The Ford Anglia
31st July 1992
Harry looked out his window. Damn Dobby. And damn the Dursleys. This could be considered his worse birthday yet.
Technically his sixth birthday had been worse when Uncle Vernon had broken Harry's arm before shoving him inside the cupboard-under-the-stairs. But back then Harry hadn't had his hopes crushed. Back then he simply had no hope.
Since coming back from a wonderful year at Hogwarts, he had been crashed back into the reality that was life at 4, Privet Drive. Uncle Vernon had locked his trunk under the stairs the moment they had arrived (along with his wand, which was inside the trunk), and he had padlocked Hedwig's cage.
Now used to three full meals at Hogwarts, he was painfully reminded how little food he got here. Plus, the usual chores were there to fill his days. Cooking, cleaning and gardening.
The only good thing was that Dudley was now afraid of Harry using magic on him. The pig's tail that Hagrid had given him must've really scared Dudley. Muttering a few words like 'hocus pocus' were now sufficient to send his cousin scurrying away from him.
Still, Harry missed Hogwarts. It was the place that really felt like home. He hoped he could stay over at Hogwarts in the summer just like he did at Christmas and Easter, but that was not allowed. Professor McGonagall had told him that no student was allowed to stay back for the summers, and no exceptions were made in that regard.
The past year had been wonderful. Except perhaps for the thing with Voldemort. After the Flamels had left to meet Mark, Professor Dumbledore had spoken to him about his parents and the man who had killed them.
When Voldemort had come to kill Harry, his mother had died to save him. And that sacrifice had protected him from Voldemort as a baby. That sacrifice had also protected him when Quirrell had tried to kill him in June.
That had really weighed on Harry's mind. His mother had died to save him. Sacrificed herself for him. She had really loved him.
Harry had asked the Headmaster why Voldemort had tried to kill him when he was a baby. That was what the possessed Quirrell had said; that his mother need not have died, for he had been there to kill Harry. The answer he had gotten was cryptic. Dumbledore said that the truth was not something everyone was ready for, and Harry wasn't ready to know this yet. But the Headmaster promised to tell him when he was.
All this had been heavy on Harry's thoughts. What possible reason could it be that Dumbledore thought he wasn't ready yet? Was it because of the Stone? Was Dumbledore disappointed in him that he had failed to protect it, even though he had tried to assure Harry otherwise?
These thoughts had troubled him since he'd come back from Hogwarts. He had considered sharing them with Ron and Hermione but decided not to. Maybe he was looking too much into it. His friends didn't need to know about his stupid thoughts.
His friends. Harry had been a little upset at not receiving any correspondence from his friends all summer. But he hadn't thought much about it. Obviously, they had better things to do. Ron was a notoriously bad correspondent, and Hermione didn't have an owl. So it was okay that they didn't write to him. After all, he wasn't writing them any letters either since Hedwig was now locked in her cage.
But when he didn't get any letters today, on his birthday, Harry had been devastated. Given that her birthday was in early September, they hadn't celebrated Hermione's last year. But they had held a small celebration for Ron's birthday in March. Surely, they remembered his?
As he found out later in the evening, they had in fact remembered. Not only that, but they had even written him numerous letters ever since the summer began.
It had all begun this evening when Uncle Vernon had remanded Harry to his room. The Dursleys were entertaining the Mason's tonight, who were important clients of Grunnings, the drill company that Uncle Vernon worked for. And obviously, no one wanted a freak like Harry around to ruin the evening.
So Harry was instructed to stay put in his room and not make a single sound. And more importantly, keep his freakishness to himself.
But that plan was soon shot to hell. When Harry closed the door to his room, he found a strange creature standing on his bed. An obviously magical creature
At first, Harry thought it was a goblin. The resemblance was quite strong, with a similar height and body structure. On further examination, however, he found it to be something different entirely.
It was about three feet tall, with large bat-like ears, bulging green eyes the size of tennis balls, and a thin, long, pointed nose. Wearing an old pillowcase as a robe, it was the most miserable looking creature Harry had ever seen.
It introduced itself as Dobby and told Harry that it was a house-elf - A magically bonded servant for a wizarding family. Dobby had come to ask Harry not to return to Hogwarts.
That was like a punch to the gut. Not return to Hogwarts? When he asked why Dobby said that there was a secret and evil plot being planned at Hogwarts this year and that it was not safe for Harry there. When Harry said that he had to return to Hogwarts and his friends, Dobby brought up the fact that his friends hadn't sent him any letters.
It turned out that it had been Dobby who had been stopping Harry's mail. The elf thought that if Harry felt his friends had abandoned him, he would not go back to Hogwarts.
This had made Harry angry, angry like he had only been once before when he found out that the Dursley's had lied about his parent's death. Harry felt rage towards the elf but did not act on it seeing the already miserable existence of Dobby.
According to Dobby, he was often ordered to punish himself for any and all mistakes that he made. He mentioned things like having to bang his head repeatedly and shutting his ears in the oven door. He even tried to punish himself by trying to crack Harry's bedside lamp over his head, all because he was possibly disobeying his master's orders by coming to Privet Drive to warn Harry.
Even though Dobby insisted, Harry refused to agree to his demands. He refused to not return to Hogwarts. It was then that everything had spiralled out of control.
Dobby, now set upon preventing Harry from returning, slipped past Harry and out the door. Harry, panicked, followed the elf into the kitchen. As a final warning, Dobby used magic to float Aunt Petunia's multi-layered pudding up in the air, threatening to let it drop. Harry stayed stubborn, trying to find a way to stop the insane elf. But it was too late; Dobby let the pudding drop and vanished from the room.
The noise drew both the Dursley's and the Masons into the kitchen, where they were met by the most bizarre sight. Harry, standing right in the middle of the kitchen covered in the remains of the pudding.
If that wasn't enough, Mrs Mason, who was deathly afraid of birds got shocked when the owl from the Ministry of Magic arrived. It carried a warning letter addressed to Harry for breaking the Decree on Restriction of Underage Magic.
This had been the last straw for Uncle Vernon. Now aware that Harry wasn't allowed to use magic outside of school, he locked Harry inside his room after giving him a good thumping and letting loose a few blows alongside his usual string of insults.
Now sitting inside the locked room Harry looked out his window. He had heard his Uncle mention something about putting bars on them. He was now a prisoner in his room. Dobby had been successful; it didn't look like Harry was returning to Hogwarts now.
Harry sometimes wondered about the reactions of his friends if they ever found out about his life here. He had slipped out a lot during his first few weeks at Hogwarts, often making an unconscious comment about the being starved or beaten by the Dursleys. The only one who was around Harry during that time was Ron, who had either not noticed him slip or just kept quiet. His friend had a good heart, but he was often oblivious to most of the things around him.
Once Hermione started hanging out with them, he had made extra attention to not let anything slip; the girl was too smart for her own good. Not that she would actually believe everything about his treatment at the hands of his relatives. She believed the good in everyone and wouldn't be able to fathom such cruelty. She would probably think he was exaggerating for dramatic effect.
Neville and the other boys in his dormitory didn't pay much attention to him, nor did he pay much attention to them. The only possible exception could be Mark.
Harry had often noticed Mark staring at him, and he was no idiot. From what Harry reckoned, Mark must have thought that Harry's family wasn't that financially stable, given the hand-me-downs he wore at school. The t-shirt he gifted Harry was evidence supporting that fact. Harry decided to not correct his perception; it was a useful cover for the truth.
Harry swallowed the lump in his truth as he saw Hedwig sleeping in the cage. She had been locked in there for more than a month now, cooped up instead of flying free like she was meant to. And now…
Harry knew that the coming days were going to be horrible. With no obvious way of returning to Hogwarts or sending anyone any message, he only hoped somebody would notice him missing on the Express.
1st September 1992
"We can fly the car to Hogwarts!"
That had been Ron's suggestion when the two of them had found themselves stuck outside the magical barrier at Kings Cross Station which allowed entry onto platform nine-and-a-three-quarters.
Since they had missed the Express and there seemed no other way to get to Hogwarts before the Welcoming feast, it had seemed like a brilliant idea. Now, a few hours into their flight, he wasn't so sure anymore. As they flew over the gleaming red Hogwarts Express, Harry had a growing feeling that this was probably not going to turn out that well.
After the incident on his birthday, Harry had been locked inside his room for three days before help arrived. Harry, who had spent days reading and rereading the letters his friends had sent him, was surprised to see Ron's face in his window that night.
Turned out that Mr Weasley, who worked in the ministry got wind of Harry's warning and told his family. Ron immediately knew something was wrong since Harry had not responded to any of the letters and would never have broken the rule for fun.
Enlisting the help of his twin brothers, the three of them set out to rescue Harry in the dead of the night. They had flown to Surrey all the way from their home in Ottery St. Catchpole in their dad's enchanted Ford Anglia; the same car Ron was now flying over the Express.
Once they reached the Burrow- the Weasley's home, they found Mrs Weasley awaiting their return. Amidst her scolding her sons for their actions, Harry clearly saw the love and worry she had for her children. He had been even more surprised when she evidently extended that affection to him. Never before had anyone hugged him like that.
He spent the rest of his summer with the Weasleys at the Burrow. He had never before seen such a house - it looked like a misshapen cake, with each layer added haphazardly and the impending sensation that it could collapse any moment. But somehow, odd it was, Harry had never seen anything else that just called out - home
The Weasleys were the most wonderful people he had ever met. He already knew four of them from school - Ron, Fred, George, and Percy. Mrs Weasley was a kind and loving woman. The moment he had arrived, she had fussed over him and insisted that he eat something healthy. As evidenced by her food, she was also a great cook. In many ways, she was the exact opposite of Aunt Petunia. Most importantly, she and her family made Harry feel welcome in their home.
Mr Weasley was one of the most interesting men Harry had met, and that included Dumbledore. He was a pureblood wizard but was fascinated with muggles and muggle-technology. He kept asking Harry different questions about various muggle customs and technology, which Harry tried to answer to the best of his abilities.
Percy the prefect spent very little time around Harry, only coming out of his room for meals. He was mainly holed up in his room, probably reading Prefects Who Gained Power.
The twins were their usual self. According to Ron, they had reduced on their pranks since they were now spending time practising music, something Mrs Weasley wasn't sure was better or not. Unlike her husband, she was not that fond of muggle culture. Still, they found enough time to play pick-up games of quidditch with Harry and Ron.
Quidditch. Harry didn't realise how much he had missed being able to fly whenever he wanted. The paddock at the Weasley orchard was of a decent size to fly around, and since they had no Quaffle to play with, they tossed apples instead.
Harry didn't know what to make of Ron's little sister. Ginny, Ron told him, had a crush on Harry. She became extremely quiet anytime he was around, occasionally acting clumsy and even scurrying away. He tried talking to her, despite his usual annoyance at the stupid fangirls at School, but she responded only in nods or one-word answers. The most she had spoken was when she stood up to Draco Malfoy in Diagon Alley.
They had visited Diagon Alley to get their books and supplies. Since he had never travelled by Floo, Harry ended up taking a wrong turn and came out through the fireplace at Borgin and Burkes, a shady shop in Knockturn Alley. After witnessing an interesting conversation between Draco Malfoy and his father, Harry was rescued by Hagrid and joined up with the Weasleys.
They had decided to coordinate their visit with their friends, so Hermione was also there for her shopping. Neville and Mark had come too, but after a brief greeting and introductions, they went on their way with the twins. Harry could have sworn he saw Mrs Weasley give Mark a pointed look. She clearly disapproved of Fred and George spending time playing rock music that Mark had introduced them to. Plus, his appearance was clearly making the matters worse - with his band t-shirt and his long rocker hairstyle.
Hermione had been excited about meeting Gilderoy Lockhart, the author of their Defence against the Dark Arts books for this year. He was holding a book signing at Flourish and Botts on that day.
Harry had found it odd when he had seen the booklists for this year - despite being in different years, all of them had the same books prescribed for DADA. George had commented that the new Professor was likely a witch since Lockhart was handsome and thus popular with female readers.
It turned out that Lockhart was their new Professor for Defence, as the rather pompous man revealed to the reporter for the Daily Prophet. Somehow, he had seen Harry in the crowd and used the opportunity to bolster his publicity by taking a picture with the Boy-Who-Lived.
If that wasn't enough, Draco Malfoy had also chosen that day to turn up at the bookstore. On seeing Harry, he had also seized the opportunity to taunt him as usual. Surprisingly, it was Ginny Weasley who retorted angrily in Harry's defence, though Malfoy managed to silence her in embarrassment by taunting Harry about his poor choice of a girlfriend
Further insults were halted when Draco's father arrived, but only for a while. It seemed that Mr Malfoy and Mr Weasley were even more of enemies than Ron and Draco were, so the taunts changed targets. As Harry had overheard earlier at Burgin and Burkes, the Malfoys had a large collection of dark artefacts that they were looking to dispose of due to the Ministry raids being conducted by Mr Weasley and his colleagues. This was the main cause of tension between the two of them.
The insults turned sour when Mr Malfoy commented on Hermione's parents being present in their company. This had been a breaking point. The next moment, Mr Weasley punched Mr Malfoy and the two wizards got into a fistfight in the bookstore, knocking over Ginny and the cauldron full of books in her hand. The children cheered for their fathers, and it took Hagrid to step in and break up the fight.
Mr Malfoy then left, but not before throwing in a last remark about the state of Ginny's books. Once they were gone, no one was keen to stick around. The Grangers were visibly disturbed at witnessing the prejudice first-hand and left without remark. Mrs Weasley was upset by her husband's behaviour, and the Weasleys too quietly made for their home, Harry in tow.
The rest of the summer was uneventful, except now even Ginny was holed up in her room. Finally, their vacation ended, with Harry and the Weasley children due to board the Hogwarts Express for the start of term.
After a repeated delay due to the twins forgetting their brooms and Ginny forgetting her Diary, Mr Weasley had driven them to Kings Cross in the magical Ford Anglia. They finally managed to arrive with only fifteen minutes left before the Express departed
They went through the barrier in pairs; Percy and Mr Weasley first, then the twins, followed by Mrs Weasley and Ginny, with Ron and Harry last. Only it didn't work. For some reason, the barrier closed off, leaving Ron and Harry stranded on the other side. They watched helplessly as the clock ticked to eleven; the train must have left. As they pondered what to do next, Ron had been struck by the brilliant idea of flying the car.
As they flew around a snow-capped mountain, the sun began to set and darkness crept in. Ron dipped below the clouds to do the cursory check on the train. Satisfied, he tried to accelerate back up, but the car didn't respond. Instead, the engine began to whine dreadfully.
Harry looked nervously at Ron, who was clearly putting on a brave face.
"It's probably just tired," said Ron, "It's never been this far before…"
Harry nodded silently. However, as the sky grew darker, the whines became louder, with small wisps of steam coming from under the hood.
Yes, this was not going to turn out that well.
AN: On to Hogwarts! We've begun Year Two. This chapter was basically a summing up of Harry's summer and is quite similar to canon.
I've also reworked the first three chapters, so if you haven't yet, do check them out. Nothing vital has been changed; just improved the formatting and dialogue and elaborated on a few more things. They were some of the first things I had ever written, and back then my skills were quite poor. Hopefully, you'll enjoy the improved chapters more. I'll also be slowly reworking all the other chapters - consider them a round of editing. I'll be mentioning the ones reworked in each subsequent chapters.
As for the outlining is concerned - I'm almost done. Book Three is now officially split into Book Three and Book Four. The ideas that I've now incorporated are amazing, and even though this increases the overall length of the story, I think it fits perfectly. I have a fair idea of the things I need to foreshadow/mention earlier, so that's good. You can expect the next chapter in a week.
Feedback is welcome. Please read and review. Thanks!