Authors notes: I want to thank my BETAs Koorime and ChibiBecca. I would also like to appologise if people start craving cookies oo; Oh, and this Fic is set in Bath, Wiltshire, my hometown, so sorry if it sounds like a travel brochure at times ^^
Harry flopped onto his bed and stared over at Hedwig, his snowy owl. She was sleeping noiselessly after a night-long hunt.
He had sat in the kitchen for over an hour, listening to uncle Vernon as he complained, rang people and generally got annoyed and purple in the face. After a lot of deliberation, ten minuets of which Harry thought he may at last get a chance to stay home alone for two weeks, uncle Vernon decided that Harry had to come with them.
And then Dudley had walked in, asked what was going on, and Harry had told him.
There had been a lot of shouting after that; Dudley definitely didn’t want Harry to ruin the holiday, even if he had just found out about it.
After a while Harry had seriously found himself with a contradiction of feelings, on the one side he had been highly amused at his cousin’s reaction and wanted to watch it, on the other, he had wanted to be as far from the two arguing behemoths as was humanly possible. They were rather scary when they got going.
Eventually, both he and Dudley had been sent to their rooms, uncle Vernon’s final shout of rage that Harry HAD to go with them, still ringing in their ears.
Harry rolled his legs off his bed and sat up, he stayed as he was for a moment, then stood and stretched, a smile slowly working its way to his lips, then he carefully and quietly made his way to his desk and sat down, pulling out three pieces of parchment and his quill and ink.
Harry sucked on the end of the quill for a moment, and then wrote three short letters to Ron, Hermione and Dumbledore, his headmaster and occasional confidant.
When he was done he sat back and read them over, making sure they sounded alright; they were just short notes, informing them all of what had happened, as well as a few personal things in each individual letter.
He’d asked Ron if he could look after Hedwig over the two weeks he would be away, as his uncle had absolutely forbade him to bring her, and giving her to a neighbour to look after was out of the question.
In the letter to Hermione he’d asked her to send him anything vaguely interesting about Bath, the city they were holidaying in, things that could keep him occupied over the two weeks, as he was sure the Dursleys would leave him to his own devices.
To Dumbledore, he’d sent a request. It was fairly certain that he would be given no money over the holiday, and the little money he had left from the past school year definitely wouldn’t keep him going, especially considering it was wizard money.
While writing the letters he’d resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to do any of his homework for the two weeks. His aunt and uncle certainly wouldn’t allow him to take his books, or indeed, anything from Hogwarts, they’d sooner die than have someone accidentally discover his ‘different ness.’
He was taking his wand though, aunt and uncle be damned, he never went anywhere without it.
He sealed the letters and stood. Opening Hedwig’s cage door, he gently woke her. She hooted softly and hopped onto his proffered arm.
“Sorry to wake you Hedwig, but I need you to take three letters for me. Are you up to it?”
Hedwig ruffled her feathers slightly, then held out her leg. Harry awkwardly attached the scrolls then carried her to his open window. As he lifted her through it she nipped affectionately at his knuckles and spread her wings, she was soon disappearing over the horizon.
Harry put his elbows on the windowsill, chin in hands and just looked, watching the world as afternoon slowly turned into evening.
Harry smiled to himself.
Fred and George’s quitting school in his fifth year was now a legendary tale. The twins had rebelled against a ministry appointed official, a skinny, frog-faced woman by the name of Delores Umbridge. No one had liked her, but the twins took a distinct dislike when she started targeting Gryffindor.
When they quit, they had made as much trouble as possible. They had specially created a swamp in one hallway and let off their own fireworks creations in the entrance hall; they had flown out of the school on their brooms, leaving the school to start a joke shop that was now doing very good business as their fame grew.
Professor Flitwick had actually been so impressed by the swamp they had created that during clean up he had wardened off a section; to this day it was still there to be gawped at by the new first years every year.
Harry grinned to himself, Ron and Hermione had been courting for the past few months, and Ron was probably on about using an owl other than Pig or Errol, hyper and old respectively, to get his letters to her. He sincerely wished them all the luck and a happy future together.
Harry chuckled to himself. As it turned out, Hermione had indeed written a rather long list for him, but then, it appeared there was more to Bath than he’d first thought. Hopefully he’d be able to keep himself occupied while his Aunt, Uncle and cousin were out doing whatever they thought a respectable holidaying family should be.
A thought passed through his mind and he shuddered. Bath wasn’t too far from a few beaches. Dudley in a bathing suit. Scary thought.
Shaking his head at the idea, he packed away the three scrolls he had received and took out the pouch Dumbledore had sent him. It contained about a hundred pounds in both muggle and wizard money, all from his own account at Gringotts. Hopefully that should keep him for the two weeks he was away.
It was a fine pouch, deep red with gold threading and actually had two pockets on the inside, one side containing the muggle money, the other the wizarding, possibly to make sure that no muggle who happened to be within seeing distance saw the galleons, sickles and knuts and started asking questions.
He fished out the remaining galleons and sickles he had left from sixth year, (there weren’t many) and put them in the wizarding half of the pouch then packed it away with his clothing in the small suitcase he had been given by Aunt Petunia.
Before Hedwig had returned with the three letters and pouch, he’d managed to fit a few t-shirts and jeans into the old looking square case. Now he took out a light, moth eaten grey jumper, just in case, and sat folding it, Hedwig on his shoulder, watching in interest.
Dudley was moping.
It was to be expected, but it didn’t make the fact any easier to handle. When Dudley moped, he took it to new levels, and Harry was going to have to sit next to him for at least two hours, in the cramped confines of the rear seats, made all the more cramped by Dudley himself.
“Move over ‘Dudders’, or do you want a new tail to replace the one you lost?” Harry said in a barely audible whisper so only Dudley would hear him. “You could have a matching set of scars…”
Dudley blanched and moved almost imperceptibly to his left, closer to the window, giving Harry a seething glare as he did so.
Dudley always sat on the left, as Uncle Vernon always drove, and Uncle Vernon never had any room behind his seat, which meant Harry had to squeeze in, around the extra suitcase Dudley had brought that hadn’t fit in the boot. It was a tight squeeze with the extra suitcase in the middle, it sat mostly on Harry’s side of the car because Dudley, well, flopped, there was no other word for it. When Dudley was sat in the car, bits of him spread out and he nearly took up two entire seats.
Harry snuggled in and pulled out one of his books, the only one he’d been able to bring with him, as he’d had the foresight, many months ago, to transfigure the cover into what looked like a very boring muggle book so Dudley wouldn’t steal it. It was, in fact, the latest book on Quidditch, his favourite sport. He’d bought it in Hogsmead during Easter, and then had been unable to read it until now.
Aunt Petunia was snoring in front of him to his left, Uncle Vernon was muttering to himself about hooligan drivers and idiot motorcyclists from the drivers seat and Dudley was once again studiously ignoring him.
‘This trip is going to be a barrel of laughs’ he mused to himself.
Bath turned out to be as beautiful as Hermione had said in her letter.
At first it just looked like any other city, though slightly cleaner with nicer architecture, but a few minutes more and they had begun to near the hotel, which appeared to be in a time warp of some sort.
Great Pultney street was clean, white, symmetrical and a gloriously preserved example of old Georgian streets. There was even a fountain at the opposite end, in place of a roundabout. It was currently in full swing, the water reaching about four feet above the top of the fountain itself.
There weren’t many people about, though there were a few cars parked along both sides of the wide road. Those people that could be seen were smart looking and appeared mildly harassed. Uncle Vernon pulled into an empty space before the hotel entrance and snapped at everyone to get out and collect their luggage while he went to reception and checked in.
As he grabbed his meagre belongings, Harry looked around at the street, admiring the beauty of the architecture around him, then reluctantly followed Aunt Petunia and Dudley into the foyer.
It was as elegant as the open doorway suggested it would be. There were leather seats, mahogany, oak, brass lights with marbled green glass shades and expensive looking drapes on all the front windows.
Even the woman at the desk looked expensive.
Harry marvelled at that for a moment, wondering at the strange thought of someone looking expensive. He shrugged inwardly and moved a little closer to his Aunt and Uncle, though staying at a respectful distance.
After a few minutes, the woman handed something to Uncle Vernon. He, Aunt Petunia and Dudley walked off in the right direction, and Harry followed, slowly and at a slight distance.
“Oh! Excuse me, sir?”
Harry turned, unconsciously brushing his fringe down over his scar, “Uh… yeah?”
The woman beamed at him, but slightly falsely, “Sir, your Uncle wished me to show you to your room.”
Harry’s mouth dropped open. He blinked and shook himself.
“P – Pardon?”
He was stunned. He had been expecting dirty looks, the cheapest meals on the menu, even being locked in the room occasionally, but being given an entirely different one? It even looked like he wouldn’t have a key.
Rather mutely, and feeling terribly dejected, Harry followed the expensive looking brunette down a different corridor and to an old looking solid oak door.
“This is your room, sir.”
She opened the door and he stepped in. Before he could even register anything, the door was closed and he was alone.
Return to Archive | next | prologue