"I can't say I blame you," Hermione said.
Not that his whole year at Hogwarts had been fun.
"You don't consider jumping on a troll fun?" George asked in mock surprise.
"Or almost being eaten by a three headed dog?" Fred asked in the same way.
"Or detention in the forbidden forest?" Lee asked.
"Or-" George began only to get cut off.
"We get it!" Harry said quickly.
At the very end of last term, Harry had come face-to-face with none other than Lord Voldemort himself. Voldemort might be a ruin of his former self, but he was still terrifying, still cunning, still determined to regain power. Harry had slipped through Voldemort's clutches for a second time, but it had been a narrow escape, and even now, weeks later, Harry kept waking in the night, drenched in cold sweat, wondering where Voldemort was now, remembering his livid face, his wide, mad eyes —
"Did nobody suggest counseling or anything of the sort?" Amelia asked.
The teachers exchanged looks.
"We were under the impression he had a loving family who he could talk to," McGonagall said.
Amelia raised her eyebrows and made an indistinct noise in her throat. "Maybe next time you should offer some."
"Of course Madam Bones," Dumbledore said.
Harry suddenly sat bolt upright on the garden bench. He had been staring absent-mindedly into the hedge — and the hedge was staring back.
"What?" Dennis asked.
Two enormous green eyes had appeared among the leaves.
"What's there?" Molly asked grabbing her husbands arm.
"Nothing dangerous," Harry said.
"I wouldn't say that," Ron muttered. "He almost killed you."
Harry shot him a sharp look. "He was trying to help me."
Ron snorted. "If you consider a broken arm helping."
Harry sighed and rubbed his temples.
Harry jumped to his feet just as a jeering voice floated across the lawn.
"I know what day it is," sang Dudley, waddling toward him.
"He actually knows the days of the week?" Lisa asked. "That's surprising."
The huge eyes blinked and vanished.
"What?" said Harry, not taking his eyes off the spot where they had been.
"I know what day it is," Dudley repeated, coming right up to him.
"Well done," said Harry. "So you've finally learned the days of the week."
"A huge achievement I'm sure," Hermione said dryly.
"Today's your birthday," sneered Dudley. "How come you haven't got any cards? Haven't you even got friends at that freak place?"
"Of course he does!" All of Harry's friends shouted causing Harry to blush.
"Better not let your mum hear you talking about my school," said Harry coolly.
Dudley hitched up his trousers, which were slipping down his fat bottom.
Parvarti and Lavender wrinkled their noses in disgust.
"Why're you staring at the hedge?" he said suspiciously.
"I'm trying to decide what would be the best spell to set it on fire," said Harry.
The hall broke into laughter.
"Nice one mate," Dean said.
Dudley stumbled backward at once, a look of panic on his fat face. "You c-can't — Dad told you you're not to do m-magic —
"Ooohh he said the M word," Fred said laughing.
"Better not let mummy and daddy hear you," George added.
he said he'll chuck you out of the house — and you haven't got anywhere else to go — you haven't got any friends to take you —"
"He does too." The Weasley's sans Percy said.
"Jiggery pokery!" said Harry in a fierce voice. "Hocus pocus — squiggly wiggly —"
The room burst out laughing, Harry noticed even Snape's lip was twitching.
"He thought those were real spells?" Justin asked laughing.
"Yes," Harry said after he finally stopped laughing.
"MUUUUUUM!" howled Dudley, tripping over his feet as he dashed back toward the house. "MUUUUM! He's doing you know what!"
Fred and George snorted.
"You know what?" Hermione asked with her eyebrows raised. "Sounds like magic to them is like You-Know-Who to us."
Harry paid dearly for his moment of fun.
Many people narrowed their eyes.
"What did they do to you?" Remus asked eyes glaring at the book.
As neither Dudley nor the hedge was in any way hurt, Aunt Petunia knew he hadn't really done magic, but he still had to duck as she aimed a heavy blow at his head with the soapy frying pan.
Remus' eyes flashed amber as he glared at the book in Kingsley's hands.
"She did what?" Molly, Hermione and McGonagall shouted.
"That horrid woman!" Sprout said.
"Were you OK?" Hermione asked worriedly.
"I was fine," Harry said. "She missed."
Everyone gave him looks of disbelief.
Molly was beginning to tear up. "That woman shouldn't be allowed near children."
Then she gave him work to do, with the promise he wouldn't eat again until he'd finished.
More death glares were sent to the book.
"You aren't going back there," Molly said.
"Now Molly we'll need to discuss this later." Dumbledore said causing everyone to glare at him.
"No Albus there is no discussing this, he isn't going back and that's all there is to it."
While Dudley lolled around watching and eating ice cream, Harry cleaned the windows, washed the car, mowed the lawn, trimmed the flower beds, pruned and watered the roses, and repainted the garden bench.
"That's way too much work for a twelve year old!" Pomfrey said. "Especially if you haven't eaten all day."
"I'm used to it," Harry shrugged.
"You shouldn't be used to it Harry," Hermione told him gently.
The sun blazed overhead, burning the back of his neck. Harry knew he shouldn't have risen to Dudley's bait, but Dudley had said the very thing Harry had been thinking himself… maybe he didn't have any friends at Hogwarts…
"How could you think that?" Hermione asked sadly.
"I was twelve Mione," Harry said with a sigh. "I know that now, but I was just a kid then."
Wish they could see famous Harry Potter now, he thought savagely as he spread manure on the flower beds, his back aching, sweat running down his face.
It was half past seven in the evening when at last, exhausted, he heard Aunt Petunia calling him.
"Get in here! And walk on the newspaper!"
"He's not a dog," Ron scowled at the book.
Harry moved gladly into the shade of the gleaming kitchen. On top of the fridge stood tonight's pudding: a huge mound of whipped cream and sugared violets.
"I really hate that pudding," Harry muttered.
A loin of roast pork was sizzling in the oven.
"Which you got none of I'm sure," Hermione snapped.
"Eat quickly! The Masons will be here soon!" snapped Aunt Petunia, pointing to two slices of bread and a lump of cheese on the kitchen table.
"You worked all day and that's all you got?" Molly asked in outrage.
"No wonder you're so thin," Pomfrey said. "You will be coming for a full work up once this is all over Mr. Potter."
Harry groaned. "Do I have to?"
"Yes." All of the teachers, Molly and Hermione said.
"Perfect," Harry muttered.
She was already wearing a salmon-pink cocktail dress.
Harry washed his hands and bolted down his pitiful supper. The moment he had finished, Aunt Petunia whisked away his plate. "Upstairs! Hurry!"
As he passed the door to the living room, Harry caught a glimpse of Uncle Vernon and Dudley in bow ties and dinner jackets. He had only just reached the upstairs landing when the door bell rang and Uncle Vernon's furious face appeared at the foot of the stairs.
"Remember, boy — one sound —"
Harry crossed to his bedroom on tiptoe slipped inside, closed the door, and turned to collapse on his bed. The trouble was, there was already someone sitting on it.
"What?" Many people asked.
"Who was there?" Charlie asked.
"Probably whoever was in the hedge out front," Bill said.
"That's the end of the chapter," Kingsley said.
Dumbledore stood up. "We will take a thirty minute break, there is something I must go do. When I return we will read the next chapter." He then got up and walked out of the great hall.
"Shall we go stretch our legs?" Hermione asked.
Harry shrugged, "Sure."
The trio followed most of the students out of the great hall.
"I'll be right back." Harry told Hermione when he saw the girl who had stood up to him from Draco.
"Where are you going?" Hermione asked.
"To say thank you," was all Harry said. Hermione looked confused but didn't say anything.
"Excuse me." Harry said tapping the girl on the shoulder. She turned around and he felt all the breath leaving him, she was even more beautiful up close. She had long blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
"Yes?" Daphne asked raising her eyebrows.
"Hi um...I know we don't know each other...I'm Harry Potter...I uh..." Harry said nervously, he was trying not to pass out. "I just uh...wanted to say thank you for saying something to Malfoy...Slytherins don't normally say anything against him."
"Well I'm not most Slytherins." Daphne said simply while observing him intently. "I'm Daphne Greengrass."
"It's nice to meet you," Harry said hold out his hand.
Daphne looked amused. "Nice to meet you too." She gestured to a pretty brunette standing next to her. "This is my best friend Tracey Davis."
"Nice to meet you," Harry said quickly.
"You too Potter," Tracey said shaking his hand.
"It's just Harry," he said nervously.
"We should probably get back to our table," Daphne said. "But I do hope we talk again."
Harry gave her a small smile. "Me too." Daphne smiled back then walked with Tracey back into the great hall.
"What was that about?" Ron asked once Harry was back with him and Hermione. When Harry didn't respond Ron snapped his fingers in front of his face. "Hello, earth to Harry."
"What?" Harry asked looking around. "Oh sorry...it was nothing just saying thanks to Daphne."
"Daphne?" Ron asked.
"Yeah...uh..Daphne Greengrass and her best friend Tracey," Harry said.
"Why would you want to talk to Slytherins?" Ron asked as though talking to Slytherins was a crime.
"Not all Slytherins are like Malfoy, Ron," Harry said flatly before turning around to walk into the hall.
"Honestly Ronald," Hermione said. "Do you have no tact? Like Harry said all Slytherins aren't evil, besides the Greengrass family is neutral in the war."
"Really?" Ron asked.
"Yes Ronald," Hermione said exasperated.
The hall silenced when Dumbledore entered followed by a hyper looking house elf.
"Dobby?" Harry asked incredulously.
"Harry Potter!" Dobby squeaked before running up to Harry and hugging him. The pure bloods and those who knew what house elves were looked shocked.
"What are you doing here Dobby?" Harry asked.
"Mister Dumbledore invited Dobby here to read a book about the great Harry Potter!" Dobby said excitedly.
"Oh," was all Harry could say.
Umbridge looked furious. 'Who does Dumbledore think he is inviting that filthy creature into the great hall to read with us?'
"Would you care to read the next chapter?" Dumbledore asked the elf.
"Oh yes! I would love to read about Harry Potter!" Dobby said as though nothing would make him happier.
Draco sneered. 'That bloody elf used to work for us! How does he know Potter?' He narrowed his eyes. 'Potter better not of had a hand in freeing the elf, after all father never did say how it happened.'
Dobby grabbed the book and took a seat in between Harry and Neville at the Gryffindor table.
1-This story will eventually be Harry/Daphne. He won't be with Ginny for several reasons. The main one is that he develops feelings for her because of everything they go through together, such as the Department of Mysteries. If they don't have the same experience they won't be the same people.