CHAPTER ONE – The Return to Privet Drive
It was almost impossible to see through the heavy blanket of mist that covered Privet Drive, and there was a strange chill in the air as well.
These conditions were most unnatural, and despite the local weatherman’s constant reassurances that sunny days and hot weather were on the way, the horrible days just continued. Sending the residents of Privet Drive scuttling into the safety of their homes, with their curtains drawn over their windows.
Everyday there came more and more reports of killings and mass destruction, and everyday there were copious reports of depression and helplessness seizing the nation. The days were shorter, the weather was colder, the stock market was falling and parents were beginning to take their children out of school to keep them safe at home.
Amongst all this turmoil, there was one shining ray of light. And that was the fact that everyone seemed to be minding his or her own business. Hence, Privet Drive was completely deserted, so no one even noticed when three figures suddenly appeared in the middle of the street. These figures of course were Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, fresh from their sixth year of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
“This mist…” Ron Weasley muttered angrily, as soon as he had taken a good look around the area. He swiped at the air in front of him, “its everywhere.”
“The dementor’s have been breeding for a year Ron, what did you expect?” Hermione Granger asked as her wand tip ignited in her hand.
“Better manners and breeding patterns,” Ron muttered darkly.
“Quiet both of you,” Harry put in quietly as he started to walk purposely down the road, “The last thing we need is someone looking outside to see three kids waving wands around. We don’t need any more trouble from the ministry. Besides, I don’t want to be here any longer than we have to be.”
“How long is too long?” Ron asked as he hurried after Harry.
Harry sighed heavily as number four came into view through the mist, and he pulled his cloak tighter around his frame. “Stepping foot into this street is too long.”
“It wont be that bad Harry,” Hermione reassured him.
“That bad?” Harry repeated. “… Mass killings… unnatural mist… destruction… chaos… Do you really think the Dursley’s are going to welcome us into their home with open arms after that?”
“Well,” Ron said, his voice slightly higher than usual, “I guess there’s only one way to find out. What did Dumbledore say about…” Ron froze and glanced at Harry warily.
Instead of responding though, Harry’s face turned to stone and he continued walking as though he hadn’t heard a word Ron had said.
Ron and Hermione shared a concerned look before following Harry down the street, and up the driveway to number four Privet Drive.
The Dursley’s home wasn’t as Harry remembered. The garden was now overgrown and untidy, the house was boarded up with what looked like wooden shutters and Vernon’s car appeared to be locked away in the garage (as opposed to out on the driveway on display). Harry stared in amazement, “wow.”
“I thought you said your relatives were perfectionists?” Hermione asked as she stepped over the garden wall and looked at the massive tangle of weeds that was once a garden in confusion.
“I guess this war isn’t only affecting wizards,” Harry muttered as his eyes scanned the house slowly, “they want to keep someone out.”
“Who?” Ron asked.
“Me,” Harry replied grimly.
Not to be deferred, Harry took the final few steps to the porch. His eyes scanned over the mahogany doorway, taking in its intricate detailing and highly polished wood. How could something so beautiful be the entrance to something so horrible? He had a strange feeling that he would be encountering that feeling quite a lot over the next few months. Sighing heavily, Harry reached up and rapped sharply on the front door.
There was a scuffle from inside and a hurried whispered conversation.
Ron grinned in amusement, “This is going to be fun. Where in the world are Fred and George when you need them?”
Harry leant against the doorframe and waited impatiently as the hurried conversation continued inside.
Finally the voices stopped, and a voice asked, “whose there?”
“Your nephew.” Harry replied, “Let me in.”
“You have no business here boy.”
“I wish I didn’t,” Harry muttered under his breath. “Let me in or I’ll blast the door down.”
There was a muffled shriek from inside.
“Harry,” Hermione protested, “are you sure you…”
Harry turned his attention away from the door and glanced at Hermione, his green eyes shining bright in the dim moonlight, “I don’t want to be here any longer than necessary, remember Hermione?”
“I know but if the Ministry…”
“Screw the Ministry,” Ron cut in, “Its not like they’ve been any help…”
“More like hindrance,” Harry scowled before returning his attention to the door. “What’s the verdict?”
‘What do you want?” Vernon shouted through the door.
“I just need to stay a few nights,” Harry explained, “you wont even know I’m here.”
Harry sighed and raised his wand, “I’m blasting the door down now.”
‘No!” Petunia protested tearfully from the inside, “let him in Vernon.”
Ever so slowly the door creaked open a crack and Vernon’s eye pressed up against the crack, “I don’t want any funny business from you boy.”
Harry frowned, “I don’t think your in the position to be making demands.”
Vernon’s beady eyes narrowed and flew past Harry to land on Hermione and Ron, “who are they?”
“Friends of mine.” Harry replied shortly. “Now are you going to let us in or leave us standing here on your doorstep leaving the neighbours to wonder what we’re doing here.”
This threat seemed to do the trick, because finally the door opened several more feet and Harry, Ron and Hermione were able to slip inside into the warmth of Harry’s childhood home for the last time.